Chayton Black is the main protagonist of Act II: Shadow campaign in Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs campaign. A prominent member of the Black family, he is the grandson of Nathaniel Black and son of Amelia Black, who had him with an unnamed Lakota husband, and the final owner of the Falcon Company.
Chayton is very close to his native roots, being half-Lakota, and is deeply concerned with the state of the land. The campaign sees Chayton questioning his own identity as he is torn between making money and protecting the innocent when a gold scandal erupts in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
|“||Nathaniel's half-Lakota grandson, Chayton Black, seems to have inherited his family's tendency to wind up smack dab in the middle of opposing forces. When gold is discovered in the Black Hills, tensions between the Sioux Nation and settlers erupt. Against a backdrop of greed, fear, and prejudice, Chayton discovers that taking the convenient side can cost everything - even his own identity.||”|
Conflict between the Sioux and the US
Chayton Black is first seen in the campaign expanding the Falcon Company westward along the Bozeman Trail, but he winds up in the middle of Red Cloud's War with Fort Laramie quartermaster Billy Holme. Ten years later, he returns to the west to reunite with Holme, now a sheriff, who informs him of a huge amount of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After defending local mining camps from Sioux attacks, Chayton goes to see Crazy Horse and establish a peace treaty. However, Holme and a large party of miners arrive and destroy the village, wrecking any chance of peace.
Chayton still sides with Holme, and defends his workers as they gather wood for a fort. Yet when he receives the order to destroy a Sioux village, he turns against Holme and, allying with the Sioux, destroys the fort. Chayton convinces General Custer, who has recently arrived in the area, to give him one day to find Holme. Once he dons Sioux clothing and red war paint, Chayton works with the Sioux to earn their trust and help him track down Holme. Inside Holme's hidden mine, Chayton tries to negotiate peace, but, just as Holme tries to kill him, Chayton draws his gun more quickly and shoots Holme. The sheriff stumbles backwards into some powder kegs and falls down a mine shaft to his explosive death.
Fighting for the Sioux
Failing to prevent General Custer from attacking at Little Bighorn, Chayton finally decides to wholly devote himself to the Sioux cause. On the day of the battle, Chayton is aided by four native chiefs: Crazy Horse, Chief Brave Wolf, Chief Bull Bear, and Chief Two Moon, all of whom help him kill Custer, forcing the U.S. armies to retreat.
When the Battle of Little Bighorn ends, Amelia Black states in the final cutscene that she never again saw Chayton but hears two rumors: either he died at Wounded Knee and it took twelve horsemen to kill him, or he lived on in the Black Hills and settled down with his wife and children. Chayton is last seen riding off with Crazy Horse as a pistol-toting U.S. soldier dies amid tall grass and a Crazy Horse monument is carved into a nearby mountain.
In the Definitive Edition of the game, several changes to Chayton's story have been made:
- Chayton's Lakota ancestry is more heavily focused on, particularly with the role of Crazy Horse being replaced by Chayton's uncle, Frank Warbonnet. Conversely, Amelia's role has been reduced to being mentioned in the narration, and she does not make a physical appearance.
- This absence could be explained by the fact that Amelia was probably born c. 1790, putting her in her late twenties at the time of the 1817 Steel act of the original campaign. Therefore, she would likely be around 100 years old at the time of the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, where Chayton may have died according to a rumor she discusses in the original story. She is probably deceased by the time Chayton tells his story in the Definitive Edition.
- A backstory has been introduced stating that Chayton and Holme were once comrades during the Civil War. As such, the two are more familiar with each other in the first two scenarios than in the original game, as the original game insinuates that Chayton was too young to have served in the Civil War.
- In the original game, Chayton maintains his friendship with Holme, right up until Holme's attempted assassination of Crazy Horse. In the Definitive Edition, the relationship between the two quickly frays. Holme is much more overtly racist towards Chayton once Chayton learns the truth of the matter. Similarly, Chayton turns completely against Holme once his uncle tells him the whole story, while in the original game, Chayton protected the settlers gathering wood and it took Holme ordering him to massacre a Sioux village for Chayton to turn against Holme.
- The Red Cloud War storyline has been replaced with a rise in outlaws that threatens both Fore Laramie and the native tribes. The threat on the mining camps has also been changed to feature a new band of outlaws that rose between Chayton's visits.
- Chayton's purpose in meeting with the Lakota is now related to his family, rather than the war between the settlers and natives. He initially seems to want to wash his hands of the settlers' greed to focus on finding his relatives, and only becomes involved in the war when he realizes who is behind the breaking of the truce.
- Chayton no longer wears red war paint as part of his Lakota attire.
- After the final battle against the United States forces, Chayton tells his uncle that he plans to leave both the tribe and the Falcon Company behind, implying he is disappearing to go on a journey.
|“||Half-Sioux son of Amelia Black.||”|
Like his grandfather Nathaniel Black, Chayton fights with dual-wielded revolvers and can use Hawk Eye and Eagle Eye; both of which are identical to the ones used by Nathaniel.
Like other heroes, Chayton has many hit points, but if he falls, he will collapse instead of dying and need to regenerate enough hit points to be rescued by allies. Similar to Explorers, he can collect treasures and build Trading Posts, but cannot build Town Centers.
Initially Chayton wears Old Western attire and speaks in Modern English, but after joining the Sioux, he wears Lakota attire and speaks in Lakota.
- In some official artwork, Chayton is depicted carrying a revolver and saber, but the former is never used except in the cutscene where he shoots Holme. In-game, he uses a rifle in combat.
- Chayton is the third hero in Age of Empires III that has two different versions (following Kanyenke and Nathaniel): one wearing Western-type attire and one with Sioux clothing and markings. He has different unit responses for each version.
- The ending of Chayton's Definitive Edition story is similar to that of the 1990 epic Western drama film Dances with Wolves, which tells the story of the fictional Lt. John Dunbar, an American Civil War Union officer who befriends and becomes accepted as a member of a Lakota tribe. He ultimately fights to defend the tribe from other U.S. troops before leaving them, not wanting to endanger their lives with his presence or be captured as a traitor.