Powers and Perils


(The Golden Empire)

According to Katai's historians, the ancestors of mankind were born in Katai and Chunrey. Those without foresight or lacking in wit moved away from the true home of men and became the ancestors of the barbarian nations. The wise remained in the Golden lands, Katai and Chunrey, and became the ancestors of civilized man.

The recorded history of Katai and Chunrey covers 3,900 years. The history below only covers Katai's last 1,100 years (the Howao and Khatou dynasties). The earlier times are ignored in this history.

The Howao War of Succession began in the year 2829KA [29SA]. The first Howao Emperor took the throne in the year 2879KA [79SA]. This Emperor (2879 - 2901KA [79-101SA]) rebuilt the nation and broke the power of his enemies. His heir (2901 - 2932KA [101-132SA]) devoted his reign (2902 - 2929KA [102-129SA]) to the conquest of Chunrey; unifying the golden lands under a single Emperor. In the next two reigns (2930 - 2978KA [130-178SA]) Katai made many cultural advances including the invention of printing.

In the reign of the fifth Howao (2978 - 3020KA [178-220SA]) the flowering of Katai was cut short. From 2983 - 2998KA [183-198SA] the War of the Black Heresy ravaged the realm. In this war a powerful religious cult, dedicated to perverse rites and the worship of vampiric creatures, attempted to seize the Empire. They were defeated in the year 198 and the surviving cultists were exiled into the wilds of the western desert. After this victory, the reigning Emperor outlawed all unapproved religious sects and the practice of magic, under pain of death. During his reign, and that of his successor (3020 - 3150KA [220-350SA]), a massive witch hunt rocked the land. More than 100,000 people were killed or banished. (The formation of Regis Baya and the Dark lands occurred as a result of this period. L'p'nth was founded by the heretics who were exiled into the western desert.)

After this upheaval Katai returned to normal. During the next four reigns (3047 - 3150KA [247-350SA]) a stratified caste system developed and the City of Iron was built (3084 - 3101KA [284-301SA]) in the city of Katai to serve as an Imperial dwelling. Since its completion, members of the royal family have rarely been seen outside of its walls.

In the next fifteen reigns (3150 - 3353KA [350-553SA]) the Howao dynasty became decadent. In the year 3192KA [392SA] Chunrey gained full rights as a Principality-showing the dynasty's weakness to the great nobles of Katai. They began to plan for a succession war and the selection of a new dynasty.

From the years 3330 - 3333KA [530-533SA], revolts in Scaloo, Musdao, Qimou, Ci'jian, Dzhamou and Sangsao began the Khatou War of Succession. Of the fifteen families who sought the throne, the Dzhamou (backed by most of the north), the Khatou (native to Sangsao and backed by central Katai and House Jian) and the Howao (strong in the south and Chunrey) were dominant. In the year 3353KA [553SA], the armies of Khatou and Jian shattered the armies of Howao and Dzhamou in two decisive battles. After these victories, supported by 70% of Katai's nobility, the Prince of House Khatou became the new Emperor. Immediately, as demanded by tradition, he turned his might on his enemies and broke the power of Dzhamou and Howao. To escape the vengeance of Khatou, Chunrey declared its independence. The resulting war lasted until the year 3379KA [579SA]. It ended with the death of the first Khatou Emperor, leaving Chunrey as an independent, tributary state, owing fealty to Katai. (In fact, they pay their tribute and owe nothing more.)

During the second Khatou's reign (3379 - 3417KA [579-617SA]), the Duke of Coasa attacked the Kingdom of the East. He was defeated and lost his lands. The Emperor allowed this defeat to stand for three reasons:

1) The Duke attacked without permission and thus deserved no aid.

2) A cartel of Fomorian merchants gave the Emperor a gift of 45,000 Sc and convinced him that, by allowing Coasa to fall, he would set a precedent that would strengthen the dynasty.

3) Coasa was one of House Howao's supporters.

During the next six reigns (3417 - 3595KA [617-795SA]) the Khatou ruled with an iron hand. The caste system became the law of the land and, beneath the Emperor, the military and Old Nobility achieved total dominance.

In the year 3591KA [791SA] L'p'nth invaded Katai through the western desert. The Katai garrison, under the command of General Jin'sha (a common soldier who rose from the ranks) repulsed the invaders, even though his forces were outnumbered four to one. The next year, with the arrival of 10,000 reinforcements, Jin'sha shattered L'p'nth's army and drove them out of Katai. Due to the nature of the enemy, and the fact that they were descended from expelled Black Heretics, Jin'sha became a national hero. In the year 3593KA [793SA] he was recalled to the city of Katai, given the title of Count and made both the commander of the Imperial Guard and the champion of House Khatou. Later (3598KA [798SA]), in the reign of the ninth Khatou (3596 - 3602KA [796-802SA]), he married a niece of the Emperor and was given the title of Grand Duke. At this point he was, after the Emperor, the most powerful man in Katai and the hated enemy of the Old Nobility (because he began as a common sergeant and through "sheer luck" became a Grand Duke and Marshal of the Empire by the age of 40.). In truth, Jin'sha Tara'Khatou was one of the greatest men in the history of Katai.

In the year 3603KA [803SA] the Emperor Mocama (3602 - 3631KA [802-831SA]), an insane mystic and fratricide, issued the Writ of Divine Seclusion. By this writ the Imperial family sequestered itself in the City of Iron-to preserve their mortal subjects from the sublime light of Imperial divinity. The Emperor affirmed and ordained that he, and his descendants, were gods and beyond mortal ken. He appointed Grand Duke Jin'sha Tara'Khatou Master General of the Empire and ordered him, and his heirs, to serve as the intermediary between god and man. Thus, Jin'sha became the de facto ruler of Katai.

During his reign (3603 - 3620KA [803-820SA]) Jin'sha smashed fifteen revolts by the Old Nobility and military elite. Under his son, Yuan'jin (3620 - 3649KA [820-849SA]), the nobles and the military were welded into a single class and forced to swear fealty to the Emperor and the Master General. Through iron-fisted tyranny and subtle political maneuvers, Yuan'jin established the power of the Master General as temporal ruler of Katai and sole spokesman of the Emperor.

Since the reign of Yuan'jin, Katai has been stable. The descendants of Jin'sha rule harshly, but well. With the ascent of Sha'yuan as Master General (3897KA [1097SA]), the nation defeated the Shaghut in a massive preemptive raid (3897 - 3898KA [1097-1098SA]) and replaced the corrupt ducal house of Pamau (3899KA [1099SA]) with a new ruling family (an action unprecedented in the history of Katai). There is strong sentiment in the nation for wars to reconquer lost portions of the Empire (Chunrey, the Coasa Peninsula and parts of the Cerulean Empire). Sha'yuan and most of the nobility are opposed to this policy. The merchant class and many young nobles, including Yuan'chou (Sha'yuan's heir), favor such an enterprise.


Katai is the world's most populous Empire. It has 7,400,000 citizens. Its urban population alone (1,040,000) is more than the total population of most Empires. Katai has 20 major cities. Its capital, Katai (206,000), is the largest city in the known world. Its other cities are Shantou (103,000), Sangsao (99,000), Qimou (80,000), Choundeu (78,000), Li'jian (70,000), Jiuquo (53,000), Kodao (50,000), Koi'lan (41,000), Scaloo (38,000), Tiansar (30,000), Koulou (29,000), Si'chava (27,000), Pamau (25,000), Da'qaid (24,000), Ci'jian (22,000), Musdao (20,000), Ul'liaou (18,000), Dzhamou (15,000) and Tirat (12,000).

NOTE - The City of Iron is located in the city of Katai. Its population (28,000) is included in that given for Katai. Its residents, the Imperial family and their servants, are permanently sequestered within its walls.

The army of the Empire is divided into three groups. The Iron Guard (household troops of the Master General) are responsible for sequestering the City of Iron and administering the city of Katai. It contains some of Katai's finest young warriors. To be selected for service on the Iron Guard is a great honor for a young noble.

The Imperial Army has active forces and fortress militia. The active forces serve as the army of Katai province. They are commanded by the Master General, his heir, members of the noble houses of Katai and lesser nobles who have proven their ability to lead. The total strength of this force is 16,000 footmen and 4,000 cavalry. Each fortress in Katai has its own militia unit (referring only to those fortresses that are marked on the maps).

Each unit is commanded by the Warden of its fortress. They are responsible for protecting the area from invasion, bandits, etc. (Each fortress is a military colony with approximately 400 footmen). The total strength of the fortress militia is 24,000. The total strength of the Imperial Army is 44,000.

The final group is the Empire's provincial forces. They are subject to call by the Master General in time of war. At all other times they are controlled by the noble that they owe fealty to. As a general rule, the total strength of the army present in each province, excluding Katai province, equals 10% of the population of the province's capital (Each city in Katai is a provincial capital. The Empire has 20 provinces, including the Imperial province of Katai.). Ten percent of these troops, rounded off to the closest 100, are elite.

EXAMPLE - The province of Pamau has 2,200 men-at-arms and 300 elite troops. The province of Shantou has 9,300 soldiers and 1,000 elite troops.

EXCEPTION - The province of Dzhamou has a military system which gives it a larger army than other provinces. Dzhamou has a standing army of 1,300 and 200 elite. In addition, the Duke can call 6,000 trained militia to his banner from the rural areas of the province.

The total strength of the provincial armies is 76,000 men-at-arms, 8,400 elite and 6,000 Dzhamou militia. Approximately 15% of this force is cavalry. The total strength of Katai's armies is 154,400.

Katai has an Imperial fleet and nine provincial fleets. Their strengths are as follows:

ProvinceWarshipsRiver Patrol
Imperial20 40
Tiansar10 0
Koi'lan0 5
Si'chava15 0
Musdao5 0
Choundeu0 15
Scaloo0 10
Sangsao10 0
Jiuquo15 0
Ci'jian5 0
TOTAL80 70

NOTE - Each river patrol boat has 40 soldiers in its crew. These soldiers are not elite.


Katai has massive agricultural regions along its rivers. Its cities are manufacturing centers that equal any western nation in the production of luxury items and common goods. The hills and mountains of the Empire contain rich deposits of metal and minerals (largely untapped because of lack of need and the difficulty to reach them). Katai imports quality metal and other goods from the "barbarian" nations. Their iron work is inferior to that of the west. In other areas, except ship construction, their goods are superior.


The Emperor of Katai is considered to be a god. Worship of the Emperor is the only approved religion in the Empire. Any other religious practice, use of magic or heresy against the divine Emperor is punishable by death. (The actual punishment varies with the attitude of the local ruler.)


Katai's culture is based on personal honor and loyalty. Their basic family unit is an extended family. An individual's status is derived from his position in his family and the size and station of that family. Especially in the noble classes, most citizens can trace their ancestry back at least 500 years.

People of Katai tend to be logical, pragmatic and fatalistic. Loyalty is paramount in this culture. Among average citizens, the following order of loyalty applies:

1) Loyalty to the Emperor

2) Loyalty to family

3) Loyalty to your liege lord

4) Loyalty to caste, associates and friends

NOTE - In many noble families loyalty to family is number one and the Emperor is number two. Honorable cities resolve conflicting loyalties with the loyalty that has the highest priority taking precedence. Thus, if a friend asks you to betray your liege, you betray your friend. If the offer is made such that your family profits greatly, you betray your liege.

Nobles of Katai are hedonistic, cunning and honorable. Most are skilled warriors and cultured individuals. Persons whose status is a function of their wealth, rich merchants for example, are often greedy and ostentatious. Profit is of great importance to them. (In Katai, a man's wealth is measured by the size of his family, the extent of his lands, the number of men who owe him fealty, the beauty or value of things that he possesses and the power that he wields in his village, city or nation.)

In the lower classes land, money and family size are the measure of success. Peasants fear authority. They obey orders from their lord without question or hesitation. Most Katai peasants are industrious, cunning and treacherous, when cunning and treachery will not hurt their family. Unless a peasant serves a kind master he is without rights, unless he is a property-owner.

NOTE - Except for citizens of Chunrey, all foreigners are classed as barbarians. Unless they are of some value, and have a Katai patron, they have no station. People of Chunrey are considered to be civilized. Most citizens of Katai consider them to be treacherous, amoral, barbarian-loving fools.

Legal System

Katai is ruled by its Emperor. His will is made known by the Master General-his only contact with the outside world. The Master General rules the Iron Guard, the Imperial Army, all branches of civilian administration, the Imperial Fleet and the Imperial Province of Katai.

NOTE - A network of Imperial administrators operates throughout the Empire. They are responsible for seeing to it that the government operates smoothly. Their official authority is restricted to tax collection and public works. Within each province they report to the reigning Duke or Grand Duke but do not owe him fealty. Any conflict that arises between them and the local ruler is resolved by an Imperial Judge (appointed by the Master General).

Except where the Master General or his administrators rule, local nobles are supreme. Local nobles control their provincial forces, administration and day-to-day affairs in the province. The local ruler can also levy a head tax, collected by his army, on each person in the province.

NOTE - A "Head Tax" is a fixed charge levied on each person in the province. The amount set is due to the reigning noble each year. It must be paid in cash. The amount, per head, does not vary with the station of the individual. The average head tax in Katai is 2CC per person per year.

Two legal codes exist in Katai. The first is a precisely defined code that details the proper conduct of the noble class. It is administered by nobles for nobles. Under this code the penalty for illegal conduct is verbal reprimand, corporal punishment, demotion in status or banishment. When the crime is serious enough to warrant demotion or banishment, it is considered to be honorable for the felon to kill himself (thus removing the stain from his family's honor).

The Code Imperial applies to non-nobles. Minor cases are resolved by Imperial judges or village elders. The penalties that they can levy are small fines (not more than 2GC), short-term forced labor and minor corporal punishment. All other crimes are judged by the local nobility. Unless the convict can escape, and reach a higher noble or another province, the penalty is imposed without hope of appeal. Under this code nobles have the power of life and death. They can judge an infraction on the spot and slay the felon immediately, if they choose to do so and the crime is severe.

In addition to these codes, secret societies and criminal groups in Katai have their own codes to live by. When these codes are violated, the penalties are mutilation and death. In general, the "sentence" is carried out in an ostentatious and flamboyant manner (to enhance the reputation of the society and engender respect and fear in those who might oppose it).


Chunrey is an undependable tributary ally. Choshai has trade relations with Katai and is friendly (especially toward the Duchy of Dzhamou).


Chunrey is an enemy of Katai. The Kingdom of the East, the Cerulean Empire and Regis Baya dislike Katai. None of their neighbors have the courage to risk war with Katai.


Lower Katai
Fomorian 15%
Middle Katai
Upper Katai

NOTE - Areas within 400 miles of the city of Katai are Middle Katai. Areas south of this are Lower Katai. Areas to the north are Upper Katai. Most people in Katai fall into the Middle Katai category.

Provincial Organization

Each province is organized along the following lines:

Duke or Grand Duke1
Master General1

NOTE - The only Imperial province is Katai. Title holders from an Imperial province have the same status as a person with the same title from another province, i.e., a Duke of Katai is the equal to any Duke in the land.

With few exceptions, only Ducal rank or higher is hereditary. Lesser titles are gained by appointment from the hereditary noble of the area. This noble may grant an existing title of his province to any noble or worthy officer. He may remove the appointee, for cause, at any time. Only the Master General has the authority to create a new title. If someone wishes a new title to be created, it requires a Writ of Entitlement bearing the seal of the Master General.

As a rule, Dukes and Grand Dukes appoint Counts and Barons. Counts may appoint Barons if the Duke or Grand Duke approves. A Baron may appoint Knights with the approval of the Count that he serves. In the Imperial province, the Master General appoints all nobles except for the four hereditary Dukes.

The normal operation of fealty in this system is that a title-holder owes fealty first to the lord who appointed him and second to the noble that he is required to serve by that title. He does not owe fealty to any other noble except the Master General and the Emperor. In most provinces the holders of the best fiefs are the relations of the reigning Duke or Grand Duke. Where this is a large family, such as House Jian, all of the Counts and Barons could be members of this family.

EXAMPLE - A noble is appointed Baron of Low Marob by the Duke of Koi'lan. First, he owes fealty to the Master General and the Emperor. Next, he owes fealty to the Duke of Koi'lan. Finally, he owes fealty to the Count of Marob because his lands are within that noble's fief.

IMPORTANT - It is possible for a person to wield noble status without being of noble blood. Military officers may achieve high rank due to merit. The relative status of these leaders is:

Full General=Duke
Lesser General=Count
All Colonels=Baron
Captain and lower=Untitled Nobility

Current Notables in Katai

Certain provincial nobles wield great power or are of special importance. The notes below detail some of these nobles and give and insight into "modern" politics in Katai.

House Choundeu is the most loyal family in the Empire. They are cousins of the royal family. The current Grand Duke is married to the niece of the Master General.

In Scaloo province, piracy on the waterways is endemic. The Duke of Scaloo is a fat and wealthy old man. Many suspect that he gets a cut from the pirates as his patrols rarely arrest any of them. (His son is an honorable soldier. He feels dishonored by his father but can do nothing against him because he is his father.)

The Duke of Kodao (Chou'lan Maraseri) is a brilliant general with great influence in the nation. He is opposed to the Master General system and has no belief in the divinity of the Emperor. His goal is to overthrow the Master General, execute the Imperial family and take the throne for House Kodao. (Though the name of this family is Maraseri they are called House Kodao. Hereditary lines take their name from their lands for official lineage terminology.)

In Pamau, the Master General has executed the reigning Duke and 60% of his family and replaced them with a new House Pamau, led by a famous General. Pamau is the center of a powerful criminal organization that the former Duke aided. The new Duke is trying to establish his power in the province by smashing this group. He is hated by the old nobility and the criminal element.

The Grand Duke of Sangsao is a direct descendent of the Imperial line. His forebears abdicated their Imperial rights to retain Sangsao and their freedom of movement. The current Grand Duke is an intelligent man who considers the current system to be a farce. He is loyal to it because it works and no one has proposed anything better. Grand Duke Lian sa'Khatou, according to gossip obviously begun by his enemies, is a wizard of no mean talent. He denies this categorically and has slain men who were foolish enough to make the accusation in public.

The Grand Duke of Shantou is the head of House Howao and the direct descendent of a second cousin of the Emperor. Many believe that he wishes to re-establish the Howao dynasty and is working with the Duke of Kodao to overthrow the Master General.

The Duke of Qimou recently celebrated the wedding of his heir to the eldest daughter of the Duke of Kodao. A close tie exists between these families.

House Jian, rulers in Ci'Jian and Li'Jian, have evidence of a deadly plot to overthrow the Empire. They are a loyal family who are working to uncover enough evidence to alert the Master General.

House Dzhamou has never accepted the Master General system. Its nobles give lip service to the Master General and the Emperor, but owe them no fealty in their minds. They are loyal to their Duke and House Dzhamou. The Duke of Dzhamou is a pragmatic man with the soul of a mercenary. He is dedicated to the rebuilding of his family's power and has developed close ties with the nation of Choshai.

House Champions

Each hereditary house in Katai has a house champion, signified by his use of the honorific "tara" before the family name. His duties, as champion, are to defend the honor of the family and see to the military education of the Duke's household. In some cases, this man also commands the Duke's personal guard. The champion is a duelist, weapons instructor and master of the finer skills that a cultured warrior should know. Only rarely is he a great military leader. (It is very rare for the house champion to also be the leader of the province's army.)

Basic Characteristics

Weight 135lbs

Common Weapons

Swords, Spears, Polearms


The Katai peoples are unique. Most have black hair, oriental eyes and skin of a vaguely golden color. Citizens of Dzhamou, Choshai and Tirat vary somewhat. They have a paler complexion and are about 5% heavier.

Calendar (Solar)

Katai's calendar dates from a mythical year called the year of the fateful decision. According to legend, all of the families of man lived in the holy valley of Sai'tremira on the river Kodai (near the site of modern Choundeu). With time, the resources of the valley were stretched beyond all limits and famine stalked the land. A great number of the people, losing all trust in fate, set out to find better lands and were lost. Finally only the two largest families kept faith with providence and remained. The gods, touched by their loyalty, showered them with good fortune, gave them the key to true knowledge and, as a sign of their perpetual favor, gave a golden hue to the people of the land. And as a final gift to his children, the greatest god, whose name is beyond mortal ken, descended to the earth. As his gifts he placed the first sword in the hands of Kata the Elder and named him master of the north. To Chun the Silent he gave the tools of an artisan and master over the lands to the south. Thus were the Golden Lands born and thus were the peoples who founded Katai and Chunrey rewarded for their fealty to the gods. The calendar of Katai is used in Katai, Chunrey, Regis Baya, Choshai and the eastern Cerulean Empire.

The Culture Book

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