The FederationThe Federation is a formerly-great alliance of alien species, now fractured and on the brink of destruction at the hands of the Rebels. What few ships and bases that remain are under siege by both Rebels and pirates, but they will help you if they can. The player's goal is to reach and defend the Federation base in Sector 8, The Last Stand.
The most common Federation member species are the humans, followed by the Engi, Zoltan, Rockmen, Mantis, and a few Slugs. All of these alien races however have sizable populations outside of the Federation, with the Rock and Zoltan homeworlds being self-governing, the Mantis being split among various warcamps, and the Engi living in nomadic bands. As of Advanced Edition, some members of the newly-reawakened Lanius species have also aligned themselves with the Federation.
The Federation makes use of the refitted Kestrel Cruisers (The Kestrel, Red-Tailnote , and The Swallownote ), the advanced Federation Cruisers (The Osprey note , Nisosnote , and The Fregatidaenote ) and the Engi-built prototype Stealth Cruisers (The Nesasionote , DA-SR 12 note , and Simo-Hnote ). Smaller Federation Scouts and Federation Bombers are also occasionally seen as non-player ships, usually commandeered by pirates in the wake of the Federation's fall. Federation ships in service have a simple white paint scheme with orange stripes, although most of the playable ships have varied color schemes with only the type A Kestrel and Osprey featuring default Federation livery.
Tropes relating to the Federation and its ships include:
- Achilles' Heel: The Stealth Cruisers already have a hard time staying alive due to the lack of starting shields, but they are especially vulnerable to beam weapons, due to having no shields and beams being 100% accurate. Activating the cloak will only delay the firing of beam weapons instead of making them miss. Beam drones are even worse, since they constantly fire; seeing one in the first sector may as well summon the game over screen.
- The Alliance: The Federation is exactly this, an alliance between pretty much all races and sentient species, human and alien.
- Armor-Piercing Attack: The Osprey and Nisos' Artillery Beam weapons ignore shields, but cannot be manually aimed to make up for it.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: The Kestrel is an old model retooled for a desperate mission.
- The Federation: It's in the name.
- Fragile Speedster: The Nesasio starts with four levels of engine power (with a pilot and zero-rank engine officer in place, that bumps up the evade rate to 30%, which is pretty high for a starting ship) and fast weapons (that can, in conjunction with Cloaking, disable most early game enemies' offensive capabilities without taking major damage), but the ship has no shields.
- Glass Cannon: The DA-SR 12, sacrificing engine power and fast-charge weapons for a stronger cloak and powerful Glaive Beam. Once again, it has no shields, relying on its cloaking and the One-Hit Kill power of its Glaive Beam to carry it through early sectors, until a shield system can be installed.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Kestrel Cruisers, all of which are extremely adaptable and easy to handle.
- Last Stand: They are having one in Sector 8, but they can win if you destroy the rebel flagship.
- Multinational Team: More like a Multispecies Team. The Federation includes members from every race, and many of their ships start with multi-species crew. The Slugs are generally shunned by the Federation because of their Con Man antics, but even still, a few of them are seen as ship crew, mostly because of how useful their telepathy can be in tactical situations.
- The Remnant: There isn't much left of the Federation during the game's events, only a few scattered outposts and ships, the Hangar in which the game begins, and the last Federation Base making their Last Stand in the final Sector.
- Shout-Out: The default name of the Stealth B (DA-SR 12) references the Normandy SR-2 of Mass Effect. Further supporting this is the fact that its starting weapon is the Glaive Beam, which is similar to the Normandy SR-2's Thanix Cannons.
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The Stealth Cruisers.
- Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Right as you reach the Last Stand, they give you a major hull repair and restock some of your resources on the house, and there are repair nodes throughout the sector that will give you more supplies and repairs, also free of charge. You will likely need all of this help, because this sector has you fight the Rebel Flagship.
- Vestigial Empire: The Federation is in shambles thanks to the successful Rebel uprising, and your entire mission is to reestablish contact with the isolated main fleet.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Stealth B's Glaive Beam qualifies, as does the Artillery Beam of the Federation Cruisers A and B.
As the Rebels are a human faction, their crews are composed entirely of humans. Rebels make use of diverse and advanced technology, with their Riggers utilizing drone technology on par with the Engi, and Fighters possessing heavy weaponry of all known types, as well as teleporters for boarding actions. The Rebels also field a large fleet of fully automated ships which serve as scouts for their main fleet (the Auto-Scouts), but are sometimes armed well enough to be legitimate fighters on their own (Auto-Assaults). These automated ships possess no life support, since they have no crew, and can thus only be defeated by destroying their hulls. As of Advanced Edition, Rebel ships now utilize Clone Bays, Hacking and Mind-Control, as well as dangerous Flak weaponry and the Vulcan laser.
Finally, the Rebels possess perhaps the largest and most powerful ship in the game, the Rebel Flagship, which serves as the game's Final Boss. Defeating it is the player's ultimate mission, and is vital to the survival of the Federation.
Tropes relating to the Rebels, including their ships and flagship, include:
- Absolute Xenophobe: They will not rest until every non-human species is wiped off the galactic map, or crushed underneath an iron rule.
- Achilles' Heel: Their AI ships and the Rebel Flagship's AI can't repair hull breaches, and the game engine doesn't allow repairing damaged systems that are in the same room as a hull breach; the breach has to be repaired first. In other words, turning a system red and breaching its associated room means you've effectively permanently destroyed that system, unless you jump away and come back.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: Their fleet acts as this, forcing the player to keep moving or face being overwhelmed by unlimited numbers of powerful ships.
- In addition the flagship acts as this in the final level. If it reaches the Federation base you get a game over. Advanced Edition makes it so the Flagship has to be there for three turns, which makes this much less likely to happen. The base starts out further away, though, so they'll probably reach the base at least once, then retreat.
- Alien Invasion: Inverted; they want to invade alien territories, and they're doing a damn good job of it.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Very much so. As a group, they have a LOT of rhetoric about how the various alien races are intrinsically inferior to humans and how their efforts to kill them all will improve the galaxy.
- Beam Spam: One of its phase 3 power surges fires a large volley of lasers at your ship.
- Bonus Boss: A second Rebel Flagship that's under construction can be encountered in the Rebel Stronghold. It has the same layout as the normal Flagship on Hard difficulty phase 3, but without the benefit of its power surge. Defeating it delays Rebel encroachment for two turns and rewards you with a lot of resources, along with the Federation cruiser if it has not been unlocked yet.
- Clipped-Wing Angel: The third phase of the flagship makes up for its lost weapons with a powerful Zoltan shield (that will occasionally be restored) and a Beam Spam Limit Break, but it has less normal weaponry and likely has less crew to play with this far into the battle.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Some enemy ships on Normal and Hard can pack as many as five layers of shields when you yourself can carry only four. Elite Fighters can also have up to 10 weapon power, whereas the player ship can only have 8.
- Day of the Jackboot: They defeated the military of The Federation and occupied much (but not all) of its former territory, causing a massive power vacuum that messed up the galaxy pretty bad.
- Dead Man Switch: If you completely kill the crew of the Rebel Flagship, the Flagship's A.I. takes over and repairs its systems.
- Didn't Need Those Anyway!: The Flagship loses the cloak, hacking and triple ion cannon after the first phase, then the drones and Halberd beam after the second. It can still fight very effectively without them.
- Fantastic Racism: They are extremely human-supremacist.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Their Rigger and Disruptor class fighters have a Ram Scoop in the middle and an offset cockpit.
- Final Boss: The Rebel Flagship. Downplayed in that it's the only "proper" boss in the game. There are lesser bosses in the game, but none of them are necessary to complete the game. Most of them provide Unlockable Content when beaten.
- Final Boss Preview: A second Rebel Flagship shows up in the Rebel Stronghold sector. It is in very unfinished condition when you find it, missing many systems, weapons and crew.
- Final-Exam Boss: The Rebel Flagship employs basically every form of attack and defense in the game. Advanced Edition gives it a few new tricks, though with all the additional content it isn't able to use everything.
- Keystone Army: Despite the overwhelming strength of the Rebel fleet, Federation victory will be assured if you destroy the flagship (even if the player dies in the process).
- Humanity Is Advanced: Mildly. The Rebels possess every form of system and technology known in the game, including a supershield on the flagship which is significantly stronger than anything the Zoltan ever created. Their automation and drone technology is advanced even beyond that of the Engi.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Rebels like to heavy-handedly "keep the peace" over any and all alien settlements in sectors they've captured.
- Lightning Bruiser:
- The Auto-Assault drones, particularly in later sectors, tend to have very dangerous weapons, very high evasion rates, and on Normal and Hard, up to five layers of shields.
- The Rebel Flagship has four very dangerous weapons, four layers of shields, plenty of hull integrity that it restores twice before being destroyed for good, and a very high evasion rate.
- Limit Break: In its second and third phases the flagship periodically has a power surge, which releases a swarm of drones (phase 2), lasers (phase 3), or restores the ship's Zoltan Shield (phase 3).
- Killing all of the crew members on the Flagship causes an AI to take over, which provides a default crewman manning bonus to every system, and slowly repairs any damaged systems.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Flagship can fire three missiles per volley, unlike almost any other NPC ship in the game.note
- Master Race: Humans. The reality is, Humans Are Average.
- Mook Chivalry: Averted by the Elite Fighters in Advanced Edition, who will fight you one-on-one like any ship encounter in the game, but will take the support of Anti-Ship Batteries mounted on distant cruisers, which pierce all shields and do heavy damage as well as a guaranteed hull breach if they hit.
- Non-Standard Game Over: One achieved by letting the Rebel Flagship reach the Federation Base."The Rebel Fleet is within range of the Federation Base. All is lost, they've won."
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: To everyone else.
- Secret A.I. Moves: The AI drones and flagship don't need crew to survive, and some ships can have 5 shields whereas 4 is the usual limit.
- The flagship also has several unique weapons, including a triple missile and triple ion gun (while Advanced Edition added similar weapons for the player, they are less potent). It's also the only non-Zoltan ship to have a Zoltan Shield, and the only ship that can restore it when it goes down.
- Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: They are openly stated to enslave the various aliens they encounter.
- Time-Limit Boss: During the Last Stand, a counter shows how many jumps the Rebel Flagship has left before it reaches the Federation Base. In vanilla FTL, if the Flagship reaches the Base, it's a Non-Standard Game Over, although defeating one of its forms will force it to retreat for a little bit. In Advanced Edition, if the Flagship reaches the Federation Base, you're allowed 3 turns to let it stay there before you lose; defeating its first or second form will force it to retreat and reset the counter back to 3 when it comes back.
- Too Dumb to Live: Occasionally in asteroid fields, you'll encounter a Rebel Scout...that has no shielding. It's not known whether this is the result of Artificial Stupidity or human controller error, but at any rate, it'll blow up without requiring any offensive effort on your part.
- Weaksauce Weakness:
- The flagship's conventional weapons are each in isolated rooms guarded by single humans (who don't respawn between phases), meaning even a weak boarding crew can make short work of defenders and take the weapon offline. Furthermore, if you can manage to kill the main crew despite their level 3 medbay (not easy since there's eight of them, not counting the weapon room crew), you can easily take out their shields and piloting system, making the fight a breeze.
- Averted in Hard difficulty, where the two primary weapons are now connected to the rest of the ship, meaning the tried and true strategy of killing everyone but the guy on the plasma cannon isn't quite as viable as it once was. Now if you want to leave at least one guy alive, he'll be running around the ship fixing things (certainly better than the AI doing it, though). The Final Boss Preview version also has connected weapon rooms, but without a backup AI, killing the crew means you win.
- The Flagship AI takes over repairs if the entire crew is defeated. What it won't repair, however, is hull breaches, just like with the automated ships. A breach in a system room blocks the associated system from being repaired. Conclusion: Breach Bombing an AI-controlled Flagship on the last phase ensures that whatever systems are associated with the breached rooms will never, ever get repaired, at least unless you jump away.
- The flagship's conventional weapons are each in isolated rooms guarded by single humans (who don't respawn between phases), meaning even a weak boarding crew can make short work of defenders and take the weapon offline. Furthermore, if you can manage to kill the main crew despite their level 3 medbay (not easy since there's eight of them, not counting the weapon room crew), you can easily take out their shields and piloting system, making the fight a breeze.
Pirate crew and their slaves come in most races (you won't find Crystal pirates outside of their own sector), and pilot all kinds of ships; a pirate Rebel Fighter, for example, will often have non-human crew, whereas non-pirated Rebel ships only have human crew.
Tropes relating to pirates and the ships they use include:
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Pirate ships have crude purple paint stripes across the hull exterior. The Kestrel C gets a pirate paint job, and the Federation C gets one in black and red, as opposed to the standard purple splotches over the original color of the hull.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Pirates can consist of any mix of the standard races.
- Slave Liberation: Certain pirate ships are slaver ships, either offering to sell you a slave or demanding you turn over one of your crew as a slave. If reduced to low hull, they may offer you a slave as a surrender bribe. If you can kill the crew without destroying the ship, you can usually find a slave after the battle is over, though not always. You even get your pick of species if you're lucky. Finally, if you have an upgraded teleporter, you can try to beam a slave off their ship before the battle even starts (which will make them attack you), potentially netting you two new crew from one battle if you follow it up by killing the crew or forcing a surrender.
- Space Pirate: Obviously.
Humans have average ability in all areas, but possess almost no special abilities or events. Their only benefit is that they learn skills slightly faster. Humans were the only race with multiple sprites (male and female) before the Advanced Edition, and can found in both The Federation and as the only member species of the human-supremacist Rebels. For tropes relating to human-crewed ships, see the pages of those factions.
Humans feature the following tropes:
- Boring, but Practical: As of the Advanced Update, the only bonus of using a human is a 10% reduction in the amount of points necessary to level up a skill.
- Butt-Monkey: Humans often get the short end of the stick in various events. Unknown disease spreading around a mining colony? It's a colony of humans. Come across a station where the crew have gone mad? They're humans. Stranded crew's ship has been eaten by Lanius? The unlucky owners are human. Flavor text says there's even a cult whose goal is to get rid of "humanitis".
- Crutch Character: Finished maxing out the skill(s) on a human? They no longer have a special ability and most other races can fulfill a role better. Indeed, humans tend to be the first character kicked out of a full ship.
- Humans Are Average: As the description notes, humans are competent at everything but have almost no special attributes nor any special events. The Kestrel fits too, being the default ship with no special attributes, and only human crew.
- Humans Are Diplomats: Averted. Other species have multiple events where they convince others or use their powers to defuse a situation, but until Advanced Edition, humans had none. Now they have one. Only one. You can use a human to calm down a confused Mantis who believes he is human.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: They're behind the rebellion you are fighting, which wants to put all other species under its jackboots. This is averted on your end: the Federation was founded by humans and is composed mainly of humans.
- Humans Are Special: Advanced Edition gives humans a 10% increase in skill acquisition, fitting the usual "adaptability" archetype.
- Master of None: Humans have no special abilities in FTL vanilla, and cannot trigger blue events by themselves. Advanced Edition attempts to correct this with the boost in skill mastery and a single blue event.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: There're a couple of events where you'll come across a ship or station that seems deserted. If it is, you're a witness to the aftermath of the starving humans killing each other. If it isn't, you'll be fighting boarders and may even lose a crew member during the event.
- Powder Keg Crowd: An event involves a disease spreading through a human colony. Everyone's panicked and on the verge of a riot, and the colony's leaders ask for your help. The only way you're successful at controlling the crowds without a blue option is by threatening them with your weapons.
- Puny Earthlings: "Humans are common and uninteresting." In the vanilla game, Slugs have the same average stats but come with telepathic abilities and several blue events.
- Humans are also one of only two races not to have an augmentation with their name on it, the other being the Lanius.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: A human can be represented by a male or female sprite in three different tones, while all the others sans Engi have only Palette Swaps. The only differences between male and female humans are their cries upon death and the available default names to each gender - i.e. "Jon Caldwell" is always represented by a male sprite, and "Lana" is always represented by a female sprite.
- Support Party Member: Since they're not specialized to do anything, many players have them fill whatever system on the ship that needs someone, often doors or sensors.
The Engi are a vaguely mechanical, semi-humanoid species whose bodies are composed of swarms of nanobots that collectively use a sort of aerobic metabolism. In gameplay, Engi have unparalleled repairing ability, fixing systems twice as quickly as a human could, but are awful combatants, doing half the damage that a human would (or a third of what a Mantis could do).
Engi are masters of drone design and utilization, with the Engi Cruisers (The Torus note , The Vortexnote , and Tetragonnote ) all starting with Drone Control systems and at least one drone schematic, and all of them have an extra drone slot at the cost of having one less weapon slot. Non-player Engi Scouts and Engi Bombers, sometimes encountered as enemies, also invariably field several drones. In addition, the Engi also have a penchant for ion weapons, which can disable shields to pave the way for drone, laser and beam attacks. And finally, in Advanced Edition, they've taken up hacking. Engi ships are aesthetically utilitarian and boxy, but are also very compact and feature concise ring-shaped layouts.
The Engi within the Federation military exist in an organization known as the Engi Brigade, headed by General Turzil. The Stealth Cruisers were also designed and built by the Engi under contract from the Federation. Engi are the second most common Federation member species, following the humans. Outside of the Federation, many Engi live in nomadic bands, and their 'homeworlds' are adoptive, for no one knows where they actually came from. Being a fairly docile, almost timid people, they are sometimes preyed on and enslaved by the marauding Mantis, who use them to repair their ships, a task which the Mantis themselves are not very competent at.
Engi and their ships feature the following tropes:
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Engi take a humanoid form, which many races are more comfortable with. It's mentioned that the Engi only form a bipedal shape "out of habit", instead of necessity.
- Ambiguous Robots: As the description notes, they show signs of being mechanical, but they'll die if there's no oxygen.
- Attack Drone: Engi ships begin with a 3-slot drone system and drones are the Engi A's only source of damage (at first).
- Boring, but Practical: Their ships are described as looking like boxy pieces of junk, yet highly efficient in suiting their needs.
- The Engineer: Engi know technology very well and are natural mechanics. In the game, they repair and put out fires faster than any other race and often employ drones and hacking systems in combat.
- The Medic: Engi make terrible fighters but have doubled repair speed. Plus, they're immune to human diseases, making them perfect for curing infected space stations. An Engi augment also extends a weakened version of the Medbay's healing effect to your entire ship.
- A recurring theme of the Engi. Engi A starts with a special "nano-bot" augment that constantly heals every crew member on the ship at a slowed rate (not as fast as a Medbay), only requiring a powered Medbay to function.
- The Engi themselves are composed of trillions and trillions of nanomachines.
- Nice Guys: Generally the least hostile of the races; most of your communications with them will be for distress calls rather than battles. You'll generally make it through Engi sectors with less damage than you would take in other sectors. They don't hold grudges against you if you are unable to or refuse to donate supplies to them when asked, though you should anyway if it's feasible so you can get rewards.
- Organic Technology: Some random events show Engi building structures using this trope. It's implied that the Engi themselves are this, since they are at least partially robotic, but still die if there is no oxygen.
- Robo Speak: They do not use "to be" verbs (i.e. "is", "were", etc.) or pronouns, they often speak in computer-y terms like "syntax error", and their sentences are short and to-the-point."Satisfactory. Delivery of tech will assist in Federation cause. Gratitude alone insufficient. Commencing ship repair and compensation."
"Beneficial. Subject goal: long, long journey. Remains compatible with transfer of goods from Engi."
- Robot Master: Engi ships favour drones. The Engi B in particular only has one crew member and relies on drones to assist with repairs and fighting boarders. You usually won't encounter hostile Engi ships, but when you do they tend to pack at least two Defense Drones, making missiles and Boarding Drones unwise choices for combat.
- Starfish Robots: Engi are made of nanomachines, so they aren't always vaguely human-shaped but keep that form around other species.
- The Stoic: Zig-Zagged. It's implied from their speech patterns that they're the calmest of the races, and some in-game text mentions that Engi cannot feel fear. They apparently can be embarrassed, though, since your Engi crewman haltingly explains why those two Engi ships are stuck together, if you ask.
- Support Party Member: Engi crew are great at repairing damage but suck at fighting.
- Take a Third Option: Engi frequently allow you to do this in random event scenarios, with their technical prowess and part-machine nature often allowing them to devise solutions to problems, without the drawbacks that the direct approach option would usually have in such events.
- What a Piece of Junk: She may not look like much, but she'll fool ya. The Engi A starts with the Ion Burst II, a rapid-firing ion weapon capable of disabling any amount of shields on its own as long as you don't run afoul of enemy evasion, and a drone to deal damage. This makes it capable of defeating the flagship using only default weaponry."You see a number of Engi space stations and fleets nearby. Despite looking like piles of junk loosely tied together, they are actually the model of efficiency. They just lack a certain aesthetic emphasis in their constructions."
- Due to the way defense drones intercept attacks, Engi ships also have the benefit of being more reliable with them than other, wider ships, since all the rooms are concentrated in an equally spaced box.
The Mantis are an alien species of, well, human-sized praying mantises. Mantis do an 50% extra damage and move 20% faster relative to a human, making them excellent in melee combat and for boarding. However, their repair rate is only half that of a human, making them less effective at holding ships together.
Mantises are an aggressive and violent warrior race. They follow a Might Makes Right and Defeat Means Friendship mentality. While some are indeed members of the Federation, most of them are independent pirate crews, or parts of warbands, seeking profit and glory in combat. Their ships focus on boarding tactics and taking enemy ships intact by crew elimination for greater rewards, a set up that takes advantage of the Mantis' melee combat prowess. The vast majority of enemy Mantis ships will have teleporters and will try to send boarding parties, and all three of the playable Mantis Cruisers (The Gila Monster note , The Basilisknote , and The Theseusnote ) expect you to act similarly. The Basilisk and The Theseus start with no anti-ship weaponry at all, but feature double-size teleporters capable of sending four crew members per wave into enemy ships to wreak havoc. Aesthetically, Mantis ships are symmetric, with hulls painted blood-red and layouts often featuring many large, square rooms.
The Mantis and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Their sprites look very similar to Earth mantises, and they are as tall as humans, if not taller.
- Blood Knight: Every single one of them has a thirst for killing of some sort.
- Boarding Party: The Mantis B mandates this approach, possessing a crew teleporter and boarding drone but no weapons. A fully leveled-up boarding team of four Mantis will rapidly turn the enemy ship into a space coffin.
- Defeat Means Friendship: The unlock quest for the Mantis ship involves battling a feared Mantis captain, then rescuing him from certain death afterward. He then joins your crew, gives you the coordinates of a nearby stash, and gives you his ship.
- Insectoid Aliens: Clue's in the name.
- Lightning Bruiser: They are faster and deal more damage than any other race, and their Mantis Pheromones augment makes them even faster. Only a Rockman can take a Mantis one-on-one thanks to their higher HP, and the outcome of that battle will be really close (who wins usually depends on crew training and who hits first). Only drones are superior thanks to having Mantis-like damage combined with Rockman-like durability, and a Lanius in a depressurized room will win thanks to the quick health drain caused by suffocation.
- Slaying Mantis: They're essentially huge praying mantises, and they're great at combat thanks to being able to move quickly and deal high damage.
- Stone Wall: The Mantis B ship starts with no weapons, but begins with two layers of shields and a defense drone, making it near-immune to early game attackers. It also comes with a teleporter, so your crew can kill the enemy crew while your ship remains safe.
- Violence Really Is the Answer: Where other races have special options that resolve conflicts and solve problems, Mantises have only one. It involves violence.Once on board, it becomes clear that nothing is wrong with their O2 system. Almost expecting this, your Mantis calmly responds to the trap. Once a couple of the Slugs have been spread across the walls of their ship, the rest surrender.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Mantis B ship, being weaponless, runs into a couple early-game snags that aren't a problem for other ships if it takes too long to find a weapon:
- They struggle against automated ships, due to those ships not relying on crew to operate. The ship can slowly take them down with Boarding Drones and a level 2 Teleporter but it takes too long.
- They can't penetrate Zoltan Shields in any way, forcing them to abandon the battle entirely.
- Zerg Rush: A frequent tactic of theirs - teleporting entire Mantis crews onto the enemy ship and tearing the enemy to shreds with sheer numbers and damage. The four-person teleporter, seen on some Mantis layouts, encourages this tactic as well. Numerous Mantis events involve them boarding your ship en masse to tear you crew to shreds; expect to be swarmed by as many as six Mantises (you can only ever teleport up to four at a time) at a time.
The Rockmen are a race of large, tough humanoid beings akin to rock golems. Vrachos IV and the Rock Homeworld sector is not their actual place of origin; their ancestors hailed originally from a distant sector of space which, at some point long ago, got cut off from the rest of the known galaxy.
Rockmen move at half the speed of a human but have 50% extra health, making them tough to kill. Furthermore, they are immune to fire thanks to their rocky composition. In-game, Rock controlled sectors tend to be heavy in asteroid fields and red giant stars.
Rock ships, both playable and enemy, have a special rock plating augment that has a 15% chance of negating incoming hull damage, and a preference towards missile weapons. Rock Cruiser type A (The Bulwark) and type C (Tektite) both field missile launchers at the start of the game, with the former relying solely on missiles to deal damage until a teleporter or energy weapons can be acquired. The Rock Cruiser type B, the Shivan, meanwhile, is built around the Rocks' immunity to fire. With no airlocks, it relies on them to put fires out, but, conversely, possesses a fire bomb launcher which can be combined with Rock boarding parties to devastating effect. Aesthetically, most Rock ships feature bulky, segmented sandstone-brown armor, with black hulls beneath.
The Rock people are noted as being stolid, conservative and religious. Rocks are one of the rarer Federation species, with most of them living in self-governed sectors or under the rule of their homeworld. Rocks are fairly aggressive and some take up piracy, but they're not as violent as the Mantis. They have a strong sense of pride, and do not like asking for help, occasionally going to the extent of Honor Before Reason.
Rockmen and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Armor-Piercing Attack: The Heavy Pierce Laser that is unique to the Rock Cruiser Type-B is a Heavy Laser Mk.I that ignores one layer of shielding.
- Arranged Marriage: On occasion you'll find one in the Rock Homeworlds, and are asked to escort the fiancée of a major Rock figure, the Grand Basilisk of Numa V.
- Crutch Character: The Type A cruiser starts out with two powerful missile weapons, allowing it to pretend that enemy shields don't exist. However, if you don't find non-missile weapons or a teleporter soon enough, you'll run out of missiles and be out of offensive options.
- Dishing Out Dirt: They're immune to fire damage and throw rocks at enemies as their ranged attack.
- Fantastic Racism: Some Rock ships in distress will state they consider you "repugnant", and refuse your help without another word. It's also mentioned multiple times in the flavor text of Rock-controlled or home sectors that they dislike other aliens going into their territory, though they do seem to admire Zoltan wisdom.
- Hold the Line: Unlocking the Rock Cruiser requires fighting a very specific quest enemy ship and letting it jump away without destroying it. While at a sun beacon.
- Ideal Illness Immunity: Rocks have powerful immune systems, enabling them to subdue riots on a plague-afflicted station without fear of infection. Their digestive systems are also strong enough that in a blue option in a random event where a Slug captain offers a drink, your Rockman will resist if the Slug had laced the drink with anesthetic.
- Irony: Although Rockmen are immune to fires and the Rock B cruiser starts with Fire Bombs, said cruiser is also weak to fires itself, due to the initial lack of door control and the permanent lack of airlocks.
- Kill It with Fire: The Rock B cruiser starts with Fire Bombs. Combined with the Rockmen's immunity to fire, all you need is a teleporter to do some serious damage to the enemy crew. There's even an achievement for killing an enemy crewman with your own crew inside a room that's on fire.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Bulwark, the Type-A Rock Cruiser, starts with two missile weapons and a large stock of missiles. One achievement requires destroying a ship equipped with Defense Drones using only missiles.
- Made of Bologna: Rockmen are noted in one event as lacking internal organs in one gory display.
- Mighty Glacier: Extra HP and fire immunity, but very slow.
- No-Sell: Rockmen are immune to fires. Do note, however, that fires eventually drain oxygen from a room if not put out, and Rockmen are not suffocation-resistant.
- Percussive Maintenance: They stomp on fires and whack hull breaches and damaged systems until they are fixed. Surprisingly, this seems to work.
- Precision F-Strike: The Rock ships have an exclusive blue option for the "Mantis ship with Rockman remains slathered all over them" event, labeled "Ram the bastards."note
- Proud Warrior Race Guys: A race full of them.
- Ramming Always Works: In response to the previously mentioned gory sight if you have Rock Plating you can retaliate by ramming them, with some of the rare use of foul language doing damage and disabling their engines permanently.
- Rock Beats Laser: Most races uses lasers in melee combat. The exceptions (Rock, Mantis and Crystal) are the only ones likely to beat a Rock in combat.
- Rock Monster: As their name implies.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Rock B cruiser is the only playable ship to have no airlocks, something that cannot be remedied in any way. This means the only way to create an isolated and controlled lack of oxygen (to deal with boarders or flames in a manner that doesn't directly involve crew) is to drop a Breach Bomb in the target room.
- Worthy Opponent: You must earn their respect by impressing their champion before they'll lend you their aid and unlock their ship.
The Zoltan are a race of green glowing humanoids who have aspects of being Energy Beings. Gameplay-wise, they possess the special ability of providing one unit of power to the ship system whose room they occupy, at the drawback of having 30% lower HP than a human, and otherwise act just like humans. While their fragility makes them weak in direct hand-to-hand combat, the Advanced Edition gave them the special feature of exploding upon death to damage all enemies in a room. When combined with a clone bay, Zoltan can thus become moderately effective, if suicidal, combatants.
Zoltan are a highly technologically advanced species and their ships, both playable and NPC, possess a special augment called the Zoltan Shield, or supershield. This augment forms a non-regenerating green energy barrier every time the ship jumps that encases the ship, consumes no power, and blocks everything until its hitpoints get worn away. By everything, this means it blocks drones, hacking, mind control, teleporters, bombs, and missiles, all of which pass through normal shields. The supershields aren't very tough though, and take double damage from ion weapons, but the advantage they provide is notable nonetheless. The playable Zoltan ships (The Adjudicator note , Noethernote , and Cerenkovnote ) are built around using powerful weaponry and their supershield to fight quick, decisive ship-to-ship battles, with main shields not needing to be powered until the supershield falls. Zoltan prefer beam weaponry, frequently using beams together with lasers, ions, missiles and drones. Because of their supershield, Zoltan enemies can be punishing to players who are using unarmed or weakly-armed boarding ships, although Advanced Edition introduced an augment that allows key boarding strategy components - crew teleporters, bombs, and mind control - to bypass the barrier. Aesthetically, Zoltan ships are rounded and asymmetrical, with green hulls and round orange external lights/portholes.
Zoltan are seen both as members of the Federation and as organized self-governing peoples, likely ruled from their homeworld sector. Zoltan try to be fair and just, and like to enforce the laws of their space strictly, but can at times devolve into Obstructive Bureaucrat or Lawful Stupid behavior, which is the cause of most hostile encounters with them. They try to be pacifistic and diplomatic in ideals, but their heavily armed and shielded warships and frequent combat exercises imply that they're ready to back their diplomacy up with firepower when needed. They're also a highly scientific civilization, often encountered conducting experiments. Nonetheless, after the fall of the Federation, incursions by Rebels and Mantis into their space have become a fairly common occurrence.
Zoltan and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Achilles' Heel: The supershields that the Zoltan Ships initially possess take double damage to ion weapons. They're also especially weak to attack drones, which have fast firing rates that will quickly chew through the shields; the Beam Drone in particular has perfect accuracy with its beam, meaning that if you see one around your ship, your supershield is basically gone already.
- Action Bomb: Zoltan become this in Advanced Edition, with the new ability to explode on death, damaging adjacent enemy crew for 15 damage. Fighting more than two will almost certainly kill your boarders, and two is still pushing it. Still laughing at their 70 HP capacity? Add in a Clone Bay to throw your own exploding Zoltan at the enemy!
- Beehive Barrier: The Zoltan Shield.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Random-event boarding parties (not the kind that teleport from an enemy ship you're fighting) will still teleport onto a player-controlled Zoltan ship, even though Zoltan Shields are explicitly stated to block teleportation.
- Averted with Advanced Edition. You can buy the augment that these boarders have been using. Revenge has never been sweeter. The event itself now also specifies that the boarders are using said augment.
- Cursed with Awesome: In Advanced Edition, their reduced HP is actually beneficial for a Cloning Bay + Teleporter setup, since dying faster means they'll explode sooner.
- Energy Being: The Zoltan are composed, apparently, of pure energy, enough to power ship systems.
- Glass Cannon: To an extent, the Zoltan type B ship, Noether, is this. It has no operational shields at the start, relying purely on its supershield and its fantastic firepower to prevent damage in the early game. Unfortunately, unlike the Stealth Cruisers, it has no long-range scanners, so be prepared to take a hit or a few if you get unlucky and fly into an asteroid field, where the supershield will do you little good.
- Limit Break: The theme of the Zoltan type C ship, Cerenkov. With its upgraded backup battery, it goes from being woefully underpowered to above-average, and with its ion weapon and beam drone, can deal severe damage per second, but only for 30 seconds until the battery runs out. Usually, this is all you need.
- No Body Left Behind: Instead of keeling over like humans, Slugs or Mantises or crumbling like Rocks or Engi, they just disappear. In Advanced Edition, they explode instead, damaging all enemy crew in the room for 15 damage.
- No-Sell: Two Zoltan put into the shield room will create an ion-immune layer of shielding, though the system will still be unable to be manned as long as the ion effect is in place. Put four into the room and you get two layers of ion-proof shields.
- Irony: Zoltan Shields take double damage from ion weapons.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Most battles with Zoltan ships are the result of a mishap with weapons licenses and entering a restricted area and the like.
- Secret Test of Character: You'll be presented with one in the Zoltan Homeworlds, in an quest involving negotiations with an unarmed Zoltan peace envoy (and eventually, the Rebels). Passing will unlock the Zoltan cruiser and provide other rewards.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The race most inclined to speak like this. A few pieces of game text mention what some Zoltan say to you is either gibberish or beyond your understanding."Egalitarianism is a cornerstone to a successful cohabitation. Please, enjoy the fruits of your labor."
- Shout-Out: While the name of their type A ship, The Adjudicator, refers to their lawful nature, the type B and type C are called Noether and Cerenkov respectively, both references to real-world 20th century physicists.
- Space Madness: Some events suggest that Zoltan may be susceptible to this, and that they may be doing research on the issue.
- Squishy Wizard: They have lower max HP than any other race.
- Support Party Member: Zoltan crew can give power to ship systems, but their low health means that they're not good for fighting.
- Taking You with Me: In Advanced Edition, Zoltan crew members will explode upon death, damaging and possibly killing the enemies they were fighting.
- Teleport Interdiction: Zoltan Shields prevent bombs and boarding parties from teleporting past. Unless, of course, they have a special augment.
- Too Dumb to Live: Zoltan border patrols will sometimes intercept you inside asteroid fields. These are perhaps the worst place for Zoltan vessels to fight, since the asteroids rapidly wear away their supershields and negate the advantage which makes them so annoying to take on otherwise.
The Slugs are an alien race of human-sized... slugs. They're telepathic, and are in lore able to sense the thoughts and intentions of other sentient beings. In terms of gameplay, in the vanilla game Slugs are able to see into adjacent rooms and are able to sense lifeforms on your ships and enemy ships as red dots, and in Advanced Edition their telepathic sensor power was improved so they can now identify the species of the lifeforms and sense their actions (movement, fighting, repairing, etc.). Having a Slug crewman can often make upgrading sensors unnecessary and make nebula sectors easier by compensating for the fact that sensors don't work in nebulae. Additionally, thanks to their telepathy, Slugs are uniquely immune to mind control.
Of course, the place where the vast majority of Slugs reside is within nebulae. The Slugs, despite being telepathic, are not very empathic, and will use their abilities to manipulate, deceive and steal from other beings whenever possible, resulting in them being shunned within the Federation. They are also hedonistic, and their goals are essentially to acquire wealth (typically by deceit) and spend it on pleasureful activities. While Slugs are unexceptional fighters (being equivalent to humans in hand-to-hand combat), they are pragmatists. They will try to take ships with intact hulls to maximize profit - eliminating the crew not by boarding and fighting, but by using indirect methods such as hacking, mind control and fire weapons. This trait can be seen in their playable ships, with the type A "Man of War" featuring an Anti-Bio Beam to snipe enemy crew members and the type C "Ariolimax" featuring both a hacking module and mind control. The type B "Stormwalker" is a singular exception, as it passes up manipulation for conventional boarding backed up by Healing Bombs (which heals allied crews in the affected room).
Most Slug ships feature smooth, curved hulls painted a metallic light purple, and possess a repair gel augment to automatically seal hull breaches. Slugs typically use all forms of weaponry, and sometimes use cloaking.
Slugs are rare among the Federation but still seen in the starting crews of a few ships, such as the Federation Cruiser type B and Stealth Cruiser type C. They're also among the rarest races to be encountered in general outside of their own nebulae. Having one can be highly beneficial however, since their telepathy can come in handy in a large number of random events.
Slugs and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Boarding Party: The Slug B cruiser is initially designed for this role, though in a very odd way; it has an Artemis missile launcher, a Healing Burst, a crew teleporter and no medical facilities. You basically spend ammunition to heal your crew.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A race that seems to be afflicted with this. You'll receive lots of generous offers in Slug sectors, and it's even odds whether they're genuine or just looking for the chance to rip you off, smuggle enemies aboard, or sabotage your ship.
- Subverted by your Slug crew, who are always loyal and reliable.
- Combat Pragmatist: A frequent theme of their ships, tactics and events. Quite a few random encounters with hostile Slugs have them sabotage one of your ship's systems for the whole fight. Talk about dirty indeed.
- Con Man: A race full of them.
- Healing Shiv: The Stormwalker (Slug B) comes with a Healing Burst. You are meant to board enemy ships and heal your crew with it (and hope it doesn't miss).
- Irony: Despite being ostensibly untrustworthy as a species, their sensor abilities, blue event options and mind control immunity make Slugs exceptionally valuable and reliable as crew members.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: They fight and repair just as well as a human, but also have sensor powers and immunity to mind control.
- Mundane Utility: As well as sensing enemies and taking part in psychic duels with other Slugs, their psychic powers also help them talk to animals and counsel insane people.
- No-Sell: They cannot be mind-controlled, due to their telepathic powers.
- Psychic Powers: They can see into nearby rooms even when sensors are offline, see all lifeforms regardless of sensor status (Advanced Edition upgraded this to distinguishing species and viewing actions, as well), and their telepathy comes in handy in several blue events.
- Psychic Block Defense: As one might expect, Slugs are immune to Mind Control in Advanced Edition.
- Space Clouds: They reside in sector-wide nebulas that obscure your own sensors, but not their own sensor powers.
- Sssssnake Talk: Many NPC Slugs you encounter will speak like this. Funnily enough, Slug crew loyal to your ship will not speak like this.
- Take a Third Option: As with the Engi, there are several events where utilizing your Slug crewman is much safer than choosing the normal option. Sometimes, they're able to detect when enemy Slugs are up to no good.
- Telepathic Spacemen: They're telepathic slugs in space.
- Too Dumb to Live: The NPC Slug Fighter possesses a somewhat critical flaw in that their engine and oxygen systems are each completely sealed off from the rest of the ship. Take them out, and they're doomed to suffocation and unavoidable attacks.
- In Hard Mode, the second crewman starts out manning engines instead of shields, meaning that the engines can be repaired... but it means there is only one crewman in the main compartment, so if two systems are damaged in there they'll be repaired even slower.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Slug B layout has no medbay, meaning that it has to use Healing Bombs to heal its crew, which uses missiles. It's easy enough to run out of missiles, leaving the boarding-oriented ship with no way to restore health until they can get missiles through a Random Event or a store.
A new race added in FTL: Advanced Edition, the Lanius are a species of metallic scavengers with a bizarre anaerobic metabolism that allows them to survive in the vacuum of space, drain oxygen from their environment, and manipulate metal. Gameplay-wise, they move slowly, at 80% the speed of a human, slowly drain oxygen from their surroundings, and uniquely, take no damage from being in a vacuum.
The Lanius spend decades in dormancy, hiding away undetected from the other races, and awaken in the aftermath of a galactic war or the end of a civilization to feed upon the leftovers as scavengers. It is surmised that they are the reason why there is so little evidence of ancient civilizations in universe, for the Lanius have absorbed it all. Now, in the aftermath of the Federation-Rebel war, they are awakening once again. Lanius appear in Abandoned Sectors, areas of Federation space that were hit the hardest from the war and are now abandoned, from where they scavenge metal. While often misunderstood, they have established diplomatic relations with the Federation, and unlocking 4 ships will convince the Lanius to join the Federation cause and unlock their cruiser. The playable Lanius Cruisers, the type A "Kruos" and type B, "The Shrike", are the only Lanius ships which possess a life support system in order to accommodate non-Lanius crew; their NPC ships have no oxygen and are crewed entirely by Lanius, making boarding operations against them rather difficult unless the player has Lanius crewmen themselves.
Lanius ships are a metallic silver with blue external lights, and they are shaped like symmetric switchblades. They often pack a lot of Advanced Edition features, such as clone bays, hacking modules, mind control, and flak weaponry. Additionally, their lack of oxygen dependence means that their boarding parties cannot be thwarted by venting and must be fought hand-to-hand. This can make the Abandoned Sectors rather tricky, but on the flip-side, they are practically the only places to get Lanius crew that you didn't start with.
Lanius and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: The only race that doesn't require oxygen to survive. In fact, they actually drain all oxygen from rooms they inhabit.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: An alien race that actively drains oxygen is pretty bizarre.
- Blessed with Suck: While their oxygen-sucking passive and suffocation immunity allows them to not need oxygen, this will become a problem if you're playing a Lanius ship and you decide to get a non-Lanius crewmember, or playing a non-Lanius ship and pick up a Lanius crewmember.
- Boring, but Practical: The race benefits are entirely passive, making it easier to extinguish fires and damage enemies at the cost of speed.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: They sustain themselves by absorbing minerals left in the wake of interstellar combat. Some have theorized that the reason there's little evidence of ancient civilizations is the Lanius absorbing them without a trace.
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Boarding is the preferred method to deal with enemy ships, since it gives increased rewards. Boarding a Lanius ship is generally a bad idea, unless you sport Lanius boarders yourself or don't mind pitching waves of clones at them. Furthermore, while fire does technically damage them, it will get put out very quickly since there's no oxygen.
- Meaningful Name: Lanius is Latin for butcher. And that is exactly what they do to metal ships and structures.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: They don't need to breathe, so they have no life support systems. They also give zero fucks about hull breaches and fires for the same reason (although they understand their squishy friends don't like having holes/exothermic chemical reactions in their ships and will fix them).
- No-Sell: They're immune to oxygen deprivation, to go with their trait of draining all oxygen from rooms they're in.
- Obliviously Evil/Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Some of the Lanius don't seem to realize that eating people's ships is a rather dangerous thing for them to do. Others appear to have a rule against devouring the property of sentient beings, not that that stops people from seeing them as terrifying monsters.
- Walking Wasteland: They drain oxygen from their surroundings at about the same rate as a hull breach.
Crystal beings are the ancient ancestors of the Rockmen, hailing from a distant sector of space beyond the areas known to the Federation. They traveled to the region now known as the Rock Homeworlds long ago via a long-range portal, but the portal closed at some point for unknown reasons, and the two populations were left isolated to evolve on their own.
Crystals are the secret race and very difficult to obtain, accessible only as part of a tricky sidequest. They possess high HP (125% of the Human default), take half damage from oxygen deprivation, move slightly slower (80% of default), and possess a unique "Lockdown" ability that lets them seal off the room they are in with a crystalline barrier, equivalent in strength to high-level blast doors.
Unless you have unlocked the Crystal ships already, or unlocked the Rock Cruiser type C in Advanced Edition, the only way to acquire a Crystal crew member outside of their space is to acquire a 'damaged stasis pod' from a random event involving searching an asteroid field, then having the Crystal contained within the pod revived by Zoltan scientists. Having a Crystal crew member is necessary in order to reactivate the portal in Rock Homeworlds to take you to the Hidden Crystal Sector.
The Crystal people are peaceful and inquisitive, but once exposed to the outside world again after their long isolation, they have a hard time, as the massive, nigh-unstoppable Rebel Fleet following the player arrives in their sector. Thus, they may not be entirely friendly, as they blame the player for leading the Rebels to their space, but the player's Crystal crewman, in thanks for taking him home, will grant the Federation the services of the massive, powerful Crystal Cruisers, the type A "Bravais" and type B "Carnelian". As of Advanced Edition, the Crystals have established diplomatic relations with the Federation, and their off-shoots, the Rockmen, and the type C Rock Cruiser, "Tektite", is the resultant hybridization of Crystal and Rock technology.
Crystal vessels feature black mechanical cores covered in blue asymmetric crystalline armor. NPC Crystal ships are, naturally, seen only in the Crystal sector. Both these, and the playable Crystal Cruisers, have two unique features - Crystal weapons, and Crystal Vengeance. Crystal weaponry is very similar to the lasers used by other species in performance, but with the added benefit that they ignore the target's lowest layer of shielding, which means that a target with one shield bubble is as good as having no shields at all. The drawback, however, is that Crystal weaponry is slower than comparable laser weaponry, and the shards they fire can be shot down by standard defense drones. Crystal Vengeance is a ship augment that randomly fires a missile-like shield-piercing crystal shard in revenge when the ship takes damage, which doesn't do much damage, but can be annoying for a player who's not expecting it while fighting the Crystals.
Crystals and their ships feature the following tropes:
- Armor-Piercing Attack: Crystal weapons ignore one level of shielding.
- Boarding Party: The Type B cruiser is designed around boarding parties; it starts with a four-crew teleporter and a cloak for evading enemy fire, at the expense of weapons.
- Crystal Prison: Their lockdown ability creates one, barring access to the room they are in. This can be used to keep enemies out or to trap enemies in with you.
- Gemstone Assault: They throw crystal shards as a "ranged" attack against non-adjacent opponents. Their Crystal weapons also fire crystal shards.
- Guide Dang It!: The sidequest to obtain a Crystal crewman is so obscure you could play the game for days without realising they even existed.
- Infinity Plus One Race and Ship: The Crystals are excellent boarders, due to taking less suffocation damage and their Crystal Prison ability (which locks down a room, barring exit or entry until it wears off). The Crystal Ship starts with weapons that can pierce a single shield, which is all the shielding most enemy ships have in the first few sectors.
- Luck-Based Mission: Reaching the Crystal sector requires no fewer than three randomly-generated elements: a specific augment only found in some sectors, then a random event also only found in some sectors, then getting to a specific sector that only appears once per playthrough where the beacon to jump to the Crystal sector is located.
- Palette Swap: Crystals resemble and use the same animations as the Rockmen, though mechanically they are very distinct.
- Percussive Maintenance: They hit hull breaches and damaged systems until the breaches and systems are fixed, and they jump on fires.
- Precursors: To the Rockmen.
- Purposely Overpowered: Crystals and their ships are very powerful, in return for being hellishly difficult to obtain. To put it this way: The Type A layout has weapons that ignore one layer of shielding, and the Type B combines the best parts of the Stealth ships (cloaking system is pre-installed, and unlike the Stealth ships this does not come at the cost of a shield system) and the Mantis B ship (four-member teleporter).
- Walking Spoiler: Their entire existence is a secret, made only known to players who have completed two steps of the rather dice-based unlock campaign or put in the effort to unlock the Rock C ship layout.
- You Will Not Evade Me: This is one use of their Lockdown ability—to prevent an enemy from running away to their Medbay.
- Zerg Rush: The Type B layout has a four-person teleporter, allowing for strength-in-numbers boarding tactics much like with the Mantis B ship.