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. Players can decide to invest Money in an Independent nation of their choice to support them and strengthen their empire. It will help them last longer or have stronger armies, for instance. However, Patronage is not without benefits for the players themselves. Paying Money or Influence for the Patronize action, will give you an increase of your relationship with them per turn. With time, you’ll reach thresholds that will unlock special actions depending on the nature of the Nation: Violent or Peaceful. For example, you can gain the ability to hire their armies as mercenaries, buy their resources, be assured that they will not attack you or share map vision.
If you ever attack an Independent People with which you started a patronage, your relationship score and your gain per turn will instantly drop to zero. But you’ll still be able to increase it again.
Once you reach the final threshold, if you are the Empire with the highest relation with them you unlock the ability to assimilate them. It has an Influence cost and allows you to integrate all their Cities and Armies to your Empire. You cannot use the Assimilate action if you are in a Battle or Siege against them.
When you unlock the ability to hire the Independent People Armies as mercenaries, you can select an Army of that Nation and you’ll see a new action to Patronize that Army for a Money cost. Please note that each Independent People has a “Defending Army” that serves as reserves which cannot be patronized. Once patronized, the mercenaries will act as one of your armies for a few turns before starting to work for their Nation again. A hired Army cannot be merged, spread or disbanded.