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Sinophia

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"Cursed? No, not cursed. Who can say that amongst all these riches?”

— Sire Morcar Del Sheen, The Sanctum Cells, Sinophia Magna

Sinophia was once a world of pivotal destiny and economic power on the very edge of the Calixis Sector but is now little more than forlorn and forgotten relic of the past, an ancient and moldering world of deserted cities and faded grandeur. 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 a near-powerless figurehead governor, while its people labor under the heavy burden of the taxes imposed on them by their dissolute masters. Shorn of hope and empty of purpose, Sinophia is a world slowly dying.

Founded in elder days as the personal fief of the Rogue Trader Teresa Sinos, the world would, a millennium later, serve as a primary staging post for the Angevin Crusade that carved the Calixis Sector into being. But as the centuries passed and Calixis coalesced into its own sovereignty and self-sufficiency, Sinophia’s prominence began to wane as its purpose faded. Increasingly sidelined and marginalized, much of its population, sickened by the excesses of the nobility, began to flee. Many took passage as colonists, lured by the perceived freedoms of life on new worlds, while their embittered rulers attempted to fight back with spiteful intrigues and secret plots, but only succeeded in further bankrupting their world and dooming Sinophia to its blighted fate.

Sinophia, today, is a world suffering the final throws 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 lie deserted, and where Imperial civilization does exist, it does so in twilight, clinging desperately to the faded glories of the past amidst the crumbling decay of the present.

Sinophia is the homeworld of Lord Marshal Goreman. Goreman hails from the once-grand Sorascine Canyon conurbation on Sinophia, steeped in all the many kinds of decay that that world had to offer. He was born into an extended family of butchers and flesh-thieves, descended from once proud dynasties of medicae and lay biologis adepts back when the world had been in its prime. The old family seat, with its surgical chambers and tissue molds, where generations ago the subsector’s nobility had come for medicae and juvenat treatments, or to buy exquisitely flesh-sculpted servitors, had become a charnel house. Their old family name now lost, the Gore-Men conducted a lively and ruthless trade in spare organs and tissues to any who could meet their price, and trained their young man in the brutal skills needed to ensure a constant supply of “donors.” Luthir escaped, but the Gore-Men remain, working their terrible practices.

The Empty Men of Sinophia MagnaEdit

A little over three years ago, reports reached Ordos Calixis of a series of gruesome and bizarre deaths in the city of Sinophia Magna that shocked even the inhabitants of that benighted world. The truth of what happened has been completely suppressed. However, stories persist on Sinophia of widespread casualties, of Arbites turning on each other and, most dreadfully, of men transforming into ravening monsters with inhuman strength, driven to rend apart their own bodies and any others they could reach.

The terrible truth behind these stories lay in a conspiracy and a failed plot by the heretical tech-cult known as the Logicians to perform the utterly forbidden act of the combining the sacred human form with xenos biology and raise an army of “perfected” humans. The horrific culmination of the investigation saw the destruction of the Adeptus Arbites precinct-house by traitors within, and a full-scale Inquisition-led raid on the PDF medicae centre where the deviant bio-alchemists of the cult had pursued their transgenic blasphemy. Those that saw what lurked inside the sub-levels of that facility, hidden so carefully from human sight, were forever scarred by the revelation.

The Sinophian ProsecutionEdit

Concrete evidence of the effects of the Halo Devices is frustratingly rare, but the earliest confirmed instance of conflict with the artefacts came on what was then the frontier world of Sinophia, some hundred years before Angevin’s crusade. During what is named in official Ordos sources as the Sinophian Prosecution, Lord Inquisitor Ozymandias Ruthven destroyed the heretic scion of a great and wealthy mercantile house of Sinophia. The heretic’s name was judged to be so reviled that it has been expunged from all records. The arch-heretic, whose influence ran through the Segmentum Obscurus even to the borders of Segmentum Solar itself, was said to be possessed of unnatural powers and could not die. The Inquisition, of course, begged to differ...

The crimes and secret atrocities committed by this foe of mankind and his kin were so grievous as to merit execution not only for himself and his close associates but also for all of his house and its vassals. It became clear during this prosecution that the heretic was not, as first suspected, a daemon-worshiper, warped mutant, or witch. Rather, the heretic’s body was a hideous fusion of polluted human flesh and a xenological artefact that had become so much a part of him that the heretic and artefact were indivisible. It is recorded in one apocryphal source that Ozymandias hurled his bound enemy into the heart of Sinophia’s sun, destroying him utterly.

The Harrow Ridge Massacre Edit

The city of Harrow Ridge was, in truth, little more than a large, ramshackle settlement housing no more than a few thousand inhabitants. It had grown up over the decades from a cluster of mining camps in one of the more desolate corners of Sinophia---a world long renowned for its moral and physical decay. A rough and lawless place, Harrow Ridge had long been accustomed to casual violence and the rule of the gun, but was now gripped by a far worse terror.

A murderer was stalking its alleyways, shanties, and tenements, and whole families were being butchered in their homes behind locked doors. Savagely mutilated corpses were turning up on a near daily basis and no one was safe. Crackdowns by the local regulators, lynchings, mob justice, mass-shriving---nothing had stopped the killings, and the uncaring and distant planetary authorities blithely ignored requests for aid.

When Inquisitor Hydris Bloch and his Acolytes arrived, they found a virtual ghost town paralyzed by fear, hundreds having fled or barricaded themselves in their homes. As his Acolytes fanned out through the city, they quickly found evidence of warp-tainted radiations and an unholy hand behind the murders. They returned to collate the findings only to be shocked by the discovery of their master savagely murdered in his own lodging chambers.

Bloch’s Acolytes did not succumb to despair, however, but kept their master’s demise secret lest panic should spread. One, the adept Septimus Golgol, took charge. Sifting through the evidence, he traced the epicenter of the killings and the warp disturbances to the house of a man named Edmund Flinders. An undistinguished mineral assayer, Flinders was a quiet family man whose absence had gone unnoticed in the chaos. However, he had gone missing for several days in the weeks prior to the slaughter. The record of what was found when they confronted Flinders was sealed by order of Inquisitor Harkness of the Ordo Malleus, but it is known that Golgol alone survived the experience and no further murders took place in Harrow Ridge.

Tech-Witches of Ammicus ToleEdit

"How fate laughs at our hopes and plans. The night began with treachery and ended in blood. A dozen tech–witches lay dead, telling us naught, and my adept Balthus hung pierced upon the blades of their slaved servitors. Nothing was gained, and much lost. Sinophia is a world of death and frustrations, and would that I could justify a pyre of it all."

–From the journals of Inquisitor Felroth Gelt: 3.506.788.M41

Sinophia is a decaying world, its civil structures failing, its ancient grandeur rotted. Ruins of the past loom tall, towering above squabbling noble courts and the half-hearted Imperial caste. The Sinophian Machine Cult is as corroded as the manufactories and spires it once diligently maintained. It has fallen into mind-rust---a mix of disarrayed beliefs and damage to neuroaugmetics that would horrify a forge world tech-adept. The Tech-priests of low Sinophia have become ineffectual and strange, largely confined to their verdigris-stained temples and delusional contemplation of past glories. In their absence has risen a minor cult of tech-heresy and a society of tinkers who aspire to its ranks.

The arch-heretek who bends lesser Sinophian denizens to his will is Ammicus Tole, fled to that world and hidden there from the Inquisition. Tole’s followers are tech-witches, hereteks, and lesser sorcerers who clutch at words written by their master. Their tech-knowledge is a mix of rote practicality and mysticism, either tortured from Mechanicus adepts or gleaned from Tole’s writings. The Tome of Ammicus Tole, while largely heretical ramblings, hides true warp-rituals and working device-patterns. Most tech-witches possess only a few pages or fragments within a failing dataslate. To all but the inner circle, Ammicus Tole is a rumour---a distant and hidden lord of tech-heresy.

The tome’s contents include: schemata-patterns for silver neuro-needles that enslave servitors, rituals of warp-craft that will do little more than harm the sorcerer, designs for charms made of the innards of tech-devices, and ramblings that talk of powerful device-gods hidden by the Mechanicus. Tech-witches employ the tome to enslave servitors to their will and create strongholds from long-abandoned ruins. They practice vile ceremonies, make human sacrifice, and attempt to call the warp into treasured tech-devices.

The cult of Ammicus Tole has made its mark upon Sinophia, its heresy overflowing to taint the poor and the villainous. For every tech-witch who has sworn his soul in blood to the arch-heretek, there exist a hundred envious junk foragers. These least of hereteks ply the device-markets and set huts of flakboard and rusted plate at city gates. Some can perform the lesser labours of tech-adepts, whilst others are wishful mystics with little knowledge. All earn Thrones by placing mumbled blessings or curses upon devices, casting auguries from smashed components, and scavenging deserted ruins for scraps left behind by a previous age. Foragers are the swarming flies that hide the rotten meat---it is hard for an outsider to discern a true cultist tech-witch from the vermin of the device-markets.

Player CharactersEdit

Malaise, melancholy and corruption (in both the mundane and esoteric senses) are the abiding qualities of the Sinophian people---hope is simply a word, faith and ambition are the subjects of quiet, bitter mockery, and selfishness is viewed as a survival trait. Sinophians are, to put it bluntly, a morose, fearful, self-absorbed and often vicious and untrustworthy lot, and usually assume that everyone else is the same. There are obviously plenty of exceptions to this stereotype, both good and bad, and perhaps the most dangerous of them are the ones who genuinely have found a cause to believe in, because they often take to it with the fanaticism of a true convert.

Creating Sinophian Characters

Use the Imperial World Home World template, replacing the Blessed Ignorance, Hagiography, and Superior Origins traits with the ones detailed here:

Blighted Origins

Growing up in the slow decay of Sinophia burns bitterness, malaise and regret into the soul. It teaches you to watch your back and never trust anyone but yourself. These lessons have not been gained without a price...

Effect: Increase your starting Perception Characteristic by +5 and gain the Paranoia talent. Reduce your starting Willpower and Fellowship Characteristics by –3 each.

Decayed Society

Sinophian society is a decayed shadow of its former greatness: corruption and moral rot have penetrated into its every crevice and walk of life.

Effect: You begin play with the Deceive (Fel) skill. You also treat Common Lore (Underworld) (Int), Forbidden Lore (Cults) (Int), and Forbidden Lore (Heresy) as Basic Skills.

Background PackagesEdit

Arbitrator: The Empty Men of Sinophia Magna

Cost: 100 XP

Many of the loyal arbitrators that fought during the affair where taken into the Inquisition in the days and months that followed. The survivors themselves have been marked by the horrors that they saw. These qualities may be particularly valued by Ordo Xenos Inquisitors of Monodominant leanings, as soldiers in the war to keep mankind from the corruption of the alien and the evil within.

Effects: Apply all of the following changes to your character:

Talents: You gain Hatred (Tech Heretics) and Paranoia.

Insanity Points: You gain 1d5 Insanity Points.

Native CreaturesEdit

Sinophian Boreworm

"Normally pale, almost translucent, a feeding boreworm becomes bright red with devoured flesh and blood. This has led them to be considered sacred by cultists of the Blood God, and encouraged their trade. Khorne cultists use them to torture captives, and I have personally witnessed great vats of worms writhing obscenely in a soup of blood and offal."

–From the journals of Inquisitor Felroth Gelt 124.754.M41

A small, aggressive beast with a voracious and insatiable appetite, the Sinophian Boreworm is as dangerous as it is unnerving to look at. Normally a pallid length of bristly segments, Boreworms have such semitransparent flesh as to render their internal organs visible in faint light. The “head” of the animal is marked by a circle of hooks, designed to dig into exposed flesh, while the gullet is lined with rings of teeth. Able to feed on virtually any source of flesh, the Boreworm uses these teeth to literally chew its way inside of a corpse or living creature. As it feeds, the worm becomes flush with blood, and more than one brave man has felt a rush of horror at seeing the scarlet length of a Boreworm, slick with blood and slime, emerge from a body, its hooked anterior questing about for more.

In the wild, Boreworms prefer long–dead corpses, devouring flesh too rotten for larger scavengers. They’ll also attach themselves to anything desperate enough to grub amid the remains, eating the luckless animal from the inside out. Those few human victims who have survived a Boreworm’s attack state they can feel every twist and turn the Boreworm makes inside their bodies. Only a precious few can deal with the sensation and seek help---most commit suicide, indirectly serving the worm’s desire for a meal.

After a time inside a victim, the worm starts to break apart, each segment quickly maturing into a fully mobile worm itself. If caught early, Boreworm infection can be cured with a combination of surgery and chemical treatments. However, once the worm starts to break up, death is almost certain.

Boreworms are a popular terror weapon of Khorne cultists. Captives with information the cult needs will often be threatened with the “kiss” of a boreworm in order to make them talk. The cultists are more than willing to introduce the worms into a hive’s food supplies, especially livestock, in the hopes that either A: the boreworms will infect the livestock, cause a food crisis, and thus riots, or B: the boreworms will infect people who consume the tainted meat and thus infect the hive as a whole.

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