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Colonists are brave souls who decide to settle Mars and risk death and injury with no possibility of rescue. Colonists begin arriving once you create a colony with domes that can sustain human life and require care and attention. Notably, each colonist has their own personality and distinct set of likes and dislikes, which can evolve over time. Colonists require the resources Oxygen.png oxygen, Water.png water and Food.png food to survive.

Applicants are potential colonists and may be chosen based upon the traits and specializations listed below. The sponsor determines the number of initial applicants available and various technologies and sponsor traits may also influence the number of applicants available. Non-age related colonist deaths reduce the pool of available applicants by 2.

Colonist behavior[edit]

Colonists are completely self-reliant. The player cannot micromanage them, but only provide for the necessary facilities: a place to live in, a place to work at, and places to fulfill their interests. The current housing serves as an anchor point, the center of life.

The player can manually re-assign the housing as well as the work place of each an every individual colonist. But the intended way to properly manage the colony is via setting the dome policy per dome, the specialization policy per building, via training the needed specialists at the Martian University, and of course via getting only the right applicants from Earth.

Self-assignment of a home[edit]

As soon as a colonist lands on Mars he will, within walking distance of the landing site, try to find a building to live in. When a colonist gets born he is immediately considered a child (cf. age groups) and requires an own place to live. Children will prefer living in a nursery in the same dome they currently reside in but will not relocate to a directly connected dome in case that contains a nursery with an available spot. They can be manually ordered to do so. Only in case a Shuttle Hub is available can they be manually ordered to relocate to an unconnected dome. Another way to sway children to relocate is via the dome policy.

Self-assignment of a workplace[edit]

As soon as a colonist turns 6 sols of age, they will start looking for work. A colonist will try to find work in a building that matches their specialization. If no such job is available, then they will fill spaces depending upon the priorities that you have set.

Colonists will only work within the dome that they live in, but they can walk from dome-to-dome or take a shuttle (provided via the Shuttle Hub) to transfer from one dome to another should you choose to manually set their new home or new work in a different dome.

Colonist work assignments follow these rules, in order:[1]

  1. The player can manually assign individual workers, ignoring all rules below. Ideally we hope that there will be no reason to do so, unless the player particularly likes to micromanage. A colonist assigned in this way will not change jobs of their own volition in the next 5 sols.
  2. Buildings with the highest priority are fully staffed if possible
  3. If there is not enough workforce higher priority buildings will be fully staffed while lower priority buildings will be partially staffed, but the game will try to keep them operational if possible (e.g. all buildings at high priority staffed at 100%, all buildings at the medium priority staffed at roughly 50%, all buildings at low priority staffed at 0%)
  4. Specialists prefer to work according to their specialization, as long as this doesn't mess up the above rules.
  5. Since everything depends on the individual simulation, you may have to wait for 1–2 sols until all workers find their desired work spots, so in any current moment there may be a situation where e.g. a Botanist is working in a Bar and a colonist without a specialization is working at a Farm. This is temporary and should be resolved automatically after a while.

Colonists won't try to find a job at another dome. You'll need to manually optimize the domes' settings to make sure the properly specialized colonists live in the properly specialized domes.

There is performance penalty of −10 for colonists working in another (connected) dome (cf. Domes#Passages).


A colonist at low health will start seeking the "Medical Checks" service, i.e. try to visit an Infirmary or Medical Center building. They will do so "aggressively", i.e. multiple times in a row until their health is above threshold. Both buildings award a lump sum of Health per visit.

When a colonist is already at low health, they suffer a −10 morale penalty and are unable to work unless they have the "Fit" perk. So, a colonist at middle health will also seek the Medical Checks service, but only if they don't have anything better to do.

Buildings other then the Infirmary and the Medical Center award health as well, but a colonist will not intentionally seek such services when on low health. So, the player needs to provide an adequate capacity of Medical Checks, but is encouraged to think out-of-the-box.


When the Sanity stat of an individual colonist falls below a set threshold, this individual will seek to visit the building(s) which awards sanity (i.e. Infirmary or Medical Center). He will do so "aggressively" , i.e. multiple times in a row. Both buildings award a lump sum of Sanity per visit.

The only buildings colonists will attempt to visit on purpose when sanity is below theshold are medical facilities. A colonist will not intentionally seek services that award Sanity other than Medical Checks.

Example: Individuals with the "Gamer" perk gain sanity by visiting a building which services "gaming", but colonists are not programmed do to so on purpose.


Several buildings which award comfort do so on a per visit basis. But comfort is only awarded if the colonist's comfort is less than the Service Comfort rating of the building. And unlike with their Health and Sanity, individuals do not deliberately visit a building to raise their comfort. Instead comfort is raised as a side effect: daily sleep and daily meal and further activities.


Each non-child colonist starts with social, relaxation and shopping as their three default interests, which can be changed (added, removed and/or replaced) by perks, flaws and specializations. The possible interests are social, relaxation, dining, drinking, shopping, exercise, gaming and luxury. Children have playing as their only interest.

Colonists.png Colonists will visit a Dome Service building only if the provided services match that colonist's interests. If a colonist cannot pursue their interest, because such buildings are either non-existent or occupied, their Comfort.png comfort will drop.


Each colonist has four stats: health, sanity, comfort and morale. These stats have a value between 0 and 100 and are modified by various factors and events (traits, quality of life, workplace, disasters, etc).

Stat Effects Increased by Lowered by
  • = 0 colonist dies
  • ≤ 29 ⇒ colonist cannot work (unless he has the fit trait)
  • ≤ 50 ⇒ -10 Morale
  • ≥ 70 ⇒ +5 Morale
  • Well rested +5 or +10 with fit trait
  • Visiting buildings with the exercise or medical checks service
  • Having no food, oxygen or water
  • Working heavy workloads
  • Injury
  • ≤ 10 ⇒ colonist has a 50% chance to commit suicide (unless they have the Religious trait)
  • ≤ 29 ⇒ colonist can gain a flaw
  • ≤ 50 ⇒ −10 Morale
  • ≥ 70 ⇒ +5 Morale
  • Well rested +5 (or +15 with Smart Home Smart home.png)
  • Psychologist commander profile: another +5 to well rested bonus
  • Rapid Sleep breakthrough doubles sanity gain from being well rested
  • Children will gain +10 sanity from visiting Playgrounds
  • Visiting buildings with the medical checks service: +? each visit (multiple visits possible)
  • Being in a dome when the Good Vibrations breakthrough is researched: +5 each sol
  • Working night shifts: −10 each sol
  • Working heavy workloads: ?
  • Working outside domes (Exterior buildings): −10 each sol
  • Disasters: variable
  • Death of a colonist from the same residence: ?
  • = 0 ⇒ colonist becomes Earthsick, quits their job and leaves on next rocket (unless Martianborn)
  • ≤ 50 ⇒ −10 Morale
  • ≥ 70 ⇒ +5 Morale
  • Comfort ~ Fertility (but only if there is an opposite-sex counterpart, cf. Colonists#Birth)
  • Resting in a Residence or visiting a building that service the colonist's interest +X
    • Comfort is only applied if the building's Comfort is higher than the colonist's current comfort
    • +X is the building's Comfort Increase. This is +10 for most buildings.
    • Biome Engineering gives +5 Comfort to each residence in the dome for each working farm
    • Each Vista in a Dome working area give +10 Comfort to each residence in the dome
    • Hanging Gardens Building - Hanging Gardens.png +30 Comfort to each residence in the dome
  • Working in a Workshop (up to +10 after each shift)
  • Homeless: −20 each Sol
  • Not visiting buildings that service the colonist's interests: −10
  • Getting food other than from a building with the Food service: −3
  • ≤ 65 ⇒ chance that the colonist becomes a renegade
  • for each +1 Morale point ≥ 50 ⇒ +1 point worker performance
  • for each -1 Morale point ≤ 49 ⇒ -1 point worker performance
  • Health, Sanity and Comfort are 70 or more +5 for each
  • Having the Religious Perk +10 and +20 more for a Colonist with the Saint perk in the same Dome.
  • Interacting with a Colonist with the Empath perk +??
  • Working in a Workshop +10
  • Dome with a Spire and Inspiring Architecture +20
  • Various Story Bits decisions
  • Health, Sanity and Comfort being under 50.
  • Various Story Bits decisions

Age groups[edit]

Colonists are divided into five age groups. This is done for the sole purpose of filtering (when filtering the applicants or setting the dome policy). Somebody's actual age is never shown to the player. For colonists with the Martianborn trait, it can be deduced from the "time on Mars" stat.

Age group Age range Age duration (in sol) Notes
Child 0–5 5 Children are too young to work and use many of the buildings in the Colony. They can go to School and use certain buildings such as the Playground and Nursery.

A child's only interest is "Playing". Without access to a Nursery, Playground and School, the chance to develop the trait Idiot is much higher.

Youth 6–10 6 A young Colonist, able to work in all buildings.
Adult 11–30 20 An adult Colonist, able to work in all buildings.
Middle Aged 31–60 (31–80) 30 (50 with Stem Reconstruction tech) A middle aged Colonist, approaching retirement, but still able to work in all buildings.
Senior 61+ 0–17 (random duration) A senior Colonist, too old to work.

Seniors have a random chance each sol to die of old age. They also cannot have children. The Forever Young tech allows seniors to work and have children.


For Martianborn children to be born, there should be fertile male/female couples in the dome. Children, seniors (except with the Forever Young tech), and colonists with the Other gender are not fertile.

Each fertile couple effectively has a ((comfort−30)/10)% chance per Sol to have a baby. More technically, all fertile couples contribute (comfort−30) points daily to the shared pool of birth progress points in the dome. When that number reaches 1000, a baby is born.

Without accounting for technologies, considering a 55 sol fertile life and an ideal men/women ratio, you can expect these population trends based on comfort:

Average comfort Sols per child Children per couple per 55 sols Trend
55 (minimally fertile with Medical Checks) 40 1.375 inevitable extinction (−1.1%/Sol)
66.4 27.5 2 stable population
70 (minimum without Medical Checks) 22.2 2.475 steady growth (+0.85%/Sol)
100 (max) 13.3 4.125 rapid overpopulation (+7.5%/Sol)


Citizens perform better at workplaces that match their specialization. Colonists working in a building not matching their specialization receive a hefty performance penalty. Colonists with no specialization can learn one after studying (like working) at a Martian University for X sols. Specializations also determine a colonist's main interests.

Specialization Dress
Ideal workplace Interests Description
Child white none Playing One of the youngest residents of the colony.
No Specialization teal Non-specialized work (Diner, etc.) Social, Relaxation, Shopping Colonists with no specialization will perform worse at jobs that require specialized workers.
Botanist green Farms (not including Ranches) Relaxation, Shopping, Luxury A botany specialist trained to work on farms.
Engineer orange Factories Relaxation, Shopping, Dining A nengineer trained to work in factories.
Geologist brown Extractors Social, Shopping, Drinking A geology specialist trained to work in extractor buildings.
Medic blue Infirmary, Medical Center Social, Shopping, Luxury A medical specialist trained to work in medical buildings.
Scientist white Research Lab, Hawking Institute Social, Relaxation, Gaming A science specialist trained to work in research buildings.
Officer red Security Station Social, Relaxation, Exercise A security officer trained to work in security buildings.

Each building which requires people to function has a specialization policy. The policy can be either No Restrictions (the default for all buildings) or Enforce Specialists. The latter is called Reject Specialists for buildings that don't benefit from a specialization.


Traits are the defining characteristics of a colonist and can give various bonuses or penalties. Some traits will also add an additional interest to colonists unless their specialization includes it already.


Perks are beneficial traits and should be sought amongst applicants. Children can gain any random perks when visiting a Playground Playground.png or selected perks when visiting the School School.png.

Colonists with specific flaws can replace them with any random perk by visiting the Sanatorium Building - Sanatorium.png spire that has the Behavioral Melding Technology - Behavioral Melding.png upgrade.

Any non-child colonist can gain 1 random perk, over time, when the Project Morpheus Project morpheus.png wonder is working. Any non-child colonist can gain the Fit perk when visiting an Open Air Gym Building - Open Air Gym.png.

Perk Source Effect Interests
Celebrity Normal sources Generates Funding.png 30M funding every Sol when at 70 or more Comfort.
Composed Normal sources and
School.png School
All sanity losses are halved.
Empath Technology - Neural Empathy.png Neural Empathy (Breakthrough) Raises the morale of all colonists in the dome. The effects of multiple Empaths stack.
Enthusiast Normal sources and
School.png School
Increased performance boost when at high morale.
Worker performance +20 when at 70 or more morale.
Fit Building - Open Air Gym.png Open Air Gym More health recovered when resting. Can work when health is low. +Exercise
Gamer Building - Electronics Store.png Electronics Store Recovers up to +15 Sanity for each visit to a building with the Gaming service. +Gaming
Genius Normal sources Generates +150Research.png Research points every sol when at 70 or more sanity.
Hippie Normal sources and
School.png School (requires
Technology - Interplanetary Learning.png Interplanetary Learning Breakthrough)
Gains twice as much comfort in gardens and parks.
Nerd Normal sources and
School.png School
Gains +10 morale for when a technology is researched, each boost lasting for 5 sols.
Party Animal Normal sources Gains +10 comfort when visiting a building with the Social service. +Social
Saint Normal sources Raises the morale of all Religious colonists in the dome by +10. Benefits stack with each additional Saint.
Sexy Normal sources Greatly increases the colonist's birth rate.
Survivor Normal sources and
School.png School
Loses less health without food, water, oxygen, or when living in an unpowered dome.
Religious Normal sources and
School.png School
+10 base morale. Low sanity never leads to suicide.
Rugged Normal sources No comfort penalties when eating unprepared food or having no residence.
Workaholic Normal sources and
School.png School (requires
Technology - Interplanetary Learning.png Interplanetary Learning Breakthrough)
Individual performance increased by 20. No penalty for heavy workloads. -Relaxation


Flaws are detrimental traits and should be avoided amongst applicants. Every applicant has a 50% chance to lose any 1 flaw when launched to Mars if Space Rehabilitation Technology - Space Rehabilitation.png has been researched. Colonists will lose flaws selected from the following when visiting a Sanatorium Building - Sanatorium.png spire, as selected at the spire: Alcoholic, Chronic Condition, Coward, Gambler, Glutton, Lazy, Melancholic.

Flaw Effects Interests
Alcoholic Work performance lowered by 10. Can be caused by sanity breakdowns. +Drinking
Chronic Condition Loses Health each day.
Coward Double sanity loss from disasters. Can be caused by sanity breakdowns.
Dust Sickness Loses Health during dust storms, even when inside a dome.
Caused by the Dust Sickness event.
Gambler Has a 50% chance to lose 20 sanity when visiting a Casino. Can be caused by sanity breakdowns. +Gambling
Glutton Eats double rations. Can be caused by sanity breakdowns. +Dining
Hypochondriac Will randomly visit medical buildings and take sanity damage if unable to do so. +Medical
Idiot Can cause a malfunction at their workplace (10% chance). Malfunctioning buildings stop working and require maintenance.
Infected Loses health each day. Spreads to other colonists in the dome.
Caused by the Wildfire mystery.
Lazy Individual performance decreased by 20 at all jobs.
Loner Loses comfort every day while living in a dome with population over 30. -Social
Melancholic Increased performance penalty when at low morale. Can be caused by sanity breakdowns.
Renegade Performance decreased by 50 at all jobs. Can cause crime events when there are not enough Security Stations in the dome.
Caused by low morale.
Whiner Loses sanity when low on comfort.


Quirks are traits that don't fit into other groups or that are generated by events or Mysteries.

Quirk Description Source
Biorobot Synthetically created humans that function similarly to us - they breathe, they eat and they sleep. However they do not age and cannot reproduce. The Positronic Brain
Clone Has half the lifespan of a naturally born human. Cloning
Dreamer Dreamers make sense of the shared dream but lose 23-ish Sanity.png sanity during Mirages. (Sanity.png Sanity loses are affected by Coward 200% loss and Composed 50% loss)
Before completing Inner Light, these colonists become unconscious for 1.5 or so sols while dreaming and are unable to work during that time. After completion, these colonists gain Dreamer's Inspiration, which gives +10 performance.
During and after Inner Light colonists can gain this trait through school, playgrounds(?), Project Morpheus, gurus or being born with it, with one or both parents having the trait.
Dreamer The Dreamers have emerged from the Mirages with renewed hope.
+15 performance from Dreamer's Inspiration. When the mystery is completed all current Dreamers are awarded +15 performance but all future Dreamers only gain +10 performance. Also, colonists are capable of having both. This causes a bug where the colonist no longer get +15 performance and only gets +10 performance.
Upon completing Inner Light, all current Dreamers gain a permanent one-time +15 buff to production.
Founder One of the first Martian Colonists. Given to the first colonists (the founder stage).
Guru Randomly spreads other traits of this colonist to persons in the same Dome with less than 3 traits. Applicants
Martianborn Martianborn colonists never become Earthsick. The Martianborn group of techs can improve this trait significantly.
Can become Renegade instead of becoming Earthsick.
Born on Mars
Refugee Untrained for life on Mars, which results in decreased performance at all jobs. Cannot be Earthsick. High chance to become a Renegade.
Worker performance −50 for 5 sols.
Tourist Doesn't work. Grants $10 million funding on arrival. Leaves at first opportunity after 5 sols. More tourists appear when tourists successfully return to Earth. +Gambling Applicants
Vegan Applicants


Game concepts