There are two types of pre-FTL species in the game: primitive civilizations and pre-sapient species.
Primitive civilizations are civilizations that have yet to develop the technology necessary for interstellar space travel. They advance through multiple ages as their history is written. Primitive civilizations can become full-fledged interstellar empires if they are technologically enlightened by another spacefaring empire and can either be incorporated into said empire or given independence. If left alone, however, primitive civilizations will develop on their own and eventually become spacefaring themselves, and will then act and function like a regular empire. Primitive civilizations can be made plentiful or outright disabled via the galaxy generation options.
Pre-sapient species are animal species that show particular promise. They would likely evolve some degree and manner of intelligence on their own if they were left alone for a few million years, but spacefaring empires can accelerate this process, turning the pre-sapients into productive galactic citizens within the span of just a few decades.
Primitive civilizations exist in various ages of development they slowly go through.
Primitive civilizations can advance through ages by themselves as their history is written. The mean time for this to happen is 160 years for all advancements up to the Steam Age, and 100 years for all advancements after that. There is a minimum cooldown of 60 years after advancing ages before further advances are possible. Having an observation post built will notify you of every age advancement.
Early Space Age civilizations that don't have an observation post built in orbit will eventually develop basic hyperdrives, turning them into a normal empire. If a Starbase was built around the star the new empire will ask the owner for control of it. Should the request be accepted they will be granted control of the Starbase and all colonized planets in the system and gain a temporary +100 Opinion towards the former owner. If the request is refused the civilization will be annexed. Annexing the civilization will cost 200 Influence if Xenophile or Fanatic Xenophile while granting it control of the system will cost 200 Influence if Xenophobe or Fanatic Xenophobe. Genocidal empires only have the option to annex the civilization.
There is no catch-up mechanism for these empires; unless they advance very early in the game, they will likely be quickly conquered or turned into a Protectorate, especially as a Primitive civilization cannot develop FTL in the first 25 years of a game.
Atomic Age and Early Space Age primitives have a small chance of starting a nuclear war. This can happen randomly but can also occur as a result of failed Covert Infiltration although those wars can be prevented via an intervention through a special event. There are three possible outcomes after the war:
- 75% chance the race will go extinct and world will be turned into a tomb world
- 25% chance the race will go extinct and world will be turned into a toxic world
- (failed Covert Infiltration only) the existing civilization regresses to an earlier age
If an observation post is in orbit, you will be notified of the event. Nuclear wars are 50% less likely to happen if the civilization is being indoctrinated and will not happen if the civilization is being enlightened.
Note: A primitive civilization's ethics have no effect on their history and progress. A spiritualist civilization advances just as fast as a materialist one and a pacifist civilization is just as likely to start a nuclear war as a militarist one.
Primitive civilizations can always be invaded and conquered as long as their system has been claimed and the Native Interference policy is set to Unrestricted. Primitive civilizations have no means to resist a technologically superior invader, although Industrial and especially Post-Atomic civilizations can be harder to conquer early game. The prize one can obtain from an invasion is the planet itself, any and all resources and buildings on it along with the primitives that can be used as a source of cheap labor once enslaved or integrated as citizens.
Conquered worlds will get the Stellar Culture Shock modifier for 10 years, which locks out the former primitive pops from using colony ships, joining Factions or being released as a Vassal. It also brings -20% Stability and -33% Resources from Jobs. This modifier can be avoided if the primitive pops are resettled.
Empires might prefer the construction of hidden Observation Posts in high orbit over primitive worlds. This allows for the safe study and, if one so desires, influencing the primitive civilization. Observation posts typically have a number of exclusive missions that can be undertaken. Each mission can trigger various events.
As opposed to primitives, planets of pre-sapient species can be colonized. The pre-sapient pops do not require either Housing or Amenities. The Pre-Sapients policy determines their status. Unlike sapient species, pre-sapients can be purged without diplomatic repercussions from any empire.
While extremely rare, it is possible for both a pre-sapient species and a pre-FTL species to spawn on the same planet.
For pre-sapient species the option to create templates is replaced with the option to Uplift them. The planet does not need to be colonized in order to uplift the native pre-sapient species, but the star system where the planet is located must be within the empire's borders. Uplifting a species requires the Epigenetic Triggers technology and costs 3000 society Research. Uplifted species become part of the empire that uplifted them and get a +10% happiness bonus when inhabiting that empire's planets due to getting the Uplifted trait. Finishing an uplift also grants 500 influence.
When an uplift is complete, the pre-sapient species receive the default species rights according to the host empire, even if it is displacement from their own home. Most uplift processes tend to be rocky (70% chance of -5% planet mineral output).
Pre-sapients Coexistence Events
These events can only take place on colonies that contain pre-sapients that are not being uplifted. They cannot happen in the first 10 years of a game.
- The pre-sapients damage some currency transfers antennas, causing an energy credits loss of anywhere from -100 to -300.
- Your presence agitates the pre-sapients. Driving them off will grant a small unity reward. Xenophobe empires will gain influence instead while Xenophile can investigate and earn a small amount of society and engineering research.
- Xeno-researchers demand to be allowed to experiment on pre-sapients. Accepting will give you a moderate amount of society research and -15% happiness for two years while refusing will add -20% society output for two years. Xenophobe and Fanatic Xenophobe empires will gain influence instead of the happiness reduction for accepting.
Technological Enlightenment Strategy
Technologically enlightening primitives results in establishing a Protectorate which can be very beneficial due to a monthly +0.25 influence bonus as well as their high opinion making them loyal. However, enlightenment will also mean transferring the starbase to the new empire, along with every station built in the system, as well as any planets undergoing colonization and those previously colonized. Protectorates can be integrated without having to wait for them to catch up technologically.
Uplifting Pre-FTL societies can also be useful from a purely pragmatic standpoint as there are a number of special traits that can only be found on Pre-Sapient species that come with very good bonuses that could be a very useful asset to an interstellar empire. Uplifting the Pre-sapients allows you to get your hands on those valuable traits by turning them into usable pops of your empire which retain the traits and can then be put to good use. These special traits can only be found on Pre-FTL pops and cannot be obtained through any other means, not even through advanced gene-modding. Uplifting the species will also give them the Uplifted Trait which makes them happier when living within your empire, which is nice extra bonus.