Archives of Nethys

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Deities | Systems & Settlements

Birnam’s Bubble

Cities Preserved under Glass

Source Starfinder #33: Dominion’s End pg. 62
Location The Vast
Diameter ×1; Mass ×1; Gravity ×1
Atmosphere Unknown
Day 30 hours; Year 3/4 year

After completing their most recent extended deep-space survey mission, the famed Weydanite explorer Birnam-32 brought back the first reports of an enigmatic world when they returned home to Absalom Station. According to the respected android, a glitching Drift engine forced their vessel to return prematurely to the Material Plane, where they appeared in an unexplored region of the Vast. There, they discovered a distant orange dwarf star with one satellite. Officially designated by astronomers as Gilarska-b, this satellite is a terrestrial world in the star’s habitable zone. Gilarska-b has a singular, remarkable feature: a virtually impenetrable shield of unknown energy that encapsulates the entire planet and has given rise to a popular alternative epithet, Birnam’s Bubble.

Birnam-32 discovered the energy shield was impervious to most sensors, forcing the explorer to rely solely on visual examination. They were unable to determine the origin or nature of the energy shield surrounding the planet. Furthermore, Birnam-32 detected no power source for the shield but discerned some magical emanations from the bubble, hinting at some form of highly sophisticated hybrid technology. The composition of the planet’s atmosphere remains unknown, but it has plentiful surface water, verdant flora, and what appear to be intact cities of an advanced civilization scattered across its surface. Birnam-32 found no signs of animal life on the world—neither wild fauna nor any sapient species that might have constructed or inhabited the planet’s peculiarly pristine settlements.

After exhausting all other options for learning more about the world and its energy shield from orbit, Birnam-32 launched a probe at the planet, but it vaporized when it contacted the barrier’s outer edge. The impact activated ancient defensive satellites around the planet that drove off Birnam-32’s ship and curtailed further explorations. Birnam-32 fled the system, and once they repaired their Drift engine, the explorer returned to the Pact Worlds to report their discovery. Many other explorers listened with curious interest to the android’s story, but most wrote off the tale as an oddity that would never truly affect their everyday lives. The church of Weydan filed for exclusive exploratory claims on the planet, which went uncontested. With the arrival of the ancient alien starship Ark Prime in the Pact Worlds, interest in Birnam’s Bubble has increased, as has speculation that the mysterious world may have been a territory of the long-dead Sivv Dominion. Some scholars from organizations like the Starfinder Society and the Qabarat University of Xenoarchaeology and Xenoanthropology theorize that Birnam’s Bubble might be a product of the great war between sivvs and kishalee, sivv’s enemies who are believed to be responsible for the fall of the Sivv Dominion. One hypothesis gaining in popularity proposes that Gilarska-b’s energy shield was a kishalee weapon that completely sealed off the planet from the rest of the galaxy and exterminated all animal life on the world, or at least doomed its inhabitants to an existence (and eventual extinction) inside a vivarium of planetary scale.

Whatever the origin of Birnam’s Bubble, the church of Weydan continues to search for some means of penetrating the strange energy shield; its researchers have reached out to experts in multiple fields of science—from quantum thermodynamics to xenoarchaeologists—to no avail. Meanwhile, mystics have attempted to scry on the surface, also with no success. The Weydanites are convinced that if the bubble could be pierced, the untouched cities and relics found on the planet might shine light on one of the galaxy’s earliest, and least understood, interstellar civilizations.