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Gongsun Zan
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV/100man-nin no Sangokushi portrait
Character Information
Force(s): Han
Gongsun Zan's Forces
Weapon Type: Sword (2~8)
Unit Type: Hero (2~4, 6)
Ruler (5, 7~8)
Significant Battle(s):
First Appearance: Dynasty Warriors 2
Historical Information
Real name:
Gōngsūn Zàn
Chinese name:
公孫瓚 - 公孙瓒
Style name:
Chinese name:
March 199

Gongsun Zan (onyomi: Kōson San) was a general who fought for the Han forces. He was supposedly a strict, noble and wise general, but his disrespect towards his officers and his own people fueled his arrogance and descent into corruption. He and Liu Bei were old friends having studied together, and both the latter and Zhao Yun served him for a time. He eventually got into a lasting scuffle with Yuan Shao, resulting in the two of them facing off for territory in Ji until Gongsun Zan killed himself and his family after being driven into a corner. He is famed for his White Riders unit, which are five thousand elite soldiers on white steeds.

Role in Games[]

Dynasty Warriors[]

In both Dynasty Warriors 4 and 5, Gongsun Zan participates as one of the commanders on the Allied Forces against Dong Zhuo at the Battle of Hu Lao Gate. Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends has his known role being the enemy commander at Jie Qiao/Bridge fighting Yuan Shao's army with the Bai Ma cavalry, along with a very unique trait of him riding the Shadow Runner when encountered on that stage (and on some set-up-stages in Xtreme Mode). The fifth title features him in the Battle of Chang Shan as well and has him fight against Yuan Shao. It is generally mentioned that he dies in battle afterwards.

In Dynasty Warriors 6, Gongsun Zan appears early in Zhao Yun's Musou Mode at the Battle of Hu Lao Gate as the latter's lord. He nearly starts a scene with Yuan Shao before being restrained by his vassal and inadvertently introduces Zhao Yun to Liu Bei. After the battle he gloats at the superiority of his forces and is dumbfounded when Zhao Yun leaves his services.

He continues to appear at Hulao Gate in subsequent installment. In Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends, he serves as the enemy commander in Yuan Shao's Hero stage at Jieqiao. During Dong Zhuo's version of Hulao Gate in Dynasty Warriors 8, he attacks Chen Gong. The Xtreme Legends expansion has him arrive as enemy reinforcements at Changshan alongside his son.

In a DLC stage for Dynasty Warriors 8, the player has to assist Gongsun Zan against the Wu army while bringing up reinforcements.

Warriors Orochi[]

In Warriors Orochi, Gongsun Zan starts out as an officer of Orochi's forces. In Warriors Orochi 3, he fights under Dong Zhuo but surrenders to the coalition alongside He Jin and others, due to plots conceived by Jia Xu during the battle of Jiange.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms[]

Gongsun Zan is a decent Cavalry General with battle stats in the 80's and intelligence within the 70's in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which adapts his novel personality. However, his politics stat is fairly low for a ruler, being consistently in the 40's likely in reference to his execution of Liu Yu and antagonistic attitude towards the Wuhuan. He mostly appears in scenarios predating the formation of the Three Kingdoms

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV expands on Gongzun Zan's emphasis on defensive warfare in reference to his construction of the defense complex at Yijing. His character traits emphasize this point via increasing his units defensive capabilities (Defense), expedite the building of traps and facilities (Castle Builder) and increasing the counterattack of cities upon enemy units (Stout) in addition to his affiliation with cavalry by increasing unit mobility (Dash). This in tandem with his formations specializing in prolonged direct battles as well as mobility and ranged combat make him very effective for defensive battles as well as pursuing enemies. Negatively, his unit will suffer an increased loss in morale when allied units are defeated (Downcast). His administrative policy significantly increases the repair rate of castle walls and construction of facilities (Train Engineers Lv 04). His unique battle skill, Baima's Duty inflicts damage on enemy units and prevents them from moving for a time.

The fourteenth title also depicts several events related to Gongsun Zan including his early losses against Yuan Shao at Jieqiao, his capture and execution of Liu Yu and his construction of the fortifications at Yijing leading upto his defeat. A what-if DLC scenario "Gongsun Zan: the Hero of Hebei" depicts an aftermath where Gongsun Zan has defeated Yuan Shao's army and controls all of Hebei in preparation to meet Cao Cao and a destitute Yuan Shao in battle for dominance over Zhongyuan.

Voice Actors[]

  • Skip Stellrecht - Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends (English; uncredited)
  • Lee Hyeon - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
  • Kousuke Takaguchi - Sangokushi Legion
  • Chie Satō - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
  • Ryunosuke Watanuki - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)

Live-Action Performers[]


  • "You'll see, Yuan Shao; I am the one whose name will shine brightest on the field of battle."
~~Gongsun Zan before Hu Lao Gate; Dynasty Warriors 6
  • "What you say about it all, Yuan Shao? It was my White Riders that the enemy feared most! It was the White Riders! Zhao Yun, you fought almost as well as I did out there. I want you around. You've got a big future. Right! I'll be due some honors for this fight, that's for certain! This country needs more men like me!"
~~Gongsun Zan after the Battle of Hu Lao Gate; Dynasty Warriors 6
  • "You've always been so good with horses. I couldn't stop watching as you battled on horseback today."
"I am honored by your praise. You know every time I see a white horse, I think of you, Master Gongsun Zan."
~~Gongsun Zan and Zhao Yun; Dynasty Warriors 8

Historical Information[]

Gongsun Zan was from Liaoxi Commandery in You Province and member of a family of high officials. He was described as handsome and skilled in debate. He became a local officer in Liaoxi and was admired by its Administrator Hou, who gave him his daughter to marriage. After having studied under Lu Zhi, he returned to the commandery and was further promoted. When the new Administrator, Liu Ji, was brought to the capital and exiled to southern China, Gongsun Zan displayed great loyalty by escorting him to the capital and making sacrifices for his journey to the south.

Upon his return, he was nominated Filial and Incorrupt and made gentleman cadet. Afterwards, he became an assistant magistrate in Liaodong Commandery and led cavalry troops against the Wuhuan and Xianbei tribes in northern China, where he achieved great success. His white horse archers became known as the "Baima Cavalry". However, during one fight against the Xianbei, he lost many of his troops, causing him to be dismissed from office. Still, the Xianbei were so intimidated by his display that they halted their advance. It is said that they used his image for target practice and cheered whenever someone hit it.

Eventually, Gongsun Zan was re-appointed magistrate, this time in Zhuo Commandery, and in 187, he was given command of some Wuhuan auxiliaries to participate in the Liang Province rebellion and was successful. One year later, he became Commandant of Cavalry and defeated the rebels in You Province led by Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. He further campaigned against Wuhuan chief Qiuliju and defeated him, but once he advanced into Liaodong, he was besieged by the latter and escaped with heavy losses. Despite this, he was made colonel and enfeoffed, being feared by the non-Chinese for his courage. He later objected to the lenient policies of You's governor Liu Yu, but when Qiuliju surrendered, he was resentful.

In 190, after Dong Zhuo had taken power, Liu Yu was made Grand Marshal and Gongsun Zan was given command of Ji county, becoming a general in the process. In 191, Gongsun Zan defeated vast numbers of Yellow Turban remnants in Qing Province. Later that year, his cousin Gongsun Yue was killed in a confrontation between Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu, he declared war on Yuan Shao, captured territories in Ji Province and named his general Tian Kai Inspector of Qing Province. Later that year, Gongsun Zan was defeated by Yuan Shao's general Qu Yi at Jieqiao.

In 193, relations between Gongsun Zan and Liu Yu deteriorated. Since Yuan Shu held Liu Yu's son Liu He as a captive after the latter escaped from Chang'an, Liu Yu sided with Yuan Shao and objected to Gongsun Zan's aggressive policy. Because of this, Liu Yu started to withhold supplies, causing the two to clash. Gongsun Zan built a fortress at Ji, which was attacked by Liu Yu. Gongsun Zan emerged victorious, captured and killed Liu Yu. Gongsun Zan was later appointed General of the Van and declared himself Inspector of You Province.

Gongsun Zan's rule in You Province was very harsh and severe, especially on the members of the local gentry. Tian Kai was driven out of Qing Province by Yuan Tan, but Gongsun Zan remained very powerful in the northeast. Xianyu Fu, a former subject of Liu Yu, rose in rebellion with Yan Rou and other Wuhuan allies in 195. They were joined by Yuan Shao's men under Liu Yu's son Liu He and Qu Yi. Gongsun Zan started to lose power and his officials in You were killed and replaced by rebel leaders.

In the subsequent years, Gongsun Zan built a vast defense complex in Yijing with agricultural colonies and kept himself isolated. He managed to repulse Yuan Shao's first attacks led by Qu Yi. However, in 198, Yuan Shao himself led his main army against Yijing. He dug tunnels and fired them to bring down the walls. In early 199, Yijing was stormed by Yuan Shao's men and Gongsun Zan killed his wife and children before committing suicide. Yuan Shao's men cut off Gongsun Zan's head and sent it to the capital in Xuchang.

Overall, while Gongsun Zan was a brave and noble man with capable feats, he was brought down by his arrogance and his dismissal of both his men and the common folk which only served to add to his corrupt deeds as he gave power to such like-minded corrupt figures, plundered his own people's homes and advocated the genocide of the Wuhuan tribes.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms[]

In the novel, Gongsun Zan built a good friendship with Liu Bei, which lasted into adulthood. He used his influence as Governor of Beiping to have Liu Bei appointed as the Magistrate of Pingyuan. When the alliance against Dong Zhuo was established, Gongsun Zan joined it and moved south. During his march, he passed by Pingyuan and met with Liu Bei, offering him to join him in restoring the Han. Liu Bei agreed and the two continued south. While meeting with the other lords, Gongsun Zan introduced Liu Bei to the others. However, the meeting was interrupted by a messenger who told them of Hua Xiong's advance. When some of the lords' generals were killed, Guan Yu offered to challenge him, outraging Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu. Cao Cao and Gongsun Zan managed to calm them down and Guan Yu killed Hua Xiong. Since Yuan Shu was still angry, Gongsun Zan led Liu Bei and his brothers to the camp to calm him down.

Later, Gongsun Zan was among the seven lords who were sent to fight Lu Bu. Lu Bu had killed many generals when Gongsun Zan challenged him. However, Gongsun Zan was no match for him and retreated. Lu Bu was able to catch up and rose his halberd to strike Gongsun Zan down, but the latter was saved by Zhang Fei and fled. After the alliance against Dong Zhuo was disbanded, Gongsun Zan received a letter from Yuan Shao, who asked him for a joint attack on Han Fu in Ji Province. Gongsun Zan agreed, but Yuan Shao secretly met with Han Fu and informed him of Gongsun Zan's advance, offering him a joint defense, only to betray Han Fu and take power for himself. Gongsun Zan sent his brother Gongsun Yue to demand his part of Ji Province, but Yuan Shao refused to speak to him and wanted to speak to Gongsun Zan himself. Gongsun Yue returned and was ambushed and killed on the way back by men who claimed to serve Dong Zhuo. Gongsun Zan saw through the ruse and declared war on Yuan Shao.

The forces of Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao met at Pan River, where Gongsun Zan would challenge the enemy general Wen Chou. Gongsun Zan was no match for him and withdrew. Wen Chou went in pursuit and Gongsun Zan was unable to lose him. Wen Chou chased him into the mountains, where Gongsun Zan's steed stopped and threw him to the ground. Gongsun Zan was almost killed if it weren't for Zhao Yun, who came to join him. Together with Zhao Yun, Gongsun Zan was able to kill Yuan Shao's general Qu Yi. Yuan Shao himself was ambushed by Liu Bei and his brothers, who came to help Gongsun Zan, and fled. Gongsun Zan retreated to Beiping after receiving an edict from Dong Zhuo to stop the fighting and praised Liu Bei, who was promoted to Governor of Pingyuan.

When Liu Bei wanted to attack Cao Cao, he asked Gongsun Zan for troops. Gongsun Zan was concerned and advised against an attack, but he eventually gave in and sent 2,000 men along with Zhao Yun to his support. In 199, Gongsun Zan was caught off guard by Yuan Shao's attack and holed himself up in Yijing. The siege dragged on until one of Gongsun Zan's officers requested reinforcements. Gongsun Zan denied the reinforcements, thinking that his men would fight harder if they didn't receive any. This caused many of Gongsun Zan's men to desert to Yuan Shao and his men dug a tunnel and set fire to the city. Gongsun Zan withdrew to his tower, where he killed his family and hung himself. His death was later reported to Liu Bei by Zhao Yun.