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Thread: Three Kingdoms Historical Information & Discussion

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    Default Three Kingdoms Historical Information & Discussion

    I wanted to provide a place for sharing historical information about the time period, asking/answering any questions people might have, and generally discussing and debating anything to do with the historical setting of the game. If anyone has anything to share or ask, please feel free to so we can collect as much information as we can get. I'd prefer it if gameplay discussions stayed in the other threads, so we can keep this one largely focused and useful as a reference later on.

    Since this is a character focused game, I figured I might as well start with some brief summaries of the people we've seen in the game or trailers so far, either as a focal point or in passing. I'll try to keep this organized by (likely) starting faction, since a lot of people change around. I'll also include their style name (which they are sometimes referred to by) and the highest position and peerage they achieved, to provide some context.

    The Cao Clan of Qiao

    Cao Cao [Mengde] (Chancellor of State, King of Wei, Emperor Wu of Wei (posthumously))
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Hailing from a family of good prestige and minor peerage from Pei state in Yu province, Cao Cao was originally a middling official in the imperial capitol before he was able to achieve a notable reputation as a commander and administrator during the Yellow Turban rebellion and the failed Coalition against Dong Zhuo (where he was one of the only people who actually fought). Despite having lost much of his army during the campaign, Cao Cao was able to put down several major bandit armies, including a Yellow Turban resurgence in Yan province, a feat that, along with the favor of his former schoolmate Yuan Shao, gained him Yan province as his own.

    He attempted to conquer Xu province, only to be forced back to Yan to drive off an invasion by Lu Bu. Then, an opportunity arose and Cao Cao managed to take Emperor Xian under his protection from the former forces of Dong Zhuo, becoming Minister of Works. Using this new authority, he put his claim on most of the Henan region, launched a punitive expedition against Yuan Shu to the south (who had declared himself emperor), invaded Xu again (now under Lu Bu) and took it, struck south into Jing province against Zhang Xiu and Liu Biao, and then launched his brilliant campaign against the huge power of Yuan Shao to the north. He emerged victorious from the closely fought Guandu campaign, breaking the back of Yuan power, and then conquering the four northern provinces from Yuan Shao's sons and their Wuhuan and Xiongnu allies, unifying the empire north of the Yangtze.

    Despite being defeated at the Battle of Chibi by the Sun-Liu alliance, halting his southward advance, he was able to conquer the northwestern province of Liang and solidify control over an area that comprised around 75% of the empire's population. He rebuilt the imperial administration mostly from scratch, using the people who joined him along the way. Many of the best minds in the empire came to work for him, and he even succeeded in making the rebellion sundered northern regions prosperous again, reintroducing the military-agricultural colonies. Xianbei activity declined as their leaders either sent tribute to Cao Cao or pledged loyalty to him, including the powerful Kebineng. Arts and scholarship flourished once again as he patronized both and funded educational endeavors throughout the north.

    He was eventually made Imperial Chancellor, unifying the positions of the Three Excellencies, and enoffed as first Duke, then King of Wei, becoming the first non-imperial clan King since the days of Former Han. He died in 220AD, following the victory at Fancheng, leaving behind one of the strongest and most well run states in the world at the time, succeeded by his son Cao Pi. He was posthumously named Emperor Wu of Wei.

    Xiahou Dun [Yuanrang] (General in Chief, Marquis of Gao'an)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From the same county as Cao Cao, and possibly a relative, Xiahou Dun was one of the first to join Cao Cao when he was raising an army for the campaign against Dong Zhuo. Following Cao Cao's settling in Yan province, Xiahou Dun ended up on the frontlines of the first war against Lu Bu, during which he was famously shot in the eye.

    He was often made administrator of war ravaged or rebellious territory near the core of Wei in order to put them to order, and was well liked and respected by both gentry and peasants alike. He gained a reputation for being both humble and hardworking, often doing manual labor aside the peasantry. He was so successful that not only were there no rebellions, but even when floods or droughts happened, agricultural production only increased. Eventually, he was put in charge of the capitol region of Henan, and later was put in charge of the armies on the Wu front to keep Sun Quan at bay while Cao Cao was dealing with Liu Bei in the west.

    Despite not having the best military record, being defeated by Lu Bu's forces several times and even losing to Liu Bei once, Xiahou Dun was one of Cao Cao's most trusted officers due to his loyalty and leadership abilities. Not only did Cao Cao give him authority to act independently of the imperial court, but he also allowed him permission to ride in Cao Cao's carriage and call on him without an appointment or being searched. He rose to eventually become the the highest ranked general in the Wei army, General of the Front, before Cao Cao's death. After this, Cao Pi raised him even higher, to General in Chief, formally putting all armies of Wei under his command. He died a few months later, in 220AD.

    Xiahou Yuan [Miaocai] (General Who Conquers the West, Marquis of Bochang)
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    Along with his cousin Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan was one of the original members of Cao Cao's army during the days of the coalition. He was also Cao Cao's brother in law. He held administrative posts in Yan province along with his cousin until the Guandu campaign, whereupon he joined Cao Cao as a logistics officer and performed admirably. From that point on, he was dispatched to trouble spots throughout Cao Cao's territory to put down rebellions with incredible speed. After Cao Cao secured his southern border following the disaster at Chibi, Xiahou Yuan was sent to pacify the northwest of the empire along with Zhong Yao. This caused the warlords of Liang and Yong province to unite against them under Ma Chao and Han Sui. Cao Cao arrived personally to direct them, and the rebels were defeated and scattered in the Battle of Huayin.

    Cao Cao then left Xiahou Yuan in charge of dealing with the survivors, which he did with a passion, chasing incredibly mobile enemies through harsh terrain on the frontier. He first marched on Ma Chao, who had besieged the Inspector of Liang at Jicheng, but the inspector surrendered before he got there, he was ambushed while force marching across the countryside, and a rebellion forced him to retreat. He returned later when the people of Jicheng and Lucheng rose in revolt against Ma Chao and helped drive him into Hanzhong. Ma Chao did return, but Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He drove him off again. He then went after Han Sui, chasing him to Lueyang, where he then attacked the nearby Qiang people, who recalled their warriors from Han Sui's army to resist him. Han Sui was defeated soon after, his allies among the Di people were subjugated as well, followed by the Xiongnu. Xiahou Yuan was ultimately so successful against them that most of the rest of the northwestern empire surrendered to him after he was victorious.

    Following this victory, Xiahou Yuan was made General Who Conquers the West, with many famous officers under his command, such as Zhang He, Xu Huang, and Guo Huai. He participated in the first Hanzhong campaign against Zhang Lu, where his reputation among the local Di and Qiang tribes caused them to surrender or defect the moment he arrived, resulting in Zhang Lu's defeat almost immediately. However, Liu Bei then invaded Hanzhong. Xiahou Yuan's subordinates defeated the first invasion under Ma Chao and Zhang Fei without any issue. However, during the second, Fa Zheng and Huang Zhong ambushed him in a gorge, killing him in 219AD. Rather than rout however, his well disciplined army fell back to a better position under his subordinates, who kept Liu Bei from advancing further until Cao Cao arrived.

    Despite his untimely death, the region he left behind was so secure that despite repeated attempts by Shu to invade it over the coming years, it never fell into enemy hands. His subordinates kept the region safe and the good relations he fostered among the people, both Chinese and non-Chinese, kept the region from returning to the chaos it had been in prior.

    Yue Jin [Wenqian] (General of the Right, Marquis of Guangchang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    One of the Five Elite Generals of Wei, Yue Jin was also one of those who joined Cao Cao near the beginning, either when he was first raising troops for the campaign against Dong Zhuo, or right after, when Cao Cao came to Dong Commandery. Bringing over a thousand men from his home county of Yangping, he was given his own command during the battles for Yan and Xu provinces. During the campaign against Lu Bu, he gained a reputation for bravery bordering on recklessness, often personally leading the vanguard into the thick of the enemy army. Later, during the campaign against Zhang Xiu, when Cao Cao was forced to flee after the ambush at Wan Castle, Yue Jin was one of those who fought the rearguard action that allowed Cao Cao to escape. Over the next few years, Yue Jin was repeatedly awarded distinction as the vanguard of Cao Cao's army in further battles against Lu Bu, Liu Bei, and bandit groups throughout the central plains.

    His most famous exploits were yet to come however. During the opening stages of the Guandu campaign, he and Yu Jin made a massive raid with a few thousand troops against overextended parts of Yuan Shao's army, the damage from which set Yuan Shao back months. Then, at the climax of the campaign, he personally led the charge over the walls at Wuchao and killed the commanding general, sealing the victory over Yuan Shao. He would go on to again command the vanguard against Yuan Shao's sons, and during the siege of Nanpi, was once again one of the first over the walls.

    After the disaster at Chibi, Yue Jin was given command of Xiangyang, one of the last strongholds that Cao Cao held in Jing and the absolute south of his defensive line. Guan Yu attempted to take this city several times, but Yue Jin defeated him at every point. After that front stabilized, he was moved east, to Hefei, where he held the castle against Sun Quan's massive army (over ten times Yue Jin's garrison) for weeks until attrition forced Sun Quan to withdraw, at which point Zhang Liao ambushed and nearly killed him in the ford. Yue Jin would go on to participate in the first two battles of Ruxu, but even his bravery could not overcome Lu Meng's brilliance. He died in 218AD of natural causes.

    Guo Jia [Fengxiao] (Libationer to the Minister of Works, Marquis of Weiyang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Probably the most famous of Cao Cao's advisors, Guo Jia was one of many refugees from Yingchuan Commandery in Yu who went to take refuge with Yuan Shao when Dong Zhuo started his rise to power. He was also one of the several who eventually found Yuan Shao not to their liking and went south to join Cao Cao instead (Xun Yu and Xun You were among these). He and Cao Cao became good friends rather quickly, and despite his personal quirks, he quickly became very trusted among Cao Cao's staff. He had an incredible understanding of people, often able to predict their actions almost perfectly based on their temperament and history.

    With this, he was able to leave his mark on almost every single campaign from the moment Cao Cao took him in. He and Xun Yu created the overarching strategy to defeat Yuan Shao and unite the central plains, including their order of opponents and who to send to each front. He then took part in the final campaign against Lu Bu, where he and Xun You devised the flood attack that won the siege of Xiapi, and then followed it up by making sure that Liu Bei was crushed and unable to betray them later. He then took part in the Guandu campaign and following Yuan Shao's death, convinced Cao Cao of the necessity of ensuring that the Yuan family was utterly destroyed along with their Wuhuan allies.

    Thus began the great northern campaign, which ended with Cao Cao crushing the Wuhuan, receiving the tacit surrender of the Liaodong region (who sent him the heads of Yuan Shao's sons), and making such an impression upon the local Xianbei tribes that many flocked to join him, making his already formidable cavalry even more so. Guo Jia's advice was seen at the climax of this, where he counselled that the best way to achieve victory would be to leave the baggage behind and take the swiftest troops on a surprise attack through the passes, a strategy that was wildly successful. However, Guo Jia fell ill after the victory and died on the way back from the front in 207AD. Cao Cao would famously quote after the disaster at Chibi that if Guo Jia had been with him, he would not have suffered such a defeat.

    Dian Wei (Colonel)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Originally a strongman for hire from Chenliu Commandery in Yan, Dian Wei joined the coalition against Dong Zhuo as a regular footsoldier under Zhang Miao. He quickly gained a reputation for both bravery and incredible strength on the frontlines, including performing well during the defeat at Xingyang. This got him noticed by Xiahou Dun, who got him transferred under his command and made a major. He then went on to serve during the many battles for Yan province, earning notoriety on all sides as a terrifying warrior.

    Eventually, Cao Cao went to war with Lu Bu and fighting erupted in Yan once again. During a night attack on a camp near Lu Bu's base at Puyang, Cao Cao's forces were caught by Lu Bu's main army and attacked from three sides. Dian Wei led a select group of soldiers equipped in the heaviest armor they could find into the enemy formation to open a hole for the rest of the army to exploit. He let the enemy get as close as he could before he and his men charged them and broke the line, allowing Cao Cao's army to retreat. For this act, he was made the commander of Cao Cao's bodyguards with the rank of chief commandant.

    His last and most famous act was during the ambush at Wan castle in 197AD. Cao Cao had obtained the surrender of the nearby warlord Zhang Xiu, but had then offended Zhang Xiu by taking his aunt as a concubine and attempting to buy off one of his best warriors. Zhang Xiu and his strategist Jia Xiu then launched a brilliant night raid on Cao Cao's camp, destroying the army he brought with him and killing Cao Cao's son and heir, Cao Ang. As soon as Cao Cao made it out of the gates of the camp on horseback, Dian Wei and a few of his best men took up a defensive position in the gates, fighting until everyone but Dian Wei was dead and he had received so many injuries that he was likely alive on adrenaline alone. Zhang Xiu's men were so terrified of him that they refused to go forward until he finally succumbed to his injuries, by which point Cao Cao was long gone. They even refused to remove the head from his body, as would normally be the case when one killed a famous enemy. Cao Cao would eventually reclaim his body and give him a proper funeral, and every time he passed Dian Wei's grave, he would stop and mourn.

    Xu Chu [Zhongkang] (General of Martial Commandant and Marshal of the Center, Marquis of Mou)
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    Another man from Qiao in Pei state, Yu province, Xu Chu conversely did not join Cao Cao during the beginning of his career. He gained fame before this for defending his clan compound from a large bandit force by throwing huge stones at them from the walls, demonstrating his great strength. When Cao Cao finally conquered his old home in 197, Xu Chu joined him along with many of his clansmen and was made one of Cao Cao's bodyguards. He was part of the punitive expedition that Cao Cao launched against Zhang Xiu, who had killed Cao Cao's son Cao Ang and his former bodyguard Dian Wei. Xu Chu performed just as well as his predecessor had, killing many enemy soldiers himself, and was made a Colonel.

    Xu Chu saved Cao Cao from at least one famous assassination attempt (and probably many other less famous ones), participated in the Guandu campaign, and then saved Cao Cao from Ma Chao's attack at the Wei river during the opening stages of the Battle of Tong Pass. It was during the last one that he got the name "Tiger Marquis" as Ma Chao had referred to him as such during negotiations later on. For this, he was promoted to General. He continued to serve Cao Cao until Cao Cao died, at which point Cao Pi promoted him to General of the Martial Commandant and made many of his men officers for their famed service over the years. He outlived even Cao Pi, with Cao Rui granting him one last enlargement of his fiefdom before his death in 230AD. He was known as Cao Cao's favorite warrior, and accompanied Cao Cao everywhere he went, much like Dian Wei had.

    Chen Gong [Gongtai] (Unrecorded)
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    A native of Dong Commandery, Chen Gong initially joined Cao Cao when he came to pacify Dong Commandery following the breakup of the coalition. He assisted in the battles against the Heishan bandits and Yellow Turbans from Qing province during this period, and helped get Cao Cao appointed as Inspector of Yan Province. However, when Cao Cao left to campaign in Xu Province, Chen Gong began plotting against his superior, either out of disaffection or distrust. He and Zhang Miao invited Lu Bu to take Yan from Cao Cao while he was away. Lu Bu attempted to do this and had initial success, but after Cao Cao returned to Yan, the situation reversed and Lu Bu was forced to flee to Xu to seek protection under Liu Bei. Chen Gong went with him, and probably had some input during Lu Bu's takeover of Xu a bit later, but nothing else is recorded.

    Chen Gong became Lu Bu's strategic advisor. However, Lu Bu was not a man who would reliably listen to strategy and so often ignored Chen Gong's advice. Several other people also had Lu Bu's ear at the time, including his wife, his trusted general Gao Shun, and Chen Deng, who was actually an agent for Cao Cao. Lu Bu flitted between listening to any of them at any given time and therefore was unable to mount a cohesive defense when Cao Cao came to take Xu province. Some of Lu Bu's officers turned on him, capturing Chen Gong and Gao Shun and turning them over to Cao Cao, forcing Lu Bu's surrender. Upon meeting Cao Cao again, Chen Gong requested both that Cao Cao take care of his family and that he be executed, citing that he had already refused Cao Cao's demand to surrender before, and by law, this meant death. Cao Cao granted both requests, executing him in 199AD.

    The Liu Clan of Zhuo

    Liu Bei [Xuande] (General of the Left, Emperor Zhaolie of Han)
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    An incredibly distant descendant of the imperial Liu clan, Liu Bei grew up in poverty in Zhuo County, Zhuo Commandery, You Province following the death of his father at a young age. He had the good fortune to go to school with a certain Gongsun Zan, who would enjoy a more successful early life and bring Liu Bei under his wing to help deal with the multiple rebellions in the north (including the yellow turbans). During these rebellions, he made several friends who would follow him for the rest of his life and be instrumental in his campaigns, such as Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Jian Yong. He would serve under Gongsun Zan for several years until the collapse of the coalition, whereupon, he would join Tao Qian who was attempting to prevent Cao Cao from taking over Xu Province. Though Liu Bei was no match for him, Cao Cao was forced to call off the campaign to deal with Lu Bu, and Liu Bei was made Tao Qian's successor by popular demand.

    Liu Bei spent the next several years being betrayed and betraying, usually to his ultimate detriment. He was defeated by pretty much every other warlord in the area, occasionally allying with one before either they were destroyed or he left them. Eventually, he was kicked out of the north entirely after his last master, Yuan Shao, was defeated at Guandu. Despite this, he never lost his core group of followers and retainers, and took them south to join Liu Biao, whereupon he was stationed in northern Jing province, as a defense against Cao Cao. He took on more followers here, including Zhuge Liang, and even managed to defeat Xiahou Dun at the Battle of Bowang before Liu Biao's death and succession by his younger son Liu Cong caused most of Jing province to capitulate to Cao Cao. Liu Bei's army barely escaped annihilation at the Battle of Changban and they managed to hook up with Liu Biao's elder son Liu Qi in Xiakou, which was still loyal to him.

    In Xiakou, Liu Bei met the Sun family emissary Lu Su, who, along with Zhuge Liang, managed to cement an alliance between the two clans to oppose Cao Cao. What followed was the climactic battle at Chibi, where the much smaller army of Zhou Yu and Liu Bei managed to destroy the Cao navy thanks to Zhou Yu's brilliance, better naval experience, and good old home team advantage in terrain and disease resistance. Liu Bei immediately capitalized on this by occupying most of southern Jing while his Sun allies were busy fighting Cao Cao's much stronger army in the north. He even convinced Sun Quan to give up half the territory he had conquered in the north, though the details of this arrangement would have dire consequences.

    At this point, Liu Bei finally got some military strategists that were worth something in Pang Tong and Fa Zheng, who gave him a plan that would let him conquer Yi province from his relative Liu Zhang in a single decisive campaign. He followed their advice and despite the unfortunate death of Pang Tong, managed to take Yi province, putting him on semi equal footing with Sun Quan in terms of land and people. He then proceeded to conquer the southern part of Liang province, Hanzhong, killing Xiahou Yuan in the process. However, Fa Zheng died soon after. Liu Bei proclaimed himself King of Hanzhong, the title the founder of the Han Dynasty Liu Bang had once held. However, while he was away, the Jing province situation boiled over. Several diplomatic incidents had turned Sun Quan against him, and Guan Yu's bold attack on Fancheng in northern Jing had left him vulnerable. Sun Quan's best general Lu Meng proceeded to brilliantly conquer almost all of Jing province and kill Guan Yu with almost no casualties.

    At this point, Cao Cao died and was succeeded by his son Cao Pi, who forced Emperor Xian to abdicate to him, formally establishing the Wei dynasty. In response, Liu Bei claimed to be the legitimate successor to Han and took the title of Emperor as well. He then went on a punitive expedition against Wu, where, bereft of his best strategists, he was decisively crushed by a fire attack at the battle of Xiaoting by Lu Xun. He died the next year, 223AD, of natural causes. Despite being neither a military or administrative genius, his exceptional charisma and ability to foster personal loyalty despite dire circumstances allowed him to survive countless events that would have destroyed most warlords and eventually established one of the Three Kingdoms.

    Guan Yu [Yunchang] (General of the Front, Marquis of Hanshou)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Originally from Hedong Commandery in the capitol province of Sili, Guan Yu started his career during the Yellow Turban rebellion, where he joined a volunteer army under Liu Bei along with Zhang Fei. The three of them were incredibly close and were said to be as brothers, though the oath part is mostly a Romance invention. He followed Liu Bei throughout all of his early career, though not doing anything of particular note until he was captured by Cao Cao's army after Liu Bei betrayed Cao Cao not long after the defeat of Lu Bu and chose to serve Cao Cao. Cao Cao evidently liked Guan Yu a lot, as he had him made a lieutenant-general almost immediately.

    During the Guandu campaign, at the Battle of Boma, he and Zhang Liao were sent to fight the army of Yuan Shao's general Yan Liang and relieve the garrison at Boma. During the chaotic battle, Guan Yu saw Yan Liang's personal standard among the enemy army, then proceeded to ride through the Yuan ranks, unable to be stopped until he reached Yan Liang and decapitated him, causing a mass rout of the enemy army. Cao Cao obviously wanted to keep him after this, but Guan Yu insisted that he had paid his debt and wished to return to Liu Bei. Cao Cao allowed him to. This series of events made his skill as a warrior and personal loyalty very well known, though his reputation quickly got out of hand.

    After returning to Liu Bei, they went south, into Jing province. Guan Yu would help with the evacuation of the remains of the Liu army after the Battle of Changban, and would also participate in the Battle of Chibi, though without any notable achievements. Guan Yu was then given his own army for the Jing province campaign, and what began was a long series of defeats at the hands of basically every other notable commander he fought. Yue Jin thrashed him repeatedly, Wen Ping joined in at least once, Lu Meng took half of Jing from him, and Gan Ning pinned his entire army with a thousand men. Despite this, Guan Yu was kept in charge of Jing and managed to build up a formidable army in what was left of his territory.

    When Liu Bei launched his Hanzhong campaign, Guan Yu joined in by attacking the Wei strongholds in northern Jing from the river. He achieved one of his only battlefield victories in this campaign when a flood destroyed Yu Jin's army that was sent to fight him and Guan Yu picked off the survivors. Then, he proceeded to make several major mistakes and was defeated by a small reserve army under Xu Huang that hadn't even finished training yet and forced to retreat south. He could have survived this, but Lu Meng chose that moment to finish him off, blitzing through Jing from the east, before surrounding, capturing, and executing Guan Yu at Maicheng in 220AD.

    Zhang Fei [Yide] (General of Chariots and Cavalry and Colonel-Director of Retainers, Marquis of Xi)
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    From Zhuo Commandery in You like Liu Bei, Zhang Fei joined Liu Bei during the Yellow Turban Rebellion along with Guan Yu. The three of them were inseparable, said to be like brothers, and he and Guan Yu followed Liu Bei through all the northern rebellions and the coalition against Dong Zhuo. After Liu Bei succeeded Tao Qian as Governor of Xu province, Lu Bu came to take refuge with them and a war with Yuan Shu started not long after. While Liu Bei and Guan Yu were on the frontlines to the south, Zhang Fei was left in charge of Xiapi, whereupon his famous temper caused him to mistreat his men, who turned on him and turned Xiapi over to Lu Bu. It was the first of many incidents where he would be undone by his anger.

    Zhang Fei rejoined Liu Bei, and eventually they retook Xiapi, but lost it to Cao Cao when they attempted to turn on him. He followed Liu Bei for several years after that, eventually ending up in Xinye in Jing province, serving under Liu Biao. When Liu Biao died and his son Liu Cong surrendered to Cao Cao, Liu Bei and his men were forced to flee south while being pursued by Cao Cao, leading to the Battle of Changban. During this battle, Zhang Fei made his famous stand, where he destroyed the bridges across the Han river and with twenty horsemen challenged all of Cao Cao's cavalry to face him. None did, either of fear of him or fear of an ambush, and the delaying action allowed Liu Bei to get away. He went on to fight in the Battle of Chibi and the initial reconquest of Jing province.

    During the conquest of Yi province, Zhang Fei led a army to break Liu Zhang's defensive lines to the south, conquering all the way up to the provincial capitol of Chengdu. He was made Administrator of Ba Commandery and then took part in the Hanzhong campaign. During this campaign, he divided and destroyed an army invading Ba under Zhang He, but when on the offensive the next year, his attempt to misdirect Cao Hong and Cao Xiu was seen through and his army was expelled from Hanzhong until Liu Bei arrived with reinforcements the following year. Right after this ended, Guan Yu was killed by Wu and Jing province taken. Before he could join the punitive expedition against Sun Quan, Zhang Fei's subordinates assassinated him (probably due to his mistreatment of them) and defected to Sun Quan, bringing his head with them in 221AD.

    Zhuge Liang [Kongming] (Chancellor of State and Governor of Yi Province, Marquis of Wuxiang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Originally from Langye Commandery in Xu Province, the Zhuge Clan was scattered by the chaos engulfing the the Han dynasty, and much of it ended up in Jing Province, under the protection of Liu Biao. Zhuge Liang made friends with the various scholars and hermits around the province. Eventually, Liu Bei was given command of Xinye, in Nanyang Commandery, and met Xu Shu, a friend of Zhuge Liang's. Xu Shu recommended him to Liu Bei, and Zhuge Liang presented him with what is now known as the Longzhong plan, which he said would allow Liu Bei to overcome Cao Cao. Liu Bei greatly favored him for this. Zhuge Liang also famously advised Liu Biao's eldest son Liu Qi to avoid the intrigues of court at Xiangyang and instead seek to replace Huang Zu at Jiangxia, to keep himself safe.

    After Liu Biao died and Liu Cong surrendered to Cao Cao, Zhuge Liang was tasked with forming an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. He very nearly botched this, overemphasizing Liu Bei's virtues and offending Sun Quan, but ultimately managed to salvage the situation and form the alliance, which defeated Cao Cao at Chibi. As Cao Cao was driven from the south, Liu Bei conquered the four commanderies of southern Jing Province and placed Zhuge Liang in charge of three of them (Changsha, Lingling, and Guiyang) to oversee logistics and collect taxes to keep his army in the field. After Liu Bei turned on Liu Zhang, Zhuge Liang led relief forces to help with the conquest of Yi Province and was made Army Advisor General, in charge of the affairs of Liu Bei's office and staff. He oversaw the operations of their new capitol of Chengdu, and by extension, most of the land of the state of Shu Han. He kept supplies and men flowing to the various campaigns in progress at the time, and eventually helped persuade Liu Bei to name himself emperor, with himself being named Chancellor of State in return.

    Shortly before Liu Bei died in 223AD, he issued an edict that his son and successor Liu Shan regard Zhuge Liang as a father and administer the state jointly with him. Zhuge Liang immediately negotiated peace with Sun Quan (whom Shu had been at war with) and set about forming a government. After the state had settled into a very efficient and effective administration, he led a military campaign south into Nanzhong, which had fully risen into open rebellion upon Liu Bei's death (a smaller rebellion had been ongoing since 214AD). Along with Shu's southern generals, he defeated many of the rebel leaders and made the native Nanman king Meng Huo submit to him. With Yi province settled, he issued a memorandum to Liu Shan outlining his plans for government of the state and a military expedition into the central plains to defeat Cao Wei and reclaim Luoyang.

    Thus began the Northern Expeditions. After a brief attempt to open a path by getting Meng Da, a former Shu officer, to defect back was foiled by Wei general Sima Yi inferring the plan, defeating the relief forces from Shu and Wu, and killing Meng Da, Zhuge Liang led forces into the Wei River valley personally to break through to Chang'an and Luoyang beyond it. The first expedition was defeated handily by Cao Zhen and Zhang He, and the second stalled out attempting and failing to siege out Hao Zhao in Chencang. The third expedition ended in something of a success, with the capture of Wudu and Yinping Commanderies, but the Wei forces hadn't even fought due to Wudu and Yinping being virtually worthless, and Zhuge Liang was forced to withdraw from them soon after due to their indefensibility. The fourth expedition also ended in failure despite a promising start, and when the fifth expedition became stalemated along the course of the Wei River, Zhuge Liang died of what was likely a stress induced illness in 234AD.

    The Dong Clan of Liang

    Dong Zhuo [Zhongying] (Grand Master, Marquis of Mei)
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    Probably the face of everything that had gone wrong with the Han dynasty in its twilight years, Dong Zhuo started his life rather innocuously, even valiantly, in Longxi Commandery in Liang Province, on the border of the empire. He was said to be chivalrous as a young man and made friends with the local Qiang people through his generosity and respect for them. Upon entering government service, he was repeatedly dispatched to deal with local tribes and bandits, earning a reputation for military ability and decisiveness. He went on to serve against the Xiongnu in Bing province, earning several promotions as well as an appointment as one of the imperial bodyguards (though he was not required to be in Luoyang). He suffered some defeats during the Yellow Turban rebellion and was demoted, but this was only a minor setback.

    His true rise came during the Liang rebellion. Local officials agitated the Hu and Qiang and staged a revolt against the Han. Imperial forces under Zhang Wen sent to put down the rebellion were almost entirely crushed, except for Dong Zhuo, who had foreseen the dire situation and managed to save his army with some clever strategy, but he was forced to retreat out of Liang. Forces under another general, Huangfu Song, arrived later to help clean up the mess, but by this point it seems that Dong Zhuo had realized that serving the dying empire was not going to get him anywhere and began building a personal army from his base in Liang. When Emperor Ling died, the imperial capitol was thrown into chaos, and Dong Zhuo was one of those summoned back to the capitol by General-in-Chief He Jin to help restore order. However, He Jin was assassinated, the Yuan brothers massacred the eunuchs responsible, and in the chaos, Dong Zhuo used his army to seize the capitol and the emperor, putting him in charge of the empire.

    Thus began his reign of terror and decadence where, among other things, he had entire clans slaughtered on a whim (even the children, despite the taboo), stole any personal property of the citizens (killing them if they objected), allowed the mass rape of the women of Luoyang by his army, plundered the imperial tombs, poisoned Dowager He, deposed and poisoned Emperor Shao, and desecrated the body of He Jin's half-brother He Miao before killing his elderly mother just to spite him. The rest of the land erupted in rebellion against him, but this coalition was made up of men who hadn't fought a real battle in their lives, while Dong Zhuo had a battle tested and disciplined army he had been building for decades. His general Xu Rong saw off most of the coalition, including Cao Cao. He then started his most infamous atrocity. He forced the entire civilian population of Luoyang to evacuate to the western capital of Chang'an. Anyone who refused was killed. Tens of thousands died of exposure on the ensuing death march, and Dong Zhuo razed the imperial capitol on his way out.

    That was when Sun Jian arrived. One of the only remaining imperial veterans of the Liang revolt not under Dong Zhuo, Sun Jian was the one commander among the coalition that Dong Zhuo was said to fear, since he knew the man's capabilities. This turned out to be completely right, as Sun Jian devastated his army in several decisive engagements until he reached the mountain passes that marked the extent of the central plains. Dong Zhuo had long since fortified these areas and the other members of the coalition wouldn't help, so Sun Jian could go no further and was forced to return home. Safe behind the mountains in Chang'an, Dong Zhuo indulged himself once more, even taking upon the ancient title of Grand Master (a position above the rest of the government), until a plot hatched by Wang Yun and several others coerced his adoptive son Lu Bu to assassinate him in 192AD.

    Lu Bu [Fengxian] (General of the Left, Marquis of Wen)
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    The other poster child for the Three Kingdoms era, Lu Bu hailed from Jiuyang in Bing province, the northern frontier of the empire. Due to the chaotic nature of the region, he quickly gained a reputation for being a great warrior, fantastic archer, and expert rider. Ding Yuan, Inspector of Bing Province, heard about him and made him one of his staff. When the chaos around Emperor Ling's death erupted in Luoyang, Ding Yuan was one of those recalled to the capitol by He Jin to help fix the situation. Following He Jin's assassination, Dong Zhuo took over and managed to persuade or bribe Lu Bu into killing Ding Yuan, who would have been a rival for power over the capitol. Upon doing this, Dong Zhuo adopted Lu Bu as his son and made him his bodyguard.

    During the days of the coalition, Lu Bu spent most of his time guarding Dong Zhuo until it was time to burn Luoyang, at which point he was put in charge of robbing everything that was not nailed down from the imperial tombs. When Sun Jian came, Lu Bu was one of those who was sent out to fight him and suffered the same fate as everyone else, crushing defeat. He returned to Chang'an, but his relationship with his foster father soured and he was once again persuaded to turn on his patron, this time by the imperial ministers led by Wang Yun. He killed Dong Zhuo, but Wang Yun refused to grant amnesty to Dong Zhuo's other generals, who proceeded to kill Wang Yun and drive Lu Bu out of Chang'an.

    Lu Bu spent the next couple of years bouncing between different warlords, most of whom didn't trust him as far as they could throw him (Yuan Shu outright refused to have him, Yuan Shao tried to kill him), until he was invited by Chen Gong and Zhang Miao to replace Cao Cao as Inspector of Yan Province while Cao Cao was away fighting Tao Qian. Lu Bu and Cao Cao then warred over Yan for some time, but Cao Cao ultimately won and Lu Bu was forced to seek refuge with Liu Bei in Xu. Liu Bei went off to go fight Yuan Shu, and while he was away, Zhang Fei was left in charge of Xu. Zhang Fei mistreated his soldiers, who turned to Lu Bu for help, whereupon he threw Zhang Fei out of Xiapi, claiming Xu for his own.

    At this point, Lu Bu had a strong army, a decent strategist in Chen Gong, and some of the best generals of the era under his command, such as Zhang Liao, Gao Shun, and Zang Ba. However, he was not able to lead a state, and both diplomacy and administration went poorly for him. He wavered between fighting Yuan Shu and allying with him and didn't build up his strength during peacetime. This allowed Cao Cao to isolate him and launch the Xiapi campaign. Lu Bu refused to listen to Chen Gong's strategies and began behaving very erratically, so his less loyal subordinates began turning on him. Once Cao Cao flooded Xiapi, they kidnapped Chen Gong and Gao Shun, and Lu Bu was forced to surrender to Cao Cao. He was executed, along with Gao Shun and Chen Gong in 199AD.

    Zhang Liao [Wenyuan] (General of the Front, Marquis of Jinyang)
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    From Bing province like Lu Bu, Zhang Liao was one of the officers whom Ding Yuan brought with him to the capitol right before Lu Bu killed him, making Lu Bu his new boss. He fought in most of Lu Bu's battles throughout the days of the coalition then into the chaotic wandering period before Lu Bu settled in Xu province. Lu Bu held him in very high regard and essentially made him his frontline general, putting him in charge of Lu Bu's border with Cao Cao and Liu Bei. He performed well here, defeating Liu Bei and Xiahou Dun, but eventually Cao Cao himself came, bulldozed Lu Bu's defenses all the way to Xiapi, and then took the city. Lu Bu and a couple of his diehard supporters were executed, but Zhang Liao and most of the rest of Lu Bu's army were given the opportunity to serve Cao Cao instead, which most did. Given Zhang Liao's reputation, Cao Cao immediately made him a General and Marquis.

    Zhang Liao's rise to rank among the Five Elite Generals of Wei began then. He was on the frontlines of the Guandu campaign, leading the battle at Boma which killed Yan Liang (though Guan Yu actually swung the blade), and was one of those who held the line at Guandu while Cao Cao took the main army to burn Wuchao. After a brief diversion to put down a rebellion, he joined the northern campaign against Yuan Shao's sons and the Wuhuan. He won an absolute multitude of victories during this campaign at incredible speed. Every time the main army got bogged down with a siege, he would take his own contingent to mop up any resistance among the surrounding countryside before rejoining the army for the main assault. He even diverted his army from that front entirely during a lull in the campaign to attack Liu Biao to the south and take Jiangxia commandery before coming back north to take part in the attack against the Wuhuan. This time he led the vanguard at Mount Bailang and when Cao Cao noticed a weakness in the enemy formation, he sent Zhang Liao to exploit it with a small number of elite horsemen, which they did, destroying the entire Wuhuan army.

    After helping put down some rebellions in the south, Zhang Liao was reassigned to Hefei, along with Yue Jin and Li Dian, with a total garrison of 7000 men. Hefei was a very strong position but it was also a long way from the nearest Wei army, so while Cao Cao was off in Hanzhong on the opposite side of the empire, Sun Quan launched a full invasion with 100,000 men. Needing to buy time for reinforcements to arrive, Zhang Liao gathered 800 volunteers for what he stated would be a suicide mission and led a charge into Sun Quan's army while they were still setting up camp. A huge amount of Sun Quan's army fell into chaos and several of his commanders (including the commander of his bodyguards) were killed, wounded, or fled before Pan Zhang and Ling Tong managed to form something of a defensive line and encircled Zhang Liao's small force. Zhang Liao proceeded to break out with some of his men, but upon realizing he had left many behind, broke back in, extracted them too and returned to Hefei. Sun Quan's army had suffered such a demoralization that he decided to retreat ten days later (after a plague broke out as well). Sensing an opportunity, Zhang Liao once again attacked when Sun Quan least expected it and nearly captured Sun Quan at Xiaoyao crossing, stopped only by a ferocious rearguard by some of Sun Quan's best officers.

    Zhang Liao remained on the Wu front for many more years, fighting in the ill-fated Ruxu campaign, where Sun Quan would get his revenge for Hefei, and would succeed Xiahou Dun as General of the Front following the latter's promotion to General-in-Chief. His final action was at the Battle of Dongkou, which he fought while ill, where he and Zang Ba defeated Lu Fan's fleet before a second fleet under He Qi forced a tactical draw and a breakout of plague forced a strategic defeat. Zhang Liao died on the way back of his illness in 222AD.

    Xu Huang [Gongming] (General of the Right, Marquis of Yangping)
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    From Yang County, Hedong Commandery near the imperial capitol, Xu Huang was originally a civil servant in his local government, but somehow ended up falling in with the White Wave Bandits under Yang Feng. Yang Feng and his band were invited to join the imperial army under Dong Zhuo as a legitimate force, and played a part in the war with the Coalition. However, after Dong Zhuo's death, the White Wave bandits became subordinates of Li Jue and ended up embroiled in the conflict between Li Jue and Dong Zhuo's other colonels. Xu Huang convince Yang Feng to abandon the colonels and sneak the emperor back to the imperial capitol. They did so successfully, but fighting soon broke out between the imperial officials that had come with then, and Xu Huang advised Yang Feng to invite Cao Cao to take control of the situation. Cao Cao did, and Xu Huang became one of his subordinates, while Yang Feng left to join Yuan Shu.

    Xu Huang became very active in Cao Cao's army, achieving some fame against rebels in Yan Province and then again against Lu Bu's subordinates in the conquest of Xu Province. He participated in the Guandu campaign against Yuan Shao, being one of those who fought against Yan Liang at Boma, against Wen Chou at Yanjin, and finally in the raid against Yuan Shao's supply caravans at Gushi. Following Yuan Shao's death, he was one of those that helped subjugate the former territories of the Yuan, and participated in their final destruction at Mount Bailang.

    He was in Jing Province after the defeat at Chibi, and fought in the Jiangling campaign, defeating Guan Yu at Hanjin but ultimately losing to Zhou Yu at the siege of Jiangling itself. He then joined the western expedition into Yong and Liang provinces, being the vanguard that established the beachhead and held the beachhead across the Huang River despite heavy resistance. Following that victory, he was placed under Xiahou Yuan and sent to pacify the Qiang and Di peoples of Liang, which they did with great speed and effectiveness. They then took Hanzhong Commandery, but came under attack from Liu Bei. Xu Huang defeated on of the prongs of the first invasion, but during the second, Xiahou Yuan was killed at Mount Dingjun, and Cao Cao ordered a withdrawal from Hanzhong.

    Xu Huang's most notable feat was during the Fancheng campaign. Guan Yu had besieged Cao Ren and the army under Yu Jin that was sent to relieve the siege had been destroyed in an autumn flood. The fall of Fancheng would leave nothing between Guan Yu's army and the capitol at Xu City, so Xu Huang was sent with a small army that had not yet finished training to try and do whatever he could about the situation. Xu Huang initially avoided battle to not give away the greenness of his troops and made a feint that got Guan Yu to shift out of position, allow Xu Huang's army access to better ground. He then bluffed again, making preparations to attack Guan Yu's main camp before suddenly switching targets to the four auxiliary camps and overrunning them, isolating Guan Yu's army in the main camp. He then engaged Guan Yu in his fortified camp directly, and despite the heavy defenses, his numerical disadvantage, and the inexperience of his men, he emerged victorious, lifting the siege of Fancheng. His victory is what got Cao Cao to proclaim him an equal to Sun Tzu (whose works Cao Cao was an avid student of).

    Xu Huang continued his service to the Cao family following Cao Cao's death. He was part of the efforts to further secure Jing Province under Cao Pi, and then defended Xiangyang against Zhuge Jin of Wu during the reign of Cao Rui. He died not long after in 227AD, his last wish being for a simple burial without ceremony. Chen Shou would go on to name him one of the Five Elite Generals of Wei, of which he and Zhang Liao were said to be the greatest.

    Jia Xu [Wenhe] (Grand Commandant, Marquis of Weishou)
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    From Wuwei County in Liang Province, Jia Xu was hailed as a brilliant mind by a civil servant and given a recommendation to imperial service. He was serving in the capitol when Dong Zhuo took control of the government and was put under the command of Niu Fu, Dong Zhuo's son in law. After Dong Zhuo and Niu Fu were assassinated, Jia Xu found himself in the company of the other colonels who had been driven out of Chang'an. He advised them to stick together and helped them in driving out Lu Bu and killing Wang Yun, which got them control of Chang'an and Emperor Xian. However, the colonels began fighting among themselves. Jia Xu played mediator between them, while attempting to keep Chang'an and what was left of the government mostly functional. He kept Li Jue from inviting thousands of Qiang mercenaries into the capitol and prevented the execution of several imperial officials until the emperor was able to escape under the protection of Yang Feng. Jia Xu left soon after.

    He initially joined the warlord Duan Wei, but soon met Zhang Xiu, whose uncle Zhang Ji was one of the colonels he had served with, and joined him in Nanyang Commandery. On Jia Xu's advice, Zhang Xiu allied himself with Liu Biao, but Cao Cao invaded Nanyang soon after. Zhang Xiu initially surrendered without a fight, but after Cao Cao attempted to buy off one of his best soldiers and took his aunt (Zhang Ji's widow) as a concubine, Zhang Xiu asked Jia Xu's advice for turning on Cao Cao. Jia Xu concocted a plan to ambush Cao Cao in his own camp, first disguising their movements as a change of camps, then telling Cao Cao that their men were carrying their weapons and armor during the move because their army could not afford enough carts. The plan was wildly successful, and the resulting Battle of Wancheng became one of Cao Cao's only defeats in the field and the closest he ever came to death, saved only by the sacrifice of his eldest son Cao Ang and his bodyguard Dian Wei.

    Cao Cao returned with a vengeance, but the campaign was indecisive due to Zhang Xiu's stubbornness and Jia Xu's brilliance, and he was forced to call off the invasion to deal with Yuan Shao to the north. It was at this time that Yuan Shao reached out to Zhang Xiu to ask him for an alliance, but Jia Xu turned him down, telling Zhang Xiu to join Cao Cao instead, since Cao Cao was at such a disadvantage against Yuan Shao that he couldn't turn away a great general with a trained and experienced army, no matter what they had done to him in the past. Jia Xu was right, and Cao Cao welcomed them with open arms. Jia Xu and Zhang Xiu participated in the Guandu campaign and the subsequent campaign to subjugate Yuan Shao's sons, with both distinguishing themselves as a brilliant strategist and commander respectively. However, Zhang Xiu died of illness during the march to Mount Bailang.

    Jia Xu went on to be one of Cao Cao's most important strategic advisers. He instructed Cao Cao not to attack Sun Quan after the annexation of Jing Province, but Cao Cao started his southern campaign anyways and ended up defeated at Chibi. He then advised Cao Cao to make peace with Ma Chao and Han Sui, ceding them Liang Province and giving them imperial titles but waiting for them to turn on each other. Sure enough, they did, and the resulting campaign resulted in the successful conquest of Liang. When the issue of succession became disputed, he reminded Cao Cao of his rivals Yuan Shao and Liu Biao, who had both chosen their popular but inexperienced younger sons as crown prince over their more experienced older sons which had spelled ruin for both their houses. Cao Cao reportedly laughed and followed his advice, appointing the older Cao Pi as crown prince.

    Cao Pi appointed Jia Xu as Grand Commandant, the civil official in charge of all military affairs, likely in gratitude for helping with the succession. When he asked for Jia Xu's advice in dealing with the rival states of Wu and Shu, Jia Xu gave him the same advise he gave Cao Cao, to build up his strength and secure his territory instead. Cao Pi didn't listen, and like his father's, his campaign against Wu ended in failure. Jia Xu died not long after, in 223AD.

    The Yuan Clan of Ye

    Yuan Shao [Benchu] (General-in-Chief, Marquis of Ye)
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    Hailing from the incredibly prestigious Yuan family of Runan, Yuan Shao had fame and power from the moment he inherited his family's estate. Initially known for his seriousness and humility, he was popular with pretty much everyone around him and made many friends, including Cao Cao. When the General-in-Chief, He Jin, took him onto his staff during the Yellow Turban Rebellion, Yuan Shao became deeply involved in court politics. Following the end of the rebellion, he and his half-brother Yuan Shu urged He Jin to destroy the eunuchs who held sway over the imperial court, and when He Jin was assassinated, they took matters into their own hands, slaughtering two thousand eunuchs in the capital. However, this chaos allowed Dong Zhuo to take over, and Yuan Shao left the capitol to raise an army to contest him. Others began doing the same, and soon enough, the Coalition against Dong Zhuo was formed with Yuan Shao elected leader.

    The Coalition went poorly. After losing a couple battles (Sun Jian notwithstanding), Yuan Shao and the other warlords began fighting amongst themselves. However, Yuan Shao did well for himself here, immediately taking control of Ji province, and then following up by having his son Yuan Tan secure Qing. After fighting against the Heishan Bandits for a long time, he was able to exert nominal control over Bing province as well. His longest lasting campaign was a long struggle with Gongsun Zan over control of You province, but Gongsun Zan's arbitrary brutality and Yuan Shao's magnanimity eventually decided things. Gongsun Zan was isolated in Yi and Yuan Shao forged a strong alliance with the Wuhuan people to the north. Gongsun Zan would eventually commit suicide.

    To the south however, things got complicated. Yuan Shao was at odds with his half brother Yuan Shu, who had initially formed the other major power among the warlords, and Yuan Shao had placed Cao Cao, who was technically his subordinate, as the Inspector of Yan Province to provide a buffer between him and Yuan Shu. However, this all changed when Cao Cao took the emperor under his protection. It was during this incident that Yuan Shao demonstrated his willingness to listen to all the wrong advice, as he had a chance to take the emperor instead, but was convinced by some of his counselors that doing so would make him an imperial puppet. Instead, Cao Cao ended up as the imperial puppeteer and within a few years, Yuan Shu was destroyed and Cao Cao held enough territory to make a bid for hegemony over the incredibly rich central plains of the empire.

    And so the Guandu campaign began. Yuan Shao had the advantage in numbers and resources, but Cao Cao was decisive, listened to the right advisers, and was willing to take risks. Yuan Shao continually vacillated on important decisions, trying to force a single decisive battle which Cao Cao was content to avoid, harassing Yuan Shao's army and supply lines instead. Every attempt Yuan Shao made to cross the Yellow River was met with setbacks and defeats, often due to his refusal to listen to his competent advisers. He eventually was able to besiege Guandu itself, but Cao Cao held firm, and eventually Yuan Shao's army began to fray from within. One of his advisers, Xu You, betrayed him over a dispute with another official and told Cao Cao of Yuan Shao's supply depot at Wuchao. Cao Cao immediately set out to burn it to the ground, and instead of defending it, Yuan Shao tried to take Guandu while he was away. Wuchao fell, Guandu did not, and many of Yuan Shao's best men, including Zhang He, surrendered to Cao Cao.

    His army, now demoralized and out of supplies, routed. While he put it back together not long after and still had most of his territory, he soon fell ill, probably from the stress. He died in 202AD, and his failure to clarify a successor kicked off a succession crisis that doomed his clan and allowed Cao Cao to assume hegemony over the all important Central Plains. Despite their enmity, Cao Cao mourned the loss of his childhood friend and cared for the remains of his family.

    Yuan Tan [Xiansi] (General of the Chariots and Cavalry and Inspector of Qing)
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    The eldest son of Yuan Shao, Yuan Tan first appears in history when he came of age in 191, at which point his father gave him the task of subjugating Qing Province. This was by no means an easy task, as there were several other competing interests in Qing, including the forces of Kong Rong (supported by Tao Qian and later Liu Bei), Gongsun Zan, Gongsun Du, and a whole host of rebels and bandits, some of whom were Yellow Turban adherents. The fighting lasted several years, but eventually, he managed to drive out the forces loyal to the other warlords and secured Qing province for the Yuan family. During this, he was made Inspector of Qing by his father. However, while he was a good general and an upstanding man, he turned out to be a poor administrator, and the province languished.

    He accompanied his father on the Guandu campaign, but Yuan Shao never designated him his heir. Yuan Shao had always favored his youngest son, Yuan Shang, and instead made Yuan Tan the heir to his late, childless older brother, thus legally making Yuan Tan his nephew. When Yuan Shao died in 202AD without clarifying the succession, enemies of Yuan Tan within Yuan Shao's court, namely Shen Pei and Pang Ji, made Yuan Shang the new head of the Yuan clan by forging Yuan Shao's will. Thought understandably angry, Yuan Tan served his brother loyally against Cao Cao's attempts to capitalize on their father's death. Despite Yuan Tan killing Pang Ji in a separate incident a while later, the brothers fought side by side in the siege of Liyang but were ultimately overcome and forced to retreat to Ye. Cao Cao was advised to leave them alone for a while by Guo Jia, so he then returned south.

    Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang both blamed each other for the loss of Liyang, and revelations about their father's forged will caused Yuan Tan to attack his brother at Nanpi. He was defeated and sent an envoy to Cao Cao in desperation. They agreed to an alliance, one to be solidified by a marriage between their children, but both had eyes on betraying each other. Cao Cao eventually overcame Ye, forcing Yuan Shang to flee and killing Shen Pei. Yuan Tan used this opportunity to attack Yuan Shang's remaining holdings and defeat his brother personally. However, Cao Cao claimed the seizure of territory was a betrayal of their alliance and attacked Yuan Tan outside of Nanpi. Yuan Tan did a good job at matching Cao Cao in the field, but Cao Chun, the commander of the famous Tiger and Leopard Cavalry, led a charge into Yuan Tan's lines, breaking them and sending his entire army running. Yuan Tan was knocked off his horse and beheaded at some point during the rout in 205AD.

    Ju Shou (General Who Displays Might and Supervising Protector of the Army)
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    Originally from Guanping County, Julu Commandery, Ji Province, Ju Shou was an officer under Han Fu, the Governor of Ji Province. Han Fu recommended Ju Shou to the imperial civil service as an Abundant Talent, a high honor that could only be given to one man per province per year. Han Fu was part of the coalition against Dong Zhuo, and Ju Shou may have taken part in the campaign under him. However, after the breakup of the coalition, Han Fu was ousted as Governor of Ji by Yuan Shao. Ju Shou presented Yuan Shao with a plan to seize control of the northern plains before driving into central China to retake the capitol and reestablish the court. Yuan Shao was so pleased that he appointed Ju Shou as a general and as Protector of the Army, with supervisory and disciplinary powers over all other officers.

    However, Ju Shou's advice began being drowned out by other voices at Yuan Shao's court, notably Guo Tu and Chunyu Qiong. The first and probably most damaging incident was where those two convinced Yuan Shao to not secure the emperor follow the emperor's escape from Dong Zhuo over Ju Shou's protests that protecting the emperor would give them imperial authority and legitimacy. The others had argued that the emperor would burden them by forcing them to submit to his orders, which Yuan Shao found convincing. This resulted in Cao Cao securing the emperor instead and using his authority against Yuan Shao. Later, Ju Shou opposed the division of Yuan Shao's peripheral territory between his sons, as that would cause them to resent each other and jockey for position while also allowing them to build up independent power bases.

    When Yuan Shao turned south to face Cao Cao, Ju Shou favored a gradual approach that leveraged Yuan Shao's larger territory and population to slowly wear down Cao Cao, but Yuan Shao instead launched a full invasion in what would become known as the Guandu campaign. During the campaign, Ju Shou and another advisory (Tian Feng) again advised prudence and a methodical approach to wear Cao Cao down through attrition. Yuan Shao instead went with Guo Tu and Chunyu Qiong's strategy of decisive action. Tian Feng protested and was arrested, while Ju Shou lost his overall command of the army and was instead forced to split it with Guo Tu and Chunyu Qiong. Later, he opposed Yuan Shao's decision to appoint Yan Liang for the Boma mission and his desire to cross the Huang River personally to force the Guandu front. This resulted in him being forced to give his remaining command to Guo Tu. He gave a few more pieces of advice during the campaign, but all were recorded as denied.

    When the Guandu campaign reached it's climax and Wuchao was burned, Ju Shou was caught by Cao Cao's men before he could cross the Huang River. Cao Cao respected him greatly and tried to get him to join him, but Ju Shou instead asked to be executed, since his family was still in Yuan Shao's hands. Cao Cao instead treated him well in hopes that he would come around, but Ju Shou attempted to escape back to Yuan Shao, was caught, and Cao Cao was forced to execute him in 200AD.

    For more information, see Roarer's post below.

    Yan Liang (Unrecorded)
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    One of Yuan Shao's generals, he was given command of an army sent to attack Cao Cao's administrator of Dong Commandery, Liu Yan, at Boma during the Guandu campaign. Despite him having some fame as a brave general, Ju Shou argued against this appointment on grounds that Yan Liang was careless and impatient, but Yuan Shao ignored him. Cao Cao's advisers, Xun Yu and Xun You, were of the opinion that Yan Liang was of common quality and the latter told Cao Cao to only send a light detachment to lift the siege of Boma, which he did. Zhang Liao, Xu Huang, and Guan Yu were all part of this sortie, and during the battle, Guan Yu saw Yan Liang's standard, charged through enemy lines, and decapitated him personally in 200AD.

    Wen Chou (Unrecorded)
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    One of Yuan Shao's generals, following the death of Yan Liang and the failure to take Boma during the Guandu campaign, Wen Chou and Liu Bei were given a sizable force of 5,000-6,000 horsemen and an unknown quantity of footsoldiers and told to cross the Yellow River ahead of the army at Yanjin. Cao Cao had only around 600 men with him at the time, so he told them to abandon their baggage in the road, dismount, and hide behind a nearby dyke. When Wen Chou's men were across the river, they began splitting off to loot the baggage, probably assuming it had been abandoned in a hasty retreat. However, Cao Cao signaled to his men to remount and charge the disorganized enemy, causing a massive rout where Liu Bei was put to flight, and Wen Chou was killed and decapitated in 200AD.

    Xu You [Ziyuan] (Unrecorded)
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    Likely from somewhere in Ji Province, Xu You was of unknown rank and status when he conspired to kill Emperor Ling of Han in 184AD. He attempted to get his friend, Cao Cao, to join, but Cao Cao refused and the plan fell apart. When Yuan Shao took control of Ji province in 191AD, he recruited Xu You as an adviser in his court. Later, Xu You was one of the ones who attempted to convince Yuan Shao to take the fugitive emperor under his protection, but was ignored. During the Guandu campaign, he advised Yuan Shao to send a light force to caputre Xu city while Cao Cao was away, thereby taking the emperor and Cao Cao's base while pinning Cao Cao's army, but Yuan Shao still ignored him.

    When one of his family members committed a crime and was arrested by Shen Pei (whom had been left in charge of civil affairs), Xu You defected to Cao Cao, telling him of Yuan Shao's supply depot at Wuchao. Cao Cao therefore took a force and burned Wuchao, which broke the morale of Yuan Shao's army and won the Guandu campaign. However, Xu You became arrogant because of this and began to mock Cao Cao, calling him by his childhood name and once publicly saying that Cao Cao would never have entered Ji Province without him. Cao Cao put up with this for a time, but eventually had him arrested and executed sometime in 204AD.

    The Sun Clan of Wu

    Sun Jian [Wentai] (Inspector of Yu Province, General Who Routs the Caitiffs, Marquis of Wucheng, Emperor Wulie of Wu (posthumously))
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    Born in 155AD to a family without prestige or position in Wu Commandery, Yang Province, south of the Yangtze, Sun Jian was the definition of a self made man in Later Han. He started out as a county government worker, but made his name when he defeated a band of pirates by himself while on a trip, then took part in the suppression of a local revolt, charmed a young woman from a much better family into marrying him, and got recommended to the Imperial civil service.

    He spent much of his mid-career as an administrator to a few counties around the empire until the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Known as a brave man from the south, he was singled out by Zhu Jun, an imperial general also from Wu Commandery, to recruit volunteers and assist him in putting down the revolt. He did so and was commended for bravery to the Imperial court. He then accompanied Zhu Jun to Liang Province to put down a revolt among non-Chinese auxiliaries and local Chinese officials. The expedition ended in disaster when the commanding generals disregarded the advice of him and another provincial upstart named Dong Zhuo, which got the army divided and scattered. Reinforcements from the capitol finally put down the rebellion, but the damage was done and Sun Jian went home to become prefect of Changsha.

    After Dong Zhuo seized control of Luoyang, Sun Jian traveled north to join the coalition. He gathered a large force of family friends and spirited adventurers and put down Dong loyalists and troublemakers along the way. Yuan Shu took a liking to him and sponsored him as the Inspector of Yu Province and an imperial general. Meeting Dong Zhuo’s army under Xu Rong at Yingcheng, Sun Jian lost the first battle, but quickly turned the tables, defeating Lu Bu and Hua Xiong (who was killed) at Yangren then defeating Dong Zhuo himself at Dagu, taking the remains of the imperial capitol where he reportedly found the imperial seal, which he then gave to Yuan Shu.

    The Coalition splintered after it became clear that chasing Dong Zhuo to Chang’an through the fortified mountain passes wasn’t an option. Still Yuan Shu’s client, Sun Jian became embroiled in the conflict between him and Yuan Shao, and was sent to attack Yuan Shao’s ally, Liu Biao, in Jing Province. Despite being initially victorious, Sun Jian was ambushed and killed during the pursuit of Liu Biao’s general Huang Zu in 191AD. When Sun Quan established the Wu dynasty, Sun Jian was posthumously named the first emperor.

    Sun Ce [Bofu] (General who Exterminates Rebels, Marquis of Wu, Prince Huan of Changsha (posthumously))
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The eldest child of Sun Jian and his wife Lady Wu, Sun Ce was born in 175AD, before his family had achieved much prestige. Following the death of his father in 191AD, a teenage Sun Ce eventually went to join Yuan Shu in Shouchun, whereupon he was given a few troops and sent to pacify the lands south of the Yangtze in his patron’s name. Joined by his uncles, some of his father’s old comrades, and his childhood friend Zhou Yu, Sun Ce was emphatically successful in conquering the chaotic lands of Jiangdong, supposedly for Yuan Shu. Many officers who would soon become famous joined him during this time, and before long he had conquered most of the settled regions of Jiangdong.

    With a stable foothold, soaring reputation, and a loyal, veteran army, all he really needed to strike out on his own as a warlord was an excuse, and Yuan Shu quickly gave him one when he attempted to declare a new Zhong dynasty with himself as its head. Sun Ce joined most of the rest of the ostensibly loyal vassals of the Han in condemning this and assisting in putting it down. Many of Yuan Shu’s former troops ended up joining his burgeoning state.

    Things seemed set for him to contest Cao Cao and the other warlords for control of the empire, but while he was still making plans for a northern expedition towards Cao Cao’s base at Xu city (Cao Cao was away dealing with Yuan Shao), he was ambushed while hunting by retainers of one of the many men he had killed during his conquest of Jiangdong. Shot in the jaw, he managed to survive long enough to designate his younger brother Sun Quan as his heir before dying in 200AD, at the age of 25. Sun Quan would posthumously name his brother an imperial prince (though not emperor) when he establish the Wu dynasty.

    Sun Quan [Zhongmou] (General who Exterminates Caitiffs, Emperor Da of Wu)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The second son of Sun Jian and Lady Wu, Sun Quan was born in 182AD, right before the start of the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Bookish and reserved compared to his combative and headstrong brother, Sun Quan had little fame outside of scholarship until his brother was assassinated in 200AD. Due to Sun Ce’s children being too young, leadership of his fledgling state was given to Sun Quan. While neither an administrative genius nor a good general, Sun Quan was known as a leader with a keen eye for talent and was excellent at gaining the loyalty and mediating between his subordinates.

    He carefully built upon his brother’s conquests, gaining new subjects and further securing his hold on Jiangdong until Cao Cao began his southern advance in 208AD. Despite the huge power gap, Sun Quan refused Cao Cao’s demand to surrender, negotiated an alliance with Liu Bei and Liu Qi, and sent Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu to stop Cao Cao at Chibi. In the famous upset, Zhou Yu destroyed Cao Cao’s fleet and ended any chance of Wei crossing the Yangtze into Jiangdong.

    Sun Quan then focused on going West, attacking Jing Province to claim its fertile land and extend his defenses. However, the rewards were paltry, and while his armies slowly pushed Cao Cao out of central Jing, Liu Bei co-opted the scattered powers of southern Jing without a fight. Liu Bei then threatened to turn on him if he invaded Yi Province further to the west on account of it being the domain of his relative, Liu Zhang, which soured their alliance. The alliance was further soured when Liu Bei invaded Yi himself.

    Sun Quan maintained the alliance while continuing to strengthen his domain to resist invasions. Despite failing in his northern strike against Hefei, his subordinates pacified the mostly non-Chinese lands of Guangdong further to the south and forced Shi Xie of Jiao Province to accept his suzerainty. Then, his general Lu Meng pulled off two masterstrokes, first capturing half of Jing with barely any bloodshed in 215AD, then capturing the other half of Jing and executing Guan Yu in 219AD. Liu Bei attempted to retake the province, but was stopped at Xiaoting by Lu Xun in 222AD.

    Sun Quan accepted the nominal suzeranity of Cao Cao for a few years, but formally quit the empire not long after Cao Cao’s death and succession by Cao Pi. He successfully defended his borders from Cao Pi during the Great River Campaign and continued his project to pacify the southern hinterlands, which included the destruction of the Shi family. He declared himself Emperor of Wu in 229AD, building up his capitol of Jianye, making the lands south of the Yangtze self-sustaining economically, and fortifying the length of the Yangtze against any northern invasions.

    Near the end of his life, Sun Quan became erratic and increasingly controlled by his relatives, most notably his eldest daughter, Sun Luban, as his two eldest sons quarreled over succession. The chain of events after 245AD saw him disgrace his chancellor and advisor Lu Xun, depose and exile his eldest son Sun He as crown prince, force his second son Sun Ba to commit suicide, and nominate his youngest son Sun Liang (still a child) as crown prince instead. His son in law, Zhu Jun, objected to this and was forced to commit suicide as well. Right before his death, he attempted to recall Sun He to be crown prince again, but was stopped by Sun Luban. He died in 252AD, at the age of 70.

    Sun Ren
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Lady Sun (Sun Ren in the novel, given name unrecorded) was the only daughter of Sun Jian and Lady Wu. Known for her headstrong and domineering nature, she was married to Liu Bei in 209AD to secure the alliance between their families in light of the strain put on it as a result of the division of land in Jing Province.

    She brought with her over a hundred armed handmaidens and quickly took over Liu Bei’s household. He was said to fear her to the point where she was marked as his third source of worry after Cao Cao in the north and her brother in the east. When he left to take over Yi province, he left his general Zhao Yun to make sure she couldn’t cause any trouble. Sure enough, when Sun Quan recalled her back to Wu to attend their mother’s funeral, she attempted to bring Liu Bei’s son and heir Liu Shan with her. Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei intercepted her and brought Liu Shan back with them while she returned to Wu. Nothing more is recorded of her.

    Gan Ning [Xingba] (General Who Breaks the Line, Administrator of Xiling Commandery)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A man from Linjiang County, Ba Commandery in Yi Province, he was originally a gang leader in his home province, leading a group of young toughs dressed in flamboyant silks with feathers and bells. They would approach local families for hospitality, partying with the host if accommodated, but robbing or killing them if not. Eventually, he started a rebellion against the new Governor of Yi Province, Liu Zhang, but was driven out into Jing Province.

    He evidently decided to educate himself around this time and read books from the 100 Schools of Thought, learning enough to stop robbing people and went from gangster to mercenary. He attempted to sell his services to the Governor of Jing, Liu Biao, but was never received and instead joined with Liu Biao's eastern commander Huang Zu. He served under Huang Zu against the army of Sun Quan in the fighting around Jiangxia Commandery, famously shooting and killing Ling Cao in the Battle of Xiakou, which saved Huang Zu's life. However, Huang Zu didn't reward him or treat him any better than a common soldier, so with the help of Su Fei (a friend in Huang Zu's staff) and recommendations from Zhou Yu and Lu Meng, he defected to Sun Quan, who received him well.

    Gan Ning used his knowledge of Huang Zu's deteriorating army to convince Sun Quan of another campaign into Jiangxia. The result was a phenomenal success, and Gan Ning even managed to save Su Fei's life in the aftermath. He then went on to command the troops that crossed the river and took Yiling in the aftermath of the battle at Red Cliffs, and then held it against Cao Ren's attempts to dislodge him. During the first campaign against Guan Yu for Jing Province, he blocked Guan Yu and his army from crossing the shallows with only a thousand men. During the battle for Wan, he was first to scale the walls of the Wei fortress, and during the retreat from Hefei, was one of the officers who held back Zhang Liao while Sun Quan escaped. However, his most famous exploit was at the second battle of Ruxu, where he led a night raid with a hundred men into Cao Cao's camp, burning anything flammable and killing confused soldiers before escaping into the night. The loss of morale among Cao Cao's army was enough for him to call off the campaign.

    The date and cause of his death is not recorded, but it was likely sometime around 220AD from illness.

    Zhou Yu [Gongjin] (Lieutenant General, Administrator of Nan Commandery)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Born in 175AD to a family of decent fame in Shu County, Lujiang Commandery, Yang Province, south of the Yangtze River, Zhou Yu befriended Sun Ce not long after Sun Jian left to join the war against Dong Zhou in 191. Following Sun Jian's death and Sun Ce commission to conquer the lands south of the Yangtze for Yuan Shu, Zhou Yu immediately went to go join his friend as soon as he crossed the river. He took part in Sun Ce's battles for the lands of Jiangdong, and while little is known of his independent movements, he was evidently highly skilled and trusted to the point where he was said to campaign with Sun Ce rather than under him. He was made Central Protector of the Army and was given a separate command and administrative authority of Jiangxia Commandery, where they were trying to conquer.

    Sun Ce was ambushed and killed in 200AD, and Zhou Yu transferred his allegiance to his successor Sun Quan, for whom he became the primary military adviser. He first crushed and absorbed the independent communities of Ma and Bao and then finally defeated Huang Zu in Jiangxia. He advised Sun Quan not to send any hostages to Cao Cao, and then was instrumental in convincing him to ally with Liu Bei against him. He would go on to command the battle at Red Cliffs, defeating Cao Cao at the initial engagement at Wulin, coming up with and executing the fire attack which destroyed the Wei fleet, and then finally commanding the pursuit through Wulin and up the Huarong Road.

    Following Cao Cao's defeat at Red Cliffs, Zhou Yu and Liu Bei pushed into Jing Province, but while Liu Bei had an easy time convincing the independent and isolated southern commanderies to surrender to him, Zhou Yu had to contend with Cao Ren, Yue Jin, and many more of Cao Cao's best men in the desperate struggle for northern Jing. Battling with the Wei forces throughout the winter of 208-209, Zhou Yu's armies managed to encircle and lay siege to the vital city of Jiangling. Despite their smaller numbers, Zhou Yu's officers proved to be a match for their Wei counterparts. However, Zhou Yu was hit by an arrow during one of the engagements and his health slowly deteriorated. Despite his condition, he continued to lead his men in the field, and, unable to supply the city, Cao Cao ordered an evacuation, conceding Nan commandery to Sun Quan.

    He advised Sun Quan to quickly capture and isolate Liu Bei before he became too much of a problem and to make preparations to invade Yi province to the west, completing a southern defensive line against Cao Cao. However, before he could begin, he died of illness in 210AD, likely exacerbated by his wounds from Jiangling.

    The Ma Clan of Liang

    Ma Teng [Shoucheng] (Commandant of the Guards, Marquis of Huaili)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Fufeng Commandery in Liang Province, Ma Teng was the son of Ma Ping, a former minor official who was dismissed from his post and left to live with the Qiang people on the western frontier, one of whom he married. Ma Teng therefore grew up mostly destitute on the frontier with the Qiang. In 184AD a minor insurgency started by Qiang bands further along the frontier was joined by a large mutiny of the Qiang and Yuezhi soldiers in the Auxiliary of Loyal Barbarians from Huangzhong, the situation in Liang Province grew into open rebellion and the Han provincial government began putting together a defense force. Ma Teng volunteered for the army as a regular soldier, but quickly rose to the rank of Major. Court politics and military incompetence resulted in the defeat of the imperial armies, and after the death of the governor, Geng Bi, Ma Teng defected to the rebels along with his command.

    Ma Teng quickly became a major rebel leader, joining such men as Han Sui, Song Jian, and overall commander Wei Guo. This shifted the rebellion from a non-Chinese to Chinese led affair which now controlled all of Liang province. The rebels laid siege to Chencang in 188AD, hoping to break through to the western imperial capitol of Chang'an. However, this time, an imperial army under Huangfu Song and Dong Zhuo, two of the best generals in the imperial army, defeated and scattered the rebels. Ma Teng and Han Sui sacked Wei Guo, and after his replacement died, Ma Teng and Han Sui were left on their own. However, the coups in Luoyang prevented any coordinated imperial attempt to retake Liang, and when Dong Zhuo came to power, he offered the rebels an olive branch and titles if they'd fight for him, which they accepted.

    Dong Zhuo was eventually defeated and then assassinated by Lu Bu. The Liang warlords continued to support Dong Zhuo's successors, but all sides soon feel into conflict. Ma Teng and Han Sui allied with Liu Yan, governor of Yi Province, and attempted to take Chang'an from Li Jue, Guo Si, and Fan Chou. They were defeated and forced to return to Liang. Ma Teng and Han Sui soon had a falling out as well, and went to war with each other over Liang province. Eventually, Cao Cao, fresh off his victory at Guandu, brokered a peace between the two and had them support his troops in their pacification of the capitol region against the agents of the Yuan family. Following this, Ma Teng was summoned to Ye to be Commandant of the Guards, a prestigious court position that he reportedly asked for in order to get away Han Sui, effectively also becoming a hostage for his soldiers in Liang.

    Ma Teng's son Ma Chao formed an alliance with Han Sui in 211AD and started a rebellion against Cao Cao, going so far as to informally adopt Han Sui as his father, thereby disowning Ma Teng as such at the same time. Their rebel alliance was defeated decisively at The Battle of Huayin (aka Tong Pass) though they continued uncoordinated fighting for years. In response, Emperor Xian sentenced Ma Teng and his family to death, and he was executed in 212AD.

    Ma Chao [Mengqi] (General of the Agile Cavalry and Governor of Liang, Marquis of Tai)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Born in 176AD in Youfufeng Commandery in Sili province, Ma Chao was the eldest son of Ma Teng, at the time just another frontiersman near the western capitol, but eventually a warlord in the Liang rebellion. Ma Chao grew up during the turbulent chaos of the Liang rebellion and the fallout of the splintering of Dong Zhuo's army. His father and another warlord, Han Sui, went to war with each other over Liang, resulting in the death of Ma Chao's mother and some of his siblings. Peace was brokered between the two men by Cao Cao's agent Zhong Yao in 197AD, and they both acknowledged Cao Cao's suzerainty. Cao Cao reportedly asked for Ma Chao to come to the capitol to serve in the government, but Ma Chao refused. He did however, join an expedition in support of Zhong Yao's administration in the capitol region of Hedong in 202AD, driving away the Yuan forces with his subordinate, Pang De.

    His father soon requested and was granted permission to take a post in the imperial court in Ye. Ma Chao was left in charge of his troops. However, when Cao Cao announced his intention to march against Zhang Lu of Hanzhong, Ma Chao grew suspicious that Cao Cao would use this as an excuse to take his autonomy away, and formed a rebel army along with Han Sui, effectively abandoning his father and family in Ye. They opposed Cao Cao at Tong Pass, the gateway to Chang'an. However, Cao Cao outmaneuvered them by crossing the bend of the Huang River twice at Dou and Puban, putting himself behind the pass. Ma Chao attempted to prevent him from crossing the Wei River, the final obstacle between him and the rear of Ma Chao's army, but Cao Cao defeated him in a night ambush. Negotiations followed, where Ma Chao and Han Sui attempted to buy peace with Cao Cao, but Cao Cao instead used the opportunity to begin turning the warlords against each other. Ma Chao then attempted to capture Cao Cao during a meeting, but was thwarted by Cao Cao's bodyguard Xu Chu and negotiations ended. With both sides now arrayed on even ground, Cao Cao pressed the attack and his vaunted Tiger and Leopard Cavalry broke the flanks of the Liang warlords, driving them from the region around Chang'an.

    Ma Chao returned to Liang in defeat, but Cao Cao did not pursue him for long, and Ma Chao began forming a new army, this time comprised of many Qiang and Rong auxiliaries along with whatever disaffected Han Chinese he could find. With Cao Cao himself gone, Ma Chao received considerable reinforcements from Zhang Lu of Hanzhong and overran the Wei River valley, besieging and capturing Jicheng, the capitol of Hanyang Commandery. He killed the Inspector of Liang, Wei Kang, and the Administrator of Jicheng, despite the fact that they had surrendered to him, and proclaimed himself General Who Conquers the West and Governor of Bing Province. He also defeated the force under the command of Xiahou Yuan that had force marched across the frontier to relieve the siege but arrived too late. However, these arbitrary executions and Ma Chao himself angered both the leading men of Liang and (famously) their wives, who plotted against Ma Chao. Directed by Wei Kang's former deputy Yang Fu, some of them rebelled in Lucheng, and when Ma Chao went to go put them down, the rest rose up in Jicheng, killed Ma Chao's wife and children, and went to go join the rebels. Just then, Xiahou Yuan returned and the combined force surrounded and crushed Ma Chao at Lucheng. He attempted to return to Jicheng, only to find the gates locked and his wife's body thrown to him from the walls. Xiahou Yuan continued his pursuit and Ma Chao was forced to flee to join Zhang Lu for protection.

    Ma Chao remained with Zhang Lu for a short time until he grew wary of Zhang Lu's officers' distrust of him and defected to join Liu Bei, who was in the process of taking Yi Province from Liu Zhang. Liu Bei welcomed him during the Siege of Chengdu, and Liu Zhang capitulated soon after. He and Zhang Fei soon embarked on the first attempt to conquer Hanzhong from Wei, but their flanking attempt was ambushed by Cao Hong and Cao Xiu and they were forced to retreat. Following Liu Bei's victory in at Mount Dingjun and his subsequent proclaiming himself King of Hanzhong in 219AD, he made Ma Chao General of the Agile Cavalry and Governor of Liang (despite the fact that they had no presence there), as well as enoffing him as Marquis. Ma Chao isn't mentioned as being present at any of the battles after the conquest of Hanzhong, and died in 222AD of unrecorded causes.

    Han Sui [Wenyue] (General Who Conquers the West)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Jincheng Commandery in Liang, Han Sui was a clerk in the local commandery administration. His father was called to the capitol to serve his time as a cadet in the imperial civil service and Han Sui eventually went there himself as part of a routine report delegation, meeting another cadet named Cao Cao whom he became friends with. He briefly served in the Yellow Turban Rebellion as an adviser to General in Chief He Jin and used that opportunity to push He Jin to act against the eunuchs. He Jin did not, and Han Sui returned to Jincheng. In 184AD, groups of Qiang bandits joined with a larger mutiny of Qiang and Yuezhi soldiers of the Auxiliary of Loyal Barbarians from Huangzhong, starting the Liang Province Rebellion. Many Han officials were killed, but others joined the rebels, as did Han Sui, either out of fear or genuine disgust at the state of the empire.

    The rebellion gained traction and eventually destroyed the armies sent to subdue them due to mismanagement and political interference from the eunuchs in Luoyang. Another Han officer named Ma Teng joined the rebellion as well and he and Han Sui eventually became major leaders. Eventually, the rebellion attempted to take Chencang and break through to the western capitol of Chang'an, but was finally defeated and scattered by Huangfu Song and Dong Zhuo. Han Sui survived this, helped Ma Teng depose the rebellion leadership, and set himself up as an independent warlord in Jincheng. The Han forces never pushed their success, since the political firestorm in Luoyang catapulted Dong Zhuo into power, and he eventually bribed Han Sui and Ma Teng with titles to fight for him. Both men fought against the coalition, but after Dong Zhuo's assassination and some sort of dispute with Li Jue a couple years later, they formed a new alliance with Liu Yan and attempted to take Chang'an from Dong Zhuo's colonels, only to be defeated by Li Jue, Guo Si, and Fan Chou. Han Sui convinced Fan Chou not to pursue them and he and Ma Teng retreated to Liang.

    The colonels eventually splintered and dispersed, leaving Han Sui and Ma Teng as the strongest factions west of the passes. At a certain point, Cao Cao's officer Zhong Yao allied with them to secure the area around Luoyang from the agents of Yuan Shao, and for this, Han Sui's title of General Who Conquers the West was restored. Then, he and Ma Teng started fighting over Liang. Han Sui's officer Yan Xing nearly killed Ma Teng's eldest son Ma Chao, and at some point, Ma Teng's wife and several children were killed by Han Sui. The fighting was inconclusive however, and Cao Cao had Zhong Yao broker peace between them. Ma Teng requested and was allowed to serve in Ye to get away from Han Sui, leaving Ma Chao in charge of his army.

    Cao Cao's proclamation of a campaign against Zhang Lu of Hanzhong worried Han Sui, since the route would take Cao Cao's army through his territory. Ma Chao convinced him to join him in resisting Cao Cao. In 211AD, they opposed Cao Cao at Tong Pass, but Cao Cao flanked their army by crossing the Yellow River twice and the Wei river once, all while under attack. The warlords attempted to leverage their strength through negotiations, but Cao Cao used his friendship with Han Sui to sow disunity, publicly chatting with him about old times and sending a visibly edited letter that was intercepted. The negotiations bought Cao Cao time to arrange his army and the Liang warlords were defeated at Huayin.

    Han Sui fled west, but Cao Cao did not pursue him. He instead left Xiahou Yuan to deal with Liang province. Despite vigorous resistance, Xiahou Yuan began crushing the Liang warlords that survived Huayin. Han Sui eventually became one of the last independent powers in the northwest, holding on to some territory in Hanyang Commandery, where he built a force out of the Qiang and Di people to oppose Xiahou Yuan. However, Xiahou Yuan successfully drew him out and crushed him, forcing him to retreat all the way to his home of Jincheng with what he had left. At this point he had a falling out with Yan Xing, who defected to Cao Cao. Han Sui died soon after, in 215AD, at the age of 70. His remaining subordinates cut off his head and gave it to Cao Cao as a token of their surrender

    More Biographies Below

    I'll be editing this post as time goes on to add more information.
    Last edited by zoner16; December 18, 2018 at 10:47 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    You wrote all of these for this post? Nice post!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Keep up good works! cheers.
    Its easy to make war with others, its never been easy when we need a peace.

    My holy damn simple tactic; Strike First, Strike HARD and SHOW NO MERCY.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    I have some maps to share, which may help provide a lot of context to the other information. Note that a lot of them are either not fully contemporary to the start date or have errors/things to note, which I'll try to explain as I go.

    Here is a Han dynasty population map from a census in 140AD (thanks to the history of China podcast, and some Paradox forumites) fifty years from the start date. This should help place a lot of the commanderies, though some would be changed around throughout the leadup to the Three Kingdoms and during the Three Kingdoms itself. Things to note with this one are that populations of the northern border territories often only counted ethnic Han Chinese, and did so very poorly, due to the chaotic and nomadic nature of the region. On the other hand, the southern territories were often more than happy to count and double count native non-Chinese who were sometimes only citizens in the theoretical sense.

    Changshan's population should be 631,134.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Here is a province map from right before the start date in 189AD. Things to note with this one. The dark brown is meant to represent ethnic Chinese populations, though I suspect this probably meant anyone who used the Chinese writing system.

    Yong province would be formed out of western Sili and eastern Liang around the western capitol of Chang'an in 194AD. Southern Yi province would be made into Ning province right after Zhuge Liang pacified the region. Jiaozhi would be split into its western and eastern halves to become Jiao province (Red River Delta and west, basically Vietnam) and Guang province (everything north and east of Jiaozhi commandery) by Sun Quan following the death of Shi Xie. Ping province would be temporarily created in the Liaodong region and northern Korea until ultimately being merged back into You province. Bing and Liang would be abolished and reestablished a couple times during particularly chaotic periods.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Here's a detailed map of cities and landmarks (provinces are noted above major cities) in around 220AD. Only major thing to note here is that the geography is somewhat approximate. Some of the rivers have since moved around, the coastline has advanced, and on this particular map the mountains separating Yi and Jing province are rather sparse.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Here's a map of the warlords territory in what is about 197AD, a few years after the start date. Things to note here is that Dong Zhou is already dead, Liu Biao's hold on southern Jing province is mostly nominal, and Sun Ce and Liu Yao's territory is a lot more chaotic, with several independent holdouts of bandits and native tribes that would not settle down for quite some time.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  5. #5

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Cool, maybe you should post this on the official TW forum as well?
    This forum is dying....for a very good reason.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    So, should we assume that the Tarim Basin and it's regions are basically irrelevant to this period? I can't see CA including them, they would be cool for some variety of landscapes and units but I imagine they would want to focus on the area of the maps you show above. Also, do you think there might be a chance to see SE Asia(Vietnam mainly) and Korea in this game? I know they wouldn't even be close to being big players but I have to wonder, could they feasibly add them, were they developed enough to be a faction.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by captainkrunch View Post
    So, should we assume that the Tarim Basin and it's regions are basically irrelevant to this period? I can't see CA including them, they would be cool for some variety of landscapes and units but I imagine they would want to focus on the area of the maps you show above.
    "Irrelevant" isn't quite as far as I'd put it, but of all the lands nominally belonging to the empire, the Western Protectorate itself is probably the least important to this time period. The lands past the Hexi corridor (west of Dunhuang) are not ethnically Han, and consist of several tributary city states and a bunch of native tribes, with a couple of poorly maintained military outposts scattered about. Control of the Tarim Basin helped boost Silk Road trade, but its not as if that trade ceased if control of the region wasn't absolute. Furthermore, there weren't any major attacks on the Tarim Basin during this time that I'm aware of. After Cao Wei reestablished control of Liang Province, a new official of the western regions was appointed and business continued as usual. Any military threat to the region was local, involving players who wouldn't be able to touch the empire proper due to geography,

    So basically, it'd function like a trade node in Empire or Shogun 2. Once you control Dunhuang, you get to reap the rewards of the area without actually going there.

    Also, do you think there might be a chance to see SE Asia(Vietnam mainly) and Korea in this game? I know they wouldn't even be close to being big players but I have to wonder, could they feasibly add them, were they developed enough to be a faction.
    Vietnam is actually part of the empire, as you can see on the map. It's organized under Jiaozhi province at the start date, ruled by the administrator/warlord Shi Xie, who despite being ethnically Han, would go a bit native during his time there, eventually being honored by the Viet as King Si. The entire Jiaozhi region (later reorganized into Jiao and Guang provinces) was fairly important to Sun Wu for food and resources, and Vietnam itself was the site of a very famous rebellion under Lady Trieu late into the period. Further to the south, the Cham people rebelled and established their own kingdom about two years after the start date, but their lands were not of major concern to the empire and they weren't very expansionist.

    The rest of Southeast Asia wasn't very important from a military perspective. The Vietnamese and Laotian highlands to the west were mostly impassable and the only thing beyond them of any note in the region was the trading power of Funan, which was too far away to do anything but send the occasional trading fleet.

    Korea is more complicated. About half of it was controlled by the Han Dynasty since the destruction of Wiman Joseon during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han. However, with the exception of Lelang commandery in the northwest, the peninsula had mostly been abandoned by this time. The south had returned to a large amount of small kingdoms, but the northeast saw the rise of Goguryeo, who had previously been confined to the Manchurian border and now controlled a good amount of the peninsula as well. During the Three Kingdoms, Lelang was administered as part of the Liaodong independent region, which was essentially a renegade province for much of the period. They and Goguryeo had a testy relationship, and when Sima Yi finally came to bring Liaodong under control, Goguryeo helped out.

    However, after Sima Yi left, they attempted to capitalize on the state of the region to seize Lelang and possibly Liaodong itself, prompting a war with Wei that Goguryeo was defeated in. This particular war was notable for a couple of reasons. It would demonstrate that, despite their loss, Goguryeo was organized enough to recover and adapt the military technologies and practices that the Chinese had used against them for later campaigns against both the Chinese and the other Koreans in their bid for control over the peninsula. It would also give rise to Guanqiu Jian, the Inspector or You province, who would famously revolt against the Sima Clan a decade later.

    So I'd say there's a really good chance that we get Vietnam and Korea, just not in their full modern boundaries.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Alright, that's cool. Alot of maps I have seen that 3K might take inspiration from tend to leave parts of Vietnam and Korea out of the picture but it's good to know that there is a chance they might be seen, atleast as DLC.

    This would basically be my dream map for this game, in terms of the area covered.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by Leonardo; July 21, 2019 at 06:35 AM. Reason: Spoiler added.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Biographies Continue Here

    The Liu Clan of Xiangyang

    Liu Biao [Jingsheng] (General Who Guards the South and Governor of Jing, Marquis of Chengwu)

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    Born in Shanyang Commandery, Yan Province, in 142AD, Liu Biao was a decedent of Emperor Jing of Former Han through Liu Yu, Prince of Huaiyang. He interned under a civil servant as a young man and eventually became a bureaucrat himself under Emperor Huan. However, he got involved in factional politics on the side of the reformists and was one of whose career was destroyed in a purge by the eunuch faction. He returned home and lived something of a quiet life until the Yellow Turban Rebellion opened the door for him to redeem himself. He was put on the staff of General-in-Chief He Jin as Captain of the Center of the Northern Army, the primary liaison between the General-in-Chief and the colonels who ran the professional Han army. Eventually, He Jin was killed by the eunuchs, and Liu Biao was one of many former soldiers brought under the wing of Dong Zhuo, who apparently took a liking to him, because he made him Governor of Jing Province.

    Jing Province was half held by the "loyal rebels" and half held by bandits. Liu Biao snuck his way into Xiangyang with his brother-in-law Cai Mao and set up shop. He managed to win the support of the administrators of north-central Jing and the local gentry, bought off Yuan Shu by ignoring his occupation of Nanyang commandery in the north, and killed off several bandit leaders from the south to solidify his hold on area. However, Dong Zhuo was assassinated, and the remaining warlords began fragmenting into factions. Liu Biao paid some lip service to the new imperial regime in Chang'an under Li Jue, but his more valuable alliance came with Yuan Shao, Governor of Ji. This caused a conflict with Yuan Shu, who sent his subordinate Sun Jian to attack Liu Biao. Liu Biao sent his own general, Huang Zu to face him, and while Huang Zu lost in the field, Sun Jian was killed in an ambush and the danger passed. Liu Biao then set about securing his borders, fighting a brief war with Liu Zhang of Yi Province, defeating Zhang Ji's attack on Nanyang and then giving it to his nephew Zhang Xiu to defend, pacifying the rebellious southern commanderies of Jing, and contesting the east with Sun Jian's son, Sun Ce.

    Eventually his western and southern fronts settled, but his northern and eastern front did not. Zhang Xiu had joined Cao Cao and helped him crush Liu Biao's old ally, Yuan Shao, and Sun Ce's brother, Sun Quan, began launching major attacks on Huang Zu in Jiangxia. Around this time, Liu Biao took in Liu Bei, once again a wandering mercenary with a large following, and stationed him at Xinye, one of his last strongholds in Nanyang. He needed the men. Cao Cao was mopping up the Yuan family and sending his generals on probing strikes south, while Sun Quan was making great progress against Huang Zu. Just as Cao Cao began his southern offensive, Sun Quan succeeded in killing Huang Zu and taking Jiangxia. Liu Biao's eldest son, Liu Qi, requested to take Huang Zu's place to get away from Xiangyang as he was disfavored compared to his younger brother Liu Cong, who was connected by marriage to the Cai family. Liu Biao agreed, but took ill shortly after and died, in 208AD. With Liu Qi not around, Liu Cong inherited Jing Province and immediately surrendered to Cao Cao.

    Huang Zhong [Hansheng] (General of the Rear, Secondary Marquis)

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    From Nanyang Commandery, Jing Province, Huang Zhong first appears in history as Liu Biao's General of the Household, likely having joined him not long after his takeover of the province. Sometime before 199AD, he was sent to Changsha Commandery along with Liu Biao's nephew, Liu Pan, and the two of them came into conflict with the forces of Sun Ce, who had recently taken over the neighboring Yuzhang Commandery. Their attempts to dislodge his men were unsuccessful and they were pretty soundly defeated by Taishi Ci. In 208AD, Cao Cao took over Jing, and Liu Pan was replaced by Han Xuan as Grand Administrator of Changsha. Huang Zhong was made a Major General and merged into the new administration. However, Cao Cao was soon defeated at Chibi, and all the commanderies south of the Yangzhi were left to fend for themselves. Liu Bei arrived not long after, and while Sun Quan was busy fighting Cao Cao in the north, Liu Bei demanded the surrender of the southern Jing commanderies. At Huang Zhong's urging, Han Xuan surrendered, and Huang Zhong joined Liu Bei.

    Huang Zhong joined Liu Bei to briefly serve under Liu Zhang in 214AD, and then assisted in the coup to overthrown Liu Zhang as Liu Bei's subordinate, evidently performing well enough to be promoted to General Who Attacks Rebels. In 217AD, Liu Bei launched an invasion to wrest Hanzhong Commandery from Cao Cao. However, the first attempt under Zhang Fei and Ma Chao was defeated and the front stalemated for some time. Liu Bei tried again at the end of 218AD, this time bringing Huang Zhong, Huang Quan, and Fa Zheng on a more direct strike towards the commandery capitol, Nanzheng. They encamped at Mount Dingjun in early 219AD, but the Wei army under Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He came to the neighboring Zouma Valley to contest them. Liu Bei launched a night attack on their camp with fire to press Zhang He in place, and placed his unengaged southern flank under Huang Zhong. When Xiahou Yuan split off some of his command to help Zhang He and put the rest of it to work fighting the blaze, Fa Zheng directed Huang Zhong to launch their attack. The depleted, distracted, and surprised southern wing the Wei army crumbled and Xiahou Yuan, his deputy, and his son were all killed. The other wing of the Wei army withdrew in good order across the river under Zhang He and no further fighting took place. Cao Cao eventually had them withdraw across the mountains and Hanzhong was secured. Huang Zhong was made General Who Conquers the West for his contributions.

    Liu Bei crowned himself King of Hanzhong not long after. Huang Zhong was promoted again, this time to General of the Rear and was enoffed as a Secondary Marquis. However, he died not long after of unrecorded causes in 220AD.

    Liu Qi (Inspector of Jing)

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    The eldest son of Liu Biao, Liu Qi was unfortunately not favored by family politics, as his younger brother, Liu Cong, had married the niece of Lady Cai, their father’s second wife. The powerful Cai family therefore backed Liu Cong as the heir despite Liu Qi’s seniority. Fearing for his position and his life, Liu Qi asked for advice from Zhuge Liang, who told him to leave his father’s capitol and build up his strength elsewhere. Therefore, upon the death of Huang Zu in 208AD, Liu Qi requested to take his place as the Administrator of Jiangxia. This didn’t achieve the results Liu Qi expected however. When his father became ill later that year, Liu Qi was barred from seeing him by his younger brother and the Cai family.

    Liu Biao ultimately died and Liu Cong became heir with little resistance in Xiangyang. However, Liu Cong immediately surrendered to an advancing Cao Cao, which allowed Liu Qi to become a beacon for those in Jing who opposed surrender, including the famous Liu Bei. The two of them combined forces and went to Sun Quan to propose an alliance, which was ultimately successful in driving away Cao Cao at Chibi. Liu Qi was then selected as the new Inspector of Jing Province by Liu Bei and Sun Quan. The reconquest of most of central and southern Jing went smoothly, but Liu Qi fell ill in Jiangxia not long after and died in 209AD. Liu Bei succeeded him, though he took the post of governor, rather than inspector.

    Liu Cong (Inspector of Qing and Army Adviser and Counselor Remonstrant, Marquis)
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    The younger son of Liu Biao, he was favored by his father due to resembling him and by the influential family of his stepmother, Lady Cai, by marrying her niece. When Liu Biao grew ill, his in-laws in the Cai family ran interference to prevent his older son, Liu Qi, from seeing him and interfering with the succession. Upon his father's subsequent death in 208AD, Liu Cong became Governor of Jing without significant protest.

    However, a month later, Cao Cao demanded that Jing Province surrender to him. Liu Cong's advisors (whom he inherited from his father) urged him to comply, and after some persuasion, he did. He specifically did not inform his brother or Liu Bei, who was stationed in Nanyang, preparing for battle. By the time either of them heard, he had already handed over his seal to Cao Cao at Xiangyang. He was made a Marquis and the inspector of Qing Province, eventually becoming an imperial counselor and presumably living the rest of his life in luxury in the capitol.

    Huang Zu (Administrator of Jiangxia)
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    From Jiangxia Commandery in Jing Province, Huang Zu first appears in history as the commandery administrator around the time that Liu Biao arrived in the province. Since the Han had restrictions on men serving in their home province, he likely took over sometime after the chaos weakened government control. Liu Biao struck a deal with him for funding and supplies in exchange for military support. Though Huang Zu was nominally his subordinate, Liu Biao had little control over Jiangxia, which Huang Zu ran like his own fief.

    After the war between the Yuan brothers broke out in 191AD, Huang Zu was brought north to Fancheng to defend it from an attack by Sun Jian, Yuan Shu's subordinate. Huang Zu was pushed out of Fancheng, and was forced to take refuge in Xiangyang. However, despite continually losing to Sun Jian, a stroke of luck saw Sun Jian killed by a stray arrow during one of his pursuits of Huang Zu's routed forces and the conflict fizzed out.

    The conflict was resumed sometime around 199AD, when Sun Jian's son, Sun Ce, had conquered most of the Jiangdong region to the east and had proceeded to turn his gaze west, towards Jing. Huang Zu initially tried to help one of Sun Ce's enemies, a Liu Xun, before Sun Ce could finish him off, but his reinforcement navy was destroyed and Sun Ce advanced on Huang Zu's territory at Xiakou. This time, Liu Biao sent him reinforcements, but Sun Ce defeated their combined army, capturing Huang Zu's family in the process.

    Sun Ce was assassinated soon after, but his brother, Sun Quan, resumed the war with Huang Zu again in 203AD. A navy under Ling Cao was sent to Xiakou once again to do battle, and they succeeded in breaking through Huang Zu's navy. Huang Zu was put to flight and only saved by his subordinate, Gan Ning, who shot and killed Ling Cao during the pursuit. However, this proved to be Huang Zu's undoing. He didn't reward Gan Ning and attempted to subvert his men instead. Gan Ning then defected to Sun Quan and told him of Huang Zu's advanced age and lack of supplies. Sun Quan therefore sent another attack force (including Ling Cao's son Ling Tong) to Jiangxia city itself in 208AD. This time, when his lines collapsed, Huang Zu had no one to save him and was caught and killed by a Sun horseman in 208AD.

    Cai Mao [Degui] (Changshui Colonel, Marquis of Hanyang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Xiangyang, Nan Commandery, Jing Province, Cai Mao was the brother in law of Liu Biao through his second wife, Lady Cai. He was also the brother in law of one Huang Chengyan, whose daughter Huang Yueying married Zhuge Liang. He was evidently serving under the former brother in law during Dong Zhuo's coup and was likewise sent to Jing to help Liu Biao secure the province. He was made administrator of various commanderies within the province during their stay there and became Liu Biao's primary advisor after the latter was promoted to General who Guards the South.

    When Liu Biao grew ill, Cai Mao ran interference with his older son, Liu Qi, so that his younger son, Liu Cong, could succeed him. Cai Mao was connected to Liu Cong through marriage, possibly being his father in law, so he had a very obvious motivation. However, Cao Cao soon demanded the surrender of Jing Province. Being one of Cao Cao's old friends, Cai Mao helped persuade Liu Cong to capitulate and joined him in leaving for the capitol. He was made a Changshui Colonel and enoffed as a marquis, often being visited by Cao Cao himself, and presumably lived in comfort thereafter.

    The Yuan Clan of Shouchun

    Yuan Shu [Gonglu] (General of the Left and Governor of Yang, Marquis of Yangzhai)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From the prestigious Yuan family of Runan Commandery, Yu Province, Yuan Shu was the son of Yuan Feng by a concubine. He was younger than his half-brother Yuan Shao, but since Yuan Shao was the son of a servant whom had been elevated to concubine after his conception, Yuan Shu was technically higher than him in the family hierarchy. This all changed when Yuan Shao was adopted by their father's childless older brother Yuan Cheng as his heir. Suddenly, Yuan Shao was poised to become the family head, despite his lower birth, and this would drive a wedge between the two men for their entire lives.

    As a child of the Yuan clan, Shu quickly entered imperial service in high positions, once as the Intendant of Henan (the capitol region) and later as the General of the Gentlemen as Rapid as Tigers (the imperial guards). He, along with Yuan Shao, were part of the military faction of General-in-Chief He Jin during the eunuch coup, and would later take part in the massacre of the eunuchs after He Jin's assassination. When Dong Zhuo arrived, he offered Yuan Shu the position of General of the Rear, but Yuan Shu instead fled south to Nanyang. The Guangdong Coalition that was made to oppose Dong Zhuo chose Yuan Shao as its leader over Yuan Shu, but he did gain a capable subordinate in the general Sun Jian, who had come up from Changsha. Despite some initial friction, Sun Jian was ultimately loyal to his patron and Yuan Shu sponsored him as Inspector of Yu Province. Sun Jian was successful in defeating Dong Zhuo and driving him from Luoyang, but the capitol was left a ruin and Dong Zhuo escaped to Chang'an with the emperor, where the coalition was incapable of following him.

    The Guangdong coalition collapsed shortly thereafter. Two smaller, opposing coalitions came out of it, one lead by each of the Yuan brothers. Yuan Shu was loosely allied with Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, Liu Yu, and his own subordinate Sun Jian, while Yuan Shao allied himself with Liu Biao and his own subordinate Cao Cao, and took over Ji province, gaining the old subordinates of Han Fu. During the clashes between the two men's alliances, Sun Jian was killed in a stroke of bad luck but Yuan Shu was able to get parts of Yu and Yang provinces under his control. There he began fighting with Cao Cao over Yan Province by allying the Heishan bandits and the exiled Chanyu of the Southern Xiongnu. However, he and his allies were defeated by Cao Cao and he was forced to abandon his holdings in Yan, Yu, and even Nanyang before finally settling in Shouchun, in northern Yang province.

    Having lost against Cao Cao, Yuan Shu turned his gaze to Xu province in the northeast and to the lands of Jiangdong to the south of the Yangtze River. On the former front, he initially fought Liu Bei, but after Lu Bu seized the province, Yuan Shu first fought, then allied with him instead. On the latter front he had more success thanks to Sun Ce, the son of Sun Jian who had joined him in Shouchun. Sun Ce conquered much of Jiangdong from the many regional warlords who had been resisting Yuan Shu. These successes gave Yuan Shu enough confidence to declare a new imperial dynasty, Zhong, with himself as emperor. He used an old prophesy which he was able to tie his name to, as well as his possession of the imperial seal in order to justify this. However, his position was nowhere near as sound as he believed. the other warlords in the area joined against him, including Cao Cao and Yuan Shao. Lu Bu and Sun Ce turned against him, taking away Xu and all of Jiangdong, leaving him with only the parts of Yang that were north of the Yangtze and some of Runan. Many of his officers left him for Sun Ce or Lu Bu. In desperation, he killed the prince of Chen, Liu Chong, and annexed his lands, but all this did was provoke Cao Cao, who bordered Chen, to attack him. Yuan Shu abandoned Shouchun not long after and became an exile, dying of illness in 199AD.

    The Gongsun Clan of Youbeiping

    Gongsun Zan [Bogui] (General of the Front and Inspector of You, Marquis of Yi)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Liaoxi Commandery, You Province, Gongsun Zan was a well respected young man on the northeast frontier and a schoolmate of Liu Bei. Unlike his friend, Gongsun Zan was able to climb up the ladder of imperial service quite easily and gained a good fighting reputation serving in Liaodong against Wuhuan and Xianbei raiders before being transferred back to Zhou Commandery in You. During the Liang revolt, he was given command of a Wuhuan auxiliary force, but the inability of the imperial government to supply them led to a mutiny that Gongsun Zan had to put down. However, this was a prelude to a much larger rebellion under a former official named Zhang Chun, who had been passed over for said command. Zhang Chun's rebellion spread across the north, attracting bandits and nomads from all over the region. Command was first given to Gongsun Zan's superior, Liu Yu, Inspector of You, but after a mutiny of the vassal Xiongnu kingdom ended with the death of the Xiongnu Chanyu, Gongsun Zan took control over the army. Gongsun Zan was initially victorious, but his counteroffensive into Wuhuan territory ended in failure, and the rebellion was not put down until Liu Yu stepped in to end the situation diplomatically with the Wuhuan, who sent them Zhang Chun's head. Gongsun Zan still wanted to punish the Wuhuan, but Liu Yu overruled him.

    Despite Gongsun Zan's inability to defeat the Wuhuan, he was still promoted, enoffed, and stationed at Youbeiping Commandery as thanks for crushing Zhang Chun. After the coups in the capitol, Gongsun Zan was made General who Exerts Military Might by Dong Zhuo, likely to buy his loyalty. It may have not actually worked, but Gongsun Zan never took part in coalition. Once the coalition began falling apart, Gongsun Zan attacked the Inspector of Ji Province, Han Fu, on request of Yuan Shao. After he defeated Han Fu however, Yuan Shao had Han Fu surrender to him instead, thus taking Ji Province while having Gongsun Zan do all the work. Gongsun Zan wasn't able to do anything about this at the time, but eventually, he allied himself with Yuan Shu, who was at odds with Yuan Shao. Following the death of his cousin, Gongsun Yue, against Yuan Shao's men while in Yuan Shu's service, Gongsun Zan invaded Ji personally while sending his subordinates (including Liu Bei) against Yuan Shao's subordinates in Qing and Yan provinces. All these ultimately ended in failure. Gongsun Zan was defeated at Jieqiao by Qu Yi and then again at Longcou by Yuan Shao himself, his men in Qing were defeated by Yuan Tan, and his men in Yan were defeated by Cao Cao. Peace was eventually settled between them, but Gongsun Zan had lost many men for little gain.

    No longer fighting Yuan Shao, Gongsun Zan took to fortifying himself in You, which included getting rid of Liu Yu. Gongsun Zan encamped outside of Liu Yu's base at Ji city, and when Liu Yu attempted to dislodge him, he counterattacked and ultimately captured Liu Yu. When a representative of the rump imperial government arrived to promote Gongsun Zan to General of the Front, Gongsun Zan used the fact that Yuan Shao had once attempted to convince Liu Yu to be crowned emperor to justify executing him and his family. Now firmly in control of the northeastern corner of the empire, Gongsun Zan ruled as a despot, which eventually caused a major rebellion to break out against him. Yuan Shao sent Liu Yu's son Liu He along with his own general Qu Yi (who had defeated Gongsun Zan at Jieqiao), to support the rebels. Gongsun Zan was crushed and fled to the fortress of Yi in northern Ji province.

    Gongsun Zan cut himself off from the world within this fortress, indulging himself with his concubines and forbidding any male over seven from entering his tower. His generals abandoned him and Yuan Shao eventually arrived with a huge army to finish him off. His son, Gongsun Xu managed to make contact with the Heishan bandits to extract his father, but Yuan Shao intercepted their communication and led Gongsun Zan into an ambush when he tried to link up with his son. Gongsun Zan managed to survive this, but Yuan Shao used sapping to eventually bring down the fortress walls. Gongsun Zan killed his remaining family members and committed suicide in 199AD before Yuan Shao's men could storm his tower. Gongsun Xu was killed by the Xiongnu not long after.

    Zhao Yun [Zilong] (General who Guards the East, Marquis of Yongchang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Zhending County, Changshan Commandery, Ji Province, Zhao Yun first appears in history when he joined the warlord Gongsun Zan not long after Yuan Shao took over his home province. While in Gongsun Zan's service, he met and befriended Liu Bei, another one of Gongsun Zan's subordinates, and commanded cavalry for him while he was fighting Yuan Shao's men. According to the Zhao Yun Beizhuan, a somewhat unreliable source, he initially served Gongsun Zan due to believing him to be a better man than Yuan Shao, but eventually became disillusioned with him and left his service under the guise of attending his brother's funeral, and did not meet Liu Bei again until they were both sheltering in the city of Ye.

    Zhao Yun joined Liu Bei on his flight south to Jing Province. He participated in the Battle of Bowang where Liu Bei defeated Xiahou Dun (according to the Zhao Yun Beizhuan), and famously rescued Liu Bei's son Liu Shan from being captured during the Battle of Changban for which he was made General of the Standard. Following Chibi, he presumably joined Liu Bei on his campaign through southern Jing and stayed there when Liu Bei was invited to Yi Province by Liu Zhang. When Liu Bei launched his insurrection against Liu Zhang, Zhao Yun was one of those called up from Jing to assist Liu Bei in conquering the provincial capitol of Chengdu for which he was promoted to General of the Flying Army. The Zhao Yun Beizhuan claims he fought in a battle at the Han River at the end of the second Hanzhong campaign, where he defeated a Wei army by use of the Empty Fort Strategem, but this likely did not happen. It further adds that when Liu Bei wanted to launch his punitive campaign against Wu to reconquer Jing Province, Zhao Yun advised against it and later had to reinforce Liu Bei at Baidicheng after Lu Xun crushed him at Xiaoting.

    Nonetheless, he was promoted to General Who Conquers the South and enoffed as a marquis when Liu Shan took the throne of Shu. He was promoted again to General Who Guards the East soon after and stationed in Hanzhong. When Zhuge Liang launched his first Northern Expedition, Zhao Yun was sent along with Deng Zhi as a diversionary force through the Xie Valley to tie down Cao Zhen. However, Cao Zhen defeated their weak force handily at Jigu, and they had no impact on the campaign, leading to Zhao Yun's demotion to General Who Guards the Army. He died not long after in 229AD.

    The Kong Clan of Beihai

    Kong Rong [Wenju] (Minister Steward and Palace Counselor)
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    Born in 153AD in what was once the ancient state of Lu, somewhere in Yan Province, Kong Rong was said to be a 20th generation descendant of Kong Qiu, also known as Kong Fuzi or Confucius. As a ten year old, he won a debate with a scholar in the capitol and a few years later he gained fame among the anti-eunuch faction by sheltering a reformist during a purge. After entering the civil service, Kong Rong continued as an advocate for reform and was successful in getting numerous corrupt officials dismissed. However, his personality and lack of respect for authority gained him many enemies, including General in Chief He Jin and the Director of the Secretariat Zhao She. Despite this, his talents eventually got him military commission during the Yellow Turban Rebellion, eventually rising to become General of the Gentlemen of the Household (the imperial guards).

    When Dong Zhuo overthrew the government, Kong Rong was one of his most vocal critics, despite having essentially no power. However, he survived on reputation alone, and was eventually made Chancellor of Beihai to get him out of the capitol. Unfortunately for him, whatever talent he had as a scholar proved counterproductive as an administrator. His government was often ineffectual and inconsistent, and he seemed to be more interested in running Beihai as a philosophical experiment than as an actual imperial commandery. His own inflated sense of self-worth gained him visits from many famous men, but few of them could get along with him, and many of the locals grew to resent his pretentious self-aggrandizement.

    The chaos surrounding Qing province eventually forced him to enter warlord politics. Invasions from both Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao, a secessionist state under Gongsun Du in Donglai, and a resurgent Yellow Turban problem prompted him to join under the banner of Tao Qian, Inspector of Xu, which also aligned him with Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shu. Tao Qian had his own problems brewing with Cao Cao however, so he was unable to help Kong Rong when he was besieged by Yellow Turban remnants under Guan Hai in Duchang County. Taishi Ci, a somewhat famous local who owed Kong Rong a debt for helping his mother, went to get Liu Bei (a subordinate of Gongsun Zan at the time), who was camped nearby. Liu Bei attacked and dispersed the rebels, and Kong Rong later repaid him by supporting him as Tao Qian's successor after the latter's death. However, Taishi Ci did not stay in Beihai, and Kong Rong's alliance with Gongsun Zan turned against him when Yuan Shao sent his son Yuan Tan to secure Qing. Since Gongsun Zan's forces in the area had already been defeated and Liu Bei had recently been overthrown by Lu Bu, Kong Rong had no allies and was eventually defeated by Yuan Tan, seemingly with little difficulty.

    Kong Rong fled to Xu city, the base of Cao Cao, who was always looking for more talent to join his burgeoning state. Kong Rong was made Court Architect and eventually Minister Steward, the minister in charge of taking care of the Emperor. Kong Rong certainly had the skills to serve in the imperial hierarchy, and he quickly made a name for himself as an excellent patron, but his troubles with authority began manifesting themselves. He frequently inserted himself into matters of law and protocol, and was particularly critical of Cao Cao himself, often acting mockingly or condescendingly towards him. The pinnacle of all of this was when Kong Rong told Cao Cao he should resign and retire after his victory at Mount Bailang in 207. One of Kong Rong's enemies took that opportunity to accuse him of a crime, and Cao Cao had him removed from office and sent home, warning him against future instigation. He was allowed to return as a Palace Counselor (an official advisor) the next year, but Kong Rong couldn't leave well enough alone, his rival accused him of treason, and he was executed along with his family in 208AD.

    Taishi Ci [Xiyi] (General of the Household who Breaks Ranks, Commandant of Jianchang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Born in Huang County, Donglai Commandery, Qing Province, in 166AD Taishi Ci was originally a studious young man working in the local commandery office as a clerk. However, he achieved great fame when a dispute broke out between the commandery and provincial governments. Both sent memorandums to the capitol explaining their side of the story, and Taishi Ci was recruited as the messenger for the commandery office, with the understanding that he needed to arrive first to give their version more weight. With quick thinking and guile, he succeeded in not only delivering his report first, but also destroying the report of the provincial government before it could be submitted. This made him a local star, but also earned him the enmity of the provincial government, and he fled Qing for Liaodong. He returned later to visit his mother in Beihai, and during his time there saved the local government under Kong Rong from Yellow Turban rebels by sneaking through the lines and seeking out Liu Bei for help. He didn't stay however, and eventually found service under Liu Yao, the Inspector of Yang Province.

    Liu Yao was at war with the forces of Yuan Shu, and was able to force him out of Danyang Commandery in 194AD. However, the next year, Yuan Shu sent Sun Ce back across the Yangtze to go reclaim the lost territory. Taishi Ci had been passed over for command and made a staff officer, but during one of his personal reconnaissance missions, he came across Sun Ce and his retainers on his own in a village. The two fought each other in one of the only recorded duels in the era, but neither was able to gain the upper hand and their subordinates separated them. This didn't change the situation however, and Sun Ce quickly crushed most of Liu Yao's forces in Danyang, except for a foothold in the west. Liu Yao fled south into Yuzhang and left Taishi Ci in charge of the situation in Danyang. Taishi Ci recruited men from the Shanyue tribes nearby and built up enough of a force to keep Sun Ce at bay for two years, though Sun Ce used this interval to go on a conquering spree further east.

    In 198AD, Sun Ce returned with a vengeance, first attacking the Shanyue and forcing them to surrender to him, and then surrounding and capturing Taishi Ci at Jing County. Sun Ce asked him what he would have done if he had won their duel and Taishi Ci replied that he didn't know. Sun Ce reportedly laughed and cut his bonds, recruiting him as a general on the spot. Following Liu Yao's death soon after, Taishi Ci was put in charge of scoping out the situation in Yuzhang. The intelligence he returned with allowed Sun Ce to completely subjugate the majority of the region in a year, thus putting the vast majority of the settled regions of Yang province, under his control. Taishi Ci was then sent to deal with attacks from Jing Province led by Liu Pan and Huang Zhong. From his base in Jiancheng, Taishi Ci demolished them and the region was pacified without much fuss. After Sun Ce's assassination, Sun Quan took control of their state and put Taishi Ci in charge of all lands in the south (presumably south of the other front at Jiangxia) due to his success against Liu Pan. He died in 204AD and was greatly mourned by Sun Quan.

    The Heishan Bandits

    Zhang Yan (General Who Brings Peace to the North, Marquis of Anguo)
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    From Zhending County, Changshan Commandery, Ji Province, he was originally Chu Yan, a young man known for his swiftness. During the Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184AD, he created his own bandit army out of local youths that was said to number over ten thousand men and plundered much of the area around his home county. He then joined an even greater bandit army under a certain Zhang Niujiao from Boling Commandery, to whom he deferred to as his "general." During a raid on Yingtao County, Zhang Niujiao was hit by an arrow and passed command of their army to Chu Yan before he died. Chu Yan changed his name to Zhang Yan in honor of his deceased commander.

    Zhang Yan united the bandit armies of northwestern Ji, eastern Bing, and Henei in the capitol region into a vast horde, with many smaller bandit chiefs deferring to him as leader. They were called the "Black Mountain" or Heishan Bandits. His force was so strong that Emperor Ling of Han could not dislodge him and instead had to parlay, appointing him both the military governor of the unofficial province of Heishan and the Cadet-General Who Pacifies Internal Disasters. When Dong Zhuo seized power in 189AD, this arrangement presumably came under threat, so Zhang Yan initially joined the coalition against him, though he isn't recorded as taking part in any of the battles in that campaign. However, once Dong Zhuo fled Luoyang in 191AD, the threat was gone, and Zhang Yan decided to contest control of the empire as a warlord. He sent men to Yan Province to take on Cao Cao, and allied with the horde of Yellow Turbans spilling out of Qing Province into Ji, while he himself continued to hold northeastern Ji. His attack on Yan was defeated by Cao Cao, despite help from Yuan Shu, and Gongsun Zan ended up crushing the Yellow Turbans who eventually surrendered to Cao Cao as well. However, war soon erupted between Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao, which allowed Zhang Yan to jump in on Gongsun Zan's side.

    The war for Ji Province went back and forth for some time, but after Gongsun Zan's initial campaign into Ji was stopped at Jieqiao, Yuan Shao launched a counteroffensive against him which opened the door for Zhang Yan to attack and sack his capitol of Ye. However, one of Zhang Yan's men betrayed him during the siege and shut the gates on the rest of the army long enough to evacuate some of the civilians, including Yuan Shao's family, thereby depriving Zhang Yan of valuable hostages. Yuan Shao returned and reconquered his capitol, just in time for peace to be brokered between him and Gongsun Zan, which allowed Yuan Shao to focus his military on driving the Heishan Bandits out of Ji. He launched a major offensive on Changshan itself, enlisting the aid of the then-wanderer Lu Bu to help. In response to the attack on his home, Zhang Yan called upon the Chuge Xiongnu under the exiled Chanyu Yufuluo to assist him. The ten day battle ended in a tactical stalemate, but Yuan Shao's men could not take the field, so Zhang Yan was able to claim strategic victory by holding Changshan.

    Yuan Shao turned his efforts back on Gongsun Zan, surrounding him at the fortress of Yi, causing Gongsun Zan's son Gongsun Xu to come to Zhang Yan for aid. They formed a plan to break through the siege, but the plans were intercepted and Gongsun Zan was led into a trap which he barely survived. Yuan Shao eventually conquered Yi, Gongsun Zan committed suicide, and Zhang Yan was forced to return to Changshan. His Xiongnu allies killed Gongsun Xu at some point, but he didn't seem to care. In 200AD, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao went to war, but during this and the subsequent campaigns across Ji, Zhang Yan remained cooped up in Changshan and the surrounding commanderies, content to ride out the storm and not risk open battle again. When Cao Cao conquered Ye in 204AD, Zhang Yan surrendered to him without a fight. He was made General Who Brings Peace to the North and enoffed as Marquis of Anguo, but is never mentioned again in the histories, so it seems he was kept on his fief and forcibly retired into luxury.

    Yu Du
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Also known as Poison Yu, he was one of many bandit chiefs to come under Zhang Yan when he took command of the Heishan Bandits. He was sent by Zhang Yan, along with Bo Rao and Sui Gu, to attack Dong Commandery and establish a foothold in Yan Province not long after the coalition began to fall apart. The succeeded in plundering large swathes of Dong Commandery and established themselves to the point where the commandery administrator Wang Gong could not do anything about them. However, Cao Cao, who had need of a base, sensed an opportunity and led his men against them, killing Bo Rao and reestablishing control over Dong, which he quickly became administrator of in place of the ineffectual Wang Gong.

    Yu Du attempted to reverse the situation the next year by besieging the commandery capitol of Dongwuyang County while Cao Cao was away on the other side of the Yellow River. However, Cao Cao just marched towards the Heishan camp in Henei instead, and Yu Du was forced to retreat to prevent himself from being cut off. Cao Cao continued by attacking Sui Gu and their ally Yufuluo of the Xiongnu at Neihuang and crushing them as well. At this point, Zhang Yan was getting embroiled in the war against Yuan Shao, and the Dong Commandery invasion was going nowhere, so he recalled Yu Du to attack the city of Ye, Yuan Shao's capitol. This went a lot better since Yuan Shao was away fighting Gongsun Zan and a mutiny in Wei Commandery added to their number, so Yu Du succeeded in taking and sacking the city. However, Yuan Shao returned, retook the city, and chased Yu Du all the way to Chaoge County in Henei, where he besieged him for five days before killing him in 193AD.

    Li Damu
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Also known as Big-Eyes Li, he was one of many bandit chiefs to come under Zhang Yan when he took command of the Heishan Bandits. Not much is known about him except for that he was one of those killed by Yuan Shao when he attacked north into the mountains after killing Yu Du at Chaoge.

    The Zheng Bandits

    Zheng Jiang
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Mentioned only in passing in the biography of Zhuo Xuan, who was an official and something of a soothsayer in the Wei court, the women bandits Zheng and Jiang were executed in Dongping sometime after a local official, Liu Zhen, had a dream about a snake growing four legs and burrowing into a gate. Zhuo Xuan foretold their deaths based on the fact that the snake was the auspicious sign of a woman, yet legs are not something a snake should have, therefore the women who were being bandits and upsetting the order of things would be killed.

    The Empire of Later Han

    Liu Xie [Bohe] (Emperor Xian of Han (abdicated), Duke of Shanyang)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Born in the imperial capitol of Luoyang in 181AD, Liu Xie was the son of Emperor Ling of Han and one of his consorts, the Beauty Wang. Almost immediately after his birth, his mother was poisoned on orders of Empress He. Emperor Ling wanted to get depose the Empress because of this, but the eunuchs, who were allied with her, managed to persuade him not to do so. Liu Xie was then raised by his grandmother, the Empress Dowager Dong. He was favored by his father over his half-brother and son of the Empress, Liu Bian, but political strife prevented the naming of a crown prince. When Emperor Ling died in 189AD, one of his friends, the chief eunuch Jian Shuo, attempted to install Liu Xie as the next emperor, but wast preempted by the brother of Empress He, General-in-Chief He Jin, who coronated his nephew Liu Bian as the new Emperor Shao of Han. This was essentially the first coup that set off the chain of events that sundered the empire. He Jin plotted to depose the eunuchs, who assassinated him to keep their power, causing He Jin's aides Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu to begin a massacre of eunuchs in the capitol, which allowed Dong Zhuo to use his army take power in the guise of restoring order.

    Dong Zhuo forced Emperor Shao to abdicate and coronated Liu Xie as Emperor Xian of Han in 189AD. He then had both Liu Bian (now just Prince of Hongnong) and his mother Empress He poisoned, thus making the new Emperor Xian the only claimant of the main imperial line. Dong Zhuo's tyranny and blatant usurpation of power caused the formation of the Guangdong Coalition to oppose him, mostly made up of gentry and administrators from the North China Plain. Emperor Xian, just eight years old at the time, had little role in any of this other than being a puppet for Dong Zhuo's power. After Dong Zhuo forced the imperial court and the entire population of Luoyang to relocate to the western capitol of Chang'an, a plot hatched by the loyalist minister Wang Yun succeeded in getting Dong Zhuo's adopted son Lu Bu to assassinate him in 192AD. However, Wang Yun was soon killed by Dong Zhuo's colonels and Lu Bu was forced to flee. Emperor Xian fell into the hands of Li Jue and Guo Si, who ruled in Dong Zhuo's place for a time, but soon began fighting for control, somewhat egged on by ministers trying to loosen their grip on the emperor.

    In 195AD, a few of the commanders (namely Yang Feng, Dong Cheng, Zhang Ji, and Jia Xu) managed to force Li Jue and Guo Si to a true, with one of the stipulations being that the Emperor be allowed to relocate back to Luoyang. After the journey began however, both Li Jue and Guo Si attempted to force the emperor back to one of their bases, but the soldiers accompanying him managed to keep him safe, despite the betrayal of Zhang Ji and many brutal battles. Making allies of the warlord Duan Wei, the Bobo Bandits, and the Xiongnu Worthy King of the West, they were able to reach the Huang River and cross under cover of darkness. Of the many who started out on the journey, only Emperor Xian, the empress, and a few dozen high ranking officials such as Dong Cheng and Yang Biao, were able to reach Henei Commandery, where they came under the protection of the administrator Zhang Yang. They eventually returned to Luoyang, but the capitol had been so thoroughly razed that it could not sustain them and officials began starving to death. In the midst of this, Cao Cao, then only governor of Yan Province, convinced Dong Cheng and Yang Feng of his sincerity and brought the emperor to his capitol of Xu city.

    Emperor Xian became both a ward and a prisoner of Cao Cao. He was kept safe and comfortable in Xu, but was heavily monitored, and Cao Cao had him give imperial endorsement to edicts he had drafted. In 199AD, Dong Cheng claimed to have received a secret edict from the Emperor written on a girdle which called for Cao Cao's execution. He recruited a number of people to help with this, most notably Liu Bei (the subordinate of Cao Cao and Inspector of Yu Province), but Cao Cao found out about it and had him and most of the conspirators executed, though Liu Bei escaped as he was not in Xu at the time. The Emperor escaped any judgement for this as he never officially endorsed the claim nor confirmed if the edict came from him. However, one of his consorts was Dong Cheng's daughter, and she was executed despite being pregnant at the time. This caused his wife, Empress Fu, to write a letter to her father, the official Fu Wan, asking him to start another assassination attempt, but he refused. This was not discovered until 214AD, but in response, she was executed as well along with her two sons and over a hundred of her clansmen, with Emperor Xian refusing to intercede out of fear. All this caused Cao Cao to make his daughter, Cao Jie, the new empress, and aside from a minor incident in 218AD, there were no more attempts as a pro-Han coup in the capitol.

    Cao Cao died in 220AD, and his son, Cao Pi, succeeded him as King of Wei. Using the current state of affairs as justification, Cao Pi had Emperor Xian abdicate the throne, thus ending the Han Dynasty. Liu Xie became the Duke of Shanyang, and Cao Pi declared the new Wei Dynasty. Liu Xie retired to his fief and lived out the rest of his days peacefully, dying in 234AD. Despite neither being an emperor or even a prince anymore, he was buried with the full ceremony of a Han Emperor of old and Cao Rui, the son of Cao Pi and then Emperor Ming of Wei, was one of his mourners.

    Huangfu Song [Yizhen] (Grand Commandant, Marquis of Huaili)
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    From Chaona County, Anding Commandery, Liang Province, Huangfu Song was from a family of generals and administrators, with his uncle holding the post of General Who Crosses the Liao. He received a recommendation for imperial service as an Abundant Talent, a special honor given to only one man in a province per year, but stayed out of the higher echelons of government despite receiving invitations to join powerful factions. Emperor Ling took a liking to him though, and he became a consultant in addition to holding several regional posts. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in 184AD, and Huangfu Song was summoned to the palace to give advise to the emperor. His suggestions to lift the ban on factionalism to entice back disaffected former officials and to fund a military buildup using the imperial treasury were adopted and he was made General of the Household on the Left, enoffed as Marquis of Duxiang, and given imperial authority to act as he saw fit without prior approval. Together with his counterpart, Zhu Jun, the General of the Household on the Right, he went to work pacifying the nation.

    They attacked the Yellow Turban commander Bo Cai in Yingchuan Commandery in Yu Province. Zhu Jun was initially defeated, which allowed Bo Cai to put Huangfu Song to siege in Changshe. However, he organized a counterattack at night predicated with fire to reverse the situation, and the return of Zhu Jun, accompanied by a certain Cavalry Commandant named Cao Cao, allowed them to completely destroy Bo Cai's army and pacify Yu Province. Huangfu Song then took his army north, clearing the rebels under Bu Yi in Dong Commandery, before heading into Ji Province to relieve Lu Zhi and Dong Zhuo, who had both been unable to defeat the Yellow Turbans in Julu Commandery. By this time, Zhang Jue, the leader of the Turbans, had taken ill and died, leaving command to his brother, Zhang Liang. Huangfu Song attacked them at Guangzong but could not overcome their numbers and high morale. He then switched tactics, withdrawing his men to the fortified camps to rest, before mustering them during the night for an attack at dawn, which routed the enemy completely. Zhang Liang was killed and beheaded, and they even dug up Zhang Jue's corpse and cut off its head to seal victory. To end the rebellion, he then fell upon Zhang Jue's final brother, Zhang Bao, at Xiaquyang, killing him and slaughtering the rebels. For all this, he was promoted to General of the Chariots and Cavalry on the Left, made Imperial Protector of Ji Province, and had his fief increased to Marquis of Huaili.

    He convinced the Emperor to exempt Ji Province from taxes for a year to let the province recover, which, combined with his disciplined and generous conduct and incredible military record, made him incredibly popular among the people. However, he was warned that he was becoming a threat to the factions in the capitol, and encouraged to usurp the empire before it was subsumed by the growing chaos, but he refused, citing his duty to the state. The warnings were true though, and in 185AD, he was called to lead an army against a massive uprising of mutinous auxiliaries and disaffected officials in Liang Province. Before he could do anything, two eunuchs who resented him reported to the emperor that he was wasting supplies doing nothing, which caused him to be recalled, stripped of his generalship and had his fief reduced back down to Marquis of Duxiang. However, the situation in Liang grew far worse, and in 188AD, the rebels were besieging Chencang, the gateway to the western capitol of Chang'an. Huangfu Song was reinstated as General of the Household on the Left and sent with the General of the Front, Dong Zhuo, to relieve the city. The two of them disagreed on strategy, but Huangfu Song overruled Dong Zhuo and was successful in defeating the rebels, though this caused Dong Zhuo to harbor a grudge against him.

    This grudge got worse when Dong Zhuo became Governor of Bing Province and was called upon to step down from his army, only to refuse. Huangfu Song penned a memorial to the capitol informing them of this, which caused an official rebuke from the Emperor. However, Emperor Ling died soon after and the resulting chaos catapulted Dong Zhuo into power. He used his authority to appoint Huangfu Song as Commandant of the Capitol Gates, with the intention of having him arrested and executed once he arrived in Luoyang to take up the post. Huangfu Song was warned about this, but insisted that he had to obey imperial orders and took the post, only to be immediately held for interrogation soon after. He was saved by a relative who publicly berated Dong Zhuo at a banquet over having him arrested without cause, but he was forced to accept Dong Zhuo's authority completely, though this act of submission finally got Dong Zhuo to drop his grudge.

    After Dong Zhuo's death, Huangfu Song was promoted several times under the regime of the colonels in Chang'an, even rising to the heights of Grand Commandant, with his old command of General of the Chariots and Cavalry also reinstated. However, he didn't appear to take part in any of the politics of the rump regime and died of illness in 195AD.
    Last edited by zoner16; January 01, 2019 at 07:03 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    So in the trailer, who do you suppose the guy on the far right of Sun Jian is? A relative of the "main" Sun family would make the most sense if they want that to show the Sun family, but it could also just be Zhou Yu. I think this is potentially the case because according to CA there are only going to be about 40 "special" generals that have extremely unique art assets and appearances, though there are "A couple hundred" characters with names and pre-set and unique personality traits, and it is unknown how unique or generic those characters will be. As such if at the end of the trailer we are looking at all the VERY unique Wu characters having that unknown person be Zhou Yu makes the most sense IMO.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by captainkrunch View Post
    So in the trailer, who do you suppose the guy on the far right of Sun Jian is? A relative of the "main" Sun family would make the most sense if they want that to show the Sun family, but it could also just be Zhou Yu. I think this is potentially the case because according to CA there are only going to be about 40 "special" generals that have extremely unique art assets and appearances, though there are "A couple hundred" characters with names and pre-set and unique personality traits, and it is unknown how unique or generic those characters will be. As such if at the end of the trailer we are looking at all the VERY unique Wu characters having that unknown person be Zhou Yu makes the most sense IMO.
    Well that's one of two options for me. The thing that gives me pause is that the trailer narration makes it seem like the reveal is about Sun Jian and his children, and the guy in blue on the right doesn't have Zhou Yu's traditional pretty boy looks (though that could just be the poor quality of the trailer shot).

    Going by that, the other option is Sun Yi, who is the only other one of Sun Jian's children that anyone cares about. However, I can't be certain. We'll probably get a poster in a couple weeks (after the Sun Ce poster) at which point I'll make an abridged bio for whoever it is and put it with the others.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    I agree that it would make sense if it was a member of the Sun family, but I'm just thinking that if we are really limited to just 40 characters being especially noteworthy like the Legendary Lords of Warhammer, Zhou Yu would make more sense as a unique character.

  13. #13
    roarer's Avatar Tiro
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    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Well, I guess not many people are familiar withYuan Shao(袁紹) faction, so I am going to start from there. Especially on the strategists / administrative side of characters. As a native Chinese, I feel that it is my responsibility to give a more complete picture on the Yuen Shao faction's failure. A few of Yuen's men are top tier but are lesser known because the faction was destroyed. It's all Yuen Shao's fault, I gotta say! And I have to do justice to those capable men under him. I will go through their deeds first, then their background. Most of this info is from Records of the Three Kingdoms - Annotations in Pei Songzhi's which is from (後漢書)and (獻帝傳), and I basically translated it myself


    1. Ju Shou (沮授 )

    A first class strategist in my eyes. Before joining the Yuan faction, Ju Shou worked under Han Fu (韓馥 ), the governor of Ji Province.

    When Yuen Shao first asked for his service, he provided Yuen a blueprint for expansion : First head east of Ji Province and destroy the yellow turbans. Next head to Heishan to crush Zhang Yan (張燕). Then take the troops north and Gongsun Zan (公孫瓚) will fall. And by following it, Yuen become the most powerful warlord in a few years.

    After Yuen Shao had a firm grasp on the Northern provinces (defeating Gongsun Zan公孫瓚 ). Ju Shou is the first to suggest taking custody of the Han emperor. Ju Shou's word is as follow “The imperial court is on the run, and the royal domains are in ruins. Although warlords everywhere self proclaimed to be an army of Han, they are plotting against each other and none of them will work for the greater good of the peasants. We have just stablized our provinces and should welcome the emperor with open arms, build him a palace at Ye(), command the warlords in the name of the emperor, use our force against those that oppose us, then none of the warlords can stand against us.” Some other strategists argue against it. “Providing custody and stability to the empreror when he needs it, is the most just deeds. If Yuen don't act swiftly, someone else will have done so. The opportunity must not be lost, time is of the essence!” Ju Shou replied. As everyone knows, Yuen Shao refuse to do so.

    Next when Yuen Shao divided his territory among his sons and son in law. Ju Shou strongly advised against it. Yuen explained, by letting each of his son / nephew manage a province, he can tell who was the most capable candidate as the heir. Ju Shou calmly point out that this will spark rivalries among his sons and bury the seeds of civil war. He tried to convince Yuen with a metaphor: “If a wild rabbit sat in the middle of the crossroad, everyone will chase it. If someone got it, others will give up. That's because everyone respect the rule of “property right”. Moreover, according to the tradional succession rule, if 2 sons are at the same age, the heir will be decided by their capability. If they are equal in terms of morality, fortune telling will decide the issue.” Yuen insisted on his decision. Ju Shou commented: “This is the beginning of a disaster.”

    When Yuen Shao march south to fight Cao Cao(曹操), Ju Shou and Tian Fung (田豐) advised against it: Their arguments were as follolw: “The troops fought for years; the civilians are exhausted; the food storage is depleted; the tax is harsh; these are all factors that can accumulate to our downfall. Instead of marching south, we should notify the emperor our achievement of uniting the North, and prioritize agriculture, reduce the peasants' tax burden. If Cao Cao block our message to the emperor, we can use it as the casus belli and consolidate our troops at Li Yang (黎陽), and take South of the Yellow River gradually. At the same time, increase the production of naval force and seige weapons; sent our cav to raid Cao's far East and far West territories to tire out Cao's forces while we make full preparation at our leisure. Within 3 years, the war can be won.” After listening to some counter arguments, Ju Shou advised : “The force of righteousness build order from ashes of chaos; an egotistic force relies solely on his strength to make others comply. No one is willing to fight against an army of righteousness, while the egotistic arrogant army will always be vanquished. The emperor is currently on Cao's side, and if we march against him, we are taking the moral low ground. Moreover, the result of a campaign is not decided by the size of our domain nor the number of troops. Cao's troops are well trained and disciplinesd, unlike Gongsun Zan who remained idle until being defeated. Abandoning the safe but slow route of certain victory, and instead invade without a righteous cause? This is truly worrisome.” (Me: these few lines are really hard to translate)

    After the opposing advisers spoke, Yuen rejected Ju's idea. Then the opposing advisers slandered Ju Shou, causing Yuen Shao to divide his post into 3 separate posts, leaving only one third of his original force under Ju Shou's command.

    After reaching Li Yang, Yuen sent Yan Liang (顏良) as the vanguard to cross the yellow river to siege Bai Ma(白馬). Before the order is issued, Ju Shou pleaded that Yan was narrow-minded. Though he was valiant and fought fiercely, he was not competent to be solely in charge of the vanguards. As we all know, Yan Liang was then slained in the mission.

    Right before Yuen cross the Yellow River with the bulk of his forces, Ju Shou gathered his house members and divided his wealth among them. “I am crossing the river with lord Yuen, if our force remains, my influence will only grows but if our force is vanquished, I couldn't even guarantee my own safety. What a pity!” His younger brother thought Cao Cao is inferior to Yuen Shao in terms of troop size and Ju Shou was worrying too much. Ju Shou countered “Cao excels at employing strategys and tactics, while also have the emperor as his asset. Though we crushed Gongsun Zan, our troops are exhausted, while our commanders grew complacent, my lord grew extravagant. This could be the very moment that our army face destruction. Didn't someone said, the weakness and chaos of the six kingdoms help the Qin() to destroy the Chou() empire? (referring to warring states period) These words are applicable to us now.”

    Back in Yuen's camp, right before the order to cross the Yellow River is issued, Ju Shou advised against it one last time. “We must remain cautious in front of the moment of drastic changes, this can turn a winning side to defeat. The bulk of our forces should remain at the river crossing and send only a contingent force across to Guan Du(官渡). If it emerges victorious, crossing by then won't be too late. If we crossed now, and found ourselves in danger, none of us can return.” Up to this point, I believe everyone knows that Yuen just take acting against Ju Shou's advice as his habit. When Ju board the ship to cross the Yellow River, he sighed “With the lord being complacent, and his sub-ordinates focus on getting personal glory and accomplishment; oh brimming Yellow River, could I even return?” Afterwards, Ju refused to see Yuen in his commander tent, using sickness as an excuse. Yuen is frustrated by it and troops under Ju's command was assigned to the strategist opposing Ju's idea.

    After a few skirmishes, Cao stood his ground at Guan Du (官渡). Ju advised once again “Troops from the North have more units, but are not as decisive and do not fight with the same resolve as the South. The South are less developed in agriculture and their supplies are inferior to the North. Therefore, the South is looking to fight a decisive battle, while our advantage lies in a long drawn out war. We should take our time and let time work against our enemy.” Yuen rejected the idea and march to Guan Du(官渡) for a decisive battle. (I am going to skip parts of Battle of Guan Du where Ju Shou was not present).

    After fighting to a stalemate in Guan Du (官渡), Cao's cities are showing signs of defection, and his troops were low on food. Yuen sent Chunyu Qiong(淳于瓊) with 10 thousand troops north to escort a new shipment of supplies. Ju Shou advised “We can send Jiang Qi's (蔣奇 ) contingent force behind, to block Cao's any attempt of raiding.” Yuen Shao rejected it once again.Chunyu Qiong camped at Wuchao(烏巢) at a night and is 40 miles(Chinese miles here) away from Yuen's main camp. Cao raid Wuchao with 5,000 troops and burnt all the supplies. All reincfocement sent by Yuen was beaten back. Gao Lan's(高覽), Zhang He's(張郃) units defected to Cao's side, and chain route the rest of Yuen's troops causing Yuen's decisive defeat. Yuen rushed towards the Yellow River with his son, and crossed. Ju Shou was not as fast and got left behind and captured by Cao Cao.

    Ju Shou shouted at Cao Cao “ I will not surrender, I am just captured by your men.” As Cao knew Ju Shou before the war, he spoke to him. “We are on different factions only because of gepographical boundaries. But finally, I have captured you!” “Yuen made mistakes in his strategys, caused this defeat. My intelligence and scheme failed to turn the tides of battle, and I have fallen into your hand.” Cao's replied “Yuen's is a fool not to employ your ideas. The empire had been in chaos for over 20 years now, and can't be united. I wished to find a solution together with you.” Ju refused “all my family members are officers under Yuen. May you grant me a quick death to preserve them.” Cao sighed “If I can have you under my command earlier, no warlords can pose a threat to us.” Cao treated Ju Shou well, but then Ju planned an escape back to North. Therefore, Cao executed him.

    Ju Shou was loyal to his death. He was borned in 廣平, and has been ambitious since a teen. He entered the Han government by recommendation, and had worked as a county magistrate twice. Then he became 別駕 of the Ji province, which is the third most influential / powerful title in the provincial government. This concludes the tragic story of Ju Shou, and I hope this will give you guys more insight in the events of Yuen Shao.

    Personal opinion: Ju Shou was one of my favorite strategists under Yuen. He basically warned Yuen Shao before Yuen made every poor decision and give good ground. Though it is not explicitly stated in the text. It is reasonable to see Ju Shou as a member of a big local house from North of the Yellow River. He was literate back in the days, which is uncommon, and he had house members to share his wealth to. Moreover, his familiy members were also employed by the Yuen clan as officials in the province. His observational skills and analytical skills are so precise that put him at least on the same level of any top tier strategists in the period. Moreover, his judgement comes with good ground and basis, unlike others who just state their results without providing an explanation. This makes it less likely that Ju Shou's words were tales made up by people from the future. Calling his prediction accrurate is an understatement, I would rather say his prohecy has come true. I also couldn't blame him for serving under Yuen Shao despite knowing Yuen is not as competent as a leader as Cao Cao. Ju's house was just in the rise in the region North of Yellow River. If he chose to abandon Yuen, his house members would have to migrate southwards while they had just enjoying an upswing in their fortune. And if they leave for the South, nothing can guarantee their safety. Even Cao Cao's father dies moving from the East to Cao's territories. All in all, what could you ask more from a strategists in that period. Competent, loyal, and brave enough to speak his mind despite knowing his lord could be offended. He also never participated in the in fighting of the faction, just a victim of it.
    Last edited by roarer; March 01, 2019 at 08:21 AM.
    Never argue with an idiot, cuz they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

  14. #14

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Ju Shou is basically the definition of a great man who was led to his death by lesser lords.

    He, Sun Jian, and Zhu Yi should start a club. Maybe invite Zhu Jun as well.
    Last edited by zoner16; October 14, 2018 at 10:46 PM.

  15. #15
    PikeStance's Avatar Talk'in to me
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    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Great thread; keep it up. Now I have some reading to do.
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  16. #16
    roarer's Avatar Tiro
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    Oct 2012
    Hong Kong

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by zoner16 View Post
    Ju Shou is basically the definition of a great man who was led to his death by lesser lords.

    He, Sun Jian, and Zhu Yi should start a club. Maybe invite Zhu Jun as well.
    To be honest, a lot of good people end up this way, so the club gonna be real big. I will start working on the second character under the Yuan clan soon. But I am pretty busy right now.

    would you add Ju Shou to the biographers?
    Never argue with an idiot, cuz they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

  17. #17

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Did they say anything like Romance mode leans more towards the Romance novel than classic mode? Or the lean of the game as a whole?

    It looks to me like people in Center are more interested in historic accuracy in the academic sense, always posting about details at the time of the late Han. But I would think the general audience, even if they grew up never knowing about the era, would still be more drawn to popular history, i.e. Romance novel or 300 Spartans. Popular history tends to be anachronistic such as the Guan blade, since most people know way more about even 500 years ago than 2000 years ago. That is more familiar, so it is natural that it is more popular. Inaccuracies in Romance like in many other historical writings are often taken as facts.

    One thing Romance does, which I expect will surely make its way into the game, is cut down the number of people you need to know, or even see. In the coalition against Dong Zhuo, events are shifted away from people who die soon to the likes of Cao Cao and Yuan Shu, who are household names compared.

    I guess Rome 2 did away with much of the inaccuracies of Rome 1, but for me the only real benefit to gameplay was the single Rome. Most of the inaccurate units in Rome 1 still worked decently in battle, except when chariot turn on a dime and drive through packs of people, but Rome 2 battles just don't work even with basic infantry units.

  18. #18
    Daruwind's Avatar Citizen
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Ngazi View Post
    Did they say anything like Romance mode leans more towards the Romance novel than classic mode? Or the lean of the game as a whole?
    We already cover that...

    Plus you can read whole thread, there is a lot info.. That´s all we know now. Number of characters between both modes will be probably similar. From Latest posters it looks like they are focusing on key figures but with whole new character system and families...
    Last edited by Daruwind; November 05, 2018 at 06:38 AM.
    DMR: (R2) (Attila) (ToB) (Wh1/2) (3K) (Troy)

  19. #19

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by roarer View Post
    would you add Ju Shou to the biographers?
    Sure. Let me reformat it to fit with the others.

    EDIT: I made one in my own style to match the length of the others. I put a reference to yours at the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ngazi View Post
    Did they say anything like Romance mode leans more towards the Romance novel than classic mode? Or the lean of the game as a whole?

    It looks to me like people in Center are more interested in historic accuracy in the academic sense, always posting about details at the time of the late Han. But I would think the general audience, even if they grew up never knowing about the era, would still be more drawn to popular history, i.e. Romance novel or 300 Spartans. Popular history tends to be anachronistic such as the Guan blade, since most people know way more about even 500 years ago than 2000 years ago. That is more familiar, so it is natural that it is more popular. Inaccuracies in Romance like in many other historical writings are often taken as facts.

    One thing Romance does, which I expect will surely make its way into the game, is cut down the number of people you need to know, or even see. In the coalition against Dong Zhuo, events are shifted away from people who die soon to the likes of Cao Cao and Yuan Shu, who are household names compared.

    I guess Rome 2 did away with much of the inaccuracies of Rome 1, but for me the only real benefit to gameplay was the single Rome. Most of the inaccurate units in Rome 1 still worked decently in battle, except when chariot turn on a dime and drive through packs of people, but Rome 2 battles just don't work even with basic infantry units.
    I don't expect this to be an academically historical game. It's a Total War game meant for popular consumption first and foremost, and its particular stated purpose is to break into a market dominated by the various Romance retellings. So long as the broad strokes are correct, I'll likely be happy. If players who knew very little about the time period can walk away with a proper appreciation for the people involved and a surface understanding of the way warfare worked in this time, then I'll be happy. My posts here are just for the people who want to know a bit more.

    At the end of the day, people should play this game and realize that Arch Warhammer's "information" videos on the subject are full of crap. That's my baseline
    Last edited by zoner16; November 09, 2018 at 01:30 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Three Kingdoms Historical Information and Discussion

    So the final warlord has dropped and my biography post finally overflowed. Since we now know where everyone starts in game, I figured I'd show off something the guys on Reddit put together and what it means from a historical standpoint:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    1. Cao Cao - Chen Commandery: What they're calling "Chen Commandery" here is essentially half of Yu Province, encompassing Chen, Liang, Pei, and sizable chunks of Runan and Yingchuan. Now there is historical precedence for Cao Cao staying here. The Cao family home of Qiao was in Pei, which is part of this area. In early 190AD, Cao Cao was passing through Qiao to recruit more men after his first army had been destroyed by Xu Rong and a second had mutinied on him down south in Yang.
    2. Sun Jian - En Route to Changsha: Sun Jian's return home after the campaign against Dong Zhuo is fairly well storied, however, it takes place in 191AD, a year after the start date. Furthermore, if he's already in Jiangling, then he's already avoided his historical death, which occurred to the north, at Xiangyang. Perhaps an even better idea would be for him to start in Nanyang, under the protection of Yuan Shu and half to journey through all of Liu Biao's territory to reach his home. It would give his dilemma more weight as well.
    3. Liu Bei - Dong Commandery: This starting position doesn't have much backing. Liu Bei would've been in Xiami county, in Pingyuan to the northeast in 190AD. He was prefect of that county. He'd soon become commandant of Pingyuan under Gongsun Zan after helping deal with rebels in the area. From what I can tell, his start in Dong commandery is just to place him closer to his dilemma with Cao Cao and Tao Qian.
    4. Ma Teng - Wudu Commandery: This "Wudu Commandery" seems to also encompass the upper Wei River valley, thereby incorporating Youfufeng Commandery as well. Since Ma Teng was historically hanging around the Wei River area (though likely closer to Chang'an) this seems to be alright.
    5. Liu Biao - Xiangyang Commandery: Liu Biao was indeed at his capitol in Xiangyang in 190AD, but the commandery's name was Nan Commandery, not Xiangyang, which was just the name of the city. The "Xiangyang Commandery" here is actually just the northwestern half of Nan. As for his vassals, Huang Zu is where he should be in Jiangxia, and "Jiangling Commandery" (the other half of Nan) is as good a start position for Cai Mao as can be.
    6. Zhang Yan - Yanman Commandery: We don't actually know where Zhang Yan was in 190AD. The area that the Heishan bandits controlled was massive, making up a good part of western Ji Province, much of Bing, and parts of Sili. Yanmen is mentioned in passing as a Wuhuan base that was allied to Zhang Yan, so it's certainly possible he was in the area, but there's nothing to back it up.
    7. Yuan Shao - Wei Commandery: Anachronistic by a year or so, as Wei Commandery was where Yuan Shao would make his base after overthrowing Han Fu (his dilemma). Before then, he was administrator of Bohai Commandery, to the northeast by the sea, but he was likely encamped somewhere in the capitol region (probably Henei) to lead the coalition against Dong Zhuo. After that ended, he withdrew to Yanjin (in Wei Commandery) before he turned on Han Fu in 191AD, so this could be why they have him start here.
    8. Zheng Jiang - Taiyuan Commandery: Not much to say here. She could've been in Taiyuan in 190AD. She also may not even have been born yet. Nothing can really be ascertained.
    9. Kong Rong - Behai Commandery: Kong Rong was Chancellor of Behai since 189AD so this is as on the nose as you can get.
    10. Yuan Shu - Nanyang Commandery: Yuan Shu had taken over Nanyang during the days of the coalition in 189AD after Sun Jian had killed its administrator. While his reign didn't historically last very long, it is right to have him start here.
    11. Gongsun Zan - Youbeiping Commandery: Gongsun Zan was indeed the military administrator of Youbeiping, though he was technically Liu Yu's subordinate.

    Some interesting things to note is that only one warlord has a base on the southern side of the Yangtze (Sun Jian), despite the collectors edition map showing that the south has a settlement density equal to the north. So there's going to be an entire half of the map without playable factions in it.
    Last edited by Leonardo; July 21, 2019 at 06:36 AM. Reason: Spoiler added.

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