Mongorians Hungs! Stop tearing down my shitty warr!"
- – What the Cathayans have to say roughly 12 times every hour or so
"Those in other nations may deny it, but all mortals desire control. To be controlled, that is. Why else would they conjure these northern Gods that obsess in dominating the very creatures that brought them into being?"
- – Yuan Bo, The Jade Dragon, Ruler of the Central Provinces and the Celestial Court
Cathay is the uninspired name for the analogue to China in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. That said, it is at least marginally more inspired than their name for the Japan analogue (and only because Nippon is a better-known name for Japan than Cathay is for China in Europe).
Until 2021, we had next to no information about them beyond token mentions in old novels and rulebooks. This all changed with Total War Warhammer 3 finally fleshing out the faction.
- 1 Forge World Sneak Peak
- 2 How come all this lore is new?
- 3 Final Mentions in Rulebooks
- 4 Old Mentions from Novels
- 5 Total Warhammer 3 AKA: "HOLY SHIT WE'RE ACTUALLY GETTING SOMETHING FOR CATHAY"
- 6 New Canon Lore
- 7 Geography
- 8 Who Rules Cathay?
- 9 Missing Dragons
- 10 Other Notable Characters
- 11 Relations
- 12 Cathay's Army
- 13 Gallery
- 14 Links
Forge World Sneak Peak
Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos, a book from Forge World's fantasy line, quite surprisingly contains a battle scene where the forces of Cathay are involved. This is the first time Cathay's forces are shown in a major way. A chaos sorcerer dupes a Beastman army into attacking the Tower of Ashshair, a Cathayan watchtower outpost at the edge of the Ogre Kingdoms which it uses to scry on the Old World. Its defenders included fancy bronze cannon that shoot harpoons, "crow-men", stone "temple dogs", elite warriors with back-banners and "thousand-folded" swords, and "Dragon-blooded Shugengan" who wield elemental magics (fire, water, earth, air and wood). In other words, your usual collection of oriental cliches, mostly Japanese.
Prior to Total War: Warhammer III (and the faction's impending backport to The Old World), this was the closest thing we got to an official Cathay army list along with the mention of them having elementals under their control in the Vampire Genevieve books.
But then, things get interesting when the Tower's garrison started to get overwhelmed by the Beastmen's numbers. The Tower turns the tide by dropping a frikking' Comet of Casandora into the horde, then starts sending "strange creatures of living stone" that can swim through the ground and minotaur-suplexing "living statues of onyx" to beat the shit out of the survivors.
How come all this lore is new?
Grand Cathay has been listed in Warhammer's Lore since the early days, a location that was referenced on numerous occasions. A vast human Empire standing against chaos on the Eastern End of the primary continent with a role in the history of the world. It is based on a real-life civilization whose history and mythology could easily be mined for inspiration as Medieval France or Early Modern Germany or Norse and Egyptian mythology and the general melange of 20th-century fantasy. The setting could have been easily expanded with new stories and armies by developing Cathay, all without upsetting the stuff which people liked.
But until 2021 Games Workshop did not.
Despite being both vast, wealthy and powerful Cathay was just a background element. A land which was almost exclusively referenced indirectly in regards to other races (Hellstorm Rocket Batteries were based on Cathayan fireworks, Cathay once sent a fleet to Lustria that fought the lizardmen, etc) and with only a few scant scraps of lore to itself. We did not even have as much as a mercenary unit in The Dogs of War.
Exactly why this was the case is up in the air. Maybe the original GW guys were not into Chinese history and mythology. Maybe they could not get worthwhile reference material (a large part of this was pre-internet and what print material you could get on Imperial China in the 1980s was not as good as what we have now). Maybe they had it in a to-do list that just kept growing. Maybe they did not feel that Cathay was particularly relevant to the stories they wanted to tell. Maybe they were afraid of it turning out like the Pygmies. Maybe it was some combination of these and other elements.
Similar to the world building of Song of Ice and Fire, where the further East on a map a location is the more strange and unknown things get, details about Cathay remained shrouded in mystery and speculation.
Final Mentions in Rulebooks
According to the eight ed BRB, the Kurgans once mounted a massive raid on Cathay's Great Bastion. Which is funny, because Kurgans are basically Chaos-Turko Slavs to the Norscan's Chaos Vikings. Funnily enough, even though TWWH3 is responsible for bringing the fluff to life for the first time, the Kurgans that attack the Great Bastion every 5 turns or so in-game are Norscan (complete with Mammoths), rather than the Turkic Chaos Warriors they're described as in fluff.
In the end times, they are invaded by Chaos and skaven. Remarkably, the dragon emperor drives out the Skaven and stalemates the forces of chaos, but ultimately loses to Grimgor's massive WAAAGH! The ruins of Cathay become the stage for an endless battle between the orcs and the remaining forces of chaos. Grimgor himself gets teleported away as he had become Incarnate of Beasts, and when the last effort to save the world fails, Cathay is destroyed along with the rest of the planet, revealed in Age of Sigmar to have been called Mallus. The exact fate of the Dragon Emperor and his family are unknown.
Old Mentions from Novels
In the novel Beasts in Velvet, and the short story Red Thirst there is a Cathayan character named Dien Ch'ing(狄恩青). He is secretly a Tzeenchian cultist who impersonated a Cathayan ambassador (which he had murdered and taken the name from). He is also a celestial wizard and is capable of using the classic five elemental magic (which are Tzeetch demons who disguised as those elements). From the same novel, it also tells the story of how when the monkey king was but a young prince he was able to trick the 5 elemental demons into fighting one another.
According to the novel Guardian of the Forest, the knight featured in the novel: Leofric Carrard traveled to Cathay and slew the Jade Dragon of the Emerald River, and saved the wives of the Emperor Zhang-Jimou from decapitation by the Executioner Cult of the Jade Pearl.
In the Nagash's novel, it was mentioned that back when Lahmia was not crawling with vampires, they were rich due to its geographic locations that they were able to trade with the Cathayan through seaborne. Notable items like silk were a common trade in Lahmia and were fancied among the Lahmian nobles and its royalties. The Cathayan eat spicy seafood just like in real life, and the Lahmians enjoyed their cuisine during important events.
The Cathayan were brilliant schemers that they made a deal with Neferata's dad Lamasheptra, who was desperate to save his sister Neferem from Nagash by paying them lots of gold every year (or by land, the city of Lahmia if they couldn't pay) in exchange to acquire Cathayan's cutting edge gunpowder weaponry. As a result, the Cathayan not only profit from this, they made a new deal a few years later after Lamasheptra's death with Neferata now in charge, telling her that they had found a new gold mine in one of their provinces, forcing the Lahmian to pay more gold to keep up with the new deal.
Unfortunately for the Cathayan, Neferata had given some of her vampire potion to erase the debt. The man she gave the potion to: Prince Xian Ha Feng, one of the Dragon Emperor's sons sent to negotiate with Lahmia, not only drank the potion but also bought some of it back to Cathay where the vampire corruption soon spread. With enough immortal bloodsuckers (and probably some of Ushoran's spies), Xian started a civil war against his father. This angers the Dragon Emperor so much that he ordered them to close their borders with ALL foreigners. The Dragon Emperor apparently died in a freak accident sometime after the civil war according to Ushoran's spies (perhaps has to do with the monkey king? that or is just one of the dragon children since the original dragon daddy is confirmed to be absent during this period) and a new Emperor was enthroned because of this. Under this new Emperor's reign, the trade with the Nekeharan has opened once again because the new Emperor cares little about the Nehekharans. Although Prince Xian Ha Feng was never heard of after this, the vampire corruption remains still in Cathay.
Many known vampires had at least travelled to Cathay once. Neferata had lived there for 7 years in order to infiltrate its bureaucracy and become a ruler of her own once again. However, Cathayan background politics is an "eye-opener" that she was forced to run away again. Abhorash was noted by Neferata to have probably been to Cathay (probably to study its local martial arts, unsurprisingly). Lord Ankhat had assumed the persona of an immortal sorcerer prince there who helped the Dragon Emperor to drive back the Hungs from breaching the great bastion, but was forced to escape after his vampiric nature was found out by a secret society of courtesan (aka mama dragon's spy). Genevieve was said to have become a trader and travelled to Cathay through the Silk Road for a hundred years or so. There she met a Master Po guy and learned to control her bloodlust as well as martial arts from him. Master Po is said to be important enough that he went to teach Cathayan military officers afterwards.
During the announcement of Total Warhammer 3, CA confirmed that Cathay will be one of the 6 playable factions. They'd been working with GW in bringing the faction to life and making them one of the core races in the game. This is also great news for anyone hoping for Cathay in Warhammer: The Old World. More info pending, but this minor faction is finally getting the fleshing out it deserves. Perhaps the most enticing detail to surface is GW confirming they essentially wrote an entire Cathay army book according to 8th Edition rules, complete with characters and background lore. That's where most of the new info on this page comes from, but it has only come out in drips and drabs from interviews. So far GW has announced no plans to actually release the new army book, but one can hope it's coming. Between Cathay and Kislev, this is all a lore grognard's wet dream.
Front and centre is Miao Ying, daughter of the Celestial Dragon and his wife, and commander of the Northern Bastion (meaning that when Sayl attacked the wall it was her forces that drove him off). She's a dragon that can take a human form like her parents and its been shown that the Celestial Dragon spends his time in the Celestial city and overseeing Cathay while his children take direct control of different provinces (like a certain golden giant and his kids) as her brother Zhao Ming commands the western province and will be the other playable lord.
In the trailer we see rocket batteries, war balloons and those suplexing statues from the Tamurkhan book, in addition to regular human infantry and some lady earth bending. To help establish Cathay's playstyle GW themselves made rules for each unit and for the army (using 8th edition) to aid CA to understand how Cathay should act in-game. Yes there are currently rules for 8th edition Cathay and GW are just sitting on them and not releasing them.
An interesting thing to note is that both Miao Ying and Zhao Ming seem to be based on the Four Dragons from Chinese mythology, who are four children born to the "King of the Dragons" each of whom were granted their own land in a cardinal direction and are associated with an element. Zhao is The White Iron Dragon and the ruler of the Western province (because metal is an element according to the ancient Chinese) and Miao is the Black Storm Dragon and ruler of the Northern province, both of these line up with the four dragons mythology.
The three other active Dragon children have since been named, while four others have been confirmed to be AWOL and used as juicy plot hooks for any future expansions. Yuan Bo rules the Central Provinces as the Administrator of the Realm, Yin-Yin rules the Eastern Provinces as the Admiral of the Grand Dragon Fleet, and Li Dao rules the Southern Provinces against the raids of the Monkey King and the Beastmen tribes from Ind.
New Canon Lore
So once upon a time, The Dragon Emperor and his wife lived on the world before the Old Ones came, where it was mostly a frozen wasteland. Eventually, the space hypnotoads came and did their thing, terraforming the planet and creating all of the little races of the Warhammer World. When humans started to show up, The Dragon Emperor learned to take human shape and gathered a few tribes under his banner. When Chaos eventually came, more tribes flocked to him in order to protect their new empire, eventually creating the Great Bastion himself and instilling a section of his magic in order to prevent the Chaos Hordes from breaking into Cathay. Once Cathay started to take shape, The emperor and his wife decided they were happy with the lands they have and decided to settle down to defend them.
The Dragon pair and their kids would eventually rule over the land and teach them the ways of Harmony, to be one with themselves and the land around them and find their natural place in the world. The Dragons aren't tyrants but act more like teachers and wardens to the humans that are beneath them, as they feel they need the humans on their good side to fight Chaos. They've gotten so used to being with humans that they spend most of their time in human form, only going dragon in an emergency. They don't wish to be worshipped as gods, but it usually happens anyway, and the people of Cathay treat them with such reverence that talking shit about them is a good way to get murdered, especially if you're a foreigner.
Unfortunately for big D, while he seems to have done a decent job of instilling harmony in the people of Cathay, he hasn't done a good job of it with his kids because they all fucking hate each other. There are a confirmed nine children, but four of them are missing who knows where.
Miao Ying the Storm Dragon is the most favoured and powerful of the Dragon kids, which has given her a massive superiority complex. She's been given the north to rule, which also happens to have Daddies very essence tied to it.
Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, is viewed as too experimental with his magic and many fear he is losing his mind due to how much time he spends around the Great Maw, snorting lines of warpstone and actually treating his subjects like human beings. He rules the west, and has the favor of his mother to back him up.
The Dragon of the South is called Li Dao. He is the Fire Dragon and despises Miao Ying as well. He constantly has to deal with invasions from the Southlands from the Monkey King and Naga.
The Dragon of the East is Yin Yin, the Azure Dragon, the only one with an expansionist mindset. She's the one who fought Dark Elves who made their way over the boiling sea. She also tried conquering Araby and once got stranded in Lustria, so Mrs Worldwide.
The Final Dragon we know of is the Jade Dragon, Yuan Bo, who rules the centre of Cathay and spends most of his time hating that he is surrounded by idiots and trying to tell his siblings to listen to Daddy. Evidently, they all spoil for mom and dad's attention and bicker a lot.
There is also the slight problem that Tzeentch cults hold a massive amount of power in the empire and has caused no shortage of problems. It's no help that even humans plot to either gain the favour of the dragons or usurp them.
This all came to a head when the Dragon Emperor and his wife disappeared, leaving the kids alone to watch the place. This resulted in Time of Darkness and Disharmony (Cathay's version of the Warring States), as they fight for the throne while Cathay endures an invasion from the North and South. The Dragon Emperor was also said to be working on his own secret project, which may or may not help the people of Cathay against Chaos.
Eventually, the Dragon Emperor and his wife came home from their four-century vacation to find their kids fighting, Chaos armies rampaging in their lands and the throne occupied by a god damn monkey.
The Monkey King had used the chaos to take over the country and installed a Clan Eshin Warlord as one of his advisors. Appalled by the idea of Skaven of all things issuing edicts, this finally convinced the other Dragon kids to put aside their differences and fight him, until dad came home and won the war.
So on paper, we have a utopian society of harmony where Dragons and Humans act as one and stand defiant against the forces of Chaos in peace and tranquillity. Once you look closer though, we have a landmass led by spoiled children at each other's throats and only held in line by their parents, along with a fanatical population who are willing to kill any who so much as slightly criticize their rule, and is only held together because of the power and charisma of a single, semi god-like being.
Of other note is the extreme arrogance and pride of Cathay. It is mentioned in new lore and flavor text that the reason why the Ambassador to Altdorf has a crude grasp of Reikspeil is because the Empire is viewed as "barbaric, uncivilized and savage", and therefore it is likely that she never bothered to learn much Reikspeil at all. Cathay continues to be arrogant in it's lore, mentioning that the tiny cogs used in the clockwork crossbows of Cathay are "The envy of the world" according to the Cathayans themselves, and that "none other can match"; The Dwarfs would likely disagree.
Basically, Cathay is outmatched in a wide variety of technologies, but none can do it all like cathay does.
In other words, pretty much what the Imperium would have become if Big E wasn't put on the golden toilet seat, was smart enough to not just ban religion and redirect faith towards something else (ancestor worship), and was a slightly better dad/the primarchs hadn't been scattered.
The country is huge (as in the case with a certain real-world country), much bigger than the Empire and the other western lands. To the north is the
Mongolian steppes Eastern Steppes and regions of chaos, which are held at bay by the huge-ass Great Wall Bastion of China Cathay which prevents the hordes from pillaging. Why the Empire never took this up themselves isn't explained. Probably it's because the Elector Counts could not work together for long enough to get it built.
(IRL China's Great Wall isnt a single, continuous fortifaction, but a massive series of fortresses and successive (it's defence in depth, with fall back positions) walls; whenever possible, they built along and in addition to the highlands of Northern China, so you have mountains and impassable terrain, with fortresses dotted all over, and walls maybe connecting them if there's flat enough land for it. In contrast, Eastern Europe is very flat, with Poland the Ukraine being so relatively flat that the German and Russian Empires realized that in times of war, they needed Poland/Ukraine as a buffer, because anyone could roll straight through them if they tried hard enough. Fantasy Empire is the same, with Kiev being based on Russia, but is used as the Poland/Ukrainian buffer by the Empire)
To the west is the Mountains of Mourn, the warpstone deserts and the Great Maw. Incidentally, you can blame the Cathayans for the Great Maw’s existence as the Dragon Emperor had his celestial wizards summon the thing to punish the Ogres for eating some of his citizens. Although recently there has been some evidence Tzeentch had a hand in how tits up it went. To the south is a mysterious jungle where the lost city of the old ones is. Eastwards is the sea, with Nippon and the Lost Isles of Elithis.
Cities and Provinces
- Northern Provinces - Consisting mainly of the Great Bastion and its supplying towns, its other notable aspect is being home to the river that in Cathayan mythos leads to the underworld. Rumoured to be trapped under this river is the lost Spirit Dragon, a child of the Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress. Ruled by the Storm Dragon, Miao Ying.
- Nan-Gau – The major city of the north, known as the city of smoke. A 9 walled fortress city linked to the Great Bastion, it has never fallen to any invader. The Lords of Nan-Gau are not as deferent to the Dragons as the ruling classes in other cities. This is because the city is home to countless forges and workshops that furnish the armies of the empire with weapons and provide countless war machines for the defence of the Great Bastion. So, the Lords are powerful, granted more independence than most and have occasionally even dared to challenge Miao Ying, the Dragon nominally in charge. She does quickly exert her power to make them fall in line when needed.
- Po-Mei - Another manufacturing city in the north and Nan-Gau's main rival. While their rivalry used to be mostly friendly, things flared up when it came down to who would get the credit for inventing Cathay's flying warships. This lead to a political feud that lead to people being maimed, killed and airship prototypes "mysteriously" falling out of the sky. Miao Ying caught wind of this when the supplies for the Bastion started dropping and was NOT happy. So in the middle of an altitude race between the two cities, she caused a massive storm, slapped the two balloons out of the sky and told the cities to play nice or she'll get really angry next time. There seems to have been no blood between the cities since.
- The Great Bastion - The Great Wall of
ChinaCathay. In history there is a mythic telling of how it was built by the dragons: Every brick fashioned by the Iron Dragon, breathed upon by the Fire Dragon, Blessed by the Emperor. In reality, thousands of people were used to build the wall. It has 10 small fortresses built into it, each a miniature city in scale and population. The Dragon Emperor has tied his very essence to the wall, so if it ever fell he would die too. He almost died when a certain hypnotoad slapped the plates of the planet around, causing the walls to be royally messed up for a while. Ruled by Miao Ying, showing the level of trust and/or favouritism the Dragon Emperor has for his number one daughter. has the claim of having never failed, but still got breached a few times by chaos forces.
- Dragon Gate – The Centermost gate and the one closest to Po-Mei
- Snake Gate – The Westernmost gate and the one closest to Nan-Gau. Due to its proximity to the city it gets constant restocks of weapons and supplies, making it extremely hardy. The part of the Bastion Miao Ying defends the most.
- Turtle Gate – The Easternmost gate and the one closest to Wei-Jin and the Celestial City.
- Imperial Provinces - Located just southeast of Northern Provinces. It is a region ruled by Emperor and Empress directly.
- Wei-Jin - The Capital of Cathay that normal mortals can enter. Oddly despite being the capital, it's the city we know the least about.
- The Celestial City - in the clouds above Wei-Jin; Home of the Jade Court. Location of the Wu Zing Compass, through which the Emperor directs the winds of magic to strengthen different areas of the empire in need.
- Wei-Jin - The Capital of Cathay that normal mortals can enter. Oddly despite being the capital, it's the city we know the least about.
- Western Provinces – Other than the city of Shang-Yang and the Iron Dragon, there is a place called the Tower of Ashshair, which was featured all the way back in Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos, as well as the warpstone desert. In this desert, caravans have to use mirrored shields to protect from chaos radiation. Also home of the Great Maw.
- Shang-Yang - It is the largest city in the west, a bustling metropolis full of foreign traders despite its location in the middle of the Warpstone Desert. Sometimes invaded by Ogres, Hobgoblins and Skaven. The door between the Old World and Cathay; Estalians, Tileans and Empire travellers and ambassadors all have permanent quarters within the city. It also draws in cabals of alchemists and hedge wizards, who use the city as a base for their expeditions into the desert. Since it's all unofficial and unsanctioned, a lot of warpstone and other elements get used in ways that aren't exactly the safest. Home of the Iron Dragon.
- Central Provinces – Breadbasket of empire. Ruled by Yuan Bo. It is reasonably safe. If you want to live in the Warhammer world, this is a pretty good choice. Even here though, forests are risky.
- Shang Wu - The most important city in Central Cathay. It is the seat of the Jade Dragon, Yuan Bo, who rules Central Cathay. Shang Wu lies where the Great River and other rivers meet and is also where the Broken Road and the Great Road meet, making it an incredibly important trade hub. The city is located near rich farmland.
- the Grand Observatory of Xing Po - A massive observatory where the kings astromancers are trained, study the heavens and divine the future.
- Eastern Provinces - The wealthiest region, with numerous major cities and lots of trade. It even has a large high elf population, as well as other races from across the world. Home of Dragon Fleets which guard against those pesky emos and Nippon. Ruled and protected by Yin-Yin the Sea Dragon.
- Fu-Chow - A cosmopolitan sea trade city located in the east. The palace of the Sea Dragon is there. This city is full of ghettos for different races. It's possibly the most metropolitan place in the world, eclipsing even Marienburg and Lothern.
- Bei Chai – Another eastern city, having a dark reputation for harbouring the cults of Tzeentch. Mention of a Cult of the Painted Skin growing here. Other chaos gods struggle to get a foothold in Cathay mainly due to this lot. Despite several attempts by Yin-Yin to purge the city, Tzeentch Cults somehow keep finding their way back. Why they don't just burn the whole place to ashes at this point is a mystery.
- Southern Provinces – lots of foothills rolling into the Mountains of Heaven. It contains lots of tribes and is an unruly region due to the Monkey Kings presence. Also, there is the "occasional tiger man village”. Home of the Fire Dragon, Li Dao.
- Fu-Hung - Known as the chanting city. It is the home of the Phoenix Temple, a great structure shaped like a giant vermilion warbird, close to the Mountains of Heaven. Whilst religion dedicated to deities and the Dragons isn't allowed, ancestor worship and veneration of local items of interest are tolerated. Vermillion warbirds are smaller phoenixes native to Cathay and very important in Cathayan culture.
- The Mountains of Heaven - Whilst technically in Cathay, it is functionally an autonomous region ruled by the Monkey King. The only reason for this is due to the constant threat from the Kingdoms of Ind and the Naga from the Hinterlands of Khuresh which mean any invasion to deal with the Monkey King would result in the weakened army being taken out by Cathay's enemies. So he lives as an autonomous zone where the ruling class wish to destroy him. However, they cannot commit to destroying them without foreign invaders capitalising on the new war.
Who Rules Cathay?
"Oh child, I watched your Emperor and Empress mate, I was there...drinking it in"
- – N'kari, in Total War, reminding the rulers of Cathay they were there during their conception in the grossest way possible
The dragon emperor and his wife the moon empress (both of which were around when the Old Ones were alive) are the official rulers of Cathay, and both have equal say in how to run the nation. The Emperor is pretty hands-off, spending his time on some unknowable plan which he hasn't told his children about, because that has never bitten any other Warhammer character directly on the ass cheek. His wife likes to go around pretending to be a regular human to check on things, and also root out cults of Tzeentch (other chaos gods don't seem to have gained much sway in Cathay). The emperor has nine children and four are missing. One is strongly hinted to be trapped under a river in the north of Cathay, and another one is hinted to be the one Archaon ripped apart in older lore. Shen-Zoo, the daughter that was responsible for maintaining the balance of Harmony, had disappeared somewhere in the Chaos Wastes (haven't seen that before, huh), is the focus of Cathayan storyline in TWW3. One is still completely unaccounted for. The five remaining each rule a piece of Cathay.
The Storm Dragon. She rules the north and has the duty of protecting the Great Bastion. She's the oldest and is also daddy's favourite. This makes all her siblings jealous of her. She's known for being cold and aloof, beyond the normal Dragon Children level, which might be from having to watch thousands of her subjects constantly die due to chaos attacking the Great Bastion every other Tuesday.
The Iron Dragon. The nice one who likes who smithing and might be going crazy. This guy rules the west which borders the warpstone desert. He has a green rock in his hat, right over his forehead. During an interview Andy Hall, lead writer of the Total War: WARHAMMER series, was asked if this rock was jade or warpstone. Andy refused to say which one it was. While his siblings are quite aloof towards their human subjects, Zhao is far more friendly and sociable to them and most of the Dragon-blooded trace their ancestry to him, as well as all of the Longma. Whether he legitimately cares for his subjects or just does it to piss off his siblings is unclear. Zhao also has an interest in alchemy. Fun fact: Real Life Daoist alchemists were interested in cinnabar (which was a frequent ingredient in their attempts to make an elixir of immortality), so Chinese alchemists messing around with poison stuff in ways they shouldn't do has real-life precedent. Also, Zhao's siblings think his mental health has declined, with his friendliness towards humans being considered some of the evidence of this. He's protected by his mother though, being her favourite. So you end up with a guy snorting lines of warpstone, partying with his subjects and getting it on with cute alchemist girls. A true hero of the Cathayan people. Has a friendship with Greasus Goldtooth on the basis of both of them having gigantic daddy issues.
The Fire Dragon (master of the burning winds and lord of the phoenix) - Male Ruler of the South, described as bitter that Miao Ying gets all the attention for defending the north when he has the challenging and thankless task of protecting the empire from Ind and Kuresh. Also has to deal with the Monkey King the most out of all the Dragon Siblings, who basically constantly trolls him from Warhammer Nepal. Being stuck as the second best and second favourite behind Miao Ying whilst constantly getting dunked on by some overgrown furry has left him with some unresolved issues. How original to make the fire-themed character a hothead (Even though that is literally the canon effect the Wind of Fire tends to channel in its users). According to an Andy Hall interview, he and the Jade Dragon teamed up to stop Ku'Gath from paying Cathay a little visit.
The Sea Dragon, Female Ruler of the East, admiral of the Grand Dragon Fleet. Apparently, she’s more impulsive than the others and has an oddly expansionist outlook (uh... I guess that makes her Jaghatai Khan? None of the primarchs were really known for having really impeccable naval skills). In the past, she led a failed naval invasion of the Southlands and Lustria, so she was in charge during the old lore where Cathay got absolutely destroyed by Lizardmen. She also got wrecked by Araby when she tried invading them. As a result of wasting so many Cathayan lives, she is the least popular of her siblings with both the parents and her brothers and sister. When not being defeated by every other faction, she spends most of her time dealing with the Dark Elves raiding her coasts and Nippon looking angrily at Cathay. A quote in Warhammer 3 states that she wonders if the High Elf Dragonships are named after her, meaning she is either extremely arrogant, really dumb, or deliberately snubbing Ulthuan.
In older lore, it was a different Dragon Emperor who supposedly led the fleet to the Southlands, but in the CA-written lore, it was retconned to her, while the older name of the Dragon Emperor ended up as one of Xen Huong's titles being misinterpreted in Imperial records.
The Jade Dragon. The boring middle child. He rules over central Cathay and is in charge of the main bureaucracy. He spends most of his time telling the rest of his siblings to shut up and listen to Daddy, whereupon the rest of his siblings tell him to shut his nerd ass up. He then cries to his parents who pretend to listen, and then send him back down because he's the only one who can be bothered to figure out all this 'administration' business that's needed to run a nation. Despite this, he is still the most 'liked' among the siblings, if only because no one truly hates him in comparison to some of the other sibling relationships. Considering that he prefers paperwork to fighting and rules over the part of Cathay with the least conflict he is likely the least powerful of his siblings, though he's still a dragon and can still whoop the ass of most mortal warriors. He's is quoted on the loading screens of TWW3, and they imply he is some sort of head propagandist in Cathay. Some other quotes attributed to him in WH3 paint him as one of the dragons most ambivalent towards humans, viewing them as expendable resources who yearn to be controlled.
Known as the 'Bringer of Light and Hope' she ventured into the mountains of Norsca and disappeared. She is younger than Miao Ying, but where this places her in the age range isn't narrowed down as Miao Ying is the oldest child. Cathay in Warhammer 3 gets involved in trying to save Ursun to interrogate the god to find this Dragon.
The Spirit Dragon
Currently unnamed, this dragon is rumoured to be trapped under the Dragon River. (Very creative names here). This river leads to the underworld according to Cathayan mythos. She was presumably involved with death rituals even before, considering her name and possible fate. The Warhammer Fantasy RPG mentions in the Doom of Kavzar that tells the Skaven were vomited out from the gigantic maw of the Great Black Dragon that lives coiled inside the earth, which could also possibly be her.
First Unknown Child
Possibly the Flamefang, Yien-Ya-Long, a massive serpentine Chaos dragon sworn to Tzeentch. Archaon spent many years hunting and being hunted by this dragon, eventually slaying it and claiming the eye of Sheerian from its body.
Second Unknown Child
The only dragon left with no lore hints. Possibly a chance for your own custom dragon sibling.
Potentially could be Prince Xian Ha Feng, a supposed son of the Dragon Emperor who was sent to Lamia as an emissary and who Neferata wanted to use to get a foothold in Cathay, but ended up accidentally causing a civil war. Might explain why no one mentions him if he's dead and/or a vampire.
Other Notable Characters
These are characters who don't actually rule over any official part of Cathay, but still play an important role in their history and lore.
While not one of the official rulers of Cathay, the (currently unnamed) Monkey King rules over the Mountains of Heaven and the Monkey Warriors, the second largest population in Cathay. During the Time of Darkness and Disharmony, he took over the country while the Dragon Emperor was away and his kids were fighting, installing a Clan Eshin Warlord as an advisor. This pissed off the Dragon Kids for obvious reasons, and they unified against him and knocked him back to the Mountains when dad came home. Understandably, the Dragons all hate his guts and the only reason they haven't exterminated him and the rest of his furries is because it would weaken their forces against other, bigger threats to the south.
The Monkey King does help defend Southern Cathay alongside Li Dao, and by that I mean he annoys the fuck out of him, though it is implied his warriors also serve as mercenaries for others willing to pay for them. It is also unknown if he and his monkey warrior count as servants of chaos like all beastman, that or the fact it has four arms just like that monkey statue from Vampire Slayer.
According to an in-game lore quote in Total War: Warhammer 3, the Monkey King is known for 4 depictions in different parts of Cathay that all sound Chaosy. A Bloodthirsty Gorilla in the north, A beautiful Baboon with flowing blond hair whose always in heat in the west, a fat Orangutan with boils on his stomach in the east, and a deceptive Spider Monkey in the south. According to Andy Hall, this is propaganda spread by Tzeentch to stop Cathay and the Monkey King from fully uniting. Fun fact, none of these animals live in real-life China.
Once a peasant living in the shittier parts of Nan-Gau, Shi-Hong had of hobby of making complicated mechanical toys to amuse his friends and family. The Artificer Guild in Nan-Gau thought he showed promise and took him in, where he quite rapidly rose through the ranks to become one of the Masters of the guild. He came up with an idea to ease the amount of strain the Bastion was facing against Chaos, mainly boiling down to "What if we just killed them before they actually got to the walls in sufficient numbers?" He installed mechanical platforms to allow Crane Gunners to snipe more accurately from further away and was credited for the creation of the weaponized airships. He is referred to as "The Blind Master", though whether he was born blind or was blinded in an accident or as an act of sabotage from a rival group is unknown.
Cathay has always been a very insular and isolationist nation, as such they never really interact too heavily with foreign powers aside from trade unless they feel like they need to. That said caravans and ambassadors have been sent out to other nations of the world, and they have plenty of enemies at their borders, which gives us some clues as to how they view the rest of the world.
- Western Human Nations: According to older lore (which may or may not be decanonised now), Cathay was first discovered by Tilean adventurer Marco Polare (sounds familiar, right?), who managed to establish trade between Cathay and Tilea. Like pretty much everyone else in the world, they trade with Marienburg... and that's pretty much it. The Nagash novel dispute the above statement by making Lahmia, a port city in the Nehekhara east to be their first trade partner in the ancient past.
- Empire: Western Empire is easily the country with which Cathay interacts most, up to the point of having an official ambassador. Still, the distance between two countries essentially means that they are pretty much on their own most of the time.
- Bretonnia: Not counting old Leofric Carrard novels (in which Bretonnian knight simply roamed the world searching for adventures), there is nothing to say about their relations.
- Kislev: Same as Bretonnia, if you don't count Total War: WARHAMMER III.
- Ancient Nehekharan: According to Nagash novel, the Lahmians were the only Nehekharan Cathay has been interacted for the most part. From their trades, the Lahmian gained a lot of goodies from them like silks, spices, candles, incense, tea and firearms (that last one requires the entire city of Lahmia as payment if there were no gold left). Because of this, Lahmian were the foremost weeaboo nation ever existed in warhammer at that times. Although both gained a lot from the trade, it does not prevent them from scheming against each other, which results in Neferata having enough of their shit, convinced one of their officer into a vampirism, resulting the spread of vampirism in great Cathay. The Dragon Emperor (or whoever was in charged at the time) was pissed off of course, and cancelled the trade with Lahmian, only to re-sign the agreement after the said Emperor (once again, might not be the real one if the newest lore were to believe) was killed and replaced by his inheritor. However, we all know how Lahmia got it ass handed to Alcadizzar and his armies, so I guess that marks the end of that relationship.
- Araby: Araby was one of the targets for Yin-Yin's plan of Cathayan expansion, and, as you know, it ended badly.
- Kingdoms of Ind: Ind are seen as some sort of threat for Cathay (probably because of the tiger beastmen living there), alongside Khuresh.
- Eastern Human Nations: Nippon is described as a rival naval nation, which isn't elaborated for now.
- Chaos: Like any other Ordered civilization, Cathay hates Chaos, to the point of building Great Bastion to protect their lands from Daemons and marauders (mostly Hungs and Kurgans). However, unlike most of the world, Blue Weeaboo Bird is strongest here, corrupting aristocracy of some cities and creating weird cults. Oh, and also you can find Beastmen there.
- Dwarfs: Both Cathay and Karaz Ankor are too remote and too isolated to have any meaningful collaboration between each other.
- Chaos Dwarfs: Same as their non-Chaotic kin up to the End Times, when they assisted Chaos in invading Cathay.
- High Elves: Cathay and Asur established trade with each other early, about 1700 years before End Times, but since then not much has changed in relations between these nations. High Elves are also the main minority living in the Eastern ports of the empire.
- Dark Elves: Druchii (especially Fellheart family) are know to raid the shit out of everything, and Cathay is not an exception, with several cities being destroyed by Black Arcs. They are also easily the main naval danger for Cathayan fleet.
- Wood Elves: It is unknown if any Wood Elf community lives outside of Athel Loren and Nordland forests, but there is some baseless speculation that "Forest of Hungry Ghosts" mentioned on the brand new Cathayan map may be related to them.
- Vampires: Cathay has its own version of Vampires which were long a subject of canonicity debates - Jade-Blooded. And while they were confirmed to exist recently, their lore is so outdated that we can't say for sure how Dragon family feels about them.
- Skaven: Aside from Ogres, this is the race that interacts (or interacted) with Cathay the most. Clan Eshin learned ninja technics here (or in Nippon), and Under-Empire has a major presence in Cathay, up to being co-rulers of it alongside Monkey King when Big D disappeared.
- Lizardmen: Yin-Yin tried to invade Southlands during her expansion attempts, but failed. Aside from that, not much is known about their relationship.
- Ogre Kingdoms: Ogres are very linked to Cathay - most of their backstory relies on Big D pulling a comet out of space to prevent them from eating his subjects. Ogres work as mercenaries there (especially in Zhao Ming's army), but generally they aren't interested in Celestial Empire due to their westward migration.
- Greenskins: They mostly don't live in Eastern Lands, ans the only time they interacted is when Grimgor's horde destroyed Cathay in the End Times.
All that we know about Cathay's army comes from their army roster in Total War Warhammer 3 pre any DLC, so this probably isn't even their entire list. Given that they are coming to Warhammer: The Old World we'll split them up into Cores, Special and Rare units once we know who goes where.
- Dragon-Blooded Shugengan Lord: These guys are what happens when a member of the Dragon family gets really bored, spots one of their human subjects and decides "Meh, I'd fuck that." They're the highest ranking officials in Cathay aside from the Dragons themselves, being incredible spellcasters and warriors in their own right. They also tend to be arrogant twats and their lesser human nobles hate them out of envy. Sadly since they aren't full blooded Dragons they can't transform but they can use the Lores of Yin and Yang, which are exclusive to Dragons.
- Lord Magistrate: The normal human nobles in Cathay, they are the high ranking generals or lords that run Cathay's cities. They aren't nearly as strong as the Shugengan but they are more numerous. They mainly specialize in commanding armies and directing their troops to perfection after years of practice. Important ones come into battle aboard a Sky Lantern in order to get a view of the battle from the air and to direct troops with flags and to bring out the best in their soldiers.
- Alchemists: The secretive sorcerer cabal in Cathay, they flock to Shang Yang as Zhao Ming is the only dragon who wants to have them around. Guy pretty much runs his own cult of metal benders and only gets away with it because he's mama's favorite. They have grown into a surprisingly powerful cabal that while technically not allowed, still gets hired by generals due to their skill in the Lore of Metal and their potion making in order to assist troops in battle.
- Astromancer: This is the actually accepted group of sorcerers in Cathay who specialize in Lore of Heavens, as it is the Dragon Emperor's favorite. The highest ranking officials spend much of their time assisting Big D with his secret project as often serve as his messengers and advisors. This is also the group who accidentally nuked the Ogres but when they aren't doing that they are assisting Cathay's armies with magic and the Wu-Xing War Compass.
(Or at least our best guess given what we know)
- Peasant Long Spearman: Also known as the "Warriors of Wind and Field", the Dragons realized that they have a crap load of people living in Cathay and said "Hey, we can use these guys!" They're only really used for numbers and are not only expected to run, but are often encouraged to so that the better warriors can deal with stuff they can't handle. Small towns who can't afford to have standing regiments of Jade Warriors mostly have these guys as defense.
- Peasant Archer: Evidently the Moon Empress loves ranged weapons and young girls are taught how to use a bow at an early age to honor her. Again, pretty much only used to fill out numbers.
- Peasant Horsemen: Due to the massive size of the country, Peasants often learn how to ride in order to carry information or commercial goods across massive territories. As such, they often fill the role of scouts or flanking harass in Cathayan armies.
- Jade Warriors: These guys are the actual trained soldiers of Cathay. Their main job is to hold the front line so that the guns and ranged units have a chance to shoot. Can be equipped with Swords, Halberds and Crossbows. They mostly serve as the military and police in larger cities who can afford to house large numbers of them
- Jade Lancers: The most common heavy cav in Cathay, they are slower but much tankier than most other knights.
- Celestial Dragon Guard: The Elites of the Cathayan Army, raised to a higher standard to the standard rank and file with better weapons and armor. Can be armed with swords, halberds or crossbows.
- Monkey Warriors: The soldiers of the Monkey King. We don't know what they do or how they fight, but we know they exist.
- Iron Hail Gunners : Ladies with Chinese themed blunderbusses. Don't quite have the range of Empire guns but since they wield old timey shotguns they can rip apart enemy formations at a very close range.
- Crane Gunners: Sniper teams with a long ass gun where one person mans the gun and the other mans a shield and reloads. Whether these guys ripped off the Skaven or vice versa isn't explained. However, considering the Skaven's habit of
stealingappropriating stuff from other cultures, like Clan Eshin learning how to be ninjas from Nippon, there can be a case for the latter.
- Great Longma Riders: Minor nobles who became nobles by their great-grandpa shtupping a dragon, who ride Dragon Horses. They're the elite cavalry force of Cathay and are usually used to give them aerial dominance and to cover for the war balloons.
- Terracotta Sentinels: The Celestial Dragon Emperor's action figures that come to life to defend Cathay much like the Tomb Kings constructs. Said to contain the souls of ancient warriors who fought for the Dragon during the first Chaos Incursion. Stand sentinel around Cathay until invaders comes.
- Sky Lantern: A flying balloon piloted by sniper ladies, it acts as a forward scout for Cathay's armies. Also used by Magistrates to find enemy positions, discover ambushes and to provide motivation to the troops below.
- Sky-Junk: A heavier flying balloon powered by a smaller phoenix, this acts as a mobile flying artillery piece. Armed with a Fire Rain Rocket and multiple bombs they can tear entire battle formations apart.
- Grand Cannon: A cannon that is pulled by oxen making it surprisingly fast, that fires firey globes into the enemy.
- Wu-Xing War Compass: A miniature version of the Celestial Compass which the Dragon Emperor uses to slap magic into various places of Cathay, it greatly boosts the magical capacity of mages riding one or simply its presence on the field.
- Fire Rain Rocket: What inspired the Helstorm rocket battery in lore, it acts functionally the same. Fires multiple rockets at once that, while inaccurate, can cause devastation on the battlefield.
Originally the only images we've had of Cathay and its people were a single picture in the Warhammer rule books and from a White Dwarf article where they showed off somebody's converted army. Suffice to say the converter did a great job, and the pictures are included below. Later on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Total War: Warhammer had their own stabs at what Cathay should look like.
Yabo Chao, an ambassador from Cathay in Altdorf.
|Regions and Areas of the Warhammer World|
|Areas of The Old World:||The Empire of Man - Bretonnia - Albion - Estalia - Tilea - Kislev - Norsca - Border Princes - Worlds Edge Mountains - Karak Eight-Peaks|
|Areas of The New World:||Naggaroth - Lustria|
|Areas of The Eastern Lands:||Cathay - Nippon - Ogre Kingdoms - Dark Lands - Kingdoms of Ind - Khuresh - Eastern Steppes|
|Areas of The Southlands:||Nehekhara - Araby - Badlands - Marshes of Madness|
|Other Areas of the world:||Ulthuan - Athel Loren - Chaos Wastes - Skavenblight - Lost Isles of Elithis|
|Main bodies of Water:||The Great Ocean - The Far Sea - The Sea of Dread - Inner Sea of Ulthuan|