Stellaris

Possible “player based” mid/end game crisis + general mechanic idea (Vampires and culture/media warfare)

stellaris 6 - Possible "player based" mid/end game crisis + general mechanic idea (Vampires and culture/media warfare)
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Heyo, so a while ago I thought of a possible crystal entity end game crisis idea, that one was pretty fun, but I wanted to throw another idea at the wall to see how it fares too.

So some people have wanted a sort of player focused/based end game crisis, so I figured that a good possible idea for that could be this-

After a while of exploration and development, a small group of your species scientists uncover something about certain bits of junk DNA that behaves strangely when exposed to Shroud energy.

A few months later the junk DNA is modified to be fully active in certain individuals. Their physical and mental prowess is amplified dramatically as they seem to take in vast amounts of energy to empower themselves.

Things seem to be going well at first, but the unchanged members of the team and their extra staff start to notice things aren't going right with themselves, they become more lax, less focused, like their own strength is being sapped from their very beings.

Last contact with the team shows the altered subjects surrounded by pale corpses, and things that look almost like the crew but twisted, almost monstrous, ghoulish even.

Before long the subjects will be found again, this time with armies of converted thralls at their calling, having spent their time in the vastness of space finding unsuspecting victims to feed upon, and to either corrupt into thralls, or to 'evolve' into powerful beings like themselves.

Now with a vast nation at their command, these Vampires will call out to the mortal races of the galaxy, calling for them to join the Cabals either as servants free of pain and swept into perpetual bliss and content, or as fellow kin, capable of wielding the most primordial of powers.

From there, a new empire using a modified version of the player logo will spawn and begin to expand outwards, using propaganda and media to spread their influence into foreign nations to convert the masses to their side.

Research into the Vampires will reveal that their new bodies feed on a form of life force that all living beings contain in some form, with Psionic races usually having the most extreme amounts of it due to their empowerment from the Shroud. The Vampires feed on the life force of their victims, and replace it with a sort of corrupt allegory that replicates the functions of the old energy, but the tainted nature of it twists the victims minds and bodies, turning them into Ghouls, who will seemingly be slaves to their Vampiric masters forever.

It is also noted that the propaganda the Vampires send out is also corrupted with hidden messages, both subliminal and psionic, intended to manipulate the weaker willed into joining them outright, and to soften up the stronger willed to be easier to deal with. Normal civilisations will have to find ways to block out the signals and to stop their people from catching them, while mechanical factions can try to work in new programming for their civilians to blacklist all Vampire based communications. People from Psionic and Hivemind factions will instinctively realise something is wrong and will combat it themselves, feeling the evil signals trying to mess with their heads and reject it outright.

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As the war with the Cabal continues, new information can be revealed, such as the fact that the junk DNA responsible for all this came from long, long ago, back when another species once rules the galaxy before being consumed by the very same plague. The nature of the destruction of this ancient civilisation meant that the disease itself was scattered across the stars with its old hosts, the eons passing by causing it to be warped into being left inert and useless. That it, until now.

Defeating the Cabal requires you to either brute force the plague back into extinction via taking all the Cabals territory and wiping out its people, or by using special research into a sort of 'cure' where once you take their populated systems, you can initiate special projects where you disperse said 'cure' into the atmosphere, releasing the Ghouls from their mindless torment and silencing the Vampires for good.

Now, one thing that Vampires are known for is hypnotism, mental manipulation and the like. And so I figured that the best sort of new mechanic to be introduced with them would be some kind of media/culture mechanic, sort of similar to Sins of a Solar Empire.

By creating propaganda facilities you can spread your own form of media out into the galaxy, branching out through hyperlanes to distant worlds over time. From there depending on the relations you have with the nations your messages reach it can have different effects. You and your allies will receive buffs from the good words of encouragement and vigour, enemies will be debuffed by the harsh criticisms, frightening warnings and threats, and disheartening bouts of disapproval. Neutral factions will likely gain more of a favourable opinion of you due to the ways your propaganda sheds positive light on your faction, which can be useful for getting more out of them.

Allies will gladly let your propaganda go through their space as they see it as their propaganda too, neutrals can decide if they want to hear it or not, and enemies will try to block it by default.

Said enemies and uncaring neutrals however can't just block it out so easily, the signals will still be there hurtling through space. What they must do then is create counter-culture/propaganda to push back against your own, if they can maintain a good level of their own propaganda they can push your own signals out of their territory, perhaps to the point of their own signals affecting your planets. However they must maintain a strong counter signal for that to work, as otherwise some parts of their territory will not be as well protected as others if the media shield is uneven in its distribution.

TL;DR Vampire like mid/end game crisis caused by some of the player race messing with things they shouldn't, and the new mechanic to go with them could be a culture system sort of similar to the one in Sins of a Solar Empire, but more fleshed out.

How does that all sound? Any thoughts, critiques or ideas? Please let me know, and thank you for reading.:)

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