Stellaris: Stories about an Empire

Posted on Sat 17 June 2017 in video games

I had the chance to play more Stellaris when Final Fantasy XIV was in maintenance mode to prepare for the release and Early Access period of its expansion, Stormblood. This time I took some notes. While the storytelling of Stellaris tends to be very direct, I find it fascinating to see an empire evolve and make different decisions when playing - leading to an experience that is never quite the same.

Let me tell you about the Rhator, of the Rhatorian Collective. They were a race of arachnoids hailing from the desert planet Yuria. Their interest in technology and robots to serve them was almost as old as their civilization and their prevalent reason to take to space was fear - fear of the cycle of destruction and recreation that is life in their galaxy.

While taking their first baby steps exploring via the Warp drive engines they discovered structures in space - temples to the very gods of their own religion but much older than their civilization. This in turn triggered a revolution and their culture turned to newfound spiritualism, casting aside their former wishes to create artificial servants, for they themselves were but servants to beings of greater nature.

After investigating several worlds that harbored life in the past, the Rhatorian scientists arrived at the conclusion that it was highly unlikely their planet would be to be eradicated of life anytime soon - as a result the report of these findings was made public. Another thing that they found during exploration of nearby star systems was the existence of another society, from 600 000 years ago. The Rhator termed them "Cybrex". The Cybrex were sentient machines that had developed a massive empire in their time until they started a crusade to wipe out organic machines from the galaxy. Traces of their ruins could be found in various star systems.

When they colonized their first world, it was a curious act. Their thirst for scientific discoveries prompted them not to colonize a neighboring star system but one further away. The first colony was named Memenos and it was a desert world, for that is what the Rhator felt most comfortable with.

The Rhatorian people began to wonder whether there actually is intelligent life out in the galaxy beside themselves, when they finally encountered a space commerce station. It was a curious finding to see a neutral space station not belonging to any other spacefaring society.

Then began the emigration waves. The next planet to be settled was Lazon Prime, in the neighboring star system. However, not all was great in the empire. They failed. They, as a collective, failed to protect their people on Memenos when they could not stop the impact of a gigantic asteroid on Memenos. Millions died that day and would be mourned for generations to come.

After several attempts at centralized governing all colonies and its home world, the Rhatorian Collective decided that Lazon Prime should be their first individual sector.

It was not long until they made contact with the Mandasura Empire, a society of evangelizing plantoid zealots. They were initially sceptic towards the Rhatorian ways and later turned into the reason of the Rhatorian empire's decline. When several disputes about border rights triggered a war, the Rhator took heavy losses and had to cede four of their systems to the Mandasura. The population consisting of Rhator was enslaved and the indigenous population of primitives was even killed off. The Rhator faced the dreaded end of their civilization - but by different means than they had expected when they took to the stars.

This was the point where I concluded that I didn't want to continue this game since the Mandasura attacked me with a fleet with a value of 4600 and my whole fleet was positioned at 600 at the start of the conflict. Needless to say the situation was more than bleak.

I really like how there's so much story telling potential in Stellaris, but really wish that there was a log of events or such. Some player-accessible record of things that happened during one game. Such a log would allow me to better review how my empire had developed and share my experiences with others.