Currently, the materialist-spiritualist ethics are a stopgap for the lack of religious mechanics in the game, and not a terribly good one. They don't really fit in with the other ethics, all of which relate to political matters in one way or another, while those two are about the nature of reality. Not to mention how they limit the type of empire you can build; you can't have a techno-cult with the current spiritualist ethic, and the omnissiah is displeased with that.
So I propose that if/when religion is implemented, the option to have a state religion is separate from ethics and that materialism/spiritualism is rebranded to progressivism/traditionalism respectively. Instead of focusing on religious matters, they would focus on the nature of cultural, political, and especially technological change; progressives would be supportive of change, believing it to be ultimately positive and necessary, while traditionalists would be suspicious of it, believing rapid change leads to the undermining of society's values and it's eventual collapse. It would require a LOT of rewriting dialogue, but they completely revamped the entire economic system before so I believe they could do it.
The main advantages of doing this are thus:
- Frees up ethics slots for more religion building flexibility. You could play a shared-burdens militarist theocracy going on Freedom Jihads™ across the Galaxy.
- It allows for more AI personalities. At the moment, I can't really think of any more interesting personalities with the current ethics and civics, and the game is in need of more diversity on that front. An idea I have is a traditionalist personality type that gives special opinion modifiers depending on how long your current diplomatic status has been active. IE if you've been a friend for a long time, you get another positive modifier.
- More civics, which I think is always good to have. A possible one for traditionalists would be "Chivalrous Society," which would give bonuses/maluses depending if the empire is acting honorable or not.
- It would separate psionics from being a religion primary-thing, which is just weird.
- You could play the mechanicus.
Edit: I think some people are confused by what I mean, or perhaps I just explained it poorly, but I am well aware materialism/spiritualism reflects if there is a higher level of reality or not. The problem is that that divide is a terrible choice for ethics, as there isn't a whole lot of interesting gameplay choices that can be gained from them. Like for instance, militarists getting no retreat, xenophobes getting more purge options, egalitarians having utopian abundance, etc.
Currently, materialism/spiritualism reflect atheism/religion respectively. That is a fact. Spiritualists get temples, death cults, etc. while materialists sound like your typical fedora-wearing edgy atheist type. At the moment, this is fine since there aren't any religious mechanics beyond this, but if such a concept was expanded upon we run into some real problems. Making a tech-cult that loves robots is a problem for spiritualists because their main drawback is that they don't like robots. That's the point. So the obvious fix would be to separate religion from the ethics, making materialism/spiritualism solely about the nature of reality.
The problem with that is: can you think of any interesting gameplay choices that an empire that believes there is/isn't a higher metaphysical power out there without directly touching on religious beliefs? I for one, can't, and that's because materialism/spiritualism is not a political position but a philosophical one. Every other ethic relates to how a society should be run, while those two ethics, removed from religious beliefs, don't really do so. Hence my opinion they should be rebranded into something else.
Also thank for golds
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