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Stellaris Dev Diary #101 - Marauders, Pirates and the Horde

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today, we continue talking about the Apocalypse expansion and 2.0 'Cherryh' update, on the topic of Marauders and Pirates.

Marauders (Apocalypse Feature)
Marauders are a new type of non-playable empire that those with the Apocalypse expansion can encounter in the galaxy. They are essentially nomadic FTL societies that have eschewed planetary living in favor of living on ships and stations in and around a handful of resource-rich systems, subsisting largely on raiding each other and extorting tribute from settled empires. Being born spacefarers, they are hardy warriors and expert ship crew, able to muster impressive fleets despite their relative lack of technology compared to other older civilizations (such as Fallen Empires). Marauders are always hostile to regular empires, but will generally not attack them unless you attempt to enter their home systems, or they are in the process of raiding them.


Marauders will occasionally set out to raid settled empires they have established contact with. Before raiding, they will offer said empire a chance to pay them off with a hefty tribute of minerals, energy or food. If you refuse, they will send a fleet to that empire's territory, pillaging stations and raiding planets for slaves, stopping only when they are either destroyed or satisfied with the amount of booty they have amassed. While in the process of raiding, they can still be bought off with tribute, but the price will be raised significantly from if you just agreed to pay them off from the start. Settled empires can pay a Marauder empire to conduct a raid on one of their rivals, both diverting their attention from yourself and potentially weakening that rival's military and economy. A Marauder empire can be wiped out by destroying all stations and ships in their home systems, but these systems are well defended and will take a powerful mid to late game navy to deal with.


Settled empires can also enlist the aid of Marauders as mercenaries. At the start of the game, it is possible to hire them as Generals or Admirals with a high starting skill and special traits, and after a certain amount of time has passed, the option to hire their fleets will also be unlocked. Marauder fleets cost a large energy payment up-front, and consist of a fixed-size fleet that cannot be split, merged or disbanded, with a leader that cannot be reassigned. The fleet does not count towards your naval cap and will not cost any maintenance, but will only serve you for a period of 5 years, after which you will have to renew their contract by paying the full cost again.

Horde Mid-Game Crisis (Apocalypse Feature)
Also new in the Apocalypse expansion is something we're calling the Horde Mid-Game Crisis. This is an event chain that can trigger after the first 100 years of the game, where one of the Marauder empires unifies under a Great Khan. Once this happens, the Marauder empire becomes a Horde, and will begin expanding in all directions, claiming empty systems and sending fleets to destroy the Starbases of any empire that will not submit to the Khan. At any time, it possible for a regular empire to submit to the Khan and become a Satrapy, a type of subject that has to pay part of its income and naval capacity in tribute to the Khan, but is otherwise left to its own devices. The Horde will grow stronger for every system it conquers and Satrapy it acquires, but it is a fragile construct, held together only by the personality of the Khan. If the Great Khan is killed in battle, or falls victim to disease or assassination, the Horde will collapse, at which point one of several things will happen to the Horde and its Satrapies: It may dissolve into a myriad of squabbling successor states, or a new, democratic Federation may form out of its ashes. Regardless, the appearance of the Khan and the Horde is sure to shake up the galactic scene of any game in which it makes an appearance.


Pirate Rework (Cherryh Feature)
Finally, though not directly related to Marauders, we wanted to mention that we have made some changes to pirates in the 2.0 'Cherryh' update. Back in the dev diary about Starbases, we talked about discouraging 'snaking' and leaving empty systems inside your borders by adjusting the influence costs. This turned out not to work so well in testing for a variety of reasons, and so we decided on a different solution, by expanding on the concept of pirates. Now, once the Birth of Space Piracy event has fired, Pirates will be able to spawn in empty systems bordering your empire. These pirates will attack your systems and pillage your stations until they are destroyed, and will grow stronger and more numerous over the course of the game. They are especially likely to spawn in systems that are fully surrounded by your borders, making any empty systems in the middle of your empire into potential hotbeds of trouble that you are likely going to want to take control of sooner or later. As part of these changes, we have removed most of the static pirate spawns in the galaxy, leaving only their home system with the Pirate Galleon.

That's all for today! Next week we'll continue talking about Cherryh and the Apocalypse expansion, on the topic of Edicts and Unity Ambitions.
  • Great Martin, we still do not have confirmation on wether the Doggo Art you call a "placeholder" in the war screen can stay. Please let it stay.
Regarding the change to Mastery of Nature: Will the edict which changes the planet tile count also change the planet_size value? I would assume it does, which also would make the graphical appearance of the planet bigger. Not a big deal in gameplay terms but it feels a bit off. If my assumption is correct: Will this mechanic work with on_action so potential adjustments to third party graphical effects can be made at the same time the edict is used?

This question is regarding the latest DD before christmas:
The rate at which the planet is damaged can also be slowed with the construction of buildings such as Planetary Defense Shield, further dragging out the process.

A few questions regarding the planetary shield. Are there any ideas to make that building a bit more interesting? Instead of just dragging out the time of a bombardment it could for example prevent the bombardment from totally destroying defending armies. So that with the shield caps at whatever value fits like not going below 20% or so as long as the building is active.

Also for the planetary shield is there a chance we might ever see a vanilla shield effect for planets with a shield generator? Right now it is possible to kind of recreate such an effect but it is more of a workaround prone to errors.

Now some more questions regarding some older dds.

The modifier to improve the chance of ships escaping from combat when being defeated as shown in the hit and run doctrine. Will this modifier be applyable to single ships (usable in ship scope)?

Systeminitializers and clusters: Will it be possible to define clusters and connections between systems of said cluster as well as their connectivity to the rest of the galaxy? So that standard starlanes could be deactivated to the outside systems and only be visitable via gates. Can a single systeminitializer be set to only connect via special means and without starlane and be spawned mid game?

Gatenetworks: Will those be moddable? Can we create an extra kind of gate that is only connectable to gates of its own kind and not of the vanilla version? I would like to be able to use them like a whormhole connection between two points.

When Marauders try to raid your systems, can you fight them ?

Of course. Destroying their fleet is naturally one way to stop them from raiding you.
@Wiz Do the Marauders have a economy like normal Empires, e.g. mine space ressources, pay upkeep and build ships, or do they get new fleets via Events?
Will devouring Swarm, fanatic purifier, or determined exterminators be able to interact with the marauders ?

Asides from paying them off when being raided, no.
@Wiz Do the Marauders have a economy like normal Empires, e.g. mine space ressources, pay upkeep and build ships, or do they get new fleets via Events?

They are event-driven. Some successor states to the Horde will work like regular empires though.
Well, this I like. A lot. Can't wait to play around with them space-booty-chasin' ne'er-do-wells.
Will the Marauders be able to rebuild destroyed stations and ships?

And what do they mean "leave you to your own devices until we have secured the galaxy"? Is there anything you haven't told us yet? :D
Neat :)

Does the Khan ever get replaced by another? I'm wondering if Khanates will always be temporary things because you can just wait them out until he/she dies of old age.

Can we do any projects to assassinate the Khan given that assassination is mentioned as being one way he/she can be removed? Perhaps by paying other Marauder factions?

Finally if we hire a fleet of Marauders and it looses ships can we reinforce it, do the Marauder's reinforce it (possibly with payment) or is it just stuck at a lower fleet power until the contract can be renewed?