Independent People are the counterpoint of Empires. They are short-lived nations with smaller territories and armies that players will share the world with. While they might not offer the same wealth of interactions their larger counterparts do, players can still enjoy a diplomatic relationship with them (when they are not trying to conquer or destroy them). Many of them will not see the end of a game of Humankind. This could be because players caused their downfall, but it might simply be because they reached the end of their lifespan. However, others will keep appearing as new turns are reached.
Independent People will start appearing at the beginning of the Ancient Era (Era 1) from random spawn points called Encampments or Redoubts that are the most likely to appear in unoccupied territories players have not yet explored or discovered. At first, they will try to setup an Outpost which, if left alone, might turn into a City that the Independent People will occupy until their end. When one of these peoples does disappear, a new Independent People will appear somewhere in the world a few turns later.
Like any other Empire, Independent Peoples have their own Armies. Different peoples will have different Army compositions depending on their origins and their level of development. For instance, Independent People that have been settled for a while will have stronger Armies than those who only have an Outpost.
Outside of military interventions, the main interaction between Independent People and players is Patronage. After signing the “Establish Contact” treaty by paying some amount of Influence, players can decide to invest Money in an Independent People of their choice to support them and strengthen their own Empires. For instance, Patronage will help extend an Independent People’s Lifespan or have stronger Armies. However, Patronage is not without benefits for the players themselves. Investing Money or Influence into Bribe or Sway actions will help you reach Patronage thresholds that unlock special Treaties.
If you ever attack an Independent People with which you started Patronage, your relationship score and your gain per turn will instantly drop to zero. But you’ll still be able to increase it again.
As you successfully begin Patronage with an Independent People, you will be able to sign different Treaties with them that have a variety of effects. These Treaties are organized in groups which have Patronage level requirements, both in terms of base quantity and your individual share of Patronage contributions.
The very first Treaty you need to sign is the “Establish Contact”, which enables you to spend Money to increase your Patronage further.
The first group of Treaties will enable you to purchase Resources, hire Mercenaries or set up a basic Scientific Collaboration.
The second group of Treaties can enable you to both purchase Resources and Mercenaries, influence the Independent People’s Ideology, or even obtain profits from their economy.
The last group, if you reach it, offers two long-term options for deciding the future of the Independent People: establishing them as a Client State, or outright Assimilating them into your Empire. A Client State Independent People will provide a combination of economic, scientific, and political bonuses, while also enabling you full access to their Resources; however, they will remain a separate entity from your Empire, so may still be influenced by and sign Treaties with other Empires. Assimilation, on the other hand, will instantly give you their City to control as your own, as well as control over their remaining Armies.
When you unlock the ability to engage the Armies of an Independent People as Mercenaries, you can select one of their Armies to see a new action allowing you to hire that Army for a Money cost. Please note that each Independent People has a “Defending Army” acting as reserves, which cannot be loaned out via Patronage. Once hired, the Mercenaries will act as one of your Armies for a few turns before starting to work for their people again. A hired Army cannot be merged, spread, or disbanded.