You may have heard that with that part of the launch of Starfinder 2E is going to involve Aucturn finally giving ‘birth’ to whatever the Stranger has incubating. If not, consider this your first notice that the weird living planet on the far side of the Pact Worlds is about to hatch!
For some context, the announcement is part of the upcoming SF2E playtest adventure A Cosmic Birthday which I expect to go into more detail once we get it this summer. Until then, let’s get a little more in depth info and some light conjecture.
To start with, I went all the way back to 2012 for one of my favorite PF1E books and what is arguable the foundational document for Starfinder – the Distant Worlds book from the Campaign Setting line. A lot of the Pact Worlds planets underwent significant changes from the Pre-Gap state laid out in Distant Worlds to their current state in AG 324 (most notably Golarion and it’s Moon, which are simply gone), but not so Aucturn. The planet remains a strange, heavy gravity organic orb covered in mutagenic poisonous gases, murderous twisted abominations, apocalyptic cults, and even stranger stuff. It’s a nightmare of a place to visit too. Since the Age of Lost Omens a few significant changes have occurred:
- At some point the Dominion of the Black made a beach head on Aucturn, only to be defeated by the forces of the Great Old Ones, and what remnants of their forces that still reside there have dug in while rebuilding their strength and awaiting reinforcements.
- During the Gap a fleet of hundreds of ships tried to reach Aucturn only to end up as derelicts in orbit. Known as the Shattered Hulks, mostly these are just dangerous junk, but many have been warped by the influence of Aucturn to contain maddening horrors.
- There are more known settlements and areas on the ever-shifting planet. Each is awful in their own way.
- Carsai the King (almost certainly the same being as the one that ruled Aucturn back in the Age of Lost Omens and long before) has a mega-church to Nyarlathotep now, known as the Pyramid of the Black Pharoh, which he notably never visits.
- Righteousness, a fortress of Angels from the higher planes, waits in the Twisting Peaks on Aucturn to do battle against some truly foul evil that has yet to appear (perhaps the coming birth?)
Finally, we have the place where the action will be happening, the Gravid Mound. From Distant Worlds “This egg-shaped mountain is somewhere between a volcano and a polyp, expanding outward and then narrowing again at its base. From a wide caldera at its top weeps a constant stream of black goo in which pale and quivering chunks of meat float like icebergs, the viscous pool constantly overflowing and trickling down the sides of the Gravid Mound.” That description remains accurate in AG 324 (for the moment at least) though the 13 Midwives (mysterious and powerful spellcasters, possibly the same ones from Age of Lost Omens, though it isn’t clear) that rule over the area and tend to the Mound have expanded their settlement near it to a full blown city named Amniek. The Midwives have been predicting the birth of a new Great Old One from the Mound for thousands of years, and it would seem that its hour come round at last, a rough beast is soon to be born there.
And that’s the stage set. Now for minor conjecture. Great Old Ones are essentially the demi-god servitors of the Outer Gods. They are mostly massive organic creatures with powers that dwarf all but the very greatest of inhabitants of the material plane, and that is an extremely small list. Most have existed in some form since before the rise of the Man, Elf, or even the Gods themselves (with a few exceptions – Desna may have been a Great Old One herself that transitioned into a full on Deity, and it’s possible the being that corrupted Dou-Bral to become Zon-Kuthon is at least as old). It would seem the gestation period of a new one being born from a titanic space egg/womb happens on a geological, if not interstellar time scale. A new one entering the galaxy is likely to be a significant event, and might be catastrophic to the Pact Worlds. It’s unclear how vulnerable a newly born Great Old One would be, though the parties interested (Midwives, cultists of Aucturn, Dominion of the Black forces) seem to believe it will be less powerful at birth than later. The Midwives have been waiting for millennia for this moment with the hope of either exerting some kind of control over the space baby, or being granted boons by the new born godling. The Dominion of the Black are all but certain to mount an attack on the offspring in the hopes of destroying (or enslaving) it before it can become a powerful new weapon of their enemies. Finally, no one knows what Carsai the King and the cult of Nyarlathotep intend to do about the nascent birth. Perhaps Carsai is the mother, or father, or the baby themselves. We don’t know. I expect significant changes to Aucturn from the event (though I do think it is likely to still exist), and if there isn’t a major Starfinder Society event tied to the birth I’ll be surprised.
Can’t wait to find out!
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