You should incorporate some of the characters. Put in the Warlords and their Generals.
That's what makes these dynasties so interesting. A map without them would feel incomplete.
-Wei, lead by Cao Cao --> Xiahou Dun, Dian Wei, etc.
-Shu, lead by Liu Bei --> Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, etc.
-Wu, lead by Sun Jian or Sun Quan --> Gan Ning, Lu Meng, etc.
(I agree that if you need a record to follow, you should go with the novel)