The secrets of Grand Cathay – a roundtable with Andy Hall


Total War
October 14 2021

Grand Cathay is new, big, and beautiful, and that means questions. Who are the other dragon siblings, and where are they? What is Harmony? What could the Celestial Dragon Emperor really want, and can he win a drinking contest with Khorne? These are important considerations with more important answers, so we thought it best to get some of your favourite content creators and our Lead Writer, Andy Hall, to sit down and talk through some bits and pieces. Brave-courageous as I am, I also sneaked in and recorded it all on a warpstone tablet, so I could bring you the highlights (along with a few links to the work of our influencers, naturally). Sally forth!

Naturally, the primary source and creator of all this comes back to Games Workshop. We discussed and worked in harmony with them, but the final calls, the initial ideas, and the weight of bringing it all to life lays with them. The goal: to make Grand Cathay feel like they were just as developed and interesting as any faction that existed in Warhammer Fantasy Battle’s 8th edition. For that you need leaders, history, lands, heroes and villains, and whatever holds it all together. You can read much about that in our earlier lore piece, so this roundtable focused a little more on the specifics – there’s also the Lorebeards podcast interview with Andy Hall, by Loremaster of Sotek and The Great Book of Grudges. Worth a watch if you’re doubly interested in the Warhammer world.

Who are the other dragon children?

Alongside Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon (cold and aloof, lord of the Northern Provinces, bit mean), and Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon (clever chap, a touch odd, lord of the Western Provinces, maybe nice), there are:

  • Li Dao, the Fire Dragon, lord of the Southern Provinces and the Mountains of Heaven.
  • Yin-Yin, the Sea Dragon, lord of the Eastern Provinces and Admiral of the Grand Dragon Fleet.
  • Yuan Bo, the Jade Dragon, lord of the Central Provinces and Administrator of the Realm.

There are also other children, though time, entropy, and mystery keep them shrouded. This is in addition to the Celestial Dragon Emperor, Xen Yang, and the Moon Empress, Quai Yin. It is important to note that while they act in the interests of their people, something like a massive invasion of Grand Cathay that lasts multiple decades are merely small events on the immortal timeline of their lives. Often, it is simply not worth the effort to descend and see personally to an invasion, no matter how many lives it may cost.

The Dragons do not see themselves as Gods, indeed they hold contempt for them as they are often older and see themselves as wiser, not requiring, requesting, or demanding worship.  In a similar manner, the idea of allowing themselves to be steeds for other races, as dragons are in the west, is disgusting to them.

Is there disharmony in Grand Cathay?

Absolutely – Andy described what we’d seen so far as the ‘tourist’s guide’, all the best bits with relatively little of the darkness. The constant pressure of Chi’an Chi, the rebellious elements of the human populace, the differing attitudes and uses for magic, all of it could easily boil over and is kept in check through a combination of luck, skill, and leadership. That is to say nothing of the Monkey King and his Monkey Warriors.

It is also of note that the Dragon Emperor is not going about his days simply languishing in the Celestial City, eating grapes. He is working on something, something he finds important enough to leave the management of his empire to his children. What its completion might spell for the people, for the world, is unknown to all.

However, Grand Cathay is an Order-aligned civilization. They stand opposed to Chaos to their north, and the destructive tendencies of the Greenskins and Ogres to their west. They are imperfect and flawed, and must fight for their future, but they do not wish to see the world destroyed.

How does Grand Cathay relate to their southern and eastern neighbours?

It’s largely hostile – perhaps unsurprisingly. To the South lies the Monkey King, he resides in the Mountains of Heaven with his Monkey Warriors – though those warriors often work as mercenaries for Grand Cathy or armies far further afield. Indeed, the Monkey King has aligned with Grand Cathay when needed.

The Naga of Khuresh are another threat to the south, while Dark Elves and human nations in the Jade Sea to the East can prove equally problematic – hence the existence of the Dragon Fleet.

What other towns, cities, and locations in Grand Cathay are there?

As Andy put it, Games Workshop were very generous in the amount of detail and number of provinces they gave information on. There are many cities in Grand Cathay across all the provinces.

The capital of the South is the City of Fu-Hung, known as the chanting city. It is the home of the Phoenix Temple, a great structure shaped as a giant vermilion warbird, close to the Mountains of Heaven.

To the east is Fu-Chow, dock of the Grand Dragon Fleet. It is also the most cosmopolitan and diverse area of Grand Cathay, with areas dedicated to Dwarfs, High Elves, and humans from other nations. This greases the wheels of trade for the dock, one of the most important in all Grand Cathay.

And much more…

There are many more secrets of the Eastern Empire yet to be discovered, both in-game and a few tidbits and details you can see in the videos embedded above. We’ve also re-released our WARHAMMER II prequel stories – The Mage and the Sorceress, The Forked Tongue, and All Tunnels Lead to Skavenblight – on Total War Access, if you’d like some more hot lore. We hope you enjoy!