Pre-FTL species

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This article is considered accurate for the current version (1.4) of the game.

There are two types of pre-FTL species in the game; primitive civilizations, and pre-sentient species.

Primitive civilizations are civilizations that have yet to develop the technology necessary for space travel. They fall into one of two broad categories - Pre-Industrial and Industrial, both of which have a number of subcategories, such as Bronze Age and Early Space Age, that help to clearly define their level of technological progress.[1]

Pre-sentient species are species that shows particular promise. They would likely evolve some manner of intelligence on their own if they were left alone for a few million years, but spacefaring empires can instead accelerate this process, turning the pre-sentients into productive galactic citizens within the span of just a few decades.[2]

Primitive species[edit]

A spacefaring empire that has discovered a primitive civilization can deal with it in a number of different ways.

  • Conquest: Primitive civilizations can always be conquered as long as the policy for native interference is set to Unrestricted. Primitive civilizations have no means to resist a technologically advanced invader, although Industrial and especially Post-Atomic civilizations can be harder to conquer. The prize of an invasion is the planet itself, and the primitives that can also be a source of cheap labor once enslaved or integrated. They will, however, be subject to a additional culture shock modifier to Happiness. They will also lack a capital building, allowing the player to place one freely at any place. Annexing a primitive civilization this way also gives a relationship penalty with all AI empires that are not tagged as Dominators (conquering Primitives).

Culture shock locks out using the pops for colony ships and is applied to every existing pop. As long as there is at least one pop with the modifier, newly grown pops will get a reduced duration version of the debuff. Culture shock works as follows (all modifiers include -10% happiness for the specified duration):

Civilisation Age Minerals/Energy penalty Research penalty Duration (existing Pops) Duration (new Pops)
Bronze Age -50% -100% 100 years 20 years
Iron Age -45% -100% 85 years 17 years
Late medieval Age -40% -100% 70 years 14 years
Renaissance -35% -100% 60 years 12 years
Steam Age -30% -100% 50 years 10 years
Industrial Age -25% 80% 35 years 7 years
Machine Age -20% 60% 25 years 5 years
Atomic Age -15% 40% 20 years 4 years
Early Space Age -10% 20% 10 years 2 years
  • Observation: Empires might prefer the construction of hidden Observation Posts in high orbit over primitive worlds. This allows for the safe study as well as influencing the primitive civilization. The exact options available depend on Interference Policy and Government Ethos.

Observation missions[edit]

Observation posts typically have four exclusive missions that can be undertaken.

  • Passive Observation: The scientific staff of an Observation Post operating under the Passive Observation mission will make every effort to conceal their presence from the primitives, in order to avoid detrimental effects caused by interfering with their natural development. The primary directive of the scientists is to safeguard the natives from any cultural or technological contamination, while studying them in secret. Grants +3 Society Research.png society research. This is the initial mission for any new observation post and always available. It has a low likelihood for events.
  • Aggressive Observation: This mission calls for regular abductions from among the primitive population. The objective is typically to acquire genetic samples to provides more research data than what a more passive approach would. This approach is obvious to the population and is known to cause Xenophobic tendencies as well as event chains. Grants +6 Society Research.png society research. The empire's Native Interference policy must be Active or Unrestricted.
  • Technological Enlightenment: This mission consists of bringing the primitives up to the level of technology a spacefaring empire enjoys. This can be a monumental effort and will require a significant investment of time and a monthly cost of 5 Energy Credits.png energy and 5 Society Research.png Society research. The speed at which technological enlightenment proceeds depends on which level of technology the primitive civilization has - Machine Age primitives take 50 months to enlighten, while Steam Age primitives take 100 months to enlighten. Enlightenment goes directly to the space age in one step. Once the primitives have achieved space flight, they will be turned into a Protectorate of their benefactors.
  • Covert Infiltration: Agents that have been surgically altered to resemble individuals from a primitive species are sent to infiltrate their society. Political and military leaders are gradually replaced, until the primitives can be made to willingly accept an offer of annexation. This spares the need of a messy ground invasion, and the primitives will be more positively inclined towards the annexing empire since they will believe that they willingly accepted their rule. Covert Infiltration requires the Unrestricted Studies policy (not allowed for Pacifist or Xenophile ethos). The primitive must have industry or higher level of civilization to become a valid target. The infiltration happens in 4 phases (every 25% is the next). During the infiltration phase negative events have a chance to trigger, which could lead to loss in progress or special projects. After infiltration is complete, the planet becomes part of the empire directly and several buildings are placed for free. This option lacks the Culture Shock and Diplomacy penalties of Conquest. However the pops still have a negative happiness modifier for being conquered as well as any Ethical difference.


Age Monthly progress Enlightenment time Description
Bronze Age 0.2% 500 Months This civilization is currently in the equivalent of a Bronze Age. Primitive metalworking and the first written languages have appeared, while cities and larger communities are taking shape.
Iron Age 0.3% 334 Months This civilization is currently in the equivalent of an Iron Age. They have spread across most of their homeworld, while iron smelting and forging techniques have enabled them to forge crude but effective tools and weaponry.
Late Medieval Age 0.4% 250 Months This civilization is currently experiencing the equivalent of a Late Medieval Age. They have a firm grasp of metallurgy, and the invention of the printed press has started to benefit the spread of knowledge.
Renaissance Age 0.5% 200 Months This civilization is currently experiencing the equivalent of a Renaissance Age. Scientific knowledge is increasing at a rapid rate, and the invention of gunpowder has revolutionized warfare.
Steam Age 1% 100 Months This civilization is currently in the equivalent of a Steam Age. The invention of the steam engine has had far-reaching effects on their society and they stand on the cusp of an industrial revolution.
Industrial Age 1.5% 67 Months This civilization has advanced into the equivalent of an early Industrial Age. Electricity and internal combustion engines are gradually coming into widespread use, while urbanization increases at a rapid pace.
Machine Age 2% 50 Months This civilization has advanced into the equivalent of a Machine Age, considered a later part of the Industrial Age. Their factories are mass-producing goods and vehicles, and air travel is becoming commonplace.
Atomic Age 2.5% 40 Months This civilization has advanced into the equivalent of an Atomic Age. They have harnessed the power of the atom, but not yet made it into space. Nuclear weapons may be prolific, and could result in a sudden extinction event.
Early Space Age 2.5% 40 Months This civilization has entered an Early Space Age. Primitive satellites are orbiting their homeworld, and the first manned space missions have been concluded in low orbit. They will soon be ready to leave their world.

Native Advancement[edit]

Native empires can advance ages by themselves. The mean time to happen is 160 years for advancements up to the Steam Age, and 100 years for later advancements. There is a cooldown of 60 years after advancing ages before further advances are possible. Having an observation post built will notify you of every age advancement.

FTL Discovery[edit]

Early Space Age civilizations will eventually develop one of the three basic FTL drives, turning them into a normal empire. If another planet was colonized in the same system or a frontier outpost was built around the star the new empire will become an enclave within the larger empire.

Nuclear War[edit]

Atomic Age and, to a lesser extent, Early Space Age primitives have a small chance of starting a nuclear war. It can also happen as a result of failed covert infiltrations. There are two possible outcomes after the war. Either the planet will be turned into a tomb world and the existing civilization regress to an earlier age, or they will wipe themselves out entirely, turning the planet into a toxic world. If an observation post is in orbit you will be notified of the event.

Pre-sentient species and Uplifting[edit]

As opposed to primitives, planets of pre-sentient species can be colonized, and offer several different event chains. The pre-sentient pop will start growing after colonization (or after building an orbital mining/research station; this is likely to be a bug though) and block surface tiles from being worked or built on, without giving any direct bonus. They prefer to populate food-related tiles. They will not produce any resources for the planet's owner and cannot be moved away from their tile. The colony ship shelter can not be placed on a tile with a pre-sentient pop.

They can also be uplifted given the proper technological development. The planet needs to be within your direct borders, and must be colonized in order to uplift the native pre-sentient species. Uplifting a species requires Tech epigenetic triggers.png Epigenetic Triggers and costs 5000 Society Research.png Society society research points. Uplifted species become part of your empire and get a +20% Mod pop happiness.png happiness bonus when inhabiting your planets. Finishing an uplift also grants 500 Influence.png influence.

While extremely rare, it is possible for a pre-sentient species and a pre-FTL one to spawn on the same planet.

Stone Age Primitives[edit]

There is a third possibility of non-FTL races which is something in between, stone age primitives. They appear as modifier on planets. These planets can be colonized if the policy for native interference is Unrestricted, something unavailable to Pacifist.png pacifist or Xenophile.png xenophile empires and their fanatic counterparts. Stone age primitives can develop to bronze age primitives over time, allowing the construction of observation posts and the observation missions. The change is noticeable because you will no longer be able to construct a research or miner station in orbit of the planet, meaning the star system yields will change on the map, so you don't have to check in on the planet itself every time.

Provided an Empire is able to colonize the world, an event will be triggered upon finishing the colony with varying actions. Known Variations:

  • Voluntarily retreat to Enclaves rather than contest the primitives for the land: Places a number of primitives on the surface map as tile blockers. These blockers cannot be removed, though they provide Social Science adjacency bonuses.
  • Put the primitives in reservations: Very few tile blockers (0-3). The natives will occasionally rise up in revolt, killing a random pop or (?) destroying a random building. There is also an event where some native get out of the Enclaves, you may choose to get them as pop, or get them back in the Enclaves.
  • Enslavement: No tile blockers. The new species appears as enslaved pops on the planet. The slaves can be emancipated, and integrated into the empire. Useful if a pop is needed to colonize worlds of the same type as their homeworld. Option is only available if slavery (of Xenos) is enabled as a policy.

Despite being technically inhabited, planets with Stone Age primitives can be terraformed. The terraforming process does not kill the indigenous population. If the Enslavement option is chosen after terraforming and colonising a planet with Stone Age primitives, their pops will have a habitability trait for the new planet type. This allows for the creation of Gaia-preference species, although that is quite useless as they cannot live anywhere else but on Gaia worlds.

Stone Age primitives on unsettled planets can sometimes develop an early civilization by themselves, with a mean time of 200 years. This turns them into a Bronze Age primitive empire. This can only happen if their planet is unsettled.

Technological Enlightenment Strategy[edit]

Example of a protectorate enclave.

Technologically enlightening primitives results in establishing a protectorate which can be very beneficiary due to a monthly +0.5 Influence.png influence bonus. However enlightenment will also mean a certain loss of territory to the new protectorate government. A border is drawn that obviously contains the space within the species' own solar system and may extend to a few neighboring systems.

Most overlords will agree upon minimizing territorial loses to their new beneficiaries. Control of exploitable space objects can be retained if mineral and research stations are built preemptively to enlightenment. Also all colonies established within the protectorate border will remain in direct control of the overlord or one of his governing sectors.

Be wary that uncolonized habitable planets of neighboring systems may fall within the borders of the protectorate. If none are preemptively colonized, a frontier outpost is necessary to reestablish rights to colonize.


  1. Dev Diary #13 - Primitive Civilizations
  2. Dev Diary #14 - Uplifting and Subspecies
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