The Syndicate | Age of Wonders: Planetfall

This episode is sponsored by Paradox Interactive. Two centuries after its collapse, amidst abandoned
worlds and crumbling ruins, it is impossible to deny that the Star Union lost its way. Democracy was replaced with tyranny, noble
idealism with cold pragmatism, and merit became worthless in favor of connections. It is easy to account for the fall of civilization
as some natural, inevitable occurrence; easy, but false. The collapse of the Union was aided by a group
of individuals whose overwhelming desire for power and wealth exceeded every other concern. It is perhaps the greatest injustice that
many of them survived the cataclysm, and together with their scions, plot still to preserve
what they have taken, and seize what they have not. Across the galaxy, the fearful whisper tales
of the old aristocracy, the true power behind the Star Union, the Syndicate. How exactly the ruling families of the Syndicate
consolidated their power has been lost to history. All that can be reliably accepted is that
the seeds of their eventual dominance were planted even before the establishment of the
Star Union. Individuals of formidable talent rose through
the ranks of government, industry, or finance and through either a decisive vision or the
elimination of the competition, ensured they remained influential. In death, power was passed on to their sons
and daughters, until ruling dynasties emerged across the Union. These aristocratic families embraced the hereditary
potential for psionic mastery and the DNA of the most brilliant were incorporated into
genetic lines. Each generation emerged smarter and more capable,
until names like House Suntoro, Gredu, Ny’Dar, Pruik, Voyan and Timur became synonymous with
success and extravagance. The most powerful amongst them established
vast trading companies, acquiring entire star systems the way ordinary citizens might collect
vintage music. During the cataclysm, their immense resources
spared many of their station from sharing the same fate as the common people, before
emerging centuries later from their private bunkers and luxury retreats. Those same resources have allowed them to
rebuild their houses, free of even the minimal oversight once enforced by the Star Union. Each House operates differently, for the ruling
elite of the Syndicate see themselves as above such petty concerns as “civil government”. Some Houses are tyrannical dictatorships,
others lawless anarchist collectives, while some, for all appearances, function as elected
democracies. In every instance however the members of the
Syndicate hold true power, purchased either directly or discreetly from those they would
govern. It is a common practice to acquire personal
debt, turning entire families into indentured servants or soldiers until such time this
debt has been repaid with interest. Such control leads easily to a sense of superiority
and many aristocrats see their subjects as their personal property. Control over the population is maintained
through a variety of methods, from technological augmentation designed to make the affected
more docile, to psionic control, and even the far cheaper method known even in antiquity
as “bread and circuses”. In exchange for reduced rations, inferior
housing, or other concessions, a servant may be able to acquire their citizenship and freedom
early, but for the majority of those owned by the Houses of the Syndicate, this promise
is an illusion. Without the protection and sustenance provided
by their masters, most perish before ever breathing air as free men. Most choose instead to lay low, keep quiet,
and obey orders. Within their own ranks, the Syndicate is bound
to their own unique code of dignity. Outward displays of aggression or violence
are frowned upon, but should a member gain power too quickly, bestow too generous a gift,
or even marry the wrong person, they risk discrete assassination. Against foreign adversaries, the Syndicate
prefers covert methods as opposed to open war. Diplomacy is heavily favored, but only as
a means of distracting or lulling future enemies into a false sense of security. High level manipulation keeps rivals at war
amongst themselves, technology in the right hands, and even allies confused and easily
coerced. When violence must be employed, it is done
so with great accuracy, and always where it might fully exploit an enemy weakness. Speed and precision define the doctrine of
the Syndicate, masked by misinformation. Every soldier has been bought and paid for
by their subjugators, from indentured conscripts to hired privateers. What type of universe emerges from the ashes
of the Star Union remains to be seen, but unless every member of the old aristocracy
is exposed and destroyed, the mistakes of the past cannot be corrected. Power, it is said, tends to corrupt. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thanks to Paradox Interactive for sponsoring
this investigation into the clandestine tyrants of the Syndicate. Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the latest turn-based
strategy game in the critically acclaimed Age of Wonders series. If you’re planning to buy Age of Wonders:
Planetfall so you can lead your people out of the cosmic dark age that has fallen across
the galaxy, use our affiliate link in the description. Are you going to be in Berlin this weekend
for ParadoxCon? Drop by our booth for some exclusive relics
obtained at great cost by the Templin Institute.

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