Playable Guardians User Manual
A new feature introduced in NSC V5 allows the player to summon their own replaceable Guardian/Leviathan (if they have purchased the Leviathans DLC). The AI will not use this feature.
IMPORTANT: For those of you using Playable Guardians Standalone, the entirety of this guide still applies, although certain things may be named differently. For example, the “NSC Features Menu” mentioned below is the “Playable Guardians Menu” in the standalone version. The guide should still work and be clear for all players, whether you use NSC Main or Playable Guardians Standalone.
NOTICE: When discussing “Guardian systems” below, all mentions of this refer specifically to the following systems: Automated Dreadnought, Dimensional Horror, Enigmatic Fortress, Ether Drake, Hive Asteroids, Stellarite, Technsophere (Infinity Machine), & Wraith systems. The Enclave systems that also come with the Leviathans DLC retain their original spawn values and are unaffected by the Playable Guardian system.
How Playable Guardians Works
At the beginning of your campaign, after you hit “begin,” you received a pop-up notice, informing you that all Playable Guardian controls have been moved to the NSC Features Menu. Because of this, if you have the Leviathans DLC or if the multiplayer host has the DLC, all players will automatically have Playable Guardians on at the start of the campaign. If you do not wish to deal with Playable Guardians during your campaign, you must manually turn off the feature in the NSC Features Menu. It’s a simple button push.
After deciding if you desire Playable Guardians or not, you will realize there are currently zero Guardian systems in your galaxy. In order for any to appear in your galaxy, you must go into the NSC Features Menu and spawn them in yourself. This is done in the NSC System Spawn Control Center. The first option will be the “Guardian Universal” options: if you want all Guardians to spawn in with a 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% chance. The next option in this menu will be “Guardian Individual.” This will lead you to a chain of messages asking you, individually, if you want a 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% spawn chance for each Guardian in alphabetical order. This allows you to, for example, choose 100% chance for the Ether Drake, 50% chance for the Automated Dreadnought, and 0% chance for the Hive Asteroids.
You can also use these spawn controls throughout the game, allowing you to trigger additional Guardian System spawns, at your desired spawn chance, whenever you want them.
IMPORTANT: If you want to use Playable Guardians at all you must spawn in at least one Guardian so you can defeat it and claim it as a Playable Guardian. If you do not spawn in any Guardian systems, Playable Guardians will not work. Even if you don’t want Playable Guardians but just want some Guardians to face, you must spawn them in yourself.
Once all that is complete, you play the game as you normally would, until you find a Guardian. Almost all Guardians have to be killed in order to unlock their “playable” counterpart. There is one exception and one notice for this “rule:” The exception is the Technosphere is the only Guardian that can be acquired “peacefully”… by successfully assisting it with its calculations or you can also “hack” the Technosphere with the appropriate special project. You can simply destroy the Technosphere to unlock it as well. The notice is in order to unlock the Enigmatic Fortress, you must successfully complete the vanilla Enigmatic Fortress event chain to unlock the Playable Guardian version.
After killing (or helping/solving) a Guardian, you should have a pop-up message about building/growing your own. At this point, if it’s your first defeated Guardian, you will immediately get the option to grow/build it or “get another.” If you choose to receive the Guardian, you will either immediately receive a special project in your situation log to “build/grow” it, or if it happens to be the Automated Dreadnought, Ether Drake, or Wraith, you will have a second window appear offering you different color schemes for these Guardians. Select the one you desire, then you will receive your special project in the situation log.
If you choose “another” Guardian, whether or not you actually “have” another, you will be lead to the Playable Guardian Repository. This special message “holds” all the Guardians you have defeated and have “earned” their Playable Guardian versions. If it’s your first Guardian, only one will appear in the listing, as the options unlock only as you defeat the Guardians yourself. As you continue to find and defeat Guardians, the listing will grow, to a max of 9 Guardians (assuming you grab the Carrack Pirate Galleon – the Hive Asteroids are not a Playable Guardian). Select any of the Guardians listed to receive it as your next Playable Guardian.
Also inside the Playable Guardian Repository is an option that will be there no matter how many Playable Guardians you have earned; the postpone option. This option, like the choice to activate/deactivate Playable Guardians in the NSC Features Menu, is here for your choice and convenience. The postpone option allows you to hold off on making a choice on a Guardian for a time between 1 and 50 years. This can be used if you don’t want the Guardian you just unlocked because you’re seeking another first, or perhaps you don’t want to deal with a Playable Guardian at this time.
Once you have a Guardian and have researched its special project, it will appear around your current capital. Playable Guardians always spawn around your current Capital without exception. A day or two after it appears around your capital (due to the game coding catching up), you’ll receive a notice that your Guardian has been built/grown and is ready for your commands. Your Guardian costs no upkeep whatsoever, however it will cost you 50 naval capacity points to maintain, so bear this in mind when playing. Your Guardian will remain with you until it is killed/destroyed, at which point, you will receive a notice of its death/destruction and have the Playable Guardian Repository pop up for you to select your replacement Guardian from any you have defeated up until this point. Again, you can postpone/disable the feature at this time.
For balancing and game play reasons, I have coded this feature to allow only one Playable Guardian at any given time and each “Playable” Guardian’s strength versus its vanilla counterpart can vary from being more powerful to less powerful. Why? Well, if I were to give any half-skilled player certain Guardians at full strength they could probably conquer half the galaxy with just that Guardian. For those of you worried it’s not going to be powerful enough to be fun, don’t worry, they are still more powerful than almost any ships known, including those from popular mods. For those of you using mods that increase the game’s difficulty, like ISB Balance, unfortunately I cannot assume everyone else has said level of difficulty. You chose to use the mod for the difficulty. I’m sure you can adapt to it.
Will you ever allow more than one Guardian? How come I can actually get more than one if this is true?
For the first question: probably not, at least normally. This is why I gave the console commands for those willing to cheat, which can be found here. The coding ensuring there is only one Guardian is built into the main coding of the mod. Even if I took the time to remove this coding, I would have to build another system around giving the player multiple Guardians, including removing the “free upkeep” feature. For the second, I said you can only get one Playable Guardian, as in, from this mod. At max, you can have 3 Guardians; a Playable Guardian from this mod, the Automated Dreadnought, and the “initial” Baby Drake. For those of you who are looking for loopholes, there are some loopholes! I didn’t close all the them, so for the clever player who can discover the loopholes, you can have (at least for a time) more than one Playable Guardian, however, the mod is coded to not allow you access to the Playable Guardian Repository until you have zero Playable Guardians left.
This finally leads me to the new Guardian created for Playable Guardians, the Carrack Pirate Galleon. This Guardians appearance is not dependent upon your selection of spawn chances, because I personally view it as the “final boss” for the Pirate Culture in your game. You will not find the Carrack Pirate Galleon in your game at the start. To have this Guardian appear in your game, you have to find the “Pirate Home System” (where the vanilla Pirate Galleon is) and attack the fleets in that system. Unfortunately, due to oddities in Paradox’s coding, it should be you have to defeat all three fleets in order to unlock the Carrack Pirate Galleon, however, I was fortunate to manage to get it setup as it is now, so please bear with it if it doesn’t happen “correctly.” You will receive a pop-up message about a “new system” discovered thanks to some panicked pirates (this message will appear to all players in multiplayer, and even to the singleplayer if the AI attacks the Pirate Home System first). It will appear near the Pirate Home System, and you can go there to defeat the Carrack Pirate Galleon. Personally, I would suggest you have 3 transports and a general on standby… if you miss your window, you cannot have it!
The Pirate Carrack Galleon will automatically join you regardless of if you have a Playable Guardian currently active, and is the only “normal” exception to the one Playable Guardian rule. Finally, this Guardian can also be replaced through the Playable Guardian Repository like any other Guardian, however, once the “original” is destroyed, it is subject to the same “one Guardian” rule as any other.
Multiplayer Games Have Slightly Different Functionality!
If you are participating in a multiplayer game, the Playable Guardian feature will only be available if the host has the Leviathans DLC. If this is not true, no player will be allowed to activate the feature. Assuming the host has the DLC, every player will receive the Playable Guardian flag at game start, with each individual player having the option to deactivate the flag as they choose.
To avoid having far too many additional Guardian systems being spawned from multiple players, one player will be chosen to decide the Guardian system spawn chances rates. I strongly recommend coordinating with fellow players via voice-over or multiplayer chat on determining the spawning of Guardian systems, especially after the initial system for any Guardian. Unfortunately, Paradox has not given modders any means of identifying the host for this “control,” so it could be any player. If I am ever granted a means of identifying the host, I’ll fix this, but there is nothing I can do to address this at this time.
“If I have to defeat each Guardian myself to unlock it, how do all of us in multiplayer get the same Guardian if there is only one?”
Excellent question; one I had to ponder while making this. Despite the fact you can now spawn multiple inside the NSC Feature Menu, I still wanted a safeguard. What happens is if anyone defeats a Guardian (this applies to singleplayer as well if the AI beats you to killing a Guardian), the game will automatically search for any human players who have Playable Guardians active and haven’t defeated said Guardian, and if it finds anyone, the game will spawn in a new system for that Guardian. This means, if even two people in multiplayer have Playable Guardians active, both should get the opportunity to defeat it, even if one player defeats it five times or the AI gets the Guardian at least once. This also means after your first system spawns at the beginning of the game, you don’t have to worry about spawning in more than one Guardian system type at any given time until you just “want to have fun” with more systems.
If you have an error where the safeguard doesn’t kick in or a Guardian system never appears, you can use the NSC System Spawn Control Center to fix this.
As I stated before, all players in multiplayer will receive the message about the newly discovered Pirate System to get to the Carrack Pirate Galleon, however, only one player can have the Carrack Pirate Galleon, assuming any player can acquire it in time. I currently have no means of “transferring” the Pirate Galleon to another player if both players meet in battle, having them duel to see who can grab it first. I’m not sure if I will add such a feature, but it is a possibility.
Playable Guardians is meant to be balanced in the fact that it fixes many issues with vanilla Guardians and allows the player to enjoy them without making it easy. There isn’t any way to perfectly balance the feature out without more control over Stellaris base combat (individual ship & weaponry targeting for instance), however, if anyone has suggestions on ways to make the Playable Guardians more balanced (against each other, normal Guardians, etc), I’m happy to listen, although I promise nothing.
As for adding/subtracting Playable Guardian features, I am open to any and all suggestions, but given maintaining this feature is already a task and I have put many hours of work into, I will not add/remove features because someone thinks the feature should/shouldn’t have something. If I find merit in the suggestion (add or remove), I will consider it, and I’m open to any constructive criticism as to how I can improve any Playable Guardian feature currently present.
Save Game Compatibility:
With the release of NSC V6, the mod now includes an event that checks every month after game launch if the mod was applied to a game that previously didn’t exist. If this event determines the save game in question doesn’t have NSC Main (or Playable Guardians Standalone) it will automatically apply all flags and features required for the basic functioning of the mod.
IMPORTANT: It is still NOT recommended that your run NSC Main and Playable Guardians together, as both do the same thing in slightly different ways, and even mod switching can cause issues.
IMPORTANT 2: While NSC Main and Playable Guardians Standalone are NOT compatible, NSC Streamlined and Playable Guardians Standalone are. NSC Streamlined is setup to support Playable Guardians Standalone if both mods are active at the same time. If not, none of the “support” will ever appear in a NSC Streamlined game. Therefore, this combination is available to NSC Streamlined users who wanted Playable Guardians but not the other features offered by NSC Main.
In summary, this means that both NSC Main and Playable Guardians Standalone should be 100% compatible with any saved game that didn’t previously have either mod active. The one note I would point out is if NSC Main or Playable Guardians Standalone were not active at game start, then there is a random chance a vanilla designed Guardian System could have spawned into your galaxy, and this should be noted when you are spawning in NSC’s/Playable Guardian’s versions of the Guardian systems as you wish from the Mod Menu.