Aucturn
planet_aucturn.jpg
Aucturn
Astrographical information
Region Onn Ring
Sector -
System Aballon System
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Physical information
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Affiliation Golar Pact Worlds

The ominous world of Aucturn, the Stranger, remains
mostly an enigma even after centuries of interplanetary
travel. Visual observations of the planet vary significantly from
viewer to viewer, and both its diameter and rotational period
fluctuate wildly and seemingly randomly. However, most of the
Pact Worlds lean toward one particular hypothesis: namely that
Aucturn is not a planet at all, but a living thing—an immense
embryo or egg that will someday mature into a near-deific being
of untold cosmic power: one of the Great Old Ones.

The farthest planet from the sun, Aucturn is not a signatory
to the Pact and is claimed by the Pact Worlds only out of
proximity and necessity. A weird and sickly world cloaked in
thick poisonous clouds, the Stranger warps reality with its very
existence, endangering any living creature that approaches
or visits it. Yet Aucturn is far from uninhabited, and the living
planet is currently a battleground between the cults of the Elder
Mythos, who aspire to nurture a new god, and the forces of the
Dominion of the Black, which seek to subjugate and manipulate
the nascent Great Old One for their own sinister purposes.

The most prominent settlement on Aucturn is the Citadel of the Black, home to the Pyramid of the Black Pharaoh, the largest
temple to Nyarlathotep in the Pact Worlds. Once, the Citadel was
apparently neutral ground between the Elder Mythos cults and
the Dominion, but at some point during the Gap, this tenuous
detente turned to open conflict, and today the Citadel is the
center of the Elder Mythos’s war effort. The Citadel of the Black is
also home to the mysterious entity known as Carsai the King, the
closest figure the planet has to a head of state, but one whose true
form and nature remain unknown. A powerful leader in the cults
of the Elder Mythos, Carsai has ruled the Citadel of the Black for
millennia, leading some to believe that he might be an avatar or
herald of Nyarlathotep himself. Carsai’s defense of Aucturn—and
thus the Pact Worlds—from the predations of the Dominion of the
Black, combined with the fact that he is a relatively approachable
and reasonable figure on an otherwise incomprehensible planet,
is the primary reason for the Pact Council’s reluctant acceptance
of the world into their agreement as a protectorate. Interestingly,
Carsai’s representation in some popular media as an antihero—a
deviously handsome and rebellious godling protecting the Pact
Worlds from unthinkable horror—has significantly increased the
worship of Nyarlathotep and the Outer Gods in the Pact Worlds.

The space around Aucturn is littered with old ships purportedly
sent by inner system worlds to neutralize the planet during the
Gap. While visiting starships are sometimes allowed to land
unharmed, these corrupted, madness-inducing hulks still drift
as a warning to all those who might seek to cleanse or colonize
Aucturn’s breathing shores. The Pact Worlds, unable to clear
this neighboring area of space of these dangers, are resigned to
maintaining a nominal connection with it instead.

Aucturn’s surface is a sickly, organic place, with fleshlike
ground and mountains resembling tumors through which flow
thick veins of a black ichor that acts as a psychotropic drug
for many of the native creatures, most notably the skittering,
proboscis-tongued orocorans. Whole landscapes can change in a
blink, leaving visitors feeling as if they’re in some sort of dream—
one moment walking among fungal forests or along the edge of
sphincter-like canyons, the next in some ichor-lord’s monastery
or at the foot of glowing towers pulsing with abandoned half-biological
machinery. Breathing the world’s toxic, yellow-green
atmosphere only makes the situation worse, as it contains a
seemingly endless variety of drugs, mutagens, and poisons.

Settlements on Aucturn are rare, generally isolated
communities of native creatures or Outer God cultists huddled
behind heavy fortifications or in the crumbling ruins of haunted
flesh-block edifices from a forgotten age. Attacks by the Dominion
of the Black are common, their brain-eating and chittering hordes
bombarding the surface in single-use drop pods or burrowing
up out of the planet’s flesh like botfly larvae to make suicidal
guerrilla attacks on any creature they encounter. After the
Citadel of the Black, the most populous settlement is Amniek, the
circular tower city at the base of the polyp-like mountain called
the Gravid Mound. According to the Midwives, the 13 cowled
casters who rule the city, Aucturn is already pregnant despite not
having been born itself, and their egg-shaped mountain will one
day burst, spewing Aucturn’s child into the universe—and when it
does, they will be there to receive its dark gifts.


It is the planet furthest from the sun, covered in dense poisonous fumes. Even after centuries of planetary travel, it remains a mystery. Although its mass is constant, visual observations change depending on who is observing it, and both its diameter and its period of rotation fluctuate wildly and, apparently, randomly. Sometimes it looks like a gas giant with a rippling crimson atmosphere, and sometimes a lifeless rock with a tenuous atmosphere. This is due to a planetary scale illusion caused by an unknown magical effect.

He's surrounded by old ships purposely sent by worlds from the inner system to neurealize him. While there are ships that can land without damage, these are a warning to those seeking to colonize Aucturn, leading to madness and corruption. As it approaches its orbit, it is discovered to be an inhospitable but strangely organic planet. Its atmosphere is greenish-yellow in color, and it contains drugs, mutagens, and poisons. The surface swells and shrinks as if it were a living being breathing or a trembling tumor.

Its very existence is a danger to reality itself and to any creature that approaches it. The Pact Worlds have the hypothesis that it is not a planet, but an immense egg from which, one day, a quasi-divine being of impossible cosmic power will be born one of the Great Old Ones. The cultists who inhabit Aucturn also strongly affirm this.

Its geography is inhospitable, mutable. The territory is made of calcareous stone or rubber soil from which mutated and atrophied vegetation grows. Invisible Leviathans swim through the black mud of their oceans. The atmosphere is made up of poisonous gases, which vary by location, from a thick neurotoxin concentrated in one area to a fine hallucinogenic mist in another. From its yellow sky, acid rain falls on the earth.

Your geography is in a state of flux, transforming as the planet shakes and contracts over months or years, but sometimes it happens in moments: rivers run dry and mountain ranges of fleshy mounds are created. This leaves your visitors with the impression that they are in a dream. They can go from mushroom forests to canyons, monasteries of lords of ichor or glowing towers containing biomachines. In general, its surface is an organic place, with soil like meat and mountains that appear like tumors, covered with veins through which a black ichor flows. It is used as a psychotropic drug by its native creatures, such as the Orocorans, who use their proboscis-like languages ​​to extract it.

However, there are places that seem not to change:

  • Undulating Sea: a large ocean at its south pole that surrounds a polar cap. It is the site of the Citadel of the Black.
  • Twisting Peaks: mountain range that crosses from the northwest to the southeast. They are ancient gray stone mountains worn away by acid winds. Its highest parts are home to stone fortresses.
  • Chalkmounds: small mountain range that crosses its northern hemisphere. Its stone, porous and easily crumbling, absorbs toxins from the atmosphere. This makes it a more livable place, but mining it releases concentrated toxins. Due to a forgotten disaster, it has craters that emit background radiation. In short, although the air is breathable, mutations are frequent. In a vast cavern in its depths there are several stone ziggurats tens of meters high. They were sanctuaries to Nyarlathotep championed millennia ago, but they still reverberate with religious energies, causing the Dominion of the Black to find it and reactivate it to corrupt the cultists of Nyarlathotep by altering their brain waves. Overseen by the chizáedos (wormlike beings and the closest thing the Dominion has to religious scholars) many deh-nolos, neh-thalggus and yah-thelgaads exchange the brains of trapped cultists to extract and mutate their biotheological energies. They also hope to find secrets to counter possible rescue missions.

He is a newborn or created Great Old One. There are cultists who believe that it is the womb from which said god is gestated, rather than the deity itself. It is believed that it is somehow connected to the dark and empty places between the stars.


Population Edit

Life on Aucturn is toxic in nature, and visitors can mutate after several days on the surface. The physical ones are the least important, for they affect the mind and sanity towards evil purposes.

Humanoids (usually Humans and Ysoki) are cultists of the Outer Gods or prisoners with a distorted sense of reality. They live in sealed buildings, with oxygen generators and respirators outside. Others opt for the use of old air cleaning machines (from the Citadel of the Black) or the natural effect of the Chalkmounds. Despite this, the energies of the planet can cause mutations such as extra eyes, chitinous plates or weakened limbs, sometimes making it impossible to recognize. its original species.

Most of the life forms that inhabit it are ruthless and monstrous. Although there are Shoggoths and Gugs, the most common life form is the Orocorans. There are also the so-called bryvaths, beings that absorb light and live in dark areas, assaulting intruders, as well as psychic ghosts that are only visible as flashes of pale light and eyes that do not blink.

Locations


Aucturn has few colonies, consisting of native creatures or Outer God cultists. These crouch in fortified areas or in the ruins of buildings from a forgotten age made of meat. This is so because the planet is currently a battlefield between the cults of the Elder Mythos (who seek to gestate the new god) and the Dominion of the Black (who seek to manipulate him for their own purposes).

These sites are frequently attacked by the Dominion of the Black, bombarding the surface, attacking bases from other dimensions, or carrying out suicide attacks from their depths. Clusters of Dominion of the Black agents control remote sites such as the Ziggurats of the Limestone Mountains, the Bleeding Frost, small biotech factories, and caves. In this way, they avoid conflicts with the cults and can gain strength and contact their allies. They tend to use the explorers who come to these places for experiments. Among the agents are neh-thalggus and yah-thelgaads (who use magic) and deh-nolos, more focused on technology.

Cultists resist the attacks of the Dominion of the Black because their fortifications hold up to bioweapons, psychic attacks are diminished by erratic minds, and their bodies are stronger after years of grueling rituals. The Dominion would need a planetary-level assault to be effective, and the Pact Worlds prefer that it waste its resources on a hostile and remote planet.

Aucturn's main colony is the Citadel of the Black, where the Pyramid of the Black Pharaoh is located. This is the largest temple dedicated to Nyarlathotep in the Pact Worlds. Although it began as a free zone between the battle between cults, when the open conflict began it became the base of operations of the Elder Mythos, with the forces of the Dominion being removed from the place and their small groups resisting the more or less generalized control of the planet.

Here is also the powerful leader Carsai the King, the closest the planet has to a president and whose true form and nature are unknown. Defending the planet from the Dominion of the Black and being a reasonable figure on a strange planet caused the Pact Council to accept Aucturn as a protectorate of the Pact Worlds, if only out of necessity and proximity. While this means that he may have a representative on the council (usually Carsai or his associates), he does not have much power on planets or moons in the system. Unable to purge this area, they have no choice but to maintain a nominal connection with it.


RESIDENTS


Most of Aucturn’s native creatures are monstrous and vicious.
Light-absorbing bryrvaths lurk in Aucturn’s shadowed places
and assail intruders with soul-rending coruscations of color.

Gugs—split-armed giants with massive vertical mouths—infest
tunnels and warrens beneath the planet’s surface. Oily, oozelike
behemoths called shoggoths lurk within Aucturn’s seas,
occasionally roiling onto land and uttering their madness inducing
howls.

Malignant psychic ghosts that are visible
only as flashes of pale lights and unblinking eyes stalk the
landscape. But by far, the most common of Aucturn’s native
creatures are the orocorans, semi-intelligent predators with
mosquito-like proboscises and temperaments who sup from
the planet’s ichor springs and spend their time in narcotic
stupors. Other denizens of Aucturn consider individual
orocorans a nuisance, but the creatures pose a serious hazard
in large swarms.

Small cells of agents of the Dominion of the Black hold
control over small biotech factories, remote caves, and other
isolated locations on the planet. They avoid further conflict
with the worshipers of the Outer Gods while they rebuild
their strength and contact their allies floating in deep space
between the stars. Unfortunate explorers who come across
these hidden enclaves find that the Dominion fiercely protects
its secret lairs and eagerly grasps for fodder for its horrid
experiments. These agents most often include the magic wielding
neh-thalggus and yah-thelgaads, as well as the
technical-minded deh-nolos.

Despite Aucturn’s dangerous creatures, poisonous
atmosphere, and scarce resources, some humanoids still make
the planet their home. For the most part, these people—mostly
humans and ysoki—have either pledged their lives to the cults
of the Outer Gods or are recluses with only a tenuous grasp
of reality. These humanoids usually live in sealed buildings
with oxygen generators and wear respirators outdoors,
although some settlements use alternative methods to provide
resident humanoids with comfort, such as the ancient aircleansing
machines of the Citadel of the Black or the natural
purifying effect of the Chalkmounds. Despite dealing with
the atmosphere, these humanoids remain susceptible to the
eldritch energies that bathe the planet. Residents usually bear
strange mutations, such as chitinous plates, withered limbs, or
extra eyes, that may render them unrecognizable as members
of their original species.

CONFLICTS AND THREATS


The most significant ongoing threat on Aucturn is the
simmering feud between the followers of the Outer Gods
(most commonly Nyarlathotep) and the Dominion of the Black.
While the cultists and the Dominion were never on the best
of terms over the millennia, this delicate detente slid into
all-out war sometime during the Gap. The cults of the Outer
Gods ejected most of the Dominion forces from the planet
and declared themselves the sole heirs to Aucturn, but the
Dominion of the Black hasn’t wholly given up its foothold on
Aucturn. Small enclaves of Dominion agents lurk in isolated
parts of the planet, such as in the Chalkmound Ziggurats or
Frost-That-Bleeds, pursuing their abstruse experiments and
seeking a way to strike back at the cultists. Dominion assault
squads sometimes target their enemies on the planet directly,
attacking from orbital drop ships, burrowing up through
underground tunnels, or even slipping directly into cultist
bases from adjacent dimensions. The tenacious cultists have
proven resistant to Dominion attacks: bioweapons are less
effective because the cultists already insulate themselves well
against the planet’s poisonous atmosphere, erratic psychology
shields the cultists’ minds from direct psychic attacks, and
exhausting rituals have honed their physical fortitude. The
Dominion would require a widespread planetary assault to
retake the world, and the rest of the Pact Worlds are happy
to let the Dominion waste its resources against a poisonous
planet at the outskirts of the solar system.

The orocorans are the most numerous indigenous creatures
on Aucturn, but they are so isolated and drug addled that they
rarely pose a significant threat to others. Although the mighty
orocoran ichor lords can focus a tribe of orocorans on a specific
purpose—usually, an attack against a superior or well-defended
foe—these tribes often fall to bickering and scatter within a
short period of time. Only rare orocoran leaders—such as the
Hunger-Enders described on page 145—can unite the aberrant
addicts in pursuit of a long-term goal.

NOTABLE LOCATIONS


Aucturn is a planet filled with biological terrors, disturbing
mysteries, and evil cults. A few of the significant locations on
Aucturn follow.

Amniek

The second-largest settlement on Aucturn, Amniek is a
circular city of just over 90,000 people—mostly cultists—
sprawling around and within several basalt towers at the
base of the Gravid Mound. Amniek is governed by a council
of 13 spellcasters called the Midwives. Although the Midwives
rule Amniek, their principle duty is ministering to the Gravid
Mound, carefully shepherding the birth of the godling within.
While the Midwives have traditionally been female, there is
no strict gender requirement; of the current Midwives, three
are men and two are rag-shrouded siblings of indeterminate
gender. Amniek’s other residents pursue daily activities as
might be found in any civilized settlement, including trade at
a spaceport atop one of the city’s towers, but the city is both
literally and emotionally in the shadow of the Gravid Mound.
Residents spend several hours each day raising chants of
obeisance to the Midwives and pleas for mercy to the being
within the mound. Visitors aren’t technically required to join
these chants, but residents of the city advise doing so—after
all, if tomorrow is the day the godling finally spills forth, today
is the day to have beseeched its pity.

Blackened Key

AbadarCorp constructed this sprawling research complex with
the permission of Carsai the King for the purpose of studying
Aucturn’s unique environment and ecology, perhaps eventually
discovering a way to make the planet habitable for larger
groups. It saw only a few months of operation before agents of
the Dominion of the Black viciously attacked, killing all within.
The base was renamed Blackened Key due to its charred walls
and burned-out laboratories, and is now host to a multitude of
ghosts and other undead. Some whisper that Carsai knew that
the Dominion would be enraged by the complex’s presence and
allowed it to be built to draw those creatures’ ire so that he
could make a move elsewhere.

Chalkmound Ziggurats

Although there are more hidden redoubts and bolt-holes on
Aucturn containing creatures of the Dominion of the Black
than the cult of Nyarlathotep would care to admit, none are
as dangerous to them as the secret temple-laboratories in
a vast cavern far beneath the Chalkmounds. Here, several
stone ziggurats stand hundreds of feet tall: once-powerful
shrines to Nyarlathotep, these underground ziggurats were
abandoned millennia ago but still echo with religious energies.
The Dominion of the Black discovered this forgotten place and
reactivated it, seeking to psychically corrupt Nyarlathotep’s
worship by perverting the brain waves of captured cultists.
Swarms of deh-nolos, neh-thalggus, and yah-thelgaads labor
in the flickering lights shed by the ziggurats, swapping around
the brains of captured cultists to extract and mutate their
bio-theological energies. These efforts are overseen by wormlike
chyzaedus, the closest thing the Dominion has to religious
scholars. Captured brains may hold other, deeper secrets that a
daring recovery mission into this stronghold could procure and
employ against the Dominion.

The Chillblains

Aucturn’s northern reaches are less frozen than its southern
pole, though the temperature does take quite a dip there. A
particular large stretch of land called the Chillblains approaches
absolute zero. Though this seemingly supernatural cold
affects living creatures as normal, liquids and other inanimate
objects rarely freeze despite the very low temperature. Certain
devotees of the Outer Gods claim that their patrons protect
their bodies from the cold and have been seen walking freely
through the Chillblains wearing not much more than simple
cloth robes. However, when two or more of these cultists get
within 10 feet of each other, that protection vanishes and they
are usually killed instantly.

Citadel of the Black

The Citadel of the Black is Aucturn’s largest settlement
in both size and population. Located on the shores of the
Undulating Sea, it is a massive building almost a mile tall and
with a base of several dozens of acres, made of a jumbled
collection of dense stone, black iron, pulsing flesh-bricks,
spires of jagged bone, and tough organic membranes. Due to
eldritch atmospheric pumping engines within the building, the
yellow smog of Aucturn is rendered nontoxic, allowing a large
number of humans, ysoki, and other races of the Pact Worlds
to congregate within the ominous structure and in the many
smaller buildings clustered at the Citadel’s base like barnacles
on a ship.

Despite its immense size, the Citadel seems mostly abandoned,
as fewer than 160,000 residents inhabit its multitude of floors
and cavernous chambers. Many residents go days without
seeing another living soul, which suits its many misanthropic
hermits and obsessed scholars of arcane lore just fine. Some
even believe that the tower is larger on the inside than on the
outside or that the building actually has multiple interiors, each
its own demiplane.

The undisputed ruler of the Citadel of the Black is Carsai
the King, immortal high priest of Nyarlathotep and, some
whisper, an avatar of the Empty Traveler himself. Carsai
appears in public frequently; each appearance draws large
crowds of fawning cultists, and his charismatic speeches are
often broadcast throughout the Pact Worlds; cries of adoration
and spontaneous ecstatic suicides are not uncommon during
these spectacles. Despite Carsai’s position, the Citadel of the
Black is not a theocracy, and the city has just as many agnostic
scholars of forgotten or forbidden lore as it does devout cultists
of Nyarlathotep. These scholars study in the tower’s many
libraries of blasphemous tomes, such as the tumorous Weeping
Cathedral or the magically silenced Repository of Errant Lore.
Other citizens work the fleshfarms in the vaults beneath the
building to feed the populace, or serve as the Highstalkers—a
security firm that straddles the line between a police force and
sanctioned serial killers.

CITADEL OF THE BLACK
CE cyclopean tower
Population 153,130 (45% human, 14% orocoran, 11% ysoki,
6% android, 24% other)
Government autocracy (Carsai the King)
Qualities academic, notorious
Maximum Item Level 18th

Dark Valley

A settlement of ramshackle prefabricated living structures and
portable generators, Dark Valley exists in permanent shadow.
The reason for this lightlessness has yet to be understood,
though groups of scientists from various corporations have
spent decades studying the area. Dark Valley has no permanent
residents, and the buildings are only minimally maintained by
the researchers who stay here. The periods in which Dark Valley
is inhabited usually last only a few months, as the effects of
Aucturn’s atmosphere are heightened within this area between
the Chalkmounds and the Gnashing Range.

Endless Throat

This gaping pit, 40 feet wide, yawns at the bottom of a steepsided
canyon. The pit winds down beneath Aucturn’s surface,
looping and twisting in a disorienting fashion but leading ever
downward. Its walls quiver occasionally and are slick with black
ichor, leading to the unmistakable feeling of moving through
a massive organism. A faint soothing call always echoes from
farther down the passage, as though from something just out of
sight around the next few bends.

Endless Throat winds ever downward, rarely varying in
diameter or temperature, in defiance of geological rules.
Although a few corpses litter the passage in places—explorers
who succumbed to injury or starvation before finding their way
back out—the most significant landmark is a personal transport
vehicle resting askew against one of the slick passage walls
370 miles down. The vehicle has been picked over by the few
travelers who have made it this far. It faces the entrance, and
its logs show it traveled a journey of over 200,000 miles—
much farther than Aucturn is wide. Scrawled in blood on the
windshield are the words “We found the One Who Calls” and a
series of numbers with no apparent meaning.

Frost-That-Bleeds

Aucturn’s southern polar ice cap is even more inhospitable than
the rest of the planet. Although the poisonous atmosphere and
scouring winds are just as prevalent here as they are elsewhere,
the temperature is far below freezing and the winds kick up
howling snowstorms of jagged crystals. Though dangerous,
this region has startling beauty: Aucturn’s weirdly fluctuating
magnetic field creates miles-wide sheets of colorful, rippling
auroras that dance across the sky. Beneath these lights,
scientists of the Dominion of the Black labor in a factory called
Frost-That-Bleeds. This structure is a monolithic series of hollow
ice blocks that penetrate the planetary surface, circulating
Aucturn’s foul, eldritch ichor through the blocks like black blood
through pulsing veins. Scientists of the Dominion of the Black
study this ichor, perfecting potent strains of magnetotoxins to
poison the planet from within and convert its magnetic field
into a powerful beacon for their agents drifting in the black
space between the stars.

The Fury Place

This plain of rubbery soil and stunted trees is hundreds of miles
across and riven by a deep chasm filled with roiling clouds that
spread throughout the plain. The resulting thin mist resounds
with an overwhelming psychic imperative to furiously attack
nearby creatures. Strong-willed individuals can keep this
bloodlust at bay, but they still risk becoming victims of the
raging creatures that roam the plain.

Scant pre-Gap records indicate that this area of Aucturn
didn’t previously inflict the psychic rage it does now. To the
contrary, the site was formerly known as “the Loving Place”
and encouraged enthusiastic orgies and unbridled lusts. Even
older records speak of the area as one where creatures would
be overwhelmed with lassitude, entering a listless torpor and
eventually perishing from starvation upon a field of bones and
chitin left by previous visitors. Historians speculate that this
region cycles through eons-long ages where a particular sin
predominates; according to this theory, sloth gave way to lust,
and lust to wrath. As some visitors are able to overcome the
psychic compulsion toward bloodshed, these scholars speculate
that the era of wrath is ebbing, and some other sin may soon
take its place.

Gentle Forest

In the shelter of steep-sided mountains called the Gnashing
Range rises a vast forest of green and black trees with gnarled
branches. From a distance, the Gentle Forest appears to be
the only large mass of healthy vegetation on Aucturn. The
trees are actually interspersed with several enormous eel-like
creatures of a similar coloration and size. These ersatz trees
use the surrounding foliage as camouflage; however, they
can be distinguished primarily by their heaving, peristaltic
contractions, like hiccups, and also because they twist lazily
and slowly when living creatures come near. Suckered mouths
jut from the creatures in an imitation of branches; these
mouths kiss and caress nearby victims for several minutes,
sometimes whispering the victim’s thoughts out loud in a
choir. These curious creatures don’t seem to be intelligent,
merely uttering psychic copies of others’ thoughts, but some
burble the thoughts of previous travelers. Ultimately, the trees
are overwhelmed by a need to feed: creatures that stay near
for too long find that the mouths have sharp teeth that can
latch on to victims, allowing the eels to drain their blood. The
remaining bloodless husks serve as fertilizer for the forest’s
actual trees.

Gravid Mound

This polyp-shaped mountain resembles an egg balanced on its
narrow end, dominating the surrounding landscape. The top of
the mountain is an open caldera containing chunky amniotic
fluids that occasionally bubble and roil, spilling over the sides
of the mound. A cabal of 13 hooded spellcasters called the
Midwives—who also rule the nearby city of Amniek—insist that
the Gravid Mound contains an embryonic godling, nurtured
within Aucturn as a fetus within a womb. The Midwives
regulate the Gravid Mound’s bubbling fluids and occasional
shuddering, attempting to ease the impending birth when
the Gravid Mound will burst like a cyst and spill the
new godling forth. The Midwives understand that
this godling will have indescribable power, and
they hope their ministrations both accelerate its
birth and elevate them as its high priests when it
exercises its first soul-splitting cries.

Flying beasts with features of wasps and
armored serpents sip from the caldera like grotesque
hummingbirds. The Midwives consider these
creatures to be nuisances, although some grow to
immense size on the eldritch fluids.

Grindhold

An example of one of the settlements of cultists
dotting the landscape of Aucturn, Grindhold is a
small, fortified city ruled by a splinter faction of
Nyarlathotep’s faith. Maintaining independence from
the Citadel of the Black, Grindhold supports a small
starport and minor trading interests, specializing
principally in distilled poisons, mind-altering drugs,
and explosives manufactured by the city’s joyless human
and dwarven specialists. Grindhold’s militia is surprisingly
professional and trains with flying biotech ships shaped
like enormous bats with grasping mandibles. Rumor holds
that the heretical faction survives only at Carsai’s whim,
but Grindhold’s leader, High Visionary Habblegeth (CE
female dwarf mystic), insists that her knowledge of “secret
truths” of the Black Pharaoh protects her city from Carsai’s
unholy vengeance.

Master’s Maze

Several miles north of the Citadel of the Black, a series of box
canyons, chasms, and gullies creates an enormous maze dozens
of miles wide, with tens of thousands of branching passages.
Seen from above, this maze creates a mind-rending pattern that
causes mortal minds to shy away; the only way to truly solve
the maze is to enter it. Although the passages of the maze
seem natural, they have been carefully shaped and expanded
by generations of cultists of Eloritu to create a living prayer to
the god of secrets: the alignment of each passage has carefully
designed to hold occult significance.

The maze is rumored to have precisely one unique solution,
and it is said that an adherent who walks this path will obtain
divine enlightenment sufficient to elevate her to the power
of a demigod. Not content to make the twisting passages the
only obstacles to enlightenment, overzealous priests of Eloritu
sometimes introduce dangerous monsters into the Master’s
Maze, making it a test of martial skill and stealth as well as of
intellect.

Meatwalking Prison

One of the least understood prisons in the Pact Worlds,
Meatwalking Prison is an ancient iron fortification constructed
at some point during the Gap. Carsai the King officially
sanctions this prison, but its day-to-day operations are
overseen by the warden Zixiz (CE female android mystic), who
uses lumbering gugs as guards. Occasionally, one of Zixiz’s
robotic agents arrives at another incarceration facility across
the galaxy and offers to take that prison’s most dangerous or
troublesome offenders off its hands (though usually only the
most corrupt prisons take such a deal). As such, Meatwalking
Prison houses the worst of the worst, even though its methods
of imprisonment don’t break any Pact Worlds laws. In fact,
the facilities seem pleasant and comfortable, despite the
monstrous guards, and—very rarely—a prisoner elects to stay
within the structure after his sentence has been served. Many
are highly suspicious of Carsai’s motives and believe that Zixiz
is either brainwashing or indoctrinating her prisoners for
some dangerous purpose.

Monastery of the Hunger-Enders

Several of the lonely, ruined fortresses atop the Twisting
Peaks are located near underground passages and claimed by
a cabal of orocoran mystics called the Hunger-Enders. More
powerful even than the dreaded orocoran ichor lords, the
Hunger-Enders have all died from gorging upon the eldritch
fluids that flow beneath Aucturn’s surface and risen again
as undead creatures. Although long past their addiction
for the planet’s ichor, the Hunger-Enders distill the fluid
into concentrated forms in their underground chambers,
overseeing vast swarms of orocoran aspirants that hope to
sample the refined stuff. These aspirants live austere lives as
slaves to the Hunger-Enders’ whims. Their distillations require
rare alchemical components; unlike many orocorans, the
undead Hunger-Enders are willing to negotiate with strangers
to obtain these ingredients in exchange for the ancient relics
found beneath their mountain fortresses.

Pilgrim’s Panacea

One of the few ships to have fallen from the Shattered Hulks
and survived planetfall intact, the hospital ship called the
Pilgrim’s Panacea is half buried in a sea of ichor in Aucturn’s
northern hemisphere. The ship’s engines and engineering
section were completely demolished in the crash, but the rest of
the ship landed safely—to the dismay of its survivors. A group of
aquatic humanoid cultists swarmed into the ship and fell upon
the physicians and wounded alike with inhumane violence and
debased lusts.

Since that dark day, several generations have been
born within the ship. Although this progeny has primarily
human-looking forms and scientific knowledge gleaned
from generations of study of the ship’s medical archives,
they retain the underwater mobility, aberrant appetites, and
horrid faith of their aquatic forebears. Recently, this tribe
has begun masquerading as doctors for hire, providing just
enough genuine medical care to build a good reputation
among unsuspecting offworlders. Potential “patients” who
meet certain abstruse criteria are taken to aquatic sacrifice
chambers and never seen again.

Pyramid of the Black Pharaoh

This glossy pyramid of unknown material sits across the
Undulating Sea from the Citadel of the Black. It is the center
of worship for Nyarlathotep on Aucturn (and, indeed, the entire
Pact Worlds) and sees innumerable pilgrims every year. Much
of the pyramid’s interior is a vast cathedral where congregants
gather, but there are no official services. The worshipers of the
Crawling Chaos are expected to talk among themselves, sharing
secrets and conspiratorial whispers. Each devotee then must
decide for himself whether what he has heard is true or if had
just been lied to; discovering if such a lie would serve another's
purpose is part of this strange form of worship.

The pyramid also contains a maze of secret passageways
and hidden chambers, some of which seem to move and shift
when no one is in them. Those who come to the pyramid believe
that some of these areas contain unique magic, outlawed
technology, or other taboo secrets and actively seek them out,
but are generally tight-lipped about what they have found, an
unsurprising response for a cultist of Nyarlathotep.

Many have noted that Carsai the King has never been seen
within or traveling to the pyramid. Some say this is a ploy to
confuse those who believe he is an avatar of the Black Pharaoh.

Righteousness

In the shelter of the Twisting Peaks stand a handful of
interconnected hemispherical domes. Powerful lights along
the structures, visible from miles away, appear as a sigil that
conveys a calming effect upon any viewer. This magical effect
is one of the key defenses of the angelic forces that inhabit this
small settlement, which they call Righteousness.

Although Righteousness is closed to most outsiders, a
few peaceful visitors are sometimes invited in. These visitors
describe walkways of light, regular rows of galleries and
amphitheaters, and hundreds of angelic inhabitants. The
armored angels of Righteousness spends their days training
for war or participating in celestial choirs whose holy hymns
quell Aucturn’s mutating effects near the settlement. The angels
explain to curious visitors that Righteousness is a beachhead for
a celestial crusade against an evil force that has not yet arrived
on Aucturn but will do so in the near future. The angels don’t
provide further details, however, explaining that to reveal the
evil’s nature might provide it with undue warning. The angels
are oppressively fatalistic despite their near-constant training,
as no angel in Righteousness—even their solar angel commander,
Ambrennil—expects to survive their coming crusade.

Saltlash

There is a strangely pastoral sight on a series of cliffs riddled
with dense salt deposits at the edge of the Undulating Sea:
a series of seemingly normal fishing villages untouched
by technology. Only upon closer inspection does Aucturn’s
influence reveal itself. Inbred human families who worship
some aquatic terror living under the waves occupy these
villages, collectively known as the Saltlash region. These
humans, who have acclimated to the planet’s poisonous
atmosphere, barely eke out a living from year to year, a
routine centered around the yearly Festival of Tithing. The
joyless celebration culminates when an immense squid-like
tentacle bursts from the sea, winds across the cliffs and into
the largest village, and drags a chosen sacrifice—usually one
of the towns’ younger residents—back into the inky depths.
The stoic Saltlash folk suffer this loss because those salt
deposits touched by the questing tentacle are changed into
a valuable resource. Saltlash residents know the secrets to
distilling these salts into a powerful narcotic that heightens
the user’s paranoia. As this drug is odorless and tasteless, it
commands a high price in other communities on Aucturn, and
buyers often sell it offworld. Over the past few years, however,
the villages’ populations have been dwindling, forcing the
people of Saltlash to kidnap outsiders on the eve of their festival
to proffer to the tentacle.

Shattered Hulks

Aucturn is orbited by derelict hulls of hundreds of Pact World
ships, including warships of enormous size. These wrecks
occasionally collide, raining fiery wreckage onto the planet far
below, but for the most part, the derelict ships float slowly around
the planet like lazy flies around a corpse. These vessels are
assumed to have been dispatched from inner system worlds at
some point during the Gap for reasons now unknown. Although
some of these floating hulks certainly contain valuable relics
or information from the Gap, the eldritch energies of Aucturn
have warped the ships. Few of the wrecks have been explored,
as all contain madness-inducing interiors. A few documented
examples hint at the horrors to be found among these lost
ships. The warship Collum’s Champion has internal corridors
of quivering flesh rather than steel, its crew transformed into
immortal human-sized polyps extruding from the walls and
constantly screaming in pain. The transport Memories of War
gives off an eerie light that casts impossible shadows on the
surrounding wrecks. The scout ship Scarlet Runner is much
larger on the inside than the outside and contains endless dim
hallways that intersect bizarrely and echo with manic laughter
from somewhere deeper within.

Sideways Steps

Several monolithic stone steps ascend one of the Twisted
Peaks, shrouded in cloying mist that obscures visual, magical,
and technological observation. Some visitors ascending onto
one of the steps see a colorful vortex within the mist nearby,
although only one person can see this manifestation at a time:
the visitor’s companions usually cannot see or interact with
the portal.

Each stair’s vortex leads to another version of Aucturn,
and most bear dramatic changes: one is a blasted wasteland
patrolled by massive, murderous robots of unknown design;
another bears fields of sweet-smelling flowers beneath a
brightly glowing moon; and another is a mere riven shell as
though the godling lurking within the planet long ago burst
free. The positions of the stars plainly confirms that each
planet is indeed Aucturn, but one from an adjacent reality.
Only initial observations have been made in any alternate
Aucturn, as visitors who don’t return through the vortex within
a few minutes find it permanently closed behind them and are
lost forever.

Suppurating Scarp

This wide cliff in the Gnashing Range towers hundreds of feet
high and constantly seeps a thin, yellowish pus-like fluid that
drips down the cliff and collects in disgusting pools at its base.
Although different from the black ichor that flows throughout
the rest of Aucturn, this pus has a similar hallucinogenic effect
when imbibed. Creatures able to force themselves to swallow
the repulsive fluid and gaze upon the Suppurating Scarp see
shapes in the whorls and eddies of the dripping pus that are
almost always prophetic yet grim: an image of a dire fate to
soon befall the viewer, the name of the viewer’s next loved one
to die, or a stylized representation of a treasured item that the
viewer will permanently lose.

Orocorans shun the Suppurating Scarp, bearing a deeply
ingrained fear of the tiny wriggling worms that occasionally
squirm out of the cliff to plop into the pus pools below.
Orocoran rumors hold that a fresh corpse submerged in the
shallow pools of pus and left undisturbed for 11 days rises
again as a horrid amalgamation of bloated yellowish worms
bearing the dead creature’s memories but none of its kindness
or mercy.

Toothy Menhirs

Thrusting up from the slick, rubbery ground in a miles-wide
valley, the Toothy Menhirs are monolithic rectangular slabs
20 feet wide and 80 or more feet high. The slabs are set in
a roughly triangular pattern, with a few outliers scattered
nearby. Although the site has the appearance of a primeval
set of standing stones, the Toothy Menhirs are made of tough,
yellowish bone and resemble enormous, blunt teeth. The
menhirs can be damaged, but they regenerate with startling
rapidity. Strange humanoid creatures made entirely of tiny
teeth lurk among the menhirs, merging into the slabs when
they know they are being observed.

Some offworlders observing the arrangement of the Toothy
Menhirs experience a nagging sense of déjà vu, as though the
pattern of the slabs were somewhat familiar but somehow
fundamentally incorrect, such as if one or two were slightly out
of place. Computational analysis reveals that the layout of the
slabs is similar, but not exactly identical, to several different
constellations visible from Aucturn’s upper atmosphere. Some
believe that wrenching the slabs into an alignment matching
one of these configurations of stars will cause something
glorious—or terrible—to occur.

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