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Colonists are the living inhabitants of each RimWorld colony. Each colonist has specific skills, positive and negative traits, and a character background. In general, every human is a colonist except for raiders/travelers/prisoners. The colonists come in various outfits based on their background, which can be seen by looking at the 'Character' tab in game.


Main article: Characters

Upon creating a new colony, a screen where 3 colonists can be randomized individually is shown. Each of the colonists has a name, an age, a backstory, limitations, traits, and skills. The name is the only information that does not alter a colonist. The age can cause Cataracts, a bad back, and Frailty. Traits can cause mood disruption, psychic resistance, increase in skills, and so on.

Typical character creation screen


Each colonist will have two parts to their backstory: childhood and adulthood. Each trait has a small story to go along with it, with the name of the colonist filled in for each story. Each different backstory has different effects on the colonist, such as: increasing/decreasing stats, and disallowing certain tasks. Such information is important to consider when creating the first three colonists for the new colony, as future colonists can sometimes be hard to come by.

For a comprehensive list of backstories, see here.


The game begins with three colonists being dropped in escape pods on the map. This is how the first three of the colonists are introduced onto the map, although the rest will walk onto the map from the border (or fall in from their own pods via an event, or be discovered in cryptosleep sarcophagi). Upon generation of a new colony, starting characters will generally be outfitted with synthread t-shirts and pants. In addition to being clothed, a pistol, survival rifle, and knife are dropped beside them as they emerge from their pods, along with medicine and food.


Main article: Weapons

Colonists can be equipped with various items, which are shown on their information panel while individually selected. They can only be equipped with one item type at a time, meaning a single shirt, a single weapon, and so on. Their skill with their weapons is determined by their skill with Shooting, for projectile-based weapons, and Melee for the rest. An example of this can be seen below.

Entrepreneur colonist equipped with a pistol


The overview screen allows manually setting the tasks that each colonist is allowed to perform. Colonists will have a natural aptitude at a task, and have no check-boxes for tasks they are unable to perform.

With default prioritization

As of build 243, one can prioritize a colonist's actions manually. To do this, go to the Overview menu, and check the Manual Priorities box in the upper left-hand corner. The colonist has the numbers 1-4 in each check-box available, with 1 being the highest priority. If two or more tasks have the same prioritization number, then the colonist will do tasks from left to right, in relation to the task menu.

With manual prioritization selected


The Thoughts tab shows what your colonist is thinking and experiencing, whether good or bad, and these thoughts will increase or decrease mood.

For a more detailed list of thoughts, click here.


Colonists have basic needs that, if not met or if met beyond expectations, affect their Thoughts. The Needs tab also shows the current effectiveness of the colonist.

The needs, shown in the Needs tab, are:

  • Rest - the need for sleep.
  • Food - the need for food.
  • Beauty - the need for a desirable place to live. Colonists don't like environments covered in dirt, blood, or debris, and prefer to be in lavish rooms furnished with beautiful statues, large wooden royal beds, and plush carpeted flooring.
  • Space - the need for space. Being in cramped rooms gives colonists unhappy thoughts, while being in wide-open interiors gives them happy ones.
  • Comfort - the need for comfortable places to sleep, eat and relax.