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"Those in other nations may deny it, but all mortals desire control. To be controlled, that is. Why else would they conjure those Northern God's that obsess over dominating the very creatures that brought them into being?"

—Prince Yuan Bo, the Jade Dragon, ruler of the Central Provinces of Grand Cathay[38]

Grand Cathay[10a], often simply called Cathay and also known as Imperial Cathay[1a], the Empire of the Celestial Dragon[8a], the Kingdom of the Dragon[8a], Great Cathay[10d], the Grand Empire of Cathay[11b] and the Celestial Empire[18b], is a populous empire of Men located in the Far East, beyond the Dark Lands and the Mountains of Mourn.

To the north, with the massive fortifications of the Great Bastion as a border, lie the Eastern Steppes and the territories of the Hung and Kurgan Chaos barbarian tribes within the Chaos Wastes. To the east are the island realm of Nippon and the Far Sea, and beyond that the Boiling Sea and Naggaroth. To the south are the Kingdoms of Ind and the Hinterlands of Khuresh.[11a]


A Jade Dragon, symbol of Grand Cathay

Past the Worlds Edge Mountains and across the Great Skull Lands, on the other side of the Mountains of Mourn and the vast steppes, begin the uncharted lands. Only a single path travels to the east, known as the Silk Road. It runs through the untamed steppes until its destination, the fabled land of Cathay. The lure of the Silk Road is great to the merchant houses of Tilea and the Burgomeisters of the Empire, as well as the traders of Araby. But the road is far from safe: roving bandits, steppe nomads, and the vast Hobgoblin hordes of Hobgobla-Khan who rule the steppes are an ever-present threat, and one that cannot be taken too lightly. Only one caravan out of ten makes the trip safely.[8a]

The travellers that return from Cathay tell tales of great golden pagodas and the inexhaustible armies of the eastern despots. They bring exotic spices and finest silks, gleaming gold, luxurious porcelain vases and all manner of strange and wonderful items from the Kingdom of the Dragon, glimpses of the mysterious glory of the distant and rich orient.[8a]

They also bring tales of jade cities and high temples where mystics probe the movements of the heavenly bodies and the positions of the stars, of the scholars who inscribe every word ever uttered by their divine Emperor. Many strange creatures are said to live in the land of Cathay, from serpentine dragons to gigantic living stone dogs which guard the temples of the multitudinous gods of Cathay.[8a]

Records of travellers tell of the thousand, thousand footsoldiers of the Emperor, the mystic brotherhoods of Monks who can kill you with a touch of their hand, and the strange monkey warriors living high in the Mountains of Heaven.[8a]

Most of these tales are highly fanciful, but certainly the Empire of the Celestial Dragon must be a wondrous and rich place, but until the trade routes to the east are safe it will remain a realm of legend.[8a]

Timeline (Imperial Calendar)

  • -2750 - A titanic warpstone meteorite plummets from the sky above for Cathay slams into the homelands of the Ogre tribes preying upon that great nation. Hundreds of thousands of Ogres die in the ensuing impact. When the dust clears, a great fang-lined maw hundreds of leagues across dominates the lands all about.[16a][17b] Some scholars believe the terrible disaster that befell the Ogres was due to the displeasure of the Chaos Gods, others that the Ogres had preyed too long on the children of the Cathayan empire and that the astromancers of that land took their revenge.[16d][17a]
  • -1800 - The Dragon Emperor unites the entire civilisation of Grand Cathay in a great task that is to change the destiny of his nation forever. The Great Bastion, also known as the Dragon's Spine, is completed in under a century - an impenetrable fortress wall, a quarter of a mile high, that spans league upon league across the border of Cathay. In this way Cathay protects itself from Chaos invasion.[15a]
  • -1666 - The Worlds Edge Mountains are riven by earthquakes, sending much of the Dwarf empire into jeopardy. At the same time, sections of the Great Bastion collapse, allowing rampaging northern tribes to spill into Cathay.[15a]
  • ca -1450 to -1400 - The wandering clans establish the first Skaven strongholds in the areas later known as Troll Country, the Southlands, Araby and the Dark Lands. Lord Visktrin, mortally injured by a Dragon in the Mountains of Mourn, instructs Clan Eshin to establish their stronghold in far Cathay.[3a][3c] Their arrival is described in Cathay as if they had been vomited out from the gigantic maw of the Great Black Dragon that lives coiled inside the earth.[20a]
  • -1200 - The cult of Chi'an Chi (known to the mortals of the Old World as Tzeentch) gains favour amongst the aristocracy of Beichai in far Cathay.[15a]
  • -1163 to -1152 - Nagash declares war upon the Priest Kings of Nehekhara. Alongside other foul creatures, the Vampires lead Nagash's armies. The Priest Kings are united under King Alcadizaar the Conqueror, and his formidable leadership defeats Nagash's first assault. The Vampire W'soran stays with Nagash and dares his wrath, whilst the other Vampires flee to escape the Great Necromancer's anger.[22a] Maatmeses, the very fat and very corrupt chief justice of Lahmia, and Harakhte, the brilliant and sinister court vizier of Neferata, vanished out of history, though there are rumours of Vampires in far Cathay and the Southlands who may be of their lost bloodlines. Many centuries later, Marco Polare’s writings of Cathay included legends of immortal eunuch sorcerers that drink the souls of men, who perhaps are the children of Maatmeses or Harakhte.[19a][19b]
  • 699 - Representatives of the Phoenix King Aethis arrive in Cathay. They return laden with silk, jade and spices. Trade between east and west begins to flourish.[13b]
  • 702 - Some Ogres travel to the far east where they learn that the great horned trophies worn on many of their helmets are highly valued in far off lands. The resultant transaction gives a new name to the road to the east - the Ivory Road.[17c]
  • 860 - The Black Ark Talon of Agony is overturned and sunk by a gigantic magical tidal wave off the coast of Cathay.[4b]
  • 1103 - Laithikir Fellheart shadows High Elf fleets around Cathay and Nippon and begins a century of merciless raids that see the Fellheart family rise to great power. With her charts, other Dark Elf fleets maraud with much success along the rich coasts of Ind and Cathay.[12c]
  • 1247 - Tilean explorer Marco Polare reaches Cathay, and writes of spying the Skaven under the great city of Wei-jin.[20c]
  • 1310 - A series of earthquakes cause part of the Great Bastion of Cathay to collapse. A truly colossal invasion ensues as scores of the battle-hungry Kurgan tribes that roam the steppes flood into that rich and ancient empire. Hordes of Chaos Warriors battle legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the Great Wall with their own clay bodies, mutated War Mammoths gore and trample whole regiments of one-horned Ogres, and in the skies above Daemon Princes duel with bejewelled Gold Dragons. The Cathayans ultimately blunt the invasion, but not before the Chaos horde has carved a bloody path into the heartland of the orient.[16b]
  • ca 1690 - Emperor Wu launches a great invasion fleet to conquer the Southlands, but it is destroyed by two typhoons. Cathayan Yin-Tuan, having lost his course, makes an epic journey across Lustria and the Southlands. He narrowly escapes sacrifice in Zlatlan, and is the only survivor of the whole expedition.[5a][5b][5c][5d][9a]
  • 2377 - The Monkey King seizes power in Cathay. He installs Warlord Kishkik of Clan Eshin as an advisor, and begins trade with the Skaven Under-Empire.[20d] He is later driven to the south of Cathay after the return of the Dragon Emperor.
  • ca 2400s? - Cathay is divided between the children of the Dragon Emperor: Miao Ying, ruler of the Northern Provinces, and Zhao Ming, ruler of the Western Provinces. The forces of Tzeentch attack Cathay in the north.[33a]
  • ca 2509 - Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord marches south along the eastern side of the Mountains of Mourn in order to recruit followers to invade the Empire from the Border Princes. Before reaching the Ogre Kingdoms, his lieutenant Sayl the Faithless attacks the Tower of Ashshair and is defeated. By this time there is again a Dragon Emperor in power.[18a][18b]


The Empire of Grand Cathay is ruled by the Dragon Emperor (also known as the Celestial Dragon Emperor[1a][1b]) and his consort the Moon Empress. They're all Dragons, said to be ancient and immortal,[11] They disdain to be worshipped as gods, and therefore they do not encourage this practice in their subordinates, even if they take on human form to better interact with them. [11]

The names of several different Dragon Emperors are known in the Old World, but this is an mistake by Old World scholars, who didn't understand that the Dragon Emperor is one immortal ruler.

But in truth their children drive the nation much more directly, splitting their power over five different territories. Miao Ying is the Supreme Matriarch of Nan-Gau, and ruler of the Northern Provinces. While Zhao Ming is the ruler of the Western Provinces and Lord of Shang-Yang.[11] Li Dao rules the wild south, while Yin-Yin rules the east from Fu-Chow and the Jade Dragon rules Central Cathay from Shang Wu.


The northwestern provinces of Grand Cathay

The Northern Provinces and The Great Bastion

The Northern Provinces are the northernmost section of Cathay, lying just south of the Eastern Steppes, and this region is ruled by the Storm Dragon Miao Ying. In the northwest lies Nan-Gau, the city of smoke, which has countless forges and workshops producing arms and machines for Cathay's armies, such as the Sky-junk. The Lords of Nan-Gau are granted more independence than most, due to Nan-Gau’s importance to the empire.[36]

The most notable feature of the Northern Provinces is the Great Bastion, a huge and ancient fortification which stretches along most of Cathay’s northern border, protecting it from the Hobgoblin Khanate, forces of Chaos, and other attackers from the Eastern Steppes. Along its length are gates, guarded by mighty fortresses. The Great Bastion has a mysterious, magical connection to the Dragon Emperor himself. On rare occasions it has been breached, and the forces of Chaos have cut a bloody swath into the heartland of Cathay, but it has never fallen entirely.[36]

Imperial Provinces

This area is centred on the Cathayan capital, the holy city of Wei-Jin, and ruled directly by the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress. It is located just south of the Great Bastion, in Cathay’s northeast. It is further protected from northern incursions by the magical Great Dragon River, which causes death to those who enter its waters. The Cathayan Astromancers, the Dragon Emperor's officially-sanctioned magic users, are headquarted in Wei-Jin. Above Wei-Jin is the Celestial City, a palace complex where the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress hold court. It is in the Celestial City that the Wu Xing Compass is located, a device which allows the Dragons to direct the winds of magic across Cathay.[36]

The Celestial Lake may be located in this region.

The Western Provinces

The Western Provinces are a relatively remote region, ruled by the Iron Dragon Zhao Ming. The area is bounded by the Mountains of Mourn to the west, and dominated by the Warpstone Desert. The Desert is arid and full of its namesake warpstone, so caravans passing through must use mirrored shields to avoid chaotic mutation. The desert also contains the Great Maw, and the "Desert Clans" apparently dwell in this region.[36]

The largest city in the west is Shang-Yang, which is a bustling trade hub despite being located in the middle of the Warpstone Desert. From here the Ivory Road extends west all the way to the Old World, bringing great wealth to Cathay. Also in Shang-Yang are the cabals of Cathayan Alchemists who are not officially sanctioned by the Dragon Emperor, but are sheltered by Zhao Ming.[36] Also in the west, in the "Stone Lands" stands the Tower of Ashshair, a fortress which in 2509 IC was unsuccessfully assaulted by the chaotic forces of Sayl the Faithless.[17a][18b] The Ogre Kingdoms are another constant threat, as they often raid trade caravans along the Ivory Road. Meanwhile, the Skaven of Clan Eshin seem to have a large nest in the region.[36]

The Central Provinces

The Central Provinces is the heartland of the empire, a region of rivers and fertile farmland which is ruled over by the Jade Dragon Yuan Bo. It is relatively peaceful, without large internal or external threats. Although even here, there can be danger lurking in the forests. The largest city is the trading hub of Shang Wu, from where the Jade Dragon rules. The city stands at the confluence of multiple rivers, which serve as highways, with many goods being carried across Cathay by boat – in much the same way as the River Reik and River Talabec do in The Empire.[36]

The Celestial Riverlands might be located in Central Cathay.

The Eastern Provinces

The Eastern Provinces is a coastal region, bounded by the Far Sea to the east and ruled by the Sea Dragon Yin-Yin. It is the wealthiest region in the empire, and contains many trade cities and ports. It is here that the great rivers of Central Cathay flow into the sea, carrying many boats laden with exotic goods. While Cathay is generally an isolationist country, Eastern Cathay is perhaps the most outwards-looking region, which reflects Yin-Yin’s expansionist tendencies.[36]

The largest of the ports is Fu-Chow, where Yin-Yin rules and the Great Dragon Fleet is harboured. It contains a significant population of foreigners, especially High Elves, and in fact may be the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Another notable city is the port of Beichai, which carries a dark reputation. No matter how many times the Cathayans stamp out Chaos cults in the city, they always seem to resurface.[36] The Dark Elves are also a threat to eastern Cathay. The unfortunate port of Khairith Irlean was located in the east, but was razed by Druchii raiders and then struck from the Cathayan records.[12b]

The Southern Provinces and the Mountains of Heaven

The South of Cathay is a frontier region of forests and and mountain foothills. It suffers frequent foreign assaults, and is ruled by the Fire Dragon Li Dao, who has the thankless task of defending it. The region is inhabited by Monkey Warrior tribes alongside humans.[36] The capital of the south is Fu-Hung, also known as the chanting city, which lies close to the Mountains of Heaven. The city is home to the Phoenix Temple, a large building shaped like a Vermillion Warbird,[37] and is known for its chanting monks.[5a]

The Mountains of Heaven form the border between Southern Cathay and the Kingdoms of Ind further southwest. Ind claims their side of the range, while Cathay claims theirs, but the true power in the mountains is the Monkey King. Although the Cathayan Dragons dislike the Monkey King, they are often humiliatingly forced to ally with him to defend attacks by the Nagas of Khuresh, which lies to the southeast. This is a source of endless amusement for the Monkey King.[36]

Other locations

  • Heyang - A city destroyed by Archaon during his quest to become the Everchosen.[30a]
  • Nan Chu - Place of a battle fought by the Tilean mercenary general, Blackheart. Where hundreds of thousands fell.[6c]
  • Mount Li - Here stands another monastery, where Yin-Tuan retired as an aged sage after serving as commander of the Palace Guard and wrote down the story of his journey through Lustria and the Southlands.[5a]
  • Wang - Place of a battle fought by the Tilean mercenary general, Blackheart. Where a million fell.[6c]

Notable Fauna

A Ki-rin of Cathay

In Cathay, there are bears not unlike those of the Old World and the New World -- large, powerful beasts whose skins are prized by all races. In the depths of the forests there are also boars.[1f] Giant Leeches can be found in the jungles[1h], and Giant Spiders in the forests[1i]. Wolves have been nearly exterminated[1m], while horses are domesticated in north and east Cathay[1k]. Leopards and panthers live in the Southlands and parts of western Cathay, whilst tigers are exclusive to the Far East[1l]. Some Griffons and Hippogryphs have been sighted in Cathay as well.[1i][1j]

Fiery vermilion warbirds, used by artificers to power their kongming aircraft, and draconic Longma, ridden by the Dragon-blooded into battle, are commonly incorporated into the Cathayan war effort. Many legends talk about several dozen Dragons[1g] living in Cathay, but their description varies greatly - some say they are serpentine[8a], others mention bejewelled Gold Dragons[16b]. There are even tales that tell their Dragon Emperor is actually an immortal Dragon in human shape[11c], and the Shugengan wizards are described as "Dragon-blooded"[18b].

Another magical beast typical of Cathay and the Far East is the Ki-rin, flying unicorns with long, flowing manes spun with sparks of silver lightning that ride the roaring winds and storm clouds, bellowing and screaming great cracks of lightning through the disturbed air. They are occasionally ridden by powerful heroes.[2a]

There are also Jade Lions, which are revered for their courage and level-headedness. Occasionally a warrior may be found carrying the likeness of one of these as an amulet, and they still contain some of their power, although showing cowardice will cause the magic to depart.[10g]

There are a few Eastern Beastmen villages in Southern Cathay.

Foreign Relations


Map of the Northlands.PNG

Cathay maintains hostile relations with the Forces of Chaos that roam the Eastern Steppes to the north since at least -1800 IC, when the Dragon Emperor united Cathay and built the Great Bastion to stop their invasions[15a].

This great fortress has been breached at least twice. In the 15th century before the founding of the Empire in the Old World, the adjustments of the tectonic plates by the Slann and the explosion of a great machine in Skavenblight caused earthquakes across the world, breaching many Dwarf holds in the Worlds Edge Mountains and toppling sections of the Great Bastion, allowing rampaging northern tribes to spill into Cathay[15a]. Much later, in 1310 IC, a series of earthquakes caused part of the Great Bastion to collapse, and a truly colossal invasion ensued as scores of the battle-hungry Kurgan tribes that roamed the steppes flooded into that rich and ancient empire. Hordes of Chaos Warriors battled legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the Great Wall with their own clay bodies, mutated War Mammoths gore and trample whole regiments of one-horned Ogres, and in the skies above Daemon Princes duel with bejewelled Gold Dragons. The Cathayans ultimately blunted the invasion, but not before the Chaos horde had carved a bloody path into the heartland of the orient.[16b]

The Cathayans' position on the Chaos Gods' worship isn't clear, although it is known that in -1200 the cult of Tzeentch (known as Chi'an Chi in Cathay) gained favour amongst the aristocracy of Beichai.[15a]

Grand Cathay is described as "standing sentinel" against Chaos, along with Kislev.[1] In recent times, it is battling an invasion led by the forces of Tzeentch.

The Beastmen of the Mountains of Mourn are known to fight both the armies of the Ogre Kingdoms and Cathay, and several fortresses keep watch on any armies approaching from the north, such as the Tower of Ashshair.[18a][18b]


Many thousands of years ago, the Ogres lived far to the east of the Mountains of Mourn, in the great sweeping steppes on the borders of far Cathay. Their homelands were fertile and rolling grasslands spread from horizon to horizon, with grazing gnubeast and lumbering yak providing an ever-replenishing supply of fresh meat.[10a][17a]

With no natural barriers to divide their kingdoms, the majority of the Ogre tribes lived as nomads, trading almost as often as fighting. The great secret of fire was passed to them by their Cathayan neighbours, who in return begun to recruit the more intelligent Ogres into the Grand Imperial Army. Tribe upon tribe prowled the rolling steppes as their numbers grew. However, the barbarian Ogre civilisation prospered to such an extent that Ogre raids soon begun to stray into Cathay itself, preying on the simple peasant children working in the rice fields. Before long many Ogres had acquired a taste for Cathayan flesh. This was something which His Most Excellent Majesty Xen Huong, Celestial Dragon Emperor of the Imperial Palace of Grand Cathay, took a very dim view of indeed.[10a][17a]

Whether Xen Huong's coven of ancient astromancers had anything to do with the catastrophe that befell the Ogres remains speculation, but not too long after the children of that land began to go missing and bloodied bones littered the paddy fields, a great burning light appeared in the sky. It increased in brightness and size with every passing day until eclipsed even the great spheres of Morrslieb and Mannslieb. Over the weeks, it grew to be a baleful, glowering orb that crackled and spat above the plains, turning night into day and driving the wildlife of the steppes mad with fear. A corona of sickly green light came into focus around the comet as it grew ever closer, and fanciful observers even claimed that this new celestial body had a face, or more accurately, a mouth.[10a][17a]

One sweltering night of -2750 IC[17b], the comet slammed into the Ogre homelands with such force that it was felt on the other side of the world. All life around it boiled away in an instant; two-thirds of the Ogre population were annihilated as the steppes liquefied under the hammerblow of an angry god. The raging, blinding firestorms that followed the comet's fall incinerated everything for miles around. Had there been any survivors left to peer into the massive crater left by the comet's descent, they would have seen that the comet had not stopped on contact but instead burrowed deep into the heart of the world.[10a][17a]

For the devastated tribes of the Ogres, the worst was yet to come. Their verdant homelands had been reduced to a searing desert of howling sandstorms and baleful energies that stripped the skin from their bones. Other than the remnants of the Ogre population, only a few species of insect had the resilience to survive the disaster, and starvation quickly set in. The surviving tribes degenerated into cannibalism, falling upon each other in fear and hunger as the drought and lack of food gnawed away at their once-full bellies. To the Ogres it seemed that a vengeful deity had fallen upon them, consuming all before it; a Great Maw that existed purely to feed. Thus the insatiable and merciless god of the Ogres was born.[10b][17a]

The strongest and hardiest Ogres, even after having eaten their weaker brethren, found that the gnawing hunger visited upon them at the time of the Great Maw's landing would not leave. No longer able to cross into Cathay due to the poisonous desolation left in the comet's wake, the majority of the survivors migrated into the mountain ranges to the west in search of new homelands and respite from the great drought. However, one of the oldest legends tells of Groth Onefinger, who led his tribe further into the deadly desert with the intention of offering sacrifice to this new and powerful god. What he found has since been depicted on a thousand gut-plates and banners, and is forever etched into the legends of the Ogre race. Before Groth stretched a gigantic, gaping crater the size of an inland sea, filled with ridge upon ridge of jagged teeth and rippling, convulsing muscle that stretched down and down into nothingness; a gullet so huge it could swallow a race like the Ogres and still hunger for more. It exists there even now, a vile, pulsing god visited upon the face of the world by the vengeful heavens.[10b][17a]

Nevertheless, millennia later Ogres still serve in the Cathayan armies as Maneaters, wearing fine cloth under lacquered bamboo armour[10c] and wielding finely balanced Cathayan longswords, master-crafted blades that are of great value to the Ogres because they will remain eternally sharp. With the strength of an Ogre behind them, these blades can cause one hell of a mess.[10d] One famous mercenary in Cathay was Bannaga, a deaf Butcher who owned the Bangstick.[10h]

In 702 IC, some Ogres travelled to the far east where they learn that the great horned trophies worn on many of their helmets were highly valued in far off lands. The resultant transaction gave a new name to the road to the east - the Ivory Road.[17c]

In 1310 IC, the armies that confronted the Chaos invasion were said to include whole regiments of one-horned Ogres[16b], but it is unclear whether this refers to a new breed of Ogres, or maybe to horned helmets.


Not much is known of the relationship between Cathay and the island nation of Nippon to the east, although it is also described as an ordered civilisation.[1e]

The Cathayan armies are said to be exceptionally powerful in order to deal not only with Hobgoblins and Chaos Marauders, but also the might of the island race of Nippon.[1n]


Eshin Assassin.

The first Skaven to arrive to Cathay, believed there to have been vomited out from the gigantic maw of the Great Black Dragon that lives coiled inside the earth[20a], belonged to Clan Eshin. This clan had been led eastwards through the Dark Lands by Lord Visktrin, who died around -1450 or -1400 IC after battling against a Dragon in the Mountains of Mourn and charged his successor with establishing a stronghold further east, and so passed beyond the knowledge of the rest of the Under-Empire and reached Cathay.[3a][3c][14b]

When its members returned to Skavenblight they were changed. During that long period in contact with the mysterious human cultures of Ind, Cathay and Nippon, the Skaven had learned much, specially about the arts of stealth and assassination.[23a]

Around 500 IC, the assassin-adepts of Clan Eshin returned from Cathay during the First Skaven Civil War. For nearly 400 years the Skaven had remained divided: the north faction, led by the Council of Thirteen and the south, by the Plague Lords of Clan Pestilens. Many clans stood apart, joining sides with whoever had the upper hand. Plagues, sorcery, and double-crossings were rife, but the war remained locked in stalemate. The deadlock was broken when the black-clad assassins of Clan Eshin pledged allegiance to the Council of Thirteen, and the heads of Warlords, rebellious Chieftains, and Plague Lords themselves began to regularly disappear. Support swiftly eroded for Clan Pestilens. Realising their position was becoming untenable, the Plague Lords requested a parley, and Lord Nurglitch won a place in the Council, thus ending the war.[3b][3c][14a]

The Eshin's relations with Cathay and the rest of eastern nations aren't clear. By 1247 IC a Tilean explorer, Marco Polare, reached Cathay and wrote of spying the Skaven under the great city of Wei-jin[20c], but in 2377 the Monkey King seized power, installed Warlord Kishkik of Clan Eshin as an advisor, and began trade with the Skaven Empire[20d]. It is unlikely this state of affairs goes on to this day, since apparently Cathay is again ruled by the Dragon Emperors, but there is no clear evidence to the contrary either.[8a]

The Eshin Assassins are rightly feared by those who know of them. They are trained from birth as quick, murderous fighters adept in the use of exotic weapons. Most Clan Eshin weapons are forged with warpstone so that they constantly weep a potent corrosive venom. Much of the Assasins' training hones their already fast Skaven reflexes to unparalleled heights, enabling them to perform incredible feats like leaping many times their own height into the air, running as fast as a galloping horse or climbing sheer surfaces.[3d] Given that the Great Maze of tunnels connecting the whole Under-Empire spans the whole world, their agents can cross from Nippon to the Old World in less than six months.[20b]

The Skaven of Clan Eshin act as secret police and enforcers for the Council of Thirteen. If the Lords of Decay decide a Warlord or a Grey Seer is no longer loyal, Assassins of Clan Eshin are set on their trail, maintaining the Council's rule through murder and terror. Assassins are also dispatched to slay leaders and champions of opposing armies or to sabotage the defences of towns and cities by poisoning water supplies, setting fires, murdering civic dignitaries, stirring up the rat packs and spreading disease. In pitched battles Assassins often disguise themselves and lurk in the ranks of ordinary Skaven until they have an opportunity to strike at enemy leaders or heroes in the confusion of combat.[3d]

The mainstay warriors of Clan Eshin are the Night Runners. What differentiates these expendable foot soldiers from other Clanrats is that they receive rudimentary training in the fighting styles learned from distant Cathay. Faster than the ordinary Clanrat, they kill quickly so they can move on to eliminate the next foes. Those Night Runners who prove their mettle sometimes rise to become Gutter Runners. Only those Gutter Runners who excel in their trade can ever hope to be indoctrinated into the highest secrets of the Cathayan fighting arts. While still burdened by the typical Skaven outlook, Master Assassins are more patient, centred, and ruthless than their brethren. They can kill with a touch, are masters of countless weapons, and can slip in and out of some of the most heavily guarded strongholds unseen.[20h][20i]

The mysterious and clandestine Clan Eshin have some tools of war that their agents alone bear into battle: Warpstone stars are wickedly sharp throwing stars coated with a deadly warp poison, an infernal bomb is an iron-clad, explosive device that uses cogs and gears to delay a blast of hellish energy, and a high-ranking member of Clan Eshin is likely to carry smoke bombs for diversions. When smashed, a dark and almost sentient smoke curls out and attempts to force its way into the lungs of any nearby.[14c]

The Art of the Silent Death wasn’t the only thing Clan Eshin brought back when they returned from Cathay. A few Skaven delved into the black arts of magic. Blending what they already knew of the warp with the techniques used by Cathayan sorcerers, they developed a new lore, one that serves to enhance their Clan’s power and mystique - the Lore of Stealth. These spells are designed to augment the stealth, speed, and strength of the Clan’s attack forces, and none are quite sure whether Clan Eshin Skaven’s legendary skills have ever been completely mundane. Clan Eshin guards the secrets of this art to ensure that none of the rival Clans learn the answer. Eshin Sorcerers are mysterious, rare, and keep to themselves; they are well aware that the Grey Seers brook no competition from other Skaven spellcasters.[20g][20j]


Hobgoblin Wolf Raider.

Cathay is dominated by humans, although remoter areas are still under the control of greenskins, especially Hobgoblins.[1a] Hobgoblins are common in the Dark Lands, where goblinoids are the dominant species. They are also fairly widespread throughout the Eastern Steppes, where they lead nomadic lives hunting and herding cattle. Hobgoblins do not commonly live in underground settlements, although a few do inhabit the goblinoid dwellings of the Mountains of Mourn and the Worlds Edge Mountains. In the steppes they live from horseback, or in large, heavy covered wagons. In Cathay, they are the most common goblinoid type, more so even than Goblins.[1c]

There are few Goblins in the Steppes or Cathay, areas where Hobgoblins are more dominant.[1b] 'Lesser Goblins' (perhaps another name for Gnoblars or Snotlings) are said to live alongside ordinary Goblins and inhabit the same geographic areas. The notable exceptions are in eastern Cathay, where ordinary Goblins are rare, but these smaller creatures are more common.[1d]

Since the arrival of Ricco and Robbio to Cathay a mercantile quarter has flourished in Shang-Yang which is the westernmost of the Cathayan fortress towns on the Silk Road. This is the name by which the trade route to Cathay opened up by these Tilean merchants has become known. Trading caravans go along this route very rarely and only a few reach their destination due to the terrible hazards of the journey and the scourge of the Hobgobla Khan and his great horde which, when all his loyal tribes are drawn up for battle, is said to extend from horizon to horizon. The mercenaries in Shang-Yang have become 'guests' of the Emperor of Cathay and valued warriors in his service. The Emperor uses these troops to help defend his western frontier against the wrath of Hobgobla Khan. Of course by doing this, the Tileans serve their own interests by keeping open the Silk Road.[6c]

There is, however, a region that even the Hobgoblin Khans avoid. Beyond the Mountains of Mourn and between the trackless steppe lie many forgotten and savage lands whose names and inhabitants are nothing more than dark myth to the peoples of the Old World. This is a barren and masterless realm, an expanse of bleak and fog-shrouded wilderness, spirit-haunted fens and shattered cities - a howling, desolate place saturated with the darkest magics, where the malice of dread souls and the whispers of Daemons hold more sway over the land than sanity and mundane geography, and travellers can become unutterably lost as the very land around them shifts with malignant intelligence and entities older than the fall of the Old Ones slumber beneath their black sands. It is a place where the Winds of Magic are drawn to swirl and eddy invisible, and great and terrible storms of magic rip unexpectedly into being, bringing further literal chaos, sending forests crawling across the landscape like damned souls, and upending mountains to drift through the hurricane-wracked air as reality liquefies and remakes itself in twisted new patterns. It is little wonder then that even the mighty Ogres of the west and the treacherous Hobgoblin hordes of the east avoid these shunned lands where they can, ignorant of their true nature, but not the evil that dwells within them.[18c]

High Elves

In 699 IC, representatives of Phoenix King Aethis the Poet made contact with the old human empire of Cathay and visited the court of the Dragon Emperor. They returned laden with silk, jade and spices - which became valued commodities in Ulthuan, and trade between east and west began to flourish.[13a][13b]

Despite maintaining trade relations between the two of them, the Cathayan Dragons look at the Elves with disdain for riding Western Dragons, a relation that they see as an insult. This outlook has passed down to the Cathayans themselves, who look down upon the dragon riders.[35b]

Dark Elves

In -238 IC, the great Dark Elf Shade Kaledor Maglen discovered and explored the Black Way, a route through the water-filled caverns of the Underworld Sea that allows Druchii Black Arks to pass below the Black Spine Mountains to the Broken Lands and the Boiling Sea on the west coast of the New World. Although evidence has been found pointing to the existence of some lost race living there underground, the Naggarothi care little about them, and instead are happy to use the Underworld Sea to gain access to the lands of Nippon and Cathay which lie beyond the Far Sea.[4a][4b][12d]

Although Black Arks started crossing the Boiling Sea and raiding the oriental lands of the farthest east in -87 IC, for the Dark Elves these were uncharted territories and for each fleet that returned with prizes and slaves, half a dozen came back to Naggaroth in failure.[4b][12a]

The most notable successes were by Laithikir Fellheart, latest in a long line of Black Ark commanders and as cunning a she-Elf as was ever born. By 1103 IC, Laithikir had learnt to follow the High Elf ships, her Black Ark swathed in shadow and storm, tracking their ever-increasing journeys to the lands of the orient. By shadowing the fleets of Ulthuan, she was able to raid the busy seaports and convoys that traded with the High Elves in Ind and Cathay. As word of her success grew, Laithikir sold her charts to other captains, and within a decade dozens of Dark Elf fleets were attacking the settlements of the mysterious far east and bringing back tens of thousands of slaves and holds full of exotic wares such as witch jade, ivory, tigerfire, silk and spices. Ever-eager to show off their wealth and power, the Dark Elves prized these stolen wares highly and their value soared. Competition for the Witch King's permission to raid these lands fuelled a period of infighting and politicking that saw Malekith's coffers swell with gold and silver.[12a][12c]

In 860, the Black Ark Talon of Agony was overturned and sunk by a gigantic magical tidal wave off the coast of Cathay.[4b][12c]

At one unfortunate port, the Dark Elves encircled the town and barred all escape, before the Witch Elves were unleashed to wreak havoc within the walls. The Khainites named the town Khairith Irlean - the Place of a Thousand Bloody Delights. When the armies of the Dragon Emperor arrived, the Dark Elves had already returned to sea. In their wake, they left a town empty but for heaps of dismembered and charred corpses, writhing with flies and disease. The stones of the buildings were stained red with blood. So disturbing was the scene that the town was razed utterly and all mention of it was stricken from maps and records.[12b]


By 1690 IC, the Cathayans didn't know about the existence of Lustria, and had only heard vague references to a mysterious race of 'lizard-daemons' that lived in the Southlands. In this year, Dragon Emperor Wu of the Wu Dynasty launched an invasion fleet to conquer the regions of that continent that weren't under Arabyan or Undead control in order to take the spice trade from Arabyan hands.[3a]

His huge fleet, however, was struck by a typhoon soon after its departure, with several ships straying off course. One of these was Yin-Tuan's, which reached the western coast of the Lustrian isthmus of Pahuax, which is the narrow stretch of land which joins the continents of Lustria and Naggaroth. His party would have passed perhaps as close as within one or two hundred miles of the Norse colony of Skeggi and even closer to the Lizardmen city of Pahuax. Yin-Tuan of course had no idea that these places existed. Believing they were on the western side of the Southlands, his men crossed the rainforests, clashing with Skinks and Kroxigor only after stealing seven gold plaques from a ruined temple-city. After returning them and arriving without further harm to the Great Ocean, they built a new ship and attempted again to reach the Southlands. The prevailing winds and currents carried Yin-Tuan far to the south of Ulthuan, and blew him towards the coast of the Southlands. His small army decided to cross again the jungles to reach the Emperor's army, but were attacked and defeated by Saurus Warriors. All the survivors were sacrificed, save for Yin-Tuan, whose Imperial Dragon tattoo on the back reminded the Skink Priests of Sotek. He was therefore imprisoned, but managed to escape during the night and reached a river flowing eastwards. On the eastern shores of the Southlands he found the remains of the Cathayan fleet and was rescued by Cathayan spice traders.[3a][3b][3c][3d]

From them he learned that the Emperor's fleet had been wrecked while at anchor by a second terrible typhoon. By that time the bulk of the remaining troops had already disembarked. The leaders decided to march inland and attempt the conquest rather than report failure to the Emperor. The survivors had marched inland and disappeared. The Emperor had therefore ordered all traders to keep watch on the coasts for any sign of their banners. Yin-Tuan was the only survivor of that mighty expedition to be found alive.[3d]

It is quite possible that the Slann Mage-Priests with their arcane power to influence the geography of the world, brought about the two disastrous typhoons which destroyed the Cathayan fleet. One typhoon struck as the fleet set out, the other as it lay at anchor. The Slann would have needed no advance warning of the invasion. They would have acted according to the predictions of the Old Ones. Thus the typhoons would with uncanny accuracy coincide with the Emperor of Cathay's attempted invasion. It is possible that only one typhoon was required according to the predictions of the Old Ones, but that two opposing schools of thought among the Mage-Priests of different cities resulted in two typhoons separated by several weeks.[3d]


Not much is known of the relationship between Cathay and Araby, other than the aforementioned rivalry over the spice trade. By 1690 IC, several Cathayan traders, such as the Tei-Pings, plied the maritime route between Cathay and Araby. Dragon Emperor Wu attempted to gain supremacy by conquering the mysterious regions of the Southlands where spices were harvested, but had not reckoned upon encountering a powerful and flourishing Lizardman realm there, nor upon the Slann's massive magical powers - which sunk his fleet with two mighty typhoons.[3a][3d]

Old World

Marco Polare

In 1247 IC, Tilean explorer Marco Polare reached Cathay, and wrote of spying the Skaven under the great city of Wei-jin. His writings of Cathay included legends of immortal eunuch sorcerers that drank the souls of men, who perhaps were the Vampire children of Maatmeses or Harakhte.[19a][19b][20c]

Ricco and Robbio: the Silk Road

However, these accounts appear to have been forgotten, lost, or at least not widely known by 1699, since other Tilean traders didn't know what lay beyond the Worlds Edge Mountains and the Dark Lands. In that year, the brothers Ricco and Robbio, Tilean merchants in Karaz-a-Karak, bought a tattered but exceptionally fine silk banner from some Dwarf adventurers who had been far to the east. They claimed to have captured it from a band of Hobgoblins. The banner bore the symbol of a Dragon, and the Dwarfs, not bothered about keeping what they believed to be an Elf banner, were eager to sell it for gold. The significance of the banner was not lost on Ricco and Robbio. If it was an Elf banner captured by the Hobgoblins, it could be the answer to a question which had been vexing the minds of many Tilean merchants: was it possible to get to Ulthuan by going eastwards as an overland route instead of sailing westwards over the sea? If such a thing were possible, it could mean that Ulthuan was at the eastern end of the great Old World continent. It would also mean that the world was round and not flat as most people believed. Elf seafarers had never revealed much about Ulthuan. The Norse seemed to think it was an island. Marco Colombo in his writings speculated as to whether it was an island or a peninsula of a great northern continent attached to Lustria. He believed, as did many others, that only this could explain where the Dark Elves came from and why they fought against the High Elves. Ricco and Robbio suspected that if they journeyed far enough to the east they would either arrive in Ulthuan, or maybe even Lustria, or on the far coast of the Old World continent opposite Ulthuan. Unfortunately this coast might be held by Dark Elves. The fine workmanship of the silk banner and its Dragon motif suggested a High Elf origin, so perhaps it had been lost in battle with the Dark Elves and captured by Hobgoblin lackeys in their employ. Ricco and Robbio scoured the Dwarf strongholds of the Worlds Edge Mountains seeking more artefacts of Elven workmanship which had come out of the east. They acquired a small hoard of objects including scrolls bearing what appeared to be Elven writing, weapons, and silks which Dwarf traders were pleased to sell for gold.[6b]

The two brothers returned to their home city of Verezzo and tried to raise funds for an expedition into the east. Their intention was to find an overland route to Ulthuan and possibly even Lustria. This would avoid the hazards of a long sea voyage and show the High Elves that they might rule the seas but not the land. Also it would enable Verezzo to get one up on her trading rivals in Remas, which was enjoying a monopoly on the western sea trade at this time. The Prince of Verezzo was very enthusiastic and all the Merchant Princes of the city followed his example. Merchants from Luccini, Miragliano, and Pavona also contributed to the enterprise. It was decided that the expedition was so dangerous that only a powerful armed force could be expected to fight its way across the continent. Therefore a great mercenary army was gathered, led by the best mercenary commanders of the day. Furthermore, there was a large civilian contingent of merchants, artisans, craftsmen and others, together with their wives and camp followers. The baggage train stretched for over a mile. The intention was to set up a trading post as far east as possible. As the expedition passed through the lands of the Border Princes it gathered further contingents motivated by a sense of adventure. When it reached the Dwarf Kingdom, several Dwarf contingents joined the column, notably Slayers, attracted by the generally held belief that the expedition was doomed. In 1699 the expedition, now numbering over a thousand Tileans and various other mercenaries, left Karaz-a-Karak for the east, travelling up the Worlds Edge Mountains to the Road of Skulls and beyond.[6b][6c]

It was many years before anyone in Tilea heard of the fate of the expedition or what they had discovered. Then in 1714 a merchant caravan of pack yaks arrived at Verezzo, laden down with bundles of silk. With the bales of silk came a message from Ricco and Robbio explaining they were now residing in the westernmost outpost of the Empire of Cathay. It was now clear that there was no eastern route to Ulthuan or Lustria. The world was indeed flat and much much larger than anyone could have imagined. Instead of Elves, the Tileans had encountered an entirely unknown realm. Indeed it was a populous empire of vast extent and unimaginable wealth. Apparently Ricco and Robbio had not been permitted to enter the Empire of Cathay because, as the Cathayans had politely explained, they were hairy and uncouth barbarians. However, the Dragon Emperor Wu had been intrigued by these strangers. He had been delighted with the return of the banner of his Palace Guard and was gratified to receive the submission and tribute of the entire land of Tilea - which was a ruse pulled by the cunning Ricco and Robbio in order to avoid being summarily beheaded. The Emperor had agreed to hire the entire expedtion having been impressed by a battle in which the mercenaries had held off a Cathayan army which, although small by Cathayan standards had in fact outnumbered the Tileans by about three to one.[6c]

Since that time a mercantile quarter has flourished in Shang-Yang which is the westernmost of the Cathayan fortress towns on the Silk Road. This is the name by which the trade route to Cathay, opened up by Ricco and Robbio has become known. Trading caravans go along this route very rarely and only a few reach their destination due to the terrible hazards of the journey and the scourge of the Hobgobla Khan and his great horde which, when all his loyal tribes are drawn up for battle, is said to extend from horizon to horizon. The mercenaries in Shang-Yang have become 'guests' of the Emperor of Cathay and valued warriors in his service. The Emperor uses these troops to help defend his western frontier against the wrath of Hobgobla Khan. Of course by doing this, the Tileans serve their own interests by keeping open the Silk Road.[6c]

The Ivory Road

Ogre caravan guards on the Ivory Road.

Another name for this route is the Ivory Road, although it's not clear whether there are differences between Ricco's and Robbio's path and this one. Nevertheless, it is often said to be the only traversable way from the Old World through the hazards of the East and into the heartlands of Grand Cathay, and even then the journey is fraught with peril. The caravans that travel it are almost like nomadic towns; such is their scale that a Great Caravan can reach a full mile in length. They are heavily defended, as they have to travel through some of the most dangerous and hostile areas on the face of the world. Caravans are regularly beset by marauding wolf riders, Chaos Dwarfs, Skaven, Giants, Goblins, Ogres, Black Orcs, cave-beasts, Hobgoblins, giant scorpions and dark things that stalk the shadows in the moonlight. As a result, a caravan will typically employ whole families of Ogre mercenaries to act as caravan guards.[10e]

The Ivory Road passes from various cities of the Old World through the Worlds Edge Mountains, past the Dwarfen hold of Karak Drazh and along Death Pass. It winds through the treacherous, haunted mountains until they pan out into the Dark Lands, where it passes to the north of the Goblin-infested Mount Grimfang and angles north-east towards the Howling Wastes. In the midst of this realm stand the gigantic standing stones known as the Sentinels. As the journey to this landmark passes through the heart of the industrial wasteland that are the Chaos Dwarf realms, only a heavily guarded caravan stands any chance of arriving in one piece. The Sentinels act as a trading post for rhinoxen, furs, provisions and other equipment necessary for a sustained trek through the mountains and a caravan will often change guard in this location before heading off on the next leg of its journey. From the Sentinels, the Ivory Road forks, with the main road continuing east, and the secondary road - the Spice Route - travelling south to the trading settlement of Pigbarter at the mouth of the polluted River Ruin. This is by far the safer route, for once a traveller has made his way past the stinking sulphur pits of the Desolation of Azgorh, he finds himself in the wild and largely deserted homelands of the Gnoblars until he reaches civilisation, or something approaching it.[10e][10f]

The Ivory Road runs alongside one of the tributaries of the River Ruin high into the mountains. There it faces a new set of dangers, amongst them the tribes of the Ogres and their Gnoblar slaves. Bizarrely, it is the latter that pose more of a problem to the caravans: 'civilised' Ogres, and specially those under the rule of Greasus Goldtooth, have a healthy respect for the great caravans and in general will not attack them unless in direst need. Not only that, but it is easy to see an Ogre raid coming and defend accordingly. Not so with the light fingered, mean-spirited Gnoblar scrappers (often called Magpies by the caravan's staff) that seem to get just about everywhere and make off with anything they can carry for their own tiny imitation scrap-caravans. If a Great Caravan makes it through the Ogre Kingdoms, fending off predatory sabretusk packs, feral Gorgers, hungry cave bears and worse, all the while withstanding the harsh climate and sub-zero temperatures, it will eventually cross the Mountains of Mourn and emerge into the Ancient Giant Holds. The Ivory Road joins one of the mountain passes crossing through this colossal range, winding around enormous chunks of masonry that were once the foundation stones of a city of castles in the sky belonging to the Skytitans. The deserted city of megaliths is amongst the safest areas the Ivory Road passes through, as the Ancient Giant Holds are haunted by little more than shadows and movements seen out of the corner of the eye.[10f]

Once the caravans have passed through the mountains and emerged on the other side, they rumble into the Baleful Deserts in the north-east of Cathay. Heavy metal screens are erected to protect against the hazards of this barren desert, and much of this period of the journey is spent sealed within the caravans. After all, almost nothing lives in the deserts aside from the odd Ogre pilgrim and the razor-limbed, black-carapaceed giant insects that burst from under the vitrified sand in showers of glass to attack unwary prey. Nonetheless, there are a host of other dangers the caravan faces on its way through the desert, and all are far more insidious. Sickness, cabin fever, starvation, dehydration, mutation and poisoning are all likely to occur as the caravan makes the last leg of its journey before desert finally turns to rice field and the caravan rumbles into Great Cathay. It is a testament to the vast riches that can be amassed by a successful caravan trading mission, or perhaps to plain human greed, that such a hazardous journey should be undertaken in the name of commerce.[10f]

Recent relations

"Sorry, my Reikspiel is a little unpracticed, err, you are... uncouth... brutish... err, primitive, backword, yes? Do you understand my meaning, westener?"

—Adjunct to His Imperial Majesty, Zhao Ming, the Eighth Lord of Shang-Yang, Dragon of the iron Winds[38]

To this day, little is known of the East and Cathay to the scholars of the Old World, and of that most is rumour and speculation. It is a long and perilous journey to Cathay from the Old World, whether across the Dark Lands and the Mountains of Mourn, or by sea around the jungle-covered Southlands. However silks, ivory and other luxuries fetch high prices in the markets of the Old World, and so there are always those foolish or greedy enough to risk such journeys.[11b][11c]

In the Empire, the Helstorm Rocket Battery was inspired by a particularly impressive fireworks display of a Cathayan emissary to Altdorf. Early prototypes blew apart an entire floor of the Imperial Engineers School, but the soot-blackened Engineers, led by Master Engineer Herman Faulkstein, persevered and succeeded in creating a deadly, if unpredictable, weapon.[24a][25a]

Throughout the early decades of the 24th century (Imperial Calendar), Don Diego Estragon, Estalian merchant and explorer, worked to acquire a vast amount of wealth. He owned a fleet of ships that sailed the globe and regularly traded with Arabyan and Cathayan merchants and occasionally even the people and other races of Lustria. His mansion in Magritta rivalled that of the local Prince, and it is said that the man attracted as many enemies as he did sycophants and lovers. He survived many assassination attempts and many slanderous attacks on his character, including some that stated that he was secretly a mage who practiced the Dark Arts. Estragon seemed to weather all of these attacks – be they with words or swords – with grace and good humour. Though many envied his wealth, prestige, and success, few could deny that he was an affable, charismatic man whose boldness and bravado were admirable. In 2348, Estragon set off with a great fleet of ships, each loaded to the gunwales with trade goods from all over the Old World. Estragon planned to circumnavigate the globe and trade with merchants, craftsmen, and artisans of all kinds. If the trip had proved successful, Estragon would have returned with more than a king's ransom in exotic goods and could well have become the richest man in the Old World. Neither Estragon nor any of his ships or crews, however, returned from the voyage. At the time of his disappearance, he was known to possess at least two magical items from Cathay - the Cursed Chest (a box that held treasures so valuable that they could feed a nation for a year if only the curse could be lifted), and the Cathayan Robe (an enchanted garment said to increase the power of wizards who wear it).[21]

More recently, the famed Cathayan sorceror Lin Li Chun toured the Old World with his wife, stopping in L'Anguille, Marienburg, and Ubersreik.[27a][27b]

In recent times, The Empire and Cathay have had formal diplomatic contact, sending ambassadors to each other's capitals. The current Cathayan ambassador to The Empire is Yabo Chao. She was appointed to the post after the previous ambassador Dien Ch'ing was exposed as an imposter and Chaos Cultist of Tzeentch.


Not much is known about the presence of vampires in the Far East, but when Marco Polare reached Cathay circa 1247 IC[20c] he wrote about legends of immortal eunuch sorcerers that drank the souls of men. These could be the descendants of either Maatmeses, the very fat and very corrupt chief justice of Lahmia or Harakhte, the brilliant and sinister court vizier of Neferata. These two members of the First Children vanished out of history when Vashanesh allowed Alcadizaar the Conqueror to kill him in order to break Nagash's control over the vampires. Most believe they were killed by Nagash, but it is also possible they journeyed elsewhere and created their own lines.[19a] As already mentioned above, it is known that Nehekhara and ancient Cathay had some trade contact.[19b]


"The legions of the Dragon work in harmony. As the claw strikes, the tail sweeps. Those that bark orders in a disharmonious way will struggle to wield Cathay's war hosts, but thankfully such fools never reach the rank of Grand General."

—Ye Jia, strategist of the Celestial Court[38]

A Cathayan warrior with exotic weaponry and armour.

Cathayan armies are exceptionally powerful, but then they have to be, for the Cathayans fight not only against rampaging Hobgoblins, Chaos Marauders and jungle primitives, but also the might of the island race of Nippon.[1o] The north of Cathay is protected from the attacks of the Hung tribes by the Great Bastion - a massive wall that stretches for hundreds of miles, and large enough to require a garrison tens of thousands strong. The armies of Cathay are said to be innumerable, and draw exotic warriors from all across the realm, including fierce hill people, strange warrior monks and well-disciplined armies supported by heavily armoured warriors and ornate cannons.[11c]

The mainstay of the Grand Imperial Army of Cathay are the numerous Bannermen, oath-sworn and stalwart warriors that wear emerald green back banners, wield long curved swords, wicked polearms and crossbows, and are famous for standing their ground however badly outnumbered.[18b] The Dragon Emperor's bodyguard, known as the Palace Guard, is known to wear lacquered scale armour and to display banners with Dragon motifs.[5b][6c]

Before the arrival of the Great Maw, the Cathayans passed the secret of fire to the nomadic tribes of Ogres, and in return begun to recruit the more intelligent Ogres into the Grand Imperial Army.[10a] Nowadays, Ogre Maneaters can fight as mercenaries in the Grand Empire of Cathay, which leads them to wear fine cloth under lacquered bamboo armour and wield finely balanced Cathayan longswords[10c] - master-crafted blades that are of great value to the Ogres because they will remain eternally sharp. With the strength of an Ogre behind them, these blades can cause one hell of a mess.[10d]

Gunpowder technology is known in Cathay, and is used both in ornate, snarling-mouthed bronze cannons that shoot clusters of bronze javelins, and in enchanted fireworks of lambent green and ice white light, that turn the night into a rippling phantasm of spectral figures which turn and roar in a crazed display.[18b]

The Cathayan fleet is known to patrol the Far Sea. Comprising of lithe war-junks and powerful turtle-ships, they protect the coasts from the enemies of their empire.[28a]

Cathayan warriors (or at least their officers) study military treatises, such as Tzu-Sun's[5b], and learn acrobatic martial arts to some degree[5d]. The Skaven of Clan Eshin learnt them too when they arrived in the Far East, as well as stealth and assassination skills.[23a] The black-clad Gutter Runners and Assassins of Clan Eshin are as stealthy as shadows. They can sprint as fast as galloping horses, skitter their way up sheer surfaces, and disappear in clouds of night-black smoke with a swirl of their garotte-lined cloaks.[16c] Of all of Clan Eshin’s warriors, though, the Adept Assassin is the most feared and reviled. These Skaven are masters in all of the techniques learnt in Cathay and bring to bear an incredible array of fighting techniques that allow them to eclipse the greatest human killers. Using a host of weapons from the throwing star and blowgun to the repeating crossbow and an arsenal of poisons, these dealers of death are blamed for the majority of suspicious murders in both Skaven and Dwarf societies, not to mention those untimely deaths in the human lands by those who do not deny the Skaven menace.[20e] They also copied craftsmanship techniques from Cathay and Nippon to make smoke bombs - small fragile grenades filled with an explosive powder that detonates with a flash on impact.[20f] It is unclear how many of these techniques and skills are actually Cathayan, as they could also have been taken from Nippon and Ind, or developed within the very Clan Eshin after copying the basics from humans.

But the armies of the Dragon Emperor also include more esoteric forces. During the Chaos invasion of Cathay in the year 1310, hordes of Chaos Warriors battled legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the sundered Great Bastion with their own clay bodies, mutated War Mammoths gored and trampled whole regiments of one-horned Ogres, and in the skies above Daemon Princes duelled with bejewelled Gold Dragons.[16b] Some heroes ride Ki-rin, unicorn-like beasts that ride storms and sport lightning manes.[2a] Records of travellers tell of the mystic brotherhoods of monks who can kill you with a touch of their hand, and the strange monkey warriors living high in the Mountains of Heaven.[8a] There are also statues of living stone, similar to Nehekharan Ushabti, in the shape of guardian stone dogs and flying crow-men.[2b][18b] The Dragon Emperor is said to command water snakes of extraordinary speed as his pets.[29a]

Cathayan units are sorted between Yin and Yang, following the two main lores of magic used in the nation: Yin units are better at raining barrages to stop the enemy from getting close, while Yang units are more skilled in striking back at the foe with melee armaments.


  • Dragon-Blooded Shugengan Lord - While relatively rare, the ancient nature of the Dragon siblings means their many own progeny now exist within Grand Cathay. They often rise to positions of power, not least out of respect for their heritage, but also due to the power that comes from being a part of the family. The Dragon-blooded, as they are known, are inevitably skilled combatants, natural sorcerers, and talented leaders. As you can imagine, their lineage can be a source of some jealousy and resentment from high-ranking mortals, especially when the Dragon-blooded allow their abilities to develop into arrogance.[34] As the magic-wielders of Grand Cathay, the Dragon-blooded fight with either the lore of Yang or the lore of Yin. Each takes its power from the Celestial Dragon Emperor and is a unique school passed down through the ages.[34] They can mount Warhorse or Jade Longma.[34]
  • Lord Magistrate - Be they generals or lords of one of Grand Cathay’s gargantuan cities, Magistrates are some of the best the Empire has to offer. While not the greatest single combatants of their nation, they are expert commanders, inspiring and directing their troops with the skill and efficiency that comes only from years of experience in real battles. If they are engaged, they are melee warriors capable of holding their own against most enemies.[34] In particularly large engagements, Magistrates may ride aboard a Sky Lantern, commanding their troops from above with a more strategic view of the battlefield. It also, as you can imagine, keeps them somewhat out of harm’s way – a priority for some, if not all. Their true strength lies in their ability to bring the best of Grand Cathay to the fore, vastly increasing the bonuses received by troops working in Harmony with one another.[34] They can mount Warhorse or Sky Lantern.[34]


  • Cathayan Alchemists - The lores of Yin and Yang are not the only magics practiced in Grand Cathay, though they are the most favoured. Alchemists gravitate to the Iron Dragon in the West and the city of Shang-Yang precisely because he is uncommonly accepting of their talents and practices. Over the years this has grown into a powerful cabal that often sees its members hired by generals all over the empire, as their capabilities are far beyond that of most mortals.[34] Their potions imbue them with spells from the Lore of Metal, as well as giving them unique buffs that can be applied to themselves or nearby units, providing massive bonuses to attack or armour.[34]
  • Cathayan Astromancers - are the accepted Sorcerers of Grand Cathay, practicing the Celestial Dragon Emperor’s favoured lore of Heavens and harnessing it to an expert level thanks to the natural affinity between their leader and the Azyr wind. After more than five thousand years of perfecting the art, they are quite adept, and only more so when riding to battle aboard the Wu Xing War Compass.

Cathayan Infantry

  • Peasant Long Spearmen - The backbone of Grand Cathay is its people, and they are numerous beyond count. While the Celestial Dragon Emperor is wise and his children are benevolent leaders to the people under their command, they understand with the detachment of immortality that the one thing they will always have is more bodies. More men and women to man the battlements, more fighters to hold the line, more defenders to make the forces arrayed against them fight for every inch. Thus, the least-trained armies of Grand Cathay are still a power to be reckoned with through sheer force of numbers. Unlike the hired soldiers or lower classes of other factions, the Warriors of Wind & Field, as they are known, feel a fierce loyalty to their cause and the Dragons that watch over them. They may buckle and even break, but they know their role.
  • Jade Warriors - These warriors are Grand Cathay’s line troops. They are the standing army, expertly trained and well equipped to defend from Ogres, rebels, Chaos, or anything else that might come wandering in from the West and North. Each city maintains its own regiment of Jade Warriors, and few make their home outside of one of the metropolises that dot the landscape of Grand Cathay. In times of war, they will head to battle armed in numerous possible ways, collectively known as the Warriors of Jade & Steel. The ranged firepower of Grand Cathay is what breaks the enemy, but the Jade Warriors, so named for the Celestial Dragon Emperor’s sacred stone must hold the line and cut down enemies who think them weak.
  • Celestial Dragon Guard - Grand Cathay’s elite soldiers are officially the legion of the Dragon Emperor, his loyal defenders. As the Eastern Empire has expanded, more and more Dragon Guard have been added to the Celestial Host, which now numbers enough that they can be dispatched to battlefields all over the East. Their arrival represents an exponential increase in power for the army, not least for the morale boost it gives the soldiers to see such a direct connection to their Emperor.
  • Dragon Monks - Members of an ancient and powerful order, many of these masters of unarmed combat outlived many more failed peers, who failed to meet their strict requirements or survive their first fight with any of the monks.

Cathayan Missile Infantry

  • Cathyan Peasant Archer - Archery is considered a noble and useful pastime in Grand Cathay, and young girls are especially encouraged to follow the path of the Moon Empress into ranged combat. Thus, even the lowest in society will have a well-maintained bow within their household and be more than capable of drawing it to defend their home. Naturally, however, they are not particularly well equipped, and are more deterrent than professionals.
  • Iron Hail Gunners - The closest weapon in Cathay to an Old World shotgun, the Iron Hail Gun is a short-range blunderbuss that can rip through almost anything if positioned correctly. The gunners themselves are lightly armoured, making them vulnerable if surprised and quite the glass cannon of a unit. However, should they bring their guns to bear even for a moment, nevermind a sustained period, it spells doom for even the heaviest warriors.
  • Crane Gunners - The mighty Crane Gun requires two people to lift, set up, and fire. One is positioned at the trigger, ready to sight and shoot anything in a massive range. The other carries the tower shield on which the gun rests, steadying the shooter as well as providing built-in cover. It is a specialist device for the highly trained, but it can be devastatingly effective when properly employed. Range and precision are nothing to scoff at, especially if they are pointed at your head.
  • Jade Warrior Crossbowmen - Crossbowmen are the ranged backbone of the Grand Cathayan army, assigned to Jade Warriors and Dragon Guard who show an aptitude for shooting rather than stabbing. While Grand Cathay brings powerful magics and giant machinery to war, it is less ever-present in their armies than other factions. Sorcerers are an important, precious resource, while the construction required for a lantern or War Compass may be beyond the poorer cities. The crossbow is as close to industrialised production as the hand-crafted weapons in Grand Cathay get, though there will still be subtle differences between the direction of one master artificer and another. This makes the Jade Warriors equipped with crossbows a mainstay of city defence, entrusted to outrange their opponents and defeat them before they get within striking distance.
  • Celestial Dragon Crossbowmen - When the Celestial Host – the combined name for the various sections of the Dragon Guard – makes war, it does so in style and with power. The Dragon Crossbows are repeating powerhouses, with armour-piercing bolts to rip through almost anything and fierce training to keep up the fire. Shielded, with the best armour in Grand Cathay, very little can stand up to a hail of bolts from these troops.


  • Peasant Horsemen - As they are everywhere in the world, the horse is the most common steed and beast of burden in Grand Cathay. Plenty of the peasantry learn to ride as part of their duties and carrying goods or information across the great distances of the nation is tantamount to its survival. Thus, when called to war, many can mount up and act as scouts or harrying attackers for larger armies. They are the fastest Cathayan unit that cannot fly, and they are sent ahead of the main army as scouts and raiders to stop enemy advances.
  • Jade Lancers - Put a Jade Warrior, with all their training, all their armour, and all their power on a horse, and this is what you get. Grand Cathay’s mainstay cavalry is a hard-hitting, well-armoured force. Often the Jade Lancers are part of scouting groups that head beyond the Great Bastion to break up and destroy Chaos tribes in the region before they can gather their power and be a threat. Doing so is as dangerous as it is necessary.
  • Great Longma Riders - Dragon-blooded who are yet to rise to their own prominence or prefer a place within the Celestial Host for the honour it brings often become Great Longma Riders. Flying to battle alongside other elements of the Celestial Host, they are the solution to endless problems on the battlefield, from enemy flyers to the hardiest of ground troops.

War Constructs

  • Terracotta Sentinel - Grand Cathay’s ancient protectors, the Terracotta Sentinels are remnants of an era long past, when the Celestial Dragon Emperor was an active leader in the nation’s armies. Tales of their creation range from the believable to the legendary, that each was a personally-blessed soldier of the Dragon Emperor in a great army to fend off Chaos in its earliest years.  True or not, they stand sentinel all over Cathay, often silent and still for centuries, overlooking paddy fields or partially submerged in rivers, or even as stanchions in the Great Bastion itself. But the light within will burn and the statue will finally move if summoned to a nearby threat. The ultimate warrior in defending Cathay's settlements in armies, it lays waste to anything unlucky enough to approach it. Such is its strange nature and looks, that it strikes deep terror in the hearts of any enemy who is sent to fight it.
  • Terracotta Automatons - Lesser versions of the well-known sentinels, these clay sentinels were among the footsoldiers of Cathay's armies.
  • Crow-men - Constructs of onyx that fight in Cathay's armies. They harass the enemies of Cathay by tossing them into the air and piercing them with their talons.
  • Temple Dogs - Animated by the gods of Cathay's temples, these dedicated stone guardians emerge from their sanctuaries to guard their homeland when invasions strike. In Cathay, it is considered a great honour from the gods to ride on one of these.

Flying War Machines

  • Kongming Sky Lantern - Sky Lanterns serve dual purpose on the battlefield. They are often crewed by magistrates or other commanders that can oversee and direct the troops below, using a complex system of fans and smoke. However, they are also crewed by four Crane Gunners, sitting in an armoured carriage held aloft by the balloon, itself in place thanks to an ever-burning Vermillion Warbird. It is generally agreed they have a lot more fun than their land-locked cousins, and its pilots help landborne armies detect hidden enemies within foilage, making their allies more confident in hunting the foe down. And if the foe tries to assail the armies of Cathay, the Sky Lantern provides fire support with its Crane Gunners.
  • Kongming Sky-junk - The Sky-Junk is more warship than a simple battlefield unit. Its humongous size supports great guns that project shrapnel at oncoming hordes, wiping out whole battlelines. Within the armoured carrier beneath the main balloon are a host of bombs ready to be dropped on those below. During times of great danger fleets of Sky-Junks are seen floating from the Great Bastion, moving steadily towards the latest threat and fully intending to wipe it out. Compared to the Sky-Lanterns, the Kongming Sky-junks are deadlier, more fit to rain down fire and doom to massed hosts and hordes alike.

Artillery and War Machines

  • Grand Cannon - Oxen carry the artillery of Grand Cathay to war, pulling these guns to battle from the city walls and Great Bastion they usually inhabit. More suited to firing from on-high, these cannons will still rip apart anything they gain sighting on but benefit greatly from smartly used terrain. Shaped like dragons and belching flaming projectiles, they are not a subtle representation of Grand Cathay’s power. While being Grand Cathay’s most basic form of artillery, they still pack a huge punch, more than capable of toppling monsters or city walls. The flaming, armour-piercing projectiles will make short work of smaller foes placed in their path. The Oxen pulling it make it, and other Cathayan artillery, more mobile than counterparts from other factions.
  • Wu-Xing War Compass - Perhaps the oddest part of Grand Cathay’s armoury to an outsider, this miniaturised version of the great Compass engraved into the floor of the Celestial Court high above Wei-jin is a powerful tool for manipulation of the Elemental Winds. Imbued with the power of the Heavens and intricately designed as a weapon of war, meteors and lightning storms are summoned in its wake. While expensive to build and maintain, they are a truly unique weapon. A mounted spellcaster with access to unique, long-range spells that deal extreme damage to enemy formations. More than capable of tearing up the ground and crashing headlong into enemy forces – making it a Yang-aligned unit, but one with significant ranged prowess. It Regains its own power with increased speed thanks to control over the elemental winds.
  • Fire Rain Rocket - The ultimate in ranged firepower for the armies of Grand Cathay, these rocket launchers spray the battlefield with deadly, explosive projectiles. Vital for pitched battles as well as taking or defending settlements, their rockets equally effective against almost all targets and the arc of their fire easily penetrating enemy walls. While the impact is widespread at long-range, this is only more effective against massed legions of enemies. It has an inferior range but greatly improved firepower over the Grand Cannon. Cathayan artillery pieces have a higher than usual number of support staff on-hand, making them that much harder to wipe out if caught.


Cathayan Magic

Magic has a long history among the humans of Cathay. In their tradition, Dark Magic and High Magic (known as yin and yang, respectively) are both held as sacred energies. Sometimes Cathayans use jet to craft fine pendants, bowls, rings or other trinkets that serve as protective amulets against all forms of hostile magic, excepting for those two and, for some reason, Ogre Gut Magic.[10g]

The strongest school of magic appears to be Astromancy - Dragon Emperor had a coven of astromancers already circa -2750 IC, and they were so powerful that some credit them with the summoning of the warpstone meteor that crashed in the Ogre homelands and created the Great Maw.[10a][16d][17a] Celestial Magic is still important in the Empire of the Celestial Dragon, as the Tower of Ashshair kept watch for signs and portents of woe and threats from distant lands, and when it was attacked by Sayl the Faithless around 2509, his vanguard forces were crushed under a comet brought down by magical means.[18b]

Another magical feat of this great empire was the overturning and sinking of the Dark Elf Black Ark Talon of Agony in 860 with a gigantic magical tidal wave off the coast of Cathay.[4b]

Some, if not all, Cathayan wizards are known as Shugengan, and are said to have Dragon blood in their veins. They are able to hurl blasts of white fire and blizzards of murderous ice-shards against their foes.[18b]

Clan Eshin also learnt from Cathayan sorcerers, blending what they already knew of the warp with the techniques used in Cathay to develop their own lore, one that serves to enhance their Clan’s power and mystique - the Lore of Stealth. These spells are designed to augment the stealth, speed, and strength of the Clan’s attack forces, and none are quite sure whether Clan Eshin Skaven’s legendary skills have ever been completely mundane. Clan Eshin guards the secrets of this art to ensure that none of the rival Clans learn the answer. For this reason, Eshin Sorcerers are mysterious, rare, and keep to themselves; they are well aware that the Grey Seers brook no competition from other Skaven spellcasters.[20g][20j]

The Cathayans perceive the 8 winds of magic as Elemental Winds. Corresponding to the Old World they are: Water (Lore of Life), Fire (Lore of Fire), Wood (Lore of Beasts), Metal (Lore of Metal), Stone (Lore of Heavens), Light (Lore of Light), Spirit (Lore of Death) and Darkness (Lore of Shadows). The Cathayan Dragons are masters of all the elements and practice "Feng Shi" which is effectively High Magic. The Shugengan practice the lores of Yin and Yang which consists of a certain amalgamation or divisions of the Eight Winds. The Lore of Yin is composed of the lores of Beasts, Metal, Death and Shadows whereas the lore of Yang is a combination of the lores of Life, Fire, Heavens and light. The Dragon Emperor has ultimate mastery of the Lore of Yang and the Moon Empress is the master of the Lore of Yin. [37]

The lore of Yang

The lore of Yang focuses on buffing allies with resolute belief or disrupting enemies with walls of wind. In particularly dire situations it can also unleash mighty explosions upon the enemy, bringing with it the power of the Celestial Dragon Emperor himself. Their spells are…[34]

  • Jade Shield
  • Dragon’s Breath
  • Wall of Wind & Fire
  • Stone Ground Stance
  • Might of Heaven & Earth
  • Constellation of the Dragon

The lore of Yin

The lore of Yin is a more esoteric school, with the power to reflect projectiles or summon the ghosts of the dead to assist in battle. Those who practice it can shield their allies behind obfuscation and remove foes in the dead of night. Their spells are…

  • Storm of Shadows
  • Cloak of Jet
  • Missile Mirror
  • Blossom Wind
  • Talons of Night
  • Ancestral Warriors

Cathayan Characters

See also: Category:Cathayan Characters
  • Yabo Chao - current Cathayan ambassador to The Empire.
  • Dien Ch'ing - previous ambassador, revealed as an imposter and Chaos Cultist.
  • Yin-Tuan - famous Cathayan explorer and adventurer.
  • Lin Li Chun - Cathayan wizard and traveller.
  • Xen Yang - Ruler of Grand Cathay.
  • Monkey King - One-time challenger to the throne.
  • Hong Fu Chu - Chaos Cultist in Marienburg.
  • Miao Ying - Supreme Matriarch of Nan-Gau, ruler of the Northern Provinces.
  • Zhao Ming - Ruler of the Western Provinces and Lord of Shang Yang.
  • Li Dao - Lord of the Southern Provinces and the Mountains of Heaven.
  • Yin-Yin - Lord of the Eastern Provinces and Admiral of the Grand Dragon Fleet.
  • Yuan Bo - Lord of the Central Provinces and Administrator of the Realm.
  • Quai Yin - Wife of Dragon Emperor, helping to her husband Dragon Emperor for ruling Grand Cathay.


  • While previously only mentioned in the background, Games Workshop and Creative Assembly created a Cathay faction for Total Warhammer III.[31] It was influenced by Western pop culture depictions of China, and in Total War: Warhammer III, it was influenced by the Ming Dynasty and Total War: Three Kingdoms.
  • Cathay (/kæˈθeɪ/) is the Anglicised version of "Catai" and an alternative name for China in English. It originates from the word Khitan (Chinese: 契丹; pinyin: "Qìdān"), the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who later migrated west after they were overthrown by the Jurchens to form the Qara Khitai centred on today's Kyrgyzstan for another century thereafter. Originally, "Catai" was the name applied by Central and Western Asians and Europeans to northern China; the name was also used in Marco Polo's book on his travels in China (he referred to southern China as "Manji"). The Chinese name for Warhammer's Cathay is 震旦 (Zhèndàn), which itself was an ancient name for China used in Buddhist treatises. It was derived from a Sanskrit name for China, Cīna-sthāna (चीनस्थान).
  • In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise.



Converted Miniatures

The following are Cathayan-themed miniatures converted by Dave Taylor to fit with a Bretonnian army list. They were published on White Dwarf #314 (UK edition), but they were never stated to be Games Workshop's official concept of the armies of Cathay.[32a]


  • https://www.totalwar.com/blog/total-war-warhammer-iii-faq/ (accessed 31 May 2021)
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