Jade Empire

Jade Empire

An action adventure RPG by developer BioWare which transports the player into a mystical and oriental setting based on ancient China where they must confront all sorts of dangers and find their destiny within the Jade Empire.


Published by Microsoft Game Studios it was the last game developed by BioWare for the original Xbox and was released for the platform on the 12th of April 2005. An announcement on the 10th of May 2006 by BioWare revealed plans for a PC version of the game that would be published by 2K Games. It was released later for the PC on 26th of February 2007 and the Mac OS X version of the game was announced by TransGaming Technologies to be available on the 18th of August 2008.

It features an epic adventure for players to enjoy allowing them to pick from various male or female characters to play as before thrusting them into the rich world of the Jade Empire. From there players find they may interact with various NPCs in the game, some of which will join the players team and become a selectable companion to explore with. Others providing a romantic interest for players to pursue.

As well as this the game also boasts an intricate combat system that functions in real time with the players actions which allows them to block and/or dodge attacks when appropriate. Combat is focused on learning and developing martial arts styles, magical abilities and weapon techniques. Using aspects of all three groups players can combine them to varying effect from focusing on offensive, defensive or supportive results.


Jade Empire follows a tried and true method of RPG gameplay where players choose a character to begin the game with, customizing their initial stats and then proceeding to start the game where they begin in a tutorial environment. As they progress through the story the game become more challenging and the player gains experience from fulfilling quests and killing enemies which allows them to increase their stats and upgrade their fighting styles as they gain more levels.

There are three primary stats in the game: Mind, Body and Spirit, which control the secondary stats Chi, Health and Focus as well as the conversation specific stats of Intimidation, Charm and Intuition. Chi is similar to mana as it is used when players heal their character, cast spells or choose to charge up a "Chi Strike" which will deal additional bonus damage when they next attack an enemy. Focus is used for when players primarily opt for utilising weapons in combat instead of martial arts styles that focus on hand to hand techniques. Or when they initiate "Focus Mode" which is very similar to " Bullet Time" slowing down enemy actions and allowing players to attack swiftly dealing extra damage.

Focus, Chi and Health can be replenished by collecting orbs that drop from fallen enemies. Or additionally the player can visit any Focus or Chi shrines they can find and replenish themselves from there. Certain companions in a player's group can also help bolster their abilities or replenish their stats if needed.

Combat is in real time which allows the player to dodge and/or block incoming attacks as they occur while also attacking enemies when the opportunity presents itself. This also allows the player to switch between various styles of martial arts, cast various spells or equip different weapons during the middle of a fight as the situation calls for it.


Players begin the game as a student at the Two Rivers academy under the guidance of Master Li who considers the player his most promising student. As the player takes part in a training exercise the local village is attacked by a group of pirates and it is up to the player to protect the local villagers and fend off the attackers. This sets the stage for a tutorial section of the game and allows the player to get acquainted with the controls and combat system early on in the game. After fighting their way to the shore the player finds the ship that the pirates have arrived on and confronts the leader who summons ghosts and spirits to attack the player.

However Master Li arrives just in time and defeats the pirate leader who he reveals was a member of the Lotus Assassins who are servants of the Jade Emperor. Master Li explains further that they had come for the player character and a piece of the Dragon Amulet and then goes on to explain that he is in fact a brother to the Emperor and had saved the player when they were a child during the attack on Dirge, the monastery of the Order of Spirit Monks. And that the player is the last Spirit Monk alive.

The player is then tasked with retrieving a piece of the Dragon Amulet that's underneath the academy and during their task they are confronted by a vision of the Water Dragon. A mystical entity who was "killed" during the attack on Dirge and her death ended the Long Draught that had fallen over the lands of the Jade Empire back then. But since her death spirits of the dead have begun walking the lands as ghosts causing havoc around the country. As the player retrieves this piece of the amulet their life long friend Dawn Star is kidnapped by a rival student, Gao the lesser, who was earlier exiled from the academy for using deadly magic to fight the player. As the players rescues Dawn Star they also find a new companion, Sagacious Zu, who accompanies the player and Dawn Star back to the village which they find is in flames with Master Li kidnapped and enemies crawling all over the place the trio decide to escape using a flying machine in pursuit of Master Li and his kidnappers who are headed to the Imperial City.

However on their way to the Imperial City they crash land at Tien's Landing where they must now find a new flying machine and a wind map to show them the direction. As the player explores the area they locate a new flying machine, the Marvelous Dragonfly, which is located in the middle of the Gao the Greater's base. Gao becomes angry when he hears that his son was killed and the player must kill him as well when it becomes obvious Gao the Greater is working with the Lotus Assassins. Its at this point in the game the player also recruits two new companions, Sky and Kang the Mad.

Upon further investigation the player finds the Lotus Assassins are searching some old ruins for another piece of the Dragon Amulet and it is here the player comes into contact with Chai Ka, a celestial demon trapped inside a young girls body sent to protect the player. The adventure takes the player to a great forest where they can either help the cannibals overthrow the Forest Guardian or help the Forest Guardian kill the cannibals. Whichever choice is made the player can then retrieve the wind map they require and the piece of the Dragon Amulet that the Lotus Assassins had found.

Using the Marvelous Dragonfly the group finally reaches the Imperial City where they encounter a mysterious woman by the name of Silk Fox who in fact is Princess Lian the Heavenly Lily, daughter of of the Jade Emperor and niece to Master Li. She does not believe her father is the evil man the player says he is but in fact thinks it is Death's Hand, leader of the Lotus Assassins who is the one responsible for the suffering that is occurring throughout the lands of the Jade Empire. The player then infiltrates the Lotus Assassins underground fortress to find the last piece of the Dragon Amulet and they cause the complex to begin collapsing in on itself. After killing Grand Inquisitor Jia the group is confronted by Death's Hand himself and Sagacious Zu sacrifices himself to buy the player and his friends time to escape, both Sagacious Zu and Death's Hand get buried in the rubble of the collapsing fortress.

The adventure continues with the player fighting their way into the Emperor's throne room where Silk Fox / Princess Lian finally gets to see her father's true nature and realizes he is the one responsible for the troubles within the Jade Empire. The Emperor however has gone mad with power and knows that the Water Dragon's death has stopped the spirits of the dead from reaching the underworld but doesn't care due to his own insanity. Master Li sits as a prisoner and watches as the player fights the Emperor and defeats him using the Dragon Amulet. However Master Li takes the Emperor's jade heart for himself and uses its power to kill the player who wakes up as a spirit in the underworld.

As the player enters the underworld they are confronted again by the Water Dragon who explains that Master Sun Li had planned all along to use the player to defeat the Emperor that is why he saved him/her as a child when the Emperor attacked the Dirge Monastery. It is also revealed that Sun Li and Sun Kin (who is in fact Death's Hand) tried to overthrow Sun Hai, the recently killed Jade Emperor, but when it proved a fatal mistake Sun Li escaped and assumed the identity of the player's guardian and went into hiding. The Player fights their way through the underworld version of Dirge along with Abbot Song and when they come upon the place where the Water Dragon was slain the player must fight their doppelgangers. Once defeating them the player is transported back to the world of the living where their friends fly to Dirge and meet them.

Sun Li ever the master strategist raises Death's Hand from the dead and sends his imperial army to Dirge to finally destroy the player and their friends. However, Sky manages to fool Death's Hand into coming alone and the player engages the armor clad warrior in single combat. However even after defeating him Death's Hand continues to rise again and again and eventually the player must use their force of will to break Sun Li's control over his brother's spirit. At this point the player can choose to enslave Death's Hand to his or her own will, set him free or force him to seek redemption for his past sins. Having defeated the army sent to Dirge the player then flies back to the Imperial Palace to finally put an end to Emperor Sun Li's machinations.

Upon making their way to confront Sun Li the player and friends encounter the body of the Water Dragon which has been cut up to allow her blood, which is water, to flow into the lands of the Jade Empire and stop any future droughts. At this point the player can decide to destroy her body and allow the spirits of the dead to reach their final resting place in the underworld or control her body for their own use once Sun Li has been defeated. The player then confronts Sun Li who sends constructs to attack the player, once they are defeated he turns the player into stone and tries to break their will by use of mind control. At this point the player is essentially having a battle of wills with Sun Li in their mind and has the support of their friends and companions they've picked up along the adventure.

The final fight with Sun Li is now at hand and the player is offered the chance to submit their surrender and be killed quickly so that they may live on in legend for not defying the new Emperor's will. Or the player can choose to refuse and have one final battle with their old master.

The Endings *spoilers!*

The game has endings for not only the player character but their companions as well.

Player Character / Student

  • Assuming the player chose to destroy the Water Dragon's body then the game ends with the people of the Jade Empire cheering for the player as their hero and savior. This is considered the good ending.
  • Should the player have chosen to corrupt and control the Water Dragon's body then the game ends with the remaining Lotus Assassins bowing and kneeling before the player. This is considered the evil ending.
  • And if the player chose to accept Sun Li's offer to submit and receive a quick death the game ends with a statue being raised in their honor with a group of children sitting around it being told their tale. This is considered a somewhat ambiguous ending, neither good or evil but somewhere in the middle.


  • If Sky is chosen as the romance option then he and the player character liver together in Tien's Landing. Or if he is not chosen as a romance option he will become the new Death's Hand or use the thieves guild for positive purposes.

Silk Fox

  • If the player character is male and chose her as their romance option then Silk Fox and him rule the Jade Empire together in a firm but fair manner. If the player character is female and chose her as their romance option then the pair rule together in a firm but fair manner with both of them becoming the "Silk Fox". And should the player not have romanced her at all then she will become the sole ruler of the Jade Empire as its Empress.

Dawn Star

  • She lives the rest of her life with the player character, rules alongside the player as Empress and Emperor, lives on her own or disappears on her own should the player have chosen a Closed Fist ending.

Chai Ka

  • The celestial demon either stays trapped in the young girls body and she lives the rest of her life insane or he returns to heaven and grants the young girl the gift of eternal life.

Black Whirlwind

  • Lives the rest of his life roaming the world brawling and cleaving skulls till he eventually goes around the world entirely.

Death's Hand

  • Either wanders the land seeking redemption for his past sins or becomes even more evil until eventually his armour can no longer hold his new, more evil form.

Henpecked Hou

  • After some minor disasters he starts his own delivery service which gives him the opportunity to escape his demanding wife.

Kang the Mad

  • Continues his life as an inventor until he is one day killed in a tragic explosion or so it seems as the player receives complex and imaginative machines whenever it is his or her birthday. Or Kang continues to work for the player as a slave if they chose the evil ending until one day Kang escapes into another dimension through some explosion.

Ya Zhen

  • Also known as the toad demon inside Wild Flower, will either serve the player until he/she passes away followed by moving onto bigger plans or serve the player forever and earnestly.

Fighting Styles


  • Dire Flame
  • Ice Shard
  • Stone Immortal
  • Tempest


  • Iron Palm (exclusive to PC)
  • Legendary Strike
  • Thousand Cuts
  • Leaping Tiger
  • Viper (exclusive to PC)
  • White Demon


  • Heavenly Wave
  • Hidden Fist
  • Paralyzing Palm
  • Storm Dragon


  • Horse Demon
  • Jade Golem
  • Red Minister
  • Rhino Demon (exclusive to PC)
  • Toad Demon


  • Crimson Tears
  • Demon Staff (exclusive to PC)
  • Demon Sword (exclusive to PC)
  • Dragon Sword
  • Eyes of the Dragon
  • Flawless
  • Fortune's Favorite
  • Golden Star
  • Mirabelle
  • Tang's Vengeance
  • Tien's Justice (replaces Golden Star in the game's Limited Edition release)


  • Drunken Master
  • Spirit Thief


Alloyed Body

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Health 5, Focus -5

Balance of Nature

  • Location: Tien's Landing
  • Effects: Chi 3, Focus -15

Belly of Iron

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Health 3, Chi -1

Boar's Strength

  • Location: Great Southern Forest
  • Effects: Health 7, Focus: -3

Bone Splinter

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Mind 2, Health 15

Broken Wheel

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Health 7, Chi 7

Chaotic Strains

  • Location: Great Southern Forest
  • Effects: Health 5, Chi 5

Cleansed Body and Mind

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Health 15, Focus 5

Clear Mind

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Intimidation -1, Focus 10

Communion of the Dragon

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Health 5, Chi 15

Communion of the Ocean

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Chi 10

Conditioning of the Body

  • Location: Tien's Landing
  • Effects: Health 7, Chi -3

Craftsman's Litany

  • Location: Imperial City Market District
  • Effects: Focus 5

Deadened Nerves

  • Location: Lotus Assassin Fortress
  • Effects: Health 10, Chi -3

Duchess of Ulmsbottom's Rules of Engagement

  • Location: Imperial City Scholars' Garden
  • Effects: Mind 3

Eye of Inner Darkness

  • Location: Lotus Assassin Fortress
  • Effects: Chi 15, Focus 5

Fearsome Visage

  • Location: Lotus Assassin Fortress
  • Effects: Charm -1, Intimidation 3

Fitness for the Upright Gentleman

  • Location: Imperial City Scholars' Garden
  • Effects: Body 3

Friends in High Places

  • Location: Imperial Palace
  • Effects: Intuition 2, Chi 5

Gaze of the Lion

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Health 2, Focus 2

Guardian's Strength

  • Location: Wild Flower
  • Effects: Health 5, Chi 5

Hawk's Elegance

  • Location: Tien's Landing
  • Effects: Health -3, Focus 7

Heart of Gold

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Chi 3, Focus -1

Heaven Mantra

  • Location: Imperial Palace Audience Chamber
  • Effects: Chi 10

Hunter's Spirit

  • Location: Great Southern Forest
  • Effects: Chi 15, Focus 3

Legacy of Death's Hand

  • Location: Lotus Assassin Fortress
  • Effects: Chi 10

Legacy of Master Li

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Focus 7

Lessons of the Forge

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Health 2

Loutish Approval

  • Location: Imperial City Market District
  • Effects: Health 2

Manual of Trepanation

  • Location: Imperial City Scholars' Garden
  • Effects: Spirit 3

Mastered Evil

  • Location: Wild Flower
  • Effects: Health 5, Focus 5

Mind of Steel

  • Location: Two Rivers School
  • Effects: Health -1, Focus 3

Mother's Touch

  • Location: Pilgrim's Rest Inn
  • Effects: Health 5, Chi 5

Path of the Monk

  • Location: Zin Bu
  • Effects: Chi 50

Path of the Scholar

  • Location: Zin Bu
  • Effects: Focus 50

Path of the Warrior

  • Location: Zin Bu
  • Effects: Health 50

Perfected Warrior

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Health 15, Focus 15

Porcelain Skin

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Charm 2, Chi -4

Predatory Intuition

  • Location: Great Southern Forest
  • Effects: Intuition 3, Chi -5

Replenishment of the Mind

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Chi 7, Focus 7

River of Time

  • Location: Dam Site
  • Effects: Intuition 1, Chi 5

Rote of the Endless Mind

  • Location: Black Leopard School
  • Effects: Chi 5, Focus 5

Scales of the Serpent

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Intimidation 1, Health 7

Spiritual Sacrifice

  • Location: The Necropolis
  • Effects: Chi -10

Strength of Wood

  • Location: Pirate Workshop.
  • Effects: Health 2

Structured Body

  • Location: Spirit Cave
  • Effects: Intimidation 1, Health 3

Swallow's Grace

  • Location: Tien's Landing
  • Effects: Charm 3, Intuition -1

Turning Wheel

  • Location: Dirge Temple
  • Effects: Chi 7, Focus 7

Theories of Medicine

  • Location: Imperial City Market District
  • Effects: Intuition 1, Focus 7

Tiger Mantra

  • Location: Zin Bu
  • Effects: Health 5, Focus 5

Tracking Eye

  • Location: Great Southern Forest
  • Effects: Charm -1, Focus 7

Vigorous Body

  • Location: Imperial Arena
  • Effects: Health 10, Chi -2

Viper's Wit

  • Location: Swamp Cave
  • Effects: Charm 1, Focus 2

Warrior of the Infinite Spirit

  • Location: Imperial Palace Audience Chamber
  • Effects: Charm 1, Chi 7

Warrior of the Inner Eye

  • Location: Black Leopard School
  • Effects: Intuition 1, Focus 7

Warrior of the Unyielding Heart

  • Location: Zin Bu
  • Effects: Health 7

Window to the Abyss

  • Location: Lotus Assassin Fortress
  • Effects: Chi 10, Focus -3


In addition to the regular gameplay for Jade Empire, there is also two minigames available for players:

  1. The first being a simple drinking contest in various tea houses where players can try to out drink regular punters resulting in some witty and drunken dialogue.
  2. The other is a top down minigame for the flying machines used in the game. Players must fight their way through waves of enemy flying machines collecting health, chi and weapon drops as they go along before facing a boss at the end of each game.

Romance Options

Jade Empire has a number of romance options for players to experience and try out enticing some replay value for the game. This is done through in-game dialogue between the player and their companions, saying or doing certain actions will increase your standing with certain companions resulting in the possibility to romance them.

What is notable about the romance options in the game is that there is the choice for heterosexual and homosexual encounters for both Male and Female player characters. The scene for the romance option occurs on the eve before the battle at the temple of Dirge against the Imperial Army. However it should be noted that if the character and their partner are of the same sex the camera pans out before the actual kiss unlike the heterosexual romance scene where the kiss is shown.

There is also the possibility for male player characters to romance both Silk Fox and Dawn Star at the same time, although this is rather difficult, and as the dialogue for the romance scene hints at, the player appears to sleep with both of them. Resulting in a threesome.

Open Palm & Closed Fist

Just like many other BioWare games (such as the games of the Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect franchises), Jade Empire offers a behavioral spectrum that the player's choices will effect. In Jade Empire, the spectrum exists between the extremes of the Way of the Open Palm and the Way of the Closed Fist. The game stresses that these are not analogues to " good" and " evil" however - the Way of the Open Palm stresses a connection and interdependency between oneself, other people, and the world; the Way of the Closed Fist stresses competition and self-reliance. One's position along the spectrum affects what styles are available to be learned and what quests are available to be completed.


Unfortunately Bioware decided not to release any modding tools for Jade Empire. In hindsight it could be speculated that this is one of the reasons - if not the main reason - why the game did not leave the same lasting impression as other Bioware titles. There is no toolset and no source code for most of the game's scripts. The modding community jumped in and ported most of their KotOR tools to Jade Empire - except one: MDLOps. MDLOps made it possible to export KoTORs models to 3d-editors and import them back into the game. Without MDLOps the world of the Jade Empire remained ineditable. It's quite possible that this missing puzzle piece is the reason why the modding activity around this game fizzled rather quickly.

There were some smaller mods - most of which are lost now. The majority of these made NPC styles available to PCs. In 2011 however a rather large mod named Jade Empire in Style appeared. This mod more than doubles the number of styles and adds a substantial number of techniques, gems and other items. It also alters the game's rules to give it more replayability.

Limited & Special Editions

The Xbox Limited Edition of the game came with extra content such as a video detailing the making of the game as well as an extra character skin for players to choose from named Monk Zeng. It also came with demos for Forza Motorsport, Conker Live & Reloaded as well as MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf.

The PC Special Edition of the game consisted of the following:

  • Monk Zeng character
  • Increased resolutions, new special effects, improved textures, ability to import save games.
  • Two extra martial arts styles "Iron Palm" and "Viper" style.
  • New monsters such as the Rhino Demon.
  • More higher level weapons.
  • Improved NPC AI in combat allowing them to take cover and block more often.
  • "Jade Master" difficulty setting.
  • New world map interface.
  • Bonus art book and world map.
  • Keyboard & Mouse support.


TrackTrack NameLength
1The Way of the Open Palm1:37
2Jade Empire Main Theme2:57
3Hills and Fields/Dance of the Babbling Brook/Fallow Ground5:13
4Fist/Test Your Mettle2:49
5Dawn Star Theme1:12
6The Tea House1:42
7Fury, Hammer and Tongs3:05
8Anthem of the Tyrant2:37
9Buried Secrets/Whispers3:21
10Mischief in the Marsh1:43
11Empire at War3:02
12Death's Hand Suite3:54
13A Night Out1:37
14Fires of Chaos1:27
15House of Spirits/The Dark Land3:18
16Metropolis I and II3:20
17Ill Winds2:47
18Ballad of the Drunken Revelers1:47
19Call to Victory1:37
20Into the Fray3:26
21The Waterdragon2:35
22Last Rites/Internment3:10
23Silk Fox Theme1:14
24Wine and Women1:35
25Lost in the Wilds/The Hunt3:28
26Sky Theme1:08
28Rending of the Flesh2:05
30Torment/The Way of the Closed Fist2:49

Xbox Originals

On September 22, 2008, Jade Empire became available on the Xbox 360's Xbox Originals download service for 1200 Microsoft Points.