Stellaris: How to Modify Empire Pops

In Stellaris, Empires are always looking to improve various aspects of their power over time, whether its technology, economy, infrastructure or military power. However, the population itself often goes overlooked. When creating a new Empire or selecting a pre-made one, pops can be selected to have certain traits that give buffs and add flavor to an Empire. However, pops aren't locked with these traits for an entire session. They actually can be radically changed thanks to the population modification feature.

To start pop mods, players will first need to research Genetic Tailoring technology, which initially grants one trait point and unlocks the Engineered Evolution ascension perk. Population modification is done via templates, which can be applied to pops residing on a planet or to the entire species within the Empire, previously modified or not. Modified pops are considered part of the same species as the original even if the name and portraits have been changed. However, it is possible to set different rights for templates and its parent species.

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After a template has been applied, a special project to start modifying the selected pops will appear in the situation log. The project will timeout in 30 days if it is not started. Depending on the kind of modifications, how severe they are (total amount of trait point differences) and how many pops were picked, this special project can be very expensive in terms of society research and can potentially take years in-game.

When choosing to modify pops, players can have just the pops of a single colony modified or make the changes to every pop across the entire Empire. Both organic and robotic pops can be modified, and each has its own set of traits. Some traits are negative and have a negative cost, refunding points into the pool. For pre-sapient species, the option to create templates is replaced with the option to bring them to sapience. Only after they are uplifted can they be further modified. With the Glandular Acclimation technology, pops can even be modified to change their planet preference.

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Empires that are at least somewhat xenophile can also choose the Xeno-Compatibility ascension perk, which allows the reproduction of two organic species into hybrid species. Hybrid species take a portrait from one of the parent species and a mix of traits from both, with at least one trait being inherited from each. They also get one additional trait point and trait pick. Various technologies add additional Trait Points, but Trait Picks are always capped at five, except for hybrid species which have six. Certain events and anomalies can also result in an Empire's population and/or leadership receiving unique traits for no cost.

One of the best ways to modify your pops to the limit is by choosing the biological ascension path, which focuses entirely on genetic modification. Each of the two ascension perks grants three additional trait points and reduces the cost of genetic modification projects by 25 percent. It also unlocks the rare Gene Seed Purification and Genetic Resequencing technologies. The former allows Empires to recruit genetically enhanced soldiers from your pops that are superior to normal attack armies, while the latter provides advanced modification and traits options.

This isn't the only way to heavily modify pops, as both the psionic and synthetic ascension paths can radically change various aspects of pops. Psionic ascension adds the Psionic trait, which cannot be added or removed through modification, but provides powerful buffs and allows access to the Shroud. Synthetic ascension offers more room for modification even with the cybernetic trait, due to organic pops being considered organic enough to be genetically modified. However, finishing this path will transform all pops into robotic bodies, replacing genetic modification with cybernetic instead.

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Robert Koumarelas (202 Articles Published)

Robert Koumarelas is a writer, video and photo editor. Graduating from Sheridan College for Journalism, covering and writing about great stories has become as much passion as a career. Video games are not just a fun hobby for him, but a legitimate form of art and story telling that engages fans.

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