The Terrene Protectorate is a multi-species (but Human founded) organization meant to train graduates to protect and lend aid across the known universe. All graduates are given a standard issue Matter Manipulator, allowing them to break down and place materials. The Protectorate is led by a Grand Protector.
The Terrene Protectorate comprises as many as seven member races, all playable ingame. Members of the organization are collectively referred to as "Protectors". Being a humanitarian organization, the Protectorate is well known throughout the Starbound universe. Multiple NPCs say they were considering to join the organization, but likely did not due to the incident that occurred in the time period Starbound takes place.
At the start of each game, the player has access to two lore-relevant Codex entries that provide some information about the Protectorate: About The Terrene Protectorate and Terrene Protectorate Field Guide. At least two more Codex entries make direct reference to the Protectorate. One of them is The Protectorate Code, found at Human campsites, which provides basic guidelines for Protectors to operate by. The other is Earth's Emergency Broadcast, which is found at Human campsites and in prisons. Grimly, it appears to be a record of a distress signal sent during the opening events of Starbound.
Main article: Matter Manipulator
Shown to be a powerful tool and a symbol of the Protectorate, the Matter Manipulator is a handheld tool capable of breaking, placing, and relocating almost any material. Upgrades are available through the use of Manipulator Modules, increasing its range, power, and area of effect, and even allows it to collect liquids, wire electronics, and paint surfaces. The very Protectorate logo is modeled after the Matter Manipulator (or perhaps vice versa).
The Protectorate Academy is a well decorated training ground situated on a high area on Earth, as shown by the background skyline. Newly recruited Protectors train here for a certain amount of time before graduating. When cadets graduate, they are invited to attend a graduation ceremony and be given their own individual Matter Manipulator, a sign of their newly gained status as fully fledged Protectors.Protectorate Flower. After that is the stage where the graduation ceremony was supposed to take place, and the player has to travel through various offices and storage areas to get to their ship after they survive graduation day. Along the way, there is a torn banner that can be turned into a cape.
Upon every new game, the inhabitants of the Academy are randomized, though their dialogue and race stays the same. For instance, there is always an Apex sitting in the lobby by the window, a Human walking around nearby to greet the player, an Avian at the vending machine, a Glitch sweeping up the petals on the bridge, and so on. This does not apply to the Hylotl at the help desk, as they are an interactive prop rather than a generated NPC. The only Floran at the Academy is a fellow graduate of the player's, seen in the area left of the stage before the ceremony. There are no Novakids at the academy unless the player chooses to be one. Humans, Apex, and Hylotl seem to be the most common Protectors.
Above the area with the lockers, there is a small rooftop space equipped with two outdoor benches that cannot be interacted with. There is also a Human NPC and a dog there. Though it is inaccessible, being both out-of-range and protected by an invisible ceiling, the NPC has dialogue; however, it is an exact match with that of the Human NPC in the lobby. There is another inaccessible area with an invisible ceiling, this one above the help desk, that simply has some bushes and a single wild butterbee, which cannot be caught (even if the player uses commands to spawn in a bug net). Other bugs placed with the "spawn monster" command cannot be caught within this region, either.
NPC randomization also applies to the Human NPC and the dog.
Events of StarboundPlayer starts by waking up in a dormitory at the academy, having overslept substantially. A ceremony follows shortly afterward, with the then-current Grand Protector Leda Portia congratulating all cadets. In the middle of Portia's speech, the Academy is attacked by an unknown organism, destroying the Academy and killing most of the attendees, with the player surviving the encounter. The Grand Protector, now about to die, tells the player to grab the Matter Manipulator she dropped for the player to flee with into a ship. It is after this that the Protectorate, along with Earth, is destroyed, and the story begins.
Despite its only active appearance being the intro mission, the player can encounter vestiges of the organization in the form of a deep-space vault and a vehicle tied to a bounty microdungeon. The Codex entry Earth's Emergency Broadcast may be the last broadcast from the Protectorate.
The location of the Torn Protectorate Cape in the intro mission. It is the small pile of yellow cloth, highlighted in red.
- Even though only the vanilla races have members in the Protectorate, any race, modded or otherwise, is capable of joining the Protectorate, as all races that do not have a separate intro mission default to the Protectorate Academy mission.
- While the Protectorate do not appear to have many installations of their own, they do appear to at least have relied on civilian supply ships according to some space NPC dialogue.
- Given the fact that the Human flag does not match the Protectorate banner and is featured as a flag representing Humanity within the intro mission, it seems likely that the Protectorate is not the Human government itself.
- As seen to the right of the "Academy" section, there are several easter egg npcs hidden among the crowd including much of the dev team, some Glitch with unused "hair" styles, and possibly some backers or beta characters.
- The word "terrene" is in fact a real word, as opposed to a portmanteau of the words "terran" and "serene", it means of the earth or earthly. Fitting for a faction centered around Earth.
- The term protectorate in real life refers to a state that is under the control and protection of another, the Terrene Protectorate however does not appear to be a government in its own right and exists within an idealistic and likely democratic society. It may be that the name is instead referring to how the Protectorate has jurisdiction over all territories not claimed by anyone else, helping protect the civilians who live in such regions of space as well as the local biodiversity, but this is only a theory.