Okay, let me just start out by apologizing for that title. Moving on:
While there are currently some issues making multi-species empires/planets annoying, I think those are more bugs than features, and that the current balance point swings pretty hard to xenophilia. Xenophiles get free pops, easy access to specialized pops, less burden to terraform, easier diplomacy, and all sound good times.
I understand Paradox not wanting to push direct mechanical benefits to ethno-states, but I think it can be handled through pop ethics pretty neatly. This would be handled by two things: making a little xenophobia the norm (fear of the unknown, culture clashes and all), and making some things drift pops towards xenophobia if not quasi-actively discouraged.
So, the ranges would look like:
- Fanatic Xenoppobes would object to non-slave aliens anywhere in your empire (and everything from the next two)
- Normal Xenophobes would object to alien leaders, or not-slave aliens on their planet, and have a penalty to governing ethics attraction if they aren't the main species (also all the neutrals stuff)
- Neutral Pops would mildly object to non-slave aliens on their planet, object to having ruler-caste or governor aliens over them
- Regular Xenophiles are race-blind. Their happiness/stability/migration is uninfluenced by anyone's species.
- Fanatic Xenophiles actually prefer variety, and are happier with mixed world's, rulers and leaders.
All pops will try to migrate to maximize their happiness, so xenophobes might try drift to pure enclaves or sectors governed by their own, while fanatic Xenophiles will stir the pot.
Then, pops get pushed one way or the other:
- Living without aliens on their planet makes them (slowly) more xenophobic (but not as far as fanatic)
- Living as either part of a slave/ruler system with aliens on the other side makes them more xenophobic
- Living with xenophobic aliens will make them more xenophobic
- Living under alien rulers/governors while having low happiness will make them more xenophobic
- Living under alien rulers/governors while having high happiness will make them more xenophilic
- Living with non-xenophobic aliens of their caste will make them more xenophilic
- Wars with empires of other species will make them more xenophobic (especially with atrocities, or invasion of their planet)
- Defensive pacts, federations and non-criminal alien branch offices will make them more xenophilic
Ideally, it would stretch to have specific reactions to different races, so you could get something like a xenophobic syncretic evolution empire that like each other but no one else, or an intense galaxy-wide conflict between two races that takes intense effort to fix. Those would be tough to implement, though.
The balance point should be such that mixing a xenophobe and a xenophile should slowly tend towards them both becoming xenophilic, but a xenophobe and a neutral will lead to a race war.
I think that these mechanics would create a system in which a big melting pot society is possible and advantageous, but takes effort and an initial adjustment period, and if you screw up you can get very unstable planets from ethnic tensions. Some empires, meanwhile, might go a more moderate route, and have aliens isolated and under their own governors (separate but equal, basically.) Because most species start off isolated, the galaxy likely changes nature over time, drifting more xenophilic as people get used to aliens (or towards intense xenophobia if things go ugly.) You could get really interesting things where one part of the galaxy drifts friendly due to lucky spawns sparking a big friendly rainbow, while another has one FP race turn everyone around them hostile even after they're gone.
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