Total War

Chinese names for Cathayan units and spells from the roster reveal

There are again some very interesting Chinese translations for unit names in the Cathay roster reveal. Here I will show the most distinctive ones (most are just straight translations). The localized original is here.

If you want to know Chinese versions of Cathayan character and place names, I've done two previous posts you can check out.


Dragon-blooded Shugengan Lords: Long Yi Xiu Yan Qing = 龙裔修验卿

  • 龙 lóng – "dragon"
  • 裔 yì – "descent"
  • 修 xiū – "refinement, cultivation"
  • 验 yàn – "proof, practice"
  • 卿 qīng – "minister, official"
  • Translation: "Dragon-descended Ministers of Cultivation and Practice"

The xiū yàn 修验 part of the name comes from the Chinese translation of Shugendō 修験道, a Japanese esoteric religion that combines Buddhism and Shintoism. The name of its practitioners, Shugenja, was used in the Legend of the Five Rings RPG to refer to eastern spell casters and probably led to the creation of "Shugengan" in Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos. So while the title xiū yàn qīng 修验卿 is rooted in GW's early mishmashing of Asian cultures, it actually ends up making sense for the in-universe Cathayan characters (i.e. they cultivate and practice their magic).

Lord Magistrates: Jing Lue Shi = 经略使

  • 经 jīng – "to administer"
  • 略 lüè – "boundary"
  • 使 shǐ – "envoy; official"
  • Translation: "Official that Administers Boundaries"

This title comes straight from real Chinese history. During the Tang and Song dynasties, jīng lüè shǐ 经略使 were the commanders in charge of frontier provinces. I applaud the translators for choosing this term, since the parts of Cathay ruled by Miao Ying and Zhao Ming are indeed frontier areas.


(reproduced from my previous post because they are just too ingenious!)

Alchemists: Dan Ding Shi = 丹鼎师

  • 丹 dān – “the color red; cinnabar”
  • 鼎 dǐng – “three-legged cauldron”
  • 师 shī – “master”
  • Translation: “Master of the Cinnabar Cauldron”

This is quite a genius translation as cinnabar was indeed an important ingredient in medieval Daoist “alchemical” practices. These practices were aimed at creating elixirs of immortality/longevity. Western alchemists (the sort that try to create gold with philosopher’s stones) are usually translated as 炼金师 Lian Jin Shi, meaning “masters who smelt gold.”

Astromancers: Si Tian Cheng = 司天丞

  • 司 sī – “to manage or control; to oversee; to observe”
  • 天 tiān – “heaven”
  • 丞 chéng – “minister; official”
  • Translation: “Official Who Controls the Heavens” or “Official Who Observes the Heavens”

Again a translation I really like, as it takes cues from actual minister titles in Chinese history. Sima 司马, Situ 司徒 and Sikou 司寇 are all examples, and some of them can be found in China today as family surnames.


Peasants: Yi Nong = 役农

  • 役 yì – " Corvée labor"
  • 农 nóng – "farmer, peasant"
  • Translation: "Corvée peasants"

This translation also reflects real Chinese history, since most dynasties indeed required peasants to do stints of public infrastructure construction and army service. It's apparent that things are no different in Cathay.

Jade Warriors: Yu Yong = 玉勇

  • 玉 yù – “jade"
  • 勇 yǒng – "bravery; courage"
  • Translation: "Jade Braves"

yǒng 勇 was also a term used during the Qing dynasty to refer to temporary soldiers recruited in times of war (i.e. those who were not normally part of the standing army).

Celestial Dragon Guard: Tian Ting Long Wei = 天庭龙卫

  • 天 tiān – “heaven”
  • 庭 tíng – "court"
  • 龙 lóng – "dragon"
  • 卫 wèi – "guard"
  • Translation: "Celestial Court Dragon Guard"

This translation better describes the affiliation of this unit, i.e. the Celestial Court above Wei-Jin. tiān tíng 天庭 is also the same term used to refer to the court of the Jade Emperor in Daoist mythology.

Terracotta Sentinels: Yong Shi Jing Wei = 俑士禁卫

  • 俑 yǒng – "figurine"
  • 士 shì – "warriors; warrior class"
  • 禁 jìn – "forbidden"
  • 卫 wèi – "guard"
  • Translation: "Forbidden Guard figurine warriors"

yǒng 俑 is the term used to refer to all kinds of tomb figurines from Chinese history, including the famous Terracotta Warriors. jìn wèi 禁卫, on the other hand, is a reference to the "Forbidden Guard" or jìn wèi jūn 禁卫军–the elite bodyguard troops of Chinese emperors, similar to the Roman Praetorian Guard. It ties in very well with their nature as creations/servants of the Celestial Dragon Emperor.

All the Gunner units use the word chòng 铳 (a technical term for early Chinese firearms or "fire tubes") to translate "gun". The descriptive terms for each unit ("Crane," "Iron Hail") are all directly translated.

The "Compass" in Wu-Xing War Compass is translated as luó pán 罗盘, an actual device used in Chinese geomancy or fengshui. It looks a lot like a regular compass, except it is used to point out the auspicious directions and features of particular locations.


Most of the Chinese names for the Yin and Yang lore spells end with the word jué 诀, which means "a rhyme that helps you memorize things." However, it's been used in Xianxia (fantasy Wuxia) fiction to denote magical techniques, incantations and spells, so it can also mean something similar to the term jutsu as it appears in Naruto. Some of the translations include:

  • Dragon's Breath: lóng xī jué = 龙息诀 (Incantation of Dragon Breath)
  • Wall of Wind and Fire: fēng huǒ lián chéng = 风火连城 (Wind and Fire Connecting Across Citadels)
  • Storm of Shadows: yǐng lán jué = 影岚诀 (Incantation of Shadowy Mountain Fog)
  • Blossom Wind: hé fēng jué = 和风诀 (Incantation of Spring/Pleasant/Warm Wind)
  • Missile Mirror: tuì jiàn jué = 退箭诀 (Incantation of Repelling Arrows)
  • Talons of Night: yè xiāo jué = 夜鸮诀 (Incantation of the Night Owl)

Again I am so impressed at how these translations manage to connect the units and characters of Cathay to a Chinese linguistic, cultural and historical context. What do you guys think?


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