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The Great Alarian Harmony
Queen Violet I and a Lilarobian in the Imperial Palace, Jasmine City
This royal portrait was completed shortly before the Harmony's scientists achieved interstellar flight. It has since been popularly used, along with images of the science ship USS Queen Violet I and its crew, as one of the symbols of that great achievement, and that defining period of Alarian history.
after Galactic Administration
The Alarians are born botanists. The bulk of their buildings are formed from living plants, causing their cities to blend in with the landscape.
They are so deeply part of their environment that they struggle in biomes they haven't terraformed to suit them. Even some of the components of their ships are grown, not constructed.
They tend to eschew violence, preferring to work in harmony with their surroundings. They need very little room to themselves, and their shared public spaces are normally full of heated philosophical debate. After all, it's not a harmony without many different parts!
The Lilarobians are the jewel in the crown of Alarian botanical engineering. They are not as intelligent as their creators, though they surpass them in charm, and are considered to be a valuable part of the Harmony: perhaps its bassline.
Though the Alarians are content to put them to work - much as they do all plant matter - they never try to move them. Whether that is more respect for their deep-rooted nature or fear of their strength, it's hard to say, and that's perhaps why nobody tries.
I used to play the Harmony as xenophile instead of authoritarian, but considering they have imperial authority and are friendly and diplomatic regardless, it works out better politically to play them as authoritarian. Or they start getting all egalitarian on me.
Authoritarian empires are a little hard for me to play. My instinct in all kinds of games like Stellaris is to maximise living standards for all of my people. Stratified economy and/or slavery are very not that. I used to go for stratified economy but I felt bad for all my workers, and it makes unemployment terrible (whereas if you have better living standards, they generate unity). I like playing with multiple species so long as my specially-handcrafted main species doesn't get lost, and so when they made syncretic evolution not take up a trait spot, it solved both my problems in one go!
Sometimes the Lilarobians are domestic servants, sometimes indentured servants - depends what makes most sense. And sometimes I decide the Alarians flat out refuse to see plantoids as people, and enslave any within their borders, and sometimes I decide it's just the Lilarobians, who they basically made.
I used to use agraian instead of rapid breeders, but though it's better roleplaying, it makes getting rid of all the excess food annoying. I can flood the market and pretend I'm feeding the galaxy but it's still bothersome, especially because there's no recognition that I'm the galactic bread basket - either gratitude or people making extra efforts to enslave us. Let's pretend the high population growth is actually tied to how good they are at feeding themselves and manipulating their environment to suit them.
The Alarians use a modified version of the humanoid_05 species. I would love to upload the custom portraits, but I cobbled the hair and outfits together from several other mods. I think I made the new freckly base skin myself, but I don't recall. They're basically the humanoid_05, just with fewer of the cool-toned hairstyles, more purple, grey and green hair. And more brown, green and gold in their outfits, 'cause these are elf-elves, not just space elves.
You can probably tell from the descriptions that they use plantoid ships and buildings :) The Alarians are also all-female now that's an option! The ruler titles are Queen and Princess. And though it makes no sense, the ship prefix is USS. Yes I know I'm playing a sci-fi game, and yes that means it's Star Trek :)
They have a custom namelist you can get here, which is mostly just cobbled together from the plantoid namelists in the game.
My other empires
The Hesukari are proud warriors. They even fight amongst themselves, though debates are as common as duels (when one isn't the cause for the other!). They are marvellous engineers, and primarily use their inventions for the purpose of war, though they also have many great feats of civil engineering on their homeworld. Sutharia is a harsh desert, which perhaps explains some of the harshness of its people, though they are also physically extremely impressive in both strength and resilience.
They are no brutes, however, and have a keen sense of spirituality, and an intricate system of nobility. Perhaps these factors keep their aggression in check, or perhaps this is the framework for their desire to do battle with almost everyone they meet.
These are obviously Klingons, with one big twist: they're natural engineers in B'Elanna's honour :)
Grand Duchy of Vivisandia
Vivisandians are much like trees. They live a long time, grow slowly, and put down deep roots. They are firmly against conflict of all kinds, from the absolutely unnecessary loss of life in war, to even mild interpersonal conflicts that so easily stall progress. United by their religion, which prioritises the sanctity of life above all else, they lead a peaceful, agraian lifestyle.
They are careful stewards of their enviroment, both on their continental homeworld of Vivisandia Primus and further afield, though they prefer to remain close to where they were born. The Grand Duchess, also known as the Trunk, carefully directs the growth of her people, and they are happy to follow her lead.
I made these lot to be my pacificist-spiritualist friends in an often totally hostile galaxy. On the rare occasions we end up enemies, it's horrible! The new diplomacy stuff is so messed up, sometimes they want the galactic community to strike down environmental regulations... mostly they work how they're supposed to, though!
United Thek'Qlaki Stars
The Thek'Qlak are, more than anything, lazy. Were it not for the Imari, the species they perhaps evolved with (it is hard to imagine the Thek'Qlak managing to domesticate them through long millenia of breeding or by editing their genes, though they claim this is the case), little would have ever been accomplished on Resh, their tropical homeworld. And little is accomplished - the Thek'Qlak rarely deign to work and the Imari rarely think to.
Despite this, the Thel'Qlak are masters of sociological studies, the only thing they ever put much effort into, and are generally well liked by aliens they encounter. They appear to have joined the galactic community simply to make friends, and they are very good at it. They are also careful of their resource usage and reluctant to go to war, but whether this is out of a respect for life or a simple consideration about the work necessary is the sort of question the Thek'Qlak might devote themselves to, could they be bothered.
The Imari hail from Resh, a tropical world dominated by the Thek'Qlak. They were domesticated by them a long time ago, but they're not quite as servile as they seem. They don't live as long as most spacefaring species, and they don't like to travel far from their places of birth - even across the continents of Resh, let alone the stars.
They live in tight knit communities and are happier the closer the quarters. This leaves them with little desire to leave their homeworld, as does the knowledge that if they did, it would quickly fall to ruin. Still, the Thek'Qlak would be wise not to underestimate them, should they ever tire of this arrangement.
I think this empire was my first experiment with secondary species. Also, I love the little lizard portrait set so much, so I wanted them to always spawn! They normally end up with an avian Imari leader, though...
illustration credits: Stellaris game materials, golden frame, sci-fi frame, Voyager viewscreen