Day: varies; Year: 500 years
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 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 halfbiological 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.