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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 Gods 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 and Administrator of the Realm, referring to the Chaos Gods.[38]

Grand Cathay[10a], often simply called Cathay and also known as Imperial Cathay[1a], the "Silk Lands,"[29a] the Empire of the Celestial Dragon[8a], the Kingdom of the Dragon[8a], Great Cathay[10d], the "Eastern Empire,"[48a] the Grand Empire of Cathay[11b] and the Celestial Empire[18b], is a populous empire of Men ruled by a family of immortal Cathayan Dragons located in the Far East of the Known World, beyond the Dark Lands and the Mountains of Mourn. Grand Cathay is the largest, most populous, most powerful and most important of the nations of Men in the Far East, and possibly in the entire world.

To the north, with the massive, defensive fortifications of the magical Great Bastion as a border, lie the Eastern Steppes and the territories of the Chaos-worshipping Hung and Kurgan nomadic 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 the continent of Naggaroth. To the south are the Kingdoms of Ind and the Hinterlands of Khuresh.[11a]


Lure of the Far East


A jade Cathayan Dragon figurine, which Tzarina Katarin Bokha used to represent the forces of Grand Cathay to the troops of Kislev. Note the Dragon is wearing a breastplate and has pauldrons, and holds a globe in its hands.

Past the Worlds Edge Mountains and across the Great Skull Land, on the other side of the Mountains of Mourn and the vast Eastern Steppes, begin the lands uncharted by the inhabitants of the Old World. Only a single path travels to the east from the Old World, known as the Silk Road in the west and the Ivory Road in the east. It runs through the untamed steppes until its destination, the fabled land of Grand Cathay.[8a]

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 Far East.[8a]

Cathay TOW

The northwestern provinces of Grand Cathay, including the Imperial Provinces, the Northern Provinces and the Western Provinces in ca. 2276 IC.

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 Dragon Emperor. Many strange creatures are said to live in the land of Cathay, from serpentine Cathayan 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 foot soldiers of the Dragon Emperor, the mystic brotherhoods of monks who can kill 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 largely a realm of legend to the peoples of the Old World.[8a]

However, there has been some interactions of great note between the Far East and the Old World beyond the stories, myths and fables. Armanda de Pantaleon (1768 – 1831 IC) was a Tilean trader and devotee of the god of commerce Mercopio who, inspired by stories from the famed Tilean explorer Marco Colombo, introduced paper money to the western realms of the Old World. Paper money had been used in Grand Cathay for generations, allowing merchants flexibility in their transactions. Armanda attempted to replicate this but was forced to abandon her efforts when they narrowly escaped the ire of a local princeling, who did not understand the finer points of financial theories.[39a]



The floating palaces of Grand Cathay as depicted in Warhammer: The Old World.

The Dragon Emperor Xen Yang and his wife, the Moon Empress Quai Yin, are immensely old, having existed on the Known World even prior to the arrival of the Old Ones and their reshaping of the planet. They were not pleased when the Old Ones moved the planet closer to its sun, warming the climate and making it less comfortable for Dragons such as themselves, most of whom are now in hibernation as a result. They were also not pleased with the coming of Chaos during the Great Catastrophe, which they blamed on the unnecessary meddling of the Old Ones with the natural order.[35]

The Dragon Emperor is said to have unified the Men of the Far East into the Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay in the distant past, sometime prior to -1800 IC. In that ancient time, he and the Moon Empress took a much more active role in leading Grand Cathay, and this was the time during which the Great Bastion was first constructed to protect the Cathayan people from the predations of the Chaos Wastes and the Terracotta Sentinels were also first created at that time to aid in that defence.[35]

At present, the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress spend most of their time in the Celestial City that floats majestically above the crowded streets of Wei-Jin, contemplating the future of the empire. They leave the mundane tasks of day-to-day rule and administration of the empire to their five Cathayan Dragon children and various Human nobles, military commanders and bureaucrats.[35]

From 1999 IC to 2387 IC, the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress disappeared from Cathay. During this time, their children quarreled with each other, and Cathay effectively became divided into a collection of bickering, warring individual states. At the height of the crisis, the Monkey King claimed the throne of Grand Cathay in the Celestial City. This finally caused the Dragon Emperor's children to end their in-fighting and face the true threat to the empire, and the crisis ended when the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress returned and reclaimed their thrones.[35]

The Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress are revered throughout Grand Cathay as great leaders worthy of obedience and adoration, and speaking ill of them is a quick way to get oneself killed by the common people. Additionally, as enormously potent spellcasters, Emperor and Empress' magical power is comparable to most of the gods of the mortal races such as the Elven and Old World pantheons.[35]

However, they are very much not deities themselves -- in the sense of being created in the Realm of Chaos through the belief of mortals -- and they do not wish to be worshipped in a religious sense. In fact they are older than most of the gods of the mortal races (eg: Sigmar) and view them with a degree of contempt as newcomers to the scene.[35]


The floating palaces of Grand Cathay as depicted in Warhammer: The Old World.

As a result, the religious worship of any gods is unpopular in Grand Cathay and although the Cathayan common people do venerate their ancestors and many small shrines to these spirits can be found in the people's homes, this ancestor worship cannot in any way be considered an organised religion.[35]

The Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress "have a plan" and are "working towards something." This may or may not be in the best long-term interests of the people of Grand Cathay.[35]

The Dragon Emperor unified the myriad states of Cathay into a single empire in -1800 IC.[15a] He ordered the construction of the Great Bastion, a gigantic fortified wall, to protect his new empire against the marauding Chaos tribes of the Hung and Kurgan.

The Dragon Emperor seems to be magically linked in some unknown fashion with the massive structure of the Great Bastion.[35]

The Lore of Heavens is said to be the Dragon Emperor's favoured lore of magic, with Cathay's Astromancers being said to have become experts in harnessing it due to the Dragon Emperor's affinity to the Wind of Azyr.[34]

A Family of Dragons


Concept art for the Cathayan Dragon Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon and ruler of the Northern Provinces, created for Total War: Warhammer III.

Dragons once ruled a large region in the Far Eastern region of the Known World, as they were the dominant intelligent species when the planet was still covered in ice. This rule was cut short when the alien beings known as the Old Ones arrived. They wished to recreate the world in accordance with their own designs, for they had seen that this world would play an important role in the wider destiny of the cosmos, and so they moved it closer to its sun using their vast, arcane knowledge. The warmer climate that resulted was not pleasing to the Dragons, and so most of them entered hibernation. However, a mated pair of Eastern Dragons, Xen Yang and Quai Yin, were powerful enough to avoid having to enter an endless sleep.[35]

With time, the Old Ones began to populate the world with their own creations, among them Mankind, whose primitive tribes eventually spread throughout much of the world. The two Eastern Dragons found a way to magically shapeshift into the form of Humans so that they might influence this new race of beings who entered their domain. The duo eventually came to rule over the tribes of Men that inhabited the lands the Eastern Dragons once roamed. Over the centuries, their rule was formalised as the surrounding civilisation of Men advanced under their leadership. Xen Yang became known to their subjects as the "Dragon Emperor" and his wife Quai Yin as the "Moon Empress," and together the pair ruled the newly founded Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay. As such, the Eastern Dragons and their children became known as "Cathayan Dragons."[35]

When Chaos first entered the world following the destruction of the Old Ones' Polar Gates and the resulting onset of the Great Catastrophe, the Old Ones were either destroyed or abandoned the planet whose destiny they had changed forever. But the Dragon Emperor chose to defend his burgeoning mortal empire. To this end, he created the Great Bastion, a great, magical wall that has stood for millennia against the ever-present threat of Chaos and its mortal and Daemonic servants in the Northern Wastes. Since that time, Chaos has remained the most serious threat to the people of Grand Cathay.[40]

Once, the Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress took an active role in ruling Grand Cathay, dealing with matters of state and diplomacy between the Celestial Empire and the outside world. However, in the present time, the Celestial Dragon Emperor prefers to spend his time in the Celestial City that magically floats above the imperial capital city of Wei-Jin, contemplating the destiny of the empire with his wife, the equally revered Moon Empress. The pair are older than most of the gods of the Old World Pantheon, for they existed when the planet was colder, before even the Old Ones came and pulled it closer to the sun and most of the major mortal races even existed.[41] Yet the Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress are not gods, nor do they wish to be worshipped as such, but they are nevertheless so spectacularly powerful that they are quite detached from the day-to-day running of their empire, which falls to their children to manage.[42]

Miao Ying Storm Dragon Cathay Total War Warhammer III

Concept art for the Cathayan Dragon Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon and ruler of the Northern Provinces, created for Total War: Warhammer III.

Harmony is the driving force behind Cathayan society. The teachings of the Dragon Emperor are such that everyone must work in concert with themselves and the land for the betterment of all and to find their natural place. This quest for harmony drives everything in Cathay, from their magic lores of Yin and Yang to how the Cathayan Dragons govern their people. Far from tyrants or aloof aristocrats, the Cathayan Dragons act as teachers and wardens for the Human populace. They see little point in creating an imbalance between mortals and themselves when the ever-present threat of Chaos will happily destroy them all.[40]

Similarly, the Cathayan Dragons are not treated as gods by their people, nor do they demand worship. They are immensely powerful beings, rulers by magical and physical right rather than mysterious divinity. The iconography of the Cathayan Dragons is common-place and ever-present throughout Cathayan society, but only because they are very real, very present, and very powerful rulers. They are treated by their people with the reverence such powerful and wise beings deserve and speaking ill of them, especially if one is not native to Grand Cathay, is a quick way to get oneself killed.[40]

The Cathayan Dragons often move among the people in Human form. While still evidently far beyond a commoner, they only transform into their true Draconic selves when there is need, embracing their heritage to lay waste to a battlefield and fly far above their military forces. In war, the harmony of the Cathayan way of life is ever-present, their forces acting in concert to lay waste to enemies with devastating precision and calm.[40]

Notable Events

All dates given below are in the Imperial Calendar system commonly used by the scholars of the Old World for the sake of consistency; this is, of course, not the system of dating used by the Cathayans themselves.

  • -2750 IC - A titanic warpstone meteorite plummets from the sky above Cathay and slams into the homelands of the Ogre tribes preying upon that great empire. 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 for too long on the children of the Cathayan empire and that the astromancers of that land took their revenge.[16d][17a]
  • ca. -1800 IC - The Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress unite the Men of the warring states of the Far East into the Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay in a great task that is to change the destiny of these peoples 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 northern border of Grand Cathay. In this way Cathay protects itself from Chaos invasion from the Eastern Steppes and the Chaos Wastes.[15a]
  • -1163 to -1152 IC - The Great Necromancer Nagash declares war upon the Priest Kings of Nehekhara. Alongside other foul creatures, the Vampires lead Nagash's Undead 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 the Nehekharan city-state of Lahmia, and Harakhte, the brilliant and sinister court vizier of Neferata, vanished out of history, though there are rumours of Vampires in far Grand 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 Vampire children of Maatmeses or Harakhte.[19a][19b]
  • ca. 100 IC - Nippon and its empire were considered the epicenter of power in the Far East at this time.[18b]
  • 702 IC - 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]
  • 1103 IC - The Dark Elven raider 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]
  • 1310 IC - A series of earthquakes cause part of the Great Bastion of Cathay to collapse. A truly colossal invasion of the Celestial Empire ensues as scores of the battle-hungry and Chaos-corrupted Kurgan tribes that roam the Eastern Steppes flood into that rich and ancient empire. Hordes of Chaos Warriors battle legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the Great Bastion with their own clay bodies, mutated Chaos 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 Far East.[16b]
  • ca. 2510 IC - Reports from High Elven ship captains brought tales of disaster to the Old World from the furthest lands of the mortal world. In Grand Cathay, the warlords had risen in rebellion against the Mandate of Heaven.[45a]


The Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay is ruled by the Dragon Emperor, Xen Yang, also known as the "Celestial Dragon Emperor[1a][1b]," and his consort the Moon Empress, Quai Yin. Both are immeasurably ancient and immortal Cathayan Dragons.[11] They disdain to be worshipped as gods by mortals, and therefore do not encourage this practice in their subordinates, even if they often magically take on the form of Men to better interact with them. [11]

The names of several different Dragon Emperors are known in the Old World, but this is a mistake made by Old World scholars, who did not understand that the Dragon Emperor is but one immortal ruler. Yet, in truth, the politics of the Celestial Empire are largely driven by the Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress' children, also all Cathayan Dragons, and the ruling sovereigns divide their administrative power between five different provincial groupings, each ruled directly by one of their Draconic offspring.

Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, is the Supreme Matriarch of the bastion city of Nan-Gau, and ruler of the Northern Provinces, while Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, is the ruler of the Western Provinces and lord of the city of Shang-Yang.[11] Li Dao, the Fire Dragon, rules the wild Southern Provinces, while Yin-Yin, the Sea Dragon, rules the Eastern Provinces from the port city of Fu-Chow and the Jade Dragon commands the Central Provinces of Cathay from the city of Shang Wu.

There are also numerous courts in the empire of Grand Cathay, ranging from the Court of the Dragon Emperor -- to which the Moon Empress and his children all nominally belong -- to the Iron Court or the Monkey Court, that govern specific peoples or regions within the empire.[38]

Perhaps the most important of these is the Court of the Jade Dragon, more often simply called the Jade Court. Equal in power to the Celestial Court of the Dragon Emperor, it manages the day-to-day administration of Grand Cathay. With so many different courts and power centres, it is no wonder that western scholars have become confused about the true nature of the Celestial Empire's governance.[38]

Notable Locations

Imperial Provinces


The banner of Xen Yang, the Dragon Emperor, who rules the Imperial Provinces directly with his consort, the Moon Empress Quai Yin.

These northeastern provinces of the Celestial Empire are centred on the Cathayan capital, the sacred city of Wei-Jin which lies on the empire's northern border, and are ruled directly by the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress. The Imperial Provinces are located southwards from the eastern expanse of the Great Bastion, the great magical wall protecting the empire from northern incursions by the barbaric Northmen and the other forces of Chaos, in the northeastern region of Grand Cathay.[36]

The Imperial Provinces are further protected from northern invaders 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 headquartered in Wei-Jin.[36]

Floating above Wei-Jin is the Celestial City, a great 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 powerful magical artefact which allows the Cathayan Dragons to direct the Winds of Magic more precisely to produce powerful, realm-wide magical effects that bolster the empire's economy, population growth and military defences.[36]

The Celestial Lake may be located in this region.

Northern Provinces and the Great Bastion

The northern provinces

Banner of Miao Ying and the Northern Provinces army of Grand Cathay as depicted in Total War: Warhammer III.

The Northern Provinces are located in the northernmost region of Grand Cathay, lying just south of the Eastern Steppes, and this area 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 various war machines for Cathay's armies, such as the Sky-junk. The lords of Nan-Gau are granted more political 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 Grand Cathay's northern border, protecting it from the Hobgoblin Khanate, the Chaos-worshipping barbarians of the Northmen tribes, the Warriors of Chaos, and other invaders from the Eastern Steppes. Along its length are several massive gates, each guarded by a mighty fortress.[36]

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]

Western Provinces

Zhao Ming Banner

The banner of Zhao Ming and the Western Provinces army of Grand Cathay as depicted in Total War: Warhammer III.

The Western Provinces are a relatively remote region in the Cathyan west, 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 suffering Chaos mutation. The desert also contains the Great Maw, and the "Desert Clans" apparently dwell in this region.[36]

The largest Cathayan 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 Chaos forces of the Dolgan Chaos Sorcerer Sayl the Faithless as part of the horde under the command of the Champion of Nurgle known as Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord.[17a][18b]

The Ogre Kingdoms are another constant threat to the people of the Western Provinces, as they often raid trade caravans along the Ivory Road. Meanwhile, the shadowy Skaven of Clan Eshin seem to have established a large subterranean stronghold somewhere in the region.[36]

Central Provinces


The banner of Yuan Bo and the Jade Court, the army of Grand Cathay's Central Provinces, as depicted in Total War: Warhammer III.

The Central Provinces represent the heartland of the Celestial Empire, a region of rivers and fertile farmland which is ruled over by the Jade Dragon Yuan Bo.[44] It is a relatively peaceful regionm, without large internal or external threats. Although even here, danger can lurk in the many forests.[36]

The largest city of the Central Provinces 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 across the empire, with many goods being carried far across Cathay by river boat -- in much the same way as commercial traffic does on the River Reik and River Talabec in the Empire far to the west.[36]

The Celestial Riverlands may be located in the Central Provinces.

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 Grand Cathay is generally a nation that prefers to remain isolated from the other realms of the Known World, eastern Cathay is perhaps the most outwards-looking region of the Celestial Empire, which reflects Yin-Yin's own, personal expansionist tendencies.[36]

The largest of the Eastern Provinces' ports is Fu-Chow, where Yin-Yin rules and Cathay's 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 mortal world. Another notable city of the region is the port of Beichai, which is marred by a dark reputation in the rest of Cathay for being easily corrupted by Chaos. No matter how many times the Cathayan authorities stamp out Chaos Cults in that city, they always seem to resurface.[36]

The Dark Elves are also a persistent 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 Cathayan records.[12b]

Southern Provinces and the Mountains of Heaven

The south of Grand Cathay is a frontier region of bamboo forests 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 who live alongside Men.[36]

The provincial 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 in the Cathayan style shaped like a Vermillion Warbird,[37] and is known for its large population of chanting monks.[5a]

The Mountains of Heaven form the border between southern Cathay and the Kingdoms of Ind further to the southwest. A subsidiary range of the Mountains of Heaven known as the Celestial Mountains stretches to the southwest from the main range into Ind. Ind claims its side of the range as its territory, while Cathay claims the other, but the true power in the mountains is the Monkey King. Although the Cathayan Dragons dislike the Monkey King, they are often forced into a humiliating alliance with him to defend attacks on the region from the Nagas of Khuresh, which lies to the southeast. This is a source of endless, ironic amusement for the Monkey King.[36]

Other Locations

  • Mount Li - Mount Li is the home of a major Cathayan monastery where Yin-Tuan retired as an aged sage after serving as commander of the Palace Guard. He wrote a famous account of his journey through the continents of Lustria and the Southlands.[5a]
    • Li Temple - Deep in the mountains of south-eastern Grand Cathay lies a secluded temple dedicated to the study of the mysteries of Yin and Yang.[44]
  • Shuang Hsi - Shuang Hsi is a Cathayan city that has become renowned since about 2010 IC across the Celestial Empire and beyond for the production of oil burners.[49a]
  • Mangrove Port - Mangrove Port is an outpost and a beacon for adventurers, criminals, pirates and treasure hunters in the Southlands. Founded originally by Cathayans during their brief era of naval exploration, it changed hands numerous times from its foundation and at present it is nominally under the jurisdiction of the Empire.[50a]

Notable Fauna

Ki-rin Cathay Tony Auckland 3rd Edition Black&White Illustration

A Ki-rin of Grand Cathay

In Grand Cathay, there are bears not unlike those of the Old World and the New World -- large, powerful beasts whose skins are prized by all of the mortal 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 Great Longma Riders 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 Cathayan Dragons[8a], others mention bejewelled Gold Dragons.[16b]

There are even tales -- all true! -- that tell the Dragon Emperor of Grand Cathay is actually an immortal Cathayan Dragon in Human shape[11c], and the shugengan wizards are described as "Dragon-blooded," meaning that they are the mixed-blooded Human descendants of the Cathayan Dragons who rule the empire.[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 also a few Eastern Beastmen villages to be found in southern Cathay.

Cathayan Magic

The use of magic has a long history among the Men of Grand Cathay. In Cathayan magical traditions, Dark Magic and High Magic, known as Yin and Yang, respectively, are both held as sacred energies that define the nature of the mortal world. Sometimes Cathayans use jet to craft fine pendants, bowls, rings or other trinkets that serve as protective amulets against all forms of hostile magic, except for Yin and Yang and, for some reason, Ogre Gut Magic.[10g]

The Cathayans perceive the 8 Winds of Magic as what their wizards call "Elemental Winds." Corresponding to the terminology used by the wizards of the Old World the eight Elemental Winds 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 Shadow). The Cathayan Dragons are masters of all the elements at once and practice a form of magic Cathyans call "Feng Shi" which is effectively identical to the High Magic of the Elves.[37]

The strongest lore of magic present in Grand Cathay appears to be astromancy, which wields the Elemental Wind of Stone (Lore of Heavens). The Dragon Emperor maintained a coven of Cathayan Astromancers as early as ca. -2750 IC, and they were so powerful that some credit them with the summoning of the warpstone meteor that crashed in the Ogre homelands to the west and created the Great Maw.[10a][16d][17a] Celestial magic is still important in the empire, as the Cathayan military outpost known as the Tower of Ashshair kept watch for signs and portents of woe and threats from distant lands, and when it was attacked by the Chaos Sorcerer Sayl the Faithless around 2509 IC as part of the Chaos horde of Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord, his vanguard forces were crushed by the fall of a comet brought down by magical means.[18b]

Some Cathayan wizards are known as shugengan, and are said to have Cathayan Dragon blood in their veins, for which they are known as the "Dragon-blooded." They are able to hurl blasts of white fire and blizzards of murderous ice-shards against their foes.[18b] The shugengan practice the Lores of Yin and Yang, which consist of casting spells that contain a certain combination of the differing eight Elemental Winds, though they do not suffer the corruption or dangers faced by western practicioners of what would otherwise be considered Dark Magic in the Old World. The Lore of Yin is composed of the Lores of Beasts (Wood), Metal, Death (Spirit) and Shadows (Darkness) whereas the Lore of Yang is a combination of the Lores of Life (Water), Fire, Heavens (Stone) and Light. The Dragon Emperor has ultimate mastery of the Lore of Yang and the Moon Empress is the ultimate practicioner of the Lore of Yin.[37]

Other Cathayan wizards are alchemists gifted in wielding Chamon, the Lore of Metal, and gravitate to the leadership of the Iron Dragon Zhao Ming in the Western Provinces and their capital city of Shang-Yang precisely because he is uncommonly accepting of their talents and practices.[34]

One of the great magical feats of Cathayan wizards was the overturning and sinking of the Dark Elf Black Ark Talon of Agony in 860 IC through the conjuring of a gigantic magical tidal wave off the eastern coast of Cathay.[4b]

The Skaven's Clan Eshin also learnt magical lore from Cathayan wizards, blending what they already knew of the power of warpstone 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 assassin forces, and none are quite sure whether Clan Eshin's legendary skills have ever been completely mundane. Clan Eshin guards the secrets of this art to ensure that none of the rival Skaven 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]

Lore of Yang Notable Spells

The Lore of Yang, which is a combination of the Elemental Winds of Water (Ghyran), Fire (Aqshy), Stone (Azyr) and Light (Hysh), 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. The innate strength of the Lore of Yang increases the amount of damage done whenever a spell is cast by its practicioners in battle.[34][38a] The notable spells of the Lore of Yang include:

  • Jade Shield - A blazing wind of viridian light creates a potent barrier against harm, as well as invigorating all living things who shelter beneath its protection.[38a]
  • Dragon's Breath - If the enemy sees the Dragon of fire conjured into existence by this spell, in a single glance its fiery breath will burn them to cinders.[38a]
  • Wall of Wind & Fire - A conjured vortex of fire and wind distorts everything seen through it and sows disorder and confusion among the targeted enemy, leaving them vulnerable.[38a]
  • Stone Ground Stance - The Yang energy that exists within all loyal Cathayans present comes to the fore, making even the humblest footsoldiers resolute and ready to fight and die where they stand.[38a]
  • Might of Heaven and Earth - The targets of this spell that are present are filled with the pure power of Yang, which makes them stronger and more skilled, and their weapons blaze with the flames of celestial energy, allowing them to slice the foe apart with but single blows.[38a]
  • Constellation of the Dragon - Blazing starlight leaps from the wizard's fingertips, dancing and forming the constellation of the Dragon Emperor before descending upon the foe and exploding among their ranks.[38a]

Lore of Yin Notable Spells

The Lore of Yin, which combines mastery of the Elemental Winds of Wood (Ghur), Metal (Chamon), Spirit (Shyish), and Darkness (Ulgu), is a more esoteric school of magical knowledge, with the power to reflect projectiles or summon the spirits 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. The crushing power of the Lore of Yin reduces enemy armour strength whenever a spell from this lore is cast. The notable spells of the Lore of Yin include:[38a]

  • Storm of Shadows - Ghostly shadows spring from the caster's outstretched arms, enveloping the foe in dancing shades that make their footing uncertain and their vision confounded by the gloom.[38a]
  • Cloak of Jet - This shadowy barrier of dark Yin energy turns aside enemy sorceries, protecting those within its midnight embrace from the Elemental Winds.[38a]
  • Missile Mirror - A wind of leaves and blossoms rolls across the battlefield, cutting into the enemy like a blade with supernatural force and blinding them with its fury.[38a]
  • Blossom Wind - A magical wall of shifting darkness and howling wind snatches the enemy's missiles from the air, even as they are fired, and hurls them back at their owners.[38a]
  • Talons of Night - An icy wind rolls out across the battlefield, filling those who enter its coiling gloom with panic and fear.[38a]
  • Ancestral Warriors - The ghosts of Cathayan ancestors are summoned from the underworld, rising up as shadowy spirits to strike at the enemy with a furious assault before vanishing into the earth once more.[38a]

Foreign Relations

Despite its geographical size and economic strength, and in spite of the vast armies and war engines it can muster, the Cathayan empire is surrounded by enemies and beset by rebellion and strife. To the south, the powerful Kingdoms of Ind and the fearsome Snakemen of Khuresh threaten its borders, while to the east, Dark Elven pirates, Nipponese invaders and ancient enemies from beneath the Jade Sea assail its port cities and coastal towns.[46a]

In the west, Ogres, Hobgoblins and the mutant horrors of the Warpstone Desert cast a shadow over its lands, though by far the greatest danger to Cathay comes from the north and the inexhaustible Northmen armies of Chaos.[46a]

Li Dao, the Fire Dragon, guards the border of the Celestial Empire against invasions from Ind and Khuresh, all the while keeping one eye on the mischievous Monkey King in the nearby Mountains of Heaven.[46a]

The relations of Grand Cathay with many of the other nations and peoples of the Known World are further discussed below.[46a]


Map of the Northlands

Map using a polar projection of the Known World showing the northern lands of the Chaos Wastes, Norsca and the Eastern Steppes that have fallen under the influence of Chaos and are the homes of the barbaric Northmen tribes who present the greatest threat to the security of Grand Cathay.

Grand Cathay, like all the civilised realms of the Known World, has maintained hostile relations with the forces of Chaos and the barbaric tribes of the Northmen that roam the Eastern Steppes and the Chaos Wastes to the north since at least -1800 IC, when the Dragon Emperor first united the Men of Cathay into a single empire 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 (ca. -1400 IC), the adjustments of the world's tectonic plates by the Slann and the explosion of a great machine in Skavenblight caused earthquakes across the globe, breaching many Dwarf holds in the Worlds Edge Mountains and toppling sections of the Great Bastion, allowing the rampaging northern tribes to spill into Cathayan territory.[15a]

Much later, in 1310 IC, a series of earthquakes caused part of the Great Bastion to collapse, and a truly colossal invasion of Chaos-worshippers ensued as scores of the battle-hungry Kurgan tribes that roamed the Eastern Steppes flooded into that rich and ancient Celestial Empire. Hordes of Chaos Warriors battled legions of Terracotta Sentinels attempting to shore up the Great Bastion with their own clay bodies, mutated Chaos War Mammoths gored and trampled whole regiments of one-horned Ogres, and in the skies above, Daemon Princes duelled with bejewelled Gold Dragons. The Cathayans ultimately blunted the invasion, but not before the Chaos horde had carved a bloody path into the very heartland of the Far East.[16b]

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

Grand Cathay is described as "standing sentinel" against Chaos, along with Kislev. In more recent times, it has defended itself against an invasion led by the forces of Tzeentch.[43]

The Beastmen of the Mountains of Mourn are known to fight both the armies of the Ogre Kingdoms and Cathay, and several Cathayan fortresses keep watch on any armies approaching from the north, such as the Tower of Ashshair which was forced to face an assault by the horde of the Kurgan Champion of Nurgle known as Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord under the command of the Chaos Sorcerer Sayl the Faithless.[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 Grand Cathay. Their homelands were fertile and rolling grasslands spread from horizon to horizon, with grazing gnubeasts and lumbering yaks 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 began 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 the Dragon Emperor of Grand Cathay took a very dim view of indeed.[10a][17a]

Whether the Dragon Emperor's covens of ancient astromancers had anything to do with the catastrophe that befell the Ogres remains only 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 it eclipsed even the great spheres of the moons 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 in -2750 IC[17b], the comet slammed into the Ogre homelands with such force that it was felt on the other side of the Known 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 insects had the resilience to survive the disaster, and starvation quickly set in. The surviving Ogre 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.[10b][17a]

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 Ogre 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, the Great Maw, 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 reduce their targets to bloody shreds.[10d] One famous Ogre 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 learned that the great horned trophies worn on many of their helmets were highly valued in those far-off lands. The resultant transaction gave a new name to the road to the east -- the Ivory Road.[17c]

In 1310 IC, the Cathayan 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 the horned helmets they wore.


Not much is known of the relationship between Grand Cathay and the island nation of Nippon that neighbours it to the east, although it is also described as a highly ordered civilisation of Far Eastern Men.[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 samurai of Nippon.[1n]


Gutter Runners

Skaven Eshin Assassin

The first Skaven to arrive in Grand Cathay were believed by Cathayans to have been vomited out from the gigantic maw of the Great Black Dragon that they believed lives coiled inside the earth.[20a] These Skaven belonged to Clan Eshin. This clan of the ratmen had been led eastwards through the Dark Lands by the Skaven Warlord 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 new Skaven stronghold further east. And so Clan Eshin passed for long years beyond the knowledge of the rest of the Under-Empire and reached Cathay.[3a][3c][14b]

When its members returned to Skavenblight centuries later they were changed. During that long period in contact with the mysterious Human Far Eastern 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 Under-Empire had remained divided between the northern faction, led by the Council of Thirteen, and the southerners who were backed by the Plaguelords of Clan Pestilens. Many other Skaven clans simply stood apart, joining sides with whoever had the upper hand.[3b][3c][14a]

Plagues, sorcery, and double-crossings were rife, but the civil 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 Plaguelords themselves began to regularly disappear. Support among the other clans swiftly eroded for the cause of Clan Pestilens. Realising their position was becoming untenable, the Plaguelords requested a parley, and Lord Nurglitch won a place in the Council of Thirteen, thus ending the civil war and reuniting the Under-Empire.[3b][3c][14a]

At present, Clan Eshin's relations with Cathay and the rest of the Far Eastern nations aren't clear. In 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 IC the Monkey King seized power, installed Warlord Kishkik of Clan Eshin as an advisor, and began trade with the Skaven Under-Empire[20d]. It is unlikely this state of affairs continues 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 Eshin 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 mortal 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 Eshin Assassins often disguise themselves and lurk in the ranks of more 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 martial arts styles learned from distant Cathay. Faster than the ordinary Clanrat, they kill quickly so they can move on to eliminate the next foe.[20h][20i]

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 martial skills of the Art of the Silent Death wasn't the only thing Clan Eshin brought back when they returned from Grand Cathay. A few Skaven delved into the black arts of magic. Blending what they already knew of the Aethyr with the techniques used by Cathayan wizards, 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's legendary skills have ever been completely mundane. Clan Eshin closely guards the secrets of this magical art to ensure that none of the rival clans learn the answer. These 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 Colour Tamurkhan Adrian Smith Illustration

A Hobgoblin Wolf Rider

Grand Cathay is dominated by Men, 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 Grand Cathay, they are the most common Goblinoid type, more so even than standard Goblins.[1c]

There are few Goblins in the Eastern Steppes or Grand 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 Grand Cathay, a mercantile quarter has flourished in the city of Shang-Yang which is the westernmost of the Cathayan fortress towns on the Silk Road in the Western Provinces. This is the name by which the trade route to Cathay opened up by these Tilean merchants has become known.[6c]

Trading caravans from both the Old World and Cathay 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 Hobgoblin 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 Tilean mercenaries in Shang-Yang have become "guests" of the Celestial Dragon Emperor of Cathay and valued warriors in his service. The Dragon Emperor uses these troops to help defend his western frontier against the wrath of the Hobgoblin Khan. Of course, by doing this, the Tileans also serve their own commercial 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 Eastern Steppes 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.[18c]

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 the Phoenix King Aethis the Poet made contact with the old Human empire of Grand Cathay and visited the court of the Dragon Emperor. They returned laden with silk, jade and spices -- which became highly valued commodities in Ulthuan, and trade between east and west began to flourish, mediated by High Elven merchants.[13a][13b]

Despite maintaining trade relations between their realm and Ulthuan, the Cathayan Dragons look at the High Elves with disdain for riding Western Dragons, a relationship that they see as an insult since it seems that the Western Dragons are servants of the Elves. This disdain has passed to the Human Cathayans themselves, who also subtly 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 Naggarond in the New World. Although evidence has been found pointing to the existence of some lost race living there in the subterranean passages, the Naggarothi care little about them, and instead are happy to use the Underworld Sea to gain access to the lands of Nippon and Grand Cathay which lie beyond the Far Sea.[4a][4b][12d]

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

The most notable successes were won by Laithikir Fellheart, the 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 merchant ships, her Black Ark swathed in shadow and storm, tracking their ever-increasing journeys to the lands of the Far East. 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.[12a][12c]

As word of her successes spread, 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 IC, the Black Ark Talon of Agony was overturned and sunk by a gigantic magical tidal wave conjured by the Celestial Empire's wizards off the coast of Cathay as a warning to the Druchii. However, this action did not stop the raids.[4b][12c]

At one unfortunate Cathayan 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" in Eltharin. 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 by the Cathayan government and all mention of it was stricken from maps and records.[12b]


For long millennia, the Cathayans had no knowledge of the existence of Lustria, and had heard only vague references to a mysterious race of "lizard-daemons" that lived in the Southlands. In 1690 IC, Dragon Emperor Wu of the Wu Dynasty (a historical error made by Old World chroniclers who were actually referring to the Dragon Emperor's daughter Yin-Yin, called the Sea Dragon, who rules the Eastern Provinces and is the admiral of Cathay's Grand Dragon Fleet) launched a Cathayan invasion fleet to conquer the regions of that continent that were not under Arabyan or Undead control in order to take the spice trade from Arabyan hands.[3a]

The huge Cathayan fleet, however, was struck by a typhoon soon after its departure, with several ships straying off course. One of these was the mariner 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 in the New World. His party would have passed perhaps as close as within one or two hundred miles of the Norscan 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 sailors crossed the rainforests, clashing with Skinks and Kroxigor only after stealing seven gold plaques from a ruined Lizardmen 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.[3a][3b][3c][3d]

The prevailing winds and currents carried Yin-Tuan far to the south of Ulthuan, and blew him towards the western coast of the Southlands. His small army decided to cross the jungles of the Southlands to reach the Dragon Emperor's army on the other side, but were attacked and defeated by Saurus Warriors. All the survivors were sacrificed, save for Yin-Tuan, whose Cathayan Dragon tattoo inked on his back reminded the Skink Priests of their own god Sotek. Yin-Tuan 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 Dragon 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 Dragon Emperor. The survivors had marched inland and disappeared. The Dragon Emperor thereafter ordered all Cathayan traders to keep watch on the coasts for any sign of their banners. Yin-Tuan was the only survivor of that mighty expedition to the west to be found alive.[3d]

It is quite possible that the Slann mage-priests, with their arcane, geomantic power to influence the geography of the Known 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.[3d]

Thus the typhoons would with uncanny accuracy coincide with the Dragon Emperor of Cathay's attempted invasion of the Southlands. 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 temple-cities resulted in two typhoons being unleashed separated by several weeks.[3d]


Not much is known of the relationship between Grand 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. The Cathayans attempted to gain supremacy over the spice trade by conquering the mysterious regions of the Southlands where spices were harvested, but had not reckoned upon encountering a powerful and flourishing Lizardmen realm there, nor upon the Slann's massive magical powers -- which sunk the Cathayans' great expeditionary fleet with two mighty typhoons as described above.[3a][3d]

Old World

Marco Polare

In 1247 IC, the Tilean explorer Marco Polare reached Grand Cathay, and wrote of spying the Skaven under the great city of Wei-jin. His writings about Cathay also included legends of immortal eunuch sorcerers that drank the souls of Men, who perhaps were the Jade Vampire children of Maatmeses or Harakhte, Vampire Lords of ancient Lahmia in Nehekhara who had disappeared after the fall of that city-state.[19a][19b][20c]

Ricco and Robbio: the Silk Road

However, Marco Polare's accounts of the Far East appear to have been forgotten, lost, or at least not widely known by 1699 IC, since other Tilean traders did not 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 Cathayan Dragon, and the Dwarfs, not bothered about keeping what they believed to be an Elf banner, were eager to sell it for gold.[6b]

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 Known World was round and not flat as most people in the Old World believed.[6b]

Elf seafarers had never revealed much about Ulthuan. The Norscans 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 holds of the Worlds Edge Mountains seeking more artefacts of supposed 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 the neighbouring city-state of 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.[6b][6c]

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.[6b][6c]

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 Karaz Ankor, several Dwarf contingents joined the column, notably Slayers, attracted by the generally held belief that the expedition was doomed. In 1699 IC the expedition, now numbering over a thousand Tileans, Dwarfs and various other mercenaries drawn from across the Old World, 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 IC 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 Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay. It was now clear that there was no eastern route to Ulthuan or Lustria. They believed now that mortal 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 Celestial Empire of Cathay because, as the Cathayans had politely explained, they were hairy and uncouth barbarians. However, the Dragon Emperor 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 Dragon Emperor had agreed to hire the entire expedition, 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 an Old World 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.[6c]

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 permanent "guests" of the Dragon Emperor and valued warriors in his service. The Dragon 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 commercial interests by keeping open the Silk Road.[6c]

Ivory Road

Ogre Caravan Guards 6th Edition Black&White Illustration

Ogre caravan guards on the Ivory Road.

Another name for the Silk Road trade route is the Ivory Road, although it's not entirely 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 Far East and into the heartlands of Grand Cathay, and even then the journey is fraught with peril.[10e]

The Old World and Cathayan 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 Known World. Caravans are regularly beset by marauding Goblin Wolf Riders, Chaos Dwarfs, Skaven, Giants, 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 is the Chaos Dwarf empire centred on Zharr-Naggrund, only a heavily guarded caravan stands any chance of arriving at its destination in one piece.[10e][10f]

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 their way past the stinking sulphur pits of the Desolation of Azgorh, they find themselves in the wild and largely deserted homelands of the Gnoblars until they once more reach civilisation, or something approaching it.[10e][10f]

The main spur of 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 specifically those under the rule of the Ogre Tyrant 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.[10f]

Not so with the light-fingered, mean-spirited Gnoblar scrappers (often called "Magpies" by caravan 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.[10f]

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 ancient race of 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-eastern region of Grand 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.[10f]

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 the desert finally turns to rice fields and the caravan rumbles into Great Cathay's Western Provinces proper. 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 with the Old World

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

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

To this day, in the early 26th century IC, little is known of the Far East and Grand 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, Cathayan silks, jade, ivory, spices 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]

Throughout the early decades of the 24th century IC, 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 Humans 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 IC, 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.[21]

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 greatly increase the power of wizards who wear it).[21]

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

In the Empire, the development of 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]

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


Not much is known in the Old World about the presence of Vampires in the Far East, but when Marco Polare reached Grand Cathay in ca. 1247 IC [20c] he wrote about Cathayan legends of immortal eunuch sorcerers that drank the souls of Men. These could be the so-called "Jade Vampire" descendants of either the Vampire Lord Maatmeses, the very fat and very corrupt chief justice of the ancient Nehekharan city-state of Lahmia or Harakhte, the brilliant and sinister court vizier of Lahmia's queen, Neferata. These two members of the Vampiric First Children vanished out of history when the Vampire Lord Vashanesh allowed Alcadizaar the Conqueror to kill him in order to break the Great Necromancer Nagash's magical control over the Vampires.[19a][19b]

Most scholars believe the pair were killed by Nagash, but it is also possible they journeyed elsewhere and created their own Vampiric bloodlines. For instance, it is known that Nehekhara and ancient Cathay had some commercial contact.[19a][19b]

Notable Grand Cathayans

See also: Category:Cathayan Characters

  • Xen Yang, the Dragon Emperor - The Dragon Emperor is the immortal Cathayan Dragon who is the ultimate ruler of Grand Cathay and the father of all the Cathayan Dragons who rule over the Celestial Empire's various administrative divisions..
  • Quai Yin, the Moon Empress - Quai Yin is the immortal Cathayan Dragon who is the wife of the Dragon Emperor Xen Yang and co-ruler of Grand Cathay, as well as the mother of all the Cathayan Dragons who rule over the Celestial Empire's various administrative divisions.
  • Monkey King - The Money King was a being of unknown origin who was a one-time challenger to the Dragon Emperor's throne.
  • Yin-Yin - Yin-Yin, called the "Sea Dragon," is the Cathayan Dragon and daughter of the Dragon Emperor is the ruler of the Eastern Provinces and Admiral of the Grand Dragon Fleet. It is she who may have been misidentified by Old World scholars as the "Emperor Wu" who launched a naval invasion of the Southlands.
  • Yuan Bo - Yuan Bo, called the "Jade Dragon," is the Cathayan Dragon and son of the Dragon Emperor who is the Lord of the Central Provinces and Administrator of the Realm as the master of the Jade Court.
  • Yin-Tuan - Yin-Tuan is a famous Cathayan explorer and adventurer.

Forces of Grand Cathay

"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 outfitted with weaponry and armour considered exotic from the point of view of the Men of the Old World.

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 warriors of Nippon.[1o] The north of Cathay is protected from the attacks of the Chaos-corrupted Kurgan and Hung tribes by the Great Bastion -- a massive, magical wall that stretches for hundreds of miles, and is 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]


Concept art of a Terracotta Sentinel created for Total War: Warhammer III.

The mainstay of the Grand Imperial Army of Cathay, also called the Celestial Army, 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 standing army is also comprised of Jade Warriors, supplemented as needed by the vast levies of peasant miltia that can be raised as required. The Dragon Emperor's bodyguard, known as the Celestial Dragon Guard, wears lacquered scale armour and displays banners with Cathayan Dragon motifs.[5b][6c][38a]

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 armies of the Celestial Empire, 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 bloody mess among their foes.[10d]

Kongming Sky-Lantern Sky-Junk Cathay Old World concept

Concept art of a Kongming Sky Lantern and a Kongming Sky-junk created for Warhammer: The Old World.

Blackpowder firearms technology is well-understood in Grand 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 Grand Dragon Fleet, also called the Jade Fleet, is a powerful navy that is known to patrol the Far Sea. Comprised 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 killers among Men.

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] Clan Eshin also copied craftsmanship techniques from Cathay and Nippon to make smoke bombs -- small fragile grenades filled with an explosive blackpowder 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 solely by Clan Eshin after copying the basics from the Men of the Far East.

But the armies of the Dragon Emperor also include more esoteric forces. During the Chaos invasion of Cathay in the year 1310 IC, hordes of Chaos Warriors battled legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the sundered Great Bastion with their own clay bodies, mutated Chaos 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 Cathayan heroes ride Ki-rin, unicorn-like beasts that ride upon 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 military units, like so much else in the Celestial Empire, are tactically divided according to the principles of Yin and Yang. Yin-aspected units are better at raining down ranged barrages to stop the enemy from getting close to the Grand Imperial Army's front lines, while Yang-aspected units are more skilled in striking back at the foe in close combat melees.

Cathayan Infantry

  • Peasant Long Spearmen - The Peasant Long Spearmen are the militia infantry of the Grand Imperial Army and its most numerous troops. The true backbone of Grand Cathay is its people, and they are numerous beyond count. While the Celestial Dragon Emperor is wise and his Cathayan Dragon 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 cultures, the "Warriors of Wind and Field," as they are known, feel a fierce loyalty to their cause and the Cathayan Dragons that watch over them. They may buckle and even break, but they know their role.
  • Jade Warriors - These warriors are Grand Cathay's primary line infantry. They comprise the Celestial Empire's standing army, expertly-trained and well-equipped to defend from Ogres, rebels, the forces of Chaos, or anything else that might come wandering into the Celestial Empire from the west and north. Each Cathayan 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 and Steel." The ranged firepower of Grand Cathay is what breaks the enemy, but the Jade Warriors, so named after 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 infantry officially serve as the personal legion of the Dragon Emperor, his loyal defenders and bodyguards, comprising a special force known as the "Celestial Host." As the Celestial 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 Far East. Their arrival represents an exponential increase in power for any force of the Grand Imperial Army, not least for the morale boost it gives the soldiers to see such a direct connection to their Dragon Emperor standing among them.
  • Dragon Monks - Members of an ancient and powerful mystical order based in the Temple of the Celestial Dragon Monks of the Mountains of Mourn, the Dragon Monks are masters of unarmed combat and have outlived many more failed peers, who did not meet their order's strict requirements or survive their first fight with any of the other monks.

Cathayan Missile Infantry

  • Cathayan Peasant Archers - Peasant archers are the archers of the peasant militia levied into the forces of the Grand Imperial Army as needed to supplement the standing military forces of the Jade Warriors. 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 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 The gunners themselves are lightly armoured, making them vulnerable if surprised by melee troops. However, should they bring their guns to bear even for a moment, nevermind a sustained period, it spells doom for even the heaviest-armoured 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 who show an aptitude for shooting rather than stabbing or slashing. While Grand Cathay brings powerful magics and giant machinery and magical constructs to war, such units are less ever-present in their armies than other factions. Wizards are an important, precious resource, while the construction required for a Kongming Sky Lantern or Wu-Xing War Compass may be beyond the skills of 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 and thus the standard of the crossbows 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 tactical sections of the elite Celestial Dragon Guard -- makes war, it does so in style and with power. Those among the Celestial Dragon Guard who show an aptitude for shooting rather than melee combat are outfitted with Dragon Crossbows and the fierce training required to keep up the rate of fire. Dragon Crossbows are Cathayan Repeater Crossbows that fire multiple, armour-piercing bolts with a high rate of fire that are able to rip through almost any type of armour or flesh. Shielded, with the best armour in Grand Cathay, very little can stand up to a hail of bolts from these elite troops.

Cathayan Monstrous Infantry

  • One-Horned Ogre - A bizarre kind of Ogre used as shock troops or vanguard troops by the Cathayans.

Cathayan Melee Cavalry

  • Peasant Horsemen - Peasant Horsemen are the peasant militia cavalry called up to supplement the standing forces of the Grand Imperial Army when needed. As they are everywhere in the Known World where Men dwell, 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 heavy 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 the Chaos-worshipping tribes of the Northmen in the region before they can gather their power and become a threat to the Celestial Empire's northern border. Doing so is as dangerous as it is necessary.
  • Great Longma Riders - The Dragon-blooded nobles of Cathay who are yet to rise to their own prominence or prefer a place within the Celestial Host of the Celestial Dragon Guard for the honour it brings often become Great Longma Riders. Their presence on the battlefield almost guarantees victory for the Cathayans, and other troops in the army draw courage from the sight of the Dragon Emperor's personal troops standing among them. Almost without exception, the Longma cavalry of the Celestial Host consist of the Dragon-blooded. Swifter than normal horses and able to spear their foes on their horns, Great Longma are the ultimate steeds for heavy shock cavalry. 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.

Cathayan War Constructs

  • Terracotta Sentinels - Grand Cathay's ancient protectors, the Terracotta Sentinels are remnants of an era long past, when the Dragon Emperor was still the active leader of the Celestial Empire'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 an assault by Chaos in the empire's earliest years. True or not, these magical constructs 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, 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 of the Celestial Empire who is sent to fight it.
  • Terracotta Automatons - Lesser versions of the more well-known Terracotta Sentinels, these magical clay constructs could be found among the footsoldiers of the Grand Imperial Army.
  • Crow-men - The Crow-men are magical constructs crafted from 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 - Stone constructs magically animated by the gods of Cathay's myriad 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 be allowed to ride one of these as a mount into battle.
  • Jade Lion - A Jade Lion is a magical construct used in the armies of Grand Cathay that is formed from blocks of pure jade. Constructed by wizards of the Celestial Court, these stone lions are powerful tools in the Dragon Emperor's arsenal. With the strength and size of a dozen men, these arcane constructs smash through enemy formations with ease. Jade Lions also act as amplifiers for friendly spellcasters, increasing the power of the Elemental Winds that flow through Cathayan wizards.
  • Jet Lion - A Jet Lion is a magical construct used in the armies of Grand Cathay that is carved from a block of pure jet into the likeness of large felines in the Far Eastern style. Created by wizards of the Celestial Court, these living statues are powerful assets for Cathay's military. Jet Lions are created by Cathayan wizards to have the size and strength of a dozen men. They are renowned for their speed and destructive power on the battlefield. Jet Lions possess the unique ability to suppress the enemy's ability to channel the Winds of Magic in the local area, causing frustration to enemy spellcasters. Even if the foe does manage to unleash its magic, Cathayan troops still benefit from the Jet Lion's protective magical aura.
  • Zhangu War Drum - By law and tradition, every major city in the Celestial Empire of Grand Cathay has a war drum for its garrison above its gates. When danger looms and the enemies of the Dragon Emperor descend, a dozen men beat the drum to call their soldiers to war, each man guided by its thundering tempo. Should the need arise, the drums can be carried into combat by chariots or a large cart. Every beat drives the troops forward, filling their hearts with fury and passion. The Zhangu War Drums are the perfect place from which Cathayan commanders can view the battlefield, elevated above the troops. These war machines are drawn into battle by Cathayan Oxen, and several musicians man the instrument itself.[44a]

Cathayan Flying 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.

Cathayan Artillery and War Machines

  • Grand Cannon - Cathayan Oxen carry the artillery of Grand Cathay to war, pulling these guns to battle from the city walls and the towers of the 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 Cathayan Dragons and belching flaming projectiles, they are not a subtle representation of Grand Cathay's power. While serving as Grand Cathay's most basic form of artillery, they still pack a huge punch, more than capable of toppling monsters or city walls. A Grand Cannon's flaming, armour-piercing projectiles will make short work of smaller foes placed in their path. The Cathayan Oxen that pull Grand Cannons into position make them, and other Cathayan artillery, more mobile than their counterparts found among the blackpowder artillery used by the other realms of the Known World.
  • Wu-Xing War Compass - The Wu-Xing War Compass is a construct used as a form of magical artillery by the military forces of Grand Cathay. The War Compass is perhaps the oddest weapon within Grand Cathay's armoury to an outsider, for it is a miniaturised version of the great Wu Xing Compass engraved into the floor of the Celestial City that floats high above the Cathayan capital city of Wei-Jin in the Imperial Provinces. The War Compass is imbued with the power of the Lore of Heavens and intricately designed to serve as a weapon of war. Crafted to resonate with the Elemental Winds, the Wu-Xing War Compass helps the wizards of Grand Cathay control and direct the flows of magic, strengthening or weakening them for the benefit of their armies. Mounted on a specially-designed chariot-platform, the War Compass is drawn into battle alongside the Dragon Emperor's armies, a court scribe of the Celestial Court who is a skilled Cathayan Astromancer tending to its complex, arcane mechanisms. Properly manipulated by its attendant wizard, the Wu-Xing War Compass can unleash the Elemental Wind of Azyr, assailing the enemies of Cathay with lightning bolts, storm winds or even a devastating rain of meteors. While expensive to build and maintain, the War Compass is a truly unique weapon.[2a]
  • Fire Rain Rocket Battery - 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 for taking or defending settlements, their rockets are equally effective against almost all targets and the arc of their fire easily penetrates enemy walls. While the impact is widespread at long-range, this is only more effective against massed legions of enemies. The Fire Rain Rocket Battery has an inferior range but greatly improved firepower over the Grand Cannon. Cathayan artillery pieces like the Fire Rain Rocket Battery have a higher than usual number of support staff on-hand, making them that much harder to wipe out if caught.

Cathayan Beasts

  • Great Moon Bird - A Great Moon Bird is a gigantic magical avian found in the lands of Grand Cathay. These huge predatory birds, beloved by the Moon Empress, live close to the sky atop the peaks of the Mountains of Heaven. The Great Moon Birds are said to make their nests in the craters of Yueyin, the silver moon known as Mannslieb in the Old World, and only fly down to earth when called by either the Moon Empress or the most powerful Cathayan Astromancers. Fearsome to behold in battle, the Great Moon Birds are often wreathed in silvery flames -- or moon fire -- which burns the enemies of the Celestial Empire who come into contact with it. Powerful Cathayan lords, especially wizards of the Celestial Court, might even be granted a Great Moon Bird as a mount, though this is usually only for a short time before the creature once more returns to its home among the heavens.[47]
  • Celestial Lion - A Celestial Lion is a winged lion which lives in Grand Cathay's Forests of the Moon and is sometimes used by the Cathayan military. Winged lions exist in the Far East, believed to have descended from natural beasts warped during the Great Catastrophe which first brought the energies of Chaos into the mortal world. Unlike the fell Manticores of the Old World to the west, these celestial beasts have been purified of their corruption by the power of the Dragon Emperor and live within the sacred hunting grounds of the Forests of the Moon. Favoured Cathayan wizards or warriors may be gifted such a creature by the ruling Cathayan Dragons, riding it into battle and striking fear into the foes of the Celestial Empire.[47]

Cathayan Heroes

  • Cathayan Alchemists - The Lores of Yin and Yang are not the only magics practiced in Grand Cathay, though they are the most favoured. Alchemists gifted in wielding Chamon, the Lore of Metal, gravitate to the leadership of the Iron Dragon Zhao Ming in the Western Provinces and their capital 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 known as the "House of Secrets" that often sees its members hired by generals and lords all over the Celestial Empire, as their capabilities are far beyond that of most mortals.[34] The Cathayan Alchemists' potions imbue them with spells from the Lore of Metal, as well as giving them unique physical enhancements that can be applied to themselves or nearby units, providing massive bonuses to melee and/or ranged attacks and enhanced protection from metal armour. The alchemists help the Iron Dragon in his own alchemical experiments, and many magical weapons and armour are forged in the Iron Dragon's cities. The alchemist cabal who gather at the House of Secrets also uses the city as a base for their expeditions into the Warpstone Desert -- some never return. Others come back loaded with exotic ores that end up in the forges, with the Iron Dragon as enthusiastic as any of the other alchemists to begin experimenting.[34]
  • Cathayan Astromancers - Astromancers are the most accepted type of wizards in Grand Cathay, practicing the Dragon Emperor's own favoured Lore of Heavens and harnessing it to an expert level thanks to the natural affinity between their leader and the Elemental Wind of Azyr. Of all the magical disciplines in Cathay, the most well-established is that of the astromancers. These are the personally favoured wizards of the Dragon Emperor, who, unlike the Magisters of the Celestial Order in the Empire of the Old World, have been perfecting their art for over five thousand years. The Dragon Emperor himself is said to have taught the Men of the Far East the true secrets of Azyr, and their spells are far more complex and powerful than those of the western astromancers as a result. After more than five thousand years of perfecting their art under the tutelage of the Cathayan Dragons, Cathayan Astromancers are quite adept, and only more so when riding into battle atop the Wu-Xing War Compass, which magnifies their abilities to draw upon the Elemental Winds.
  • Gate Master of the Celestial Cities - A Gate Master of the Celestial Cities is an officer of the armies of Grand Cathay who commands the units of the Jade Warriors. The Jade Warriors are the professional soldiers of Grand Cathay, and the Gate Masters of the Celestial Cities are their commanders. To earn the title of Gate Master a Jade Warrior must have served in the defence of their city, and many are veterans of the Celestial Empire's many wars. The Gate Master is trained to serve a role as a defensive line-holder. The Gate Master wields a combination of sword, shield and crossbow, making them a very adaptable warrior in all forms of combat. Using their great skill, Gate Masters can enhance the defence of their nearby troops whilst shooting enemies with their crossbows from behind the main battle line. The Gate Master excels at defensive warfare, with several amplifying defensive lines. Some Gate Masters ride horses that can quickly transport them around the battlefield.[47]
  • Saytang the Watcher - Saytang is an unusually large and powerful Terracotta Sentinel construct who is capable of independent action. Saytang is the great Terracotta Sentinel that stands atop the Mountains of Heaven. Towering over other Terracotta Sentinels, Saytang is an imposing sight with its outstretched wings and great stone feathered helm. Those who have witnessed Saytang in battle claim no armour or barrier can turn aside the arrows it fires from its great wind bow, the shafts piercing the ranks of the enemies and even the iron hides of fell beasts. And though Saytang cannot fly in the true sense, its power allows it to leap great distances, even jumping from mountain peak to mountain peak in the defence of the Celestial Empire. Saytang uses a giant magical bow to fire artillery-grade projectiles into enemy lines. Saytang is also relatively strong in close combat, and possesses the ability to enhance the combat prowess of other magical constructs like its fellow Terracotta Sentinels when they fight adjacent to it.[47]

Cathayan Lords

  • Dragon-blooded Shugengan Lord - While relatively rare, the ancient and immortal nature of the Cathayan Dragon siblings who rule the Celestial Empire and their ability to take on Human form means that they have at times produced Human progeny, whose descendants now live among the people of Grand Cathay. These "Dragon-blooded," as they are known, often rise to positions of power in Cathayan society, not least out of respect for their heritage, but also due to the power that comes from being a part of the imperial family. The Dragon-blooded are inevitably skilled combatants, natural sorcerers, and talented leaders. As one can imagine, their lineage can be a source of some jealousy and resentment from high-ranking Cathayan mortals who lack such ancestry, especially when the Dragon-blooded allow their abilities to develop into arrogance. As magic-users of Grand Cathay, the Dragon-blooded Shugengan can wield either the Lore of Yang or the Lore of Yin. Each lore draws its power from the teachings of the Celestial Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress, respectively, and is a unique school passed down through the ages among the Shugengan. While they may ride to battle mounted on a warhorse, the Dragon-blooded are uniquely able to ride atop a Jade Longma as the creature respects their innate Cathayan Dragon heritage, the Shugengan not being an exception.[34]
  • Lord Magistrate - Be they generals or lords of one of Grand Cathay's gargantuan cities, Lord Magistrates are some of the best administrators the Celestial Empire has to offer. While not the greatest individual combatants of their empire, they are expert military 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 one can imagine, keeps them somewhat out of harm's way -- a priority for some, if not all. The Catahyan Lord Magistrates' 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 the harmony of Yin and Yang with one another.[34] Lord Magistrates can mount a warhorse or a Sky Lantern.[34]
  • Celestial General - Only the most powerful warriors of Grand Cathay's armies rise to the rank of Grand General of the Celestial Host. These individuals are often Dragon-blooded, though not always, for the Cathayan Dragons are willing to reward valour and obedience in any of their mortal subjects, regardless of their heritage. Regardless of their origins, each Celestial General is a skilled fighter, and as befits their rank carries weapons and armour gifted to them from the armouries of the Celestial Empire's capital at Wei-Jin. They lead from the front in battle, leaving strategy and trickery to the likes of wizards and magistrates, their presence in the thick of the fighting inspiring the armies of the Dragon Emperor.[44a]
  • Caravan Master - Each of the great cities of Grand Cathay is governed by a Lord Magistrate in the name of the Dragon Emperor. These are canny men and women, as adept at navigating the politics of the Celestial Empire as they are directing troops in battle. As skilled strategists, Lord Magistrates can often dictate the pace of battle even before it begins; catching their enemies flat-footed with the rapid mobilisation of their troops. Lord Magistrates lead from the back of the army, using fans, banners and coloured smoke to orchestrate many units of their army. Certain of these Lord Magistrates are chosen to command the Cathayan caravans that make their way along the Ivory Road to bring the greatly-prized products of the Far East to the western realms of the Old World where incredible profits are earned for the coffers of the Dragon Emperor and his favoured lords. As the passage west is incredibly dangerous, subjecting every caravan to assault from Ogres, Greenskins, Chaos Dwarfs, or worse, they are always accompanied by Cathayan military forces who are skillfully commanded by these Caravan Masters.[34]


The following are Cathayan-themed miniatures converted by Dave Taylor to fit with a Bretonnian army list. They were published in White Dwarf 314 (UK), but they were never stated to be Games Workshop's official concept for the armies of Grand Cathay. The Cathayan military units presented first in Total War: Warhammer III and described above do have Games Workshop's canonical approval.[32a]



While previously mentioned only in passing in the background of the Warhammer universe which focussed overwhelmingly only on the continents of the Old World, Ulthuan and the New World, Games Workshop and its partner Creative Assembly created a fully fleshed-out version of the Far Eastern Grand Cathay faction for Total War: Warhammer III.[31] It was influenced by Western popular culture depictions of China, and the version that appeared in Total War: Warhammer III was influenced by the history and culture of China's Ming Dynasty and the Han Dynasty factions created for Warhammer III's 2019 predecessor game Total War: Three Kingdoms.

Cathay (/kæˈθeɪ/) is the Anglicised version of "Catai" and an alternative and archaic 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 A.D., 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 Daoist philosophy and cosmology, yin and yang are concepts that describe how the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organised into the cycles of yin and yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and yang the active principle, seen in all forms of natural change and difference such as the annual cycle (winter and summer), the landscape (north-facing shade and south-facing brightness), sexual coupling (female and male), the formation of both women and men as characters and sociopolitical history (disorder and order), respectively.

The concept of yin and yang also describes how opposite or contrary metaphysical 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 and produce harmony in the broader world and within the individual human body and mind when they are in balance. This metaphysical duality represents the starting point for many branches of classical Chinese science, religion and philosophy, as well as being a primary principle of traditional Chinese medicine and a central tenet of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise.