- “They dress up in leaves and call themselves the Saturnine… An aging bunch of frat boys, tilting back goblets of Plasmids and calling it ambrosia.”
- ― Julie Langford[src]
The Saturnine are a group of Houdini Splicers whose theme is some kind of worship of ancient gods. Glowing symbols scattered around Arcadia are related to various gods of the ancient Romans and Greeks, including astrological symbols representing the zodiac, and various planets of the solar system; things closely linked with ancient pagan beliefs.
The Saturnine appear to worship nature, and have secret caves hidden by overgrown vegetation in which stone altars have been created. On these altars are candles and offertory objects like moldering pumpkins, liquor, and blood. In and around these caves are crude straw or wicker figurines with large breasts and hips, typical pagan symbols of harvest and fertility.
Their name, The Saturnine, is a reference to the Roman god Saturn, who is the god of agriculture, founder of civilizations, social order and conformity. Dante Alighieri associated Saturn with the liberal art of Astronomia (astrology and astronomy), likely the reason for the cult's semi-hidden glowing symbols. "Saturnine", in the English language, is defined as having a cold, gloomy or surly disposition; to be sullen or ominous in nature to the extent of being morbid.
The members of this cult wear masks made out of twigs, straw, and leaves, wear red clothing most of the time, and have whitened their faces with face paint.
- Main article: BioShock
Julie Langford is the only character in the game to talk about the Saturnine. In her Audio Diary The Saturnine, she says that members of the Saturnine fancy themselves touched by the ancient gods and chant "harness the flame, harness the mist" while drinking human blood and cocktails of Plasmids, calling it ambrosia. The Saturnine appear to have harassed Langford by stealing her research materials (such as Chlorophyll Solution) for use in their rituals.
Other Splicers in Rapture seem to hate and fear the Saturnine, alternately running in terror from them or, when in groups, brutally beating them (as seen in the Waterfall Grotto when the player opens a door to find three Thuggish Splicers beating the corpse of a Saturnine). Despite Langford describing the Saturnine as "an aging bunch of fratboys," female members of the cult also existed and are encountered by Jack.
- Main article: Challenge Rooms
Saturnine cultists appear in Rapture's Combat Arena during the Worlds of Hurt mission. In the seventh stage, the player has to kill Houdini Splicers. The Lady Smith Houdinis feature the Saturnine model. Later on, during the all-on-one ambush, all types of Saturnine cultists appear to attack.
BioShock 2 Multiplayer
- Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer
In the Arcadia level, there is a Saturnine cave at the Southeast end of the Rolling Hills. The Saturnine are also referenced in two of the loading screen quotes for BioShock 2 Multiplayer, set during the Rapture Civil War. It states that their activities resulted in the closure of Arcadia and that Andrew Ryan was well aware of their activities, vowing to put a stop to their violence, if not for them being an organized religion.
Behind the Scenes
- As the Saturnine were a late addition to Arcadia, they were not integrated very deeply into the area's storyline. The backstory behind them that was never implemented was that they were once business elites or a college fraternity who had gone feral and became obsessed with the pagan imagery they had seen in pop culture.
- This would explain Julie Langford's statement that they were "an aging bunch of frat boys" in her audio diary The Saturnine.
- After the poison is released into Arcadia during BioShock, the player can return to the Tea Garden to see an amusing Easter Egg left by the developers: three Saturnine Houdini Splicers gathered in a tight circle continuously performing the same crouching "look left, look right" animation over and over.
- In BioShock, standing within one of the Saturnine caves always triggers the spawning of enemy Saturnine, which can be exploited to easily get the Research Rewards for the Houdini Splicer.