Sinophia

Sinophia

An all but forgotten backwater on the fringes of the Calixis Sector, Sinophia is an ancient and mouldering world of deserted cities and faded grandeur, a shadow of its former glory as an important Imperial world. Robbed of its population and trapped in an economic downward spiral that has lasted centuries, the planet is rife with petty corruption, apathy, and slow decay. Its remaining inhabited areas are a wasteland of neglect and partial abandonment, ruled by a bickering, jaded aristocracy headed by the Judiciary, a planetary governor in little more than name. Its people labour under the heavy burden of the taxes imposed on them by their dissolute masters in order to pay the failing Imperial tithe. Shorn of hope and empty of purpose, Sinophia is a morally bankrupt and outcast world slowly dying alone.

Planetary Data

Sinophia.pngPopulation: No reliable estimate (estimated to be fewer than 150 Million, from a recorded previous height of 2 billion).
Tithe Grade: Exactus Minoris (planet unable to maintain regular tithe and placed under special measures as of 017.M41)
Geography/Demography: Temperate but unstable climate, remaining habitation centred on northern continent (Sinophia Magna: capital/starport, Karib City: lesser hive and industrial zone; population levels failing, Hive Argopolis: abandoned/unsafe). Sinophia also possesses extensive fertile wetlands and plains formerly cultivated but fallen to wilderness, lawlessness and widespread disuse. Sinophia’s southern continents are currently evidencing extensive volcanism and seismic activity, leading to a planetwide increase in precipitation over the last several centuries.
Governmental Type: Oligarchy (Quorum of Noble Families)
Planetary Governor: The Judiciary Evandus Idrani, Seventh of his Name
Adept Presence: Adeptus Administratum, Adeptus Ministorum, Adeptus Arbites—All Minor (presence much reduced from former levels)
Military: The Provost Defence Army (Organized as a PDF or Planetary Defence Force, low/medium, declining, not considered fit for purpose under most recent sector strategic review), private armed cadres of the noble houses (small/medium)
Trade/Economy/Addendum: Legitimate off-world trade with Sinophia is limited. There is a long-standing boycott of the world by the Calixis Chartist Captains, although dealings with minor cartels and independents are frequent, if erratic. Thanks in part to its dwindling population, Sinophia is largely self-sufficient in terms of food and industry, particularly in scavenging resources of its former sizable infrastructure, although the heavy tax burden imposed on the population by the local government has led to rampant criminality and corruption, further undermining civil and economic stability.

Planetary History

Sinophia was once a world of pivotal destiny and economic power, but now is little more than forlorn and forgotten relic of the past. Situated on the furthest reaches of the Ixaniad Sector and founded in elder days as the personal fief of the Rogue Trader Teresa Sinos at the end of her journeys, the world would (a millennium later) serve as a primary staging post of the Angevin Crusade that carved the Calixis Sector into being. In that legendary time, Sinophia was transformed into a vital way-station and a bastion of civilisation on the Imperium’s then-frontier, its coffers swollen in the fulfilment of the crusade’s needs and the booty of conquest, whilst men who would one day be cast as saints walked its gilded forums and warships swarmed its night sky.

But as the centuries passed and the Calixis Sector coalesced into its own sovereignty and self-sufficiency, Sinophia’s prominence began to wane as its purpose faded. Increasingly sidelined and marginalised, much of its population—sickened by the excesses of the nobility—began to leave. Lured by the perceived freedoms of life on new worlds, they took up lawful passage as colonists. It was an exodus the rulers of Sinophia were powerless to stop, and as their world’s decline accelerated, they fought back with the only means they had: money.

They sought to set up merchant cartels, buy influence on other worlds through bribery, and out-bid competitors in lucrative markets. However, their struggle was ultimately futile. By taking on the new-founded economic and political powerhouses of Scintilla and the Chartist Captains, the Sinophian nobles had engaged in a costly struggle they could not hope to win, and in losing their trade war, they lost all. Major shipping routes were re-routed to bypass Sinophia, the sector governorship grew blind and deaf as far as the world was concerned, and its once-vaunted nobility found them burdened by crushing debts and bankruptcy. Sinophia was bought and sold; its cities slowly emptied and such recoverable assets it did have were carried off-world by rapacious creditors.

Sinophia today is a world suffering the final throes of a long-drawn-out death by economic starvation and slow civil collapse. Criminality and corruption are utterly ingrained, and what little off-world contact it has is with smugglers, independent cartels (themselves skirting the fringes of the law), and a few hardy pilgrims. Whole cities lay deserted, and where Imperial civilisation does exist, it does so in twilight, clinging desperately to the faded glories of the past amidst the crumbling decay of the present.

The Powers That Be

Sinophia is a troubled world, but despite a long decline, it retains a sizable infrastructure and technological base that reflects its former importance. The nobles that retain power over its dwindling population do so with an iron fist, greedily wrenching every ounce of labour and coin they can from their downtrodden people. What remains of the planet’s professional and governing classes are in a sorry state in general; its noble families, despite pretensions to grandeur, are functionally bankrupt, and maintain their station only by overstretched loans, underhand dealings, and off-world paymasters. Corruption is as endemic as it is rife, and theft, black-marketeering, extortion, and bribery are ways of life on Sinophia. Everyone from the lowliest beggar to the most coddled lord is on the take.

The Quorum and the Nobility

The two score of enduring noble families that remain of a once-great aristocracy are a fractious, petty, and cruel lot. Pathetic echoes of their illustrious forebears, they spend their lives in studied (and often faked) finery and indolence, indulging in decadent pleasures and spiteful courtly intrigues. Jaded and capricious, they scorn the ‘ungrateful upstarts’ of the Calixis Sector’s distant elites—whilst each is secretly in hock to one of them or some other off-world interest. Some noble houses seek to prop up their withered fortunes by making secret deals with smugglers and criminals, and as a result, are locked in dependent relationships with the Undertow despite holding its members in hateful contempt. Others choose to live the lie that nothing has changed within the mildewed opulence and crumbling walls of their ancestral manses. The worst of their number have succumbed to malaise, spite, and madness; trapped in their decayed halls, they slip into spirals of malice that lead ultimately to ruin.

The Office of the Judiciary

Although the office of the Judiciary is also the planetary governor, in truth, this leader is usually as compromised as any other noble of the Quorum.

The State Enforcers

The Loyal Enforcers of the Edicts of the Judiciary’s Court are the law keepers of Sinophia. Their power is granted by the Judiciary and the Quorum. Therefore, by extension, they are sanctioned by Sinophia’s dissolute and corrupt nobility. The Enforcers are intended to support the local laws of Sinophia, maintain order, and deal with such common crimes as murder, smuggling, and extortion, whilst the Adeptus Arbites, in theory, deal with crimes directed against the Adepta and those such as petty heresy, slaving, and corruption that contravene high Imperial Law. The reality, however, is that the Enforcers are a brutal and corrupt force whose primary aim is the maintenance of the power of their noble masters and financiers. Though the various departments housed in the Sanctum go through the motions of investigating and punishing criminal activity, they always do so with an eye to their own—and their masters’— advantage.

The Imperial Authorities

Over its long decline, the Imperial authorities have had little to do with Sinophia, partly because of manoeuvrings by the Calixis Sector’s government to isolate the world and remove any outside avenues of support. Both the Adeptus and the Ministorum maintain a much-scaled-back presence than in more prosperous days. When Sinophia recently fell into arrears with its Imperial tithes—and despite its rulers pleading the effects of a failing population, poverty, and growing lawlessness in mitigation—the Imperium turned its face from Sinophia. Today, the Imperium maintains little more than token presences of most government operations on this blighted world. Assignment to Sinophia is not considered a mark of distinction for any branch of the Adepta. Indeed, more than one division of the Imperial apparatus has used the planet as a dumping ground for the incompetent, the ill-favoured, the suspect, and the lacklustre in their ranks.

The Adeptus Arbites

The number of Arbitrators on Sinophia has been dramatically scaled back in the last decade. Only small forces of Arbiters are maintained in the capital city of Sinophia Magna and the desolate, failing hive of Karib City. These forces are, however, extremely limited in number, having suffered serious losses in conflicts with the Logician cult during the Empty Men incident that have yet to be fully replaced. In Sinophia Magna, the destruction of the Arbites Precinct during the terrible events of the cult insurgency meant that replacement Arbiters have taken Haarlock’s Folly on the outskirts of the city as temporary headquarters—though how temporary this arrangement truly is remains questionable. The only other manned facility in Karib City is chronically short of troops; those few remaining enforcers of Imperial law are housed in an echoing precinct fortress built to hold twenty times their number.

The Departmento Munitorium

Sinophia’s diminishing population means that it can tithe a very few troops to the Imperial Guard, and the Departmento Munitorium maintains only a single office on the outskirts of Sinophia Magna. No Sinophian regiments have been raised for the Imperial Guard in more than four hundred years.

The Ministorum

Sinophia is an old world, older indeed as a colony that the Calixis Sector itself, and the Imperial Creed holds a strong sway over its population, but its cathedrals and chapels echo with congregations that are but a fraction of the great throngs that once filled their vast interiors. The priests of Sinophia tend towards weakness and lack much of the fire of the faith they profess.

The Inquisition

Sinophia has a long and infamous history in the record of the Calixian Conclave. Recidivists, cultists, daemon summoners, and hereteks have all ensured that agents of Sinophia have a deservedly tainted reputation in the Holy Ordos. However, the steady decline, general malaise, and outcast status of the place means that for some centuries now, it has had no permanent Inquisition presence in residence. Rather, it has been the subject of infrequent sweeps and programs of purging as the whims of individual inquisitors dictate and flare-ups of heresy have demanded. The most recent such occurrence was the bloody slaughter occasioned by the Empty Men incident. As such, agents of the Inquisition are treated with general fear by the population, but most Sinophians also know that it is best to lie and keep one’s secrets concealed when the Inquisition appears; no one on Sinophia is without something they fear being known. This can make operations by Acolyte cadres on Sinophia difficult, a state that is exacerbated by the dwindling presence of other arms of Imperial authority.

The Undertow

Organised crime on Sinophia is widespread, pervasive, and organised, with its main practitioners known in local parlance as the Undertow. The Undertow is as ubiquitous as the rain in Sinophia Magna, and has grown steadily down the years like a gorged maggot in the spreading rot of this benighted world. The Undertow’s members are made up largely of the destitute and abused underclass into which many of Sinophia’s workers, soldiers, and ordinary citizens have long slid. Together, they steal off-world shipments, trade in narcotics, and loot Sinophia’s rotting carcass for gleaned morsels to sell to those who will pay. In the slums of Magna, they are the true masters. Comprising a shifting quagmire of territories that make up Sinophia’s remaining settlements and cities, the Undertow’s shadowy domains are overseen by so called Rag-Kings and Queens, barons and lords whose titles mock the hated nobles of the Quorum. They control the black market (which thrives on avoidance of Sinophia’s many taxes), gambling, narcotics, and prostitution, as well as offering murder for hire if the price is high enough. Many are also in league with off-world smugglers, corrupt enforcers, or are even secretly sponsored by decadent nobles. The worst are rumoured to have links to the dreaded scrapers and cannibalistic wrecker-gangs that haunt Sinophia’s all but empty (and utterly lawless) outer reaches.

Sinophia

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