The Sinophia Gazetteer
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.
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 themselves 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 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 illfavoured, the suspect, and the lacklustre in their ranks.
Places on Sinophia