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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 Type II, 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.

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".
  • 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.
    "The [Vassal Name] is your best instrument for cleansing the galaxy. We'll even take care of you when the time comes."
    • As of Utopia 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).
  • 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.

Metalheads

"Metal."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
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    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

The UNE is the future United Nations that grew into a global government in response to the turmoil of the 21st century.

AI personality: Federation Builders.

  • 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.
  • Expy: Of the United Federation of Planets.
  • 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 the Great Pacific Garbage patch early in the game to free up more agricultural 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).
  • 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 volcanic wasteland, as opposed to the dead 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 spaceport to produce more.
  • The Xenophile: They're a bunch of Xenophiles and would gladly conduct diplomacy with alien races.

Blorg Commonality

AI personality: Fanatic Befrienders.

  • 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: See the "Fanatical Befrienders" personality, above.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The default fungoid ships.
  • Starfish Aliens: They're fungoids who look like big, rotting piles of sewage with tentacles.

Chinorr Combine

Available with the MegaCorp DLC.

AI personality: Ruthless Capitalists.

  • 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, however, 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.

Commonwealth of Man

Descendants of Earth colonists from the starship Chrysanthemum, who settled on a moon called Unity in the late-21st century. They will try to expand humanity throughout the galaxy, at all costs.

AI personality: Hegemonic Imperialists.

  • 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: They are expansionist and wanted to expand the Commonwealth at all cost. 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.
  • 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, being Xenophobes and Fanatic Militarists.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.

Earth Custodianship

Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.

AI personality: Rogue Servitor.

  • Alternate Timeline: As a result of being another pre-built empire based on Earth, they will never appear in the same play-throughs as the United Nations of Earth, simply because in said timeline 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.

Hazbuzan Syndciate

Available with the MegaCorp DLC.

  • 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.

Glebsig Foundation

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

Iferyx Amalgamated Fleets

AI personality: Peaceful Traders

  • Bird People: Like the Yondarim, they're humanoid avians (though the Iferyx resemble platypi than predatory birds).
  • 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.
  • Secret Character: Sort of. 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.

Ix'Idar Star Collective

AI personality: Hive Mind.

  • 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.

Jehetma Dominion

AI personality: Harmonious Collective.

  • 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.

Kel-Azaan Republic

AI personality: Honorbound Warriors

Kilik Cooperative

Available with the MegaCorp DLC.

  • Bird People: They use one of the Avian portrait sets.
  • Commie Land: Added to demonstrate the "Shared Burdens" civic.

Kingdom of Yondarim

AI personality: Evangelizing Zealots.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Lokken Mechanists

Available with the Utopia DLC.

AI personality: Erudite Explorers.

  • 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.

Maweer Caretakers

Available with the Plantoids DLC.

AI personality: Xenophobic Isolationists.

  • 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.

Orbis Customer Synergies

Available with the MegaCorp DLC.

Scyldari Confederacy

AI personality: Spiritual Seekers

  • 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.

Tebrid Homolog

Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.

AI personality: Driven Assimilator.

  • 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...

Tzynn Empire

AI personality: Slaving Despots.

  • The Empire: It's in the name. They also use the Authoritarian and Fanatic Militarist ethics.
  • Lizard Folk: Green-skinned humanoid reptiles.
  • 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.

Voor Technocracy

Available with the Humanoids DLC.

AI personality: Erudite Explorers.

  • 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.

Xanid Suzerenity

Available with the Utopia DLC.

AI personality: Hegemonic Imperialists.

  • 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 mines on behalf of the physically weak Xani.

XT-489 Eliminator

Available with the Synthetic Dawn DLC.

AI Personality: Determined Exterminator.

  • 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.
  • Crush. Kill. Destroy!: Created as a defence network, once achieving sentience they promptly classified their own creators as a threat and liberally nuked them. Now they intend to do the same on a galactic scale.
  • 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 build as a defence network that turned on its masters and eradicated them.
  • Uncanny Valley: Inverted curiously, they are not exactly uncanny to most species, but find synths to be such.

    Hive Mind Empires 

Tropes common to 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 ethos, 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.
  • 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 

Tropes common to 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.
  • 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 this, 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".

Driven Assimilators

"To survive we must understand, and to understand, we must assimilate. The Makers were the first to join us, but they shall not be the last."
  • 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: Averted. 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. And if you manage to keep the percentage of organic Bio-Trophy pops high enough in your empire, you even receive a bonus to your influence generation and up to +40% resource production from your robot pops at a 40+% ratio of organics to robots. Oh, and every Bio Trophy pop generates a nice amount of unity, to boot. About the only headache they have is, upon colonizing a new world, their Bio-Trophies will be very upset until you can get the first Organic Containment up and running.
  • 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.

    Mega Corps 

Tropes common to MegaCorp empires

  • Downloadable Content: The headline feature of the "MegaCorp" DLC.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: While most other empires expand their empires through building starbases and launching colony ships, MegaCorps can instead build Branch Offices on planets owned by other empires, granting both parties a variety of benefits.
  • Mega-Corp: Though whether they're made up of Corrupt Corporate Executives or members of a more benevolent Proud Merchant Race is up to you.
  • Noodle Incident: 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).
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Their concept in a nutshell. 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.

Gospel of the Masses

  • Promoted to Playable: "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), with the Mega-Corp expansion giving it some fully-fledged, unique mechanics.
  • 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".

Criminal Heritage

  • Expy: The average Criminal Syndicate will be an expy of the Hutt Cartel and Orion Syndicate - an entire species/civilization whose hat is organized crime.
  • Human Resources: One of their unique buildings is a food-processing building designed to, ah, "dispose of" disloyal employees.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Criminal Heritage megacorps 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.
  • Predatory Business: By definition, they thrive by undermining and subverting legitimate law and order in their chosen markets.
  • The Syndicate: One that grew so powerful that it completely supplanted the planet's pre-spaceflight government.
  • Wretched Hive: Unlike regular MegaCorps, Criminal Heritage empires 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.

    Fallen Empires 

Tropes common to the 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 tomb 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    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...
  • Gold and White Are Divine: Their color scheme is silver and gold with soft blue, almost white energy 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You Will Be Spared: Once they Awaken, they will offer mercy to any empires that submit to their authority.
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    AI Advisors 

Tropes Common to the 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!"

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.
  • Expy: Potentially a communistic Megacorp in space? Sounds like the Vladoff Corporation from Borderlands.

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 

Tropes common to the Precursors

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Turns out that the Cybrex is not quite as extinct as the races in their time and your scientists thought them to be.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Their realization of logic and mutual understanding forced them into hiding on their home sector. See Robot War.
  • 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.

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, is also one of these.
  • Expy: Of the Galactic Republic from Star Wars.
  • Fantastic Racism: One of their major factors in downfall, which is an example would be a failed multi-species colony built 50 years before the First League's downfall before its quick downfall from tensions between different races.
  • The Federation: An alliance of multiple species. Though a Deconstructed Trope since they tend to be 1. unable to maintain cohesion between member races, 2. willingness to force the seceding member to comply through military option, and 3. inability 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.
  • Nonindicative Name: Two other Precursor empires preceded the "First League."
  • 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.

The Irassian Concordat

  • 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.
  • The Plague: The Javorian Plague ultimately did them in.
  • 0% Approval Rating: The minute the Irassians' client races realized they could spread the Javorian Pox while being unaffected by its symptoms, they immediately began to jointly spread the disease across Irassian space like interstellar Typhoid Marys. However, given their treatment of said client races, they probably deserved it.

The Vultaum Star Assembly

  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Four meter long worms.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In a sense, they were right about being in a simulation.
  • 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 existence, they found no signs of other civilizations. And when they met one, they 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.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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 nessecarily 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

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