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Total War Three Kingdoms: Guide to Characters

Guide to Characters

Characters in THREE KINGDOMS touch every part of the campaign game. They are the generals of your armies, inhabit key posts in your faction hierarchy, boost productivity in your commanderies, engage in espionage on your behalf, and grant benefits to every aspect of your game, both on the campaign map and in battle.

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Characters are complex. They have different personalities, different drives and motivations, and build relationships – both positive and negative – with those around them. You must attend to their needs in order to keep them loyal, and shield them from situations which will dissatisfy or endanger them.


Characters have passive and active abilities which improve their performance in campaign and battle. These may be granted by their character class, equipped items, their skills tree, and other sources. You can mouse over specific ability icons in their character panel to see their effects.

Passive abilities are always-on and may affect campaign or battle. Active abilities are solely for use in battle, and require a left-click to activate.


Each character has five core attributes that help define their capabilities in campaign and battle. These are viewable in the character panel.

A character’s starting attributes are defined by their background. As a character gains experience, levels up and is granted skill points, they may choose new skills which, among other bonuses, boost specific attributes. As attributes improve, so do the capabilities those attributes grant, which are as follows.

A character’s presence and strength of character. Improves retinue morale and factionwide character satisfaction.

A character’s wisdom and wit improves military supplies provided by characters in this character’s army, and ammunition levels for ranged units in the character’s retinue.

A character’s proficiency and craft. Reduces construction costs in the commandery the character is situated in, and improves the character’s melee evasion.

A character’s audacity, drive, and battle-fervour. Reduces melee damage in battle and reduces recruitment costs in the character’s army.

A character’s willpower and heart. Increases the character’s health and improves population growth in any commandery the character is assigned to as an administrator.


Ancillaries are items and followers that may be equipped by characters in your faction. These can improve their performance in battle and campaign in a variety of ways. Any you own may be assigned by selecting a character, opening their character panel, and clicking on the ancillary categories to the left. Ancillaries may be traded in diplomacy, looted at the end of a battle, or gained through confederation.

Ancillaries come in four grades of quality – Common, Refined, Exceptional and Unique – and fall into five different categories: Weapons, Armour, Mounts, Followers and Accessories. Mouse over an ancillary to see the effects it grants to a character when equipped.


Characters fall into five different classes, each of which has its own strengths and optimal roles in battle and campaign.

Champions are skilled one-on-one fighters, making them excellent in duels. Resolve is the Champion’s key attribute, boosting his health in battle, and population growth in any commandery where he is the assigned administrator. The Champion’s skills tree contains resolve-based skills which improve their melee damage output and confer a powerful splash attack. Champions work well when grouped with polearm infantry.

Commanders excel at inspiring troop on the battlefield, but are less well-suited to melee and duelling. Authority is a Commander’s key attribute, boosting factionwide character satisfaction if he holds a ministerial post at court, and enhancing unit morale in battle within his command aura. Commanders work well when grouped with melee cavalry.

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Sentinels are strongly defensive characters and excel at locking down enemy generals and holding the line. Expertise is the Sentinel’s key attribute, aiding their melee evasion chance in battle and reducing construction costs in any commandery that are assigned to administrate. The key expertise-based skills in their skills tree improve their melee evasion, ranged block chance, and melee damage capabilities. Sentinels work well when grouped with polearm and melee infantry.

Strategists unlock formations for units in their army and are able to severely impair the efficiency of enemy units and characters in battle by unlocking debuff abilities in their skills tree. Cunning is a Strategist’s key attribute, improving the ammunition levels in his retinue and boosting his army’s military supplies. Strategists are the only characters capable of recruiting artillery. They are fragile in combat and cannot duel. They are best stationed with ranged units.

These fiery warriors excel at punching through troop lines and therefore work well when grouped with melee and polearm cavalry. They are less well-suited to duelling, and Instinct is their key attribute, improving their melee damage and reducing recruitment costs for their army. The Instinct-based Vanguard skills in their skills-tree debuff enemy morale, improve their melee damage and confer a powerful splash-damage attack.


As characters fight battles as generals, or work as administrators or assignments (and to a lesser degree hold ministerial positions), they gain personal experience and advance through character levels. A character who levels up gains skill points that the player can spend on new skills which can boost a character’s core attributes, unlock new skills and grant new bonuses in both battle and campaign.

Faction leaders are granted a small amount of bonus experience when characters in their faction level up.

in Romance Mode, characters who hit achieve rank 4 gain a bonus wound, improving their resilience.

Military tab

The military tab in the character panel details key units the selected character is capable of recruiting, the current status and active effects on units in their retinue (replenishing, attrition etc), and any abilities they have in battle.

Past Loyalties

Each character is persistent in the world – at least until they die – and may have worked for other factions before joining yours. You can track their past employment history by mousing over the Past Loyalties icon beneath the character’s name in their character panel. You cannot tell simply from looking at a character’s past employers whether they are a spy, but it may certainly fuel your suspicions…


As characters become embroiled in the same events, or hold positions in close-proximity working environments such as armies, your court, or the administrational office of a commandery, they can develop positive or negative relationships with one another. These relationships can influence their satisfaction and their performance in battle. You can view a character’s relationships under the relations tab in the character panel.

Any character can form a relationship with another, and those relationships form when localised events happen involving them both. Such events are many and varied; battle outcomes, duel outcomes (or interruptions), diplomatic acts between faction leaders, appointment to – or recall from – an administrational or ministerial role, adopting a character, or appointing an heir, are all good examples.

Once a relationship is formed, a character’s traits can enhance harmony or disharmony between the two individuals. Resonant traits between characters, or traits in a character that another respects, may promote harmony. Dissonant traits between characters, or a trait in a character that another dislikes, can promote disharmony. These fluctuations cause relationships to deepen. Characters’ attitudes towards others in close-proximity working environments are indicated by speech-bubbles over their portraits, displaying ticks or crosses if they’re working with someone they particularly like or dislike.

Relationships begin as positive or negative acquaintances. They can further develop into friendships or rivalries, enhancing their effects. They may ultimately evolve into the two most powerful forms of relationship: Oathsworn or Nemesis. The impact on relationships caused by events involving two characters is always amplified if one is a faction leader, and characters may also develop a fondness or a grudge for specific factions as a result of their actions.

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A character’s relationships can alter their capabilities in battle. If a character is rivals with another in the same battle – whether friendly or the enemy – he will act more aggressively, gaining bonuses to his fighting abilities. Likewise, if a character has a friend in his army or the enemy’s, both will mutually gain defensive bonuses. If one falls however, the other will enter a state of rage – they will gain large combat bonuses and become uncontrollable for a period.

In campaign, relationships can improve or reduce a character’s satisfaction. Characters working alongside one another – such as generals in the same army, ministers in your court, or administrators and their assignees – can develop positive or negative relationships depending on the harmonies or disharmonies between them. Professional proximity to friends increases satisfaction, while working close to rivals reduces it.

A good rule of thumb is to take a common-sense approach to relationships. If you think something will work in a certain way, it probably will. For example, if there are two characters who are Oathsworn to each other – one in your faction, the other in an enemy faction – and you choose to execute the enemy character post-battle, the one in your faction will hate you for it. You may even become his nemesis, and he may develop a grudge against your faction. His satisfaction will plummet because he’s in your employ, and he will likely leave to join another faction, carrying his hatred with him!

In summary, the tendrils of a relationship can reach far and wide, beyond faction boundaries. It’s therefore important to keep an eye on your characters’ developing relationships, whether with friends or foes, as they can make a big difference to a character’s performance in battle, their satisfaction in the campaign, and ultimately, the choices you make as faction leader.


A character’s satisfaction is a measure of how happy they are in your employ. Characters who remain satisfied will stay loyal to you. If a character’s satisfaction dwindles, they may choose to leave your service and seek employment with another faction. In the case of a commandery administrator leaving your faction, they might choose to take your commandery for themselves, and set up their own faction. In the case of a character in a ministerial position, this could be as severe as sparking a civil war, dividing your own faction in half.

The satisfaction levels of your characters is therefore important to monitor through the course of a campaign. You can view a character’s satisfaction in their character panel, or via the characters list on the main campaign screen.

Many factors can influence a character’s satisfaction. Their title rank is one. They may desire a higher position in your court, such as administrator of a commandery. Certain characters may have skills which improve character satisfaction, such as commanders assigned to the posts of faction heir, prime minister or faction leader. They may gain satisfaction from their traits, from their character relations, or the fact that you have a good relationship with a faction that they like. There are many more examples, and they will differ from individual to individual according to their personality and traits.

To get a complete breakdown of the positive and negative factors contributing to a character’s satisfaction level, mouse over their icon in the characters list accessible from the main campaign screen, next to the minimap.

There is no single method to keep all your characters satisfied. A strong pacifist, for example, may become dissatisfied at the wars you wage, while a fiery militarist will be having the time of his life on the frontlines. Finding a balance – or working to satisfy the characters you like the most or who bring the most value to your faction – is one of Total War: THREE KINGDOMS’ key challenges!

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Title Rank

Each character has a title rank of their own, regardless of any other role you grant them in your faction, which entitles them to a specific salary and brings them a certain level of satisfaction. This is viewable in the character panel, next to the character’s age and satisfaction rating.

Characters will desire a higher office as they level up which, if unfulfilled, can damage their satisfaction. Promotion is therefore a principle method for improving their satisfaction. Higher ranks require you to pay higher salaries each turn.


As a character gains experience, they will progress to higher levels and gain skill points. You can spend these buying skills in their skills tree. This is viewable in their character panel, under the skills tab.

Skills trees differ according to a character’s class, granting them bonuses and new abilities related to their role and function in campaign and battle. There are also skills which grant improvements to attributes other than their key attribute, so the player has a choice in shaping their development and abilities and broadening their effectiveness outside their core class role.

Skills may grant new passive or active abilities in battle, enhance a character’s attributes, bring bonuses to specific unit types in their retinue or army, or improve aspects of their campaign presence. You can mouse over each skill in their skills tree to scrutinise its effects before choosing where to spend a character’s skill points.


Characters begin play with several traits, which enhance – and in some cases hamper – their abilities in many areas. You can view a character’s traits and scrutinise their effects by mousing over them in the character panel.

Traits can transform a character’s abilities in campaign and battle, and are key to the formation and development of relationships with other characters. A character with the formidable trait, for example, will gain bonuses to their instinct and melee damage, and will gain the opinions ‘Commends Physical Strength’, ‘Commends Physical Ability’, and ‘Supports War’. So not only will he be a better fighter than his base attributes and stats imply, he will also have an affinity for warlike leaders and those who display physical prowess in battle, which will in turn influence the relationships he forms and with whom.

A character’s activities may earn them new traits over time. For example, a character who has served as a secondary general in army for a period might gain the ambitious trait (although this trait cannot be earned if a character has the humble, loyal, dutiful or fraternal traits). The ambitious trait boosts the character’s authority, and grants a global increase to faction income if the character is assigned a ministerial role in your court, but also reduces the character’s satisfaction and makes them more likely to demand independence from your faction if they are assigned as the administrator of a commandery.


No character is immortal, and may be slain in battle. More resilient characters may survive a deadly blow however, and live to fight another day. This is reflected in a character’s resilience, which is indicated by the heart symbol on their unit card. Mouse over it for details.

A character with no resilience who falls in battle will die. However, a character with one level of resilience will not. They will become wounded and will take time to recover. They will continue to travel with their army, but while recovering, their unit card will be greyed out and they will not attend any battles the army engages in during this time.

When they become available to fight again, it will take further turns for their resilience to return to its former level however. If they fall in battle again during this period, they will not benefit from the protection of resilience, and will die.

Certain characters – such as Cao Cao for example – begin play with a bonus level of resilience. In Romance mode, all characters who level up to rank 4 also gain a bonus level of resilience. It is possible for a character to have multiple levels of resilience.

Written by CA_OtherTom

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