Ethics are the guiding principles of an empire and its people and determine an empire or pop's favored courses of action and responses to situations. Empires and individual populations don't always align ethically which can cause internal strife in large nations. AI species follow the same ethics rules and their behavior is heavily dependent on the ethics they follow. Naturally, a Militarist Xenophobe alien empire will react very differently to the player than a Pacifist Xenophile. AI empires will, however, compromise on their ethics if circumstances are dire enough, for instance, if threatened with imminent conquest.
Every empire except Fallen Empires can have either three moderate ethics or one fanatic and one moderate ethic. Fallen Empires have only one fanatic ethic. Pops have only one moderate ethic each.
Each empire has 3 ethic points which can be spent on ethics. Each moderate ethic costs 1 point and each fanatic ethic costs 2 points. Gestalt Consciousness is the "true neutral" ethic for collective societies without individual agency; it costs 3 ethic points and requires either the Utopia DLC or the Synthetic Dawn DLC.
Empire ethics have a profound effect on options available during the game. For instance, diplomatic options with alien species are affected by ethics, as are some options for dealing with anomalies. As a result, ethics choices have a greater impact on game experience than the bonuses and maluses listed on this page.
There are 4 ethic axes present:
- The Authoritarian-Egalitarian axis looks at whether the empire's political power belongs in the hands of the few or the many.
- The Materialist-Spiritualist axis looks at whether the unknowns of the universe can be explained by science or the existence of something greater.
- The Militarist-Pacifist axis looks at whether the empire's military should be used offensively or strictly defensively.
- The Xenophile-Xenophobe axis looks at whether alien species and cultures should be embraced or distrusted.
|Fanatic Spiritualist|| Fanatic Militarist
|Fanatic Authoritarian||Authoritarian|| Gestalt Consciousness
|Fanatic Xenophile||Fanatic Pacifist||Fanatic Materialist|
Each pop in an empire will embrace a single, moderate ethic, which determines the Faction a pop will eventually join. At the start of the game the population's ethics will match the empire ethics but as an empire grows its population will become more diverse in its views and wants. Each ethic has an attraction value for each pop in an empire depending on both the empire's situation and their own situation.
Over time, the ethics of the pops will drift in such a way that it roughly matches the overall attraction of that value. For example, if the materialist attraction sits at 10% for decades, it's likely that after that time, around 10% of all pops will be materialist. There is some random factor so it's likely never going to match up perfectly, but the system is built to try and go towards the mean, so the more over-represented an ethic is compared to its attraction, the more likely pops are to drift away from it and vice versa.
The following attraction factors are valid for each ethic:
- +2 if the empire has the ethic in moderate form
- +3 if the empire has the ethic in fanatic form
- +2 if the empire does not have the ethic and the Faction representing it has formed
- +0.5 if the leader of the Faction representing the ethic is the empire ruler
Each ethic has its own multitude of factors that will increase or lower its attraction.
Governing Ethics Attraction
Governing Ethics Attraction is a modifier that attracts Pops towards the primary ethics of an empire rather than unrelated ethics. As the Factions corresponding to the governing ethics tend to have more Faction Approval having Pops match those ethics to join those Factions is desirable. The main factor that determines Governing Ethics Attraction is the Happiness of Pops. In addition an empire's Governing Ethics Attraction can be affected by the following:
|Hearts and Minds ambition edict||+100%|
|One Vision ascension perk||+50%|
|Information Quarantine edict||+50%|
|Conformists species trait||+30%|
|Isolationist diplomatic stance||+25%|
|The Greater Good harmony tradition||+25%|
|Deep Space Black Site starbase building||+25%|
|Conservative species trait||+25%|
|Chosen One ruler trait||+20%|
|Full Circle empire modifier||+20%|
|Psychic ruler trait||+10%|
|Spurred by the Past empire modifier||+10%|
|Deviants species trait||−15%|
|Criminal Heritage: Disinformation Center Corporate Building||−50%|
Empire ethics can be changed once every 20 years by embracing a faction. You will also receive a notification if another empire does so. Embracing a faction causes an ethic shift to the faction's ethic, having it added or promoted into fanatic if you have it. Other ethics gets demoted or removed to keep the total ethic points the same as before, using the following rule:
|Shifting to a new ethic|
|Shifting to an existing ethic|
|Shifting to an opposite ethic|
|means the ethic with the lowest attraction|
One way to ensure an ethic has the lowest attraction and will be removed is to suppress it and promote other factions with the game paused, shift ethics and then undo the suppression and promotions before unpausing.