Hard Coded Hostility YKTTW Discussion

Hard Coded Hostility
A faction which cannot be negotiated with and is perpetually at war with every other faction
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(permanent link) added: 2012-11-19 11:43:57 sponsor: Maklodes edited by: Koveras (last reply: 2013-09-30 05:51:40)

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Sometimes, in Strategy Game, Role-Playing Game, or other circumstances, complex deals are possible: you can negotiate treaties, break them, form secret pacts against common enemies, join factions, recruit unaffiliated people into your personal faction or party, etc.

On the other hand, sometimes Violence Is the Only Option. Such is the case for a faction with Hard-Coded Hostility. The distinguishing feature of this group is that it will never be at peace with you or anyone else. The only reaction when encountering its forces is to kill them or avoid them.

A deeply unsympathetic, even evil faction — perhaps even one that starts off the game trying to kill the player — is not necessarily an example of Hard-Coded Hostility. If The Horde is ravaging the local area looting local cities, enslaving people, and tries to kill you on sight, but you can prove your worthiness to join them if you kill a dozen villagers and present their heads to their khan, then the horde does not demonstrate this trope. By definition, someone with Hard-Coded Hostility cannot be joined or negotiated with within the parameters of the game.

The term is best reserved for games in which is is not the norm. For instance, in a First-Person Shooter in which the bulk of the game consists of killing demonic enemies, the demons are best not thought of as having Hard-Coded Hostility; rather, the term is best applied in circumstances which otherwise feature a diverse set of factions which can be opposed or cooperated with depending on the player's actions.

This is a game specific trope because, while AI-controlled game factions have no "choice" but to follow their programming (and in this case, the programming makes them incapable of diplomacy), actual sentient beings are more flexible — they can make a choice to negotiate or listen to diplomacy, and whether or not they do only 0.0005% of the time or even 0% of the time, there's still the choice and thus still a hope that they might — because the one trying to negotiate doesn't know with 100% certainty whether or not the other side will listen.

Related to Absolute Xenophobe. Compare Always Chaotic Evil and The Usual Adversaries. This is about games which allow the player to build alliances with most factions except one in particular.


  • Pirates in Galactic Civilizations are heavily armed ships that attack ships, particularly freighters, of all civilizations. Sometimes they randomly appear, sometimes a fleet of them shows up after a breakout from a galactic prison, and when an evil or neutral civilization is defeated many of their remaining ships become pirates.
    • GalCiv2 also introduces the Dread Lords, Abusive Precursors who get let out of their can in the campaign or a random event in sandbox games, and then proceed to attempt to wipe out all other life in the galaxy. And unlike pirates they invade planets as well.
  • Barbarians in the Civilization series: no civilization can have diplomatic relations with them, and they are hostile to every civilization.
  • In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Mindworms. You can train your own or capture individual units, but wild Mindworms will always spawn as hostile to absolutely everyone.
  • Persistent, mobile, Unknown menaces and pirates in Sword of the Stars. Menaces ranging from asteroids to Von Neuman probes to system killers show up randomly or semi-randomly to attack colonies.
  • Master of Orion series:
    • In Master of Orion II, the Silicoid are a borderline case. They have the Repulsive flaw, which limits their diplomacy option to war, peace and surrender, and the Agressive and Expansionist traits. In practice, this meant they wouldn't ally with anyone, declare war frequently, and nothing but the most crushing military steamrolling of their fleets/worlds would get them to sue for peace or surrender. And since they had no diplomatic options like offering money, worlds, technology or tithes, (nor demanding them) once war is declared things tend to stay that way.
    • Master of Orion III has both the Antarans occupying the Orion system, and the Harvesters. Neither can be effectively negotiated with. The Harvesters (who use other alien species as food) will declare war on any neighbor (even other Harvester factions) fairly quickly, will refuse any offer for peace, and never make alliances. The Antarans generally stay in the Orion system and never expand or settle outside of it, but occasionally will send a huge fleet to attack a planet or system outside the Orion system, for no stated or apparent reason, then withdraw the fleet back (unless the attackee or other power destroys it). They will not engage in or respond to any diplomacy.
  • In the PC game Imperium Galactica II, the Kra'hen faction (Absolute Xenophobe Blood Knight aliens from another galaxy) are always hostile and won't receive diplomats or traders, and if you play as them, you can't use the diplomacy, trade, or espionage options.
  • The Cravers in Endless Space have a trait that makes them unable to make peace with other factions. The best they can be is at cold war. Any custom faction can be given the same trait.

Hack and Slash
  • The Yellow Turbans in Dynasty Warriors. They're never a playable faction since they're pretty much there to be the tutorial enemy.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
  • You can work for the human pirate faction in EVE Online if you're willing to brave the lawless space they make their bases in. Good luck trying to negotiate with the Rogue Drones or Sleepers, however.
  • The Scourge, and the faction responsible for them, the Burning Legion, in World of Warcraft.

Real-Time Strategy
  • In the Empire Earth series, the diplomacy settings are locked in single-player missions so you can't try to ally with your enemies.
  • By necessity, the creeps in Warcraft III (since they're there to provide experience and items, they're even called the Neutral hostile faction). However, in the campaign they're often set to being allied with your enemies (to prevent them from being killed).

Simulation Game
  • In Dwarf Fortress, any civilization with the [BABYSNATCHER] tag is automatically and forever hostile to any civilization that lacks the tag. Only goblins have it by default, but you can mod in as many hostile races as you like.
  • In the Privateer game of the Wing Commander series, the Retros. While the pirates and Kilrathi start off being enemies of the player, only the Retros are truly irreconcilable regardless of the player's actions.
  • The Grox in Spore act like this to everyone. It is possible to alley with them, though. Doing so would cause the other races to hate you.
  • X-Universe: Played straight with the Xenon and Kha'ak. The Xenon are artificially intelligent terraforming drones that went haywire centuries ago due to a badly coded software patch and now seek to "terraform" biological life out of existence, while the Kha'ak are so thoroughly alien that the Community of Planets races are simply unable to communicate with them. Subverted with the Pirates and Yaki, whom it's possible for the player to turn friendly (although not completely in the Pirates' case because, well, they're pirates).
  • The Shivans from Descent: FreeSpace and its sequel.
  • In Freelancer, any faction in the game, even the ultra-xenophobic Xeno terrorists, can be made to like you if you pay them a big enough bribe, with one exception: The Nomads. Justified in that they're the only non-human faction - they're aliens who were artificially created to act as caretakers of Sirius, and their duties include wiping out the human invaders.

Turn-Based Strategy
  • Rebels in the Total War series. The rebel faction, while perpetually at war with everyone, is also used in the early games not just to represent rebels and criminals, but also minor independent faction (such as, in Medieval II, the Florentine Republic, Valencia under El Cid, Kievan Rus, the Abbasid remnant state in Baghdad, etc). This leads to "real" factions, being eternally at war with rebels and incapable of negotiating with them, conquering most such minor "rebel" factions early in the game without qualms.

Western RPG
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Bandits are always hostile to everyone.
    • The Sixth House and the Camonna Tong in Morrowind. The latter is disputable, since you can (kinda) work for them during the Fighters Guild questline, but the former is indisputable and it's glaringly obvious that despite Dagoth Ur's constant invitations to join his cause, there's no real way to do it.
  • The Talon Company in Fallout 3, a group of evil mercenaries that attack on sight. They're even hostile to an evil low karma character.
  • Some gangs such as the Jackels, Fiends, Vipers and other wasteland raider groups in Fallout: New Vegas are not affected by reputation and will attack you on sight no matter what. Other "criminal" groups, such as the Powder Gangers and Great Khans, are not permanently hostile factions (siding with them is often unsavory, but it is possible).
  • Can be either played straight or averted in Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, due to the advanced faction building system available to module builders. A faction can be made hostile, indifferent or friendly toward any and all other factions, including the "player" faction, independently as required.
  • Mount & Blade has major factions which can be joined by the player and a faction of several kinds of bandits and deserters, who are always hostile to the player and the major factions.
  • Of the four factions in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the Camarilla, the Anarchs, the Kuei-Jin and the Sabbat, only the latter cannot be negotiated with, and one of the endgame missions requires the player character to eradicate them entirely.

Wide Open Sandbox
  • In the Escape Velocity series factions flagged as "xenophobic" will be hostile to anyone not of a faction marked as an ally. This is most often used for creating Space Pirates; so are the aliens in the first game.
  • Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction: There are five factions in the game: the Allied Nations, South Korea, the Russian Mafia, China and North Korea. The attitude of the first four depends on how you treat them: North Korea is always hostile to you and all of the other factions.
  • The pirates in Uncharted Waters and Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. There are three other factions in the first game (Portugal, Spain, and Turkey) and six in the second (same plus England, Netherlands, and Italy) but you can ally with or even defect to them (New Horizons only). Pirates, on the other hand, are always hostile.
  • In Grand Theft Auto II, there are seven gangs you can gain respect from, and losing respect from one of them will cause that gang to become hostile. However, there's an extra gang in the third level that only appears on the small Mad Island, and it's always at negative respect, so they will always attack you on sight.

Non videogame examples:

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The tyranids are ravenous insect-like aliens whose only purpose is to break everything into biomass and devouring it. As such, nobody really wants them around, so much so that in the new edition's ally rules, which measure each faction's willingness to cooperate with each other, the Tyranids have absolutely no allies.
    • Pre-5th edition retcon, the necrons (undead robots) existed only to scour the galaxy of every single living thing down to the last bacterium. Nowadays they can be negotiated with.
  • In GURPS War Against The Chtorr, as in the novels it's based on, there is no way to communicate or negotiate with the alien ecosystem and giant man-eating worms invading and un-terraforming Earth. It's eather kill, or be eaten.
  • The Ssu and Hluss in Tekumel games are an example, though they're closer than the Sabbat: there is no way to communicate with them, ever, and it is impossible for them to coexist peacefully on the planet with the species who invaded and terraformed it into something hostile to their kind.

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