Considered a sacred and holy planet it is the home-world, head-quarters and a fiefdom of the High Church. The largest settlement on the planet is the Grand Temple, with Rhapsody being the largest settlement on the surface.
Andophael is where the High Church's Council of Exarchs meets to decide upon the matters of faith, as well as administrative and legislative matters over it's possesions and territories.
It is a frozen ice world of several million inhabitants that serves as a pilgrimage for the faithful across the sector. Much of the architecture on Andophael consists of intricate ice sculpture, including colossal statues representing the 10 virtues along with past leaders and champions of the Church.
A stone and ice walkway called the Path of Virtue winds for miles before ultimately coming to the Grand Temple itself, which stands in a massive crater with no other building for many miles around it. The Grand Temple is walled and roofed with perfect blocks of engineered and reinforced ice, and stands atop an expansive subterranean complex wherein most of the clergy live and work.
The central corridor is lined with large statues of the past Emperors, with many empty plinths awaiting the divine rulers of the future.
Andophael, like the Sig System, formed from gas clouds and dust between 380 and 320 million years ago, which is quite young by cosmological scales.
It orbits the star Sig at a distance of 44 light-minutes leaving surface temperatures generally well below the freezing point of water. Sig's substellar companion Shiva, a large brown dwarf, dominated the inner system of Sig and it's gravitational influence caused much debris to be thrown outward, some of which would have been collected by protoplanet Andophael, spurring it's growth.
Over hundreds of millions of years continued asteroid impacts brought vast amounts of water to the planet, a measure of extra heat and atmospheric gases, excepting oxygen.
Andophael's core was relatively cool at formation which limited the amount of historic volcanic activity on the surface and effecting the atmosphere. However due to the tidal stresses caused by it's relatively large captured moons, the planet's core has been heating and differentiating over time.
This not only generates a strong planetary magnetic field which reduces the impact of the stellar wind and Sig's intense UV radiation, but over the next few million years will lead to the increased formation of volcanos, rising surface temperatures and possibly even break the crust into tectonic plates.
The surface level atmosphere has a pressure level of 43 kPA and sufficient oxygen to be breathable by humans without aid. However visitors used to other planets or ship atmospheres may experience light headedness, dizziness, nasaeua and disorientation at first and are recommended to spend some time adjusting, particularly before undertaking Pilgrimage.
Due to it's vast distance from Sig Andophael is a very cold world. Historical asteroid impacts have brought a great deal of water to the planet but the vast majority is locked up into ice due to the low temperatures, making it also a frozen one.
The only permanent bodies of liquid water on the surface, the pantheon seas, exist in a small band around the equator. As a result there is little evaporation, and such as occurs is difficult for the cold thin air to hold.
This severely restricts cloud formation and therefore precipiation, which also technically makes Andophael a desert world. With so little cloud formation and precipation weather on Andophael is typically characterised by gentle to moderate winds caused by the air circulation between night and day sides of the planet.
Andophael was likely first settled in the 2220s just after the ascension of the High Church. However most records of the early days of colonisation were lost due to the Scream and the chaos which followed.
Andophael is controlled and governed by the High Church. The High Exarch posseses the title "Sovereign of Andophael". The role is largely ceremonial as the High Exarch is expected to spend most of their time on Imperial Prime with the Emperox. Instead the Council of Exarchs deals with planetary matters.
Andophael has a permanent resident population of 11.2 million. The majority of which consist of clergy, church employees and serfs, their families and associated businesses that support the day-to-day running of the church. During pilgrimage seasons however, the planet hosts many times that number of temporary visitors and the regular influxes of these pilgrims is one of the primary drivers of private economic activity on the planet.
For each pilgrimage season, the traditional City of Ice is constructed to accomodate millions of pilgrims, attendent priests, necessary public services and businesses, easily making it the most populous place on the planet. However at the end of a season, the city is melted down and rebuilt anew for the next one.
The largest permanent settlement on the planet is Grand Temple Complex, home to nearly a million people. It is built under the Grand Temple and Grand Chalice Crater to house and service the grand number of clergy employed above.
The city of Rhapsody, which hosts the planet's spaceport, is not too far behind in population while its Greater Metropolitan Area actually counts a quarter of the planet's permanent residents within it.
Outside of these places however the population is much less urbanised, with the overall majority of planetary population living on the thousands of hydroponic plantation-estates concentrated around the equatorial belt.
The largest of Andophael's moons, it possesses an active molten core giving rise to extensive volcanic activity. This activity heats the surface and maintains an atmosphere thicker than what its surface gravity would otherwise support.
A large civilian population have settled the moon, many of whom commute to Andophael. One of the main attractions are a network of geological Hot Springs, sections of which are managed to create public baths for commoners and more secluded and private coves for Nobles and Clergy.
From time to time there will be disruptive activity, leading some to rumour the United Peoples Collective may have a presence among the citizens.
This moon in many way resembles what the Ancient Records tell us of the moon Titan in the Terran system. The thick methane atmosphere makes habitation on the surface impossible and visibility is limited to a few paces.
This did not stop the Crusaders of the High Church, who took this place as their own and built the giant dome city of Drepanum. This is where the Crusaders are seated and where they live and train when on active duty. It is the only mark of civilization on the moon along with the spaceport.
A seismically unstable frozen wasteland, with large sheets of ice shifting under tidal interactions causing the ejecta spewing out of ice-volcanoes to easily reach escape velocities due to the nearly non-existent atmosphere.
Frequent ice-storms plague the surface. Tisoan is essentially an extreme reflection of Andophael itself, and only the most devout pilgrims and the toughest of Aquilan Legionnaires make the pilgrimage on this moon.
This minor body orbits Sig in the L2 Lagrange-point of Andophael, meaning it is very close to Androphael and orbits Sig in exactly the same amount of time. Satira Pala is unique in that it always remains within the umbra of Androphael, never seeing sunlight.
This has made it a perfect place for a small number of scientific installations that can take advantage of being shielded from Sig's solar wind. It is otherwise noted for hosting the Inquisitorial Crucible, the final year of their training.
Arhat Gagarin Institute of Divine Philosophy
The Gagarin Institute is one of the oldest centres of education in the sector. Its curriculum specialises in theological education, astronomy and sacred texts studies as most of its students are church Acolytes earning their doctorates for membership in the clergy. Though it also offers elective courses in a wide range of other subjects and Acolytes are encouraged to pick two of these during their studies. Advanced training and specialist programs are available for members of the Clergy where they are required for certain roles within the Church. Recently the institute has also offered a small number of places on associates degree programs for non-Church residents of Andophael.
The Cathedral of the Divine via Earthly Sensation
Discreetly built into the walls of the external structures of the the Grand Temple Complex in an enormous natural arch shape, the cathedral overlooks part of the Path of Virtue and is operated by a monastic order associated with the Purist branch of the High Church. Part of Purist theology holds that, as humanity is made in the image of God, all aspects of human experience are therefore sacred.
These monastics particularly seek to experience and spread pleasure in all of it's varied manifestations, positing that through pleasure one can experience divinity and become closer to God. While many of the pleasures on offer are quite mundane; such as gourmet foods, luxurient baths, fine arts etc. more 'intense' experiences are readily available.
Earning the Cathedral a not-undeserved reputation for hedonism and even debauchery. The Cathedral is open to all memebers of the church and also to pilgrims. Donations are expected upfront.
Ahimsa Moss is one of the few forms of life on Andophael that can survive unaided on its surface indefinitely. Blooms of these hardy pastel-coloured lichen-like species are commonly found all across the planet except for most extreme polar regions.
They grow on exposed rock surfaces that face the light of Sig where they slowly but diligently convert the UV-rich sunlight into oxygen through a quite efficient process of enhanced photosynthesis. Their activity gives rise to the human breathable atmosphere.
They are not native to the planet however. There is no fossil record of their existence ( or even a fossil record at all on Adophael) and genetic analysis from Church Lectors shows clear evidence of manipulation. This leads scholars to conclude that the moss was introduced in the early days of human colonisation of the sector as part of a terraforming effort.
Debate continues as to whether the process was completed and Andophael was intended to remain austere and frozen or if the events of the scream brought about a premature end to the project.
Kin Ben Wine (aka Diligence Wine)
Kin Ben wine is an Andophael speciality produced on the planet surface from hydroponically grown fruits and Ahimsa moss.
There are a number of varieties, distinguished by the proportion and types of fruits to ahimsa moss used in the fermenting process. It is believed that drinking it strengthens the resolve and brings you closer to the Virtue of Diligence itself.
Exporting the wine from Andophael is forbidden, it is only sold off-planet for High Church charity events, though it is somewhat freely available from lisensed vintners on-planet and quite popular with visiting pilgrims.
Vole en Croute
The 45th High Exarch, Titus Andronicus, liked to keep Aquilan Fighting Voles as pets. A few got out and did what voles do, to the point where they have infested every corner of the Church complex. A few enterprising vendors began selling the small rodents as a kind of street food, and the cuisine blossomed due to their overabundance, low cost and taste. A whole branch of church cooking sprang up around the little creatures overnight, and now visitors to the Holy Sites can enjoy voles prepared in a variety of styles and fashions, including the signature dish at many dinner parties, Vole en Croute.