The topic of the week in this series of dev diaries for Stellaris is what sets empires and species apart from each other. Most obviously, of course, they look different! We have created a great many (ca 100) unique, animated portraits for the weird and wonderful races you will encounter as you explore the galaxy. These portraits are mostly gameplay agnostic, although we have sorted them into six broad classes (Mammalian, Arthropoid, Avian, Reptilian, Molluscoid or Fungoid) which affect the names of their ships and colonies, for example. To give additional visual variety, their clothes may sometimes vary, and when you open diplomatic communications with them the room they are standing in will appear different depending on their guiding Ethos.
Speaking of Ethos, this is no doubt the most defining feature of a space empire; it affects the behavior of AI empires, likely technologies, available policies and edicts, valid government types, the opinions of other empires, and - perhaps most importantly - it provides the fuel for internal strife in large and diverse empires. When you create an empire at the start of a new game, you get to invest three points into the various ethics (you can invest two of the points into the same ethic, making you a fanatic.)
Collectivist - Individualist
Xenophobe - Xenophile
Militarist - Pacifist
Materialist - Spiritualist
Your Ethos will limit your valid selection of government types, but there are always at least three to choose from; an oligarchy of some kind, a democracy or a monarchy. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, in monarchies there are no elections, and you do not get to choose your successor when your ruler dies (except in Military Dictatorships), and if you die without an heir, all Factions in the empire will gain strength (oh, and there may be Pretender factions in monarchies...) On the other hand, each ruler may build a special "prestige object" in his or her lifetime, named after themselves. For example, military dictators can build a bigger, badder ship, and Divine Mandate monarchs can build a grand Mausoleum on a planet tile. Of course, both ethics and government types usually also have direct effects on the empire.
Keep in mind, though, that there is a clear difference between the empire you are playing and its founding race. Empires and individual population units ("Pops") have an Ethos, but a species as a whole does not. Instead, what defines a species is simply its initial name, home planet class, and portrait (and possibly certain backstory facts.) Each race also starts out with a number of genetic Traits. As with the empire Ethos, you get to spend points to invest in Traits when you create your founding species at the start of a new game.
It is natural for individual Pops to diverge in their Ethics, especially if they do not live in the core region of your empire. This has far reaching consequences for the internal dynamics of empires; how Pops react to your actions, and the creation and management of Factions, etc (more on that in a much later dev diary!) Traits are not as dynamic as ethics, but even they can change (or be changed - this is also something we will speak of more at a later date...)
The traits and ethics of individual Pops of course also affect their happiness in various environments and situations. Naturally, they cannot even live on planets that are totally anathema to them…
What sets empires and species apart from each other. Most obviously, of course, they look different!
Posted by NerdmanReturns on