An ethos (also called ethics) is considered the sum of all beliefs and ideals that a given group of people have. It is responsible for their favored courses of action and responses to situations. Ethos has a profound effect on options available during the game. For instance, diplomatic options with alien species are affected by Ethos, as are some options for dealing with anomalies. As a result Ethos choices have a greater impact on game experience than the bonuses and maluses listed on this page.
AI species follow the same Ethics rules and their behaviour is heavily dependent on the ethics they follow. Naturally, a Militarist Xenophobe alien species will react very differently to the player than a Pacifist Xenophile. AI species will however compromise on their ethics if circumstances are dire enough, for instance if threatened with imminent conquest.
Every empire is limited in the amount of ethos it can possess. In general it's possible to either have three different moderate ethos types or one fanatical ethos and one moderate one.
By default each ethic is neutral which provides no bonuses nor maluses. Each "step" into a given ethos costs one point and will lock/unlock different government types as well as specific bonuses and possibly maluses. Investing two points into one type results in a more "extreme" version of an ethos that grants further bonuses and potential greater maluses.[Note 1]
Collectivist - Individualist
The collectivist - individualist dichotomy looks at the worth of an individual.
Collectivists consider that an individual should cooperate with the rest of the society in order to benefit society as a whole. In contrast, individualists believe that an individual should be the master of their own destiny and pursue their own goals, dreams, and ambitions.
Collectivists focus on pursuing one common goal while the individualists focus on attempting to coexist while each pursuing their own. As such, even though collectivists empathise "the need of many" they do not deal well with democracy and lean towards autocracy (aren't self-centred enough to reject autocracy, aren't chaotic enough to deal with democracy). Meanwhile, even though individualists empathise the "radiant genius of individuals", they don't deal well with autocracy and instead lean towards democracy (aren't driven enough to reject democracy, aren't compliant enough to to deal with autocracy).
In mechanical terms, Collectivists tolerate the idea of slavery, while Individualists do not. Collectivists consume less Food, while Individualists gain bonuses to Energy production. Each of the two also have access to unique colonisation technologies (determined by the ethos of the scientist employed), with Collectivists focusing on reducing ethics divergence even further, and Individualists focusing on more rapid expansion.
Xenophobe - Xenophile
The xenophobe - xenophile dichotomy looks at the acceptance of foreign species.
Xenophobes consider that different species would introduce foreign ideas and thoughts that could destabilise and, in the end, destroy the empire or, at the very least, its cultural and genetic identity. In contrast, Xenophiles believe that society would grow stagnant without different concepts and moralities and are thus considered staunch believers in unity by diversity. Xenophobes are particularly keen on enslaving aliens, though will never accept them as equals while Xenophiles prefer making alliances viewing all organics as equal.
Militarist - Pacifist
The militarist - pacifist dichotomy looks at the merit of war.
Militarists consider aggression as the only needed form of diplomacy required and wars are thus viewed as a tradition. In contrast, pacifists believe that violence breeds even more hatred and that friendly cooperation between different empires brings forth more long-term benefit than undignified bloodshed.
In mechanical terms, only Militarists get access to strongest type of orbital bombardment and have strong advantages when it comes to war. Pacifists on the other hand can't harmfully interact with primitive sentients, they get a bonus for being at peace. Fanatical Pacifists can't declare unrestrictive war on others.
Militarists and Pacifists will have a hard time allying with each other due to -20 "differing war philosophy" modifier. For non-militarists offensive wars incur a -10% war happiness penalty which is added to the pacifist penalty from being at war where applicable.
Materialist - Spiritualist
The materialist - spiritualist dichotomy looks at the nature of being and reality in general.
Materialists disregard superstition, considering that life has no intrinsic meaning outside of their own reality and that the only true purpose is what they make of it. In contrast, spiritualists believe that consciousness surpasses materiality and that their temporal, corporeal bodies, subjected to the vicissitudes of the universe, are only a means towards a greater end: To improve themselves spiritually in anticipation of their future ascension to higher planes of existence.
Materialists get useful bonuses to all research output, and receive no penalty to happiness for employing certain technologies. Spiritualists, while having lower ethics divergence and growth time, will suffer happiness penalties for adopting policies involving the use of robotics or genetic enhancement of leadership. Materialists are unable to access psionics research by default, while Spiritualists have the same issue with robotics (though both can still obtain them as research alternatives by employing a scientist with the proper expertise).
Pop Ethos, Government Ethos and Ethics Divergence
At the start of the game all the pops on your home planet will be of the Government Ethos. Newly grown pops copy the ethos set of a pop unit already on the planet, with a slight preference for the same species. That last part means new colonists should be selected on Ethics as much as Habitability and Traits.
A few things however can result in pops that do not conform to the Government Ethos:
- Positive (red) Ethics Divergence will result in pops diverging away from the Government Ethos towards totally new Ethos sets, including the opposite ones. Prior to patch 1.1, "Clarke", ethos divergence tended towards neutrality, instead of towards new ethics.
- Once factions form, their "Gather Support" effect can flip the ethoses of other pops on the planet/sector which can result in them becoming unhappy and joining the faction as well.
- Adding citizens of another Empire via Migration, Resettlement or Conquest can introduce a totally new set of Ethics into the mix.
Either of the 3 may then affect other newly born pops. Unless you go for a high Anti-Divergence build, assume that pops will diverge and that pop level ethos modifiers will be lost to some extent.
Having conflicting sets of ethoses can be a big hinderance to an empire. The lack of a basic ethos line means that any given policy might upset any number of citizens, with the opposite choice having similar effects on other pops, making every possible choice different degrees of Lose-Lose for the player. Also, pop assignment to certain planet tiles in particular might get problematic, as the original pop-level ethos bonuses that you started with might not be present on the planet in question.
In terms of Empire-wide modifiers, there are a few ways to deal with diverging Ethics:
- Embrace it. Individualists' Empire Modifier to "Policy Unhappiness" as of 1.3 greatly reduces the day-to-day stress on the proliferate Individualist Empire in terms of managing reflectionarily conflicting government policies.
- Overshadow it. This requires considerable bonus Happiness. The idea is to add so much happiness that even with the Divergence and Policy penalties, pops stay happy enough most of the time.
- Avoid it. Negative (green) Ethics Divergence means that the pop will start shifting towards the Government Ethos. This can even convert conquered or migrated pops to your ethos over a considerable enough length of time. Primarily however it prevents new divergence from taking hold.
- Purge it. If any of your pop lose the status of that ethic. Purge it and newborn will replace old generation. This is only possible if collectivist is on.
Ethics Divergence Modifiers
The base modifier is +0.1% multiplied by the distance from the Capital solar system.
The following table may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.3.
Though ethics of pops cannot be specifically modified through any piece of technology, you can let ethics divergence remain high on certain worlds in order to "breed" a pop with a desired combination of ethics. Once one such pop is randomly created you can build any number of colony ships from that pop to spread the specific ethic code throughout other worlds. If your empire permits purges, you can also purge all undesired pops to let the desired one fill the planet while creating the necessary buildings to bring down ethics divergence. You can also purge other colonised worlds and recolonise them with the new pop. These methods are especially useful for creating a docile, easy to control version of a useful but problematic conquered alien species.
- The extremity grants a bonus (and malus, if there is one) that scales at 3x, higher than the cost increase of 2x.