Cathayan Etiquette – Stephen Deraineau

Some documentation with particular emphasis on the Kingdom of Iron that was given to Appentices of the Lord of Iron to ensure their survival. Most of this is public knowledge now


It is easy to offend in Cathay and though the kingdom of Iron is more relaxed than many, it is wise to learn the etiquette of the people of Cathay before you begin your stay. We have noticed that Western customs are in many ways incompatible with Cathayan traditions. We are certain you do not wish to cause offence to your hosts or their guests during your stay. In our wisdom we have asked the Monks of Wen Shu to compile the following guide to etiquette for you.

Spell Casting and Ritual items.
Spellcasting is strictly forbidden in Cathay. No foreign spellcasters or ritualists will be granted access to Cathay. If you, or you know one of the other apprentices to be a warlock, you must inform the Lord of Iron immediately. Failure to do so could result not only in your own execution, but also that of your fellow apprentices and their master. No ritual crated item may be brought onto Cathayan soil, nor any who are under the influence of ritual effects. If such a thing is discovered this too could result in the termination of your agreement and your immediate exile.

The Unliving.
We understand and are aware that many in the West regard the unliving as Evil creatures. It is most important to note that this is not the case in Cathay. The dismissal or destruction of any Unliving in Cathay will not be tolerated.

Destruction or dismissal of an unintelligent, even rogue Unliving would be considered destruction of property, the person responsible would be exiled from Cathay and reparations may be sought by the creatures owner or summoner. Destruction or dismissal of a sentient Unliving would be considered Murder, or if unsuccessful, attempted murder.

During the time of your stay, the kingdom of Iron will be entertaining Lords of the Kingdom of Peach. It will be expected that all Iron apprentices will treat Unliving with the respect their caste and Rank decrees, with no exceptions. Failure to do so may result in your removal from apprenticeship, banishment from Cathay, or in extreme circumstances, execution.

Rank and Castes.
Cathayan culture is quiet and polite. There is a strict Rank and Caste culture, where your Rank is your level in your Caste and your Caste is determined by your skill and job.

The Castes of cathay are:

The Jade Emperor.
Concubine (All Advisors and Family of the Jade throne)
Warriors and Traders

You can only befriend or mix socially with people of a caste that is one position higher or lower than yours. You should not talk to anyone two castes above, unless they talk to you first, it is rude to look directly into the face of a superior even if they are speaking to you directly. You may not have any contact with anyone more than three castes away from you. In extreme circumstances if your superior must speak to you and there is none who could act as an intermediary you would be expected to kowtow, this is the act of dropping to your knees and pressing your forehead to the floor. Within your caste, you must show respect to each other based on rank within that Caste. Your bow should be deeper by degrees determined by the rank of the one to whom you bow. Your bow to your master should be deep and from the waist.

All citizens of Iron are considered to be of Warrior caste, from the lowest peasant to the highest Lord. All citizens of the Kingdom of Iron, are expected to take up arms and defend Cathay if the great wall should be breached. If Cathay comes under attack during your stay as a ranked apprentice of Iron you will be expected to fight. As apprentices of the Iron Forge you will be considered to be of Warrior Caste and you will have the Warrior rank of 1. You may speak to peasants, traders and other warriors, but be careful to bow and show proper respect to scribes and monks and avoid all contact with bureaucrats. If a bureaucrat decides to speak to you, you should kowtow first. It is unlikely you will meet a Concubine and certain that you will not meet the Emperor. High ranking bureaucrats have the right to kill you if they feel you did not show them the correct respect.


It is easy to insult and offend in Cathay. Many things we have seen in the west would be considered highly rude in Cathay. The following Western behaviours that we have observed would be seen as rude and offensive in Cathay.

Direct Pointing.
Arguing in a raised voice.
Failure to compliment a host on something.
Swearing, or un-cultural behaviour.
The holding of unsheathed weapons.
The wearing of sheathed weapons within a house.
Standing in a meeting.
An inability to write, or an inability to appreciate beauty.
Hands being kept behind back while talking.
Refusing a gift.
Refusing a meeting with one of a higher rank or caste.
When a host is sat to receive a guest.
Failure to offer any refreshment.
Offering too much refreshment.
Turning your back or leaving without all parties agreeing that the meeting or conversation is at an end.

Shaking hands is considered not only impolite, but unwise. Some Cathayan citizens are unliving and may not be able to control a paralysing or even fatal touch. You should bow to the correct degree, or if unsure bow low and do not look up until it is indicated you may so do.