William Wallace (Celts)
The main protagonist of the Celtic learning campaign that bears his name. Appears in the final map as a champion unit.
- Advertised Extra: Only controlled in the last scenario, when he arrives with his army to boost the player's forces after the battle has already been going for a while.
- Badass Beard: His character portrait sports one along with barbaric long hair.
- Barbarian Longhair: Sports a magnificent mane in both the cutscenes and his unit icon. However, his sprites are those of a normal champion (we are probably expected to think that the man is hidden under the helmet).
- BFS: Equipped with a five foot long claymore, his model in game wields one too.
- The Hero: Of the First Campaign, though you only get to use him later in the last scenario.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Just like Braveheart, this media depicts Wallace as an ideal and romantic hero who fights against a tyrannical oppressor, while in real life things were... a tad different.
- One-Man Army: One of the strongest heroic units.
- Silent Protagonist: After much fanfare, he arrives in the last scenario to lead the last charge against the English, but he doesn't have spoken lines (other than the standard Celtic replies to the player's commands).
Edward I "Longshanks"
The king of England in the William Wallace campaign, does not appear in person.
- And That's Terrible: He stole the Coronation Stone and crowned himself King of Scotland!!
- Big Bad: Of the first campaign.
- Evil Brit: He is the King of England and a very naughty boy.
- The Ghost: Though frequently mentioned in the introductions and epilogues, he never appears personally.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: His villainy is far more accentuated in game. Probably to be blamed on an Unreliable Narrator.
- Starter Villain: rather competent by all accounts, even defeating Wallace at Falkirk. In game the least dangerous main opponent, justified of course since it's a tutorial campaign.
Joan of Arc (Franks)
Joan of Arc
The protagonist of the Frankish campaign. Appears as two different units: Joan the Maid, which walks on foot, has little attack and has no armor, and her more powerful knight version, who has high attack, but is not as strong as other mounted heroes.
- Breastplate: Averted, even in cutscenes she wears a perfectly functional full plate armor.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: She becomes the head of the French army before 18.
- Cool Sword: Owned by Charlemagne, or so is said.
- Escort Mission: Many knights are tasked with protecting her through the campaign (Sieur Bertrand, Sieur de Metz, the Duke of Alençon, etc). They can be killed in battle but as long as Joan survives it's okay.
- The Hero: Of the second campaign. The game credits her with turning the tide of The Hundred Years War and turning the French feudal leves into an unified national army.
- The Hero Dies: After the fifth scenario, though this is much a Foregone Conclusion.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Both playable versions of Joan are capable of combat, even though their historical counterpart was reputed to have never killed a person.
- Plucky Girl: The game shows Joan as a seventeen years old girl determined to chase the English out of her country at any cost.
- Silent Protagonist: Her unit doesn't have dialogue, other than the standard French female villager responses.
- The Smurfette Principle: Only female warrior featured in the game.
- Took a Level in Badass: Goes from being a powered up villager to powered up cavalry unit after the first mission.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Dauphin Charles.
- Working-Class Hero: A common peasant girl that rises morale for her faith in victory.
Guy de Josseline
The fictional narrator of the Joan of Arc campaign. Has an unique model as cavalry in the final level. Voiced by Spencer Prokop.
- Author Avatar: Sort of. One of the developers of the game, Sandy Peterson, has a French ancestor named Josselyne.
- Been There, Shaped History: Though fictional, he ends leading the French in the Battle of Castillon, that ended The Hundred Years War and expelled the English from the continent.note
- The Lancer: To Joan.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Determined to avenge Joan in the sixth and last scenario of the Frankish campaign.
- BFS: The unit representing him, the strongest infantry swordsman, wields one.
- The Big Guy: To Joan in the third scenario and to Guy in the sixth.
- Blood Knight: Sounds almost psychotic.La Hire: The blood on La Hire's sword is almost dry.
- Large Ham: "Ah, La Hire wishes to kill something".
- Made of Iron: La Hire is the ONLY unit in all of Age of Empires 2 who is simply "grievously wounded" if he gets killed in the 3rd Joan of Arc scenario, in spite of you being able to see his corpse rot. Gameplay limitations aside, he reappears for the 6th scenario but if he falls in battle there, it will be confirmed that he has perished.
- Neck Snap: His plan for a few English soldiers at Patay, according to Josseline.
- Only Known by Their Nickname/Red Baron: La Hire means "The Wrath". For the curious, the historical La Hire's name was Etienne de Vignolles.
- Third-Person Person: La Hire never says the word "I". Just "La Hire."
Sir John Fastolf
An extremely arrogant English knight, and the antagonist of the third level in Joan of Arc. Represented by the Knightly Lance hero unit.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Continuously dismisses Joan's forces as a bunch of worthless rams and cattle. It counts as Hypocritical Humor, given that most of the time he's just sending wave upon wave of knights and rams to attack your base.
- Bonus Boss: In the third scenario he will personally storm your base with some elite troops if you destroy one of the English Castles, but neither killing him nor defeating his bloody tough armies is vital to win the scenario.
- Evil Brit
- Face Death with Dignity: If killed, he says "I die for England." He actually survived the battle of Patay in real life, and was labelled as a Dirty Coward for the next 13 years for it. Even after that his reputation never fully recovered, and Shakespeare immortalizing him as the buffoonish Falstaff did not help.
- Knightly Lance: As is typical of commanders in the Joan of Arc campaign.
- Oh, Crap!: "Fastolf's Army advanced to the Imperial Age." He is the first enemy AI that hits the Imperial Age, all while the player can only advance to the Castle Age. A battle with him becomes Cavaliers and Capped Rams vs the player's Knights and Battering Rams. Thankfully, he seems somewhat handicapped and only has a few Imperial Age technologies available to him.
- We Have Reserves: He never runs out of knights.
The leader of the Saracens, and the protagonist of his campaign, as well as a Final Boss of the Barbarossa campaign. Does not appear in-game, but in the expansions he's introduced as an heroic Mameluke unit.
- Berserk Button: Becomes very outraged when Reynald and his henchmen starts pillaging the caravans for no reason.
- Cultured Badass: The narrator highlights how refined and educated he, and the rest of the Saracen civilization, is.
- The Ghost: He never appears in the campaigns.
- He Who Fights Monsters: As the narrator noted, he became more and more ruthless as the crusaders continued the war.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The narrator, a captured crusader, routinely notes how different Saladin and his portrayal by Europeans is.
- The Worf Effect: In Battles of the Forgotten, it is mentioned that Saladin was often defeated by Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade, after the siege of Acre (which he lost, by the way).
Reynald de Chatillon
A French knight working for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the first enemy of the Saladin campaign. Is represented by the Knightly Lance hero unit.
- Arch-Enemy: Ends up becoming one for Saladin.
- Black Knight: He is a knight and a complete psychopath.
- The Dragon: For Jerusalem, in the battle of Hattin.
- Fiery Redhead: Has red hair and moustache.
- French Jerk: He's referred to as a "wicked French knight" by the narration.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: Considering how brutal the real Reynald was, what the game lists his actions are is arguable tame by comparison.
- Knightly Lance: Like most French campaign commanders.
- Off with His Head!: Captured and beheaded by Saladin himself.
Richard the Lionhearted
The Final Boss of the Saladin campaign, a minor ally in the final level of Barbarossa and the protagonist of the Cyprus scenario in the Battles of the Forgotten. Represented by a powerful paladin unit.
- Ascended Extra: Becomes the main protagonist of Cyprus.
- Berserk Button: In Cyprus, mistreating his beloved sister Joan is his. He conquered the whole island of Cyprus and captured his king Isaac Comneus just for it.
- Genius Bruiser: A resourceful tactician and an expert warrior. Subverted in Cyprus, where his answer to hostilities from the local Sicilians and Cypriots is to steamroll their defenses and crush them until they surrender, with no finesse whatsoever.
- Gratuitous French: Mentioned that he spoke French, rather than English.
- Jerkass: Even the narration of Cyprus admit that, despite his military prowess he has many social faults and his behaviour outside of combat leaves much to be desired. This may explain why Philip August of France and King Tancred of Sicily aren't too fond of him.
- Out-of-Character Moment: In the Barbarossa Campaign, he appears with a small force outside the Saracen's walls surrounding Jerusalem, but sounds more fatalistic and stoic. He is also very likely to die and only serves as a brief distraction for your enemies. Averted in Definitive Edition, where he starts out with a large base and more troops, finally more than a match for the Saracens.
- In Battles of the Forgotten, he appears instead as a rather rude, straightforward monarch who adopts brute force to solve any situation he's in (like forcefully invade and conquer Messina and Cyprus), and his later tactical exploits against Saladin depicts him as a military genius so great you'd think they're describing your standard Mary Tzu. (While he indeed won against Saladin multiple times, he was unable to actually conquer Jerusalem, as stated in the narration).
- Worthy Opponent: Ends up being one for Saladin after Acre.
Genghis Khan (Mongols)
The protagonist of the Mongol campaign. Appears only in the first level, as a powerful mangudai unit.
- Achilles in His Tent: Slipping into The Ghost, the second scenario of his campaign commands you to defend Genghis's tent from his enemies, but he does not appear as an unit. It is at best unclear if he's inside the tent; if the tent is destroyed, the narrator will merely quip that the Khan will not like it.
- Advertised Extra: He only appears at the beginning of the first scenario and is never playable.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Even his heroic unit is quite powerful, you just never get to use him.
- Badass Beard: A nice, pointy white beard as seen in his icon.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Infamous for inflicting horrible tortures and executions on prisoners and defeated.
- For the Evulz: After destroying Khorezm, the Mongols enjoy themselves making mountains out of the decapitated heads of men, women, children, horses, dogs and cats, and sow the Khorezmian fields with salt.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the campaign, you have to defend Genghis Khan's tent during he second scenario, which is represented by a lavish Mongol wonder. In reality, Genghis Khan was famous for keeping the same modest lifestyle he was born in, sleeping in a common yurt even at the height of his conquests. The cutscenes are true to the latter.
- Greater-Scope Villain: His conquest of Cumania ultimately leads to the events of the Kotyan Khan campaign, but Genghis himself is only mentioned once, and most of the actual fighting is overseen by his lieutenant Subotai.
- Historical Villain Upgrade:
- The cutscene after "Crucible" says that Genghis ordered the chiefs who refused to follow him to be boiled alive. According to "The Secret History of the Mongols", it was Genghis's rival Jamukha (who is not referenced in the campaign) who had Genghis's generals boiled alive after capturing them.
- In "The Horde Rides West", Genghis sends two assassins disguised as merchants to kill the Shah of Khorezm without being at war with him yet. In the event that inspired this scenario, a caravan of actual Mongol merchants were rounded up by a Khorezmian governor and executed for no apparent reason (and without informing the Shah to boot). When the Shah refused to punish the governor for this (mostly because said governor was also his uncle) and executed the Mongol envoys demanding restitution, the Khan's outrage resulted in Genghis' Roaring Rampage of Revenge and the complete destruction of Khorezm as a state (Genghis also tried to assassinate the Shah later, but he escaped to an island in the Caspian Sea; the game's mission is therefore a combination of multiple events). Even historians sympathetic to Genghis agree that he used merchants as spies anyway, however.
- The Horde: Leads one.
- Horse Archer
- Large Ham: In the one speaking role he has.
- Modest Royalty: Despite owning half of Asia, he dies in a yurt as humble as the one he was born in. The narrator hints that his descendants won't be as humble.
- Rags to Riches: His mother hunted rodents to not die of starvation. His children eat from Persian gold plates.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: "Four Mongol tribes follow the standard of Genghis Khan. The rest of the world will soon learn fear". Oh, indeed.
- Villain Protagonist: Arguably he can be considered one.
- You Are in Command Now: According to the narrator, in his deathbed he "refuses to die" until one of his sons agrees to take control of his horde and invade Europe, upon which he names him his heir.
Ornlu The Wolf
A wolf carrying a minor role in the Genghis Khan campaign. The task to convince the Uighurs to join Genghis, is to kill Ornlu and his pack. A renamed version of him, called Son of Ornlu, inexplicably appears in Montezuma. He is a very powerful wolf.
- Breakout Villain: Despite his minor role, he is the best remembered of the fictional characters invented for the game. The fan made expansion Forgotten Empires gives Ornlu his very own Hero icon. Yep, the fans decided that spending their time making a Hero icon for only scenario-available Ornlu the Wolf was worth the time and effort.
- Mythology Gag: There are references to him in both Age of Mythology and Age of Empires III. And he turns up in the Montezuma campaign and Vindlandsaga missions in the Conquerors as well.
- Savage Wolves: Ornlu is such a problem for a particular tribe that they will pledge loyalty to Genghis if he resolves it for them.
- Unexpected Character: In a hilarious defiance of common logic, turns up in the fourth mission of the Montezuma campaign, as an Easter Egg. In the second level, a renamed version of him called Son of Ornlu can also be found.
The antagonist of the second level of Genghis Khan. Represented by a cavalier unit.
- Dirty Coward: He flees as soon as he sees Genghis' men coming.
- The Horde: Leads one.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: Flees immediately after the defeat of the Khara Khitai.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: He sports a brutal one over his left eye, who is missing.
- Warmup Boss
The Lancer to Genghis, and later, Ogatai. Represented by a cavalry archer. Also appears in the Kotyan Khan campaign as the antagonist.
- Badass Beard: Like Genghis, only black.
- Big Bad: In the Kotyan Khan campaign.
- Big Damn Heroes: In the last scenario after forty minutes of Hungarian siege, he arrives followed by a generous amount of saboteurs to save the day.
- Canine Companion: His two hunting wolves. Possibly a reference to his title of "Dog of War."
- Cool Pet: The Wolves gain a speed boost when they're directed at enemies, attack very quickly, and have the healing factor bestowed upon all Hero units.
- The Heavy: Set in motion Kotyan's evacuation from Cumania, after suppressing the Kipchaks then laying a brutal beat down on the combined Cuman-Kievan forces in the Battle of Kalka River. He continued to pursue Kotyan with an elite army and Chinese siege weapons.
- Historical Beauty Update: Subotai was actually extremely obese and had to be pulled around in a cart. He was such an asset to the Mongol army as a strategist that nobody minded hauling him around. Age of Kings presents Subotai as a rather lean man and the fastest military unit in the game.
- The Horde: Leads the ones that conquer Russia and Hungary.
- Horse Archer
- The Lancer: To Genghis and later his son.
- The Quiet One: He has lines, but they are short.Subotai: Subotai's here!
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: His wolves.
- Third-Person Person: His Badass Boast when he arrives in the last scenario.
The protagonist of the teuton campaign. Appears in the final level, after his death, as the Emperor in A Barrel unit, which is a trade cart with more health. The expanions added him as a unique Teutonic Knight unit.
- Anti-Climax: His death during the long march towards the Holy Land; he drowns in the cutscene after the penultimate mission.
- Badass Beard: Hence his nickname: Barba for "Beard" and Rossa for "Red."
- Escort Mission: Technically the last one, where the player has to make sure that a cart containing Barbarossa's body reaches Jerusalem.
- Fiery Redhead: Barbarossa means "Red Beard" in Italian. While the cutscenes are not colorized, his expansion-available unit hows him with red hair and beard.
- The Ghost: Never actually seen in game.
- The Hero: Though some people may consider him a Villain Protagonist.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Barbarossa had to put down rebellions in Germany, but not one seemingly comprised of all electoral princes going up in arms at once right after his election. He wasn't the leading man in Germany's expansion to the east, but something that Henry the Lion did mostly on his own (Henry ruled Saxony, which was by the frontier then, so any expansion of the frontier resulted in the Lion's own land and wealth being increased). And his conflict with the Lion himself wasn't as black and white as presented in the game (see below).
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Barbarossa launched five wars in Italy, and the conflict with the Pope (who was sometimes on the side of the Emperor against the Italian rebels and often had different goals than them) was far more tortuous and complicated than just a dispute over who had authority over the other. It also involved several popes, including three of them at once (rather than two as in the game), and Barbarossa switched allegiance between two popes more than once.
- Puppet King: The Holy Roman Empire is an Elective Monarchy and the electoral princes, the Church and the Italian merchant cities have grown accostumed to consider the imperial title meaningless. Barbarossa's long time objective is to put an end to this.
Henry the Lion
The Starscream to Barbarossa, later implied to be the narrator of his campaign, commanding forces in the second and fourth levels though he does not appear as an unit until Definitive Edition, where he's an heroic knight. Voiced by Spencer Prokop.
- Badass Mustache: Sports a large one with no beard, in the Germanic fashion.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: In the game, he betrays Barbarossa and tries to usurp the Imperial throne, is defeated but forgiven, then betrays him again at the absolute worst time. The second time is the last.
- The Dragon: He was meant to be Barbarossa's Dragon in-game. He ends up turning on Barbarossa twice and becomes The Dragon for the Lombard League the second time.
- Dragon with an Agenda: He has his own interests and betrays Barbarossa twice when they conflict with his.
- FaceHeel Turn: Twice.
- The Ghost: Never seen in game.
- Historical In-Joke: His final narration ("I'm an old man now. What harm could I possibly do?") note
- Historical Villain Upgrade:
- In reality, Henry the Lion never tried to usurp the Imperial throne and title from Barbarossa, nor took up arms against him while Barbarossa was fighting Poland. Henry the Lion was the one that made war in the east (against the last remaining Pagan tribes in the Pomerania region, rather than the actual Kingdom of Poland) though it was to serve his own interest and his troops were renowned for their cruelty.
- His part in the campaign(s) against Milan, where he served Barbarossa faithfully, is not mentioned.
- The Lion didn't rebel and ally with the Lombard League against Barbarossa either. All he did was not providing troops for Barbarossa's fifth Italian campaign (having supported and fought himself for him in other previous ones) because he was waging another war in the east at the time. When Barbarossa was defeated he blamed it on Henry, declared him an outlaw and stripped him of all his lands. The fact that Henry (who was actually Barbarossa's cousin) had collected a lot of land and power during Barbarossa's reign made him the perfect scapegoat, because many other nobles resented him already for that. The Lion did, however, return to Germany with a vengeance when Barbarossa left on Crusade, but was defeated and submitted to Barbarossa's son's authority years later.
- Narrator All Along: Implied in the last cutscene. Henry the Lion and the narrator share the same voice actor, but this is also true of many unrelated characters in the game, so they disregarded it before The Reveal.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- His Historical Villain Upgrade.
- In the cutscenes, he goes into exile in England and when his identity is revealed, he claims to be too old to take up arms again. In real life, he took exile in Normandy (part of France, but ruled by the King of England note , destroyed a city (Bardowick) in revenge for siding with Barbarossa against him, was defeated by Barbarossa's son, accepted to submit in exchange for a minimal part of his former lands, and then decided he was too old to fight and became a quiet patron of the arts.
- Put on a Boat: He marches to exile in England after betraying Barbarossa a second time.
- The Starscream: He appears twice, and he betrays Barbarossa twice.
- You All Meet in an Inn: He tells the story to the player in a tavern.
Attila the Hun
The protagonist of the Hunnic campaign. Is an extra powerful cataphract unit in the HD version, and a unique cavalry unit in Definitive Edition.
- Anti-Climax: As with Barbarossa. Death by nosebleed in his wedding night seems pretty anticlimatic for such a ruthless, powerful leader. note
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He is both a powerful unit in the campaign and noted for his fighting in the cutscenes.
- Bad Boss: The cutscene leading to the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields has Attila throwing the first spear and then turning back to his army to say that whoever remains still while Attila fights is a dead man.
- Beard of Evil
- Cain and Abel: With Bleda, though it is impossible to say who's who.
- Cool Sword: Wields a rusty blade, which he claims to be Mars' sword.
- Evil vs. Evil: There is no love lost in his fight for power with Bleda.
- For the Evulz: After massacring his way through Gaul, he puts the heads of his victims in a line of stakes. There are enough to cover all the way from Gaul to Pannonia (modern Hungary).
- Hidden Depths: The stories of the Franks and Romans portray him more as a monster than a man and he leads his Huns in plenty of Rape, Pillage, and Burn campaigns. However, he personally negotiates an alliance with the Scythians, he eats from a wooden plate and cup instead of using the huge quantities of gold he obtains for his Huns, he spares one of the narrators, Father Armand, after the Battle of Châlons and he decides to turn his army around when at the gates of Rome.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: The first scenario begins with Bleda's death (at least in most plays) and Attila leading the Huns alone against Persians and Romans. In real life, Bleda and Attila ruled together during the invasion of Persia and the first invasion of the Roman-held Balkans... and the surviving sources imply that Bleda dominated over Attila.
- Historical Hero Upgrade:
- A very minor one, if the player so chooses. In real life Attila killed Bleda in a calculated power grab. If the player chooses to save Bleda from the Iron Boar then in the mission Attila still has to kill Bleda in self-defense.
- Later on, Attila has the chance to rescue some Hunnic Villagers and a Scythian prince that are prisoners of the Romans. The prince allows you to ally with the Scythians against the Romans and Persians. In real life, the Huns demanded the Romans to hand over several tribes who had willingly defected to them over their opposition to Bleda and Attila, and had their leaders crucified for converting to Christianity. It was the Huns who took Roman prisoners and negotiated their release for gold. And the Huns didn't as much ally with the Scythians as simply invade their lands and force them to serve in their army.
- Hopeless War: The Hunnic shamans predict that Attila will lose at the Catalaunian Fields, but that the enemy's leader will be killed. Attila considers it a just trade and fights anyway.
- The Horde: Leads a brutal one into Europe.
- Modest Royalty: Attila continues to eat from a simple, wooden bowl while plundering the Romans.
- Out with a Bang: Maybe it's not as glorious as dying in battle, but having a fatal nosebleed while getting to know his brand-new wife has quite the appeal.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The whole Attila Campaign can be summed as this.
- Red Baron: "The Scourge of God."
- Silent Protagonist: Despite being a playable unit in the first and last scenarios, he never speaks.
- Sinister Scimitar: In Definitive Edition, his hero model wields a single-edged curved saber fitting a nomad marauder.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: The Roman emperor's sister offered him her hand, and he was very aboard the idea (mainly because it gave him a claim on the Empire). Unfortunately, the Emperor really wasn't hot about it, and Attila ultimately never even met the gal face to face.
- Villain Protagonist: Despite the upgrades, the narrator clearly thinks of him and the rest of the Huns as wicked.
Bleda the Hun
The brother of Attila, and a Warmup Boss in his campaign. Represented by a Mangudai with melee damage, inexplicably. In Definitive Edition he's an heroic Steppe Lancer instead.
- Beard of Evil
- Cain and Abel: With Attila.
- Dirty Coward: Bleda challenges Attila to hunt the "Iron Boar" at the beginning of the first Attila the Hun campaign scenario. He has Archers hidden in the place where the Iron Boar lairs. If Attila decides to betray Bleda and return to camp, the Archers will testify against him to the rest of the Hun army causing half of the army to attack Attila. If Attila saves Bleda from the Boar, Bleda will order his archers to attack Attila.
- Evil vs. Evil: His conflict with Attila.
- Healing Factor: Subverted in that Bleda is actually a named, regular unit and lacks the healing factor of the Hero units of the game. Even in the map editor, he appears under the regular units tab and not under the Hero units tab. This was fixed in The African Kingdoms.
- Horse Archer: Technically.
- Improbable Weapon User: Bleda uses the same model as the Mongol unique unit, the Mangudai... which makes no sense because the Mangudai is a horse archer and Bleda is a melee unit. This results in Bleda running up to units and firing an arrow from his bow at point blank range upward away from his enemies...
- Rectified in Definitive Edition, where he gets to wield a spear instead.
- Moral Event Horizon: In the first mission, if the player chooses to save Bleda from the Iron Boar, Bleda orders his hidden archers to kill Attila. If the player kills Bleda and the archers, then returns Attila to camp, one of the Huns condemns Bleda's treachery and claims it made him deserving of his death.
- Ungrateful Bastard: If Attila kills the Iron Boar before it can kill Bleda, then Bleda will order hidden archers to kill Attila. He actually acknowledges that Attila saved his life before giving this order.
The West Roman general fighting Attila in the latter part of the campaign, although he never appears.
- Climax Boss: Though you never see him directly in game, the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields count as this.
- Hero Antagonist: Technically for Attila's Campaign.
- The Ghost
- Mighty Whitey: He was raised among the Huns, making him Rome's best choice to deal with them.
- Retired Badass: Retires after the battle of the Catalaunian Fields, allowing Attila to invade Rome.
- To Know Him, I Must Become Him: Lived among the Huns before joining Rome's army and fighting them.
- Worthy Opponent: To Attila.
The source of information for Attila's campaign and his atrocities, as he tells Attila's tale to the narrator. A peaceful monk who's troubled by what he had to witness... or maybe not.
- Distressed Dude: Attila decided to abduct him after the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields, and made him complicit in his following raids and brutalities.
- Evil Feels Good: After relating to his young acolyte all of Attila's crimes, Armand actually confesses he misses when he participated to the bloodbath.
- Retired Monster: His tale first presents him as a victim of a tribal chief's cruelty, right until Armand admits he enjoyed serving Attila.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: The Catalaunian Fields left a deep impression on him.
- Original Character
- Wham Line: His last words about being forced into Attila's campaign as a soldier. "Sometimes... I miss it."
- You Will Be Spared: Attila was reluctant to kill a holy man, so he integrated him to his retinue instead.
El Cid (Spanish and Saracens)
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a.k.a. "El Cid"
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass Beard: And a massive one at that.
- BFS: His sword Tizona. However, while on horseback he wields a jousting lance instead.
- Big Damn Heroes: In the fourth scenario, where he has to save King Alfonso's troops from the Black Guards.
- Cool Horse: Bavieca.
- Dashing Hispanic: Probably the most iconic hispanic badass.
- El Cid Ploy: Obviously. The player can't let the enemy damage his tied-up corpse in the last scenario or the ruse will be discovered.
- The Hero: Undisputed, even by his enemies.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: A lot is made of his honorability and religious tolerance. In real life, the first things he did after taking Valencia were burning alive the governor and turning the main mosques into churches (even though his forces also included Muslims and he was de jure under the command of a Muslim lord, Mutamid).
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Knightly Lance: El Cid Campeador is represented by a Knight unit.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Which made him famous for his loyalty.
- One-Man Army: Probably the strongest hero unit the player is ever given control of.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He becomes King after taking Valencia.
- Silent Protagonist: Doesn't speak in his campaign.
- Working-Class Hero: While an aristocrat, he's a minor noble and the crux of his conflcit is with the far more powerful King Alfonso.
The wife of El Cid, and the narrator of his campaign. Voiced by Melinda Renna.
- Delayed Narrator Introduction: She only clarifies her true part in El Cid's story when the second mission starts.
- Happily Married: To El Cid.
- The High Queen: Is the wife of El Cid, and becomes sole-reigning queen of Valencia after the defeat of Yusuf.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only female narrator, until Maria in the Ivaylo campaign.
- Widow Woman: In the last mission, since El Cid was killed right before it starts.
The king of Castille, and an useful ally to El Cid in the first map, until he dies. Represented by the non-combatant king unit.
- Cain and Abel: The Abel to Alfonso.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the cutscenes, Sancho is bearded and Alfonso is not. In the scenarios, it's the opposite.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: In the game, he is portrayed as the victim of Alfonso's ambition. In reality, Sancho was the greedy ruler who wanted to add his brother's crown to his own list of titles. note
- The Good King: As part of his Historical Villain Downgrade.
- Sacrificial Lion: Is assassinated between maps by Alfonso.
The villainous king of León, and after Sancho's death, of Castile. He is constantly fighting and allying with El Cid through several maps. Represented by the non-combatant king unit.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Artistic License History: While Alfonso did historically betray a brother, that brother was García, not Sancho. In fact, Alfonso and Sancho double-teamed on García before turning on each other.
- Beard of Evil: He sports one in the animated cutscenes, although he is clean-shaven in the scenarios.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to Sancho.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He keeps backstabbing El Cid even after being rescued by him.
- Dirty Coward/The Evil Prince
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the cutscenes, Sancho is bearded and Alfonso is not. In the scenarios, it's the opposite.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In the game, he seems to lack any positive trait.
- Karma Houdini
- Pet the Dog: His one redeeming moment was when he insisted on attending El Cid's funeral in the final cutscene.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Is one towards El Cid.
The leader of the Black Guard Berbers that invade Spain to stop the Christian advance in the Reconquista. Never appears in game.
- Big Bad: Of the later half of El Cid's campaign.
- Enemy Civil War: Is gone after his defeat in the fourth mission, because he has to take care of a Berber civil war in Africa.
- The Faceless: Jimena notes that his face is always covered.
- The Fundamentalist: In contrast to the local Muslim rulers like Mutamid.
- The Ghost: Never appears in person.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The Iberian Muslims call him to help them against the Christians, but then he proceeds to submit ones and others alike.
- Outside-Context Problem: Christians and Muslims have been fighting each other in Spain for centuries. The Almoravids then arrive with the intention to swallow everything for themselves.
The friendly Muslim King of Zaragoza. He puts El Cid at his service after he is exiled by King Alfonso. Never appears in game.
- Black Best Friend: To El Cid.
- Composite Character: A combination of three historical kings: al-Mutamid of Seville, al-Qadir of Toledo, and al-Mutaman of Zaragoza.
- The Good King
- Idle Rich: No wonder the moment El Cid is not by his side, his kingdom goes down and he is deposed by Yusuf.
- Nice Guy
The Count of Barcelona, trying to expand his territories by attacking the Moorish cities of Zaragoza and Valencia that El Cid is tasked to protect. Does not appear in person.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Adapted Out: His twin brother, who was his co-ruler for a while, before the brothers fell out and divided their possessions between them.
- Arranged Marriage: His nephew is married to El Cid's daughter to unite them after the wars. note
- Big Bad: He has nothing to do with Yusuf, but whenever he isn't around, Berenguer can be trusted as an opponent.
- The Ghost: Never appears in person.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Zig-zagged due to the reverse treatment given to El Cid, and the fact that Berenguer himself was suspected of fratricidenote .
- Karma Houdini: Although he is briefly imprisoned, he escapes real punishment.note
The focal character of the Montezuma campaign, though arguably not the protagonist; that would probably be his nephew, Cuauhtemoc. Never appears in person.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The game describes Montezuma as slow to make decisions and seemingly afraid of going into combat. In real life the office of the Emperor is tied into military promotion. The warriors who come from noble families have a head start on commoners when it comes to rank so they always end up as the rulers but they have to prove themselves in battle time and time again until they become Emperor.
- Decoy Protagonist: Despite giving his name to the campaign, the real protagonist is Cuahutemoc.
- Distressed Dude: For part of the campaign.
- The Ghost
- Idle Rich: Never seen doing anything towards the maintainence of his empire.
- Non-Action Guy: A major problem during the invasion of the Spanish.
The protagonist and narrator of the Montezuma campaign, becoming emperor after his uncle's death. A Jaguar Warrior in La Noche Triste is heavily implied to be him, and was later made into an actual hero unit in the shape of an Eagle Warrior.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Cuauhtemoc is the narrator for the Montezuma campaign. The story is some sort of journal or a chronicle written down by him. The first scenario starting cutscene is prefaced with "Passed down to you by Cuauhtemoc, Eagle Warrior of Tenochtitlan." The second starts with him as Cuauhtemoc, Jaguar Warrior of Tenochtitlan. The fifth mission dramatically and slowly starts with Cuauhtemoc, Emperor of Tenochtitlan. He then relates his crowning by the priests, which is not so awesome because Tenochtitlan had just been wracked by warfare and the only reason he succeeded was due to Montezuma's death. note
- Carry a Big Stick
- Nemean Skinning: Expected when he is Jaguar Warrior, to wear a Jaguar skin.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Jaguar Warrior armed with a very high attack during the fourth scenario of the campaign is implied to be Cuauhtemoc; at the time of the scenario, Cuauhtemoc is a Jaguar Warrior and the particular Jaguar has the same voice actor. He is the sole unit you begin the scenario with and recruits other soldiers to eventually retake the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. However, he is not a Hero unit and if he dies it is not mentioned and the scenario continues.
- Warrior Prince: Cuauhtemoc mentions a few times that he's Montezuma's nephew, and seems to be the unseen commander of your troops during the campaign.
- You Are in Command Now: After Montezuma dies in La Noche Triste. note
The antagonist of the Montezuma campaign. He never appears in person.
- Big Bad: Of the Aztecs' campaign.
- The Ghost
- Only in It for the Money: A common trait among the conquistadors although they do fight for glory as well (their own or Spain's).
- Outside-Context Problem: To the Aztecs. The Tlaxcalans have a few skirmishes with him, but soon become allies.
Battles of the Conquerors (Several)
The protagonist and leader of the Britons in the Agincourt scenario. Represented by a powerful Paladin unit.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- The Hero
- Escort Mission: Becomes one by the end of the map, when your only objective becomes taking him back to England.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Stiff Upper Lip
William The Conqueror
The protagonist and leader of the Franks in the Hastings scenario, represented by a paladin unit.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Is a quite strong paladin unit.
- The Hero
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Much like in Real Life.
Harold The Saxon
The antagonist of the Hastings scenario, the leader of the Saxons. Does not appear in person.
- Evil Gloating: Although YMMV on the evilness, he gloats a whole lot during the mission. As soon as William's forces get in a transport ship and set for England, he says, with all due smugness:Harold: Go home, young William. This island will remain Saxon!
- The Ghost: He's never seen.
- Smug Snake: Constantly gloats and brags to William, even when his defeat is imminent.
A Berserker and leader of the Vikings appearing in Hastings, whom can be allied with William, if the player chooses, and can be used as an army. Represented by a ranged berserker unit.
- An Axe to Grind: An inversion of Bleda and his melee bow, Harald takes the model of a melee unit, the Berserker, and uses it to throw axes at enemies, like the Frankish Throwing Axeman. He also throws these axes very rapidly and would be a one man army if it weren't for his low HP. He doesn't look as silly as Bleda because his animation is specifically cut off to make it look like he's doing an overhand throw.
- Badass Beard: It is a Berserker (who have red beards in the game), and uses El Cid's Icon.
- The Berserker: He is a Berserker. That throws axes.
- Fiery Redhead
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: He can live up to the very end of the scenario and even participate in the final objective of destroying Harold the Saxon's Castle even though he is your rival to the throne, as opposed to Real Life where there wasn't any significant contact between them and Harald launched his own invasion that was separate from William's. The endgame cutscene mentions him dying at the Battle of Stamford Bridge before Harold fights William.
- Horny Vikings
- The Lancer: To William, if they choose to ally.
- Took a Level in Badass: He was actually present in Age of Kings under the name Harold Hardraade, being essentially a glorified Monk (with extra HP, as well as twice the speed and conversion rate of a normal monk). From Conquerors onward, he's a powerful warrior who can chop enemies to pieces by lobbing axes at them.
Erik The Red
The protagonist of the Vinlandsaga scenario, represented by a Berserker unit.
- An Axe to Grind: Is the Berserker unit, although he does not throw axes like Harald Hardraade.
- Badass Beard: It is a Berserker (who have red beards in the game), and uses El Cid's Icon.
- The Berserker: As any good viking hero should be.
- Bold Explorer: Notable because, unlike most other heroes, he is not a warlord or aristocrat in any way. He is actually a fairly common viking man, and not doing conquest, actually just exploring instead. If anything, he's trying to save his fellow vikings from famine by searching for a better land.
- Composite Character: Erik the Red was forced out of Norway, went to Iceland, was forced out of Iceland, founded the first Viking settlement in Greenland. Erik stayed in Greenland while his son, Leif Erikson, founded the first settlement in Vinland. In the game, Erik is forced out of Norway, but Iceland is not in the map. Instead, he goes directly to Greenland, which is already settled by (hostile) Norse, and then founds a settlement in Vinland.
- Fiery Redhead
- Horny Vikings
- Working-Class Hero
The protagonist and leader of the Franks in the Tours scenario, represented by a Throwing Axeman unit.
- An Axe to Grind: He's a souped up heroic Throwing Axeman.
- The Hero Dies: He can, and it's one of the few times where the Hero CAN die without any consequence. One of his soldiers claim the Franks hearts will not be in the fighting, but there are zero repercussions. He survived the battle in real life and the ending cutscene treats him as if he survived regardless of gameplay events.
- Red Baron: "The Hammer"
The protagonist and leader of the Koreans in the Noryang Point scenario, represented by a Turtle Ship.
- Cool Boat: He rides around in a souped up Turtle Ship, the only Hero ship unit. He also invented them.
- Cultured Badass/Science Hero
- Father Neptune
- The Hero Dies: An inversion of Charles Martel. He can die in the game and the scenario will continue on. HOWEVER, after winning the mission the narrator states that he died in the fighting as he did in real life but the Koreans still won the battle and eventually the war.
- One-Man Army: His personal ship is fully capable of finishing the mission on its own once the player gets it.
A samurai in the Kyoto map, who is executed in the beginning, leading to the revenge wished by his second Hideyoshi. Is represented by the samurai unit.
- Everything's Better with Samurai: Is represented by Japan's unique unit, the Samurai. Although subverted, since he inevitably dies.
- Failure Is the Only Option: His "rescue" attempt.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: The scenario begin with Mitsuhide's betrayal, but none of Nobunaga's ruthless deeds, many of which are speculated to be the cause of said betrayal, is mentioned.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Dies just to allow Hideyoshi to swear revenge.
The protagonist of the Kyoto map, and the antagonist of the Noryang Point map, leading Japanese in both occasions. Does not appear in person.
Dracula (Turks, Slavs and Magyars)
Vlad DraculaThe protagonist of the campaign, and the head of the Kingdom of Wallachia. Represented by the Boyar unit, slightly reworked in Definitive Edition.
- An Ax To Grind: Being a Boyar hero, he uses an ax, though the narrator find his Cool Sword in the intro. His hero unit is modified in Definitive Edition, now resembling a Boyar wielding a longsword rather than the usual bardiche.
- Arch-Enemy: Vladislav and the Ottomans.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass Mustache
- Badass in Charge: Does manage to kill Vladislav in hand-to-hand combat.
- The Caligula: Veers into this by the fourth mission in the HD edition, where he murders a monk for flattering him unrighteously.
- Deadpan Snarker: Surprisingly has his moments in the HD edition, commenting on the auspiscious start to his travel (he just got shipwrecked) and appreciating another boyar's decoration of his castle (impaled corpses).
- Disproportionate Retribution: (HD only) He kills a monk for flattering him.
- Dressing as the Enemy: In the third map (HD only), he disguises himself as a Turkish merchant (inexplicably represented with the king unit) to take over an Ottoman garrison.
- Frontline General: Deconstructed in DE: personally leading a charge against the weakened and demoralized Turks in Târgoviște gets him killed by a volley of arrows, allowing the Turks to turn the tables on the Wallachians.
- How We Got Here: The narration before the game (HD edition) is done by a bystander looking at Vlad's impaled head in Istanbul.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: This being Vlad the Impaler, it could only be expected. Happens to countless mooks through his campaign and eventually to Vlad himself (only his head, though and only in HD Edition).
- Kick the Dog: (HD only) In the later levels, he stakes innocents and murders monks for flattering him.
- Nightmare Fetishist: The first mission sees him praising a fellow Wallachian nobleman's sense of decoration... which is impaling people right in front of his castle.
- Perspective Flip: DE does one by changing the character who "knew" Dracula to a peasant soldier who fought alongside Dracula. The DE narration emphasizes the popularity Dracula had among the peasantry, while leaving out or justifying the more unsavory things he did. DE also implies that the peasantry did not know the "true" Dracula, while the HD narration includes quotes from the man himself and a closer look at him, Warts and All.
- Villain Protagonist: Arguably, the main character portrayed least sympathetic. He at one point murders a monk for flattering him, and stakes several hundred Ottoman soldiers, all of which happened in real life. The fourth mission of his campaign also requires the player to burn down undefended Wallachian villages.
- We Used to Be Friends: To the Ottomans.
- You Killed My Father: Vladislav killed his brother and father.
Danislav, Jakub and IstvanThe three voivode princes who become the closest allies to Dracula. Represented by a cataphract, a paladin and a cavalier, respectively, while in DE they're all heroic knights.
- Adapted Out: They're not depicted beyond the first scenario in DE, and play no significant role to the story.
- Badass in Charge
- Badass Crew
- A Father to His Men: Seems primarily motivated by the well being of their peoples, rather than Dracula, who is motivated by spite and revenge.
- Horseback Heroism: Through three different units, all of them are heavy cavalry sans Danislav in the first scenario, who's an Ax Thrower.
- The Lancer: To Dracula.
- La Résistance: Agaisnt Vladislav in their first appearance.
- Not Quite Dead: The narrator of the Dracula campaign in HD is Istvan, having survived the night raid on the Turks. Averted in DE, where the identity of the narrator isn't revealed, only that he's leading a pilgrimmage to Dracula's rumoured final resting place: the Monastery of Snagov.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: After serving as somewhat important characters for the HD campaign, they all unceremoniously die in the final battle of the fourth level, where only Dracula survives, with nobody even mentioning their deaths.
Vladislav IIThe leader of the Dăneşti clan, and the usurper of the throne of Wallachia, as well as the murderer of Draculas father and older brother. A secondary antagonist of the campaign. Represented by a cavalier unit, and later a king unit.
- Badass in Charge: In his first appearance.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: In his first appearance, his unit is ridiculously strong, and meant to be fled from.
- It's Personal: With Dracula.
- Starter Villain: Presented as a major threat, but is quickly defeated and killed off in the second mission.
- The Usurper
Murad IIThe sultan of the Ottoman Empire, who sends Dracula to Wallachia after Vladislav takes over. Represented by the king unit.
- Adipose Rex
- Big Good: Serves as this in his only appearance in the first level.
- The Good King: Was sultan while he and Dracula were still allies. After his death, his ambitious and more ruthless son Mehmet took over, and things went awry.
Mehmet IIThe son of Murad, becoming the enemy of Dracula unlike his father.
- Arch-Enemy: To Dracula, after Vladislav and Murad's deaths.
- Big Bad: Since he leads the Turks, the main enemies, from mission 3 and onward.
- The Empire: The Ottoman Empire.
- The Ghost
RaduThe younger brother of Dracula, and the leader of the Ottoman troops against him in the fourth mission.
Francesco SforzaAn Italian mercenary, captain of his platoon after his father's death, and the main protagonist of the campaign. Represented by a condottiero unit in the HD edition, later given his own unit in the Definitive Edition.
- Arch-Enemy: To Carmagnola in HD, then Piccinino in DE.
- Bait the Dog: He sieges Milan, and deliberately starves the innocent citizens of the city, but when they surrender, he makes sure to provide plenty of food for them.
- Batman Gambit: Defeats Carmagnola this way.
- The Dragon: To Filippo, at first.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Eventually turns on him to become Duke of Milan.
- A Father to His Men: Unlike his father.
- Founder of the Kingdom: He secured for his family the duchy of Milan.
- Generation Xerox
- The Hero
- Only in It for the Money: Well, he's a mercenary. He doesn't care for politics; he just needs his employers to be able to pay him. On the other hand, his famous granddaughter Caterina (contemporary of Machiavelli) was notorious for her political intrigues.
Muzio SforzaThe father of Francesco. After his death, Francesco takes over his soldiers. Represented by a condottiero unit.
- Adapted Out: The Definitive Edition has Sforza's campaign start after Francesco takes over his soldiers, meaning that his death is not shown (in fact, he only receives a mention in one of the post-episode slides).
- Anti-Hero: More so than his son.
- Bad Boss: Dialogue with Francesco has him berating his son for letting his soldiers eat and rest at all. This said, he's not a tyrant, just a hardass.
- Generation Xerox
- Only in It for the Money
- Parting Words Regret: He calls his son Francesco a coward for not wanting to follow him across a river with a strong current. Muzio ends up drowning in said river.
- Pet the Dog: Dialogue implies that he gave Francesco a proper childhood, despite his ruthlessness.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Wanders straight into a powerful current, and unsurprisngly dies for it.
CarmagnolaA Venetian mercenary general, and the closest the campaign has to a main antagonist. Represented by a cataphract unit.
- Arch-Enemy: To both of the Sforzas. Averted in DE, which moves the whole campaign forward in time and thus Carmagnola is a minor obstacle in the battle for Brescia and promptly disappears.
- Batman Gambit: Used by him against Malatesta, and later by Sforza against him.
- Big Bad: Until the third mission, at least.
- The Chessmaster
- Demoted to Extra: His camp is on of the two obstacles for the conquest of Brescia in DE, then he doesn't reappear again. Justified since the reworked campaign focus more on Francesco's later life than his initial trials.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Pulls this off to trick and defeat Malatesta.
- Out-Gambitted: Goes both ways: In the second mission, he completely out-gambits Malatesta through Xanatos Speed Chess, in the third however, he is Out-Gambitted by Sforza.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After his forces are defeated in the third mission, he disappears from the campaign. In real life, Venice pulled off a You Have Failed Me, they called him back under the pretence of discussing the future, and he was promptly tortured and executed, and this is offhandely mentioned in the cutscene.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Pulls this off to defeat Malatesta, after the destruction of his siege tower.
Filippo Maria ViscontiThe Duke of Milan, and Sforza's distrustful employer. Represented in-game by a king unit.
- Da Chief
- Parental Substitute: A really weird and screwed up example; as noble Italian families were used to internal backstabbing and feuding, his alternatively abusing and rewarding Sforza was basically acknowledging he considered the mercenary as the son he didn't have.
- Smug Snake: Distrustful and paranoid, one moment he has Sforza blamed and incarcerated for Carmagnola's escape, the other he's offering him the hand of his daughter if he defeats the Venetians.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Filippo Maria himself is described as ugly and unsightly, but his daughter Bianca Maria is briefly seen as a Ms. Fanservice.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Blames Malatesta's death on Francesco and has him thrown into jail. Surprisingly averted in DE, where when Francesco, who previously ditched him despite being engaged to his daughter, returns to Milan and asks for help against the King of Naples, Visconti welcomes him back and allows him to marry his daughter. In turn, this alienates his other employee, Piccinino.
MalatestaA mercenary employed by Filippo, fighting against Carmagnola. Represented by a paladin unit.
- Adaptation Expansion: DE expands his role significantly, such that it's easier to see that he's meant to be Sigismondo Malatesta, one of Francesco's sons-in-law.
- Out-Gambitted: By Carmagnola, in the second mission.
- Sacrificial Lion: Only in HD.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: In the Scout section it's mentioned that he's defending Pizzighettone in the north. He only appears in the end, having succesfully defended Pizzighettone, only to die chasing after Carmagnola.
Simone and GeremioTwo spies sent by Sforza to infiltrate Carmagnola's camp. Represented by a man at arms unit.
- Adapted Out: They do not appear in Definitive Edition, as the campaign in DE focuses more on Sforza's battles against Piccinino and Micheletto.
- Badass Normal: While they have the health and armor of normal man at arms, they have a ludicrously high attack, enabling them to One-Hit Kill pikemen, necessary to retain stealth during the attack. However, they retain that high damage after the gurms turn build and destroy, making them lethal units.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Geremio, whom upon seeing a rat in the sewer, goes on rambling about how rats caused the plague. While they are on their way to a lethal stealth mission. Simone quickly shuts him up.
- No Sympathy: Simone towards his teammate.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Geremio has to be reminded of their mission by Simone.
- Terrified of Germs: Geremio freaks over the possiblity of rats bringing back the plague.
- Those Two Guys: They act together for the first part of the scenario.
Niccolo MachiavelliA mere college student who's very interested by Sforza's many adventures. He only appears in HD Edition.
- Adapted Out: He does not appear in Definitive Edition. note
- I Should Write a Book About This: Ultimately, he feels so inspired by Sforza's tale he announces his decision to write a full-blown criticism essay about ruling and power. note
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Downplayed — he's rather quick to assume Sforza should have used more extreme methods, only for the old condottiero to point why it would have failed. So, it's about Machiavelli growing closer to the pragmatic approach his book actually preaches, instead of the full Kick the Dog strategy his thinking was flanderized into.
- Plot Device: His interest to learn about Sforza's struggles gives The Narrator a reason to tell the campaign.
- Pragmatic Hero: Completely fascinated by the concept. He himself has shades of it, noting that the man holding interesting information is cold and hungry and so letting him enter into the library to warm himself and giving him food, subtly bribing him into telling his story.
- Through His Stomach: Entices the old condottiero telling Sforza's life-story to continue by giving him food. The man is happy to let himself being bribed as he was hungry.
- Young Future Famous People: At this point in time, Machiavelli is a mere student who only has the barest hints about the book he's gonna write.
Micheletto (Attendolo)Cousin of Francesco.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: At the end of the campaign in Definitive Edition, the narrator reveals himself to be Micheletto, both ally and enemy of Francesco.
- Worthy Opponent: In the epilogue, Micheletto harbors no ill will towards Francesco, despite having fought against him
PiccininoA former butcher and now condottiero mercenary serving Visconti, he's first an ally of Francesco, and later enemy when he deserts Visconti. Only appears in Definitive Edition.
- Fluffy the Terrible: "Piccinino" sounds like a cute form of "Piccino", meaning "small, tiny". Not exactly the name you'd expect from a cruel and ruthless mercenary captain.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Implied, as he deserts Milan and challenges Francesco when the latter is forgiven by Visconti and allowed to marry Bianca Maria, pretty much assuring him the position of Duke.
- The Rival: He's a friendly one in the first scenario, then he becomes Francesco's opponent for a while.
- Smug Snake: Incredibly so in Prodigal Son, where he will often make snide remarks and downright childish taunts as you mind your business and prepare your forces.
- Surrounded by Idiots: In His Own Man he will angrily and rethorically asks his soldiers why they think he pays them for when his final stronghold is breached.
- We Used to Be Friends: He and Sforza were overall on amiable terms, as much as two mercenary captains of that time could be.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Downplayed, but in His Own Man he criticizes Sforza's use of the relic to conquer the various cities, pointing out that he's far from a saint.
AlaricThe protagonist of the campaign, and king of the Goths. Represented by a huskarl, and later a cavalier unit. In Definitive Editon he gets his own unit, which resembles a mounted huskarl.
- Action Duo: With Athaulf.
- Badass in Charge: He's in charge of the Goths, and showed his badass credentials by leading the sack of Rome.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He lost three of his brothers to wars against the Huns and witnessed their brutality first-hand.
- The Dog Bites Back: The first three scenarios have him trying to obtain a land for his people from the Romans. In the final scenario he has enough and decides to show the Romans how much he and the Goths are fed up with their plotting.
- The High King: Of the Goths, along with Athaulf.
- Pet the Dog: During the sack of Rome he orders his men to leave churches intact, for some reason.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like, you know, looking for a proper land for his people and sacking Rome.
AthaulfThe second-in-command of Alaric. Represented by a woad raider, and then a knight unit in HD, while he gets represented as an heroic unique Champion in DE.
- Action Duo: With Alaric.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Acts this way to Galla Placidia when he captures her. He ends up marrying her later in life.
- The Lancer: As Alaric's second-in-command.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Given when he's a woad raider.
HonoriusThe emperor of the Western Roman Empire, and thereby the main antagonist of the campaign.
- Big Bad: Though whether he is a Hero Antagonist is debatable, he is certainly the main antagonistic force in the campaign.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The reason he ultimately fails. He is close to an alliance twice with Alaric, but both times breaks it for no apparent reson. Eventually Alaric gets fed up with this. Though the second time, Saurus did it without the permission or order of Honorius.
- Dirty Coward: During the sack of Rome, he is nowhere to be seen, but the people and even his sister have been left behind.
- The Emperor: The Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.
- The Ghost: He is never actually seen in the game.
SaurusA Gothic chieftain, responsible for attacking Alaric for no reason, destroying the option of peace. Represented by a knight lancer hero unit in HD and by an heroic Champion in the Definitive Edition.
- Dirty Coward: As remarked by Alaric, when his fortress is defeated, he is nowhere to be seen. Averted in A Kingdom of Our Own, where he makes a last stand against Alaric's forces in an attempt to prevent them from conquering Gallia.
- The Dragon: To Honorius. He still fights for the Empire in Definitive Edition
- Driven by Envy: Implied to be the case, as he distrusts Alaric (the man who became king of the Visigoths in his place) and he possibly sabotages the diplomatic attempt at Ravenna hoping that Alaric dies in the following war against Rome.
- Knightly Lance: HD only, he gets a massive sword for the Definitive Edition.
- Villain Ball: Grabs it when he attacks Alaric and Athaulf, bringing a whole lot of unnecessary trouble onto himself.
Galla PlacidiaThe sister of Honorius. Represented by the Joan the Maid unit.
- Adapted Out: From the definitive edition.
- Damsel in Distress: Unusual case, where you have to kidnap the Damsel in Distress.
- The Ingenue: Implied. She simply acts confused when Athaulf pretty plainly states that he will not harm her.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Poor gal was an innocent victim from the sacking of Rome and certainly didn't ask to be married to a Goth warlord. Her daughter Honoria later went and proposed to Attila, which made her partially responsible for the Hun attacks against the Roman empire. Historical sources confirm it provoked a huge rift between Galla Placidia and Honoria.
Battle of Bari (Byzantines)
Panos, Michael and Andreas NautikosThe main protagonists of each of the missions of the campaign. All represented by champion units, except in DE where Michael is a Longswordsman while Andreas is a Cavalier.
- Badass Family
- Badass in Charge: Andreas.
- Generation Xerox: Subverted in DE, where each hero of the Nautikos family looks different.
- The Hero: Mostly Panos, who leads the siege of Bari first against the Emir and later against the Lombard, and Michael, who gathers troops to fight the rebellious Melus. Andreas does contribute to the defense against the Norman siege, but at the last moment decides that the resistance is futile and leaves.
- Meaningful Name: The bloodline founded by a sailor was given the name "Nautikos", Greek for the sea.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Andreas Nautikos eventually decides that he had enough fighting Normans and leaves Bari with a merchant. Downplayed in DE, where he does his part to the very end and boards a ship to Byzantium to ask for more reinforcements.
Louis IIThe Carolingian emperor, appearing in the first mission. Represented by a king unit, and a cavalier.
- The High King
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Even when at the mercy of the Lombards, he insists on taking over Bari.
- Smug Snake: Shows traits of this, in his belief to take over Bari.
Admiral MelusA Byzantine admiral, rebelling against the empire in the second mission. Represented by a cataphract.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: What his army essentially is. Michael got suspicious when he gathered such army in the first place.
- Ascended Extra: He gets much more screentime and is a bigger threat in DE.
- Big Bad: Of the second mission. In DE he's arguably one for the whole campaign.
- The Quisling: In DE he pretty much sides with the Lombards and later encourages the Papal States and the Empire to attack Bari.
- Smug Snake
- The Starscream
Stephanos PateranosThe commander of the garrison at Bari during the Norman invasion. Represented by a cataphract in HD and a King in DE.
- Badass in Charge: Averted in DE where he doesn't fight but directs the defenders and spouts a Rousing Speech or two.
- Distressed Dude: Has to be saved by Andreas during the third mission.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
Basilius BoioannesByzantine general sent by the Emperor to quell Melus' rebellion and protect Apulia from the combined forces of Lombards, Italians and the Holy Roman Empire. Only appears in DE.
- Adaptation Expansion: He and the scenarios focused on him expand the story of the Byzantine domain in Apulia and tells what happened to Melus and his brother Dattus.
- Combat Pragmatist: In The Best Laid Plans he decides to build a huge fortress to hold off the enemies and is more than happy to resort to underhand strategies (such as causing an avalanche or raiding a defenseless monastery) to deprive his enemies of advantages.
El Dorado (Spanish and Incas)
Francisco de OrellanaThe main protagonist of the campaign. Represented by a conquistador unit.
- Badass in Charge: Is easily the strongest hero that you get to control in the game.
- Big Damn Heroes: In one mission, he saves one native tribe from an aggressive neighbor. In the next mission, while exploring the Amazon jungles, de Orellana can optionally save the region from a volcanic eruption by diverting a river into it's path. In the mission right after this, he goes out of his way to save the crew of a Spanish ship from bloodthirsty cannibals.
- Dark Is Evil: Black hair, black eyepatch and rather prone to slaughter or exploit natives.
- Eyepatch of Power
- The Hero
- I Did What I Had to Do: One mission, while exploring the Amazon jungles, de Orellana orders his soldiers to massacre the first native village he comes across. He says that they desperately need the food from that village to avoid starvation, and for the rest of the mission the player can choose to ask the rest of the villages for food peacefully.
- Just Following Orders: In the first mission, de Orellana assassinated four men on orders from Gonzalo Pizarro.
- Kickthe Dog: Several missions feature de Orellana launching unprovoked attacks on natives, using threats of violence to extort food or supplies from them, outright enslaving them, plundering their temples (thereby destroying their heritage), carrying out assassinations, and blackmailing adulterous merchants.
- Villain Protagonist: He is a conquistador, and he acts like it. While some of his atrocities are carried out on orders of the expedition leader, Gonzalo Pizarro, most of them were done freely.
- Wrongly Accused: Of abandoning Pizarro, while in actuality, the strong current of the river kept him from returning.
Gonzalo PizarroThe commander of Orellanas expedition, until he is lost. Represented by a conquistador unit.
- Bald of Awesome
- Da Chief
- Villain Protagonist: A conquestador, and not above ordering the assassination of a rival explorer's sergeants.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A consequence of following the events strictly through the eyes of Orellana. He is never mentioned again after Orellana is forced to abandon him. In Real Life, he returned to Quito with a starving expedition, but rebelled against the king and was executed six years later.
DelicolaA suspicious Native American chieftain who leads Orellana astray with his stories. Represented by a plumed archer unit.
- The Archer
- Escort Mission: IN the short time he is in the players control, it feels like this, as he is not a hero unit, but a fairly weak renamed regular unit, that has to be kept alive.
- Hero Antagonist: Could be seen as this, as he works against Orellana, but mainly to save his people.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Done deliberately as he flees from the conquistadors. This carried on into real life, where he was never heard of again.
Juan CortejoThe leader of another Spanish expedition team who got shipwrecked and kidnapped by cannibals. He and his crew got rescued by Francisco de Orellana.
- Darkest Hour: He admits that he abandoned hope of surviving his captivity.
- Forced to Watch: The cannibals who kidnapped his crew killed and ate some of his crewmen, and left the corpses of three impaled on stakes in his holding pen.
- Revenge Before Reason: He says he wants revenge against the cannibals, but de Orellana just wants to escape the jungle. Downplayed in that the player needs gold to build the fleet that will take them out, and one of the options for getting it is to attack the cannibals.
- Say Your Prayers: He did this while held by the cannibals, and attributes de Orellana rescuing his crew to God answering said prayers.
PrithvirajWarrior king of India, represented first by a crossbowman unit, then by a heavy horse archer, who becomes unique in DE.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Slightly subverted, he was already in reciprocated love with the girl in question, Sanyogita: when her father refused to consider Prithviraj and tried to have her married to someone else he sneaked into the city and eloped with her.
- Archer Archetype: His weapon of choice is the bow and arrow.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Blinded and tortured, he's challenged by his enemy Mohammad Godhi into a contest of archery. Using hearing alone, Prithviraj shoot him dead in the chest.
- Refuge in Audacity: He tended towards recklessness in grand style. Case in point, he outright abducted his beloved princess from her father's palace the day she was to pick a husband.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Makes himself a powerful Raj and repeals the armies of Godhi.
- Together in Death: His wife Sanyogita commits suicide upon learning of his demise.
SanyogitaA princess of India who falls in love with Prithviraj and later marries him, which causes a huge amount of problems. Represented by a powerless Queen unit.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Jayachandra really wasn't happy when his daughter decided to marry his bitterest foe, but had to swallow the pill after being trounced by Pritviraj in war.
- Elopement: Her father tried to lock her away to dissuade her from persisting in her love for Prithviraj. The third mission is all about Prithviraj taking her away and fighting dad-in-law for it.
- Engagement Challenge: If Prithviraj decides to visit the guru, it results in this. Sanyogita declares her love for the prince when he manages to beat her champion.
- Love Ruins the Realm: The narration subtly hints at this. You can't deny pursuing her came with many, many complications for Prithviraj.
- Plucky Girl: She defied her father to marry Prithviraj. And by "defy", we mean she openly picked him as the man she wished to wed in front of Jayachandra and a whole army of suitors vying for her hand.
- Together in Death: Upon learning of her husband's demise, she immediately threw herself on a pyre to join him.
- Women Prefer Strong Men: The first map gives Prithviraj three ways to make Sanyogita fall for him, either killing an entire pack of wolves, or rescue her from a rival king, or thoroughly trashing her champion in her Engagement Challenge.
Chand BardaiA poet in Prithviraj's court and the narrator of the campaign.
- Action Survivor: Chand is not a warrior, yet he follows Pritviraj everywhere, be it for hunting tigers or warring against another raja.
- Healing Hands: His unit basically functions as a monk, so he can do this.
- Purple Prose: Courtesy of being a poet, his speech slightly leans towards the violet-tinged end of the spectrum.
- The Storyteller: His function was to record and spread his king's exploits. It's rather appropriate for him to narrate the campaign.
Battles of the Forgotten
The protagonist and leader of the Persians in the Bukhara scenario. Represented by a heroic Elephant Archer.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He himself take precautions to gather troops and resources to fight the White Huns who are plagueing Persia.
- War Elephants: He is represented by an Elephant Archer unit.
Aella of Northumbria
King of Northumbria and main antagonist of York scenario.
- Big Bad: He killed Ragnar Lodbrok, causing his sons to invade the British Isles to avenge the death of their father.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: The Blood Eagle is hardly a nice way to go, or to be displayed after death.
- Laser-Guided Karma: What? You thought that you could kill the big bad viking Ragnar Lodbrok and go away unscathed? Too bad for you and Northumbria...
- Blood Oath: Upon the Magyars' arrival in Etelköz, the seven chieftains of the Magyars take an oath to pledge their loyalty to Álmos.
- Horse Archer: He is represented by a Mangudai unit.
- Exact Words: Svatopluk of Moravia allows the Magyars to 'take as much as you want' when Árpád's messenger comes to buy land from him. The Magyars then proceed to seize Svatopluk's kingdom from him.Árpád: Leave our land, Svatopluk, until it is not too late!Svatopluk: How come it is your land?Árpád: We paid for it with the horse! You gave us grass, soil and water. Now we own everything.
- Founder of the Kingdom: The founder of the Principality of Hungary at the end of the Honfoglalás.
Minamoto no Yoshinaka
- The Lancer: To his brother, Minamoto no Yoritomo, as defender of Kurikara.
- The Ghost: He's not playable once you take control of Kurikara.
Taira no Kiyomori
- Big Bad: Leader of the Taira clan, enemy of Minamoto and notorious villain even in other Japanese media.
- Duel Boss: When it's time to siege Kyoto, he's your ally and cannot be harmed. Once you have conquered the town he can be fought, though you don't have to take him one on one, unless you invoke it.
- Defiant to the End: He still fights after the deaths of his vassals, the destruction of his army and the loss of the capital.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The narration mentions that he's incredibly strong, stronger than anyone else in his service.
- Founder of the Kingdom: The petty beylik that he creates would eventually become the mighty Ottoman Empire.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Starts as an envoy of the Rum Sultanate, then inherits a small Byzantine village as a fief, and will eventually become the founder of the mighty Ottoman Empire.
- Horse Archer: He's represented by a Heavy Horse Archer unit.
Tariq ibn Ziyad (Berbers)
Tariq ibn ZiyadThe main protagonist of the Berber campaign, represented by an heroic Genitour unit, gets a unique makeover for DE.
- Arbitrary Minimum Range: Being a Genitour, he cannot attack close enemies.
- Horse Archer: Sort of.
- Javelin Thrower: His weapon of choise are javelins.
- Out of Focus: He's much more present in the conquest of Iberia, but vanishes as the action shifts to France.
SundjataYoung prince of the Mali, born lame and weak, he has to defend his country from the wicked Sumanguru and forge a powerful empire. Appears as an heroic Light Cavalry unit but gets a unique makeover for DE.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: Since most of the African countries fear Sumanguru's sorcery, Sundjata claims that he has sorcery on his side in the form of his baobab wood crutch, which is used as a relic to gather allies under his wing.
- Combat Pragmatist: When he learns of the mines of gold and salt around Djenné he decides to pillage them to weaken Sumanguru's power.
- The Chosen One: His birth and destiny were prophetized by an old shaman to the king.
- The Good King: Contrasting the wicked Sumanguru.
- Handicapped Badass: Born lame and weak, he grew into the Emperor of the strong Mali Empire.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like actively winning back his kingdom from the much stronger Ghana Empire.
SumanguruThe main villain of the Malian Campaign, he's the emperor of Ghana and Sundjata's rival. He's rumored to be a sorcerer. Represented in game as a heroic Cataphract unit in HD and by a unique mounted lancer in DE.
- Achilles' Heel: Rumors said that he can only be killed with the spur of a rooster. In game, disrupting his control over the rich mines of Djenné weakens his grip on his allies.
- Bad Boss: Implied, as in the pivotal battle against Sundjata, both his allies can be persuaded to betray him and switch sides.
- Big Bad: Of the Malian Campaign as a whole.
- Defiant to the End: After his defeat he retreats in his capital where he has to be eliminated once and for all.
- Sorcerous Overlord: He's rumored to be a sorcerer, who can summon the spirits and grant victory to his armies in battle thanks to his magical instrument.
Francisco de Almeida (Portuguese)Nobleman, soldier and explorer. He distinguished himself as a counsellor to King John II of Portugal and later in the wars against the Moors and in the conquest of Granada in 1492.
- Anti-Hero: Fights loyally for his king, but became ruthless in the aftermath of his son's death.
- Outliving One's Offspring: His son was killed in Egypt between the fourth and fifth scenarios. Francisco's grief is a leading point in the fifth scenario, appropriately titled "A Son's Blood".
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He kills the Emir by destroying his castle out of anger for said Emir's FaceHeel Turn. And then, when his son dies, he betrays Afonso de Albuquerque and goes on a rampage against his enemies on anger.
Princess YoditThe royal princess of Ethiopia who was betrayed by her greedy nephew Gidajan and forced to flee Ethiopia and brew a terrible revenge on her kingdom. As Princess Yodit, she's represented as a defenceless Queen unit, but she also has a model as a heroic Gbeto unit.
- Action Girl: Though alas, not in the campaign itself.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: She catches the attention of the Syrian Prince she wishes to marry by showy military actions.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Granted, Gidajan started it, but still...
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: For all the bad things she did, Gidajan deserved it.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Against her own kingdom under Gidajan, to a tremendous extent.
- Shrouded in Myth: The real Yodit (also known as Gudit) was an obscure, semi-mythical figure who may have not existed but was known for her destructive behaviour and for burning down churches.
- Villain Protagonist: She's definitively not a nice girl, unlike previous heroine Joan of Arc.
DagnajanKing of Aksum and Yodit's brother, father of Gidajan. He's the main enemy in the third scenario and appears as a heroic unique Elephant Archer.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: After 50 minutes in game, his humongous army will march towards the unsufficiently protected mountain pass, and you will be defeated if he makes it to the pass. The only way to win the scenario is to stop him earlier.
- Horse Archer: Well, Elephant Archer, so not as fast. Still a Mighty Glacier to deal with.
- Misplaced Retribution: Technically, the one who conspired against Yodit was Gidajan. However, killing him does bring havoc on Aksum, as Gidajan and his brother take advantage of Dagnajan's demise to fight for the throne.
GidajanYodit's nephew, a scheming bastard who tries to take the power in Aksum but is fought and defeated by Yodit. Appears in game as a unique unit resembling an Eastern Swordsman hero.
- Asshole Victim: On the receiving end of a rather cruel revenge, he still deserves it.
- Big Bad: Of the whole campaign, being the cause for Yodit's exile and the final enemy she must overcome.
- Cain and Abel: His war with his brother which allowed Yodit to gain some grounds from him.
- Defiant to the End: Even after conquering Aksum and bringing down his castle you have to kill his hero unit in order to stop his continuously spawning army.
- Evil Nephew: He framed Yodit for blasphem, which would have meant a life imprisoned if she hadn't escaped. It rightfully ticked her off.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: His plot to frame and exile Yodit ends up biting him in the end.
- Sinister Scimitar: His weapon of choice.
Gajah Mada (Malay)
Gajah MadaThe main hero and Majapahit general for the campaign; appears as a unique, champion-like unit. Unusual for the series, Gajah is the narrator for his own campaign, a trait he shares with Bayinnaung.
- Cool Sword: Wields a longsword with both hands, though apparently his weapon of choice in real life was a combo of spear and shield.
- Downer Ending: He's had a good career going on nearly uniting the Malay Archipelago, until his plot to make Sunda submit went awry. His career crashes down and many people want him dead. Hayam Wuruk gives him an exile mansion far away in honor of his services, but Gajah Mada considers it a Fate Worse than Death and spends the rest of his time recounting that he was not a hero, but an ambitious fool who was just paying the price of his ambition. And for those who knew Indonesian history? That marks the decline of the Majapahit empire that he built so far.
- Fate Worse than Death: After his downfall, Gajah Mada considers death as something better than being demoted, exiled and having to spend the rest of his life in obscurity, contemplating the brutal consequences of his hubris.
- Foil: To Bayinnaung. Both men were the right-hands of their sovereigns before said sovereigns' assassinations note , and had far greater capabilities than their sovereigns. Their sovereigns also became well-known for their vices before their deaths. However, unlike Bayinnaung who was humble but decided to crown himself, Gajah was ambitious but never ascended the throne. In the end, Bayinnaung died a king covered in glory and fame, while Gajah was exiled.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Saving the life of his king from the rebels was good, but this act made the king arrogant and tyrannical, which resulted in his assassination.
- Off-Model: His hero unit is unique, though he vaguely resembles a Champion or a Two-Handed Swordsman.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: He goes in battle bare-chested, imitating the look of modern statues. According to texts, he had the good sense of wearing a breastplate.
Suryavarman I (Khmers)
Suryavarman IThe main hero of the campaign who became king of Angkor, appears as a unique Elite Battle Elephant hero.
- The Good King: Despite the below-mentioned coup d'etat, he's this.
- The Usurper: The first scenario of his campaign involves Suryavarman's usurpation of the throne from King Udyadityavarman.
BayinnaungThe main character of the Burmese campaign, represented by an Elite Battle Elephant hero and later by a monk. Like Gajah Mada, he's the narrator of his own campaign, a rarity for the series.
- Adult Fear: His beloved King and brother quickly fell under the sway of alcohol, becoming so slobbish that his whole court started to dream about deposing him, and Bayinnaug was unable to convince him to kick the habit before his assassination.
- Animal Motifs: He often compares himself to a tiger, a mighty predator for his enemies.
- Badass Pacifist: In The White Elephant, Bayinnaung decides to subjugate his enemies by showing them the power of the Buddhist faith and sends relic-carrying monks to subdue them.
- The Call Has Bad Reception: A prophecy announcing the rebirth of the Cakkavatti (a Pali term for Universal Ruler) was obviously about the newborn prince, rather than said prince's milk-brother, born on the same day.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Bayinnaung's son note certainly thinks so, as he believed that his father willed himself to die, in order to "conquer himself".
- Foil: To Gajah Mada. Both men were the right-hands of their sovereigns before said sovereigns' assassinations note , and had far greater capabilities than their sovereigns. Their sovereigns also became well-known for their vices before their deaths. However, unlike Bayinnaung who was humble but decided to crown himself, Gajah was ambitious but never ascended the throne. In the end, Bayinnaung died a king covered in glory and fame, while Gajah was exiled.
- The Good King: He's ultimately hailed as the Universal Ruler, a prophesied prince renowned for his wisdom and might.
- The Hero Dies: In the final scenario, after visiting all four Buddhist temples, he dies, leaving his sons to finish the scenario.
- Rage Against the Heavens: By the time of the penultimate scenario, Bayinnaung has grown tired of the Nat shamans and has to fight the Nat Enchantresses on the mountains to prove the strength of Buddhism.
- Take Up My Sword: He succeeds his brother-in-law as king of Toungoo after Tabinshwehti's assassination.
- Undying Loyalty: To his milk brother, Tabinshwehti. Even when the King started to show himself Unfit for Greatness, Bayinnaug refused to hear about usurping him.
TabinshwehtiBayinnaung's sworn brother and King of Burma, he appears as a unique Elephant Archer and is playable in the first part of the campaign.
- The Alcoholic: Deconstructed, as the attachment to Portuguese liquor brings about his ruin and death.
- Artistic License History: Bayinnaung's narration implied that his addiction to alcohol took place over several years. Historically, between his addiction and his demise, only about a year had passed.
- Big Damn Heroes: In the second scenario, finding his camp soon enough can turn the tide on your Shan opponents, as his advanced units and siege weaponry can make short work of their defenses.
- Family of Choice: Since Bayinnaug was his milk-brother, Tabinshwehti showered him with honors and considered him his most trusted general and advisor. Bayinnaung actually was a title Tabinshwehti bestowed upon the guy, meaning "the King's Elder Brother".
- Refused by the Call: Everyone believed the Cakkavatti (World Ruler) prophecy was about him. Tough luck, since the fated prince was his sworn brother Bayinnaug.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: At first, though eventually he becomes slobbish and weak due to the influence of alcohol, which leads to his demise.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Not him, but the Portuguese who introduced him to drink. note
Lê Lợi (Vietnamese)
Lê LợiThe hero of the Vietnamese campaign, leading his people in war against the Ming. He appears as a souped up Champion unit in HD Edition. In Definitive Edition, he's represented by a unique champion-like unit.
- Arch-Enemy: He's this to the Ming. Subverted in the outro of the final battle, where he acknowledges that the Ming are simply too powerful to remain as enemies and decides to mend fences as soon as the siege ends, going as far as inviting Wang Tong and the surviving Chinese generals to a lavish banquet. note
- Combat Pragmatist: Since he cannot fight the Ming head on, he resorts to guerrilla tactics.
- Cool Sword: He wields a massive sword said to be of divine origins, which also represents his campaign. According to legends, its blade and handle were found by two different people, assembled and gave to him. After Lê Lợi was done with fighting the Ming, he threw the sword in a lake, where a massive dragon turtle took it back. His campaign marker is in fact a giant turtle holding a sword in its mouth.
- The Hero: The main protagonist of the eponymous campaign. He's also more present in combat compared to the other heroes in the previous campaigns.
- Pet the Dog: After a grueling and tiresome siege with his nemesis, he not only invites Wang Tong and his lieutenants to a banquet to celebrate peace, but he also allows the surviving Ming soldiers to return home without further delay or harassment.
- Worthy Opponent: For Wang Tong, and vice versa.
Lê LaiOne of Lê Lợi's allies, represented first by an heroic Two-Handed Swordsman and later by a Champion in HD Edition, and by a unique cavalry unit in Definitive Edition.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When the Vietnamese army is under siege by the much stronger Ming forces, Lê Lai volunteers to pretend to be Lê Lợi and leads a charge against the Ming with his loyal men, acting as a decoy to help his lord and the rest of the army escape. While his ploy is successful, Lê Lai is captured and executed by the Ming.
Đinh Lễ, Lê Triện, Lưu Nhân Chú, Bùi BịThe four lieutenants of Lê Lợi aiding him in the battle against the Ming. They are represented by a Cavalier, a Champion, an Arbalest and a unique Monk unit.
- Archer Archetype: Lưu Nhân Chú, who claims that none can escape his bow.
- Badass Boast: Each of them has one if you select them in the beginning of the battle.
- The Big Guy: Lê Triện, who is tasked with the bloody task of stopping the enemy reinforcements and starts with all the military buildings available.
- Elite Four: They serve as this for Lê Lợi, acting as his trusted lieutenants to coordinate the three-pronged siege of Nghe An.
- Master Swordsman: Lê Triện's main skill is swordsmanship.
- Not Afraid to Die: Đinh Lễ is ready to ride for his country, even if it means to die.
- You Shall Not Pass!: Lê Triện's part in the fifth scenario is to hold back the Ming reinforcement and prevent them from enlarging Wang Tong's troops.
Wang TongThe cunning general of the Ming Empire, who appears as a unique Cataphract hero in HD Edition, and as a unique cavalry unit like Lê Lai in Definitive Edition.
- Artistic License History: Before revealing his identity, Wang claimed that he "fought in many more Ming wars before retiring". Historically, Wang was severely punished for his failure against Lê Lợi. note He was only pardoned in 1439 (more than 5 years after Lê Lợi's death), and managed to have a Career Resurrection in 1449 with the coronation of a new emperor. Soon after, he proved himself during the defence of Beijing against the Oirats led by Esen Taishi, and was rewarded with a promotion, along with having his confiscated properties returned to him. He died in 1452, while still holding the second post.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: At the end of the campaign in HD Edition, the narrator reveals himself as Wang Tong, the Ming general and nemesis of Lê Lợi. In Definitive Edition, the identity of the narrator was not revealed, but likely to be a Vietnamese historian recalling the feats of a great king.
- Big Bad: As the commander of the Ming armies in Vietnam, and sent by the Ming Emperor himself, he serves as the main antagonist of the Lê Lợi campaign.
- The Dreaded: His reputation preceeds him, as noted when he decides to take arms and march against Lê Lợi after the fall of Hanoi's garrison halfway through the campaign.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: His voice actor is definitely not a native Mandarin speaker, as he mispronounces his own surname.
- Warts and All: In his narration, he noted that while Lê Lợi did much good during his reign, the state of affairs deterioriated under his successors. Contrast with the unnamed narrator in Definitive Edition, which omitted the deterioration. Similarly, Wang did not shy away from the sufferings the Ming occupiers inflicted upon the Vietnamese peasants.
- Worthy Opponent: After his defeat, he regards Lê Lợi as an opponent worthy of respect.
TamerlaneLeader of the Timurid Empire, represented by a cavalry archer.
- Combat Pragmatist: As part of his strategic prowess, when facing off against the Sultan of Delhi's armored elephants, he sent a small brigade of camels carrying burning hay. The sight of flaming camels spooked the elephants enough to stampede in the other direction.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He wasn't descended from a Khan, and yet he picked up several pieces of the old Mongol empire and conquered vast amounts of land from Persia to Delhi.
- Handicapped Badass: He's called "Timur the Lame" because arrow wounds in his right leg and hand impeded his movement. He is still a highly cunning individual who earned his leadership by throwing his helmet at an end post in a foot race. His cunning had proven rather deadly on the battlefield.
- Implacable Man: He swears he will find Tokhtamysh to make him rue his betrayal. In the last outro, he made good on this promise.
- Large Ham: Everytime you hear him speak, he is always over the top.
- Only a Flesh Wound: In the first map, his unit can be killed as many times as you please, he will always spawn back into his castle.
- Pet the Dog: In spite of his taste for genocidal ravages, Tamerlane spared many artisans and philosophers, deporting them to Samarkand instead. note
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Pretty much all of his campaign and easily the worst of them all. Makes Attila and Genghis Khan looks tame by comparison.
- Villain Protagonist: He's fiendishly brutal for a conqueror. Since he apparently styled himself The Scourge of God, he probably enjoyed it, too.
- Wicked Cultured: He actually has a policy of systemic deportation to Samarkand regarding artists and craftsmen, wanting for his capital city to become a rich blend of cultures and sciences.
TokhtamyshKhan and starting ally to Tamerlane. Represented by a unique Steppe Lancer.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Downplayed, but he's the beddragled refugee relating all of Tamerlane's atrocities to the rich lord in the framing device.
- Horse Archer: Represented by one, and during Tamerlane's campaign into Persia provided him with some.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Formerly the ruler of the Blue Horde portion of the Golden Horde, he made the big mistake of betraying Tamerlane. It leads him to become a terrified, starving refugee ranting about his rival's cruelty and pressing people to flee instead of fighting.
- Like a Son to Me: How Tamerlane viewed him. Tokhtamysh deciding to backstab him wasn't well-received as a consequence.
- The Starscream: Tokhtamysh betrayed Tamerlane after the latter destroyed enough Persian cities. He vastly underestimated Tamerlane's ability in combat and fled north to the Golden Horde, then west to Lithuania after meeting his respective defeats.
IvayloThe main character of the Bulgarian campaign, represented by an unique cavalry unit who can dismount like a Konnik.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Inverted. He's betrayed three times during the campaign, likely steming from his lowborn background (and the connections among his opponents).
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: So, the valiant swineherd who rightfully defended peasants' rights finally gains his happy ending after toppling the tyrant and becoming king instead, right? Not so much when his whole court is filled with classist snobs who hate him for killing the previous king.note
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Started off as a simple swineherd, and inspired peasants to take up arms against the marauding Tatars. When the corrupt Bolyars focused on putting the militia down rather than fight off said Tatars, the rebellion was born with him at the helm.
- Heir-In-Law: Marrying the Empress Dowager who was also regent to her young son was a good way to consolidate his claim to the throne. However, it wasn't enough, as Ivaylo literally had no other supporters, within Bulgaria or overseas.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: While he's based on a Konnik, his weapons are a simple wooden shield and a sword.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: The campaign paints him as a humble man fighting to liberate the common man. While much of Ivaylo's character may be lost to time, history is fairly certain he was abusive to Maria. note
- Multiple Life Bars: Despite the unique sprite, he has the same gimmick of the Konnik: as such, a "slain" Ivalyo is merely dismounted, though he will die for real if he's killed when on foot.
- Rebel Leader: Deconstructed. In Ivaylo's time, being a leader of what type of rebels determined your fate. If you are a leader of rebels who hailed from nobility, your chances of succeeding are higher (e.g. Konstantin). If you are a peasant rebel leader, you had to deal with bolyars who had proven themselves hostile repeatedly to even tsars from nobility, never mind about a peasant tsar.
- Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story: Poor guy only wanted the aristocracy to stop dumping on peasants, and as such led a rebellion against his own government. Even after he became king, the nobility hated him so much they couldn't wait to usurp him immediately when he left for a moment, sending his wife and child into exile and making Ivaylo's followers lose any hope of the situation bettering itself. His plea for Nogai Khan to help him regain his throne sees him forced to assault innocent people for the Khan to consider hearing his request, and he's ultimately murdered when Nogai decides to reject his offer.
- The Hero Dies: Killed by Nogai Khan rather unceremoniously.
- Working-Class Hero: He started life as a swineherd. The nobility never forgave him for this. Reflected in his hero unit, which is without armor save for a square wooden shield and carries a simple sword as his weapon.
- Won the War, Lost the Peace: Ivaylo defeated Konstantin in war and was never defeated in battle, but he never had a stable reign, and his situation became untenable after George Terter's coup.
Tsar KonstantinTsar of Bulgaria in "A Most Unlikely Man", represented by a three-horse chariot. He was chronologically the second Tsar in Maria's narration, as he forced Mitso Asen (Ivan III's father) into exile.
- Altar Diplomacy: Konstantin's marriage to Maria was to secure an alliance with the Byzantine Empire, although complications soon developed note . Although not mentioned in-game, Konstantin married his second wife Irene because of her connections as well note .
- Handicapped Badass: Got paralyzed from the waist down after falling off his horse, and so got confined to a chariot. Statswise, he has as much attack as a Paladin, and so can put up a fight, assuming he attacks at all.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Once governed Bulgaria well, and kept the Byzantines and Tatars in check. Then he fell off his horse, ensuring that the nobles assumed greater power. To set the scene of the Rebellion, Ivalyo had him killed by the end of the first scenario.
- Ungrateful Bastard: One way through the scenario is to ally with him, then defeat the Tatars and the remaining two Bolyars. Instead of giving Ivaylo the promised title of Bolyar, Konstantin then sets off to crush the rebellion while scoffing at Ivaylo's status as peasant.
Maria Kantakouzena(Former) empress of Bulgaria
- Artistic License History: Maria downplayed Konstantin's reign considerably, as Konstantin was able-bodied for more than a decade, which is longer than the reigns of many of his predecessors and successors note . Similarly, she downplayed her own role in Konstantin's reign after his paralysis; historically, Maria was regent during this period of time and so played her part in the decline of Bulgaria.
- Black Widow: All three of Maria's husbands died violently, although mostly not of her doing. note
- The Exile: She is exiled to Constantinople after Ivaylo loses power. note
- Odd Couple: Deconstructed to hell — the nobility was infuriated to see the Empress marry a swineherd who led a rebellion against them and killed her former husband. note
- One Degree of Separation: Not discussed in-game, but historically, she's linked to almost every major player in the Ivaylo campaign. She's a wife to Konstantin and Ivaylo, and cousin-in-law to Ivan Asen III and Nogai Khan.
- Narrator All Along: Though it's not much of a surprise.
- Politically Active Princess: As mentioned, Maria was a niece of Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and thus a cousin of the wives of Nogai Khan and Ivan Asen III. According to her contempory Georgius Pachymeres, Maria supported her uncle's military coup d'etat and she prompted him to blind the legitimate emperor John IV Laskaris, who was a brother of Bulgarian empress Irene, the second wife of Tsar Konstantin.note She was also the regent after Konstantin's paralysis and during most of Ivaylo's (short) reign.
- Tell Me About My Father: Ultimately, the whole campaign is Maria explaining to her (unnamed) daughter what kind of man fathered her.
- Women Prefer Strong Men: In the second mission, she comments that Ivaylo's military successes are really alluring. The post-mission cutscene has her marrying him.
Ivan Asen IIIBulgarian noble and rival to Ivaylo. A son, nephew, grandson, great-grandnephew and great-grandson of tsars of Bulgaria.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Ivan did rule as tsar for about a year after Ivaylo's reign. Ivan's successor George Terter I was also his brother-in-lawnote . Of Ivaylo's opponents, only Ivan and George Terter escaped a violent death; Ivan eventually returned to the Asen estates in the Troad (the Biga Peninsula in the northwestern part of Anatolia, Turkey) and died there in 1303note . Also, not only did Ivan die in peace, his descendants thrived in Byzantium as a noble dynasty for generations.
- Heroic Lineage: Although not mentioned in-game, Ivan's claim to the Bulgarian tsardom was not only from his father; his mother was a daughter of Tsar Ivan Asen II and granddaughter of Ivan Asen I (his namesake and one of the co-founders of the Second Bulgarian Empire, which was independent from the Byzantines); two of Ivan III's uncles were also Tsars of Bulgaria.
- Dirty Coward: Everybody was very unimpressed when he ran away because it was evident he wouldn't be able to vanquish Ivaylo on his own. note
- History Repeats: Just like his father, Ivan reigned for about a year, and got himself exiled to the Byzantine Empire where he lived out his days.
- Nepotism: Although not elaborated in-game, Ivan is actually Nogai Khan's brother-in-law. note
- One Degree of Separation: Not discussed in-game and slightly less extensive than Maria Kantakouzena. Ivan is a brother-in-law to Nogai Khan and a cousin-in-law to Konstantin during Konstantin's second marriage note .
- Unfit for Greatness: Despite his Heroic Lineage, he was the last Asen who was Tsar of Bulagaria. note
Nogai KhanLeader (but not khan) of the Golden Horde.
- Blood Knight: Apparently, the smell of burnt flesh and the taste of blood are a joy to him.
- Eye Scream: Lost one eye when fighting his brother for the post of commander of the Golden Horde. He's very chill about it, though.
- Graceful Loser: His reaction when Ivaylo burns his great tent is to laugh and call him a Worthy Opponent.
- Heroic Lineage: More infamous than heroic, but he's a great-great-grandson to Genghis Khan.
- Karmic Death: Although not depicted, Nogai died a violent death slightly less than 20 years after he killed Ivaylo.
- Kick the Dog: After forcing Ivaylo to take part in the attack against the Poles, he listens to his plea for help, only to have him unceremoniously killed a little later.
- The Man Behind the Man: The reason why he doesn't take command over the Golden Horde. He already rules it from the shadows and prefers it this way. note
- Worthy Opponent: Praises Ivaylo's strength right after being defeated by him.
George TerterBulgarian noble and one-time ally of Ivaylo. He proclaimed himself Tsar of Bulgaria after Ivan Asen III fled Tarnovo.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Another example from the campaign after Ivan Asen III. George ruled as tsar for more than a decade. Although he was forced into exile at the end of his reign, he was allowed to return to Bulgaria after his son Theodore Svetoslav seized the throne and exchanged thirteen high-ranking Byzantine officers captured in a campaign for him. Theodore then settled George in a life of luxury in an unidentified city until his death. note
- Refuge in Audacity: Another trope which describes his accession. Before his accession, George was a Bulgarian bolyar with little to distinguish him from his peers (His ancestors were unknown and his wealth unremarkable). Then, by being at the right place (Tarnovo) and the right time (Ivan Asen III losing his marbles and fleeing the capital, and Ivaylo away fighting for his life), he rallied the bolyars and seized the throne.
- To Win Without Fighting: How he won the tsardom. Ivan Asen III fled the capital, while Ivaylo was away fighting for his life, so he rallied the bolyars to proclaim him Tsar.
Kotyan Khan (Cumans)
Kotyan KhanLeader of the Cuman tribes, represented by a unique Horse Archer unit.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Alas for the Hungary nobles, Kotyan was extremely beloved by his bloodthirsty, warrior subjects. So when he was murdered, they didn't take it well. At all.
- The Exile: Courtesy of the Mongol invasions.
- The Hero Dies: He was murdered by the very nobility he wanted to trust. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge from his grieving warriors.
- Hope Bringer: To his followers, who refused to be brought low by their plight as they still had him with them.
Béla IVKing of Hungary, represented by a King unit.
- The Good King: Welcomed the Cumans into his realm. Shame he couldn't stop suspicious nobles from assassinating Kotyan. Even after the Cumans ravaged the countryside in response, he requested their assistance after being taken advantage of by Duke Frederick.
- Only Sane Man: The only person in Hungary to think the Cumans could peacefully live there, and maybe protect it from the Mongols. Unfortunately, his nobles had to murder Kotyan.
Frederick IIDuke of Austria.
- Manipulative Bastard: Nominally went to Hungary to help protect it from Mongols, but mostly took advantage of King Béla IV. He schemed with Hungarian nobles to have Kotyan murdered, with the assumption that the Cumans would be too disorganized to fight back, only to say that the Cumans shouldn't have been trusted when they ravaged the countryside in vengeance. He then forced Béla to swear fealty to the Holy Roman Empire after the Mongols left the latter in a desperate situation.
- One Steve Limit: Mentioning his title is vitally important when talking about him, as his liege is also Frederick II, but that one was Holy Roman Emperor.
Viracocha IncaThe eighth Sapa Inca of the Kingdom of Cusco (beginning around 1410), represented by a unique Slinger.
- Decoy Protagonist: The narrator in the first mission pretty much established him as the hero of the story, until he runs away in the second mission which establishes Cusi Yupanqui as the actual hero and the titular Pachacuti.
- Dirty Coward: He flat-out dumped his subjects and fled with his favourite son when a warlord marched on Cuzco.
- Founder of the Kingdom: He was the first ruler of the Inca Empire. note
- God-Emperor: There's hints he considered himself this trope — a firm belief he was The Chosen One designated by the gods, and his towering ego. Bonus point for being named after an actual deity.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: The reason why Cusi is The Un Favourite, as he would rather stay and fight along his subjects than preserving his own skin.
- Parental Favoritism: Urqu is his favorite son and the one he wishes to be his successor, this continues even when Cusi has proven to be the more capable leader.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Ran away like a coward and abandoned his people to their fate in Cuzco.
- Smug Snake: He boasted of being a military genius, but his successes were mainly the contribution of his two generals.
Cusi Yupanqui/Pachacuti Inca YupanquiThe actual protagonist of the campaign, represented by a heroic unique unit.
- "Awesome McCool" Name: Pachacuti means "He who overturned time and space" in Quechua. Seriously, a superhero would wear it proudly.
- Cain and Abel: The victory at Cuzco only served to turn his father into a Green-Eyed Monster and turn Urqu against him because he is The Unfavorite.
- Hope Bringer: He is not a military genius at first, but his courage has inspired many soldiers including the two generals to stay in Cuzco and defend it despite Viracocha choosing to abandon it.
- Meaningful Name: Yupanqui was Quechua for "with honour", so he's fittingly the Wise Prince.
- On One Condition: He refused to formally name his son Topa Yupanqui his successor until the youth proved he could rule, and rule well.
- The Red Baron: "Son of the Sun", for he led the Incas out of the darkness and into a golden age of prosperity.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's a prince of the Kingdom of Cusco, and even if he's rather green in matters of command and war, he still tries to do right by his people.
- The Un Favourite: Despite most commoners and nobles respecting him a lot more compared with Urqu, his father still much prefered Urqu over him.
- Wise Prince: Inca-flavoured.