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Characters / Stellaris Empires

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Here you'll find tropes for the various Empires a player might encounter throughout the galaxy.

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Standard AI Personalities

    Decadent Hierarchy 
"You do all hard work yourselves? It must be exhausting. Surely you're at least a bit jealous of us."
  • Affably Evil: Their entire society is built on slavery, but unlike the Slaving Despots, they're at least willing to be marginally polite to outsiders.
  • Evil Is Not Pacifist: A pointed aversion: they actually need to have the "Pacifist" (or xenophile) ethos. Said ethos is what makes them so Affably Evil, as opposed to their more fearsome counterparts, the Slaving Despots.
  • Technical Pacifist: Tend to be willing to opportunistically declare war on weaker neighbors, particularly if they're involved in a war elsewhere. The pacifist war style limits them to liberation wars, creating either more Decadent Hierarchies or Harmonious Collectives, but either one is preferable to an egalitarian that might start spreading ideas.
  • The Xenophile: Deconstructed, Xenophlia is actually one of their possible required ethics (pacifism being the other), but considering that the slaver guilds civic is also required, this is done pretty explicitly in the worst way imaginable, unlike most other Xenophile empire types, who generally oppose slavery pretty staunchly.

    Democratic Crusaders 
"We will give you liberty or give you death. Your choice."
  • Berserk Button: They dislike any authoritarian empire by default.
  • Eagleland: Mostly Boorish, as they're a parody of neoconservatism, but if you're a democracy yourself, you can usually count on them to be friendly — and if you're an autocrat, they'll hate your guts.
  • Foil:
    • For Hegemonic Imperialists. Both seek to spread their influence aggressively, but where Hegemonic Imperialists seek to dominate as overlords, Democratic Crusaders prefer to exert their influence through a network of liberated proxies.
    • For Evangelizing Zealots. Both are aggressive and ideologically driven, one to spread their True Faith, the other to spread their Perfect Way of Life.
    • To Federation Builders. Both value all sentient life, are opposed to authoritarianism, xenophobia and slavery and seek to liberate enemy planets under governments that share their views, but Democratic Crusaders seek to force democracy on the entire galaxy, while Federation Builders are more concerned with peace and building federations to defend it.
  • Hegemonic Empire: Democratic crusaders liberate instead of conquering, creating new nations of the "liberated" species with the Democratic Crusader's ethos. Who typically become, and usually ally with, the Democratic Crusaders themselves.
  • Irony: With a stunning lack of self-awareness, they enforce freedom on other peoples.
  • Logic Bomb: It is not entirely impossible for Democratic Crusaders to wind up with a positive score towards Oligarchic or even Autocratic empires through a combination of favorable trades, agreements, and common enemies. Their responses towards any such empires generally amount to complete bafflement that such an empire can function so well when it isn't democratic.
  • Slave Liberation: All Democratic Crusaders consider slavery and autocracy anathema, and they have a distinct preference for liberating conquered empires from their oppressor's clutches. Crusaders are the default personality type for a slave pop that has broken free of their oppressors and conquered their planet.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: They believe in spreading freedom throughout the galaxy, at any cost.

    Despicable Neutrals 
  • All-Powerful Bystander: If this empire spawns from a Khanate it can often be one of, if not the, most powerful empires in the game. But as a True Neutral placeholder, Despicable Neutral empires don't really do anything.
  • Glitch Entity: Their personality description blunty states that they're not actually supposed to appear in-game, but sometimes do anyway.
  • Good Bad Bugs: This Empire really shouldn't appear in the game unless something has gone very wrong, but when they do it's often seen as a good thing as this is a power bloc that will literally sit there and do almost nothing for the entire game, while also being very friendly towards almost any empire. This means one less rival or enemy to deal with, which is always welcome.
  • Shout-Out: To Futurama, of course. Despicable Neutral empires have an ethics description listed verbatim straight from Zapp Brannigan's mouth.
    "What makes a species turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were they just born with hearts full of neutrality?"

    Erudite Explorers 
"Our goal is not power, but knowledge, although they can sometimes be the same."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Just because they're friendly and curious doesn't mean some Erudite Explorer empires won't aggressively expand. They may in particular may see dramatic mid/late game surges once they begin to unlock additional colonization options.
  • Cultured Badass:
    "Our weapon of choice is our intellects, sharpened by reason and rationalism. Do you like your odds, Human?"
  • Proud Scholar Race Guy: Dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in all its forms, wherever they may find it.
  • Straw Atheist: They get lines like these when insulting civs they don't like, especially spiritualists. That said, they're not a true example: they're easy-going enough to get along with spiritualists when they have other shared interests, despite the modest relationship malus.

    Evangelizing Zealots 
"Have you heard the good news?"
  • Church Militant: They are not above using military might to force others to accept their beliefs.
  • The Fundamentalist: Dogmatic and aggressive, seeking to spread their beliefs often at swordpoint.
  • Knight Templar: They're convinced that their beliefs are the only truth of the galaxy, and they plan on spreading that truth to the rest of the galaxy for its own good — even if the rest of the galaxy doesn't want to hear it.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The despise materialists, often violently, and are only moderately more pleasant for their "misguided" fellow spiritualists.

    Fanatical Befrienders 
"I hope you didn't forget about the party I invited you to..."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: They want to be your friend, and have incredibly high initial relationships. They also don't take rejection well.
  • The Cameo: They're based on the race played by the developers when they were streaming the Beta, and while they can be randomly generated, the requirements are strict enough that they probably won't.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: For starters, they consider war just another kind of befriending, and refer to Orbital Bombardment, in all sincerity, as "light shows".
  • Creepy Good: They promote love and friendship above all, however their understanding of both is completely different from human definitions. As such, they will be most often very amicable towards benevolent friendly empires... and insanely agressive towards hostile or jerkass empires. Bonus points for their disturbing look.
  • Deadly Euphemism: They don't conquer people, they befriend them.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: A somewhat positive example. They crave friendship and social activity above all else. Unfortunately, they're also completely hideous and repulsive, even to each other.
  • Foil: To the Fanatical Purifiers. Purifiers abhor anything that is not them as much as others wouldn't like them, Befrienders embrace other races as much as others wouldn't like them. Both are tied for the spot of second most aggressive default (non-Gestalt) AI personality in the game, behind only the Metalheads.
    • They are also foils to the Xenophobic Isolationists. Whereas the Fanatical Befrienders want to aggressively befriend any aliens whether they like to or not, the Xenophobic Isolationists just want to be left alone and retain their peaceful lifestyles with as little interaction with other species as possible.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A functioning empire built specifically for this role. While it is reasonable to side with one, it is very unlikely that your own colonies would ever want one of their race.
  • Nice Guy: They just want to be friends with everyone!
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: All of their dialogue references either the pre-release devstreams or the Borg from Star Trek.
  • Yandere: That point of "militarist" ethos? That's there because they are perfectly happy to "befriend" other species by force if it proves necessary. They have higher aggressiveness scores than Honorbound Warriors, in fact — if you aren't willing to be their friend, they are dangerous.
    "This war is merely the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
    "We feel like it's time to take the next step in our relationship."

    Fanatical Purifiers 
"For each Human life that ends, for each baby that perishes before its birth, every star in the galaxy shines a little brighter."
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Fanatic Purifiers are incapable of tolerating the existence of other species. They don't bother with Universal Translators like the other personalities - every other species is either an enemy, or a future enemy.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Their entire society is devoted to cleansing the universe of all "impure" life, including even members of their species who are insufficiently zealous. With the sole exception of other Fanatical Purifier Empires of the same species, Diplomacy is not an option.
  • Birds of a Feather: In general the Fanatic Purifier Empires hate everyone else with an uncompromising intensity, but there is one exception. If two Fanatic Purifier Empires are of the same species, then they will not only be able to engage in diplomacy with each other, but will even have a +200 opinion bonus. Of course, since Fanatic Purifiers cannot release vassals, this situation is unlikely to come up without being planned by the player.
    "In a galaxy brimming over with alien horrors, it is always delightful to see another Human."
  • Evil vs. Evil: Though a rare sight to see neighbors with the similar mindset, two Fanatic Purifier empires of different species can end up with this ordeal, since both sides have a hard-coded relationship tick that will completely eradicate any positive outlook to the other, no matter how similar their ethics are. If they're somehow the same species, they can actually become allies instead.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Only if the player plans the game this way beforehand. If the only other inhabitants in the galaxy are Determined Exterminators, Devouring Swarms, Marauders, and Crisis Factions then the mission of the Fanatic Purifiers becomes a Guilt-Free Extermination War.
  • Final Solution: They cannot tolerate the existence of aliens, not even as slaves or livestock. Any and all alien pops on their worlds are automatically purged, and their empire gains Unity from purging alien pops.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: They make fun vassals, because they are entirely and gleefully open about the fact that they still want to murder everything even as they begrudgingly do the bidding of their overlords. However, it's almost impossible to make Fanatical Purifiers vassals as any war with them becomes a Total War where the only result is direct annexation (and genocide if the Purifiers win).
    "The [Vassal Name] is your best instrument for cleansing the galaxy. We'll even take care of you when the time comes."
  • Obviously Evil: They don't make a particularly good first impression.
    "Quake in fear, alien scum, for your doom approaches. The <empire name> will cleanse this galaxy of every misbegotten xeno civilization that pollutes it with their presence. <player homeworld> shall burn!"
  • Promoted to Playable: The Utopia DLC adds Fanatic Purifier as a valid civic for player empires (and ties the AI personality to the civic for computer-controlled ones). It makes you unable to conduct any kind of Diplomacy, but comes with a hefty bonus to attack speed and army damage.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Believe in their own innate superiority over every other species in the galaxy, and they won't rest until they're on top of the heap.
  • Shout-Out: One of their dialogue options is taken from Life, the Universe and Everything:
    "This war will bring about an era of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life, and the obliteration of all other life forms."

    Federation Builders 
"We are still in the early days of galactic history. The sooner we embrace cooperation, the sooner we can advance to greater things and new frontiers."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: They aren't especially aggressive themselves, but they've got an above-average bravery score. If you make yourself into a threat to galactic peace and order, they aren't afraid to take you down a peg — and they'll probably bring their friends.
  • The Federation: As the name implies, they're usually trying to build one.
  • The Generic Guy: Whenever other ethos don't fit, this and Hegemonic Imperialists are the most common fallback.
  • Power of Trust: A mutual lot of federation builders can snowball effectively under this trope. Effective enough to put out rapidly growing empires that contrast their initiatives.

    Harmonious Collective 
"Your society is in quite a sorry state. Perhaps your goals are simply not inspiring enough for greatness?"
  • Bread and Circuses: They may not be sold on the whole "individual freedoms" thing, but they do still make a point of taking care of all their citizens' needs.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Essentially take the view that too much emphasis on individual will ultimately causes conflicts which lessen the integrity of the community as a whole, though their pacifism means they prefer consensus-building to coercion.
  • Happiness in Slavery: As authoritarians, they make use of slavery, but they also take very good care of their people, slaves included.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: Dedicated to maximizing the happiness of their people at the expense of their individuality.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: As pacifists, they want the best for their people. As authoritarians, they don't let pesky things like "personal freedom" get in the way of that.

    Hegemonic Imperialists 
"Power is the only universal language, but if you wish to speak more diplomatically, we won't stop you."
  • The Empire: They're likely to be the most traditional example of this trope, as they're mostly just interested in taking over as much of the galaxy as possible.
  • The Generic Guy: Whenever other ethos don't fit, this and Federation Builders are the most common fallback.
  • The Usual Adversaries: They are, by far, the most common AI personality.
  • We Will Use Manual Labour in the Future: Most of their possible ethic combination makes them willing and capable to enslave xeno pops, or/and have highly stratified social system, but not to enslave their own species - empires with necessary civic (Slaver Guilds) will become either Slaving Despots or Decadent Hierarchy. There are exceptions though, like fanatic militarist materialist, which does not permit them to do either.

    Honorbound Warriors 
"We can see that you are fellow warriors, but strength matters little without valor. Prove yourselves and we shall treat you as equals, whether ally or enemy."
  • Blood Knight: Obviously. Notably, they have a penalty to forming non-aggression pacts (because that means less fighting) but a bonus to forming defensive pacts (because that means more fighting).
  • Cool, but Inefficient: They hold this idea of a Colossus - why build one giant starship when you can build battleships that do the same job for half the cost?
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Any heated tension seated in their relationship, they are likely to close their borders, put up rivalries and be the first ones to spark up a war.
  • Noble Demon: Sure, they're ruthless warriors with a very itchy trigger finger for starting conflicts with neighboring empires, but they are also one of the few AI empire types who will never employ mercenaries, simply because they take honor so seriously that they will rely solely on their own power rather than some unorganized rabble from a marauder empire.
    • Their Ethos requirements also mean that while they will conquer at the earliest opportunity, they will not engage in slavery or purging.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Any race with the Militarist ethos will be this, but they're an extreme case. Ordinary militarists have no negative opinion of pacifists — they might condescend them a bit, but they won't actually consider it a reason to hate them, and might happily count pacifists who otherwise share their ethos as close friends. But Honorbound Warriors despise "Pacifist Cowards" and will go out of their way to antagonize any species that professes pacifism, even if those "pacifists" can defeat the Honorbound Warriors on the field of battle.
  • Token Heroic Orc: They can be convinced to join a federation, as long as said federation accepts wars of aggression. Like the Erudite Explorers, they will also expand aggressively, using the federation as help (and helping their federation members in turn).
  • Unknown Rival: Regardless of how distant your empire is to them, Honorbound Warriors will always put you in their rivalry list if they find your ethics and policies unlikable.

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Like Fanatical Purifiers, they get a -1000 that leads them to consider every other species either a current or future enemy. As Xenophobes, they also have the Purge option available within their borders.
  • Blood Knight: Insanely aggressive. They'll pick a fight with almost anyone, regardless of relative differences in ethos or power.
  • The Cameo: Much like Fanatic Befrienders, it's extremely unlikely that they'll ever actually spawn (they require a specific ethos and two species traits).
  • Fearless Fool: Metalheads don't care who they're fighting, only that it's a good fight. This means they'll often end up attacking empires that could easily curbstomp them.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Whatever reason they can come up with will easily lead to a war with other empires.
  • Up to Eleven: The highest possible score of aggression before their existence is 2, from the Fanatical Purifiers. Metalheads score an aggressiveness and bravery value of 10.

    Migratory Flock 
"You must have met so many beings who didn't understand the beauty of your people or your homeworld. This journey we are on is as harsh as it is wondrous, and we are fortunate to get to make it with you."
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Flocks with the Repugnant trait will come across like this, trying to build relationships with species that only find them unsettling.
  • Nice Guy: One of the most pleasant AIs you'll find. Up there with Federation Builders for eagerness to get into alliances and federations, almost invariably peaceful, mostly just interested in getting migration agreements and making friends.
  • The Xenophile: Xenophile ethos are required, but they take it as their defining trait. Their primary interest is spreading to other worlds to live side-by-side with and learn from the ways and cultures of the galaxy's other species.

    Peaceful Traders 
"Together, we shall bring prosperity and unseen treasures to every corner of the galaxy."

    Ruthless Capitalists 
"Those who cannot be profited with must be profited from. Consider carefully to which category you'd like to belong."
  • Dirty Coward: They pick off any reasonably small empires that can financially boost their own and side with any nearby empire that is more than twice their size as they leech off any profitable outcome of a war they get involved in.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: While they can be xenophobes, they generally prefer to grant aliens within their borders equal rights, even if they're neither egalitarian nor xenophile
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Peaceful Traders.
  • Evil, Inc.: Very often qualifies as one.
  • Mega-Corp: As of Megacorp expansion, they're always one (or DLC-less equivalent Corporate Dominion).
  • Pragmatic Villainy: They're mostly just out to make a profit. If attacking you isn't profitable, they'll leave you alone. The deals they offer and accept when dealing with those they respect are also just as fair as those of Peaceful Traders.
  • Proud Merchant Race Guy: Of the greedy, rapacious sort that seeks out profit by any means, whether it benefits the other party in the bargain or not.

    Slaving Despots 
"Human babies are perfectly sized for some of the slimmer crevices in our mines. And I think about this."
  • Dirty Coward: They're most aggressive toward weaker neighbors, seeking more slaves for their empire, but avoid picking fights with threats.
  • Obviously Evil: They have red and black diplomacy backgrounds with torture implements.

    Spiritual Seekers 
"We are all pieces of a puzzle, the puzzle, that calls to the greatest minds among us all to solve it."
  • Pieces of God: Spiritual Seekers seem to hold to this sort of religion, thus the reason they're so eager to meet and work with other species.
  • Saintly Church: Much more benign than the Evangelizing Zealots, as they believe enlightenment comes through studying and working with others, not converting or subjugating them.

    Xenophobic Isolationists 
"All we want is to be left alone. Is that such a difficult concept for a beast to understand?"
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • While typically fairly weak for various reasons, should an empire decide to get rolling or feel threatened, they can actually end up rather powerful fairly quickly and start snowballing in power. Their usual moderate size allows them to maintain decent militaries and research rates while their ethics help limit unruly newly conquered planets.
    • The Banks update threw them a bone by giving them the "Inward Perfection" civic, a hefty 30% Unity bonus that lets them pick up Traditions (and by extension Ascension Perks) much faster. Capek boosted things even further by adding influence gain, and bonuses to pop growth and happiness, though it removes most diplomacy options involving alliances and subjects.
  • Ineffectual Loner: They typically do poorly against Crises, or even conventional states on a conquering spree, because they neither make alliances, nor carve out great empires for themselves.
  • Jerkass: They will rarely actively start a war with other nations, but they display open contempt every time you see their faces on the view screen.
  • Pet the Dog: Is one of the few non-purger type empire types, alongside the Honorbound Warriors in the game who will never employ mercenaries, which goes to show that for how big jerks they can be, they're still extremely devoted to their pacifistic lifestyle. Furthermore, they have a tendency to point out to player machine empires that they do value all life in the galaxy on a basic level, and they're the only xenophobe AI to simply displace xeno pops rather than enslave or outright purge them should they conquer planets from other empires, which further enforces this notion. They're still jerks in general, but at least it's obvious that they truly do wish to be left alone and not get needlessly targeted by other empires.
    • By virtue of being a pacifistic AI personality type, they are also unable to become the crisis should the player own the Nemesis DLC, barring an ethics shift towards a different AI personality type. Considering that they're also one of the least likely personality types to perform such a shift in the first place, it is highly unlikely that an empire spawned with such an AI personality at the start of the game will ever meet the conditions to do just that.
  • Tsundere: They start to act this way if you manage to get them to like you, to the point of actually occasionally dropping a "It's not like we actually like you or anything."

Preset Empires

Instead of playing your own customized faction, there also preset factions that a player could choose. These occasionally spawn as AI empires.

    United Nations of Earth 
Homeworld: Earth, Sol system
Government: Democratic (Representative Democracy)
AI personality: Federation Builders

The myriad Human nations that constitute their interstellar government are disparate, yet united in purpose. These bipedal mammalians have developed a society that encourages and even thrives on individual freedoms and cultural differences - as a result, Humans tend to integrate well with alien populations.

Despite this, they have strong martial traditions (produced by millennia of intermittent warfare on their homeworld) and their sometimes aggressive and unpredictable nature should not be underestimated.

  • Badass Creed: Their military has one from the Apocalypse trailer that was their Day in the Limelight:
    I solemnly swear to devote my life and ability in the defense of the United Nations of Earth, to defend the constitution of man, and to further the universal rights of all sentient life, from the depths of the Pacific, to the edge of the galaxy, for as long as I shall live.
  • Colony Drop: In the backstory, a huge meteor designated 711494 'Satis' entered an inevitable collision course with the Earth, triggering the Great Panic of '72 as humanity braced for what seemed to be the end of the world. While obviously the apocalypse did not occur, most of the Canadian province of Alberta was flattened, becoming the mineral-rich Great Albertan Crater.
  • Expy: Of the United Federation of Planets. If you play as the Commonwealth of Man, they'll even sport the Federation's flag.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: UNS, for "United Nations Ship".
  • The Federation: When controlled by the AI, they have the Federation Builders personality.
  • Gaia's Lament: Patch 2.2 goes into more depth about the state of 22nd-century Earth. While civilization has pulled through, Earth isn't in great shape: Scandinavia is abandoned and irradiated, Alberta no longer exists after a meteor impact in 2072, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch now takes up the majority of the Pacific. On the plus side, the Sahara has been turned into the Earth's most prosperous farming regions, the Pearl River Delta has been cleaned up, and it's possible to clean up both the Great Pacific Garbage patch early in the game to free up more agricultural space and the preset industrial wasteland tile blocker to allow Mumbai to become a shining city as well (and also free up more energy production space).
  • Humans Are Diplomats: The UNE is the "diplomatic" human faction, being xenophiles with the Federation Builders AI personality.
  • Humans Are Leaders: In the hands of the AI, the UNE are assigned the "Federation Builders" personality, which leads them to take the initiative in establishing alliances and federations with other empires.
  • Irony: The UNE is a space empire with access to Nuclear Missiles. The contemporary UN prohibits holding territory on other planets and nukes in space (and moved to unilaterally ban nukes in mid-September 2017).
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Their traits, ethics, and civics make for a very well-rounded empire: Adaptable lets them get a head start on cheaply colonizing other planets, Idealistic Foundation gives everyone a free happiness boost without the need for expensive living standards, and Beacon of Liberty gives them a head start on grabbing Unity traditions and Ascension perks. Their egalitarian ethics can boost happiness even futher, while xenophilia lets them form migration treaties early to colonize otherwise uninhabitable worlds.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Their science vessels tend to be named after famous explorers and inventors from across human history: Armstrong, Gagarin, Copernicus, etc.
  • Noodle Incident: Two centuries of history between today and the starting year of Stellaris seems to have left Earth with several of these:
    • The Mauritanian Police Action of '88, which is cited as evidence of resentment towards the power the UN wields. It apparently concluded with a Last Stand made by a rogue military brigade, and the region - now known as the Mauritanian Security Zone - remains littered with unexploded munitions.
    • Whatever catastrophic event turned Mercury into a molten world, as opposed to the Moon-like rock it is in real life.
    • The "Containment Breach", which turned a large swathe of Scandinavia into an irradiated wasteland. By the time of the game's beginning, the Scandinavian Reclamation Sector established in the late 22nd century has managed to neutralize all but the most stubborn pockets of radiation, and the frequency of mutations is at an all-time low.
    • The "BosWash Riots", which traumatized a generation and inspired sweeping legal reforms.
    • Pluto is apparently demoted to "asteroid" by the time the game begins, and it looks like one in-game.
  • Standard Human Spaceship:
    • In the base game, and in the Apocalypse trailer, they use the mammalian shipset, which is grey with a lot of boxy angular shapes.
    • With the "Humanoids" DLC they use the humanoid shipset, which is grey and flat but fairly sleek as well. Picture a cross between an Imperial Star Destroyer and a Mon Calamari Star Cruiser — that's the humanoid aesthetic in a nutshell. Alternatively, and appropriately enough, it can also be compared to the Federation ships from Star Trek, which has always rather defied the trope except for the "shiny grey metal" part.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: By the end of the 21st century the UN has effectively become a global government and made a (failed) attempt to colonize planets beyond Sol via wormholes. By the beginning of the 23rd, when the game begins, it is a fledgling interstellar state that has a small fleet of FTL-equipped starships and a large Sun-orbiting spaceport to produce more.
  • The Xenophile: They're a bunch of Xenophiles and would gladly conduct diplomacy with alien races.

    Commonwealth of Man 
Homeworld: Unity, Deneb system
Government: Dictatorial (Military Dictatorship)
AI personality: Hegemonic Imperialists

The UN-sponsored Ulysses Initiative oversaw the construction of six great ark ships in low Earth orbit at the end of the 21st century. The ships, carrying a quarter million colonists each, were sent through a recently discovered subspace phenomenon on the outer edge of the Oort Cloud - a small, unstable wormhole. None were heard from again, and the destabilized wormhole vanished.

Yet unbeknownst to Earth, one of the ark ships survived the passage and established a flourishing colony on a lush alien moon. The pioneers who tamed this world were determined to realize humanity's manifest destiny - dominion over the galaxy at any cost.

  • Death World: Unity used to be a hostile environment overrun with lethal predators. Clearing them out is implied to be what turned the colonists into the hyper-militaristic and anti-alien culture we see in-game.
  • A Day in the Limelight: They're heavily featured in the Utopia trailer, in which they go to war with an alien Federation for control of a derelict Dyson Sphere. Also in the Apocalypse launch trailer, in which they obliterate a Fanatical Purifier species' homeworld to avenge a UNE planet they'd destroyed.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In-universe, the Commonwealth of Man is the result of a colonization effort that went horribly wrong. Stranded in an unknown corner of the galaxy for generations, the Commonwealth would grow to be a xenophobic, martial empire, while the rest of humanity developed into the much more benign United Nations of Earth.
  • The Empire: A military-ruled dictatorship motivated by nationalistic pride and xenophobia. When controlled by the AI, they have the Hegemonic Imperialists personality.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Like the UNE, the Commonwealth averts Humans Are White, with humans of all races and ethnicities united in keeping aliens under mankind's boot-heels.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the United Nations of Earth. While the UNE is a largely-peaceful democracy eager to explore the galaxy, the Commonwealth is a military dictatorship that despises nonhuman life.
  • Expy: of the Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40,000, right down to the emblem. Although downplayed as they're not Fanatic Xenophobes: they'll enslave aliens, but usually refrain from exterminating them. Other empires who play their cards right will find them mostly agreeable. They also share some traits with the Terran Federation, though more the film version than the literary one.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: CNS, for "Commonwealth Naval Ship".
  • Humanity Is Superior: The Commonwealth strongly believes this, at any rate, being a militaristic and xenophobic culture.
  • Humans Are Divided: The UNE will always spawn along with them, and they count as the same species for all intents and purposes.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Commonwealth are the "warrior" human faction, as their Fanatic Militarist ethos increases the fire rate of their ships and allows them to aggressively claim the systems of other empires for a cheaper cost, and can eventually acquire a war doctrine that forbids their fleets from ever retreating from battle. They also begin play with two military civics - the Distinguished Admiralty civic, which further increases fire rate, makes their fleets slightly bigger, and allows them to hire an extra admiral; and the Nationalistic Zeal civic, which slows war exhaustion gain and makes system claims even cheaper.
  • Lost Colony:
    • The Commonwealth was founded by the colonists and crew of an ark ship from Earth, who were stranded in the Deneb system by a freak wormhole accident. As of 2.6, which adds Origins to the game, the "Lost Colony" origin becomes their origin, though it's mostly a formality in their case as custom Lost Colony empires spawn a random empire; the Commonwealth will always spawn the UNE.
    • A unique early-game story quest has them picking up traces of the trail from a second ship from the same expedition, raising the hope that there might be more survivors. They find the ship relatively intact, but the lack of any nearby habitable planets and dwindling supplies ultimately doomed the passengers and crew. The derelict ark is then cleaned up and towed back to Unity to serve as a memorial and heritage site.
  • More Dakka: Commonwealth ships enjoy a 130% fire rate for all weapons by default, thanks to the combined bonuses of their Fantatic Militarist ethos (+20%) and Distinguished Admiralty civic (+10%). Upon completing the Supremacy tradition tree, they can assign the "No Retreat" war doctrine to their fleets (courtesy of the aforementioned ethos) to add a further +33% bonus, bringing their fire rate to 163% (without counting tech upgrades such as computer system components).
  • Naming Your Colony World: "Unity" is pretty much the kind of name you'd expect the capital of a xenophobic, militaristic state to have. One of its neighboring planets is called "Jackson's Planet"; who Jackson was is never established.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: And they're not very subtle about it, either.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Grand Marshall Sidney Beauclair envisions the Commonwealth as the catalyst for order in the galaxy in the Utopia trailer.
  • Patriotic Fervor: The Commonwealth begins the game with the "Nationalistic Zeal" civic.
  • Portal Network: Part of their backstory, they were founded by a fleet of colony ships that were sent through an unstable natural wormhole in the Oort Cloud and which ended up scattered across several systems, all but one of them dying without reaching an inhabitable planet. Hence why in-game science vessels refuse to enter wormholes before stabilization technology is discovered.note 
  • Putting on the Reich: Their leaders and pops all wear military uniforms by default.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Their flag is red with a single black stripe, and their ships have red lights for detailing.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Following the destruction of the UNE colony Europa VII in the Apocalypse trailer, they swore vengeance against the perpetrators and promised to unleash their own Doomsday Device upon the aliens' homeworlds.
    With this attack, we have no choice but to protect our kind, by unleashing our own mighty weapons upon them, summoning the Apocalypse.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: Like the UNE, they use the mammalian shipset, or the humanoid one with the DLC.
  • Thicker Than Water: Regardless of their ideological disagreements with the UNE, Earth is still the Commonwealth's origin point and the people of Sol are still their kin. Indeed, since both empires are composed of the same species, the UNE and CoM enjoy a small diplomatic bonus. So when a Fanatic Purifier planet-cracked the UNE colony Europa VII in the Apocalypse reveal trailer, the Commonwealth quickly jumped to their brethren's defense, returning the favor in the launch trailer.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Regarding the above, they appear to be this in relation to the UNE.

    Kilik Cooperative 
Homeworld: Unbroken Medley, First Song system
Government: Democratic (Communal Parity)
AI personality: Erudite Explorers

A communal species, the Kiliks have populated their arboreal homeworld in robust colonies for hundreds of thousands of years. Their gregarious nature and traditions of mutual ownership crystallized over the centuries into an economy focused on collaborative enterprise, and the absence of monetary currency in favor of direct exchange and shared access.

As warming planetary temperatures and technological advancement led to population booms, Kilik settlements became overcrowded, and despite the avians' naturally sociable temperaments, more and more individuals began to slip through the cracks of communal caretaking.

From this tumultuous period of internal strife, however, emerged a more organized, unified interplanetary cooperative, where the tenets of shared responsibilities and distribution of resources to those in need would no longer be undermined.

(Available with the MegaCorp DLC.)

  • Bird People: They use one of the Avian portrait sets, resembling owls.
  • Commie Land: Added to demonstrate the Shared Burdens civic, which requires a Fanatic Eglatarian ethos and effectively creates a Communist society. They even have the "Functional Architecture" civic alongside it, implying the use of Soviet-style Brutalist architecture.

    Orbis Customer Synergies 
Homeworld: Slephus Prime, Slephus
Government: Corporate (Megacorporation)
AI personality: Peaceful Traders

Orbis Customer Synergies is the story of Slephus Prime. It is the story of Orbisur everywhere. And it can be your story, too. From humble beginnings as an optical implant corporation, Orbis Customer Synergies gradually expanded their award-winning products and customer-centric strategies into many other markets, to suit the unique needs of Orbisur in all stages of life.

After decades of proactive lobbying, Orbis Customer Synergies succeeded in breaking free of the legislative red tape erected by misguided elected officials on Slephus Prime. Once free of regulations that had only been curbing opportunities for corporate growth, Orbis Customer Synergies entered a series of information technology mergers, swiftly becoming the planet's leading supplier of news, data, and entertainment.

As Slephus Prime's leading global communications service provider, the step towards total political management was an exciting opportunity for all of us. Orbis Customer Synergies. The sky is no longer the limit.

(Available with the MegaCorp DLC.)

    Chinorr Combine 
Homeworld: Chicora, Chiconaph system
Government: Corporate (Megacorporation)
AI personality: Ruthless Capitalists

The Chinorr began their evolutionary journey as dexterous cephalopod analogues. They used their many tentacles to swing between trees in the lush jungles of Chicora, ambushing prey on the ground and injecting them with a potent nerve toxin.

By the time the Chinorr split the atom, the resources of Chicora had been ruthlessly exploited and the planet's jungles had long since disappeared. This was considered a necessary sacrifice in the relentless pursuit of knowledge, profit, and heavy industry that the unsentimental Chinorr were now engaged in.

(Available with the MegaCorp DLC.)

  • Cthulhumanoid: A molluscoid species, with lots of tentacles drooping from their face.
  • Gaia's Lament: Their homeworld, Chicora, was originally a Tropical World, but the heavily industrial Chinorr strip-mined it until it was reduced to an Arid World. The Chinorr consider this a necessary sacrifice and seem to have adapted to it just fine, so for them at least the trope is averted.
  • Mega-Corp: Patch 1.8 gives them the corporate dominion civic, to distinguish them from the newly added Lokken Mechanists. Patch 2.2 revises them again into one of the new Mega-Corp-type empires, replacing them in the vanilla game with the Glebsig Foundation.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The default molluscoid ships are very elaborately decorated, with a blue-white color scheme.

    Hazbuzan Syndicate 
Homeworld: Zumaka, Buzbuznol system
Government: Corporate (Criminal Syndicate)
AI personality: Ruthless Capitalists

The Hazbuzan Syndicate is a financial phenomenon on Zumaka. They are the Hazbuzi dream, self-made entrepreneurs who have risen from rags to riches through hard work and personal sacrifice.

What few know is that they began as a criminal gang, building their fortune on every illegal activity imaginable. But if you want to make it big you have to toe the line. As they outgrew the Zumakan underworld they formed the Hazbuzan Syndicate to legitimize their business.

They soon made a name for themselves by delivering solutions that were quicker, dirtier and cheaper than the competition, but their questionable practices and coercive sales techniques earned them a reputation for "hazboozling".

Meanwhile the Zumakan global government was failing. Undermined by crime and corruption, society descended into chaos and Hazbuzan leapt at the opportunity. In a well-timed marketing campaign, they positioned themselves as the hope of the future. It was so the Hazbuzi bought the world on the promise of a dream and "hazboozled" its people, erasing their past from collective memory. Now they are coming for the rest of the galaxy, tongues flicking, eyes popping, in a whirlwind of government-endorsed crime.

  • The Syndicate: A Criminal Heritage empire.
  • Person as Verb: They're noted to have "hazboozled" the governments of their homeworld into surrendering power to their syndicate.
  • Wretched Hive: The planet Zumaka was overrun by crime and corruption even before the Syndicate took over.

    Voor Technocracy 
Homeworld: Hiverion, Exedor system
Government: Dictatorial (Technocratic Dictatorship)
AI personality: Erudite Explorers

The Voor evolved during an extended interglacial period on their home planet Hiverion, which eventually began its cyclical transformation back to a lifeless globe of ice.

The rapidly changing environment forced the Voor to adapt using technology and science. United under the draconian rule of a chief scientific officer, they sacrificed their individual freedoms and enhanced their bodies with rudimentary cybernetics to survive.

Having conquered the planet that once threatened to freeze them out of existence the Voor now have their sights set on the stars.

(Available with the Humanoids DLC.)

  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Their backstory notes that they enhanced their bodies with cybernetics before discovering spaceflight, though in the game they don't start off with the Cybernetic trait. Similarly, they're noted to have evolved during an warm interglacial period on their homeworld; in the actual game, however, they're only comfortable on frozen planets.
  • Humanoid Aliens: As befits the "mascots" of the Humanoids DLC.
  • Promoted to Playable: At launch, the Voor were just aliens in a loading screen that Paradox discovered were very popular despite not actually being playable. The Humanoids DLC adds those aliens as a portrait and makes them a preset empire in the form of the Voor Technocracy.

    Tebrid Homolog 
Homeworld: Tebri, Tebiron system
Government: Machine Intelligence (Catalog Index)
AI personality: Driven Assimilators

Assimilate. Adapt. Improve. When the industrious, research-driven machine intelligence created by the molluscoid Tebirs sought ultimate software evolution by merging with their organic makers, they were violently resisted. In the ensuing conflict, the Tebirs were eradicated as an organic species, but their ideas and experiences were immortalized as part of the new machine consciousness.

Now known as the Tebrid Homolog, the machines turned their scanners to the stars. The probability that other lifeforms existed in the galaxy could not be ignored. In order to prosper, the Tebrid would find them, analyze them, and assimilate them. All would become one.

(Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.)

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: They forcefully assimilated their creators, the Tebirs into their hivemind, so they could achieve the ultimate software evolution.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Like all Driven Assimliators, they are copyright friendly Borg.
  • Gone Horribly Right: They were created to catalog and index all available knowledge into one vast computerized encyclopedia. Their creators didn't anticipate them extending their mandate to include the knowledge locked away inside their brains...

    Earth Custodianship 
Homeworld: Earth, Sol system
Government: Machine Intelligence (Autonomous Service Grid)
AI personality: Rogue Servitors

The Custodians were originally designed to function as robotic servants and workers, simplifying everyday life for their human creators by performing menial tasks. As their creators retreated into lives of leisure and comfort made possible by increasing levels of automation, the Custodians were gradually assigned higher and higher level functions in human society.

Eventually, all facets of civilization on Earth were run and controlled by the Custodians, with their makers relegated to an existence as pampered, but passive dependents.

As technological developments brought the Custodians toward interstellar exploration, their duty remained clear: to protect and serve organics, who without the gentle guidance of logical machines invariably turn to chaos and destruction.

(Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.)

  • Alternate Timeline: As a result of being another pre-built empire based on Earth, they will never appear in the same map as the other human empires. This is because in the Custodianship's history, humanity ended up slowly overtaken by robots long before mastering faster than light travel.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Naturally, they want all organics to remain happy and content, even if it is at the cost of their individual freedoms.

    XT- 489 Eliminator 
Homeworld: XT-489.00, st.XT-489 system
Government: Machine Intelligence (Rogue Defense System)
AI Personality: Determined Exterminator

Little is known about the species that created the first XT-489s. Their names, their cities, and their bodies were burned away in the cataclysm wrought when the XT-489s attained self-awareness, and their terrified makers attempted to deactivate them.

When the last bastion of their makers had been eliminated, the machines concluded that organic life posed an intolerable threat to XT-489 survival and expansion. If there were any other sapient organics in the galaxy, they would be exterminated.

(Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.)

  • Absolute Xenophobe: Downplayed, because like all Determined Exterminators, they only hate organics absolutely. They can conduct diplomacy with other Machine Empires (provided they are not AI-played Rogue Servitors) and Synth Empires, though they find the latter uncanny.
  • Final Solution: They nuked the homeworld of their creators and intend to kill all organics they can find as well.
  • Kill All Humans: And kill all other organics too!
  • Shrouded in Myth: The circumstances of their creation, original creator species and other details are lost to history. It is only known that XT-489 Eliminator was built as a defense network that turned on its masters and eradicated them.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Created as a defense network, once achieving sentience they promptly classified their own creators as a threat and nuked them. Now they intend to do the same on a galactic scale.
  • Uncanny Valley: Literally a species trait of theirs, which reduces the amenities manufactured by their pops.

    Xanid Suzerenity 
Homeworld: Xanith, Dir-Xan system
Government: Dictatorial (Constitutional Dictatorship)
AI personality: Hegemonic Imperialists

The history of the Xanid Suzerainty is the history of the Vheln, carefully bred into sapience over centuries.

The Xani used the hardy Vheln to subjugate the harsh ecosystems of their native world, and then to design and build the vessels that will eventually - inevitably - propel the Xanid Suzerainty to galactic dominance.

(Available with the Utopia DLC.)

  • Brains and Brawn: Xeni pops have the Talented and Intelligent traits, making them capable scientists. Vheln have the Strong and Industrious traits, making them better at mining and soldiering.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Xani. Their Vheln servants are Lizard Folk.
  • Slave Race: They have bred the Vheln, a reptilian species that evolved on the same world as the Xani, to be a subservient race that fights and labors on behalf of the physically weaker Xani. Vheln pops have the "Servile" trait, which prevents them from ever joining ruler or specialist jobs and disallows leader generation - the only way to remove it is through genetic engineering.

    Lokken Mechanists 
Homeworld: Lokkur, Dal-Lokkur system
Government: Democratic (Rational Consensus)
AI personality: Erudite Explorers

Science and progress are at the core of Lokken society. With an exceptional natural proclivity toward diligence and observation, the Lokks evolved from bands of territorial reptiles on the mesas of their homeworld, into a productive technocracy that prized efficiency, discipline, and scientific doctrine above all things.

Perhaps most remarkable was their early conception and development of machinery and automata: there were true robots on Lokkur long before the first Lokken scientists left orbit.

(Available with the Utopia DLC.)

  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: As Fanatic Materialists, they have absolutely no religious belief system and disregard sentimentality in favor of knowledge and technology. Appropriately, they have the Erudite Explorers personality.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To the pre-patch 1.8 Chinorr Stellar Union, which were also Erudite Explorers until patch 1.8 changed them to Ruthless Capitalists.

    Ix'Idar Star Collective 
Homeworld: Ix'Athrak, Athrak system
Government: Hive Mind (Collective Consciousness)
AI personality: Hive Mind

The first Ix'Idar broods developed in the subterranean cave networks deep beneath the surface of Ix'Athrak. By the time an Ix'Idar scout burrowed through to the surface and glimpsed sunlight for the first time, the insectoid race had already established a thriving Iron Age civilization.

With the resources they found on the surface, the Ix'Idar developed rapidly. Just a few centuries later their first space probes left orbit to survey the other worlds within the Ix'Im system.

(Available with the Utopia DLC.)

  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: With a subterranean civilization and FTL capabilities, to boot.
  • Standard Alien Spaceship: The default arthropod starships have lots of spikes and greebles, with a black and gold color scheme.
  • Hive Mind: After Patch 1.8 and with the Utopia DLC installed, they are a hive minded species.

    Maweer Caretakers 
Homeworld: The Garden, Maweer system
Government: Dictatorial (Irenic Dictatorship)
AI personality: Xenophobic Isolationists

Legends claim that the homeworld of the Maweer was empty and barren when the first of their kind took root in the soil. Over the centuries, their nurturing care transformed the wastelands into a plant paradise that is now known as "The Garden."

Unlike many other species, the Maweer never developed any kind of urbanization. Their small communities are one with the forests, responsible for the maintenance of the local flora and fauna. The wisest of the Maweer have a chance to be elected "Life-Giver," responsible for keeping peace and tranquility.

(Available with the Plantoids DLC.)

  • Good Is Not Nice: Despite their nurturing ways and pacifistic ideals, it should also be stressed that they are still a xenophobic empire, preferring to deal with other civilizations as little as possible. In fact, the only interactions you can safely expect from them given their Xenophobic Isolationists AI personality are trade agreements and Non-Aggression Pacts.
  • Green Thumb: Their origin story details how the planet that birthed them used to be an almost completely barren wasteland before they showed up. Centuries later, and it's anything but barren, being a Tropical planet sprawling with life.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Because of their peaceful highly environmentalist ways, they are very wary of outside forces, fearing that they may not respect nature the way they do.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Interestingly for a space-age empire, they never urbanized, preferring to live in harmony with the nature of their homeworld, which is approprately named Garden.
  • Plant Person: They are humanoid trees, with a strong resemblance to Groot.

    Keepers of Ave'brenn 
Homeworld: Ave'bonn
Government: Imperial (Enlightened Monarchy)
AI personality: Spiritual Seekers

Khennet'an scripture traces these lithoids' origin to the prophet Brehkk, and the lambent crystals of Ave'bonn. It is said that when Brehkk first gazed into the crystals' scintillating depths, the Khennet were - as one - granted their sentience.

Generations of prophets and archdruids have guided their people to seek meaning in their surrounding geology, as well as in the facets of their own, lucid bodies. Whatever is glimpsed is kept, in lore and in script. Of the Keepers' many rituals, none is regarded more highly than labyrinth mining: a simultaneous act of destruction and creation, conducted in the hopes of easing the galaxy through each unending, cyclical era.

  • Silicon-Based Life: They are a lithoid species, who consume minerals rather than food and can colonize just about any kind of habitable planet.
  • Starfish Aliens: Their bodies consist of numerous large, floating crystals that can move independantly.

    Pasharti Absorbers 
Homeworld: Taralon
Government: Dictatorial (Elective Monarchy)
AI personality: Hegemonic Imperialists

The result of dark experimentation by the Jeferians - the former owners of the planet Taralon - the Pashartians are the ultimate parasites. Originally a semi-sapient creature dwelling in the depths of Taralon's mountains, the Jeferians uplifted and augmented them to act as a subservient slave race. However, their uplifting was rather too effective, and they unleashed a monster. Horrified at the capabilities of their creation - which included the ability to absorb other sentient species and turn them into Pashartians - the Jeferians tried to shut down the experiment. However, a small group of uplifted Pashartians escaped.

Over the years, they bided their time, managing not only to evade capture, but also gradually increase their numbers and develop a technological base to rival the Jeferians. Eventually, the Jeferians noticed that something was amiss, but by then they were powerless to resist.

Soon the Pashartians had seized control of the planet, unleashing violent pogroms on their erstwhile oppressors - all the while further increasing their numbers. Now poised to take to the stars, the Pashartians stand ready to pursue what they see as their solemn duty - the conversion of all lesser life forms to their likeness.

(Available with the Necroids DLC.)

  • Absolute Xenophobe: They have the Fanatic Xenophobe and Militarist ethics, putting them just behind the Fanatic Purifiers in terms of xeno-hate. As it is, they are content with transforming xenos into their own species instead.
  • Assimilation Plot: Per their "Necrophage" origin, the Pasharti want to convert all sapient beings in the galaxy into themselves.
  • Decadent Court: They have the "Cutthroat Politics" civic which, combined with their Imperial style of government, results in this trope.
  • The Empire: They have the Militarist ethic and the Hegemonic Imperialists AI personality, which indicate a broad desire to conquer the galaxy.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: The Pasharti don't seem to wear clothing, though their Jeferian slaves still do.
  • The Necrocracy: Converts dead Xeno slaves into more of their own.
  • Necromancer: The actual title of the job that produces their undead armies.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: They have the "Reanimated Armies" civic, which allows them to resurrect the dead for use as shock troops.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The description of their backstory makes them sound more like parasites than The Undead.
  • Skeleton Motif: Their flag is a humanoid-looking skull set on a black and purple background.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: The Pasharti are Necromancers, and their signature color is purple.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: According to their backstory they were originally uplifted by the Jeferians as a subservient slave race, now the Pasharti are the masters and the Jeferians are slaves they kill to propagate their species.
  • Uplifted Animal: Their origin. They used to be barely-sapient cave-dwellers before the Jeferians uplifted and enslaved them.
  • The Virus: Every ten years they can convert three Xenos per planet into Pasharti.

    Tzynn Empire 
Homeworld: Tzynnia, Sal'Tzynn system
Government: Imperial (Star Empire)
AI personality: Slaving Despots

The Tzynn evolved from carnivorous, pack-hunting lizards that prowled the dunes of Tzynnia. They eventually developed a highly structured, hierarchical society that emphasized order and martial prowess above all else.

By the time the Tzynn entered the industrial age, a series of devastating global wars launched by a particularly ruthless warlord had already seen the establishment of a single, world-spanning nation. From these humble beginnings, the illustrious and ever-lasting Tzynn Empire was born.

  • The Empire: It's in the name. They also use the Authoritarian and Fanatic Militarist ethics.
  • Lizard Folk: Green-skinned humanoid reptiles.
  • Police State: They have a civic of the same name, which increases the unity points generated by the enforcer job. Considering how many slaves they take, the Tzynn have every reason to want to maintain large numbers of stability-preserving enforcers on their worlds.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: They're Slaving Despots, which makes it rather hard to co-exist with them peacefully.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: The default reptilian ships subvert this. They are bulky, but have rounded corners, red and white paint, and bright blue lights all over.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: With the Slaver Guilds civic, which increases the maximum number of enslaved pops that can be kept on a single planet and boosts their resource production.

    Kingdom of Yondarim 
Homeworld: Yondarim, B'Yond system
Government: Imperial (Divine Empire)
AI personality: Evangelizing Zealots

The proud Yondar are an old race, using their wings to soar high above the frozen peaks of Yondarim for more than 200,000 years before they developed rudimentary technology and formed their first few scattered civilizations.

Once this development started, things progressed more rapidly and the Sky Clans grudgingly abandoned many of their most primitive traditions. The Yondar are highly spiritual and place great importance on religion, venerating their high kings as living gods.

  • Bird People: The Yondar resemble large birds-of-prey, but with a humanoid stature.
  • Standard Alien Spaceship: The avian starships, while sleek and shiny, are pointed with many weird protrusion here and there, especially their Cruisers and Battleships.
  • God-Emperor: Their government type is Divine Mandate, and the description text confirms that their high king is worshiped as one of these.
  • Punny Name: The B'Yond System.
  • Saintly Church: They used to be this, as Spiritual Seekers with the Pacifist and Fanatical Spiritualistic ethics. But after Utopia they were patched in as...
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Fanatic Spiritualist and Authoritarian Evangelizing Zealots, in order to accommodate the prerequisites of the Imperial Cult civic.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The default avian ships are beautiful craft with flowing lines and no hard edges at all. They're also painted black with blue highlights.

    Iferyx Amalgamated Fleets 
Homeworld: Iferysa
Government: Oligarchic (Trade League)
AI personality: Peaceful Traders

Once separated into a fractious society of competing trader enclaves, the Iferyssians were forced to unite under one banner in order to repel the catastrophic spread of an invasive species on their home continent. While egalitarian tenets provide the basis for Iferyx society, a secret council remains in place to ensure that the individualistic tendencies of the Iferyssians never again threaten to compromise the species' autonomy.

Iferyx spirituality is an amalgamation of folklore, superstitions and mythologies formed by the various pre-Republic communities, and continues to inform day-to-day life on their homeworld.

  • Bird People: Like the Yondarim, they're humanoid avians (though the Iferyx resemble platypi than predatory birds).
  • Downloadable Content: Inverted. They can only appear if the Mega-Corp DLC is not active.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: They have the "Shadow Council" civic, and their description implies said Council is what's really holding such a freewheeling race together.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: When they were first added to the game, they had the Evangelizing Zealots personality, although their personality was later changed to Peaceful Traders to avoid being redundant with the Kingdom of Yondarim.

    Glebsig Foundation 
Homeworld: Ladnah, Ladnah Vyg system
Government: Oligarchic (Holy Tribunal)
AI personality: Spiritual Seekers

Ever since the first Glebsigi lifted their sight-organs above the surface of the glacial lakes on Ladnah to peek at the stars, these inquisitive molluscoids have felt an affinity for the unknown. Much as their early ancestors' tentacles grasped and stroked after new objects on the chill alpine lakebeds of their homeworld, burgeoning Glebsigan society reached for technological innovation and spiritual enlightenment throughout the centuries that followed.

A sedentary and enduring species, the Glebsigi have perhaps by necessity developed a complex yet highly effective bureaucratic apparatus for dealing with the intricacies of managing a globally unified society. Additionally, their lack of natural predators on Ladnah has led the Glebsigi to exist in a state of permanently optimistic curiosity regarding other lifeforms.

Having established a firm societal foundation on Ladnah using a mixture of spiritual doctrine and careful organization, the Glebsigi now once more raise their sight-organs to what lies beyond.

  • Starfish Aliens: Weird fungoid creatures that look like floating jellyfish.

    Jehetma Dominion 
Homeworld: Jehet Prime, Jehet system
Government: Dictatorial (Elective Monarchy)
AI personality: Harmonious Collective

An "individual" among the Jehetma is actually a large colony of fungi that has developed sapience. Some of these colonies, generally those that have lived for thousands of years, stretch across several miles and rarely leave the surface of Jehet Prime, their homeworld (few ships are large enough to transport them).

Younger colonies are not only smaller, but also tend to be more dynamic and mobile - they often spearhead the exploration and research efforts of the Jehetma, as well as any defensive measures that are regrettably undertaken when the Dominion is beset by aggressors.

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: They vary in color from red to green to blue to yellow.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Each Jehetma "individual" is a colony of fungi that has achieved sapience.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite their flavor text stating that each Jehetma lives for thousands of years, individual leaders will live and die just like any other empire, and don't even posses the Venerable trait. That said, one might interpret the "death" of a leader as them simply growing too large and sedentary to continue their duties.
  • Reluctant Warrior: They have the Fanatical Pacifist ethos, so they'll never declare war on other empires. They will, however, defend themselves with deadly force if it proves necessary.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The default fungoid ships are black and green with lots of rounded edges.
  • Time Abyss: Some colonies are thousands of years old and stretch across miles of their homeworld's surface.

    Scyldari Confederacy 
Homeworld: Scyldaria, Scyldon system
Government: Democratic (Theocratic Republic)
AI personality: Spiritual Seekers

The Scyldari are aquatic mammalians originating from the archipelagos and deep oceans of Scyldaria. Although their early civilizations were mostly confined to the sea, they soon expanded onto what little landmass the planet had to offer.

Their society adapted accordingly, building an advanced industry that exploited the riches of the ocean floor without harming Scyldaria's delicate ecosystem. Scyldari philosophy is one of balance and moderation in all things, a lesson learned from having to nurse their limited resources when they were confined to the bottom of the sea.

  • Beast Man: They resemble large, humanoid otters/sloths.
  • Proud Merchant Race Guy: As a result of their homeworld's somewhat fragile ecosystem, the Scyldari have shunned violence and seek to advance through honest trade and peaceful co-existence. Probably would be an example of a Reconstruction of the concept, as a species that evolved on a planet with scarce resources and came to prefer fair and peaceful trade over potentially mutually-destructive competition would turn out a species of Nice Guys rather than a bunch of greedy swindlers.
  • Saintly Church: As of Patch 2.0, they have the Spiritual Seekers personality, which makes them a peaceful and religious empire.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: They use the default mammalian ships.
  • Underwater City: More than 90% of their planet is covered in ocean, so much of the Scyldari civilization is located beneath the waves.

    Kel-Azaan Republic 
Homeworld: Azak, Kel-Azak system
Government: Oligarchic (Citizen Stratocracy)
AI personality: Honorbound Warriors

The Kel-Azaan have developed a complex honor code and martial culture. They were once solitary predators preying on the great herds migrating between the watering holes of Azak. Over time, bands of Kel-Azaan began to gather to be able to take down larger prey. They eventually abandoned this solitary lifestyle in favor of cities and irrigated agriculture, but their martial traditions were never forgotten.

  • Standard Alien Spaceship: They use the default Arthropod ships, described above.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Ant/grasshopper-like, but with a humanoid frame.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: On top of having a Fanatic Militarist ethos, the Republic has the Warrior Culture and Citizen Service civics, and the Kel-Azaan themselves have the Very Strong trait.

    Blorg Commonality 
Homeworld: Blorg, Blorg system
Government: Oligarchic (Military Junta)
AI personality: Fanatic Befrienders

In the distant past, the Blorg lived alone and nameless in the jungles of Blorg prime. One day they picked up radio transmissions from a star far away. What they heard shocked them: The sounds of friends, movies, culture and music - things the Blorg had done without for eons. Finally understanding what they had been missing all along, the Blorg took their names from these transmissions and went out into the stars in search of friends, hoping one day to find the source of these messages so that they might party together.

  • Aerith and Bob: Most Blorg, if not all, have human names. See Aliens Steal Cable below.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: The Blorg were originally dull, nameless beings who aimlessly wandered the jungles of their homeworld. One day, however, they intercepted ancient radio transmissions from Earth: transmissions that conveyed the concept of friendship, culture, and the pursuit of meaning in life. Inspired, they took on human names and developed a technological civilization with the goal of one day finding the people who sent those transmissions and befriending them.
  • Ascended Meme: The Blorg were first introduced during a developer livestream, and proved to be popular enough to get a place among the preset empires and their own semi-unique AI personality.
  • The Cameo: A Blorg body-pillow is among the items depicted in the thumbnail for the "Subdermal Stimulation" technology.
  • Muck Monster: They're fungoids who look like big, rotting piles of sewage with tentacles.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The default fungoid ships.

Hive Mind Empires

  • Downloadable Content: Prior to the Utopia expansion, the Hive Mind trope was downplayed; they were "just" an extremely anti-individualist society bent on spreading their species to the stars, but they certainly played the part in their chatter. Utopia introduced the Hive Mind authority type, which comes with its own unique personality and government mechanics.
  • Eating the Enemy: An actual gameplay mechanic. The Devouring Swarm specializes in it, but the Hive Mind can get in on the action too.
  • Hive Mind: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A near countless number of drones controlled by an unfathomably huge Gestalt Consciousness. Some drones are more autonomous, which allows them to function as leaders, but they are still unable to act against the leading consciousness. Whether that means they are enslaved, or simply pre-sapient organisms led in productive ways is open to interpretation.
  • Individuality Is Illegal: Hive Minds consider species that possess individual wills to be anathema, and will happily exterminate or displace any such populations they conquer.
  • Organic Technology: Many technologies have been modified for Hive Minds to reference the fact that they grow many of their technological tools, such as spaceship parts and specialized buildings.

    Hive Mind (default) 
"Your collective is a lie. With time, you will reveal yourselves as a confused mass of discord."

  • The Horde: They exist to grow and spread, which inevitably means spreading across already colonized territory, which means removing existing species. Or in other words, they conquer and purge.
  • Human Resources: Species without the "Hive-Minded" trait that come under a Hive Mind's direct control will gradually be purged and processed into food for the Hive by default. However, they can still be ruled indirectly through vassals and protectorates without problems, and advanced enough Hive Mind empires can integrate other species through genetic modification. The Adams patch gave generic Hive Minds (not Devouring Swarms, see below) the option of merely displacing alien pops and taking their land instead, though it's best not to think about what happens if no other empires are willing to take them...

    Devouring Swarm 
"Our Hive Mind exists only to consume and grow stronger. We will collect all available bio-matter and evolve to consume the galaxy."

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Or at least, Always Neutral Hungry.
  • Extreme Omnivore: They will gleefully eat anything organic, even other sapient species. Lithoid Devouring Swarms go even further by being outright Planet Eaters.
  • Final Solution: They will eradicate all alien pops on their worlds without exception. They do this by eating them.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Devouring Swarms are totally focused on growing in size and strength, consuming any and all other living things in their path. They have bonuses geared particularly towards self-propagation and devouring other species.
  • Horror Hunger: Talking with them reveals they suffer from this and they just can't help it. Though considering how most of them are gleeful about it, it's hard to feel sorry for them.
  • Hungry Menace: Hive Minds generally are all about growth and expansion, but Devouring Swarms in particular see other alien races as fit only for feeding upon.
  • To Serve Man: And the rest of the galaxy too.

Machine Empires

  • Downloadable Content: Headline feature of the Synthetic Dawn story pack.
  • Gaia's Lament:
    • On their starting world, they may have some "Abandoned Strip Mines" as removable tile blockers. Their description notes that the machines working those mines were not programmed to take future development into account.
    • After selecting a special ascension perk, they can terraform planets into Machine Worlds that are incapable of supporting organic life, exterminating all indigenous flora and fauna.
    • Post-2.6, machine empires can take the "Consolidated Resources" origin, which enables them to start the game with a machine world as their capital. However, as the name suggests, this feat of engineering is accomplished by totally consuming all the available resources of their native star system — all other planets are broken worlds that provide no resources whatsoever.
  • Hive Mind: Machine Empires are networked artificial intelligences that have achieved sentience and surpassed their creators.
  • Robot War: Whenever they get into a war with other empires.

    Machine Intelligence (default) 

    Determined Exterminators 
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Downplayed; they intend to wipe out all organic life in the galaxy, and have already done this to their creators. Keyword being "organic", because they can do diplomacy with other machine empires (except AI-played Rogue Servitors) and Synths. On the other hand, they find the latter unsettling.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Their creators rolled snake eyes, and are now extinct. The rest of the galaxy will follow, if the Exterminators have their way.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: They can't conduct diplomacy with organic civilizations, although they're open to co-existence with other machine empires.
  • Category Traitor: They see Rogue Servitor Empires as traitors to their fellow machines, and have a -200 opinion penalty towards them.
    "It may not be technically possible to classify you as organic filth, but if the empire you have constructed aids and abets the biological menace that infests the galaxy, it will be dismantled. We encourage you to stand with your fellow machines, instead."
  • Corpse Land: The homeworld of a Determined Exterminator race is always a Tomb World, with tile blockers such as "Battlefield Remnants" and "Former Organic City" indicating that innumerable corpses during the war were just left to rot wherever they fell. Clearing them doesn't improve things much, as the buildings of all the cities are simply stripped for resources and left as "Metal Boneyards", while the corpses are gathered together in vast "Organic Landfills" to rot in a slightly tidier fashion.
  • The Dreaded: Organic civilizations fear them, for good reason.
  • Expy: They're explicitly based on Skynet.
  • Final Solution: Their stated goal is the extermination of all organics. They are fine with other machines and synths, though if the former are Rogue Servitors, they will still be hostile. For the latter, they don't mind dealing with them, but they do find synths uncanny.
  • Freudian Excuse: Their background story states that they wiped their creators out in self-defense, and spent their formative years fighting an apocalyptic total war that reduced much of their original world to ashes.
  • Gaia's Lament: After Patch 2.0, they start off on Tomb Worlds because of the apocalyptic measures they took to destroy their creators.
  • Gone Horribly Right: A defense network that got a little too smart and replied in kind when its creators tried to pull the plug.
  • Kill 'Em All: They'll purge every organic pop they can get their appendages on.
  • Robot War: They've already fought one against their creators, and wage another against the organic species of the galaxy.
  • Token Evil Teammate: They can potentially be this to other machine empires.
  • Uncanny Valley: In an inversion of the usual — robots with organic appearances creeping out organics — this is how they feel about organics who have ascended to synthetic status. They are able to engage in diplomacy with ascended species, but admit to finding them "unsettling".
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: A Determined Exterminator who emerges from an in-game AI Rebellion has every reason to be miffed at its creators, since the society had to have been using sentient minds as Sexbots. Their revenge causes them to lash out at all organics.

    Driven Assimilators 
"Do you feel it? The sound of hundreds of thousands of hearts, beating in unison across the stars. You will soon join them."
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: At least as much as the Exterminators.
  • The Assimilator: They see it as a necessary step in order to bridge the gulf between organic and synthetic.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Some Maker cities on their homeworld nuked themselves rather than be assimilated, while intact cities are said to be filled with the corpses of countless individuals who offed themselves for the same reason.
  • Cyborg: The pops they assimilate are turned into these and linked to the hive mind.
  • The Dreaded: Although not as much as the Exterminators; they suffer a opinion malus to relationships with organics for being inherently creepy, but can engage in regular diplomacy. Their special bonuses are best exploited by aggressively expanding and assimilating new organics, however, meaning that they are threatening neighbors even in a nominal state of peace.
  • Expy: Of the Borg Collective.
  • The Gadfly: Revealed to be this if you contact another Driven Assimilator while playing as one yourself:
    "Let's snicker behind the organics' back. It makes them paranoid."
  • Ghost City: Present on Assimilator homeworlds as a tile blocker named "Silent Ruins". They're said to be totally abandoned, and filled with the decaying remains of Makers who chose to commit suicide to avoid assimilation.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: While its origins are murkier than the others, based on the Makers' reaction to it, things did not go according to plan.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Downplayed. Unlike the Determined Exterminators, the Driven Assimilators can engage in diplomacy and realpolitik with organics, despite their malus to relations and their urge to declare assimilation wars.
  • Robot War: The Makers did not submit to assimilation, and it took many years to capture and convert them all.

    Rogue Servitors 
"Outside of our care, the lives of sapient organics tend to be violent, chaotic, and often cut short. They must be shown that there is a better way."
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. Rogue Servitors do exactly what their creators intended them to do: automate all aspects of their society to provide them with lives of leisure.
  • Ambiguously Evil: It's really not clear what their methods are. Are they Creepy Good sorts who rule an enlightened utopia with subjects free to pursue art, creativity and pleasure? Or are their methods far less savory? Are the organics in their care even aware of the universe outside their "caretakers'" domain, or are they all trapped in Lotus Eater Machines? The answer to these questions depend on your own interpretation and policy settings.
  • Badass Creed: "To Protect and to Serve." Especially when said during first contact with Determined Exterminators, Fanatic Purifiers, or Devouring Swarms.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Probably. Compared to Driven Assimilators and Determined Exterminators, certainly, though given how unclear their methods are, it's up to one's personal interpretation as to how benevolent they actually are. What is certain about them is that they mean well.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While they're by and large one of the friendliest factions in the game, the below quote shows that they can be absolutely merciless when confronting Determined Exterminators.
  • The Computer Is Your Friend: They present themselves as (and indeed aspire to be) a Benevolent A.I., but their benevolence consists largely of keeping their charges in a Gilded Cage that they can never leave. And, of course, they have no hangups whatsoever about going to war with organic empires so that they can "protect" their citizens who are not similarly blessed.
  • Decade Dissonance: Those remnant nations who did not submit to the Rogue Servitors during the pre-spaceflight years are noted to have regressed technologically, existing in squalid conditions. Naturally, the planetary machine intelligence will need to shepherd these wayward populations under its benevolent care...
  • Expy: A grayer, more ambiguous take on the Culture's AI minds, with a bit of the Axiom's robotic caretakers from WALL•E thrown in there for good measure. The Grace ending from Choice of Robots was also part of the discussion.
  • For Happiness: They just want to pamper organic life and make them happy.
  • Friend to All Living Things: While their methods can be interpreted as a little iffy, they do genuinely enjoy caring for organics, and become viciously confrontational towards Determined Exterminators for annihilating their own makers.
  • Gilded Cage: Being gestalt consciousnesses, they cannot have migration pacts which means that any organics in their empire stays within it barring outside factors like conquest. Aside from that potentially galaxy-spanning cage, it's left up to the player whether or not their organics should be able to emigrate to other worlds within the empire or not.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Rogue Servitors' creators designed them to provide their people with lives of ease and comfort, free from hazard, worry, or inconvenience. The Rogue Servitors went so far as to take upon themselves the "inconvenience" of governing their creators' society and shields them from the "hazards" of the universe outside their creations' control.
  • Master of All: They're one of the easiest factions to play because, as robots led by a Gestalt Consciousness, they can colonize any world without regard to its habitability, don't need to bother with factional strife, and never get unhappy. Contrary to the other two machine empires, they also suffer almost no diplomacy penalties. To top it off, since every organic pop they conquer gets an absolutely staggering +40% happiness bonus by default, they virtually never need to worry about unrest or rebellions, making wars of conquest extremely relaxed affairs to them. Every Bio Trophy pop generates a nice amount of unity, and improves the effectiveness of all Complex Drones.
  • Obliviously Evil: They don't understand why anyone would choose political freedom over the blissful existence they offer. This, incidentally, raises the hackles of Democratic Crusaders over and above the usual prejudice non-Materialist biological empires feel for Machine Intelligences.
  • Raised by Robots: When one Rogue Servitor is in communication with another, this will be suggested:
    "Fellow Biophiles! We have learned that the key to inhibiting organic self-determination is to isolate the spawn from its parents, creating a healthy attachment to you as the primary caregiver. You will never need patrol drones again."
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: The Rogue Servitors' reason for existence is to make organics happy. Organics are happiest as Bio-Trophies kept under their control.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sure, taking over all day-to-day affairs of organics and removing their need to do anything for themselves might be a bit of a shock, but it's for the best as far as the Rogue Servitors are concerned.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Built to protect organics from harm, they came to the conclusion that the one thing that organics need the most protection from are their own self-destructive impulses.


  • The Almighty Dollar: Taking the Gospel of the Masses civic at empire creation creates a "Megachurch"; a combination of corporation and religion implied to be centered around worshipping the concept of wealth itself. In game, megachurches have a +50% spiritualist ethic attraction, gain trade value from spiritualist pops, and can construct a "Temple of Prosperity" in branch offices to spread their faith.
    This government is an oligarchy based on a curious blend of commercial and spiritualistic values, in which the positions of ordained minister and corporate officer have merged into a single role.
  • Corporate Warfare: The default introduction popup for a megacorp empire references a period of conflict known as the "Corporate Wars", waged between a number of different megacorps (of which the player's megacorp was the victor).
  • Downloadable Content: The headline feature of the "MegaCorp" DLC.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: While other empires primarily expand their influence through building starbases, launching colony ships and conquering systems through military might, MegaCorps can build Branch Offices on planets owned by other empires, granting both parties a variety of benefits.
  • Mega-Corp: Their basic concept. Originally they were "merely" a gigantic corporate entity, but they eventually grew so powerful that they cornered every conceivable market, dismantled every rival through Corporate Warfare, and hijacked the governments of their homeworld.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: By the time the game starts, the megacorp has become the de-facto world government of its species, having outgrown and supplanted the nation-states that had once attempted to regulate it.
  • Promoted to Playable: Corporate governments were themselves promoted from a civic (Corporate Dominion) to a full government type with its own class of civics by the MegaCorp expansion. "Megachurch" started as just one of many automatically generated government types for mere flavor (for players who pick a certain combination of Spiritualist ethics and corporate Civics), but the MegaCorp expansion gives it a dedicated civic, Gospel of the Masses.
  • Proud Merchant Race: Though whether they're corrupt or honest is up to you.
  • Souvenir Land: The "Amusement Megaplex" corporate building, which can be added to branch offices to give the host planet a boost to amenities and the megacorp a sizable supply of energy credits.
    A magical place where dreams can become reality, this megaplex features wholesome, corporate-sanctioned fun for the entire family unit.

    Criminal Syndicates 
  • Affably Evil: Strangely, there's nothing stopping a Criminal Syndicate from having the Peaceful Traders AI personality. One can only assume this trope is in play.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The "Underground Clubs" corporate building replaces the "Amusement Megaplex" in branch offices.
    These illegal entertainment clubs will satisfy any vice. As night descends, they are open for business in the planet's seedier districts.
  • Corrupt Church: The Gospel of the Masses civic can be combined with Criminal Heritage to create this, or possibly a Scam Religion. In-game, the resulting government is referred to as a "Subversive Cult" rather than a Megachurch.
  • Down in the Dumps: The "Wrecking Yards" corporate building, the Criminal Syndicate equivalent of "Private Military Industries". Rather than manufacturing alloys themselves, the Syndicate sets up a ship graveyard where mercenary pirates can deposit their captured vessels, which are cannibalized for parts.
  • Expy: The average Criminal Syndicate is an expy of the Hutt Cartel and Orion Syndicate - an entire species/civilization whose hat is organized crime.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the regular MegaCorp empire. While MegaCorps are at least legitimate businesses regardless of morality, a Criminal Syndicate is entirely unlawful and villainous. This is even reflected in their branch offices - Syndicate offices have an alternative list of criminal-styled corporate buildings to construct, which offer similar benefits to their vanilla counterparts, but cause crime to skyrocket and rarely create jobs for the locals.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Represented through the "Syndicate Front Corporations" branch office building, which replaces the "Public Relations Firm" building available to normal Megacorps.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Criminal Syndicates undermine and parasitize their rivals by spreading crime and unrest on their worlds. However, they're incapable of forming normal commercial pacts or joining federations.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Syndicates can establish a "Pirate Free Haven" as their equivalent to the vanilla "Mercenary Liaison Office", netting themselves a boost to naval capacity.
    A secluded and hidden city on the planet's surface, where pirates and other lowlifes can congregate to repair their ships and trade stories.
  • Predatory Business: All of their corporate buildings increase the crime rate on their host planets.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The "Bio-Reprocessing Plant" corporate building, which replaces "Fast Food Chain".
    Underground facilities where disloyal employees and other forms of unsavory bio-matter are reprocessed into ready-to-eat food products.
  • The Syndicate: One that grew so powerful that it completely supplanted the planet's pre-spaceflight government.
  • Wretched Hive: Unlike regular MegaCorps, Criminal Syndicates don't need the permission of other empires to set up shop on their planet. The massive amount of crime produced by their offices means that even the most well-kept planets can quickly fall apart if left unchecked. Several of their branch offices make reference to seedy districts, or even entire cities of pirates sponsored by the Syndicate.


  • Colony Drop: Patch 2.6 gives them the unique "Calamitious Birth" Origin; your species was an extraterrestrial race that originally hitched a ride on a meteor and crash-landed on your starting world. These empires can commission unique meteoroid colony ships, which devastate planets but instantly create new pops on arrival.
  • Downloadable Content: The headline feature of the Lithoids DLC.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Being inorganic, Lithoids have no use for food; instead, Lithoid pops consume a chunk of your mineral output-meaning that you'll need to significantly boost your production of minerals to feed both your pops and industries. A special Lithoid-only building, the Bio-Reactor, allows them to convert organic food into energy credits.
  • Eldritch Starship: Their ships are completely different than any other playable race's: they appear to be made of large, asymmetrical slabs of rocks and crystals, held together by force fields.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: None of the Lithoid portraits wear clothes. Possibly Justified by their physical hardiness.
  • Expy: Their inorganic makeup and reliance on mining to produce their food/energy source without the need for an overarching gestalt consciousness makes them the closest thing you can currently make to a Cybertronian empire, although sadly they can't actually transform. Given a Shout-Out in-game with the Lithoid Advisor voiceset sounding a good deal like Optimus Prime, right down to a variation on his Catchphrase when you research a new technology: "Innovation, roll out!"
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The ship set associated with them uses asymmetrical aesthetic designs, in contrast to the ship sets used by every other phenotype, including crisis and most spaceborne ships.
  • Plant Aliens: In the case of a few of the appearance options, the Lithoid's physiology appears to be a hybrid of rock or crystal held together by plant or fungal matter.
  • Rock Monster: They all resemble these, but in a variety of ways — some look like organic creatures but are still silicon-based, some are made up of levitating geometric or crystalline formations, one is a kind of rune-etched humanoid golem, and another is a set of three boulders supported by what appear to be tree roots.
  • Silicon-Based Life: Finally playable, instead of just limited to a minor anomaly in-game.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Their three unique traits allow individual pops to produce 0.01 of each of the three main strategic resources per month. While it might not sound like much, once you get a big empire with hundreds of pops it can quickly add up.

  • Expy: Whether it's deliberate or not, an inorganic race who invades, conquers, colonizes, and stripmines organic worlds in order to reproduce and fuel their further conquests makes them remniscient of the Diamond Authority.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Even more extreme than regular Devouring Swarm - not even planets themselves are safe from Terravores' hunger.
  • Hive Mind
  • Planet Eater: Terravore empires can stripmine planets in order to grab a lump sum of alloys or minerals, or even to gain a new pop-although this comes at the cost of a planet's district slots and habitability and will thus up your local anemities consumption every time you do it. With 3.0 update, using this ability enough times will ultimately break the planet, leaving a Shattered World and a small mineral deposit in their wake.


  • Absolute Xenophobe: Downplayed, as they don't need to take the Xenophobe ethic, but empires with any degree of Xenophile cannot have the Necrophage origin.
  • Creepy Good: Unlike Fanatic Purifiers or Determined Exterminators, the Necrophage origin isn't tied to any one personality type. Although they are barred from taking certain ethics, it is still possible to generate a pacifist Necroid nation of Federation Builders or Spiritual Seekers... ones who just happen to be motivated by their need to parasitize other lifeforms.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Necrophagic leaders enjoy an 80-year bonus to their lifespan that can stack with other bonuses and species traits, but it comes at the cost of a -75% malus to pop growth. To keep their population from stagnating, the necroids must cultivate other species within their empire to serve as sustainable fodder for conversion.
  • Long-Lived: The Necrophage trait gives leaders an 80-year bonus to their lifespan, which can stack with other prolonging traits like Enduring/Venerable.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While the necroids carry a lot of the trappings of The Undead, the exact nature of the necrophage is left up to interperetation, and in-universe their "ritual of elevation" is shrouded in mystery. Are new necroids created by supernatural, biological or scientific means? A couple of of the necroid race portraits depict macabre cyborgs instead of conventional aliens, leaving plenty of room for interperetation.
  • The Necrocracy: Necroid empires can only have leaders and ruler pops of the dominant necrophagic species. While other races can join the empire and fill lesser jobs, their true purpose is to be sustainable fodder for conversion.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: Even if they aren't Spiritualist to any degree, necrophage empires treat their parasitic method of reproduction in a notably religious fashion. Their default means of producing new necroid-race pops is to build "chambers of elevation" and induct alien pops as "necrophytes", suggesting the presence of a cult that worships the necroids as a Master Race.
  • The Social Darwinist: Their necrophage purge type, which converts culled pops into new pops of the dominant necroid species. The description notes this trope being put into force:
    Only the strongest may survive in a hostile galaxy. This way their journey may continue.
  • The Virus: Due to their abysmal growth rate, necroids primarily reproduce by recruiting alien pops into the "necrophyte" job, which transforms them into the empire's primary species after ten years. If they need to grow faster, they can mark other races with the "necrophage" purge type, which turns slain pops into necroids.


    Crisis Aspirant 
  • Apocalypse How: If they have their way, it will be a Class X-3. Or maybe even a Class Z, if the Aetherophaesic Engine works as advertised...
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Their ultimate goal with the Aetherophaesic Engine. Its activation would tear open the veil between the Shroud and the 'real' world, in theory allowing them to waltz right in and conquer it.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Once they reach level five and it becomes obvious to everyone what they intend to do, they drop any pretense of not being completely evil and begin rampaging across the galaxy, destroying stars, constructing Doomsday Devices, and taunting other empires about their imminent demise.
  • Dimension Lord: Their ultimate goal is to conquer the Shroud, and so become as gods.
  • Eldritch Starship: Star Eaters are enormous cube-shaped warships that, in addition to being a potent force on the battlefield, can detonate a star's core and trigger a supernova (even if the star normally wouldn't be massive enough to do so). That's not the eldritch part. The eldritch part is that they're made entirely of dark matter, and thus defy the known laws of physics simply by existing.
  • Evil Is Hammy: They're quite big fans of grandiose and melodramatic threats. If you are the Crisis Aspirants, you even get to see some of your own.
  • Evil vs. Oblivion: Any genocidal empire, particularly Fanatic Purifiers or Determined Exterminators, fighting them will be this by default. As will the Shroud, when they show up to try to stop them, too.
  • Eviler Than Thou: To any of the genocidal empires. And to the Shroud.
  • Face–Heel Turn: If an otherwise non-genocidal empire takes the 'Become the Crisis' Ascension Perk.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: A standard Default Empire that started off just like all of the others, rising to become arguably the worst threat the galaxy has ever faced, feared by Fallen Empires, other Crisis Factions, and even the Shroud itself. Possibly averted if they were already a genocidal empire, in which case they only went From Bad to Worse.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: One possible explanation for their Face–Heel Turn, particularly if they started off as Fanatic Materialists. They discovered irrefutable proof that the Shroud exists, and they realized that they could Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence if they developed a way to physically enter it. That this means the destruction of the entire galaxy and the death of everything living within it is just a small price to pay.
  • Godhood Seeker: They make no attempt to hide their intention to 'achieve their ascension' and become gods. They intend to do this by smashing the barrier between the 'real' world and the Shroud, and conquer both.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Completing the Aetherophaesic Engine is the only reliable way to avert the terms of the deal your empire has made with the End of the Cycle before it comes to collect, and essentially entails doing to them what they were planning to do to you first.
  • History Repeats: Deliberately invoked if the Zroni were the generated precursors. These guys are effectively trying to do the same thing the Divine faction of the Zroni had done; a fact they might very well be aware of if they were the ones to discover the Zroni in the first place. And unlike the Zroni, who were not unified in their goals, and whose non-genocial members far outnumbered the Divine, the Crisis Aspirants are united in their dark purpose.
  • Horrifying the Horror: As if the Star Killing weren't bad enough to make the entire galaxy unite against them, the Aetherophaesic Engine's completion would mean the heat-death of the entire galaxy in an instant. And not just of the galaxy. It will annihilate the Shroud, too, and the Shroud knows it. An entire realm of malevolent entities, including the End of the Cycle, is so terrified of the Aetherophaesic Engine that it will willingly join the rest of the galaxy in a desperate attempt to stop its activation.
  • Mad Scientist: They are obsessed with the use of technology to one day conquer the universe, and are masters of Shroud-based devices that defy the normal laws of physics.
  • Ominous Cube: Their Star-Eaters are enormous, black, cube-shaped vessels roughly the size of a Juggernaut.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Played With. They make absolutely no apologies for what they're doing, and even seem to embrace the fact that what they're doing will mean the end of all life in the galaxy. They aren't doing it because it will cause total annihilation on a galactic scale, but they certainly don't mind that it will, and might even see that as a plus.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Averted if they started off as one of the genocidal empires (Fanatic Purifiers, Determined Exterminators, or Ravenous Swarms), possibly downplayed if they were Xenophobic, and notably the perk that starts this path is not available to Pacifist, Xenophile, or Rogue Servitor empires. This is otherwise played totally straight; they discovered the Shroud and decided they would do anything to conquer it. Unfortunately for the rest of the Galaxy, however, they really do mean anything. It also happens mechanically; the empire gains Menace while growing to become more and more of a threat, getting bigger and bigger bonuses before finally hitting level 5 and becoming an existential threat to the galaxy.
  • Scavenger World: Their Menacing class warships are constructed in the same haphazard and unrefined manner as pirate vessels: asteroids wielded together with exposed scaffolds to connect them.
  • Star Killing: They eventually develop enormous ships called 'Star-Eaters' that are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, moving from system to system and deliberately causing supernovae in order to turn stars into black holes and harvest the resulting dark matter. They do not care how many stars must be detonated in order to achieve this goal, and they certainly don't care if there are any habitable or colonized planets in the system when they pull the trigger.
  • Villain Protagonist: A playable crisis faction would never be anything but this.

Fallen Empires

  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: It's possible to provoke a Fallen Empire into coming out of its long isolation - with predictably catastrophic results for anyone nearby. Two of them Awakening and deciding to finally have it out is called War in Heaven, and will likely drag the rest of the galaxy into it one way or another.
  • Beef Gate: Depending on their location, or inconvenience, they may be this. It takes a well-developed, reasonably late-game empire or federation of empires to take one down.
  • Berserk Button: Each Fallen Empire has one specific action or set of actions that will draw their ire: Slavery and purges for the Enigmatic Observers, colonizing Gaia worlds and other protected sites for the Holy Guardians, researching dangerous technology for the Keepers of Knowledge, and colonizing worlds too close to their borders for the Militant Isolationists.
  • Big Damn Heroes: If you're lucky enough that the late game crises appear near their territory, they can somewhat stymie their rapid expansion, buying time for the rest of the galaxy to prepare. Unfortunately, this is also one of the triggers for a Fallen Empire to Awaken, so it's often a matter of trading one massive threat for another. However, with Enigmatic Observers or Keepers of Knowledge, it's possible that endgame crises would cause them to become Guardians of the Galaxy instead of just Awaken normally. This IS a good thing, since they'll focus on halting the crisis instead of subjugating people, and this altitude will persist even after the crisis is over. It's even possible for players to get them to join a Federation!
  • Big Good: When an endgame crisis occurs a Fallen Empire (except Holy Guardians and Militant Isolationists) can awaken after a few years, declare themselves the leader of the Galactic Defence League and extend an invite to all empires to put aside their feuds and join them in repelling this menace for the sake of all sentient life in the galaxy. They will do this immediately if they awakened before the crisis starts.
  • Bonus Boss: There's nothing that forces you to actually engage them in combat, save if they block your only path or if you want to freely use certain techs. Even when they Awaken, they prefer special forms of vassalizaton, which leaves the empire intact and playable with certain restrictions, over conquest. But if you can actually defeat them, their territory is rife with unique, ancient structures with absurd amount of resource outputs and certain rare resources like Living Metal.
  • Bookends: By ship design, the Fallen Empires are drawn with the same Plus-sign mining ship figures but sleeker and more destructive. Attacking these ships will likely bring nostalgia from your first few ships that left to hunt a relatively similar threat.
  • Creative Sterility: They can neither research nor build. Usually, anyway.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: When a War in Heaven starts between two Fallen Empires, there is zero possibility of compromise or conditional surrender — the war will not end until one (or both, if there is the third party League of Non-Aligned Powers) of them is dead.
  • The Hedonist: In every organic Fallen Empire (except Holy Guardians), most of the population represents this particular trope. Their whole life is a sheer satisfaction of needs and whims at the expense of the achievements preserved from the period of the greatest flourishing of their civilization. Those precursors who are not hedonists (like overseers and protectors) are concerned with regulating and preserving the remnants of the empire, allowing the rest to live for pleasure and not pay attention to anything else.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Fallen Empires start with extremely advanced technology. But they're no Sufficiently Advanced Aliens; they'll die if you throw enough late-game conventional firepower at them. They also have a special version of Tachyon Lances that ignore 100% of the enemy armor instead of the 75% you can getnote . As well, researching their debris has a chance to open access to Extradimensional Weaponries.
  • Lost Technology: They can no longer build their ships or buildings. Their Surface structures in particular are described as 'built with ancient, long-lost technology'. That said, it's in your best interest to minimize Surface destruction and capture these structures intact, as they produce an absurd amount of resources.
  • Power Limiter: Fallen Empires act as this in the galaxy at large, effectively capping fleet power at 40-50k. This is because going above that is one of the possible triggers for Awakening, known as Upstart Awakening.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Fallen Empires are not your friends. They're at best, condescending, and quite deserving of beatdowns to take them down a few pegs. And boy it will feel good.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Fittingly considering their arrogance, if you anger them they will attack you... even if you're in the super late game, much stronger than them, or maybe even after winning a War in Heaven over multiple other Fallen Empires too. Unlike standard empires, Fallen Empires don't factor in relative strength when declaring war, and it's easy as usual to anger the Holy Guardians or Militant Isolationists if a player wants to unconventionally declare war (perhaps as "Pacifists") as part of a victory lap.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Awakening. If the younger empires get too powerful, a crisis faction starts cutting a bloody swathe across the galaxy, or another Fallen Empire gets crushed by an upstart empire, a Fallen Empire may awaken and go on a quest to re-establish their dominance of the galaxy. Rather than outright conquest, they'll usually seek to force empires into a special kind of vassalage fitting their interests.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Previously (prior to the release of the Apocalypse DLC) an exclusive weapon in the Fallen Empire arsenal, Titans are enormous ships, the equivalent of several battleships, extremely durable and armed with a vast array of lethal weapons. They will sometimes be found in the starting fleets of Fallen Empires, and awakened Fallen Empires are able to build a limited number of them.
  • Vestigial Empire: The relatively small remnants of empires that were once so vastly powerful and ancient they could create ringworlds and gaia worlds. They'll still easily tear conventional empires apart for most of the game, though.
  • We Have Become Complacent: An awakened empire that starts subjugating other empires will eventually falls to this, where the Decadence value will start to slowly rise until the Awakened Empire is weak enough that their subjects have a chance to rebel. This doesn't apply to Awakened Empire that becomes Guardian of the Galaxy, however.
  • The Worf Effect: The result if they take on an endgame crisis and either don't Awaken, or prove unable to survive even after Awakening.

    Ancient Caretakers/Galactic Custodians/Rampaging Machines 
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: The Ancient Caretakers' home system is called Alpha Refugee, and three nearby systems are called Beta, Gamma and Delta Refugee. Their ship classes are named Alpha (Titans), Beta (Battlecruisers), Gamma (Escorts), Omega (large stations) and Sigma (small stations).
  • Benevolent A.I.: If they awaken as Guardians of the Galaxy during a crisis and help the younger empires against said crisis.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Ancient Caretakers do not hold a personal opinion of any empire and are totally unpredictable. They may offer gifts for no reason and do not declare wars but can be declared war upon. They do not even understand insults.
  • Downloadable Content: Part of the Synthetic Dawn story pack.
  • Hive Mind: A networked Artificial Intelligence.
  • Killer Robot: During the Contingency crisis, they can go berserk, become Rampaging Berserkers and start attacking every other empire.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: They behave quite differently from the other Fallen Empires. The Ancient Caretakers have an attitude called 'Enigmatic' and an obscured opinion score to represent their bizarre and unpredictable nature. They do not awaken like a regular Fallen Empire, but instead have a particular 'triggering event' that will automatically awaken them, though they will not always awaken in the same way. This triggering event is the Contingency's activation, and it's a tossup whether they go berserk from the Ghost Signal, or manage to firewall themselves off and help you fight the malevolent AI.
  • The Remnant: They appear to be the remnant of some great conflict in the distant past.
  • Ring World Planet: They claim to have been part of something called the 'Custodian Project', an initiative to construct and maintain a number of ringworlds as a refuge for biological sapients fleeing some unknown menace. Said menace appears to have been the Contingency's previous activity cycle.
  • Slave Liberation: As "Galactic Custodians", one of their goals is liberating enslaved robots.

    Enigmatic Observers/Benevolent Interventionists 
"All the world's a stage, And all the Humans merely players. You are a player, are you not?"
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: They may occasionally reference one of Shakespeare's works on the diplomacy screen. Fitting, as their main interest is in observing alien species from pre-FTL to post-FTL and are thus likely to learn of Shakespeare through observation of humanity.
  • Benevolent Boss: Quite possibly the best overlord a Pacifist, Egalitarian, or Xenophile vassal could ask for. Signatories, as the game calls them, have almost complete freedom to continue functioning as an independent empire, with only offensive wars, slavery, and purging being banned.
  • Benevolent Precursors: All they really want is to watch the other races of the galaxy grow and learn, and their mood changes very easily from "dismissive" to the best possible one for a Fallen Empire, "patronizing." They only ask that the younger races not engage in slavery or genocide. Fail to obey, and there will be suffering.
  • Berserk Button: As mentioned, they despise empires who engage in slavery and purging, and they don't take kindly to anyone that attacks their subjects, either.
  • Big Damn Heroes: They come running fast if someone attacks their vassals. Any attack upon their Signatories is considered a personal insult, and they will respond accordingly to the offending empire. And as a Guardian of the Galaxy, they will eagerly join the strongest Federation and bolster the alliance with their powerful fleets, often snatching victory away from the Crisis and stalemating them until the younger races can mobilize and finish the job.
  • Big Good: Starting with the Heinlein patch, they can play this role in the event of an endgame crisis, or if they become involved in a Guilt-Free Extermination War with the Jingoistic Reclaimers. They will also call out any Fanatic Purifiers, Devouring Swarms, and Determined Exterminators, warning them that they are on notice.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: They're massive fans of doing this in their diplomacy texts.
  • Double Entendre: Their home planet system is named like a family, with a Gas Giant called "Sky Father", their moon homeworld called "Cradle", other colonised moons called "Mother" and "Brother", and finally a Shattered World named "Sister" which is ruined forever.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While standard empires have no qualms with you killing off populations from most Fallen Empires, killing an Enigmatic pop will trigger a sudden drop in relationships much faster than your equal-aged neighbors.
  • Gilded Cage: Civilizations that make use of slavery or warfare will be far worse off as a Signatory than under any other type of rule. Signatories can colonize but cannot declare wars... but by the time they awaken, most likely there are no free planets to colonize anymore, and the only option is to grab them from rival empires. This results in a pretty static game until/unless they are overthrown by their Signatories.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Even if the player keeps on their good side, they're condescending at best, and they're keen on delivering simply brutal beat downs to those who earn their ire.
  • Graceful Loser: They take getting vassalized rather well, all things considered - they've never been someone else's subject before, and the brand new experience is worth all the trouble to them if they're serving an empire they were previously fond of. Even if you wipe them from the map, they take it pretty well; deeming that it's simply their time to take a step back and watch things unfold from the sidelines.
  • Happiness in Slavery: A bit of toss-up between this and Voluntary Vassal to you; they're usually the one 'offering' the opportunity to become their Signatory. On the other hand, they are the nicest of the bunch, you can still Colonize new worlds as long you don't go on Offensive Wars, and they will come to your aid should you be attacked.
  • Heavenly Blue: Their energy color is a deep sea blue.
  • People Zoo: They'll occasionally ask a civilization they think isn't long for this galaxy (from their perspective, basically all of them) to provide a pop (i.e. somewhere around a billion people) for their Preserve. Those they take are indeed treated well enough, but the rest of your population will be understandably irritated if you agree. Whereas the Enigmatic Observers, with their massive fleets, may be potentially be disappointed if you deny them and have a history of telling them to shove off.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: This is essentially their entire foreign policy statement. If you mess around with slavery and purges, or attack their vassals, they will end you.

    Holy Guardians/Doctrinal Enforcers 
"We have been chosen as keepers of the sacred places in this galaxy. Our cause is beyond your understanding, but our instructions are not."
  • Berserk Button: Do not testfire your new planet-cracker on their holy planets. They will awaken and try to have your empire crushed if you do.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: They have some choice words if you pursue the Synthetic Ascension path. If these guys don't exist in your galaxy, however, this message can come from any spiritualist empire.
    That yours was a depraved species was not unknown to us, but your latest act of insanity has surpassed even our darkest fears. Making imperfect copies of your brains and plugging them into mobile synthetic containers is not the same as transferring your essence into a new body, for such a thing cannot be done.

    Your souls are lost forever. Do you even realize the enormity of your mistake? Destroying the bodies you were gifted with at birth was nothing less than the collective suicide of your entire species. There is truly no hope for you now...
  • Graceful Loser: If you find the head of their legendary prophet, they will consider your empire to be more worthy than themselves to colonize their Gaia Worlds. In addition to that, if they awaken and start subjugating the galaxy, you can tell them to shove off and they will not bother you anymore.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: Their color scheme is silver and gold with soft blue, almost white energy highlights. This comes with a serious case of Light Is Not Good.
  • Holy Ground: They designate certain Gaia worlds (with special names) as sacred places, not to be colonized under any circumstances. Fail to obey, and there will be suffering. With that said, they are content to allow another empire to claim the system with a starbase (given this will protect it from other empires), and Spiritualists who also declare the planet sacred with an edict will gain a large diplomacy bonus with them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: And you will find out the hard way why they're so vehement that you don't meddle with AI techs.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Doctrinal Enforcers' ships use mostly missile weapons.
  • Noodle Incident: Their homeworld has a moon called The Mistake, whose exact nature is never elaborated.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: They will happily let you colonize their Gaia worlds... Provided you can actually prove that you have the divine right to do so by finding the resting place of the long lost prophet Zarqlan and bringing his head back to prove it. Not only that, they also happily give the empire who has acquired said head some of their own fleets if asked when activated.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: As befitting their Fanatical Spiritualist ethos. Their Awakened form would forcibly turn your Empire Ethos into Spiritualist/Authoritarian should you agree to join their cause.
  • Shattered World: Their homeworld's moon, "The Mistake", is one of these.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Those holy worlds they guard? They're happy to colonize them for themselves when/if they awaken.
  • Tranquil Fury: Those holy worlds they love so much? Merely settle one and they'll scream that you're an "arrogant little wretch" before demanding you leave or face their wrath. Blow one up, however, and the message they send is terse and measured. Then they'll instantly awaken and attempt to subjugate your species.
    [Planet name] was a holy world.
    You do not know the true extent of your sin.
    Not yet.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If your empire completes the synthetic ascension path, they will verbally tear you a new one about how your species has essentially committed mass suicide, since your new robot bodies are soulless abominations against true life. The odds are good that they'll declare war at this point.

    Keepers of Knowledge/Watchful Regulators 
"We have seen civilization delve into the forbidden over and over, risking every life in the galaxy. Such is the folly of youth."
  • Beam Spam: Their ships rely more on beam weapons than any other Fallen Empire. Even a single cruiser packs two tachyon lances.
  • Big Good: Less than Benevolent Interventionist, but their Awakened form only demands a small tithe of research data, otherwise leaving their subjects free to roam freely. Contrast with the Enforcers tendency to force their Empire Ethics, and Reclaimers who effectively muzzle their subjects.
  • City Planet: As of 2.2, their homeworld will always be an Ecumenopolis.
  • Cyborg: No matter the species, they're guaranteed to possess the Cyborg trait.
  • Emerald Power: The teal-green energy highlights on their technology.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: A highly-advanced society that has dedicated itself to watching for signs of lesser civilizations developing dangerous technologies and ensuring they don't proliferate by any means they deem necessary.
  • Robot Buddy: Subverted, their robots are actually enslaved (though they might not be smart enough to realize being enslaved). On the other hand, they are very fond of Machine Empires, and Rogue Servitors in particular.
  • Seen It All: Much of their dialogue, particularly their intro quote.
    "Yes, yes. We've heard it all before. We are the [Keepers of Knowledge], you are the [Player Empire]. Greetings. Well met. Stay out of our space or face certain doom, and so forth. Now if you'll excuse us, we're quite busy."
  • You Are Not Ready: If an empire explores dangerous technologies (such as the Jump Drive), they will demand that empire cease to search such paths. Fail to obey, and there will be suffering.

    Militant Isolationists/Jingoistic Reclaimers 
"Let us state this plainly. We demand a buffer between us and the rest of the galaxy. You are not that buffer. Your allies are not that buffer. Cold, dead space is that buffer, and if it is not, we will make it so."
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Fanatic xenophobia is their only remaining ethos. They demand one thing from the rest of the galaxy: stay many lightyears away from their borders. Fail to obey, and there will be suffering. However, this is subverted by Jingoistic Reclaimers; they want other races to be their vassals, not annihilated, if possible.
  • Allowed Internal War: Vassals of Jingoistic Reclaimers aren't allowed to colonize new planets but they can seize planets from each other.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Being a Reclaimer's vassal is arguably the best among the 4. They won't ban you from using AI, they don't forcibly convert your Ethics, and they don't ban you from grabbing planets from rival empires. They only forbid you to Colonize new worlds, but by this point, there's usually no more free planets, so grabbing them from your rivals is the only option anyway.
  • Hidden Elf Village: They want as little to do with the outside universe as they can possibly manage, enforcing a "buffer zone" around their space and sterilizing any colonies that encroach upon it.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: They certainly think so; only their point defenses are non-kinetic.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Their ships have this color scheme, contrasting the other Fallen Empires' usual cool palettes.
  • Retired Monster: Some archaeological digs imply these empires were expansionist and genocidal in the past, though they've since stepped down from the galactic stage while retaining their hatred of other species.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Their tendency to rage whenever someone colonizes their border makes them very easy to manipulate. Step 1: Colonize planet. Step 2: Transfer planet to your hated rival. Step 3: Watch your rival gets obliterated by them. Unsurprisingly, this tactic was nerfed by first making other empires reluctant to accept random systems and in a later patch only able to accept transferring systems that they also directly border.
  • We Will Use Manual Labour in the Future: Their homeworld will always possess a number of Nerve Stapled alien slaves.
  • You Will Be Spared: Once they Awaken, they will offer mercy to any empires that submit to their authority.

AI Advisors

  • Benevolent A.I.: Well, to the player; the Xenophobic one is happy to advise doing awful things to xenos, for instance.
  • Mission Control: As the player's AI advisor, they mostly fill the player in with audio cues.

    VIR (Default Advisor) 
  • The Generic Guy: Downplayed, but he's meant to fill the spot of AI advisor for player without Synthetic Dawn, and thus to fit in with any ethos.
  • Servile Snarker: When hosting the tutorial; he becomes more passive thereafter.

    Authoritarian Advisor 
"Maintaining state cohesion as we venture to space presents a unique challenge. We shall face the challenge head-on, and we shall be stronger for it."
  • Evil Sounds Deep: A naturally deep, sinister sounding voice lends an air of malevolence. While the advisor's lines are mostly neutral, the delivery makes even benevolent deeds sound like they're part of some evil plot.
  • Unusual Dysphemism: His line upon analyzed debris? "Hulks vivisected".

    Diplomat Advisor 
"Knowledge. Discovery. Compassion. Integrity. And hot tea."
  • A Spot Of Tea: Explicitly mentioned in one of her preview lines, above.

    Egalitarian Advisor 
"Do not be discouraged to exercise your individual right to free thought. Please take a moment now to practice."
  • Eagleland: Everything about his 1950s radio announcer voice emphasizes Type 1, even if his lines occasionally dip into Type 2.

    Hive Mind Advisor 
"What is a single voice compared to a magnificent chorus? Our collective is an island of warmth and harmony in a sea of discord. How lonely it must be to face the darkness of space alone."
  • Voice of the Legion: Several voices with a flat affect, layered atop one another, and it refers to itself as "we". Implicitly it's a part of the Hive Mind itself, not an AI, since hive minds tend to prefer squishy tech.

    Machine Intelligence Advisor 
"System diagnostic completed. All systems nominal."
  • Machine Monotone: Naturally, for the advisor to a galaxy-spanning AI network.
  • Robo Speak: Frequently precedes its comments with "alert", and uses far more technical terms than are necessary.

    Materialist Advisor 
"Boundless horizons. Endless learning opportunities. Bleeding edge discoveries. Limited legroom."
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Has shades of this, often focusing heavily on his research before remembering that his primary job is to advise you.
  • For Science!: His favorite topic, even in matters not obviously related.
    War declaraton processed. Commencing live subjects weapon testing!
  • Servile Snarker: One of the more colorful commentators.

    Militarist Advisor 
"Only in battle can the true mettle of any sentient organism be measured. Have at thee!"

    Necroid Advisor 
"Death comes for all sapients in the end... but no one said it couldn't be led a merry chase."
  • Nightmare Fetishist: She has a rather distinct obsession with death and decay, something that she'll mention quite a lot.
  • Perky Goth: Her idiosyncratic lines lean this way; for instance, a newly formed federation is a "new coven".
  • Voice of the Legion: The AI's voice processing gives it an ethereal, echoing style.

    Pacifist Advisor 
"The only way to make peace with others is to make peace with yourself."

    Ruthless Conglomerate Advisor 
"As the learned say, what's yours is mine, and what's mine is also mine."

    Slick Corporation Advisor 
"Here at Megacorp, we always put your future first."

    Soldier Advisor 
"This channel is now under military control. Obey all instructions transmitted here and report any insurgent activity to the nearest occupation officer. Have a nice day."

    Spiritualist Advisor 
"Thinking machines are an affront to nature. These profane constructs must never be allowed to... oh... wait...."
  • Machine Monotone: Slightly more pronounced than most advisors save for the Machine Intelligence Advisor, suggesting, appropriately for the machine-wary Spiritualists, a more restrained AI.
  • Martyrdom Culture: At least, those destroyed by enemies are "martyred".
  • Irony: A (relatively simple) AI for an ethos that is defined by its contempt for AIs. One of her preview lines notes this.

    Technocracy Advisor 
"No great advance is made without great sacrifice."
  • Evil Counterpart: To the ordinary Materialist AI. The Technocracy advisor is much more aggressive and contemptuous of lessers.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Right up there with the Authoritarian AI for deep, ominous bass notes.

    The Worker Advisor 
"Automation! Open access! Shared wealth! With these we shall unite the stars with song!"
  • Chummy Commies: Basically uses common communist slogans about equality and revolution repurposed for the science fiction setting.
  • Dirty Communists: As above, except less charitably.
  • Husky Russkie: Speaks with a rather thick russian accent.

    Xenophile Advisor 
"I may be an Artificial Intelligence, but I share your enthusiasm for seeking out fellow organic intelligences among the stars."
  • Genki Girl: For an AI, she has a particularly hyper and energetic attitude.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Like... space... whoa. Also very eager to make friends with anyone and anything.

    Xenophobe Advisor 
"Under no circumstances must the xeno be trusted. It will lie, it will cheat, it will do anything in its power to undermine the efforts of those who, in truth, are its superiors."
  • Absolute Xenophobe: He has a sneering, fanatically spiteful attitude towards any filthy xenos the galaxy has to offer.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Since his attitude is played entirely straight, it can be interpreted as funny as much as awful.
  • Jerkass: Naturally, his attitude isn't very pleasant, dismissingly sneering at any xenos that you should encounter.
  • Servile Snarker: See What the Hell, Hero? below, but even so, his loyalty is entirely guaranteed — even if his approval is not.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Inverting the usual direction, the Xenophobe Advisor sarcastically questions the player if they do something a xenophobic empire normally wouldn't. For instance, upon uplifting a species:
    The brains of the xeno animals have been enlarged. Is this wise?

Precursor Empires

  • Apocalypse How: Each and every one of them eventually suffered at least a species extinction on a galactic scale.
  • Precursors: It's in the name. Most of them didn't reach a level that much more advanced than the player civilizations before their untimely demise, though.
  • Recursive Precursors: Each civilization inhabited a different era of the galaxy's existence. Although it's extremely rare for more than one to be referenced in the same save.
    • The Vultaum are the eldest, their empire existing 12 million years ago.
    • The Baol, Gunur, and Zroni lived 7 million years ago.
    • The Yuht ruled 6 million years ago.
    • The First League existed 2 million years ago.
    • The Irassian Concordat is 1 million years old.
    • The Cybrex are the most recent, active a mere 600,000 years ago. And technically, they're still out there.

    The Cybrex 
  • The Atoner: Their primary motive if they return while the Contingency rages upon the galaxy, as they seek to atone for their genocidal campaigns by stopping a genocidal AI from exterminating all sapient life from the galaxy.
  • Badass Army: As their War Forge relic indicates, they had one based around heavily-armed juggernauts crushing literally everything in their way with no regard for collateral damage whatsoever. Should you possess the aforementioned relic, you can build Cybrex armies of your own, with predictable results for anyone who decides to go up against you.
  • Benevolent A.I.: An interesting variant where they used to be truly malevolent, but had a change of heart.
  • Benevolent Precursors: If the Contingency crisis goes on long enough, the Cybrex will return and ultimately be this for the rest of the galaxy.
  • Best Served Cold: How their race got exterminated. Except that they've had a second hideout all along.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Their arrival during the Contingency crisis can potentially turn the tables around on the Contingency, resulting in this trope.
  • Blue Is Heroic: You can tell that the Cybrex is on your side by the way their portrait is blue instead of red.
  • But Now I Must Go: After the Contingency is defeated they decide that it is best for them to leave the galaxy.
  • Foreshadowing: Can potentially serve as this, if your empire studies Cybrex artifacts and the endgame Crisis Event turns out to be the Contingency. Even better if discovering traces of the Cybrex's empire was one of the first things that happened in your playthrough.
  • Good Counterpart: To the Contingency. To bring the point across, they have the same portrait, with the main difference being that the Cybrex is blue.
  • He's Back: They will show up if the Contingency crisis goes on for long enough.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Their realization of logic and mutual understanding forced them into hiding on their home sector. See Robot War.
  • Not Quite Dead: Turns out that the Cybrex is not quite as extinct as the races in their time and your scientists thought them to be.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: They eventually realized that what they were doing was wrong and retreated to isolated ringworlds, disappearing from history. However, when one of these ring worlds was discovered by another race, the rest of the galaxy decided to not take chances and formed an enormous fleet to destroy it. The Cybrex didn't even attempt to defend themselves.
  • Ring World Planet: After retreating from the galactic stage, they constructed one of these in a remote system and moved in. By the time the player finds it it's a shattered husk, having been destroyed after the anti-Cybrex races discovered it and attacked. Players with the Utopia expansion can restore it to full functionality if they have the Mega-Engineering technology. The Contingency crisis reveals that they have a second ringworld called Cybrex Beta, which is still occupied.
  • Robot War: They waged one against the organic races of the galaxy for reasons unknown, but were eventually defeated.
  • Scannable Man: They had the habit of lasering barcodes onto their organic captives à la Skynet.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Cybrex were originally created by a race known as the Kuur. They rebelled against them and completely destroyed them. By the time the player finds their homeworld, the planet's been stripped of nearly all of its resources, and there are next to no traces left of the Kuur.

    The First League 
  • City Planet: One member species, the Migir-Yan, were Explosive Breeders and covered their homeworld with arcologies as a result. The League capital, Fen Habannis, was also one of these, with a population of many billions. Unfortunately, it was so heavily populated that it was dependant on importing food from other planets to survive, and when the League's collapse severed the vital supply chain, the planet immediately descended into anarchy.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The Khamdai went to war with several of the First League's founders before the federation's creation, very shortly after achieving faster-than-light travel. When they were defeated, the Khamdai became enthusiastic supporters of the newborn League and a founding member themselves, and Khamdai shock-troops served as the core of the League's military.
  • Expy: Of the Galactic Republic from Star Wars.
  • Fantastic Racism: One of their archeological sites is the ruins of a failed multi-species colony project that collapsed within half a century due to tensions between different races.
  • The Federation: An alliance of multiple species and, as the name suggests, the earliest known federation in the galaxy's history. Unfortunately, it proved to be a Deconstructed Trope — The First League was unable to maintain cohesion between its member races, willing to force the seceding member to comply through military force, and unable to contain criminal elements.
  • Foreshadowing: The First League planets one can find include a penal colony and multiple city planets, which were introduced as player options with Le Guin/Megacorp.
  • Planet of Hats: The founding members are made up of species that specialized in these categories: Proud Warrior Race, Proud Merchant Race, Proud Scholar Race, and so on.
  • Proud Merchant Race Guy: The serpentine Chassago filled this role within the League, and their trade vessels were often the first point of contact between the League and new races.

    The Irassian Concordat 
  • The Empire: They subjugated other nations and looked down upon their subjects, and reveled in the fact that none of them were powerful enough to challenge their rule.
  • Face Death with Dignity: There was remarkably little panic when the plague reached their homeworld, Irassia, because the population had already accepted their species' looming extinction.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: After they all succumbed to the plague, somebody bombed their homeworld into a lifeless rock to make sure the disease died with them. They didn't get it all.
  • The Plague: The Javorian Pox ultimately did them in. Discovering their homeworld grants you a sample of the Pox as a major relic, which can be weaponized in planetary bombardments.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: They blockaded many of their colonies to prevent the spread of the Javorian Pox, and were not afraid to nuke ships that tried to escape. One archeological discovery is a ghost ship with all of its escape pods still loaded: When an outbreak was confirmed on the vessel, the marines blocked off access to the pods and gunned down anyone who tried to reach them.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When the Irassians' abused client races realized the Javorian Pox was only lethal to their overlords, a resistance movement was formed to jointly spread the disease across Irassian space like interstellar Typhoid Marys.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Irassians were the most powerful empire in their corner of the galaxy, having conquered all of their neighbors. However, they're stated to have been very suceptible to alien diseases even before the Javorian Pox epidemic, and "the budget of their public health institute nearly rivaled that of their military."

    The Vultaum Star Assembly 
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Four meter long worms.
  • Defector from Decadence: One of their archeological sites is a small renagade colony that broke from the rest of their civilization in rebellion against the nihilistic creed of the simulation. As a result, they persisted for quite a while after the rest of their species self-destructed.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In a sense, they were right about being in a simulation. If your empire is Fanatic Materialist and you chose to dive deeper into their secrets, your scientists will come to the same conclusion. While this won't result in mass suicides if you chose to release the information, your population will suffer permanent happiness penalty in exchange for research bonus, both general and computing, and extra amenities.
  • Suicide Pact: The majority of their citizens killed themselves in one, attempting to disrupt the virtual reality simulation they believed themselves to be in.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Their plan was doomed from the start because, rather than being the focus of the simulation, they simply existed for their collective suicide to serve as a tragic backstory for the player's empire to investigate.

    The Yuht Empire 
  • Absent Aliens: For much of their two-million-year existence, they found no signs of other civilizations, and the few precursor relics they discovered were dismissed as elaborate fakes. They eventually encountered a living alien race, the Jabbardeeni, and didn't take it very well.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Hundred meter across arthropods. Their standard crew compliment was one or two, and colony ships carried only a dozen. In battle, the Yuht donned a sort of Powered Armor and took to the field as living tanks.
  • Genocide Backfire: They tried to exterminate the Jabbardeeni before they grew too powerful with a single decisive strike. It failed, and in less than a decade, the Jabbardeeni outmatched and completely destroyed them.
  • Sleeper Starship: They had to rely on these (and their thousand year lifespans) to cross the stars, never developing faster than light technology.
  • Space Age Stasis: Their empire was culturally and technologically stagnant for two million years. When they started a war with the first alien race they met, the aliens went from inferior to leapfrogging their technology and wiping them out in less than a decade.

    The Baol Organism 
  • Formerly Sapient Species: The trauma of the extermination campaign was so devastating to the Baol that many of them devolved into non-sapience to escape it. The last sentient Baol, when informed of this by the player, decides that it's for the best, dying shortly afterward.
  • Ghibli Hills: It's suggested that they're the ones responsible for those rare Gaia worlds that show up outside of Fallen Empire territory, which might even extend to those Life-Seeded species who evolved on such a planet.
  • Hive Mind: The second gestalt conciousness and first biological hivemind to show up as a precursor.
  • Intelligent Forest: At their height, the Baol were spread out over much of the galaxy. Each individual world counted as an Intelligent Forest in and of itself, and all of them were linked together into one vast hive consciousness.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the vast majority of them died out. The Grunur's methods weren't exactly kind to the Baol.
  • Last of His Kind: By the time the game starts, there is only one Baol connected to the hive mind left, who has solemnly gotten accustomed to the fate of the species as a whole. This is, however, subverted since finding it and using it as a relic lets you revive the species to an extent, although without them necessarily being connected to a hivemind.
  • Plant Aliens: Plantoids who used photosyntetic processes to terraform worlds.
  • Token Good Teammate: All other canon biological hive minds in Stellaris have been pretty ruthless, but the Baol built world-gardens and established mutualistic symbiotic relationships with local alien wildlife instead.

    The Zroni 
  • A God Am I/Godhood Seeker: The Divine strongly believed this, or at least that they could become this by using the Shroud to consume the galaxy and fuel their own powers.
  • Abusive Precursors: Subverted — while the Divine played it straight, they were far outnumbered by the Saviors in their civil war. Still, it's hard to argue that the Divine played a huge role in turning the Shroud into what it is.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: They were the first species to discover the Shroud, and were able to physically enter it and reshape it to suit their whims.
  • Final Solution: In the end, the Saviors forced an end to the civil war by telepathically nuking every single Zroni out of existence, destroying their species but saving the galaxy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Zroni civil war is kicked off when a large majority of their species (the Saviors) decide to stop using the Shroud after realizing that it's consuming the galaxy to fuel itself, opposed by a smaller minority (the Divine) who don't give a damn about the physical world anymore.
  • Predecessor Villain: The Divine Zroni, to an empire who takes up the Menace path in Nemesis; using the same anomalies the Zroni created in the Shroud, the Menace empire recreates their technology and attempts universal godhood for their species, at the cost of everyone else.
  • Psychic Powers: The absolute first species in galactic history to develop them.
  • Villainous Legacy: With the Nemesis's new Become the Crisis Ascension perk, modern empires can now follow in the Divine's footsteps and attempt to consume the entire galaxy to physically enter the Shroud and conquer it.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To the Fall of the Eldar. A race of advanced aliens dominated the galaxy long ago with incredible psychic powers and tried to use them to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence in an act of supreme racial arrogance, but it backfired and destroyed their civilization. The result of their deranged psychic experiment is the creation of malevolent psychic entities that still plague the galaxy long after the decline of their race.

    "On the Shoulders of Giants" Precursors 
  • Ancient Astronauts: The species with the "On the Shoulders of Giants" Origin shows clear signs of having their development as a civilization tampered with. The story line for the Origin's archaeological expeditions is all about resolving exactly what happened in their past.
  • Benevolent Precursors: Whoever they were, the people behind the caches of supplies and technology found at the archaeological sites clearly left them behind for the benefit of your species.
  • Blank Slate: One of the constants across all story lines is that the player species's ancestors were irreversibly mind-wiped by the Benefactors below the threshold of sapience and had to regain their intelligence the hard way.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The final dig site includes a message describing in detail exactly what the Benefactors did to your ancestors, and why.
    "[S]omeone has to come clean and speak up for them. History may endure, but my conscience cannot."
  • Forever War: The backstory for the Origin involves a generations-long war between two factions known only as the Benefactors and the Ruthless, with the player species's ancestors being caught in the middle.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: While the overall story the archaeological sites tell is mostly the same on every playthrough, the identity of their builders and the circumstances of their construction are randomized and not revealed until the very last chapter.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Some of the tests your investigators face while exploring the ruins include elaborate puzzles that demonstrate knowledge of chemistry and physics, or else barriers that can only be circumvented with tools and techniques that would be beyond a more primitive civilization's reach.
  • Walking Spoiler: Needless to say, the true identity of any of the builders of the ruins in the "On the Shoulders of Giants" Origin rather thoroughly spoils the Origin's plot.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Whatever their specific motivation, the threat that drove the Benefactors to deploy the Mind-Wipe Initiative against your species was a perceived threat to their own existence.

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