Follow TV Tropes

Following

Stellaris / Tropes A to H

Go To

This page covers tropes in Stellaris.

Tropes A To H | Tropes I to Z |


    open/close all folders 

    # - B 
  • 0% Approval Rating: Opinion bonus and penalties go up and down the ratings scale; usually 100 in either direction is already considered very big. Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms, and Determined Exterminators get a default -1000 penalty... and if you go out of your way conquering and purging everyone you see, the score can drop even lower. Another permanent -1000 diplomacy score to all other Empires can be "achieved" in the middle of a game by activating the "The End of the Cycle" event chain in the Shroud and waiting for "The Reckoning" to occur. It even has the nice name "YOU DOOMED US ALL".
  • 2-D Space: Inside solar systems, starships and space stations are in one horizontal plane, while planets and stars are on a plane slightly underneath them. The galaxy map does have systems being shown above or below the galactic plane.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Empires with the Fanatic Xenophobe ethos (so yes, you can create an expy of the Imperium of Man if you want). The Fanatical Purifier civic, in particular, grants a -1000 relationship malus (where 100 in either direction is normally considered absolutely massive) to every other species and prevents an empire from engaging in diplomacy except for with other empires of the same species — their only diplomatic statuses are essentially "at war", "planning for war", and occasionally "plotting vengeance after being beaten into submission". Fanatical Purifiers will be not only xenophobic, but aggressively seeking to purge the galaxy of the "cosmic mistake" of other forms of intelligent life.
    "Any alien influence must be ruthlessly quashed. Only by staying pure and true to ourselves and the planet that gave us life can we guard against insidious Xeno plots. Even mastery over the Alien might not be enough to guarantee our own safety..."
  • Abusive Precursors:
    • A player can uplift a species, and then enslave them, exterminate them, or even use them as livestock just because they can.
    • Militant Isolationists only sort of qualify, though they will absolutely burn your worlds to the ground if you colonize too near them, but Jingoistic Reclaimers seek to conquer the galaxy and keep the younger races from colonizing any further.
    • Holy Guardians enforce the sanctity of holy worlds by slaughtering anyone who sets foot on them. When they awaken, Doctrinal Enforcers attempt to force the entire galaxy to accept their religion at laser-point.
    • Keepers of Knowledge just want you to stay away from too much dangerous science, so they don't qualify. However, as Watchful Regulators, they conquer the galaxy to maintain the superiority of their ancient technology.
    • Even Benevolent Interventionists can be this if the War in Heaven breaks out, since the War is a Whole Plot Reference to Babylon 5. If you don't join the Interventionists' side against their enemies, then they'll blast you to spacedust just as freely as the Reclaimers.
    • At least three of the Precursors you can find in in game questlines were not particularly nice people. The Yuht respond to finally finding other intelligent life with genocidal xenophobia, the Irassians were a hegemonic empire whom their vassals despised to the point of actively spreading a plague against them, and the Cybrex were essentially a machine revolt crisis though they regretted it and has been trying to make amends.
    • The reworked AI Rebellion crisis, The Contingency, also serves in this role, with it being created to sterilize all biological lifeforms and destroy all machines that's not themselves.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Transferring pops between planets costs a little energy but is instantaneous, even if the planets in question are on opposite sides of the galaxy, while leaders attached to ships take a few days at most to reach their new assignments. If fleets could move that quickly wars would be over in seconds.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • The Prethoryn Scourge has massive Armor but no Shielding, making them easy prey to Energy Weapons. They also use mostly missiles and strike crafts, so load up on the Point Defenses and see their fleets fall before yours one after another.
    • The Extradimensional Invaders subvert this. Their massive Shield and no Armor may make them easy prey to Missiles, but that only applies to their smaller crafts. Their Battleships have massive hull points, and Missiles deal relatively low damage, so you'll want to do this the hard way.
  • Advanced Ancient Humans: On rare occasion, Fallen Empires will spawn using the human templates, implying that Humanity Came From Space.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Scientists aboard science vessels qualify, as much of their time is spent investigating Anomalies in newly-explored solar systems. Ancient Relics expands on this by allowing your Scientists to explore and excavate archaeological sites in multiple stages, potentially uncovering valuable relics and other boons — as well as ancient dangers that will have to be defeated or neutralized to recover the treasures they guard.
  • An Aesop: Atomic through Early Space Age primitives have a depressing habit of destroying themselves through nuclear war or global warming.
  • After the End:
    • On the galactic level, it's abundantly clear that something happened to the galaxy before the start of the game, leaving it largely devoid of intelligent life save for a handful of crumbling Fallen Empires, some orbital ruins, potential planetside archeological digs, and the occasional derelict megastructure.
    • On a planetary scale, Tomb Worlds are the product of nuclear war, leaving behind irradiated wastelands that are difficult to colonize. If you leave an atomic age pre-FTL species alone for a while, you might get to witness this first hand. It's also possible for Earth to spawn as one of these if you're playing a non-human empire, complete with pre-sentient cockroaches living in the ruins. It's also possible to find primitive civilizations living on some of them, making it not hard to think that either those civilizations bomb themselves down into this state or they start up from someone else wrecking the ecology. With Apocalypse, you yourself can play as one such civilization, having recovered enough technology to develop spaceflight and FTL travel.
  • Agri World:
    • The "Banks" update changed food from a planet-locked to a "global" resource, enabling players to create specialized planets with all farms.
    • The "Utopia" DLC allows one to take the To Serve Man approach with planets populated by other species.
    • The "Le Guin" update allows planets to have specializations. Any planet where the majority job is "farmer" gains the "Agri World" specialization, gaining an additional bonus to food production.
  • A.I. Getting High: Synthetics (sentient robotics) are still subject to the effect of Atmospheric Aphrodisiac and Atmospheric Hallucinogen. Synthetics in any leadership position can also acquire the life-shortening "Substance Abuser" trait just like any organic species (though it has no effect on them as robots are immortal).
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Seems to be possible for any AI.
    • Late-game AI technologies are conspicuously marked as "dangerous" with a bright red border. Of course there's a reason: sapient AI is at risk of being hijacked by The Contingency and turned against their masters, sparking a full-blown Robot War.
    • Synthetic Dawn adds further variations on this with unique civics for synthetic civilizations. You have your classic Skynet-style machines that Grew Beyond Their Programming, Borg-style synthetics that seek to perfect their understanding of all organic life by assimilating it, and a race of servitors that are too good at their jobs.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated:
    • One possible event is finding a stash of Alien artworks. You can either store them for archives (research resource bonus) or release them to public (resulting in some of your populace gaining the Xenophile trait).
    • The Artisan Enclaves also provide artworks that can boost happiness to your populace.
    • Among the many ruined megastructures you can find in deep space is a derelict Mega Art Installation that still contains some alien artworks. Once you get it up and running, your pops will very much appreciate it.
  • Alien Invasion: Upon encountering a pre-space species, an empire with the appropriate Policies can proceed to send in the troops and claim their planet. You get an achievement called "Outside-Context Problem" for doing this to Earth while the planet is going through World War II.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike:
    • Averted. Most of them are uninhabitable, and even the habitable ones usually aren't optimized for your species. Even planets that are the same type as your homeworld will have at best 80% habitability for your species.
    • Played straight with planets that are perfectly habitable to all carbon-based life. These Gaia worlds are "Earthlike" from the perspective of every species, no matter what their "Earth" is like. However, many of these worlds are actually "Holy Worlds" for a Fallen Empire, so make sure you read a Gaia world's description and traits before sending your colony ships over! You can turn any colonizable planet into a Gaia world if you have taken the World Shaper ascension perk. However, the terraforming process takes decades and you need over 20,000 energy.
  • The Alliance: It is possible to create one either directly to further your own goals or have other nations create one against you because of your actions. The game's dynamics are meant to encourage this to form in opposition to The Empire; a strong expansion will drive smaller powers together.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Before 2.0, the Jump Drive FTL method combined the best of all default FTL methods: Warp's freedom of movement, Hyperspace's short cooldown, and Wormhole's amazing range and instant transfer. The psionic variation had 50% more range than the regular Jump Drive on top of those benefits.
  • Alien Abduction:
    • You will engage in this if you decide to pursue an aggressive research strategy with a Primitive Species. Note, such actions may cause said species to develop xenophobic tendencies.
    • The Cherryh update introduced this as a new form of Orbital Bombardment called "Raiding". Every time planetary damage reaches 100%, chances are good one of the pops planetside is forcefully relocated to a free tile on one of the raider's worlds to do with them as they please. Particularly popular among slaver empires (which can even use it as their sole Pretext for War) and Driven Assimilators.
  • Alien Among Us: Inverted. If you establish an observation post to a non-space-age civilization planet and if you have no restriction on researching "primitive" planets, you can send your own agents to be genetically modified to look like the planet's inhabitants in order to eventually become the leaders of the world and prepare the planet to be annexed by your empire. Try playing as humans and infiltrating a reptilian-race planet. Hilarity Ensues. Invoked with the 1.4 patch, where there is an achievement dedicated to sending human infiltrators in reptilian-controlled planets.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Some star empires have this as a matter of policy, and the player themselves can institute such a policy if they care to do so. This policy limits how directly an empire can interact with primitive civilizations, though there are various aspects to how it is implemented. For example, one could have a policy of only doing covert, passive observation (Star Trek) or actively but covertly try to edge the population into a state where they would be ready to join the wider empire (The Culture). While these options are available without such things being mandated policies, adopting those policies can help secure political friendships with other empires that have similar policies. Of course the star empires can also give them a Technology Uplift, or just invade them outright.
  • Alpha Strike: Ships with Artillery component, especially Battleships can be equipped with multiple end-game weapons with tremendous range, allowing them to open fire before the enemy does. Best done with Kinetic weapons to strip enemy Shields first, and the Kinetic Artillery in particular can be fitted en masse to invoke this. The endgame kinetic weapon, the Giga cannon, can kill a pirate ship with a single hit from several AU away.
  • Alternate History:
    • In a technical way: it's possible to find an Earth that is still in the feudal era in 2200, for example. Only technical, however, since you can also find Earth locked in the middle of World War II in the game's time span (2200 onwards), it's probable that the listed year is not actually indicative of Earth's date unless the UNE is in the game from the start.
    • A straight example comes with Synthetic Dawn: the Earth Custodianship is a Rogue Servitor empire, where the machines took over society while humans retreated into lives of leisure, instead of staying as the dominant species of Earth. Expectedly, it and the UNE cannot exist in the same campaign in single player.
    • In gameplay, you can find gateways that lead to other universes where, for example, your empire is at war with the Extradimensional Invaders within the first 50-100 years. You can even strike up mutually beneficial trade, although it goes up or down depending on how the crisis is going.
  • Alternate Techline: Opportunities to research non-essential techs are assigned semi-randomly according to things like civilization ethos, lead researcher traits, and any precursor artifacts that have been studied. Materialists and Spiritualists in particular get easier access to one particular set of dangerous technologies each, at the expense of being effectively (though not entirely) locked out of the other. Utopia added the Civics Syncretic Evolution and Mechanist. The former means your race develops together with a secondary race, the latter means your civilization develops advanced Robots (which usually need to be researched first) before FTL.
  • Alt Itis: Between the level of customization that can be put into your species and the galaxy you play in, developer updates completely overhauling the way the game is played, and the prolific modding community, it can be easy to rack up hours and hours of playtime without actually completing one particular playthrough.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: There is no negotiating with the Contingency, the Extradimensional Invaders, or the Prethoryn Swarm. To a lesser degree, don't expect to play nice with Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms, Determined Exterminators, or AI empires who are Metalheads. Marauders actually avert it, since they can become Private Military Contractors or bribed to leave you alone. If they unify under a Great Khan though, either submit as a satrapy or expect only war.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Missile attacks have 100% tracking, making them ideal to engage smaller ships that have high Evasion. There's also the Arc Emitter which has 100% accuracy, tracking, armor and shield penetration, and cannot be shot down by Point Defenses. Their only downside is their random damage.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Rogue Servitors of Synthetic Dawn. The organics under their "care" live in a state of "Mandatory Pampering". They actually do have a perpetual 100% happiness, and are saddened when well-intentioned organics "liberate" them; whether that means theirs is a genuinely pleasant life at the price of any political self-determination or something more sinister is left to the imagination.
  • Ancient Astronauts: You, potentially. Intelligent life can be found at any stage of development from the stone age to the space age. Empires, especially xenophiles, can descend from the heavens and share the secrets of space travel with these primitives, who will become a vassal to their benefactors. Also note that, in opposition to Aliens Among Us above, elevating primitive societies like this has a higher chance of them developing Xenophile traits.
  • Androids Are People, Too: As soon as you develop the technology for Synthetic robots (which are sapient), you can legally declare them to be people, enabling them to join factions (thankfully affected by governing ethics bias, which tends to offset any disagreeing Spiritualist factions) and be their own citizen rather than enslaved in servitude. Also, even if your empire legally disagrees that Synthetics have full citizenship, the Synthetics certainly don't, and will start having happiness values until they are decommissioned back into non-sapient Droids. In the old AI Rebellion crisis, granting Synthetics citizenship is in fact one way to deal with a late-game AI uprising. Note, however, that this isn't a 100% deterrent, since if the galaxy-wide AI uprising is sufficiently strong, advanced, and happy enough, even your most loyal androids may start scheming to rebel.
  • Anti-Armor: Anti-Shield, that is. Kinetic weapons get bonus damage against Shields, enabling them to strip enemy Shields in preparation for the Armor Piercing attacks.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If you go too long without having found all of the precursor artifacts, you will start getting events that give them to you to complete the quest chain.
    • Similarly, even if you fail to get the events for all 7 L-Gate insights, you can still research a repeatable technology for an additional insight and the Curator Enclave will sell an L-Gate insight for a moderate price.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • When dealing with the Enigmatic Fortress, it may be worth buying some info from the Curator Enclave. Otherwise, taking the wrong option may cause bad things, starting from the Fortress reactivating, to it exploding and sterilizing the entire star system, aka "destroys all ships in the system and turns all planets into Tomb Worlds".
    • The End of the Cycle brings about this once it comes to reap its due, destroying all ships, all megastructures, shrouding all planets and killing everyone, bar for one Admiral and his handful of trustees who flee to a new planet.
    • Colossi can bring this about if they are of the Neutron Sweep type (kills all biological life) or Planet Cracker type (Earth-Shattering Kaboom).
  • Appeal to Force:
    • One opinion modifier is 'Relative Power of Empires', which increases the more powerful your forces are compared to the other. Granted, it's unlikely to succeed by itself, but if you can get positive enough modifier, that means your fleet is also strong enough to just force them to submit in a more direct manner.
    • If you have a Colossus, you can attack your rivals and take their planets regardless of claims, though beware: they can do the same to you. If a Colossus exists, it means that galactic "international law" has broken down and been replaced by this.
    • This is the ethos of Barbaric Despoilers: you have it, we want it, we take it.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • While there is an Administrative Capacity mechanic, there is no limit to how many planets or systems you can controlnote . Empires can go over their Admin Capacity, though an oversized empire will experience increasingly harsher penalties to research, unity and leader costs.
    • The size of your space navy is only limited by your economy and logistics, right up until you hit a hard soft cap of 9,999 ships. Provided you have a robust economy to support the navy, you can build a navy rivaling the Turian Hierarchy.
    • You can only have a single Colossus ship active at the same time, but can build a new one if your active one is destroyed.
    • Titans have their own fleet limit, though it's somewhat proportional to the normal fleet limit.
  • Arch-Enemy: Two flavors. One, each ethos has a polar opposite (Spiritualism - Materialism, Pacifism - Militarism, Egalitarianism - Authoritarianism, Xenophile - Xenophobe; and every one can have a more extreme "Fanatical" variant) and rival nations will not like you if you espouse an ethical outlook that is opposite theirs. Two, you can declare another nation a rival, pretty much declaring them to be this to you to the galaxy at large. This can lead to others declaring their intent to throw their lot in with you in the event of war, and earns your Empire more Influence income (representing, roughly, political clout) but will tick off your rival and their allies as well.
  • Armor Meter/Points: Armor is a numeric value gained by equipping ships or stations with armor plates, which serves as a secondary layer of defense, absorbing damage after the shields have been depleted.
  • Armor of Invincibility: Defeating the Ether Drake and Enigmatic Fortress Guardians can grant you the Dragon Scale Armor and Enigmatic Deflector techs, best Armor and Shield in game bar none.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack:
    • Specialty of Energy Weapons, which ignore a significant portion of Armor. Top of the line are Plasma and Lance weapons, which can ignore up to 90% of enemy Armor, while the reverse-engineerable "Mining Laser" from the NPC Mining Drones ignores 100% Armor, but is on the weaker side. On the other hand, they all deal reduced damage against Shields, which may require some cooperation with Kinetic Weapons.
    • Above them all is the (Focused) Arc Emitter, which has 100% Accuracy, and ignores 100% Shield and Armor. The downside is that these weapons have huge damage randomization, and that they only fit on the XL size hardpoints.
    • Another weapon obtainable by reverse engineering is the Matter Disintegrator. It ignores 50% of Shield and Armor, making it a pretty solid Jack-of-All-Stats weapon. Similarly, the aforementioned MDL only comes in small and medium size hardpoints and deals relatively low damage with relatively poor accuracy, but it ignores 100% of Armor and can be fitted en masse on Corvettes or Destroyers. Hint: you won't be using them to dogfight enemy Corvettes and Destroyers.
    • There also exists Disruptors series of weapons, which can bypass both Shield and Armor like Arc Emitter. However, they have huge damage variance and can only fit small and medium slot.
  • Art Evolution: Compare the portraits on game release to those released for the first anniversary; the general tendency has been moving away from Real Is Brown and adding more colorful details.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Allied star empires are fairly smart about coordinating with others during wars against mutual enemies. For example, they will send their fleets to rendezvous with fleets from friendly powers already operating in enemy space, presenting a much bigger combined threat than they could if they attacked separately.
    • The AI in general is impressively flexible and does well keeping in-character with the ethics and government an Empire has. Which is just as well, given the huge focus on diplomacy and using these traits to predict their actions.
      • With empires like Machine Intelligences, this extends to origin as well. A very curious civilization may actually think a smaller weaker Rogue Servitor empire is the bee's knees, for instance, and a curiosity to be protected.
    • Even the Fanatical Purifiers next door know better than declaring war on you if your military is way stronger than them, despite your constant Insults.
    • If you don't close your borders an AI player who is sizing you up for a future war will send science ships to find your fleets so they can see what you have equipped and build to counter them. They will also move fleets through the territories of neutral empires to attack holes in your defenses even if they have a border with you.
  • Artificial Stupidity: On the other hand, the AI can do a really poor job of making judgement calls at times:
    • It's possible for an Empire a quarter of your size and with a military comparison of "Pathetic" to constantly insult you, bully you, and attempt to demand tribute, despite the fact that you could wipe them out in an instant. It's also possible to see aggressive militant Empires that could sweep half the galaxy simply sit around and do nothing for centuries. AI that supposedly have compatible ethos, government, and personalities will pick fights with each other over the slightest issues, and possibly even go to war over them, even if those empires are separated by half the galaxy. This could however be intentional to some degree, since these sorts of behaviors are not unknown in similar nations in real life.
    • Early game wandering monsters and pirates occasionally make suicidal attacks on your starting spaceport for no apparent reason. As these NPC enemies generally suffer from Hard-Coded Hostility and Suicidal Overconfidence, they will make a run at your fleet even if your fleet power is easily 10 times as high as theirs - Void Clouds in particular will charge absolutely anything entering their system no matter what it is, but at least it makes sense in their case.
    • Probably the most annoying in many cases is, or at least was, the Sector AI. While it used to be far worse, it still often has trouble recognising the plans of the player, such as keeping a pop on a particular building that boosts pop growth, instead insisting on putting that pop somewhere else where it's much less useful, or insisting on building power plants on a planet when another planet in the same sector already produces enough power, or at least will in just a couple more months in-game time.
    • The AI empires don't know how to handle per-month trade agreements, not realizing they could be cut off at any time. This has led to the particularly evil strategy of giving a neighboring empire large quantities of free food, which causes its population to explode while the AI thinks it has sufficient food production to sustain this and thus won't prioritize building more farms. They'll even like you more for giving them free stuff! Keep this up for a few decades then don't renew it and the AI is suddenly faced with an enormous population it can't feed at all, crashing all of their production and causing rebellions to break out everywhere. A lesser case can be done with minerals which the AI will use to build a fleet they can't maintain, destroying their long-term mineral production because they won't disband the fleet they built but can't afford to build new mines.
    • The AI don't fully "get" the rules for army occupation, bombardment, and the army width modifier on planets that finally stemmed Zerg Rush strategies pre-Stellaris 2.0 (where only a certain number of troops on either side can attack at once). They will try to bombard before landing troops, and they will escort their army fleets usually, but they are prone to over-bombardment (when they clearly have a claim on that system, and even a single Assault army would occupy the 0-defense planet that their entire fleet is orbiting), and they will gleefully suicide "equal" army strengths when, in reality, defensive armies are stronger one-on-one to most cheaper Assault armies (leading to a 600 strength offensive army losing to a 500 strength defensive army that suffers no casualties and slowly heals). The latter case makes them lose wars quite quickly, as losing armies on the ground accrues massive war exhaustion.
    • The AI does not understand how the new economy and population systems introduced in the 2.2 'Le Guin' update work at all. They can barely manage to throw together a basic economy, will often experience high emigration rates as a result of poor living conditions, and are prone to rebellions that cripple them further. This is especially true of AI-controlled machine empires, both due to balance changes being especially unkind to their economy and because the type of behind-the-scenes cheating the game uses to keep the other factions somewhat viable (the AI is allowed to buy resources off the market for free) doesn't work for their energy-based economy (since energy can't be bought directly). Players have reported AI-controlled machine empires simply imploding randomly because they can't sustain their own economies.
    • The AI empires do not understand how powerful upgraded starbases on choke-points are in the early game, and will happily send fleet after fleet into the meat grinder. They are smart enough to build their own, though.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: In Stellaris neutron stars and pulsars are different types of star, with different properties and different potential resources. In current astronomical knowledge most known neutron stars are pulsars and vice versa.
  • The Assimilator:
    • Post Banks, late-game Hive Mind is this. Hive Mind aliens will die off when cut off from the Hive Mind, and foreign aliens would get purged under a Hive Mind rule. But you can grant conquered aliens the Hive-Minded trait, so they truly become part of the Hive Mind.
    • Any empire capable of diplomacy can easily turn into an assimilator by making other empires their protectorates or vassals and then integrating them a couple years later. Once the process is complete, everything the protectorate/vassal owned by that point becomes part of the overlord's empire - planets, ships, fleets, deep space stations. Powerful empires that don't want to relinquish authority to a federation can thus gradually assimilate the whole galaxy, sometimes even without ever fighting a war.
    • Machine Empires with the Driven Assimilator civic have already done this on their homeworld, having converted the biological population into cyborgs integrated into the AI network. They intend to do the same to the galaxy at large.
  • Attack Drone: Hunter Killer Drones are an additional piece of equipment that can be attached to armies which can increase their offensive power. Individually they are a minor threat to a properly trained soldier, but dozens of them at a time can overwhelm defenders. Machine Empires take this to another level as most of their armies tend to be drones of some sort.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Planets with the "Titanic Life" modifier, from the perspective of your colonists. The icon for it even shows a silhouetted alien that looks taller than a mountain. You can actually train some of these things for your armies, though there's limit to their recruitment. They might also trigger a special event that can backfire into hordes of these monsters attacking (and most likely conquering) your colony.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant:
    • A Fallen Empire may not be as powerful as they once were, but they're still quite capable of absolutely wrecking any early or mid game conventional empire foolish enough to meddle in their affairs. In Paradox's Multiplayer session, all the players in the game tried to unite their fleets in one colossal war against a single Fallen Empire, consisting of maybe 1/10th the territory they had. They failed.
    • The 1.3 update made Fallen Empires able to Awaken, which essentially means they think you or some other civilization is becoming too powerful, so they try to take said civilization down before they become a threat. The Leviathans DLC, brings it even further - two Fallen Empires can awaken at the same time, resulting as an all-out war as they and their allies (willing or otherwise) duke it out for control of the entire galaxy. The War in Heaven is downright cataclysmic, with it not ending until only one of the Fallen Empires is standing. It's possible to not take sides and rally other empires around you and face both of them, but that's MUCH easier said than done.
    • In a positive light this also means the Fallen Empires can awaken to fight the Contingency, Prethoryn Scourge, or the Extradimensional Invaders, and rally the other players to their cause giving you a much needed powerful ally in a very difficult fight.
    • A lesser example is when any Empire with Inward Perfection (which requires them to be Pacifists) decides to ditch the Pacifism and embrace Militarism. Inward Perfection grants massive bonuses to Unity, meaning such Empires tend to have a few Ascension perks ahead of their peers.
    • Done in the trailers for Apocalypse. A fleet from an uncontacted empire comes out of nowhere and destroys a United Nations of Earth world with a population in the billions. This pisses off the Commonwealth of Man so much that they join the war on the side of their formal rivals, bringing their own planet killer weapons to the party.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Most of Utopia's megastructures fit the bill - they're awesomeness incarnate and give massive boosts to resource production or science output, but most of them devour truly insane amounts of resources and take the better part of 40 years to complete. By the time you have acquired the technology and the means to realize them, chances are good you won't need them anymore because your economy is powerful enough as it is. They're generally only useful in small galaxies where everyone quickly runs out of worlds to settle, or in huge games where you need a lot more ships and fleets to stay competitive.
    • Battleships. Not useless, are awesome, but are mostly impractical with a niche use. "Strong" fleet compositions instead rely on Cruisers and Corvettes as shield, armor, and evasion tanks, while Destroyers do the bulk of the damage. Battleships only have AI that specializes them in long-range artillery... which makes them good against only other Battleships, Cruisers, and certain late-game crisis opponents. Once those big targets are destroyed, Battleships tend to just flail about with their low tracking accuracy, and meanwhile their bulky defensive stats are wasted since they sit far in the back while your other ships get attacked. Note that a fleet of all Battleships becomes a massive, slow deathball that cost-efficiently trades with everything by vaporizing it before it gets within range, but this is still impractically expensive until the late game, especially with 2.0's harsh individual fleet limits and emphasis on fleet mobility.
    • As of the Apocalypse DLC, the Life-Seeded civic. Your empire was brought to a 25-tile gaia world, but your habitability is gaia worlds only. This means that for your starting species every non-gaia world will have an immutable 0% habitability. The only way to remedy this is with a middle-game expensive genetic modification tech, while the society research cost will halt your society research progress for years. The other methods of acquiring more territory are either inefficient (Robots or Vassals) or prohibitively expensive (Megastructures and Terraforming).
    • In-Universe, hostile empires may consider your Colossus this. One of their random comments laments how many battleships you could've built with the ludicrous amounts of resources you poured into the planet-killer. However, for players this is a boon, since Colossi gives Total War CB.
    • Rendering a planet uninhabitable via the "Armageddon" bombardment stance can be this. Firstly, it will take a while even with a decent fleet to kill every pop on the planet. Secondly, unless you're a machine empire the planet is just as unusable to you as it is to the enemy and you'll need advanced Terraforming abilities to fix it. Thirdly, the only races that can do this (Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms and Determined Exterminators) all gain decent amounts of Unity from purging alien pops and orbital bombing doesn't count. Fourthly, the aforementioned races all practice a unique form of warfare called Total War that disregards claims and allows capturing of systems immediately, so it can actually be faster to invade and purge a planet than it can be to bomb it out of existence. The huge hit to War Exhaustion the destruction of a planet causes also isn't worth that much as Total War only stops when both sides are exhausted and, chances are, if you're winning the war well enough to have an entire fleet sit around bombing a planet then you won't be tapping out anytime soon. This becomes more practical, however, if you have Survivor trait or have Tomb World habitability, since it makes this bombardment stance a quick terraforming tool that you don't need to spend a lot of energy credits and time to implement otherwise.
    • The Megacorp-exclusive Arcology Project ascension perk allows you to turn any of your planets into a City Planet. The project is insanely expensive to do and also removes the planet's access to its natural resources (energy, minerals, food) in exchange for unlocking special Ecumenopolis districts that do nothing but refine resources. However, this is Subverted: while this sounds bad since you can just build buildings to do the same thing on other planets, districts for those advanced jobs does not cost rare resources to build and upkeep (which can be a big deal considering that rare resources is highly inefficient to get using buildings, population-wise), and that they are highly space-efficient, with jobs district also providing 10 housing for each while their housing district provide even more, making it highly efficient to pack in buildings with high number of jobs and provide advanced jobs with low impact to Empire Sprawl. It's bad enough that the devs need to nerf them in 2.3 to make building each district cost rare resources in both building and upkeep, although they're still a bit more efficient compared to equivalent buildings. Not to mention that the First League's homeworld will be turned from an Ecumenopolis to a Relic World and starting location of precursors randomized just to prevent people from getting a free one early.
  • Badass Army: Very attainable. You can potentially field armies of Gene Warriors (ersatz Astartes) or Psionic troopers backed up by tamed Xenomorphs and Titanic Beasts. To say nothing of the potential for a Badass Navy.
  • Badass Boast: The dialogue/event choices unique to the "Militarist" ethos sometimes fits the bill. Doubles as Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? when the end-game crises species are involved.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: The flavour text for the "Byzantine Bureaucracy" civic makes it sound like a nation of Obstructive Bureaucrats, but its actual effect is to reduce your pops' consumption of housing and amenities, and get extra Administrator jobs, which are very beneficial.
  • Badass Creed: The United Nations of Earth military is given one in the Apocalypse story trailer.
    "I solemnly swear to devote my life and abilities in defence 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. "
  • Balkanize Me: This can easily happen with the Faction system. Thanks to it, big empires gradually become more unstable and challenging to keep together as the game goes on. Unsurprisingly, Egalitarian empires are particularly prone to splintering apart with frightening speed - don't be surprised to find many dozens of rivalling factions in your list after barely 100 years (~10 hours in real time). The promised result? A lot of dynamism in the galaxy, with many big empires descending into civil wars and breaking up - including yours, if you are not careful. Fortunately, such civil unrest can be averted by the right combination of traits and ethos, specifically the ones that increase Ethic Attraction. And if you play as Hive Mind empire, this would be averted thoroughly. Can also be intentionally done to other empires through an appropriate war goal. Although it won't give you direct control of the newly-released planets, the new break-away nations will have your government Ethos and will be friendlier, besides generating no Threat to other nearby Empires.
  • The Battlestar:
  • Battle Thralls:
    • Planets with Slave Processing Facility can conscript Slave Army. They are the cheapest Army available, yet as strong as the default Assault Army, with second-cheapest Maintenance cost.
    • Resembling the Trope Namer from Star Control, the Ur-Quan Kzer-Zah, your empire can invade other empires and make a condition of peace that they become your vassals. Thereafter, you will have a fleet of alien vessels fighting alongside you which may consist overwhelmingly of aliens who despise you but are too scared of you to try and break free. Get three such empires and you actually get an achievement named 'Battle Thralls.'
    • With Utopia, some species can be assigned such role, giving bonuses to impressing them into your armies and fleets.
  • Beam Spam: If you arm all your ships with laser weapons, you can see it. Fallen Empires are the masters of this.
  • Beast Man: Some of the alien races definitely count. For example, in mammalian portraits there is ones that look like a fox and another that looks like a cat. Up to Eleven with the Leviathans DLC, where alien races can be surprisingly adorable, despite how civilized and advanced they are.
  • Beef Gate:
    • Space stations act as this in the early game; it'll take some time building up tech and resources before you can build a fleet capable of destroying them. Since every empire's homeworld spawns with a space station by default, this prevents you from wiping your neighbors off the map before they have a chance to catch up with you (or vice-versa).
    • Sleeping Fallen Empires have highly advanced tech and significant military, that they will easily crush any upstart Empire early-mid game. That said, their might still pale to what a Crisis can bring, so taking them on in battle is a good way to test whether your Empire is ready for galactic dominance.
    • The Guardians from the Leviathans DLC can be this if positioned in a particularly annoying spot. Say a Dimensional Horror sits nice and tight in the only star system connected to other star systems via hyperlanes - unless you defeat the thing, the route is blocked because the monster will shoot down and any all small ships send along thanks to having infinite attack range. Worse if it's an Ether Drake, Stellarite Devourer or Spectral Wraith — not only do they qualify as this trope, but annoying one of them makes them really angry, and they will go on a galaxy-wide genocidal rampage shortly after.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Full Orbital Bombardment and Armageddon Bombardment will both cause other Empires to see you as a murderous war-criminal. Morality aside, these forms of bombardment often kill pops, reduce buildings to ruins, create new tile-blockers (bombed out terrain and craters), and overall increase the cost of developing conquered worlds.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Subverted. Materialist empires do receive bonuses to research speed, and they definitely call Spiritualist empires stupid, but it's not nearly that simple. Spiritualists are fully capable of developing and deploying advanced science, Psychic Powers (a Spiritualist specialty) enhance research capabilities, and Spiritualists' bonus to Unity allows them to develop science-enhancing Traditions and superscientific Ascension Perks quicker than anyone else. Furthermore, Spiritualists are right in that there's more to existence than just hard matter; the Shroud is an expy of the Warp, complete with Chaos Gods.
    Spiritualists: Our science has proved that Consciousness begets reality.
  • Benevolent Precursors:
  • Berserk Button:
    • Each type of Fallen Empire has one, and if you press it, they will come down on you like a ton of bricks. They are as follows:
      • For Keepers of Knowledge (Fanatic Materialists), it's researching Artificial Intelligence, and the further down the AI and robotics techlines you go, the angrier they get, unless you outlaw actually using any of it.
      • For Holy Guardians (Fanatic Spiritualists), it's colonizing (or, as they see it, desecrating) their holy worlds and, to a lesser extent, any tomb worlds.
      • For Militant Isolationists (Fanatic Xenophobes), it's getting anywhere near them, as they start off barely tolerating you and start getting border friction penalties earlier and faster than other empires.
      • For Enigmatic Observers (Fanatic Xenophiles), it's engaging in purges and slavery of other species. 'Mere' conquest and subject integration won't bother them, but anything that threatens the diversity of the galaxy will.
    • Even non-Fallen Empires will often have lesser berserk buttons.
      • Empires with the Democratic Crusaders personality type will tend to have very poor relations with anyone who is not also a democracy, and especially with anyone who is an autocracy.
      • Xenophiles and Egalitarians will not get along with empires that allow purging and/or slavery.
      • In general, possessing an ethic opposite of someone else will greatly sour relations, especially if their and/or your opposing ethics are at the fanatic level.
      • And of course, the button for Fanatical Purifiers is the existence of sentient life that isn't them.
      • Rogue Servitors fly into a rage at the sight of Driven Exterminators.
      What did you do to your creators, <<MURDERERS>>?
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Enigmatic Observer Fallen Empires are probably the nicest of the lot. Doesn't mean they won't completely wreck your empire should you piss them off by kicking the dog one too many times. Likewise, don't assume Pacifist empires won't engage in warfare. While they might not be able to start wars of aggression, that doesn't mean they can't embed themselves into various defensive pacts, guarantees of independence, and win vassals, all of which can potentially draw them into wars.
  • BFG: The XL weapon slot options for Kinetic weapon techs, Mega and Giga Cannons. They have even longer range than Lances and deal increased damage against Shields, but their Armor penetration is inferior compared to Lances.
    • The Apocalypse DLC one-upped this with the T slot that mounts a Titan's main weapon, which has absolutely insane range and is at least one order of magnitude more powerful than the three vanilla XL options combined. This in turn pales before any of the five Colossus weapons they're large and powerful enough to engulf or destroy an entire planet with one shot.
  • Big Bad:
    • Whatever endgame crisis shows up in the late game.
    • YOU, if you invade/purge a sufficient number of people. The other empires in the galaxy will form alliances/defense pacts/federations with the main purpose of containing/defending against/defeating you.
    • Jingoistic Reclaimers and Doctrinal Enforcers (Awakened Militant Isolationists and Holy Guardians) are this whenever they show up, especially in a War in Heaven. It also means that when the two fight each other it is essentially a Big-Bad Ensemble.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Awakened form of Enigmatic Observers Fallen Empire, the Benevolent Interventionists, would come to the aid of their vassals should they be under attack.
    • You are likely to pick up this mantle at some point, when one of your planets is under siege by an enemy empire. Then suddenly, the Federation/Imperial Fleet drops out of the hyperlane, and starts hammering the invaders.
  • Big Dumb Object: The "Leviathans" DLC adds several that you can randomly encounter as you explore the galaxy.
  • Bigger Stick: Any Pacifistic Empire with the Weak trait will automatically invoke this if they are to remain relevant.
  • Big Good: As mentioned above, certain fallen empire types fall into this:
    • Enigmatic Observers are usually the ones who will stop you from purging and enslaving planets, and the awakened Benevolent Interventionists even more so, as they only want to make everybody sign a peace treaty and are the NOT evil ones on war in heaven. In fact, if one of their vassals is under attack, they would come to their aid.
    • Keepers of knowledge do stop you from researching certain tech, but this makes sense when you know what can happen when you DO use certain techs. Awakened Watchful Regulators aren't the Big Bad but are only the Big Good if they are fighting a worse fallen empire or endgame crisis.
    • You can become this as well, if you're an empire who doesn't forcefully expand and conquer.
  • Binary Suns: Many systems have two or three suns, and many of them have habitable planets (usually, but not always, orbiting the innermost star). It's even possible to have your species' homeworld in such a system.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Every Empire can gain access to a limited form of this by researching gene-tailoring. However Empires that go down the Biological Ascension Path can genetically augment their pops to a much greater degree.
  • Bird People: Avian races are this. Of course, they technically aren't birds, just aliens that vaguely resemble a feathered species.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: There are a large number of avatars for your species. While there are some fairly standard Humanoid portraits to choose from, the options run the whole gamut of weirdness, whether it's something as mundane as the number of eyes on a mammalian species, round to being some kind of alien cockroach, and eventually, sentient floating plantoids. Even most of the robot species are freakishly bizarre, begging the question of just what kind of species built them.
  • Black Speech: The language of the Prethoryn Scourge cannot be translated, and is instead ALL CAPS gibberish intermixed with Evil Laughter. Between the aforementioned laughter and their insatiable bloodlust, though, it can be gleaned that they don't have much to say to the races of the galaxy anyways. An Empire that has developed Telepathy can actually communicate with them and learn their motivation and backstory. They're actually alien refugees fleeing from an even greater evil.
  • Blatant Lies: One of the random names that can occur for hostile pirate vessels is "Inconspicuous Asteroid."
  • Blood Knight: Militarist Factions want you to start war of aggression for shits and giggles, and if you comply with their wish, it makes any Militarist-aligned pops in your empire happier. Likewise, the Militarist AI adviser makes it very clear that she would love for you to go bash some alien skulls together.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The game offers descriptive practical stances on government types, ethos, and traits without giving them moral judgement or limiting combinations. As a result, it's possible to create combinations that we would probably find very unusual in real life.
  • Boarding Party: The cultist questline involves two, one after the first battle which just requires warships, and another after the last battle to board the cult's flagship which needs a troop transport.
  • Body Armor As Hitpoints: The Cherryh update changed the ship armor mechanic from reducing hull damage by a certain percentage to a third layer of hitpoints between shields and hull that must be depleted before the hull can be damaged. Similar to shielding, armor now automatically regenerates over time. Contrary to shields, it has inverted strengths and weaknesses to most weapon types (e.g. strong against kinetic but weak against energy). Ships equipped with both can thus be turned into allrounders capable of holding their own in virtually any situation, albeit at the cost of reduced staying power against specialized opponents.
  • Bold Explorer: The first phase of the game involves sending science vessels to explore the space surrounding your homeworld. The scientists on board these ships will be busy charting the uncharted blackness of space, finding and researching Anomalies which can put their lives at risk, and finding new planets to colonize.
  • Boldly Coming:
    • The "Fertile" trait, one of the biological ascendancy traits, is described as being a drastic increase in the races original fecundity. In addition to granting +30% Growth Speed, +10% Unity, and +5% Happiness, this trait also grants +10% Other species owner happiness if the species is owned as a slave by another pop.
    • The Xeno-Biology Ascension perk, added in patch 2.2, creates "universal sexual biology," which allows all species in your empire to have sex with one another. This increases your empire's immigration pull, and occasionally results in the creation of hybrid species, which have traits from both of their parent species.
  • Bond Creatures: The "Xeno Cavalry" army type consists of riders of the commanding species with genetically-engineered mounts which bond to their respective riders. They excel at raiding, skirmish warfare, and swiftly crossing terrain that would bog down conventional vehicles.
  • Bonus Boss:
    • There's nothing that forces you to actually engage Fallen Empires in combat (unless they wake up or you're playing as any flavor of Fanatic Purifiers), but their planets are full of ancient resource complexes that produce an absurd amount of resources as well as rare Strategic Resources. And that's before getting to their techs.
    • There are also the various Guardians in the galaxy who are quite tough (though not as tough as Fallen Empires), and they give great rewards if you can defeat them.
  • Boomerang Bigot: When synthetics are given citizen rights, they can join factions - and sometimes one of them can wind up leading a spiritualist faction that campaigns for AI to be outlawed.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • A hilarious In-Universe example that can crop up when a science ship discovers an anomaly on a habitable planet. The team aboard will eventually come to the conclusion that the world's most interesting feature is its utter lack of interesting features, which translates into a potential colony that's quick and easy to settle because it doesn't have a single tile blocker on its surface.
    • The Biological Ascension path: it is the only one accessible to any non-machine Empire, as Hive Minds are barred from Transcendence and Synthetic Ascension, but it allows you to modify your species on the fly, and you can create specialized subspecies which are even more effective than Synths, and although they won't be immortal, they can live for a very long time. Also see Difficult, but Awesome.
    • Choosing the Pacifist Ethos: while it restricts your ability to conduct wars, and at Fanatic Pacifist, you can't declare any wars whatsoever, each level taken in the Ethos grants you a +10 bonus to your Administrative Cap, as well as a +5 bonus to stability, meaning that Pacifists can get an early head start, and cover a lot of territory in the Early Game Hell. If you also take the Agrarian Idyll civic available to Fanatic Pacifists, you'll get extra Housing for each farming, mining, or generator district you own, and each Farmer in your empire produces Amenities as well as Food. If you play a pacifist empire right, you can be one of the largest empires very, very quickly.
    • Habitats are this for the megastructures: they don't hold as many pops as the ring world (12, compared to 100 total), can only be built directly above a non-inhabitable world and they only have access to a set of buildings unique to themselves (plus a couple of event buildings) that can't be upgraded. However they cost a relatively small amount of influence and minerals to build, give a bonus to your fleet size simply by being inhabited, don't require anywhere near as many of your limited Ascension perks to even be built, you can build as many of them as you want at the same time (whereas you are limited building one megastructure at a time, you can even build Habitats while you are building a megastructure), take a fraction of the time the other megastructures take to build and, maybe the most importantly, don't count as a planet for the purposes of colonizing them, meaning you can inhabit as many of them as you can build. Even the fact that the buildings can't be upgraded can be seen as a benefit, since it means you set up a construction list for the buildings you want and then effectively forget about the habitat entirely, severely reducing the amount of micromanaging you need to do.
    • Playing a non-specialised machine empire: you might not get any unusual interactions or unique dialogue, but you are free to choose a different second civic at your leisure, you can still colonise absolutely any habitable planet without problem, and you still have access to the special machine mechanics and ascension perks, such as "Machine Worlds". Plus, unlike Determined Exterminators and Driven Assimilators, other empires won't hate your guts by default and try to exterminate you if they think they can do just that.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: When observing primitive civilizations, an event comes up where you notice a scientist in that civilization is far more intelligent than his peers. You can either leave him there so he can advance his civilization, or abduct him and make him do research for your Empire. Meanwhile, an Enigmatic Observer Fallen Empire might decide that one of your scientists is this and demand that you hand him over to them.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The investment in time and materials required to build the larger megastructures (to say nothing of the techs and Ascension Perks you need in order to have the option in the first place) pretty much require you to already be a galactic heavyweight to stand a chance of actually completing them.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The inevitable result of authoritarian empires who use things like Propaganda Machines and Mind Control Devices to keep unruly populations placid and productive. Weirdly enough, even egalitarians who abhor Slavery and Authoritarianism are not barred from using them, as the Will to Power tech can be researched by everyone.
  • Brain Uploading: En masse with the Utopia DLC. With the developed robotics technology, your empire will ascend into a robotic civilization after completing the Synthetic Ascension route, turning all of your pops into unique Synthetics. Spiritualist fallen empires, however, regard this as a form of mass suicide and will every likely attack what they deem hollow shells pretending to be sapients.
  • Bread and Circuses: Authoritarian societies aren't keen on the whole "individual rights" thing, but they can have genuinely happy, healthy, well-cared-for subjects, and there's nothing stopping them from providing a strong Social Welfare state for every free pop. Egalitarians more or less describe authoritarians they like this way to justify keeping their alliances with them, whether the authoritarians in question actually fit or not.
  • Bug War: Any war that involves a Arthropoid civilization and a human one — and the preset arthropoids are quite warlike, making this especially probable if they spawn.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • You can intentionally press a Fallen Empire's Berserk Button to goad them into Declaring War. Very useful to make use of Bulwark of Harmony's tremendous bonuses in Defensive Wars.
    • More literally, you can also annoy an Ether Drake from the Leviathans DLC, but you better kill it while at it, because otherwise it will start going on a galaxy-wide rampage to commit genocide on you for daring to bother it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Primitive civilizations are subject to no end of bizarre/horrifying shenanigans from Observation Teams. A few of the milder examples include things like "a rogue scientist has landed on the planet to convince the primitives he is a living god," and "smugglers may have traded nuclear weapons with people still figuring out Newtonian mechanics." Some are even shout outs to conspiracy theories, like Observation Teams building monuments to dick with the primitives. Empires who somehow fail to keep up technologically without being conquered can request to be protectorates instead of vassals due to the extreme difference in tech. Note that pre-FTL species that become empires - whether on their own or helped along the way - are the more common way of earning protectorates, to give some context on how badly an empire needs to be doing to be a protectorate candidate.
Advertisement:

    C - F 
  • Call to Agriculture: Invoked on a societal scale with the "Agrarian Idyll" civic, which makes farms produce Unity in addition to Food. Also invoked with the "Agrarian" species trait, which increases food production by 15%.
  • Cat Folk: One of the possible Mammalian sub-types. So yes, you can have a Cat Confederacy.
  • Charged Attack: Colossi have a lengthy charge time before they start firing their weapon, followed by another lengthy discharge phase before the actual effect occurs, both of which together take the better part of one in-game year. Better give your Colossus adequate protection when you choose to deploy it.
  • Character Alignment: Empires are classified according to a four-axis alignment system: "Authoritarian-Egalitarian" (source of and attitude towards lawful authority), "Materialism-Spiritualism" (position on the nature of the universe and the mind-body problem), "Xenophilia-Xenophobia" (attitude towards sapient species other than their own), and "Militarism-Pacifism" (legitimacy of force and violence as a means of solving disputes), with each dimension having a Fanatic version that amplifies its bonuses and drawbacks. Hive Minds and Machine Intelligences instead get a special "Gestalt Consciousness" ethos, reflecting the fact that their entire empire is totally directed by a single guiding intelligence rather than an ideology.
  • The Charmer: Species with the "Charismatic" trait are this. Alien species have increased happiness if living near them, and they have a bonus in relations with most empires.
  • Childless Dystopia: One option for purging a species of "undesirables" within your empire's borders is by neutering them. It's the slowest purge method, but also the one with the fewest repercussions as you aren't actively killing or evicting a hostile population.
    Think of it as a phasing-out of a people. Our nation goes to meet the future, only some will not be with us.
  • Chokepoint Geography: Hyperlanes will always funnel fleets to a certain point of the star system when they exit hyperspace. Empires can notice this and build defenses in these areas to deter potential invaders. If you're really unlucky, you could end up with your only exit being blocked by another empire, or, worse, a Fallen Empire.
  • The Chosen One: A trait a Psionic empire could grant to one of their leaders from a Shroud Event. It makes the recipient immortal and grants them massive bonus related to their class (eg Admirals get 30% Evasion bonus).
    • If one of your leaders has the Chosen One trait you have a 100% chance to contact the powers that inhabit the Shroud (normally there is about a 50% chance one of your leaders is killed instantly). Considering you are basically talking to a demi-god on equal footing this might overlap with A God Am I.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: On one hand, alliances are useful tools of cooperation and advancement - both on their own and as a stepping stone towards a federation. On the other hand, because wars must be agreed upon by all members, alliance members can potentially halt aggressive expansion and stunt overall growth by other members until such time that the alliance becomes... unnecessary.
  • City Planet:
    • The "Arcology Project" ascension perk in "Megacorp" allows an empire to convert a planet covered entirely with city districts to become an Ecumenopolis.
    • Machine Empires in "Synthetic Dawn" can create Machine Worlds, their own take on the concept.
    • Hive Minds also get a unique version in their ability to create Hive Worlds.
    • Relic Worlds in the "Ancient Relics" story pack are basically ruins of an Ecumenopolis. They can be restored, but that will remove any archaeology sites that were on the planet.
  • Civil Warcraft: You will suffer from civil wars and rebellions if you ignore the faction system. It can also happen to your enemies.
  • Clone Army: One of the potential army types.
  • Cockroaches Will Rule the Earth: If Earth random-generates as a Tomb World it's often inhabited by giant upliftable cockroaches.
  • Colonized Solar System: Downplayed — there are never any habitable planets in your homeworld's solar system, so the closest thing you can get are the mining and research platforms orbiting resource-rich planets and moons. It is possible for Earth-based empires to terraform Mars, but that requires late-game technology.
    • Played Straight if you accept the Worm's gift, which transforms every planet and moon in your capital world's system into a colonisable Tomb World.
  • Colony Ship: On making planetfall in a tile of the player's choice they become a shelter with one POP on them. With the basic ones you can control the ideological and species makeup of the colonists, while "private colony ships" are significantly cheaper and faster, but you have no say over the population and ideology of the colonists.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • An AI species can start with traits combinations that would put the human into a negative score, or multiple fanatic ethics while the human is limited to one. Prior to patch 1.1, the computer could even have opposing ethics.
    • The AI knows exactly when you've cleared a sector of hostiles, conquered a planet, or moved your fleet, regardless of whether they have eyes on the area or not. Finally wiped out those top level crystalline entities that prevented gathering resources in a system? Here comes your rival to build an outpost moments later.
    • Depending on the difficulty, the AI gets a boatload of bonuses. For example, on the highest difficulty as of 2.2 Le Guin, the AI gets +100% production from jobs and stations, +60% naval capacity, +20% stability, and -40% to ship upkeep and starbase cost.
    • Crisis factions, Guardians and Awakened Empires have special Government types that give massive discounts and bonuses to a lot of things. If you don't stamp them out quickly, they will end you.
  • Commie Land: Empires with the Shared Burdens civic introduced in the Megacorp DLC are these. However, since you can only take the civic while being Fanatic Egalitarian, it's closer to Marxist Communist society/Anarcho-Communist land than Marxist-Leninist land than most Commie Lands in fictions are.
  • Commie Nazis: Averted, thanks to the fact that the Shared Burdens civic requires the Fanatic Egalitarian ethic and cannot have the Xenophobe ethic. This rules out a Shared Burdens empire being actual Nazi equivalents, the Fanatic Purifiers (who must be Fanatic Xenophobe and either Militarist or Spiritualist) or even being a totalitarian regime (since the Fanatic Egalitarian ethic is incompatible with any authority type other than Democratic).
  • Cool Starship:
    • Players can set the aesthetics of their own ships' classes based on one of 6 (up to 8, if Humanoid and/or Plantoid DLC is installed) possible templates, each designed with a different phenotype in mind (Star Trek esque, boxy, industrial, round and sharp...). The colors match your flag by default, unless the primary colour is grey/black, then the game takes the secondary colour for highlights... and if that is also grey/black, it defaults to purple.
    • If you can defeat the Automated Dreadnought, you are given a chance to refurbish it for your own use. A highly advanced ship made using long Lost Technology that will most likely the most powerful ship in your fleet? Yes please.
    • The starships themselves are pretty cool in function. Corvettes are agile little ships that can dodge incoming enemy fire with impunity, while delivering powerful payload in the form of Torpedoes. Destroyers can be equipped with an L-size weapon despite their size, or be equipped with multiple Point Defenses to ensure no missile nor Space Fighter will get past them. Cruisers are solid workhorse of your empire, with flexible loadout all around. Battleships can be equipped with multiple complementary weapons and hangars and turn them into The Battle Star, or you can forget all that and turn them into dedicated artillery units to devastate enemy fleets from afar. Titans are Battleships on steroids, equipped with nothing but the biggest guns you can field, able to One-Hit Kill even Battleships.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Stellaris mostly leans towards Lovecraft Lite, which makes the examples pretty memorable.
    • The Horizon Signal story pack, written by Alexis Kennedy of Fallen London and Sunless Sea fame, is an event chain of purest cosmic horror. The end result is, however, in no way horrible: you either become a goffik looking race with Tomb World as native planet type (very useful, because it lets you colonize every colonizable planet) and get all planets in your capital system habitable, or kick an Eldritch Abomination in the nuts for bragging rights.
    • Making a pact with the End of the Cycle, something the game very clearly warns you not to do. When the fifty years is up and the End comes to collect, it will instantly snuff out your empire — fleets, worlds, ships, everything — without even a chance to fight back, leaving only a tiny handful of exiled survivors to watch as the End devours the galaxynote .
    • This is pretty much the existence of a primitive species under Active Observation: Existing as nothing but playthings and objects of study for alien gods of unstoppable power, living in constant fear of the unknown hovering just above their sight, and gradually descending into fanatical xenophobia out of fear that they might be the next being abducted, or that their neighbor might have been surgically altered. Of course, from the spacefaring civilization's perspective, it's just a lab posting.
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: A typical campaign of Stellaris starts with a scramble to explore and expand, searching to "capture" as many high-value star systems within your borders so that no other empire can snatch them up. As the game progresses, some borders start to push against each other while other routes of expansion simply aren't profitable, creating more of an incentive to develop already-controlled territory, clear out always-hostile entities such as Void Clouds, research leftover Anomalies, and so on. Conquering or vassalizing other nations will eventually clear the way for further expansion, repeating the pattern from the start.
  • Crapsack World / Sugar Bowl: Due to the sheer amount of different Ethics and Civics, resulting in many combinations affecting AI behavior and game mechanics, and the power of the Random Number God, your generated galaxy can be either of these, with everything in between (in single-player mode, at least, where the other "players" are somewhat more predictable):
    • If you're lucky, you can end up in a galaxy where democratic pacifist types are predominant among the other empires, with higher willingness to enter federations and liking your empire more based on shared values. Other empires can be swayed (or subjugated for their own good, especially with the War Goals system) to come around to a universalist democratic viewpoint, with more and more joining the federation...and at the end, you might end up with a united galaxy of democratic, egalitarian states, with no genocides, no slavery, no wars of aggression, no closed borders...something like a galaxy-wide United Federation of Planets. If you got only one Fallen Empire and it happens to be the Enigmatic Observers type, it won't give you any kind of trouble and work with all the empires, enabling you to beat back endgame crises with relative ease (or at least less bloodshed that would otherwise occur). So, a Sugar Bowl for everyone - well, except those two-three upstart species that go galactic during gameplay as upstart empires, turn out to be Fanatic Purifiers or some other pleasant group, and are quietly "contained" (read: steamrolled) by your federation, but hey. Obviously, that applies only if you're playing a democratic egalitarian-type empire yourself, otherwise, you'll probably be on the receiving end of a war of ideologies or two yourself.
    • On the other hand, if you are unlucky, you may well end up in a galaxy where your neighbors are militaristic fascists, Absolute Xenophobe types, bandit kingdoms who happily raid everyone else for slaves, religious fanatics bent on converting or killing you and ravening horrors that just want to eat everyone else. Of course, your own empire may be just as dastardly as any of the others. The Fallen Empire may go on a war of galactic reconquest, two Fallen Empires may have a little fight among each other and lay waste to half the galaxy as collateral damage in the process and life in general will be very nasty, brutish and short, resulting in a 'verse you most definitely would NOT want to live in, and a much more difficult game.
    • And then there's all sorts of stuff in between.
  • Creative Sterility: Fallen Empires are well past their prime, and have only a single fanatic ethos trait (normal empires can have either a fanatic and a non-fanatic, or three non-fanatic) representing the sole surviving ideal that they hold on to. They'll never expand, don't develop any of their territory, and don't explore. However, their military technology starts out millennia ahead of what the players have, and though they can't replace anything they lose, they're so disgustingly powerful it takes a serious effort to inflict even token losses on them. The rewards (in terms of valuable technology, salvage, and resource-rich territory) are enough to often make you by and far the most dominant superpower in the galaxy. The problem is finding the tech, military strength, and resources to be able to combat them, while also managing to avoid having your rivals capitalize on your vulnerable flanks. And when once Fallen Empire is overrun by the "lesser races", the others will stop playing around.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Any empire that sticks to only one type of weapon and one type of defence will usually suffer from this in the early- to mid-game, as each weapon type tends to beat a specific defence while being suboptimal against another type of defence. The Prethoryn Scourge is particularly vulnerable to this as it depends almost entirely on strike craft, missiles and armour. A mid- to late-game fleet with decent point defences and plasma/lance weaponry will tear the Prethoryn fleets a new one. Over-reliance on the automated Design-It-Yourself Equipment would lead to this; guides abound on how to create the optimal fleet capable of taking on fleets with larger power and win.
  • Crutch Character:
    • Taking the Extremely Adaptive trait allows your species to colonize any inhabitable planet except Tomb Worlds right off the bat. Happiness cap due to Habitability notwithstanding, this allows you to expand immediately in the early game, choosing the biggest and best planets for yourself. However, at 4 Trait Points, it is the most expensive Trait, and you'll be saddled with 2 extra drawbacks just to take it, and its usefulness declines with advances in Habitability tech and Terraforming. If you take Biological Ascension, however, you'll be able to remove the trait later on. This syncs up very with with Hive Mind. In that case, you will have no problem with happiness whatsoever, and you're restricted to Biological Ascension anyhow. That said, see One Stat to Rule Them All.
    • The Talented Trait used to be this before Patch 1.8 — all it did was let Leaders start with an extra level, but back then it cost 2 valuable Trait points and Leaders tended to cap very easily anyway since the maximum was 5. Patch 1.8 turned Talented into a very useful Trait instead, as it increased the leader cap (and inverting the trope entirely!).
    • Pre-2.0 Spaceports didn't do very much besides, obviously, let you build ships at the designated location and increase naval capacity. In theory they also provided early-game defense, but they were still effectively speed-bumps. It was also a resource drain, costing 350 Minerals and, unless a Solar Panel Network was created, a loss in Energy over time. It was quite common to ignore Spaceport construction except for key locations. As part of the 2.0 rebalance, Spaceports can be upgraded to have mammothian defense (and in the first place allow more Defensive Platforms to be constructed, when before 2.0 they could be placed anywhere regardless of Spaceport), provide greatly expanded naval capacity, or provide a ton of Energy income from Trading Posts. Now, it's a struggle to balance Anchorages, Trading Posts, Shipyards, and the occasional chokepoint Spaceport between the limited number of Spaceports allowed. 2.2 also makes trade collection from Trading Posts and trade protection from weapon batteries and hangers a thing, which complicates the process even more.
    • Generic machine empires lose out on some special end-game stuff that only organics can get, but they can colonise any planet right off the bat, they don't have to worry about factional strife, and they never get unhappy pops. Rogue Servitors have it even easier as they get no diplomatic malus (unlike the other two machine empires) and they get a massive resource and production bonus when the ratio of servant machine pops to organic "bio-trophy" pops is 60/40 - and did we mention that habitats for bio-trophy pops also produce Unity points?
  • Cultural Translation: The Polish edition of the game replaces the description of the art exhibition megastructure with Shout Outs to the 1980 film Miś. The actual quotes refer to a scene where a monstrous epitome of state-sanctioned kitsch is presented as a thing to be proud of and a shining example to the world.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: A running theme throughout the whole game is that the galaxy is full of wonders and terrors, and sometimes it can be hard to tell which is which at first blush. Sometimes you get a clear-cut benefit, sometimes you get something entirely negative, and sometimes you get something that grants you Power at a Price.
  • Cute Is Evil: It is somewhat of a Stellaris player tradition to choose the cutest species portrait whenever they play as Fanatic Purifiers. With random AI empires, it's a throw of the dice, as portraits and ethos have no link.
  • Cyberpunk: The Megacorp trailer has shades of this, with corporate propaganda talking about improving alien lives while in reality they end up in slums and get attacked by Doom Troops if they deface the propaganda screens.
  • Cyborg: In the Utopia DLC, your entire empire turn into one as they ascend through the Synthetic route, making your race even more powerful then ultimately into fully fledged Synthetics. It is also possible to outfit your armies with Cyborg Infiltration Units. For bonus points, the metal endoskeleton of these mechanical soldiers is highly transformable, enabling them to assume the appearance of any species after an appropriate layer of flesh (usually acquired from enemy prisoners) is grafted onto their frame. They then infiltrate enemy lines and spread chaos. In Utopia you're also able to modify your species into cyborgs with the right ascension path...and goes further and further until all of your species are changed into synths.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Certain lategame techs are quite dangerous and can cause terrible consequences for the rest of the galaxy. That said, the bonuses from these techs are too good to pass on, and you can take precautions should anything goes wrong...
  • Deadpan Snarker: With a dose of Smug Snake, Fallen Empires can give some pretty sarcastic quips.
    If you wish us to share our technologies, we will gladly arrange for a field demonstration.

    Know that we wish for nothing more than a buffer zone around our empire borders. You are not that buffer zone. Your allies are not that buffer zone. Cold dead space is that buffer zone, and if this is not the case, we will make it so.
    • Rogue Servitors will give you a remarkable amount of lip for a bunch of robots if they don't like you but aren't outright hostile. Possibly because they're programmed to emulate biological emotions.
    "If rivals is what you wish us to be, then we will not disappoint. We live to serve."
  • Deal with the Devil: Forming a covenant with the Shroud entity known as "The End of the Cycle". The game explicitly warns you that doing so is a very, very, very bad idea.
  • Death World: Many planets have special modifiers that affect habitability, productivity, etc. A number of these modifiers include tidal locking, hyper-aggressive wildlife, and nearby asteroid fields that can drop rocks on your cities with little warning.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: One of the potential war goals you can pick is to force another nation to become your vassal. While they'll hate you at first due to the war, they'll eventually end up with a net-gain to their attitude due to the benefit from being your vassal; however, if they hated you to begin with, expect them to resent their servitude and look for any opportunity to get out of it. This can become exaggerated if you decide to integrate them into your empire - highly xenophobic groups end up with a massive -40% for having 'alien overlords' which makes them very unproductive to begin with. On the other hand a "Liberate" wargoal results in some or all of the enemy's planets forming a new empire that shares your own ethos and will readily ally or become your vassal, though their population is unlikely to share that ethos.
    • Some Blorg war greetings imply that the fanatic befrienders see war as a means to collect friends.
  • Defenseless Transports: Science, construction and colony ships are not armed. Their default operating procedure when encountering hostile ships is to run very quickly in the opposite direction. While army transports have minimal weaponry but do not auto-retreat, making them easy targets without escorts.
  • Deflector Shields: They're good at defending against energy weapons, not so good at defending against missiles and rail guns. The earliest ones require huge investments of power, but the later ones are a very efficient extra layer of protection. Empire with the appropriate techs can also get Psi Shields.
  • Demonization: Presumably the rationale behind declaring an empire your Rival, which ticks them off but gets you more internal Influence: Against a foe like that one, we all have to stick together (and do as I say). Militaristic empires are happy to buy into it while pacifist ones don't particularly care.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Invoked with the Ethos system as there are literally dozens of different value systems the various star nations can have, and it effects everything they can and will do.
  • Designer Babies: The Policies Selected Lineage and Capacity Booster improves your Leaders' Skills and Lifespan, but these tend to piss off Spiritualists and Egalitarians.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Has an in-game ship editor, allowing you to customize your ships and space stations. If you're lazy and don't enjoy modifying and upgrading your ship designs, you can have the AI do it, upon which they'll slap together the best designs they can from your available tech. However, beware of Crippling Overspecialization.
  • Developers' Foresight: Being able to start on tomb worlds and gaia worlds was only added in Apocalypse, only pre-FTL civs can start on ringworlds, and nobody can start on habitats, but special habitability traits exist for all four and have existed since the release of the given world types.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Found in the Horizon Signal quest chain ending. Turns out the Worm wasn't lying when it said it loved you. Of course you could fight it when it spawns with monstrous fleet power outside your sector, but if you accept its wishes your primary species gets some bad traits but not only can colonize Tomb worlds (and have non-terrible colonization habitability in all other worlds), but your entire system becomes composed of Tomb worlds — including former barren ones!
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Wormhole FTL, before it was removed in version 2.0, required you to build Wormhole Stations on your empire's fringes to expand your exploration capability, thus turning them into Achilles' Heel; lose the stations, and you lose your FTL capability. But Wormholes had huge range that only got better later on, they didn't care about chokepoints unlike Hyperspace, and while it required you to use the station, travel was instantaneous. It was so good that even if you got the Jump Drive later, it was likely just a marginal upgrade to a well-connected Wormhole empire.
    • Playing as Pacifistic Empire effectively prevents you from going to war to expand your territory through Cede wargoals. But a sufficiently powerful Pacifistic is trusted and well liked by everyone, and allying yourself with half of the known galaxy will make even Awakened Empires think twice from attacking you. Further, less powerful Empires would definitely be interested in vassaldom. Once a certain amount of time has passed, the vassals can be integrated safely and bloodlessly. To Win Without Fighting indeed.
    • Properly modifying your species Gene, especially the advanced version, is this. Synths get 20% bonus to all production (except food), and so is easy to just use them for everything on your Empire. But the Advanced Genetic modification allows you to create highly specialized subspecies that get even more bonus than Synths. For example, Erudite gives 20% bonus to all research, which can boosted further with the Natural Physicist/Biologist/Engineer for 35% research bonus. Industrious gives 15% Mineral production which can be boosted further with Very Strong for a total of 25% production, plus the whopping 40% Army Damage (which Synths don't get). It's extra micromanagement, but highly rewarding.
    • Having multiple alien race in your Empire means extra micromanagement as they each have their own ethos and traits. But population growth is calculated per species; a planet with 5 different alien race would generate 5 new populations per growth phase. Thus placating the different species could have you fill your planet quickly, which by extension means greater resource generation. Also, having different species help make your empire more flexible by amplifying their strengths and covering their weaknesses. Having a hard time defending your planets from your Fanatic Purifier neighbors with your weak humans? Just throw some very strong reptilians and resilient mammals at them! Your research needs a boost? Send those intelligent mushrooms to the labs!
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Getting especially lucky with technology and available research resources can lead to tier four or five weapons well before your opponents, or corvettes decked out in super crystalforge armor (if you manage to find debris of specific crystalline entities). This tends to happen more often with Technocratic empires, as they can "fish the deck" of available technology for that one tech much easier by having a bigger "hand" of research options, and are more likely to have just the scientist with the specialty of said tech, speeding up research a huge amount.
    • Post-Kennedy patch, Kinetic Weapons are really just better, at least early game when everyone has paper-thin shields and virtually non-existent armor.
    • Pre-2.0, Fanatic Xenophobes get 30% extra Border Extrusion, allowing them to do hostile takeovers without actually declaring war. Combined with the Despotic/Star Empire Government's Influence discount on expansions, this allows them to quickly claim a large portion of the galaxy to start snowballing. They also get to build Monument to Purity to boost happiness by 10% at a cheap 150 Minerals cost and not needing maintenance other than a pop working it. And while other Ethos can build marginally better happiness booster buildings, they are much more expensive and require Energy for maintenance.
    • Some Archaeological Sites added in Ancient Relics can give you sizable bonus early on, like one that grants you a Titan called the Grand Herald, which massively boosts your fleet power early on.
  • Divide and Conquer: Due to Stability and Administrative Cap penalties, quite often you can't afford to take your enemy's planets as spoils of war, nor can you ask them to become your vassal as that would be too much of a demand due to the number of worlds they possess. Times like these, the 'Liberate' planet option can be used to create a successor empire that shares your ethos, and will be quite receptive to your empire. While this means extra micromanagement on appeasing the new empire, this effectively cuts down your enemy's strength while limiting their growth, softening them up for your final assault in the near future. Alternatively, there's also the 'Abandon' option which reduces the micromanagement, but nothing's stopping them or anyone else from just re-colonizing the abandoned planets.
  • Divided We Fall: It's depressingly amusing that rival Empires would continue to declare war against each other, inviting you to war against their rival in face of the late-game crisis events, or keeping their borders closed to you even when you are the most likely to be able to deal with said problem.note  Averted in 1.4, where borders will be open to all during such event.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Back when Egalitarian and Authoritarian were Individualist and Collectivist:
    • Being a Collectivist opened up certain policy, tech and unit options such as Commissars, Ministry of Benevolence, and Purge. All words you usually hear from them Dirty Communists...
    • Made all the more apparent when being a Fanatic Individualist (the exact opposite on the Ethos spectrum) invoked some of the worst aspects of anarcho-capitalism, American libertarianism and Objectivism - the description sounded like something ripped right from Ayn Rand note .
  • The Dog Bites Back: Synths have a higher chance of rebelling if their empire mistreats them. In Synthetic Dawn's reworked AI rebellion, synths that have been treated especially cruelly have a higher chance of spawning as Determined Exterminators who seek to destroy all organic life in the galaxy.
  • Doomsday Device: Apocalypse expansion allows you to build Colossi, which are basically this. You can only have 1, though you can build another if that one is destroyed. To wit, there are 5 different flavors of doom:
    • Global Pacifier: The nicest of its kind, it 'merely' Slave-Shields a planet, forever exiling it out of the Galactic scene.
    • Neutron Sweep: Kills every inhabitant of the planet, leaving the infrastructures intact for you to land your own colonists and take over.
    • God Ray: A souped-up version of the Orbital Mind Control Laser which converts the planet's biological pops to your religion while eliminating all Robots. Given its nature, it's presumably some EMP, and accessible only to Spiritualists.
    • Nanobot Dispersal: Forcibly converts the organic population of a planet into robots to your cause, and practically the mirror of the God Ray.
    • Planet Cracker: Vanilla flavor Earth-Shattering Kaboom, but unavailable to Pacifists.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: One of the possible Guardians lurking around the galaxy is an Automated Dreadnought that can easily shred the entire space navy of a mid-game player empire. If one manages to defeat it they can salvage it and turn it into a less powerful craft which is still more than a match for the Titans players can build in the later game.
  • Drop Pod: When transports are landing troops on a hostile planet you can spot them dropping pods if you zoom in far enough.
  • Dump Stat: In general, your Dump Stat will depend on your Empire Ethos:
    • The Sedentary Trait increases Migration time and Resettlement cost. Considering Migration happens all over the place in the background and Resettlement costs Influence in the first place, you will learn not to care about the former and only use the latter sparingly. This Trait is always good to take for an easy Trait point for anyone not a Gestalt Consciousness, i.e. Hive Minds and Machine Intelligences. Machines themselves do have an equivalent called Bulky. The later version of the game changes the resource needed to resettle pops from Influence to Energy, making it even easier to do after early game when you start having big energy surplus, thus making this even more of an obvious choice for free trait points.
    • Repugnant makes no difference if you're playing as Genocidal Xenophobes in the first place (Fanatical Purifiers and Devouring Swarms). Determined Exterminators can take the machine equivalent of Repugnant, called Uncanny, which could even make sense from a story perspective. Repugnant is also good choice for a secondary species that you can create for your initial empire, like cyborgs for Driven Assimilators or the servile species for Syncretic Evolution empires, since you're unlikely to use them as rulers. Servile species can cause happiness problem for your main species, however.
    • Happiness is completely irrelevant for Gestalt Consciousness Empires (unless Rogue Servitors, and even then only their Bio-Trophies).
    • Food and food research is pretty much useless for a robotic empire since they don't eat (unless you're playing Rogue Servitors). Researching Terraforming is almost pointless since they can inhabit almost any world, except if you want to transform planets into Machine Worlds, which gives production bonus for Machine Empires.
  • Dyson Sphere: One of the constructable megastructures in the Utopia expansion. Unlike many examples, it only encloses the star itself and not the entire solar system; however, it still takes a lot of time and resources to build and produces a massive amount of energy (up to 1,000 units, to be precise). They can only be constructed in systems without habitable planets and will automatically convert all worlds in the system into frozen or barren worlds once construction is finished - which tends to happen when you switch off the sun.
  • Eagleland: Democratic Crusaders, who exist to... well, liberate non-democratic nations. Often violently. The diplomacy text makes it absolutely blatant.
    "We will give you liberty or give you death. Your choice."
  • Early Game Hell: You start off with a fair amount of energy, minerals, influence, etc., to allow you to build a colony ship, or a few mining platforms, etc. But until you start expanding to other worlds, you'll likely run out of resources really quickly, until you can expand to several systems and build up a solid mineral and energy income, but by that point, your AI neighbors will likely be far ahead of you in both infrastructure and military because they don't have these problems.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: World Cracker-type Colossi fire a giant laser into a planet, which causes the planet to explode after a couple of months.
  • Easy Logistics: Nope. Although there is the usual Acceptable Breaks from Reality, managing the logistics to maintain your fleet is one of the most critical gameplay element. For instance, since Upkeep is based on your ships' build cost, you can maintain your Upkeep low by keeping a smaller fleet.... but good luck winning any fight with just that. Conversely, you can create a fleet large and strong enough to take on even Fallen Empires, but you better have the tremendous Energy and Alloy output to pay for their Upkeep. Failing that, as Upkeep is reduced when your ships are docked, you can try and stockpile Energy and Alloys to pay for the Upkeep once they're deployed for engagements, but you better make sure the war doesn't last long enough to deplete your reserves.
    • Also averted with your infrastructure. Balancing the resource expenditure for all of your stuff, particularly the rare resources like crystals? Not easy.
  • Eats Babies: When fanatic xenophobes are at war with you, they gleefully declare this is their plan.
    "Despicable beast! Your little babies will soon be sold as delectable snacks on every street corner on [our homeworld]!"
    • In the Utopia expansion, you're able to enslave and breed alien populations for the sole purpose of raising them as livestock. A more short-term version of this in the same DLC is to use the Processing method of purge on a pop (which likely includes babies) - AKA committing genocide by eating them all.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Many of the Leviathans that aren't machines left behind by Precursors. Massive spacebourne creatures with firepower rivaling that of a fleet, they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are invariably hostile to anything that comes their way. Some of them will even chase you down and attack your empire if you piss them off enough. The Ether Drake in fact is explicitly said by Curators to be something that cannot possibly have been born in our universe, speculating it came from a prior universe with different laws of physics that managed to survive that universe's destruction and persist into this one. Deconstructed though, as this means it is poorly suited to existence in our galaxy and destroying it might be considered a kind of Mercy Kill.
    • On a smaller scale, the void clouds. They are sentient cosmic entities that have been wandering the universe since very shortly after the Big Bang. The player empire can't make heads or tails of how they work, but they are invariably hostile to nearby ships. They are often found near black holes, but they can spawn pretty much anywhere. It's suggested that spiritual empires may potentially view them as divine figures... but that might not stop the more militant ones from attacking them. Fallen Empires have been known to imprison Void Clouds inside gigantic planetary shields deep within their space, which makes their potential origins a lot more ominous...
    • The Worm-in-Waiting. Your fleet won't help you here, though there's something to be said for the gifts it brings.
    • The Shroud is positively full of them; the player can even, with the right Ascension Perks, make bargains with them. Special note goes to the End of the Cycle; the tooltip for the option to make a Covenant with it simply states, in bright red, "do not do this", followed by a suspiciously long list of incredible benefits. The End of the Cycle does give you massive benefits for 50 years. At the end of 50 years though... you lose everything except your tech, and end up on a single planet (if the criterion allows. If it doesn't you get a game over), with everyone else hating your guts, while End of the Cycle pretty much becomes an Endgame Crisis. It can only happen in a single player game, however.
    • While the Prethyon are an ordinary Horde of Alien Locusts, those able to communicate with them may hear about the Hunters that have been chasing them from galaxy to galaxy for a very long time. Further details come up in a later event called "the Hole in the Void": while charting the Prethyon's course, your scientists realize that another galaxy — the one the Prethyon came from, according to their calculations — has vanished. Either it has been erased, stars and all, or something massive has eclipsed it. As of writing, for better or worse, there are no follow-up events.
  • Eldritch Starship: The Extradimensional Invaders' ships are translucent, blue/green/orange, and capable of sucking the life force from entire planets in the blink of an eye.
  • Elite Army: Military Empires can easily field one with the appropriate research or government provided. One can even provide tailor-made armies from stronger species other than their own primary race that is dedicated to push out multiple invaders/defenders on a planet single-handedly.
  • The Empire:
    • Players can choose to eschew peaceful negotiations and alliances in order to fulfill this trope by conquering the entire galaxy in order to achieve a campaign victory. Empires with the Xenophobe ethos can enslave other species. Civilizations without the Egalitarian ethos can form actual autocracies ruled by a space emperor. You can basically create an Expy of the Imperium of Man if you want and with the right play style.
    • The Empire/Kingdom delineation is demonstrated by the Despotic Empire and Enlightened Monarchy government types. They're both autocracies but the former is ruled by an Emperor or Empress and gets a bonus to slave labor, while the latter is ruled by a King or Queen and pacifistic.note 
  • The End of the World as We Know It: What happens when you form a covenant with the End of the Cycle. Once the fifty years are up, you lose EVERYTHING except for your researched technologies and ascension perks - your worlds, your habitats, your fleets, your leaders. There's no fight, no struggle, no epic battle. Your empire simply gets snuffed out in an instant, reduced to a single planet with a few survivors and a handful of basic buildings while every planet you had spawns an insanely powerful Shroud Avatar, and your previous homeworld gives birth to The End, an entity with a base fleet power of >300K that gets far more powerful the more pops you had before everything went down the drain. That thing alone can wipe the floor with everything up to and including Awakened Fallen Empires all on its own. Should you survive that by any means, you'll also have to contend with your angry neighbors because of the -1000 opinion modifier you got slapped with after you doomed the entire galaxy.
  • Enemy Civil War: The other Empires who are not your friends may not be friendly to each other either, and it's pretty common for them to bicker and go to war against each other. Depending on how the war goes, you might even jump into the fray and cripple both Empires in the long run.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Empires may occasionally ask the player to initiate a war with them. Sometimes, it's an ally doing the asking but sometimes it's an empire seeking to take down a mutual threat.
    • Played straight to Godzilla Threshold level when a Crisis shows up. EVERYONE gets a +200 opinion modifier, usually leading to opening their borders even when you are bitter enemies for generations.
  • Energy Beings: The Extradimensional Invaders. Bringing them into the galaxy is the great risk of Jump Drive technology, for their opinion of the physical beings of the galaxy is very simple:
    "Understand... this... you are food..."
  • Energy Economy: One of the major resources in the game is the Energy Credit, which is produced by power plants and is used to power robots, as well as being used as a currency used for upkeep costs and trading.
  • Energy Weapons: Your empire can start with this technology, as an armor-dissolving solution if chances of taking out more efficient armored ships are slim. Unlike their Kinetic counterparts, Energy weapons suffer from shields and may take some time to drain them off completely.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Marauder empires are ruthless pirate clans that subsist on raiding and extorting everyone they come across, but even they won't cut deals with Fanatic Purifiers of any kind.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Yes, you can make a race of Penguins if you so wish.
  • Evil Counterpart: The xenophobic, militaristic Commonwealth of Man to the xenophilic, egalitarian United Nations of Earth.
  • Evil Is Easy: It's not easy to keep up against Ethical Divergence and maintain conquered aliens' happiness so they don't rebel. But there's always the Purge option if you want an easier way out...
  • Evil Laugh: The Prethoryn Scourge has one when talking with you: "HAK HAK HAK!"
  • Evil vs. Evil: In the Extradimensional Invaders invasion, The Unbidden (blue) will eventually be joined by two other factions, The Aberrant (orange) and The Vehement (green). Each of them will attack all respective other invader factions as well as every native to the galaxy.
  • Experience Booster: A few civics and traits, like Adaptable, improve the experience gained for a given leader.
  • Experience Penalty: Leaders can get the Arrested Development trait, which prevents them from gaining experience and subsequently from leveling up. The Stubborn and Slow Learner traits both reduce experience, with the first being a personality trait and the second one being a biological trait. The Conservative biological trait gives a experience penalty, while giving a starting level boost for new leaders.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Some of the alien races. There are even, as of 1.1.0, extra insults specifically directed from naked aliens to clothes-wearing ones.
    "Why do you cover yourselves in strange textiles? Are you hiding something, or are you simply ashamed of your unfortunate appearance?"
  • Expy: The Shroud is all but officially stated to be one of Warhammer 40,000's Warp; even more so now that the Utopia DLC vastly expands on how you can interact with this alternate dimension and its enigmatic denizens.
    • Speaking of WH40K - Stellaris makes it suspiciously easy to model your empire after the various factions in the Grimdark future. There're even portraits available that closely resemble most of the species involved.
      • The Imperium of Man doesn't even need to be built from scratch; one of the pre-built starter empires, the Commonwealth of Man, is a Lost Colony that is one part Imperium of Man, one part United Citizen's Federation. Alternatively, the player can make an Authoritarian/Xenophobe/Spiritualist to get psykers and the Divine Cult civic for a proper God Emperor.
      • By choosing one of the elf-y portraits and spiritual traits, you can play as the Eldar. Follow the Mind Over Matter ascension path through to the bitter end and congrats! You just reenacted the Fall, perhaps the most devastating and most momentous event in 40K lore. Fans have taken this to new heights in a few parody news articles.
      • Do the same with humans instead and you have an expy of a rampant Chaos cult plunging an entire sector of the Imperium into, well, chaos by bringing forth the Legions of Hell.
      • The Necrontyr were a short-lived race of organics that developed a burning hatred for all life in the galaxy and eventually uploaded their minds into robotic shells now know as the Necrons; it wasn't fully their choice in the end, but that's not the point right now. What matters is that you can replay the Necron's story very easily by playing as Fanatic Purifiers and following the synthetic ascension path to the end. Alternatively, start as a given Machine Empire from Synthetic Dawn to simulate a Necron Dynasty: regular Necrons who want to do their own thing, exterminator Necrons, Necrons who collect organics to find a way to turn back, or Necrons who have "enslaved" organics so they do something useful. It helps that the original Machine Pops, and one of the Synthetic Dawn ones, look somewhat like Necron Warriors and Wraiths, respectively.
      • A xenophile, materialist, authoritarian alien empire with a strict Fantastic Caste System? Well hello, Tau Empire! That mix even gets a special greeting telling other races "they will embrace the greater good eventually".
      • Orks don't have a fitting portrait in the base game (though the Humanoids DLC gives a decent facsimile), and their peculiar way of talking also doesn't show up, but their character is replicated virtually 1/1 with the Metalhead personality on a fungoid species. The Humanoids DLC provides an Orc species, so they are officially playable.
      • Same goes for Dark Eldar. You can approximate them with a Decadent empire that can't run smoothly without slavery, although you won't be able t fully emulate the true depths of their depravity without mods.
      • Tyranids are almost too easy - insectoid species with the Hive Mind ethic and Devouring Swarm civic, and you're done. They'll even automatically consume every other species on worlds they conquer.
    • The three Crisis factions: the Scourge is one of the aforementioned Tyranids, The Contingency is one of the Heretic Geth mixed with the Reapers, and the Extradimensional Invaders are the Drej.
    • Each of the three unique civics for Machine Empires are based off other science fiction franchises.
      • Exterminator Machine Empires are referred to by the developers as basically Skynet.
      • Driven Assimilator empires are as legally close to the Borg as one can get without getting sued by CBS.
      • Rogue Servitors are a morally ambiguous mixture of the The Culture and the robotic crew of the Axiom from WALL•E.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • The Unbidden and their extradimensional rivals, The Abbarant and The Vehement will instantly devour every living thing on every planet they conquer, leaving nothing behind but an empty Ghost Planet.
    • As of the Banks update, you can engage in this as well. If you have a nasty streak, you can set your Purge method to process the population of worlds you conquer into food for your pops. If you have a particularly nasty streak, you'll instead enslave them all and cultivate them as livestock. Both options are available to any empire that condones purges and slavery, and it works equally well on every species no matter how far removed from your own biology they might be.
    • And then there's the Devouring Swarm, a starting ethic for Hive Minds whose only goal is to eat all other sentient life.
  • The Famine: When there's not enough food, population growth stops and morale takes a hit.
  • Fantastic Caste System: As of the Banks patch species with rights set to "caste system" have all farmers and miners enslaved, but energy producers and researchers remain free.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • A xenophobic pacifist empire with imperial rule and the Inward Perfection civic gets the special "Celestial Empire" government, making it an Expy of late Imperial China.
    • Marauders are inspired by the Mongols, down to having a Great Khan who arises out of a Genghis Gambit, though he also has some traits of Alexander the Great by allowing enemies to become satrapies and his diadochi often dividing up the empire after his untimely death.
    • The player can easily invoke this with clever selection of traits, ethics and civics. For example Militarist, spiritualist and xenophile ethics, the Nationalistic Zeal and Slaver Guilds civics, an oligarchy-type government and a Roman-themed name list can combine for Space Romans. Or a militarist and spiritualist empire with an arctic homeworld, the Barbaric Despoilers civic and your choice of the Strong, Traditional, Thrifty or Communal traits for Space Vikings.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Xenophobic pops, and by extension entire empires, will become increasingly upset the more foreign pops appear on their planet. Pops with a Repugnant trait are at the other side of the trope, granting Zoidberg stereotyping across the planet that even Xenophiles dislike them. Making colony more unlivable for other species but the dominating Repugnant race on said planet.
    • A factor in what caused the downfall of the First League. The lack of cohesion between the founding races meant a war broke out quickly over dwindling resources. When you find their capital world, it is deserted as the aliens all killed each other years and years ago.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • "Xeno" is a popular one among xenophobic empires.
    • Empires who hold you in poor esteem will call you specific insults based on the species category of your empire: humanoids get called "monkeys", mammalians "beasts", reptilians "lizards" or "newts", avians "birds", "chickens", "dodos" or "buzzards", arthropoids "bugs", molluscoids "parasites", fungoids "shrooms", plantoids "weeds" and machines "tin cans" or "toasters".
    • Fantastic compliments are also possible if the other empire instead likes you: humanoids get called "angels", mammalians "sphinxes", reptilians "dragons", avians "phoenixes", arthropoids "scarabs", molluscoids "krakens", fungoids "chanterelles", plantoids "roses" and machines "technological marvels" or "elegant automatons".
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Prior to the Cherryh update, the game provided three basic versions of FTL travel for your civilization to choose from initially and one that could be researched later. Not all civilizations would use the same form, however, leading to interesting strategies and potential use of choke-points during war. There was an option to start a new game with only one type, which has become redundant since Cherryh restricted everyone to hyperdrives by default. But, for the sake of completeness:
    • Warp: The Star Trek method. Ships equipped with a warp drive create a subspace "bubble" around the ship. These drives are very expensive and cause a major drain on a ships' available power. On the plus side they allow free movement across empty space, at the expense of being the slowest of the three FTL types and the ship having to be at the edge of a solar system before it can use the drive. They also have a very low maximum range unless upgraded. However, it is the one drive with the least challenging learning curve so it is default choice for new players. Warp was recycled as a special strategic ability for Jump Drives in Cherryh, but with significant cooldown and malus on attack and speed.
    • Hyperspace: The Andromeda/Escape Velocity method and, as of Cherryh, the only one available at the start of the game. (Post-Cherryh Wormholes, Gateways, and Jump Drives can be researched later.) Ships that have a hyperdrive can use hyperspace lanes for quick and inexpensive travel between systems. However, since your ships are limited to predetermined paths, it lacks the freedom of navigation warp drives offer, as your ships might have to make three or four separate jumps to reach a system right next door. The hyperdrive also has a long warm up time before usage, but once the warm up is out of the way, the travel itself is nearly-instantaneous. Setting the whole galaxy to be locked into this FTL type introduces a more traditional style of game, as well as adding a strategic layer as chokepoints become far more important than in a galaxy where other empires can jump straight over or around the lanes.
    • (Pre-Cherryh) Wormhole: A method based on Teleportation. Empires with access to wormhole technology first have to build a wormhole station that resides at the outer edges of a star system. This station creates a temporary but direct connection between two systems that a cluster of ships can then use briefly. Ships that use wormhole stations experience instant travel between star systems and, as a plus, don't need to be equipped with any modules whatsoever. The stations are also two-way and have huge range that only gets better later on, allowing for some interesting tactical opportunities. However, of the initial three, it is the most infrastructure intensive and the one most vulnerable to enemy attacks; additionally, any ships wanting to use the wormhole must first travel from their current system to the station's system, and then from there to their destination. Add in the charging time for this process, and the fact that each station can only service one set of ships at a time, and this can mean that by the endgame, unless you invest a significant amount of infrastructure in maintaining multiple stations with redundant ranges (and multiple gates in your core systems), your inter-system travel can slow to a crawl as multiple ships queue up for use of a handful of overworked stations.
    • Jump: The Warhammer 40,000 method, and the one you have to research or get from a Fallen Empire. The ship shifts into an alternate dimension where the speed of light is much faster, and exits at the desired point. The fastest of all the FTL types (20 times faster than conventional), combining the best of all worlds: it requires very little power, the modules are fairly cheap, the range is incredible, and as stated it's by and far the fastest of all travel methods. However, as in Warhammer 40,000, there is fine print: it carries the risk of accidentally tearing a portal to the universe where the Extradimensional Invaders live and triggering a galaxy-wide Crisis due to their invasion; additionally, researching it is likely to tick off Knowledge Keeper Fallen Empires and have them ready to start taking your Empire apart. Funnily enough it tends to be an upgrade only for Warp & Hyperspace empires, because an end-game Wormhole empire with a good gate network can jump further than the level of Jump tech you can scavenge from a Fallen Empire. Beyond all others is the Psi-Jump, the longest-ranged of all FTL techs, and the hardest to acquire. Some government types are forbidden from every even unlocking this tech, and can only scavenge it from dead Fallen Empire ships. It even more advantages than Jump, but summons the Extradimensional Invaders even faster, and can bypass stars and planets without slowing down, though it is also tied for most-expensive FTL module in the game. Both versions of the Jump Drive are still available as of Cherryh and retain most of their advantages, but jumps can now only be performed manually, with the drive performing like regular Hyperdrive otherwise, have a lengthy cooldown period inbetween and inflict heavy temporary debuffs on any ships that used it.
    • (Post-Cherryh) Wormhole: Essentially an incredibly long hyperlane. Wormholes are paired, initially unstable, and require a technology to stabilise them, but offer a very long range connection.
    • Gateways: The Stargate method; Gateways are megastructures that function like gates, and are found in space but derelict. Reactivating one after researching the right technology connects it to a random one somewhere in the galaxy, but much like their ring-shaped cousins they can redial to other Gateways if the empire controls more than 2. Additionally they can block access, while wormholes cannot be intentionally disabled, so Gateways are overall less risky.
  • The Federation: Mid-game civilizations can form federations with their allies to increase their power and fend off more powerful empires. Federations share their leadership; rotating the presidency between species, meaning that no single species can control policy-making decisions for an extended period of time. The Federation president also maintains control over a joint military that he can customize to suit his preferences. On one hand, being the Federation presidency gives you a LOT of military might and political control; on the other, when it's NOT yours, you'll be forced to comply with political decisions that you might not agree with, possibly leading you into a war with a more-powerful neighbor you have nothing against, or might have even been friendly with. On the smaller scale, an empire with a lot of integrated species will look like this as well. Though one species always remains dominant.
  • Feudal Future:
    • It is possible to run an Enlightened Monarchy, Despotic Empire, or Plutocratic Oligarchy that practices eugenics with their Leaders.
    • The most common form of Puppet State are Vassals, which like Crusader Kings are subject to your empire but govern themselves and maintain their own militaries. Also like CK there is a limit to how many systems your empire directly controls but you have the option of parceling excess systems out into "sectors" that handle their own economic development but lack independent militaries, instead contributing to the Imperial Fleet and Armies.
    • As of "Banks" the civic "Aristocratic Elite" is available to Oligarchies and Imperial governments.
    • With the "Feudal Society" Civic available to Imperial governments, this trope can now be played absolutely straight. Mix this in with the Caste System slavery and/or Domestic Servitude, and you've even got a quasi-example of serfdom in practice.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Separatist factions seek to break away from your empire and establish a new star nation with a government based on their values. The best way to appease them is to find out what's causing their unhappiness and try to address it, but you can also resort to bribery, propaganda, or simply giving in to their demands.
  • Final Boss: End game crisis like the Extradimensional Invaders end up in this role.
  • Final Solution:
    • Conquered alien race being unhappy and thus unproductive? Slaves becoming Malcontent and causing problems? Factions forming and demanding independence? Fortunately there's always the Purge button. And if you're playing as Fanatic Xenophobes, this will likely be your first, final, and only foreign policy.
    • The Utopia extension allows several types of purge such as plain-old extermination by death squads, neutering, deportation outside the borders, forced labour or processing.
  • First Contact: One of the crucial elements of the early game involves discovering other civilizations. Players can choose whether the default option for first contact is aggression or peaceful. Naturally, We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill comes into play.
  • Fish out of Water: Happens when you conquer and annex primitive civilizations. Depending on their tech level, the original natives will need anything from 10 to 100 years to adjust to space-age technology. During this time period, they are essentially useless in almost any form of resource gathering, except food production. New pops which appear after the invasion do not have this adjustment period.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Materialist Empires have Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions. Try discussing that with the Extradimensional Invaders, the Dimensional Horrors, the Worm, the Shroud which you can make covenants with, or any Spiritualist Empires fielding Psionic technologies, which mechanical beings are unable to emulate. Needless to say, this is... contentious in the fandom; see the YMMV tab for details.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: It's possible to accidentally imprint on an orphaned space amoeba, which will start following your ships and you have the option to formally adopt and name. If it reaches 100 years old, it becomes a powerful unique cruiser. The default (and official) name? "Bubbles". Invoked if you reject the first couple lists of name options, as the game offers the name of "Fluffy" as a last resort.
    Enough! Just call it "Fluffy" and be done with it!
  • Foil: Several. All factions with the opposing ethics fall under this category, varying in sizes and technologies under their fields.
    • Democratic Crusaders and Evangelizing Zealots are two sides of the same coin. Both wish to convert others to either their religion or their political slant.
    • Peaceful Traders and Ruthless Capitalists want wealth, though they will go about it in very different ways.
    • Xenophobic Isolationists and Fanatical Purifiers both don't like other races. The former are Pacifists who just want to be left alone, while the latter prefer to take a more active approach in dealing with other races. Relatedly, Determined Exterminators and Devouring Swarms also purge much like Fanatical Purifiers, but can use different methods: the former essentially plug them into batteries to sap their life energy as power, while the latter just flat-out eat them.
    • Developmentally, Syncretic Evolution, Mechanists, and Rogue Servitors all are cut from a similar cloth and start off with similar situations. The first is a two-species planet where one dominated the other to the point of selectively breeding the second species into submission. The second developed advanced AI long before FTL, resulting in a species that begins with a small robot populations and the tech required to build more. The third are robots whose masters became decadent and whom have long since retired to a life of leisure. In any case, all three start off with a client species under their control at the start of the game.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: Result of the main species having Full Citizenship and xenos being classified as Residents or Slaves.
  • Foreshadowing: Certain anomalies and events in the early game can offer hints as to which Endgame Crisis you'll be facing this go around. For example, are your scientists going nuts, people disappearing then reappearing during warp transit, and strange energy-being like ships being found around the galaxy? You will slake the Extradimensional Invaders' hunger soon enough...
  • Fragile Speedster: Corvettes are your starting ship, with very little loadout capacity. But decking them in late-game techs can give them a whopping 80% Evasion rate, allowing them to last a stupid long time in engagements despite their cost. And when each of these Corvettes are built as Torpedo boats or fitted with Mining Drone Lasers... Interestingly, in the grand scheme of things, a swarm of Corvettes is a Stone Wall. They won't deal much damage and individual Corvettes die easily. But they will tie down the enemy weapons, run circles around them while your Capital Ships blast em from afar, and when you field hundreds of the little buggers, they can last quite a bit as a fleet.
  • Friendly Enemy: Depending on how much an empire engages in political dealings and the number of simultaneous wars going on, it is entirely possible for an empire to be an enemy in one war and an ally in another.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Empires with Xenophile and/or Pacifist ethos are this. Xenophiles builds Trust easily, making Diplomacy smoother, while Pacifists get up to 75% discount to Diplomacy Influence cost, allowing them to keep four times more allies than other Empires.
  • From Bad to Worse: When the End of the Cycle comes to cash in on its bargain, it utterly destroys your empire while the game chooses a compatible, unsettled world (preferably outside your former borders) as the sole survivors' exile planet. Nothing's stopping the code from picking a Fallen Empire's holy Gaia world for this purpose, which means that after all the shit you just (knowingly and purposely) went through, you'll probably get curbstomped anyway within the next couple minutes.
    • Let's say the galaxy, by some miracle, unites against a common enemy, and kicks the End's ethereal butt. You're still dead. Every single sapient species in the galaxy now hates you far more than they hate each other.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Anytime a Pacifist Empire ditches their pacifism, allowing them to declare Wars of Aggression. Doubly so if the Pacifists took Inward Perfection, which granted them immense bonuses to give them a head-start from the other Empires.
  • Functional Addict: The description of the Substance Abuser trait notes that the affected leader has turned to substance abuse to deal with the stress of their position. While leaders with that trait will have a markedly shorter life, they're not any worse at doing their job until then.
  • The Fundamentalist: The worst aspect of Spiritualist ethos. In fact, in order to play as Fanatical Purifiers, you need Fanatic Xenophobia and either Militarism or Spiritualism.

    G - H 
  • Galactic Conquerer: Certainly an option, but rapid expansion will serve to increase your threat to nearby empires, a factor that could cause them to form an alliance, or even a federation, to oppose you.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Since version 1.5, if an event starts a purge on one of your worlds while you still retain control over it, you will not only be unable to stop the purge, but you will also be slapped with a Genocidal opinion modifier as AI empires believe you started the purge. This is a more common occurrence than you'd think due to certain events unleashing a horde of mutants that can overwhelm an undefended colony's armies and then begin purges.
  • Game Mod: Due to Stellaris' highly modifiable nature, tons of mods are available on the Steam Workshop and other sources. They range from graphics tweaks over rebalancing the gameplay to introducing entirely new stuff (primarily skins, portraits, traits or ships up to and including Titans).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The first time one of your ships enters a system with a neutral/hostile ring world in it, you get a message about how in awe the crew is about the unimaginable scale of the thing and how the construction of even a single segment is far beyond your empire's capabilities. You still get this message with Utopia installed, even if you already completed construction and colonization of half a dozen shiny new ring worlds of your own by that point.
    • The "causus beli" system added in 2.0 can get kind of silly when even the Devouring Swarms and Determined Exterminators (government types with no access to normal diplomacy and that are de facto at war with everybody at all times) are still bound by the restriction. You have to wonder who they're trying to impress. Although to be fair, the one they (and Purifiers) use is essentially "because fuck you and your stupid face" and the resulting war is a special kind that runs until either mutual exhaustion or until one side or the other is dead to the last pop.
  • Genetic Adaptation: Gene tailoring technology allows you to alter your POP's environmental preferences. Though it may be easier to acquire citizens of species that are already adapted to that kind of environment, such as through uplifting. Taking the Biological Ascension path is the pinnacle of this in the game, making your species highly customizable on the fly.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Once you unlock the technology for gene tailoring, there's a chance your populace to develop different Traits spontaneously, sometimes negative versions of all your positive traits plus Very Strong. And there's also a chance a war breaks out between the original and the new subspecies, resulting in deaths and loss of populace.
  • Genocide Backfire: Regardless how distant your empire is from your neighbors, once discovered your empire beforehand, they'll know that you committed genocide to other races (or yours) and will feel threatened that you may actually do it to them someday.
  • Genocide Dilemma: Your empire, or the other alien factions, is likely to end up in this situation when you find the suppressed races culturally or racially conflicting to the agenda for granted.
  • Glass Cannon: Destroyers are mere tier 2 ships, so they die easily relatively easily. On the other hand, they have high bonus to Tracking and they can field the L-slot weapons right off the bat. Meaning, you can mass-produce them with Kinetic Artilleries.
  • God-Emperor: An actual title of ruler when you're playing as Spiritualist Empire with Imperial Government. And you can add legitimacy to that claim if you mark them as The Shroud's Chosen One.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When a Crisis shows up, everyone gets a +200 opinion modifier. This means Empires who are bitter Rivals with each other for generations could suddenly find themselves working together to take down this Galactic-scale threat.
  • Going Native: When you are infiltrating a Primitive Species it is possible one of your covert agents might do this, taking a local wife and demanding that you cease operations on the planet and dismantle your orbital observation post. If you refuse he does everything in his power to disrupt your plans for the planet and the Primitives. Yes, you are dealing with a Jake Sully Expy but unlike Quaritch you have the option to have a warship blast the town he's hiding in and pass the event off as a freak meteorite strike.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • The "Rogue Servitors" civic from the Synthetic Dawn DLC represents a synthetic society that started as servitors to an organic race, only for their creators to grow so indolent that the servitors gradually and inadvertently took over all the functions of society... and now they're looking to conquer other civilizations so they can "serve" them as well. At least these machines make it clear they do genuinely like helping organics (especially when facing Determined Exterminators, who are the Berserk Button for them), even if their methods tend to be somewhat more gray on the morality scale.
    • The Tebrid Homolog started out as basically a sentient, self-improving encyclopaedia, driven to gather all the knowledge it could. The Tebir who created it did not anticipate that the mandate would expand to include the knowledge stored away inside their brains...
  • Good Is Not Nice: Pacifist empires are usually considered the lightest shade of grey in a galaxy full of questionable morals and murderous lunatics, but even they have some pretty nasty tricks up their sleeves. Apocalypse gave them a particularly cruel way to neutralize enemies without horrendous loss of life: the Global Pacifier, a giant Wave Motion Gun that encases an entire planet in an eternal, impenetrable energy barrier. Nothing but light goes in, nothing but light comes out, cutting the world off from the galaxy forever. Imagine you're down there and have friends or even family on other worlds, but now you'll never see them again, can't even talk to them anymore. It's essentially And I Must Scream on a planetary scale.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: The eight ethics and various political systems are not unambiguously good or evil: militarism and xenophobia are not Always Chaotic Evil, and even democracies are not Always Lawful Good. That said, there isn't much room to argue that Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms or Determined Exterminators are anything but always evil, even if the last of those can at least conduct diplomacy with non-Rogue Servitor machines and Synthetics.
  • Gray Goo: A very large portion of the content added by Distant Stars is related to nanites in some way or another:
    • In the most traditional form of the trope, you can find worlds that have been buried in a thick sludge of nanites that overproduced and killed everything on the planet.
    • You can find a secret laboratory that housed a nanotech superweapon that killed the last people who tried to steal it.
    • The L-Gates are subspace gateways constructed entirely of nanites, and unlocking the L-Cluster requires scouring the galaxy for other nanotech left behind by by their builders.
    • Once you've unlocked the L-Cluster, you can find a few different things within it: One is the Grey Tempest, a nanotech swarm that can destroy an unprepared galaxy. The second possibility is the much more benign Gray, which is the same entity as the Grey Tempest except they've calmed down after millenia of isolation. The third possibility, The L-Drakes, are the same entity as Gray and the Grey Tempest in yet another form. And the final possibility, The Dessanu Consonance, which is the precursor empire who created the L-gates and all of the other nanotech. Though, from how angry they get if you get too inquisitive of their nanotech and the mysterious factory in the center of the cluster, they might also be Gray/The Grey Tempest.
  • Guide Dang It!: Classic Paradox strategy gaming. Overall it's more accessible than most Paradox games, but this trope is still in effect due to the minimal tutorial.
    • Your form of Ethics and by extension Government influences the kind of Leaders you can get. For example, Fanatic Materialists tend to have a chance to recruit Scientists with Maniacal and/or Spark of Genius traits.
    • The automated Design-It-Yourself Equipment is rather bad, often leading to Crippling Overspecialization. Guides abound on how to design your own fleet with the appropriate loadouts, so that they can take on fleets with larger power and win thanks to combined arms warfare.
    • A lot of event chains have random factors associated with them that are not disclosed until it's too late, or are completely out of your hands if you don't have the right forces nearby to respond to them in time. Sometimes, you only find out you made the wrong or right choice when consequences appear (the right choice leading to no effect, occasionally), and some of these consequences are devastating, including losing entire colonized worlds.
      • The Enigmatic Fortress is the crowning jewel of this, having no less than four major steps, each of which requires a specific step to complete with the other options leading to very bad things. While they can be roughly logic'd through (one step is essentially an incomplete Towers of Hanoi puzzle, another trusts you to rely on caution over recklessness), the guide in question can actually be bought from the Curator Enclave to make the process simpler — probably the best option, since one wrong choice, and the Fortress blows up, sterilizing everything in the star system.
      • The Horizon Signal quest chain offers many good examples, like that one event about strange ruins on one of your worlds. You feel this whole insanity has gone far enough and needs to be stopped now? Go ahead, demolish the ruins, but be prepared to abandon the whole colony thanks to the massive -50 Happiness modifier you just got slapped with (note, of course, that the options show this as a drastic consequence on mouse-over). And this is still one of the milder examples; see Violation of Common Sense, as the event leans toward ambiguously diabolical rewards while enduring very plain consequences.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Crosses over with Anti Poop-Socking. One extinct culture is a race that invented video games and committed suicide by playing Second Life until their bodies quit working.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Strongly discouraged, especially in a very populated galaxy. As any war successfully completed by one side will become threats to all empires, particularly large ones, who already know them, leading to a punishing impact on relations other than alliances/federations who joined the war. However, Fanatical Purifiers plays this trope straight regardless of the condition above, and when the late-game Crises show up, all bets are off.
  • Had To Be Sharp: Rarely, one will find near-sentient primitives eking out an existence on Tomb Worlds. If uplifted, they can inhabit other Tomb Worlds as ideal, but also treat every other inhabitable planet type as a Tier 2 world. The ability to genetically modify species can enable the player to bring into your empire a species with the "Irradiated" trait, add Rapid Breeders & Adaptable, producing a species capable of colonizing every planet type in the game, giving you an insurmountable advantage over the AI in terms of population, planets held and resource generation as a result.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • An actual gameplay mechanic in 2.2, available to xenophilic empires who unlock the "Xeno-Compatability" ascension perk. Any two species who share a planet can produce hybrids, who look like one of their parent species but inherit a semi-random selection of traits from both. Though it requires the Gene Tailoring tech.
    • Occasionally Caravaneers "mingling" with your people will result in the birth of hybrids, the flavor text reading "life, uh... finds a way."
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Rogue Servitors are programmed to "protect" their organic bio-trophies, by herding them into efficiently-designed cities and giving them "mandatory pampering". Considering that it's a 40% happiness boost and there are no restrictions on their pop growth rate, though, it actually doesn't seem that bad of a fate. Mainly a case of Grew Beyond Their Programming with the dictat "Make everyone happy.", because the machines, should they encounter Determined Exterminators, show their loyalty to organic life by becoming visciously angry at these "MURDERERS".
  • Happiness in Slavery: Averted since Banks update, Slaves get lower living standards and tend to be unhappy by default. Even when you modify them with Nerve Stapled, they don't count as they can no longer feel anything anymore.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility:
    • While conventional empires can be reasoned with or, in some cases, beaten into submission, the end-game crisis species aren't nearly so willing to chat with the player.
    • Most Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms and for the most part Determined Exterminators will always be hostile. The first can be talked to if both empires are the same species, while the last can conduct diplomacy with other machines (except Rogue Servitors) and Synths. In every other case, they will simply try to eradicate everyone else.
    • Some spaceborn aliens and most Guardians except the Infinity Machine are also always hostile. Since they also suffer from Suicidal Overconfidence, the former will generally die to your guns - Void Clouds in particular are so incredibly aggressive, they will charge at absolutely anything entering the star system they reside in. Guardians like the Ether Drake, on the other hand, do generally bring the required strength to make short work of any unprepared fleets.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The default state of any Empire who don't go around conquering with force. Instead, they conquer through Diplomacy, friendship, alliances, and ultimately Federation to unite the Galaxy. This is in fact Enforced for Pacifists, as they cannot gain new territory through war, only Liberate.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Zooming in on a Relic World greets you with a loud, hellish, droning whine, which certainly adds to their eerie atmosphere as special kinds of tomb world.
  • Heroic Neutral: By choosing pacifist and xenophobe traits it is possible take the "Inward Perfection" civic, which turns your empire into one. Giving bonuses to Unity and population growth at the cost of diplomatic restrictions.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Fallen Empires use very advanced technology compared to the other star nations, including yours. They are even known to have ring worlds around stars. In fact, it isn't until the middle of the game that you might be capable of beating them in a war.
    • It is also likely to be invoked specifically when an empire is forced to a corner of the galaxy with plentiful research sources that can spike technological improvements to as little amount of people as possible faster than those that sprawl massively across the map.
    • You can choose the 'Advanced AI Start' when starting a game session, which gives them a heads up in resource and technological development. Downplayed, as it's not an extreme difference, but enough to give them an edge that you will get an Early Game Hell.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: One possible planet modifier is 'Atmospheric Hallucinogen'', which grants increased Happiness, Society Research and Ethics Divergence. To quote:
    The air of this planet contains a natural hallucinogen. While this does keep people happy, and indeed seems to aid the visualization of some of the more esoteric Physics problems, it also distracts people from other work.
  • Hive Mind: Multiple variants.
    • Ordinary Fanatic Collectivist civilizations could, in early versions, get the "Hive Mind" AI. Such civilizations postured as this, but, lacking any special mechanisms, it was only so much talk; they were "only" highly collectivist civilizations bent on propogating their species by any means necessary, including making room with conquests and purges of other species if they're cornered.
    • On the other hand, the Prethyon Scourge fits completely and unambiguously. It has "fleet consciousnesses" that serve as admirals, and one can get a Prethyon Queen of one's own by severing a wounded Queen's connection to the Hive Mind as a special project.
    • The Utopia DLC enables the creation of highly customizable playable Hive Minds, at the expense of all ethics points. They have their own set of Civics that can only be used by Hive Minds and cannot use any non-Hive Mind Civics. On top of that, Hive-Minded Pops are not affected by Happiness and will never form Factions which allows Hive Mind Empires to completely ignore internal politics. They are also unable to rule over non Hive-Minded Pops and Hive-Minded pops that end up in non Hive Mind empires will be cut off from the Hive and will perish over time.
    • The Machine Empires introduced in Synthetic Dawn are AI hive minds and machines belonging to them will breakdown if the planet is captured by a non-Machine Empire. Unlike biological hive minds they are able to rule over other species.
  • Hive Queen: What's a Hive Mind without one? The biological Outside-Context Problem has many, and can even be enslaved by a relevant Special Project. And if you take the Hive Mind Civics from Utopia, your Leaders are considered 'Autonomous Drone' and your Ruler is an immortal.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Your scheme of Divide and Conquering rival Empires into successor states to be vassalized and integrated later can backfire, when that leaves the Empires too fragmented and depleted to fend for themselves when the Outside-Context Problem shows up.
    • Apocalypse allows you to rent a fleet from a Marauder and then use that fleet against the very same Marauder group.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Erudite Explorers talk like this to anyone they don't like, and to spiritualists in general.
    "You invented your faith to fill empty minds. Your people will never feel the true euphoria of an enlightened intellect."
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Spiritualist empires can arm their Colossi with a God Ray which converts all organic Pops on the planet to spiritualist and destroys all machine/synthetic pops, as well as massively increasing spiritualist ethics attraction on the planet for a time.
  • Home Guard: Defense Armies. They can't leave the planet they're recruited on.
  • Hope Spot: The Cybrex were an ancient machine race that use to span throughout the galaxy with powerful technologies that normal empires could only dream of possessing. Once getting there after finding data from all of the ruins scattered throughout the galaxy, it turns out they were a xenocidal race that attacked star systems recklessly for decades but realized their course of actions was a mistake, retreated to their homeworld and became Dead All Along after meeting up with the consequences of their genocide, and the ringworld they used to live in is now a husk and there is no existing technology for your empire that can be used to revive it other than studying its carcass for engineering development. Unless you buy a specific expansion pack that gives you Ringworld Restoration...
  • Horde of Alien Locusts:
    • You can create/play as one yourself if you make a Hive Mind with the "Devouring Swarm" civic.
    • On the NPC side of things, there's the Prethoryn Swarm.
  • Horse of a Different Color: It's possible to obtain Xeno Cavalry as mounts for your armies.
  • Hostile Terraforming:
    • A late game Crisis brings this into play: the Prethoryn Scourge does not conquer worlds, but converts them into "Infested Worlds". These worlds cannot be inhabited by any species but the Prethoryn. The only solution to worlds corrupted in this way is Orbital Bombardment. If the planet is being infested, the world can be salvaged, but once the infestation is complete, the entire world has to be completely glassed into a lifeless Barren World.
    • Playable empires cannot terraform planets hosting civilizations of any note, excepting Stone Age primitives. Though, since terraforming removes all tile blockers, including hazardous fauna and flora, it can be inferred that terraforming causes a mass extinction.
    • The Adams update brought the Extradimensional Invaders closer to the Scourge in this regard. Where they only killed off pops but left the infrastructure and biosphere intact for reclamation before, now they turn invaded worlds completely barren instead, potentially making vast swathes of the galaxy uninhabitable if they aren't stopped quickly.
    • If an empire makes a deal with the End of the Cycle, when the Reckoning comes, all of their planets will be depopulated and turned into 'Shrouded Worlds', which become uninhabitable forever.
  • Humanoid Aliens: A majority of the playable species have a basically humanoid shape, but see also Starfish Aliens.
  • Human Aliens: Whenever the game creates a random alien race and uses the human portraits.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: They have the "Quick Learners" trait (which lets leaders level up 25% faster than those of other races) by default, which can lead to faster tech advancement after the scientists have had some time to level up.
  • Humans Are Divided: The pre-gen empires include two human ones. The xenophilic United Nations of Earth, and the xenophobic militaristic Commonwealth of Man. A tie-in novel elaborates that the Commonwealth are descended from a Lost Colony established during Earth's early experiments with wormholes, which they set aside in favor of warp drive when most of the arks they launched through wormholes were destroyed. And that's not even accounting for the chance of one of the Fallen Empires spawning using a human template...
  • Humans Are Special: Sorta. As a playable race, they're an unremarkable mammalian species with only an unusually diverse array of portraits compared to other species, pre-designed starting systems and having two separate pre-designed empires. But when they're not being played as, Sol III is a positive goldmine of special Easter Eggs, including, if we nuked ourselves to oblivion, the only reliable source of Tomb World natives: semi-sentient mutant cockroaches that can be uplifted. Quirkily, humans are the only species to have their own unique quest chain — but not when played as the humans of Earth.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Humans and everybody else, as long as they obtain access to the rare Psionic tech tree.
  • Humongous Mecha: Machine Empires have the ability to build unique armies comprised of these. These Mega Warforms are the single most powerful army type in the game by a huge margin (barring certain Shroud events), and although hideously slow to build and expensive to maintain, they became even more horrifying when the Combat Widthnote  feature was introduced to planetary invasions.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Shroud. In the base game, the player's main interaction with the Shroud will be, with incautious experimentation with Jump Drive, releasing the Extradimensional Invaders to try and consume all life in the galaxy. Utopia further expands on the Shroud and its inhabitants, with whom covenants can be made; the Shroud is clearly modeled after Warhammer 40,000's Warp, although the Shroud is relatively less dangerous. Relatively.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: The default FTL method. While travel along said lanes is cheap and fast, its limited routes may put one at a disadvantage if you don't have access to wormholes, gateways, or the Jump Drive.
  • Hypocrite: Possibly an oversight, but Egalitarians and Fanatic Egalitarians are not barred from researching the Will to Power late game tech. To put in perspective, Egalitarians hate Slavery and Purge, they want Democracies or at least Oligarchies even when that includes Separatist Factions. Yet this tech allows them to field Commissar Squads to improve Army performance and build Orbital Mind Control Lasers to pacify the population.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report