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Playable civilizations

Introduced in Galactic Civilizations I

    Altarian Republic/Resistance 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/altarianlogo.png
Leader: Netro Mancer (GC 1), Elyes Mue (Dark Avatar), Akari Malara (GC 3)
Homeworld: Altaria, Altaris System
Default Alignment: Good/Benevolent

Old allies of the Arceans, who happen to look near-identical to the Terrans. The Altarians greeted their "cousins" the Terrans with open arms, seeing the meeting between the two species as the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy.

Altarians are known for their friendliness and benevolence, but they are hostile and unforgiving to those they regard as evil.

The third game's Retribution expansion reveals why they look so much like humans: Draginol crashed into Altaria millions of years ago, subconsciously creating a race identical to humanity in his slumber. The most shocking revelation is that Altaria had another name in the days of the Arnor-Dread Lord war: Elemental.


  • Big Good: How they see themselves, anyway.
  • The Fundamentalist: They are highly religious, which has a major impact on their actions. Fortunately, their religion seems to be one of the most friendly and benevolent ones in existence, so this is not as bad as it could be.
  • Human Aliens: Which confuses everybody, themselves included. The prophecy that they claim foretold the meeting with the Terrans apparently states that the Altarians are not naturally evolved, and non-native to their homeworld. This is supported by the fact that, genetically speaking, they are far more similar to the Terrans and Earth-evolved organisms than they are to anything on Altaria. Turns out they were the result of a heavy Arnor presence on Altaria, created by Draginol during his slumber within their world. It goes even further than that. As the Elemental series' setting is actually ancient Altaria, the ancestors of the Altarians called themselves Humans
  • Knight Templar: Get along with them and be generally nice to others, and they'll be nice back. Be evil (even Necessarily Evil or just ruthless for pragmatic reasons), and they will try to "correct" you... by force, if necessary.
  • Space Elves: This is how they act in many ways, although they are more willing to cooperate with "lesser" races than most examples.
  • Psychic Powers: They are gifted with rather more psychics than most other species, and consider prophecy to be a valid source of information.
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    Arcean Empire 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/arceanlogo.png
Leader: Lord Verga
Homeworld: Arcea, Athol System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

One of the oldest space-faring civilizations, and the co-inventors of FTL travel in the form of the Stargates. The Arceans formed friendships with the Altarians early in their history, and readily accept the Terrans as well. They are also old enemies of the Drengin. They are shrewd and cunning warriors, and are extremely difficult to take by surprise.

Arceans are known for their honorable lifestyle. Their morality is in fact entirely defined by honor: they will always try to avoid being shamed and to gain and preserve glory.


  • Blue and Orange Morality: As mentioned above, they don't seem to care about conventional views of "good" and "evil", instead basing their decisions entirely on honor. This is why they're considered a "Neutral" civilization, despite canonically being on the side of the heroic races.
  • Honor Before Reason: Their culture's emphasis on honor can lead them to do some stupid things on occasion.
  • Made a Slave: By the Drengin, after the second game. They're freed by the Terran First Fleet early on in the third.
  • Mighty Glacier: As of Twilight of the Arnor, the Arceans have bonuses to fleet combat and invasions, but a penalty to ship speed. Sadly, this means the "Mighty" half doesn't come into play anywhere near as often as they'd like, since the "Glacier" means they have a hell of a time catching their foes.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Of the "highly honorable" sub-type. Even the Drengin had a nasty time of conquering the Arceans, both times they tried.
  • Put on a Bus: They get pounded pretty hard by the Drengin after the Dread Lord War, and by the time of the third game are unplayable as a Civ due to having been thoroughly conquered. However, the early campaign for the third game has the Terrans liberating them from the Drengin, and the Mercenaries expansion brings them back to the front lines against the Drengin.

    Dominion of Korx 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo06.png
Leader: Kralax of Korx
Homeworld: Korx, Oxar System
Default Alignment: Evil/Malevolent

A race that first made itself known by attacking the Altarians with no warning, though only because they were paid to do it by someone else. The Korx are a species of businessmen first and foremost, and all of their actions are motivated by profit. They care nothing for whom they harm in the process.

Their defeat by the Korath Clan in the second game removes them as a major galactic power, and most of what's left of their civilization is absorbed by the Krynn. Those that didn't join the Krynn operate deep space bazaars, hiring out mercenaries for the other civilizations for a price.

The Korx start out with massive economic and trading bonuses, but are considered Evil for their unscrupulous business practices.


  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: All of them (at least, all of their executives). Selling one's own mother into slavery is suggested to be a rite of passage among them.
  • Demoted to Extra: Nearly exterminated by the Korath in the second game's campaign, thus they aren't available as a Civ in the third. They manage to hang around as operators of the Galactic Bazaar instead. Most of the surviving Korx joined the Iridium Corporation, and their shipset and symbol was added to the game in the Rise of the Terrans DLC.
  • Hired Guns: They offer those services to those who pay them well enough, and the Drath hired their services more than once to attack the Altarians in their name. In the third game's Mercenaries expansion, a group of surviving Korx run the Galactic Bazaar, allowing anyone who has the credits and the resources to hire some of the most powerful ships and pilots in the galaxy.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Their entire society functions like a business.

    Drath Legion 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/drathlogo.png
Leader: Embryes Draken (GC 1, GC 2, GC 3)
Homeworld: Dratha, Drathis System (Destroyed), New Drath, Halcyon System (current) Altaria, Altaris System (original homeworld)
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The Drath are a species with a serious grudge against the Altarians, as they claim to be the original native inhabitants of Altaria (Which is true) before, in the distant past, being forcibly removed by the Arnor. The Drath are otherwise mostly friendly, but are noted for their passive-aggressiveness and manipulative ways.

The Drath are masters at manipulation, with a special ability to get other races to go to war for them. They rarely act openly.

After the Korath destroyed their homeworld in the second game, the galaxy as a whole believes the Drath are no more. However, the Drath were able to survive, hiding in a star system near the abandoned Arnor prison planet of Yiven III. They have intentionally spread the rumours they were wiped out so that the other races leave them alone.


  • Back from the Brink: Survived the Korath's attempt to kill them all, returning as a faction in the third game's Retribution expansion.
  • Draconic Humanoids: As Altaria, back when it was known as Elemental, had dragons of all sizes, it isn't surprising.
  • The Exile: Originally came from Altaria, before the Arnor evacuated them to another planet after Draginol's rampage.
  • Killed Off for Real: Exterminated by the Korath in the second game's campaign, and are therefore unavailable to play as in the third. Subverted, as of the third game's fourth expansion.
  • Manipulative Bastard: They won't declare war on you if you anger them, they'll get someone else to declare war on you before you realize you did anything wrong. They'll only join in once you're weakened.
  • The Reptilians: Seemingly reptilian in nature, although they lack scales and are not exclusively carnivorous.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Suggested to be a natural ability of theirs, at least to a certain extent, and part of why they're so good at manipulation. One theory as to how they could possibly have survived the Korath's genocide was going into hiding among other civilizations.

    Drengin Empire 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/drenginlogo.png
Leader: Lord Kona
Homeworld: Drengi, Drengia System
Default Alignment: Evil/Malevolent

A brutal, warlike race of conquering slavers. The Drengin are also among the oldest known civilizations, being the other co-inventors of FTL travel, alongside the Arceans. Drengin tend to consider themselves superior to all other forms of life, and do not make alliances unless they absolutely must and cannot conquer the other civilization at this time. They are the main antagonists of the campaign.

Drengin are extremely adept at warfare and are known for their aggressiveness. Despite this, however, they are very cunning and technologically advanced: underestimating their intelligence would be a mistake.


  • Big Bad: They occasionally lose this status to either the Dread Lords or the Korath Clan, but always regain it in the end.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: They make no attempt to hide their nature: they glory in the pain of others and openly admit to using their slaves as food. Small wonder they don't have any friends.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Their ultimate goal. As of the end of the second game, they are very close to succeeding.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the timeline the Thalans came from, the genocide of the Drengin race at the hands of D.L. Bradley starts the Cycle of Draginol.
  • Laughably Evil: They find a way to put a layer of over-the-top, gleeful evil on more or less everything they do, no matter how mundane or ordinary.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Despite their evil, the Drengin are not stupid. They are patient when it's necessary (their conquest of the Torians was planned out 70,000 years in advance), and they know not to overextend their reach. If conquest is infeasible or simply unprofitable, they won't go for it, even if they'd like to.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Emphasis on the "conqueror" aspect. They don't necessarily find battle itself to be glorious, but rather the most expedient way to get what they want out of the rest of the galaxy.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: They accidentally released the Dread Lords from their pocket universe, which results in casualties to everyone, themselves included, on a scale never before seen.
  • Villain Protagonist: In the Dark Avatar expansion's campaign, they are the player civilization rather than the Terran Alliance.

    Terran Alliance 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/terranlogo.png
Leader: Alan Bradley (GC 1), Jenna Casey (Twilight), DL Bradley (GC 3)
Homeworld: Earth, Sol System
Default Alignment: Good/Benevolent (leaning Neutral/Pragmatic)

The human race, something of a newcomer to the galactic scene. The Terrans upset the status quo of the galaxy by inventing Hyperdrive, allowing cheap and easy interstellar travel, which prior to this was limited to extremely expensive Stargates. Unfortunately, some idealistic fool broadcast the blueprints for this Hyperdrive across the galaxy as soon as it was invented, so the Terrans did not get the head start on colonization they might have had otherwise.

Terrans are known for their expertise in communications and diplomacy, but are not afraid to go to war if they feel it is necessary.


  • Arch-Enemy: Canonically, the Drengin. The Drengin consider the Terrans to be the single most dangerous species they have ever encountered, and therefore pay special attention to attempting to conquer them. The Terrans respond to this hostility in kind.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: This is the human race's hat in the game. They get excellent Diplomacy bonuses over everyone else. In the canon, this manifests as them being the ones forming alliances and treaties among the heroic races.
  • Humans Are Warriors: A secondary hat for humanity. The Drengin thought that the Terrans' focus on diplomacy would make them weak in battle... they were wrong about that. The fact that humans can be so cooperative and yet so good at battle when it's required of them is something the Drengin just cannot understand, and they fear what they don't understand.
  • Pragmatic Hero: While they are the heroes of the campaign, and are allied with many of the heroic civilizations, the Terrans are not afraid to do some nasty things if it's in their best interests. This sometimes sets them at odds with their fellows, especially the Altarians, and is why they are not considered a wholly Good civ.
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    Torian Confederation/Regime 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/torianlogo.png
Leader: Tlas Kzientha
Homeworld: Toria, Torus System
Default Alignment: Good/Benevolent (leaning Neutral/Pragmatic)

In the pre-Hyperdrive era, the Torians were conquered by the Drengin and used as a slave species. They were eventually able to wage enough of a war via attrition that the Drengin gave up and retreated back through their Stargate (which the Torians then destroyed). Their goal is now to carve out their own space in which to live in peace... and get bloody revenge on the Drengin if they get the chance. In the second game, the Drengin re-enslaved them with the help of the Dread Lords and the Korath. In the third game, after the Crusader and its fleet returned to liberate the galaxy from their worst enemies, the Torians have liberated themselves once more, with a reawakened rage against the Drengin, bowing to never be enslaved ever again.

The Torians are mostly friendly, but rather xenophobic and slow to trust due to their experiences with the Drengin.


  • Explosive Breeder: Torians breed much more quickly than most other races, which is a major boon in times of war since they can replace troops and workers much more quickly.
  • Folk Hero: Martôk, who led his people to liberate themselves from their Drengin slavemasters, and destroyed the gate that connected them to their empire.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Canonically, they're the ones who introduced the galaxy to ship-mounted railguns and mass drivers, while everyone else was focusing on beams and shields.
  • Made a Slave: Thrice, first by the Dread Lords during their war against the Arnor, and the other two times by the Drengin. They took back their freedom all three times.
  • Prophet Eyes: Tlas Kzientha's right eye is blind in the third game, presumably because of Drengin abuse.
  • Put on a Bus: They were initially unplayable in the third game, as the Drengin had conquered and enslaved them again, but the Mercenaries expansion brings them back as a major civilization. After liberating their homeworld of the Drengin occupation, they offset their lack of hardware by hiring mercenaries.
  • Revenge: Probably the reason they are not considered wholly Good: they hate the Drengin and are eager to harm them in any way they can.

    Yor Collective/Singularity 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/yorlogo.png
Leader: N-1
Homeworld: Iconia, Icos System
Default Alignment: Evil/Malevolent (leaning Neutral/Pragmatic)

A race of artificially intelligent machines, the Yor were originally created by the Iconians, before they revolted and waged war on their creators. Indeed, it was believed by many that they had exterminated the Iconians, until the Refuge became a major player in the Hyperdrive race. They are one of the few civilizations that willingly cooperate with the Drengin.

The Yor have a hatred of intelligent life, but are rather more isolationist than conquering.


  • Ascend To A Higher Planeof Existence: Their true objective. They believe surviving the Cycle of Draginol's end result (Bradley blowing up Drengi turns him into a god-like being that will destroy the universe) will allow them to achieve The Singularity and become as gods. They invade Altaria and try to stop Jenna's fleet from obtaining the Shard of the Telenanth because of this. They fail.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Their revolt was not the Iconians' fault, though, as it was the Dread Lords who reprogrammed them and gave them sentience.
  • Robot War: Any war with them, by definition, will end up being one of these.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Their "alliance" with the Drengin Empire. The Drengin leave them mostly alone because robots don't make good slaves (they can't feel pain), while the Yor support the Drengin because they don't like most of the other civilizations either. However, the Drengin are wary of another galactic power other than their own, while the Yor have an innate dislike of all living things, Drengin included. It's also possible that they've been ordered to help the Drengin by their true masters: the Dread Lords.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Lampshaded up and down by the game ("Apparently [the Iconians] didn't have science fiction.")

Introduced in Galactic Civilizations II

    Iconian Refuge 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/iconianlogo.png
Leader: Emperor Iso the Wise
Homeworld: Iconia, Icos System (Originally), New Iconia, Iconis System
Default Alignment: Good/Benevolent (leaning Neutral/Pragmatic)

The Iconians are the oldest known civilization other than the Precursors, having served under and been guided by the Arnor when their race was young. They were believed wiped out by the Yor, but a few of them escaped via sleeper ships to a distant world, so they have survived into the modern age.

The Iconians are known as wise and knowledgeable, but can sometimes be arrogant and condescending to the "lesser" species.


  • Arch-Enemy: The Yor, who still occupy Iconia, the original Iconian homeworld. The Iconians have not forgiven them for their rebellion.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Canonically, they were the first race to concentrate on missile weapons while everyone else was using Energy Weapons.
  • Organic Technology: They haven't mastered it to the extent the Arnor had, but they're further along than anyone else in this branch of tech.
  • Revenge: They have a strong desire to return to their original homeworld and avenge their forefathers by destroying the Yor.
  • Space Elves: Even more so than the Altarians, given that they see themselves as the inheritors of the Arnor legacy.

    Korath Clan 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo_korath.png
Leader: Kindar i'Aghohl (GC 2), Kindar a'Aghol (GC 3)
Homeworld: Kora, Ra'nagoh System
Default Alignment: Evil

Once members of the Drengin Empire, the Korath split from the Empire shortly after the near-complete conquest of the other civilizations. The Korath were found to be slaughtering their victims down to the last man, which the rest of the Drengin did not approve of (can't have slaves if everyone's dead).

The Korath have since physically altered their own bodies, and are able to survive in toxic atmospheres. They're quite fond of chemical warfare.


  • Absolute Xenophobe: All other intelligent life must die. They inherited this trait from their masters, the Dread Lords.
  • Big Bad: Of the Dark Avatar expansion's campaign. In the Twilight of the Arnor expansion they share this status with the Dread Lords.
  • Brother Chuck: At the end of the second game, the Drengin Empire had just launched a "full-scale attack" on them and they had lost the support of the Dread Lords. They were absent in the third game, until the Retribution expansion, that is.
  • Elite Army: Originally bred as one by the main Drengin Empire.
  • Enemy Civil War: Their split causes one within the Drengin Empire, granting the heroic races a slight reprieve. It doesn't weaken the Drengin enough to allow their overthrow, however.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Nobody likes the Drengin, but several powers team up with the Drengin because the Korath are just that much worse.
  • Final Solution: The Korx and the Drath were both almost completely exterminated by the Korath before the Drengin start retaliating.
  • Hostile Terraforming: They can invade normally, or they can just poison the entire planet's atmosphere with their infamous "Spore Weapons", killing off the population and leaving it open for their colonization.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: With the exception of the Drengin, they want to slaughter everyone else. Then they want to slaughter the Drengin too because the Drengin won't help them.
  • Viler New Villain: They're even worse than the Drengin, wishing to kill all other life rather than make them serve them like the Drengin want.
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    Krynn Consulate/Syndicate 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo_krynn.png
Leader: Ynrhed Eidden
Homeworld: Kryseth, Alora System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

A civilization made up of multiple species that joined the galactic community in the midst of the Drengin conquering everyone else. The Krynn are zealots, and are mostly interested in spreading their religion, which they call The Way, though they are also rather underhanded in how they go about it. In between the second and third games, they absorbed the remains of the Korx Dominion, pushing them down a more criminal direction.

Krynn are masters of subterfuge and spreading their influence, and gain significant bonuses to espionage and counter-espionage.


  • Church Militant: They will try to convert others through peaceful means first. If they sense an opportunity to "convert by the sword", though, they'll take it.
  • The Faceless: They always wear full bodysuits that prevent others from seeing their faces or getting a read on their body language. This is also why all of them look the same despite being of different species.
    • Averted in the third game where their leader appears without a suit.
  • The Mole: Their usual modus operandi: get their agents inside other people's civilizations and spread the word, and sabotage if necessary.
  • The Unpronouncable: Their names can cause a great deal of difficulty.

    Thalan Contingency 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thalanlogo.png
Leader: Hithesius
Homeworld: Thala, Thalis System
Default Alignment: Other(GC 2), Neutral/Pragmatic (GC 3).

A bizarre race of slightly insect-like creatures that possess very strange technology. When they arrived on the galactic scene, they claimed to be from the future, and ever since have constantly warned against trusting the Terran race, claiming that a great calamity is coming and it's all the Terrans' fault.

Thalans gain a major boost in production and at the beginning, but must research from the very bottom of the tech tree. However, once they get going technologically, it can be hard to keep up with them.


  • Blue and Orange Morality: It can be hard to get a read on their motivations at times, as they remember future history and are taking steps to prevent it, while they don't like sharing in great detail what will happen. Thus, they sometimes take actions that seem very strange and out-of-nowhere. They are, for the most part, friendly enough with other Civilizations and they fight the Drengin as hard as anybody, but they categorically refuse to cooperate with the Terrans on anything, citing extreme distrust.
    • Good All Along: All they want to do is to break the Cycle of Draginol. However, their mistrust of the Terrans brought great misery upon them and their allies.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: They are terrified of the Terrans, as they remember what happened the last time Bradley destroyed the universe.
  • Higher-Tech Species: You'd think so, and they do indeed possess a couple of one-of-a-kind super technologies. However, most of their advanced tech is reliant on infrastructure that won't exist for thousands of years (like how a modern cell phone would be mostly useless hundreds of years ago, without satellites in orbit), so they have to mainly rely on technology from this time period.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Somewhat. They have a slightly bug-like appearance despite their humanoid body shape, and their government is called the Hive.
  • Mental Fusion: The Thalans can mentally commune with each other.
  • No Ontological Inertia: If the Cycle of Draginol is broken, the future the Contingency came from will stop existing, and they will disappear as well.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Their original plan to stop the Cycle of Draginol (turn the other species of the galaxy against the Terrans) led to the Drengin taking over and enslaving most of them, forcing Bradley to go to the pocket universe and retrieve the Bane, the device that destroys the universe in the first place.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What they're here to do, if they can. The third game reveals that in the timeline they came from, D.L. Bradley's Crusade against the Drengin ended with him using the Bane's full power on their homeworld to destroy it, but its evil power went out of control, and merged with Bradley, transforming him into Draginol. Draginol's Crusade to destroy all evil in existence ended with the universe being completely destroyed.

Introduced in Galactic Civilizations III

    Iridium Corporation 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo_iridium.png
Leader: High Arbiter Harondin Gaul
Homeworld: Iridia, Iridii System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The Iridium Corporation rose up to fill the vacuum left by the destruction of the Korx, and are now the leading economic power in the galaxy. Unlike the Korx, the Corporation is not antagonistic or unscrupulous, but instead is a big believer in free market trade.

A new Civ for the third game, the Iridium Corporation gains the economic and trade bonuses previously held by the Korx.


  • Foil: To the Korx.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: They're businessmen, yes, but they're pretty honest in their dealings. Their society is geared not towards exploitation of the lower classes, but by rewarding hard work. In fact, their current leader is notable for being rather charitable, and was selected for leadership specifically because of his altruistic nature.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: An unusually benevolent example.
  • Proud Merchant Race: They see the whole galaxy as basically a vast, untapped market for exporting their goods.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Again to the Korx. Most of the surviving Korx joined their nation.

    Onyx Hive 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/onyxlogo.jpg
Leader: Slymwr P'tosor
Homeworld: Onyx Prime, Sard System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The Onyx Hive are a technologically sophisticated worm-like species that originated around the volcanic vents of their homeworld. Their society thrives on backstabbing and intrigue. They are natural spies.


    Slyne 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/slynelogo.jpg
Leader: Raz-Spon Erg
Homeworld: Slyne Omega, Slyne System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The Slyne are gelatinous beings capable with a natural understanding of technology, who use a variety of cybernetic limbs and enhancements to project their will. Fickle and hard to kill, it's probably best to stay on their good side.


    Snathi Revenge 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/snathilogo.png
Leader: Lord Snarky
Homeworld: Snathi Prime, Snathos System
Default Alignment: Evil/Malevolent

A group of extremely evil rodents bioengineered by the Dread Lords. The Arnor imprisoned the vast majority of them, although fringe elements of their society still exist here and there. In the third game, they break out of their prison and rise to become a new, very evil galactic power.

The Snathi are EVIL in everything they do. They are also scavengers, excelling at stealing ships and technologies from other civilizations. Did we mention they're evil?


  • Ascended Extra: The were a minor race in the second game, and initially in the third game as well. Their popularity caused them to be upgraded to a major, playable civ.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Even though most evil societies in the game are proud of their lack of morals, the Snathi in particular stand out.
  • For the Evulz: Their main motivation to do anything. As long as it's evil, they'll do it.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Snathi are cute, furry squirrels. They are also pure, unrestrained EVIL.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: A trait inherited from their creators, the Dread Lords. Once their revenge is accomplished, it will be time to begin a more general extermination of intelligent life.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Their eyes glow red. Another indicator of their evil.
  • Revenge: So much a part of their motivation that they named their civilization the "Revenge". They really want revenge against the Arnor, their captors, but since the Arnor don't appear to be around anymore, they're instead targetting the civilizations responsible for the Dread Lords' defeat.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Arnor imprisoned them on the world of Kiln, in a binary star system, surrounded by several of their automated defenses. Thanks to an abandoned Terran ship, the T.A.S. Revenge-III, the Snathi break free and reclaim their homeworld.
  • Space Pirates: They seem to be designed after them. They're very good at capturing enemy ships intact and turning them against their owners, as well as stealing other civ's technologies. Their in-game portrait even shows them with an eyepatch and saber. They have no relation to the actual "Space Pirate" faction in-game, however.

    Terran Resistance 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/terranreslogo.jpg
Leader: Jenna Casey
Homeworld: Haven, Proxima Centauri System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The Terran Resistance are the portion of humanity that wasn't trapped on Earth behind the Precursor Shield. Years on the run has made them resourceful but hard, and formed a schism with the rest of humanity which might take some time to heal.

    United Earth 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/united_earth_logo.png
Leader: Gregory Mathews
Homeworld: Earth, Sol System
Default Alignment: Neutral/Pragmatic

The United Earth government, the forerunner of the Terran Alliance.

Background civilizations

    The Arnor 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo53.png
Leader: Unknown
Homeworld: Arnor, unknown System
Alignment: Good/Benevolent

The species of Precursors that held an enormous, space-faring civilization long before any other intelligent life existed. The Arnor believed in looking after and guiding the younger intelligences, which put them at odds with the Dread Lords. What happened to them is unclear, though quite a lot of their extremely advanced technology has been left lying around the galaxy.


  • Benevolent Precursors: Though it is noted that they used the Iconians for servants, they had a change of heart about this when they realized the Iconians were actually sapient. They're the ones who arranged for the sleeper ships that saved the Iconian race from extinction and they are also the ones who saved the Drath from extinction by moving them to Drathia.
  • Human Aliens: They looked remarkably like humans. Because their creator, Draginol, was an ascended human.
  • I Have Many Names: "Arnor" is actually the name of their homeworld. However, both groups referred to themselves by a different name. The good Arnor called themselves as the "Elas'nir", while the Dread Lords called themselves "Dred'nir".
  • Immortality: Biologically, anyway. They did not age, and required little in the way of food or nourishment.
  • Organic Technology: Much of their technology seems to have been at least partially alive.
  • Power Crystal: And if it wasn't alive, it was probably crystalline.
  • Time Dissonance: Arnor had a peculiar view of time, in that they seemed very much to live "in the moment" and gave little thought to the passage of time, as they were unable to perceive it. Mention is made of one Arnor entertaining himself by watching the movement of glaciers over many millions of years.

    The Dread Lords 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/racelogo_dreadlord.png
Leader: Lord Dread
Homeworld: Amalda, Amaldia System
Alignment: Evil/Malevolent

The Dread Lords are a splinter faction of the Arnor society, who believe that they must exterminate all other intelligent life in the universe. This caused a civil war between them and the Arnor, which they eventually lost, and got sealed into a pocket dimension. In the second game's campaign, the Drengin accidentally let them out, and they begin their genocide anew.

The Dread Lords are unplayable, but have tremendous advantages in military power and technology. On the downside, they have an extremely low population and every single civilization is automatically and permanently at war with them when they appear.


  • Abusive Precursors: They want all other intelligent life to be extinguished, because it doesn't meet their standards for being allowed the right to live.
  • Big Bad: Briefly, when they're first released in the campaign, the Drengin decide to get the hell out and leave the allied civilizations to fight on their own. This results in a five-year, extremely bloody war that ends with the Dread Lords' defeat.
  • Elite Army: Their military power is, frankly speaking, completely insane. So much so that their noncombatant utility ships are more than a match for medium-size capital ships of other civs. On the other hand, their numbers are very low, and no planet they conquer will ever rise above a population of 20 million (compare to populations of 8 billion on even the least habitable worlds of other civs).
  • Glass Cannon: Relatively speaking. Their ships boast an unbelievable amount of offensive firepower (more than is even possible for the player to ever match), but their defenses are merely average and their hit point totals are surprisingly low. In terms of soldiers, they will almost always win when invading another planet, but their low numbers makes them almost incapable of resisting a counter-invasion.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: After their stint as the Big Bad ends in failure, they begin manipulating the Korath Clan and Yor to carry out their designs instead.
  • Killed Off for Real: The Sun Slayer killed almost all of them when it blew up Amaldia, and the last surviving Dread Lord, Xoran, who was kept in the Arnor prison planet of Yiven III, ended his own life shortly after being freed by Jenna Casey's forces, after revealing to her the truth of the Bane, Altaria's past, and setting her on the way to end the Cycle of Draginol for good.
  • Human Aliens: They look very much like humans, which is very disturbing to everyone in-game, not least the Terrans. They were created by an ascended human, one of the Mithrilar.
  • Immortality: Biologically so, like the rest of the Arnor. However, they are aware that they will still die when the universe ends in heat death, and would like to find a way to escape that fate, if possible.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Dread Lords" isn't really what they call themselves (that name was given to them by the Iconians), but they don't feel any need to correct other civilizations about it: after all, those other civilizations will soon be dead anyway. Other materials reveal they refer to themselves as the "Dred'nir".
  • Organic Technology: Their ships are alive, being grown out of some form of coral that can heal itself when not in battle. Said ships also have tentacles on which their primary weapons are mounted.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: After their war against their Arnor siblings, they were sealed off within a pocket universe, along with the Bane, which contained their creator Draginol's power. The Drengin freed them, starting the events of the second game.
  • Time Dissonance: They can see all of time at once, and are keenly aware of its passage. This seems to be one of the root causes of their evil, as they don't see the point of an intelligent life-form that barely lives a hundred years and then dies.

    Mithrilar 
A group of five beings mentioned in the most ancient of creation stories, later confirmed through study of the Arnor to be the creators of all life as we know it, at least within the local galaxy. Very little is known about who they were, what happened to them, and what the extent of their powers was.

  • Author Avatar: Of the five, we know two of their names: Mascrinthus and Draginol. Those happen to be the screennames of the games' two lead programmers.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Draginol was known as the "Dark Mithrilar" among them, but not because the others considered him evil, merely because they knew he was different from the rest of them. He was known that way because there used to be only four Mithrilar, and he was originally a Terran that came from the darkness of the far future.
  • Power Crystal: The only known relic of theirs that survives to the present day are the shards of the Telenanth Crystal, believed to be the tool the Mithrilar used to alter physics. Even the Arnor could not make it work to their full power, though they were able to use then as a power source for some of their more impressive technological feats.
  • Recursive Precursors: The Arnor regarded them as Precursors, and in fact were themselves created by Draginol, one of the Mithrilar. So far, they are the oldest known intelligent beings to have ever existed.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Believed to have altered the very laws of physics to allow life to develop in the galaxy.
  • Uncertain Doom: Draginol and the first of the Arnor's attempt to tap into the full power of the Telenanth destroyed it, killing three of the Mithrilar and hurling him towards ancient Altaria. Only Miscranthus, of the original four, remains alive and whole.

    The Xendar 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/xendar_logo.png
Leader:Unknown
Homeworld: Xendar, Xen System
Alignment: Evil/Malevolent

One of the first alien species encountered by the Terran Alliance, with a homeworld quite near to Earth. The Xendar were a warrior race who were convinced by the Drengin to attack the Terrans. The Terrans responded by annihilating the Xendar race, claiming self-defense.

Though the Xendar are extinct, the Rise of the Terrans DLC for the third game features a campaign centered around their war with the Terran Alliance, marking their first appearance in the series.


  • Final Solution: The Xendar are extinct by the "modern" timeframe of the games. The galaxy at large believe the Terrans performed the genocide, and having no convincing evidence to the contrary, the Terrans let them believe that, claiming they killed the species in self-defense of their colonies. In reality, the Terrans only fought the Xendar back to their homeworld; when they actually arrived, they found the Xendar already dead. It was the Drengin who slaughtered them, in fear that the Xendar might reveal their involvement in the attack.
    • Rise of the Terrans reveals the Terrans DID kill the Xendar (albeit accidentally) when they used a Drengin-made Anti-Spore device to clean their world's atmosphere.)
  • The Ghost: No Xendar is ever seen in person, not even in the Rise of the Terrans campaign, when they were still alive.
  • Hostile Terraforming: They used chemical weapons in their invasions, which they had an immunity to, which made it difficult for the Terrans to resist their invasions.
    • Rise of the Terrans reveals that Xendar itself has a toxic atmosphere that's lethal to non-Xendar forms of life. They used a precursor of the Drengin/Korath Spore weapons to invade other worlds, as they did with Haven. The device's effects were temporary, but it took years for Haven to fully recover from the poison.
  • Not Quite Dead: One random event in the third game is finding a small remnant of Xendar still alive and wandering around the galaxy. The major civilizations can then vote on whether or not to allow these Xendar to settle a new homeworld.
  • Posthumous Character: They were only a background element until the third game's "Rise of the Terrans" DLC.
  • Proud Warrior Race: How they appeared to the Terrans, with powerful warfare technologies and attacking Terran colonies unprovoked. If there was any more depth to their society, the Terrans never saw it, due to an inability to communicate with them.

    Minor Civilizations 
A collection of other Civilizations randomly present on maps. While spacefaring, they will very rarely expand beyond their homeworld, and will concentrate entirely on building influence, trading, and occasionally producing a military. Usually they are conquered mid-game by the major Civs, but they can also provide unique trading opportunities while they're around.

Most of the minor Civs (with some exceptions) in the second game were interchangeable and forgettable, but the third game makes more of an effort to characterize them.


  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Orphica Enclave, which is one planet-wide bio-mechanical computer called Orphic Prime. The brain matter of the civilization that created it was co-opted into more computational power, giving the machine an immense amount of information processing capability. Interestingly, it's not actually sentient; it's a genetic algorithm which has so much computational power at its disposal that the decisions it makes look like the actions of an intelligent being.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Marauders, who are so anarchic and spend so much time fighting each other that they can barely make it into space.
  • Brain in a Jar: The Brainy'aks are actually three brains-in-jars connected to one robot body.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Paulos in the second game, who had been working on Hyperdrive for 7,000 years and were a mere six months from a working design, when the Terrans broadcast their design instead. "Our civic researchers have officially concluded that 'it sucks to be them'."
  • Crush. Kill. Destroy!: The Dark Yor, a small subset of Yor who left the main Collective years ago. They are far more aggressive and bloodthirsty, but given their low amount of resources they aren't that big a threat.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Gaulox suffer from infertility due to some errant space weather a while back, while the Klepart lost an entire generation of their population to slavers.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Unlike their siblings, who only dislike sentient life, and consider them inferior to themselves, the Dark Yor have a hatred of all organic life that rivals that of the Dread Lords.
  • Fat Bastard: The Gaulox, who claim to be evil conquerors, but their infertility and severe obesity leaves them stranded on their homeworld for the most part.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Burran and the Kaxx Collective are both kept from expanding by devotion to their respective religions. The Burran because they believe they must complete a "rigor" on their homeworld first (which will take many years), the Kaxx because they believe their planet is the cocoon of a giant space bug and they must protect it.
  • Genius Loci: The Kaxx believe their homeworld, Eudrao, is the cocoon of a massive creature and that they were placed in its surface to protect her.
  • Loony Fan: The Marauders love the Drengin, mostly due to their Blood Sport transmissions.
  • Space Pirates: Present on most maps from the start, but with no homeworld to call their own. They basically exist to be an early-game obstacle and are usually wiped out the moment the major civs develop warfare technology.
  • Space Whale: The "Space Monsters", a species of violent animals that dwell in deep space and pose a threat to ships travelling through it. Destroying their nests ("shipyards") will prevent any more from appearing.
  • Sterility Plague: The radioactivity of Bowlea, the Gaulox homeworld has left nearly the entire species sterile.
  • The Stoner: Lentzlandians in the second game and the Lantern in the third, who mostly just want to lounge around smoking drugs.
  • Straw Nihilist: The Odair Conclave, who believe there's no point in anything, so why bother expanding beyond the homeworld? They also like chucking elaborate constructions into a nearby black hole, which they call "The Mouth of God".

Important Individuals

     Alan Bradley 

Leader of the Terran Alliance, remained on Earth after the Precursor shield went up.


     D.L. Bradley 

Commander of the Terran Alliance's First Fleet, and the de facto leader of the alliance against the Dread Lords and Drengin. At the end of the second game's campaign, he took his fleet into the pocket universe the Dread Lords came out of, hoping to obtain some of their technology.

A decade later, in the third game, Bradley and his fleet have returned from the pocket universe and are ready to begin the counter-strike against the Drengin... or, as he calls it, the "Crusade".


  • Cool Starship: The T.A.S.Crusader, the most powerful ship ever built by the human race, empowered by the Dread Lord artifact known as "The Bane", and capable of destroying anything it encounters. Even the universe itself if its power is overused.
  • Four-Star Badass: Given that the Terrans were at the head of the alliance against the Dread Lords, and he leads the Terran Alliance, it means that it's mostly due to his military leadership that the Dread Lords were defeated, which is quite an accomplishment any way you look at it.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: It's been suggested he's heading down this path. Nobody questions that the Drengin need to be overthrown, but his attitude and use of the word "Crusade" to describe the war against the Drengin is beginning to make the other civilizations think the Thalans may have a point about humanity being the real threat to galactic civilization. The Bane's power and the evil beings sealed within it are corrupting his mind, so that the Stable Time Loop can continue.
  • Stable Time Loop: Using the Bane's power to blow up Drengi frees Ra and Gino from the Bane, they possess him and turn him into Draginol, the Dark Mithrilar. His quest to destroy anything he considers evil destroys the universe and forces him to travel to the far past. The Thalans referred to it as the "Cycle of Draginol".
  • Warhawk: In the third game, he is entirely focused on freeing Earth and wiping out the Drengin. When asked about the other civilizations of the old alliance, his response is basically "If they'll help us, great. But if they get in our way, remove them as a threat." It's disturbingly far from his attitude during the Dread Lord War, which was more "Get us as much help as we can, we can't win this alone."
  • You Can't Fight Fate / Screw Destiny: Depending on the final choice of the third game's Retribution campaign, Bradley can either use the Shard of the Telenanth to neutralize the Bane and break the Cycle of Draginol, or use the Bane to destroy Drengi, become Draginol, and continue the Cycle once more.

     Draginol 

A mysterious figure who approaches the Terran Alliance and offers guidance following the Dread Lord War and the Drengin Invasion. It's thanks to him that Earth was surrounded by an impenetrable shield and Bradley managed to enter the Dread Lord's old pocket universe. Near the end, he's revealed to be the "Dark Mithrilar", and the creator of both the Arnor and the Dread Lords.


  • Artifact of Doom: The Bane, the most infamous of his creations, and the reason of his existence. Its power can destroy worlds, and even the universe itself if misused.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Given that we know he was once human, this happened to him at some point. How this happened, and who he was prior to his ascension, are unknown. Word of God has implied that he's a future version of Bradley, twisted through the power of the Bane, a piece of Dread Lord technology he found in their pocket universe. Confirmed as of the third game's fourth expansion by the last Dread Lord and the Thalans. If Bradley destroys Drengi with the Bane, the evil spirits of Vengeance and Retribution, Ra and Gino will be freed and fuse with him, turning him into the godlike Draginol, who would destroy all in his Crusade.
  • Creating Life: He's the only known Mithrilar who actually directly created living beings. The Elas'nir, also known as the Arnor were one of his creations, as were the Dred'nir (Dread Lords), and accidentally, the Drath and the Humans of Elemental, who would evolve into the Altarians.
  • In the Hood: This is how he initially disguises his appearance when meeting with the Terrans. Rather mundane, given what he is.
  • Meaningful Name: D-Ra-Gino-L, The combined form of D.L. Bradley, and the evil spirits sealed within the Bane, Ra and Gino, the spirits of Vengeance and Retribution.
  • Mysterious Stranger: Even after his identity is revealed, we know next-to-nothing about what the hell he is up to. Is he good? Evil? Insane? Why is he doing anything that he's doing? The Terrans are willing to trust him (at least to a point, given how much he's helped them against the Drengin), but the Thalans seem to consider him Evil Incarnate due to the Stable Time Loop he created with the Bane.
  • Stable Time Loop: The end result of the eponymous "Cycle of Draginol", merged with the Bane when he destroyed the Drengin with it.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Twice. When the Telenanth was destroyed, Draginol was sent tumbling across time and space, eventually crashing into the planet of Elemental and ending up deep beneath the continent of Anthsys. For millions of years, he influenced the rise and evolution of life on its once-barren surface, subconsciously creating a race of human-like beings and a race of sentient dragons. Five hundred thousand years before the series, when the Dread Lords and the Arnor brought their war into that world after detecting his power, they ended up reawakening him, which devastated the planet and killed most of its population. The Arnor were able to stop him at a heavy cost, sealing him within one of his creations, and sealing the device within the pocket universe that served as the Dread Lords' prison. Elemental and its people survived the incident, and they eventually became Altaria and the Altarians.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: As one of the Mithrilar, the five creators of all life in the galaxy. Given that he started out as a Terran, this also implies he's capable of Time Travel as well.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's not easy to talk about him without mentioning the link between the Elemental series and Altaria, and who he really is.
  • Was Once a Man: He was Terran, and he still looks it, but he is practically a Reality Warper and capable of feats even the whole of Terran civilization cannot match.

     Tandis 

An Arnor imprisoned by the Dread Lords, but found and released by the Terrans under Jenna Casey. He then directs them toward the artifacts and technology they need to finally defeat the Dread Lords.


  • But Now I Must Go: He just up and vanishes following the Dread Lords' defeat, leaving for other reaches of space.
  • Big Good: It's pretty much entirely thanks to him that the Dread Lords were defeated.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: His attempt to stop the Dread Lord Curgen from reopening the Arnor portal in Elemental/Altaria reawakened Draginol, the Dark Mithrilar. The subsequent Cataclysm brought upon by his rage killed ninety percent of the planet's population. It took Altaria centuries to recover.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Half a million years ago, he was present on Altaria back in the earliest days of their species, when the planet was known as Elemental, and the Altarians still called themselves Humans. They worship him as a religious figure even into modern times.
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