Shu Can Do It!
In the latter days of the Han Dynasty, an army of 360,000 peasants gathered together under a trio of Taoist mystics, donning yellow scarves as a symbol of unity. This Yellow Turban Rebellion rose up, exhausted by ravaged lands and high taxation by a greedy government. Han loyalists were called upon to help quell the revolt, including a trio of villagers-a weaver, a butcher, and a local administrator. This trio became quick friends and staunch allies, later becoming sworn brothers in an oath at the local peach garden. This trio was the core of what would become the Kingdom of Shu.
In the games, the Shu characters wear green outfits for the most part-likely due to Guan Yu famously dressing in a flowing green garment. Each character here will be listed with their names' proper pronunciations (when necessary), debut game in the series, and their dignature weapons.
Dynasty Warriors 2
Broadsword (2-5) Twin Swords (6-9)
Liu Bei was the first leader of Shu-He was a simple rug weaver, though a distant relative of the Han royal family, when the call for allies against the Yellow Turbans was called. He made quick allies with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, and with the pay they received each had a special weapon crafted-in Liu's case a set of beautiful twin swords. However in the first bunch of games, the leaders of the Three Kingdoms were each given a broadsword instead. His combat stye is usually back and forth slashes with his sword, with his Musou attacks being accompanied by an electric stunning effect. His default avatars had a thin mustache and goatee, while reportedly he was unable to grow facial hair in real life. This would be shown in later games, though he also had longer earlobes than normal-a sign of wisdom. He was charismatic, but passionate to a fault. He preached benevolence towards those he ruled over, which became a bit of a meme in a few games. He owned one of the game's three historical horses-Hex Mark, whom was apparently unlucky to its rider, though liu Bei didn't suffer th curse-in game it is the second-fasted horse and gives luck bonuses! In the games he's shown to have a romance with Wu's Sun Shang Xiang-in real life they had a political marriage when he was 48 and she about 16. The game sprites show him around age 31-he'd die of illness at 62.
Guan Yu (Kwon Yu)
Blue Dragon Polearm
Guan Yu was a local magistrate before answering the call to duty and befriending his to-be brothers. He was a huge, impressive man at 6'9" (though the book puts him at 9-10 feet!) with a beautiful foot and a half long black beard and a ruddy complexion. Statues of him in Asian gift shops often have his face painted bright red. His weapon in the game is called Blue Dragon, though it was apparently called Green Dragon-a two meter staff witha full-length crescent sword blade at its end, tht weighed s massive 108 pounds! The leader of Shu's Fie Tiger Generals, he was known for his combat prowess and loyalty. Once indebted to Cao Cao, he would return to his besieged brother Liu Bei the moment he heard of the latter coming under trouble. At this time Guan Yu was gifted Red Hare, fastest horse in the world, whom had once belonged to the mighty Lu Bu. His loyalty to Liu Bei was great-one story had him traveling through five counties in a day, escorting Liu's wife while holding off the Wei army and slaying five of its commanders. His weapons given him excellent reach, with Musou attacks spinning or alternating slashes withthe blade, clearing a wide path in his chosen direction. In real life, he was such a heroic and inspiring figure that he was actually made a god in China. Yu's character model is him at age 30, he was captured by Wu after the battle of Fancheng and executed at age 58.
Zhang Fei (Zhong Fei)
A stout, burly butched with a bristling beard and the third of the sworn brothers. His viper spear is mainly an extra long spear (13-14 feet long), though it's been stylized in-game to have a wavy, serpentine blade. He was loud, brash, and powerful; both a jolly friend and a rowdy drunk. His might was known throughout the land-a mighty challenge at the battle of Changban caused the Wei army to flee rarher than face them, his shout scaring an enemy officer to fall off his horse and die when he hit the ground. In game, he tends to swat and grab close enemies, wits his Musou attacks often being a series of powerful advancing spear slashes finished off with a leaping swing. His character model is at age 27-he was killed by his own men at age 54, having gotten extremely drunk and violent with them one time too many.
Zhao Yun (Zhow Yoon)
While not necessarily the protagonist, Zhao Yun is the series' poster boy and center of the opening animation for the games. This Tiger general was a virtuous, noble warrior without pier. After separation, Liu Bei was so overjoyed at seeing Yun return that he threw his rescued toddler son to the ground (While mounted on horseback. Harsh.) to welcome his companion. Yun would never be injured in battle nor did he ever fall ill. The book says he died when his wife pricked his finger with a needle-the only time he ever bled and then dropped dead. This otherwise generic good guy makes good use of his weapon to strike enemies at range, with many of his combos a mix of beating opponents to the ground or juggling them up into the air. His character model is 24 years old-it's guessed that he actually died of some illness at 61.
The Sleeping Dragon, as he was known, was one of the greatest minds of his age. His knowledge, wisdom, and deductive skills were without equal, to the annoyance of his foes. This hermit was sought out three times by Liu Bei, each visit a test by Liang, until he joined the side of Shu. His observation of weather patterns attributed to the Battle of Chi Bi, where the more superstitious folk thought he actually summoned winds from the gods. Strategists in the Dynasty Warriors game got their start with Liang-how does a non-combatant fight? Magic. Starting with the original fighting game, Liang could shoot lasers from his fans using the classic Hadouken input! In the series proper, each strategist would have certain elements and powers they could conjur with their fans. In the first game he could teleport, but only then. Though he'd be able to control his fans telekinetically, along with casting stunning runes and exploding orbs. His Musous are traditionally beam spam ended with a wide-arcing spread shot, though occasionally he JUST summons down a lightning storm. In life he actually was an inventor-creating land mines and automated supply carts in the shapes of moving farm animals. He is only 22 years old in game, and died at 53 from stress-related illness.
Dynasty Warriors 2
Stallion Spear (2-5, 7-9), Zhanmadao (Anti-Cavalry Sword) (6)
Fourth of the Five Tiger Generals, Chao was known for his mastery of mounted combat and for his ornate golden armor. In game he's one of the more inventive combatants early on as fr as cimbat style goes. He's fond of spinning movements incorporating acrobatic kicks-he'll plant his spear, spin around it kicking everyone in range, then flip and slam his spear down hard on a remaining foe. Other times he'll uses the spear for flip kicks and even breakdancing-style spinning ground attacks. In reality he had a horrible bout with misfortune-when away on a campaign, his family was captured and slaughtered by one of his foes. When he returned home, he was met with their...well-divided bodies catapulted over the tall walls that once protected his home. He'd go on to push himself to make up for his familial losses, trying to overcome the unbridled hatred he had for Cao Cao over the execution of his father. In game he is shown as a 21-year old, and would die at around 46 of unknown causes.
Dynasty Warriors 2
Dao Sword (2-6 & 9), Bow (7-8)
Probably the eldest mortal character in the series, the fifth Tiger General was also Shu's master archer. The first few games would have him using his sword, then DW4 made his Charge attacks into archery. DW7 and 8 both had him as a pure archer, with 9 actually giving him two dao swords (The standard chinese sword that curves back a few inches from the tip) to compliment his archery. In addition to the standard archery every character has, these Charge shots shoot five arrows in in succession. His jumping charges even have him flipping into the air, shooting arrows while upside down! His Musous switch up halfway through the series though-a series of advancing slashes up through DW4, then archery attacks from then on: an exploding arrow, multiple arrow spread shots, and raining arrow volleys that explode and leave craters in the ground! Apparently he started his military career while decades older than his piers, but was known as a sharpshooter that could hit 100 bulls' eyes in a row. Cut scenes often have him shooting incoming the arrow of Xiahou Yuan, Wei's archer, out of mid air! Zhong's model is him at 62 years old-he would die of unknown causes ten years into his career at age 72.
Jiang Wei (Jeong Way)
Dynasty Warriors 2 (Did not appear in 6)
Qiang Spear (2,4-5), Trident (3,7), Double-Headed Trident (8-9)
Not obly can Koei not decide on what weapon gor him to wield, but they even left him out of a game! Jiang Wei was hand-picked by Zhuge Liand to be his successor, though in this case one who fought actively. He lived in the lands of Wei, but Sima Yi had left for his grudge match against Zhuge Liang, causing Jiang Wei to join Shu instead. As a fighting strategist, the games combine his spear combat and elemental magic into a best of both worlds sort of character; good at short to mid range combat. After the deaths of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang, it was Jiang Wei who would go to lead Shu's armies. He had ambition and vision, but neither the skills nor resources to accomplish them. He held continuous expeditions to expand Shu, but his waning forces fell to Wei more often than not. Shu was not brought back to the glory he dreamed and was unable to control men tired of worthless fights. His model shows him at 19, when he left Wei for Shu-he was murdered by mutinous soldiers at the age 62, and his family after him.
Pang Tong (Pang Tong, Pong Tung)
Dynasty Warriors 3
Staff (3-7), Shadow Fan (8-9)
So we've come to one of the funnest characters in the series. The enigmatic, disguised strategist know as the Fledgling Phoenix has one of the oddest move sets in the game, at least when he wields his staff. His charge attacks and combos have him floating in mid-air via said staff, swinging around and flipping while assauting his foes. When air charges were introduces, it let him AIR SURF on his staff! By then he'd also gain the elemental orbs like other strategists had-he evens gets to do fire breathe after drinking wine! His musous were literally explosive-he'd ride his staff as it bounced up and down, causing explosions from the ground all around him. Latr moves sets let him conjur gales of winds and protective tornadoes. He has a sarcastic sense of humor and is just fun to play as. The novel mentions him being ugly-with a flat noce and a hunched back, though account state he was just plain-he was a rival of Zhuge Liang and got some bad lipservice. He's know for being the one to trick Wei into chaining their boats together for stability before the Battle of Chi Bi. He appears 32 (somehow) in-game, but was alas sniped in battle at only age 36.
Wei Yan (Way Yon)
Dynasty Warriors 3
Double-Bladed Voulge (3-5,7-9), Mace (6)
Welcome to the pile of anachronisms that is Wei Yan-not to be confused with Wei Yan (an officier in a different army whom was not awesome enough to be a playable character). He's portrayed as a simple, savage berserker type, speaking monosyllablically, with his fighting style being more or less capoeria. He uses a Brazlilian fighting style 1,300 years before its creation, using a double-bladed version of a French polearm that wouldn't exist until the 1400's (in game it's stylized to look like other Chinese spears). The Koei Wiki outright labels his attacks as breakdancing, and his spinning tends to create whirlwinds and juggle combos. Imagine the lovechild of Eddie Gordo and Wolverine-that's how Yan is portayed in the games. In the book he's a devoted, brave warrior, devoted to Liu Bei's cause, but is untrusted by Zhuge Liang. So, not being the best to the strategist may have labeled him as aa savage or beast, which is how Koei decided to portray him. He wanted to keep fighting after the passing of Liang, but the Shu forces had been preparing for retreat. His fervor made him seem like a wild animal to his allies, and he was abandoned and villified by them. Wei Yan appears as a 37 year old in-game, he was shot on grounds of suspected treason in 234 (his birth year is unknown, though he became a renowned officer in 214. He may have been 57 at the time of his death).
Yue Ying (4-7)/Yueying (8-9) (Yu-Ay-Ying)
Dynasty Warriors 4
Dagger-Axe (4-5,8), Bow(6), Chang Gun Staff(7), Ji Halberd(9)
Zhuge Liang's wife is where we start getting to the unknown territory-she was supposedly as brilliant as her husband, and rumored to be ugly (or not attractive at the very least-one text mentions her having dark skin and yellow hair). Koei decided to take this as slander and made her gorgeous. Her dagger-axe is like a halberd, but instead of an axe head it's closer to a large dagger-in the games her weapons are more or less scythes. Her fighting style is that of a nimble grim reaper, spinning and dancing with her scythe, occasionally creating wind tunnels as that's just a thing that happens in these games. The game credits her with the invention of several of Shu's amazing inventions, such as the mechanical oxen and the Juggernaut-an anti-personnel weapon that resembled a huge, fire-breathing wheeled tiger! Some of her musous summon small versions of them, along with mechanical hawks. It should be noted her name is not known, and Huang Yueying was amde up as a name in fiction. Her model is portrayed at 23 years old (her first model seems older and better suited for war-she'd get less/sexier clothing as the series went on), while she died at 59 a short time after her husband of presumably an illness.
Dynasty Warriors 5
Great Sword(5,7-9), Ji Halberd (6)
Someone got some Final Fantasy mixed in with Dynasty Warriors (FF Musou would be fun...) with that big-ass Cloud sword. The Koei wiki says it's one of those anti-cavalry swords again, but let's get real. That's a Buster Sword. Historically all we know is that he's Guan Yu's eldest son and was captured with his father after the Battle of Fancheng. In the game he's a popular pretty boy, introduced in the same game as Xingcai, so we're made to ship them from the get-go. Combat wise...he's Cloud doing his awesome giant sword swing combos and strikes. DW8XL even gives him the freaking sword beam! As his father is portryed with a red face, Ping has been portrayed along side him with a white face. He's shown as 19 in-game, and would be executed alongside his father between 38 and 41 years old (His birth year is not precisely known).
Xing Cai (5,7)/Xingcai (8-9)
Dynasty Warriors 5
Long Fork & Shield (5), Sword % Shield (7-9)
Also known as Zhangshi, Xingcai is the youngest daughter of Zhang Fei and the second wife of Liu Shan (Sorry Ping/Cai shippers)-Everything beyond these relationships, including her names, are all fiction created by Koei for its games. She a rare character in the series having a shield-paired weapon, making her a solid defender. When eqipped with her long fork (think a 2-3 foot long barbecue fork, but strengthened for battle), she's use her shield like Captain America, occasionally dashing out to skewer foes. When equipped with her sword, she can surf on her shield, both riding down from jumps or overland to plow through enemies. A weird note id that in the games Liu Shan only has the one wife-in reality he had two wives; both daughters of Zhang Fei. When the elder daughter/sister/wife died, Xingcai took her place as empress. Techncially this would be like marrying both your cute cousins (but with anime rules as they're not related to you by blood. Still. Ick). In-game she's 19, and would be Empress until age 46. Her fate afterwards is unknown.
Liu Shan (Lee-oo Shon)
Dynasty Warriors 7
Time for more heavy fictionalization! He's armed with a rapier, a sword that would be created in Spain over 1,200 years after his death. He's also a playable character-mind you in the Shu-loving novel his nickname A Dou means incompetent. His Musou attacks have him sendinf forth swords slashes and kick imbued with lightning, and he can dance on the heads of his enemies. He's one of the few characters that actually has a healing move, one version of whih stuns enemies while he...leans on his sword. The game pretty much portrays him as a nice, well-meaning guy under a lot of stress. In reality he was a lazy bum who just kind of sat around while Jiang Wei did the actual governing. Some accounts say he ay be brain damaged, possible from when thrown to the ground by his father (shee Zhao Yun's write-up above). In the earliest games he was actually a Key item! You'd find this swaddled baby by a well you had to return to his father (the touchdowning of said baby is not in-game). Shu ended when he surrendered to Wei. His in-vharacetr age isn't listed-he inherited Shu at 16, ruled for 40 years, and died at 64 of natural causes.
Dynasty Warriors 7
Spinner (7-8), Mandarin Duck Hooks (9)
Now we're getting into the weirder stuff. Sanniang may be fictional, and may have been the wife of Guan Suo, whom also might be fictional. Her weapons are weird-her spinners are like large pinwheels with buzzsaw blades (shown here as Captain America's Beyblade), and the duck hooks are weird melee weapons that look like two metal boomerangs soldered together, with a grip on one of the blades. Obviously she's a fan-appeal character, added to fill out the cast of later era Shu with a cute, energetic girl. She jumps around like a cat (or more like a Tigger), and her Musou is her pouncing and scratching at her enemies. She was meant to be an confident, independent woman who doesn't need a man...until falling head over heels in love with Suo.
Dynasty Warriors 7
Suo is the third son of Guan Yu, wielder of a weapon that wouldn't be invented for almost another 1,000 years, nunchaku being made from rice flails in 1216. He's also a creation for the novels, not unlike Lancelot in Arthurian mythos. He was made famous in Chinese opera for being extremely handsome and having...four exotic wives. So that three future characters for Koei to make up. As a nunchaku user...ever played Soul Calibur? Maxi and Li Long-nunchaku and kicks? Same deal here.
Dynasty Warriors 8
Wingblades (8), Fan Sword (9)
Xing was Guan Yu's second son, and actually existed, but little is known about him. He has two weapons in as many games-wing blades are thick sword blades with a handle carved out of the blunt side of each weapon. A fan sword is like 5-6 swords joined at the pommel so they can fan out. He uses the wing blades to glide and spin and generate tornadoes. He would succeed his father in reality, and in fiction became a rival and sworn brother with Zhang Bao. He's somewhere in his 20's in-game, and his death age/time is unknown.
Dynasty Warriors 8
Double-Headed Flail (8), Wolf Teeth Mace (9)
Guan Yu did have a daughter, though her name has been lost to history. In gameplay she's a powerful waif-a pretty girl with the strength to shatter boulders. Her flail is a pole with a smal wrecking ball-like weight on each end, and her moveset shows off her strngth. One move has her throwing a boulder one-handed, another hands her flail to an enemy, who collapses under the weight. There are folk tales and stories about her in China, and she has different names depending on the story. She was to marry Sun Quan's son, but Guan Yu wouldn't have it. She'd learn to fight from Zhao Yun and fight in Shu's army during the Nanman campaign. She's supposed to be in her early 20's in game, and would die at 67 of unknown causes.
Dynasty Warriors 8
Flail Sword (8), Meteor Hammer (9)
Zhang Fei's eldest son and sworn brother to Guan Xing, thouh little is known of him historicallly. He has an interesting weapon in DW8, a "flail sword", which is a sort of combination of Ivy's whip-sword in the Soul Calibur and the hidden blades from Assassin's Creed. It's a gauntlet with a blade mounted atop the forearm, which can quickly lash forward and return with a movement of the arm. It's kind of a neat idea, but was replaced in DW9 with a Meteor Hammer, which is essentially two large, heavy weights connected by a chain. The Flail Sword's moveset allowed Bao to play Scorpion-layching onto foes before zipping behind for an assault, or grappling them from a distance and tossing them about. The little we know about Bao is he died fairly young in 263 when Wei conquered Shu, but he left a young son behind.
Dynasty Warriors 9
Appearing first in DW8 XL wielding a cloth, Zheng entered the series proper in DW9, along with a new weapon. The Urumi is a sword with a long, flexible whip-like blade of Indian origin from around the same time period as the Three Kingdoms. It's doubtful anyone in China actually used one, but at least it's in the realm of possibility. He was one of Liu Bei's most trusted advisors, helping Bei seize the Yi province from his former master. He's said to have had a vindictive streak and used his newfound power to gain vengeance on anyone who'd wronged him. Zheng would be about 35 in-game, as that's his age when he joined up with Shu. He'd die at 44 of unrecorded means.
Dynasty Warriors 9
Our final Shu character and his weapon are both fictional. Cang's weapon is referred to as a "mowing blade" on the Koei wiki; in-game it's an unevern, long blade with a handle attached along its back. Cang is a fun entry into the series, a Yellow Turban turncoat that pledged himself to Guan Yu. He's said to have been as fast as Red Hare, and his moveset has him using his speed and momentum along with his large blade to literally plow through enemies. Like Guan Ping he is occasionally seen in art and architecture of Guan Yu, with his face black (and a black beard, unlike his youthful game model) to contrast the red and white of the Guan men. It's said he captured enemy general Pang De at the battle where Yu and Ping were captured. Upon hearing of their deaths he commits suicide having sworn his life to the elder Guan.
Next time we'll look at the boys (and gals) in blue of the Wei Kingdom.