ZT’s Small Settlements

ZT’s Small Settlements

This mod allows you to establish small, domed colonies on otherwise uninhabitable worlds. Where it differs from other ‘colonize everything’ mods is that these colonies are _really_ small, not very comfortable, and in no way full substitutions for proper vanilla colonization.

I use this mod for RP together with Pode’s ‘Pre-FTL Players’, and a couple other ones, listed at the end of the description.


Good news and bad news.

The bad one: Dome and Paraterraforming districts are now limited by special deposits, and only about 2/3-1/3 of uninhabitable planets’ size can be used (depending on pc).

I know, booooo.

The good one: this rebalancing was necessary because now all uninhabitable classes can be terraformed into habitable ones. Climate Restoration, World Shaper perk, and a lot of energy, minerals, and food is needed.

If anyone’s precious saved game is screwed up,

Update Pt. 2: when this mod is used with my , unique planetary features appear for all colonizable worlds in the Sol System, with separate sets for uninhabitable and terraformed versions. The Mariner Valley or the Valhalla ring structure are now at play, and one day you can turn them into rich deltas and lakelands. Sorry, only works with the other mod (an underlying feature of its coding is needed).


With the proper technology you can establish small, not really self-sufficient colonies on uninhabitable planets and asteroids. Here’s how it works:

1. Preparations

Uninhabitable worlds can be ‘terraformed’ into their ‘habitable’ versions. Each planet class require separate technology. Barren World Colonization is a starting tech.

Uninhabitable colonies (built in lava tubes, craters etc.) have 5% default habitability; to counter this, you’ll have to use the newly created ‘Domed Colony’ designation. This means fewer amenities than vanilla ‘Colony’ designation, but gives extra habitability.

Lithoids suffer no growth penalty in Domed Colony. Void dwellers, already used to live in tight artificial habitats, only lose 25% pop growth and habitability.

You can also abandon these colonies by reverse terraforming them back to vanilla uninhabitable classes (in case, for example, if you want to use them with the Giga-Engineering mod).

2. Early colonization

Your newly founded colony starts with a vanilla Ship Shelter with 2 vanilla Colonist jobs and 1 vanilla building slot, and the mod-specific ‘Domed Colony’ designation.

On this empty slot you can build a range of domed-specific production and industrial buildings. Each give 1 specialist-level domed-specific job (‘Miner Colonist’, ‘Technician Colonist’ etc.), with somewhat higher production than their vanilla versions. Colonization Fever tradition gets you +1 job per modded building.

Gestalt empires have their own unique buildings along similar lines (except for Space Resort Town – they need no such thing).

Depending on the planet class, and in addition to the production of their specialist job, all of these buildings produce some combination of minerals (in situ resource utilization), energy (helium-3 or solar power), and research points (the inherent scientific value of large-scale presence on hostile world). In turn, they mostly consume energy and alloys. Overall, for barren worlds you usually need one or two tech, trait or tradition to make a colony economically profitable. More hostile planet classes may need more boost.

In the early phase there are no districts on uninhabitable planets. No sizeable natural region on them can host extensively developed urban, industrial or extraction operations. This means at this stage you technically can build only one of the buildings above, except with certain civics or technologies.

3. Dome cities and paraterraforming

Once you research the Tier 2 technologies (Dome Cities: Cost 1, Paraterraforming: Cost 3), you can build two special district types on uninhabitable planets. Neither can house as many people as a proper open-space district on a habitable world, but they are quite a leap forward compared to the earlier conditions.

Dome City Networks give more housing and somewhat less amenities in their more compact living areas. They also give +1 ‘Colonial Administrator’ job, which is a specialist-level mix of administrators, bureaucrats and clerks. Gestalt empires get no job from Dome City Networks (their base capital buildings are already quite strong).

Paraterraforming Projects, representing large craters and canyons being fully enclosed and turned into homeworld-like environments, are less densely populated, more comfortable, and good for overall habitability (+5% per district). They don’t give any job; you have to build on them.

Both districts give +1 empty building slot.

Update: dome cities and paraterraforming can only be built in certain specific planetary features (craters, lava tubes, calderas etc.). Depending on planet class, about 2/3 (barren), 40% (frozen, gas giant, asteroid) to 1/3 of planet surfaces can be covered with these districts.

+1: Real terraforming

With Climate Restoration technology and World Shaper ascension perk you can access the ‘Terraform from Zero’ planetary decision, which for a hefty price gives planets the ‘Terraforming Candidate’ modifier. From that point, you can turn any barren, frozen, molten, or toxic world green (not asteroids and not gas giants).


No line or solution from other mods was used in this one, and I was trying to work out a system for colonising uninhabitable planets that is unique among the various existing mods.

Of course, for the genera idea Ruby’s ‘Colonizable Home System’, Pode’s ‘Colonize Everything’, mzili’s ‘Settled Solar System’, and Gatekeeper’s ‘Colonizable Habitats’ were major sources of inspiration.

Big thanks for @Jack Jack Attack for his feedback on the mod’s balance and for his great suggestions to improve things. Also many thanks to all the other players who pointed out compatibility or other issues. I was not expecting such an interest in the mod, and really appreciate all suggestions how to make it work better.


As with my other mods, this one may change more files than what would have been necessary (i.e. had I been more experienced). I was trying to make it as parsimonious as possible.

I use the mod together with the following ones without problem:

  • Pode’s ‘Pre-FTL Players’
  • Splodgenic’s ‘Designable Civilian Ships’
  • Gaia’s ‘Realistic Star Names’
  • CryoStasis’ ‘Interstellar OST’
  • Cybershaman’s Imperium Galactica 2 OST
  • my own mods (see below)
  • and sometimes with Okami’s ‘Human Variety’ or Wick’s ‘Wick’s: Humans’.

Visual mods should also not cause issues.

When used with Planetary Diversity, Small Settlements should be above PD in the load order.
Compatibility issues with Claire’s arcology rework should be solved.

Check my other mods:

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