Αlpha Mensae V — Fureidis

Alpha Mensae system summary page

Stellar data

spectral type: G7 V position Equatorial co-ords
mass: 0.9 M☉ R.A: 6:10 hours X: 8.7 LY
luminosity: 0.79 L☉ dec: -75° Y: -32.1 LY
age: 5.8 Ga dist: 33.3 LY Z: -0.4 LY
diameter: 0.009 A.U. constellation: Mensa

Table of planets and moons

ID# orbital radius world type size mass g. atmosphere oceans mean surface temperature climate solar day habitability
(A.U.) (10,000 km) (D♁) (M♁) (g♁) (°C) (hours)
I 0.10 standard chthonian planet 1.19 1.33 0.9 none 517 infernal infinite
II 0.25 small rock planet 0.79 0.36 0.6 none 226 infernal infinite
III 0.41 standard greenhouse planet 0.8 0.44 0.7 superdense corrosive 14% water 888 infernal infinite
IV 0.62 small rock planet 0.59 0.16 0.5 none 45 hot infinite
V 0.98 standard garden planet 0.85 0.53 0.7 standard breathable 97% water 10 cool 18.4 79%
1.7 asteroid belt -79 frozen
VI 4.7 medium gas giant 9.24 150 1.8 superdense corrosive 12.1
5 moonlets -156 frozen
VIa 59 tiny ice moon 0.21 0 0.1 none -170 frozen 101
VIb 68 tiny ice moon 0.17 0 0.1 none -170 frozen 127
VIc 77 tiny ice moon 0.28 0.01 0.2 none -170 frozen 153
VId 91 tiny ice moon 0.2 0 0.1 none -170 frozen 196
VIe 104 tiny ice moon 0.35 0.02 0.1 none -170 frozen 242
5 moonlets -156 frozen
VII 7.6 medium gas giant 11.86 450 3.2 superdense corrosive 27.9
9 moonlets -181 frozen
VIIa 118 tiny ice moon 0.22 0.01 0.1 none -191 frozen 167
6 moonlets -181 frozen
VIII 14 small gas giant 3.86 15 1.0 superdense corrosive 75.9
4 moonlets -204 frozen
VIIIa 22 small hadean moon 0.27 0.01 0.2 none -225 frozen 75.9
VIIIb 29 tiny ice moon 0.22 0.01 0.1 none -212 frozen 111
VIIIc 36 tiny ice moon 0.12 0 0.1 none -212 frozen 155
2 moonlets -204 frozen
IX 21 small gas giant 7.44 70 1.3 superdense corrosive 11.6
6 moonlets -218 frozen
IXa 65 tiny sulfur moon 0.22 0 0.1 none -229 frozen 174
IXb 109 tiny ice moon 0.23 0 0.1 none -224 frozen 375
6 moonlets -218 frozen
X 35 small gas giant 2.88 10 1.2 superdense corrosive 119
11 moonlets -230 frozen
Xa 23 tiny ice moon 0.13 0 0.1 none -235 frozen 96.3
Xb 26 small hadean moon 0.25 0.01 0.1 none -243 frozen 119
Xc 31 small hadean moon 0.24 0.01 0.1 none -243 frozen 153
Xd 36 small hadean moon 0.24 0.01 0.1 none -243 frozen 187
4 moonlets -230 frozen

Alpha Mensae V “Fureidis

class of star G7 V
mean distance 0.98 A.U.
perihelion 0.97 A.U.
aphelion 0.99 A.U.
obliquity 29°
local year 1.03 a.
489.4 local days
local day 18.4 hours
standard garden planet
diameter 0.85 D♁
10,905 km
density 0.85 ρ♁
4.7 g/cm²
gravity 0.73 g♁
7.2 m/s²
escape velocity 8.8 km/s
period of low orbit 92 minutes
volcanism none
tectonics light
Climate cool
mean temp. 10 °C
perihelion temp. 11 °C
aphelion temp 9 °C
illumination 77% × Earth’s
coverage 97%
composition water
tidal range 0.57 m
main gases N₂, O₂
traces &c.
class breathable
pressure 1.2 bar

Population & economy
habitability 79%
carrying capacity 5.24 E+8
population 5.28 E+8
development level 6.4
real exchange rate 0.48 ₢/¤
GDP (nominal) 3.42 E+12
GDP/head (real) 13000 ¤
GDP/head (nominal) 6500
equality 0.41
spaceport class 3O
nearest neighbout 2 - Navabharata
distance 13.0 LY
sector Central
SHQ Old Earth
distance 33.3 LY

world unity federal
type representative democracy
succession elections
structure islandic
features annual elections to overlapping terms

Law & enforcement
source statute
enforcement police & detectives
powers & resources 4/10
judgement panel of jurists
procedure adversarial
protections 6/10
penalties imprisonment for major felonies
imprisonment for lesser felonies
fines, labour for misdemeanours
peculiar laws drug ban
“sodomy” ban
blue laws
light military weapons allowed at sea
4-witness rule for adultery, fornication, and sodomy
polygyny is technically legal
“intolerable provocation” defence

diversity conformist
social unit neighbourhoods
household type nuclear
kinship system patrilineal
gender authority patriarchal
sex roles distinct
stratification pronounced
social mobility moderate
customs sexes segregated
exposure taboo (neck to knees)
fanatical cleanliness
ritual ablutions
romantic friendships
perfoming art — music & poetry
values wealth
taboos uncleanness
adultery & cuckoldry

I’m not sure what “islandic” means as a political variable.

The structure of a government may be either territorial (federal or regional) or functional (“unitary”, or corporate).

  • In the case of federal or feudal governments the realm is [mostly] divided up into territorial units that are constitutionally independent centres of authority with independent officials.
  • In the case of regional governments the realm is divided up into territorial units that constitutionally have delegated authority and officials appointed by the central government.
  • In the case of “unitary” states the top-level subdivision of the state is not territorial but functional, and the heads of functional departments are appointed and directed by the supreme executive.
  • In the case of corporate states the top-level subdivision of the state is not territorial but functional, and the heads of functional departments have an independent succession and constitutional authority.

Fureidis is a feudal republic of which the territorial units are individual islands. Note that the planet has only 3% land cover, and so no continents.


Fureidis is one of a spate of colonies launched in the 2130s by religious separatists and utopists, who were responding to the foundation of San Pietro (on Tau Ceti) by the Roman Catholic church. In particular, Fureidis was founded for liberal Sunnis, and to some extent it might have been set up to attract them away from the more conservative and utopist venture on Hegira (p Eridani). Like San Pietro, Fureidis failed both to perpetuate religiosity among the descendants of the pioneers and to continue to attract remarkably religious settlers from Earth. Perhaps the first 120,000 immigrants were Sunni separatists. The next 250,000 were secular but culturally Sunni. The last century of the Age of Migration brought 2.33 million general migrants from a globalised and largely post-religious Earth. Fureidis preserves a few customs based on the Islamic religious practices of its pioneers, but is not now either a theocracy or notably religious, nor has it been so for seven hundred years.

When the last immigrants arrived (quickly followed by news of the destruction of Old Earth) Fureidis had a population of 19.6 million and a thriving industrial economy. It maintained a minimum of development level 5 throughout the Age of Isolation, its history consisting of the terraformation and settlement of a succession of islands and, towards the end, increasing conflict among islands and island groups over maritime resources.

During the Age of Piracy Fureidis had more contact with visitors from Iter than from anywhere else. It was sufficiently well-developed and familiar with internal conflict that it was able to resist conquests, the establishment of extraterritorial entrepôts, “resettlement” etc. Various attempts at those things did a little damage, and the introduction of diseases and pests a little more, but piracy was not a catastrophe for Fureidis. Thus the efforts of the Eichberger Foundation amounted on Fureidis to an attempt to monopolise its interstellar trade, which it resisted. Fureidis boycotted the Foundation during the Formation Wars at the cost of its space and orbital industries. Not until the Lunar Conference did it concede that the cause was lost.

For the first thirty years after the Treaty of Luna Fureidis colluded with the other main economies of the Core in their attempt to bring down the Empire, but since about 527 ATD it has been reconciled to the new state of affairs. Fureidis accepts the legitimacy of the Empire, and tends to vote with the Representative Government faction (“the Feds”).

Economic development on Fureidis has been limited to some extent by transport costs and administrative barriers amongst the multitude of islands. The current development level (6.4) struggles to support the population density (47.1 people/km² land surface) sustainably. Wages are falling. Land rents are rising. A significant number of people have started emigrating to new worlds in the Fringe. Disputes over maritime resources have become more common and intense. Fureidis is expanding its asteroid mining industry to obtain more siderophilic resources, also importing increased volumes of chalcophiles from e.g. Navabharata.

Population & Economy


The population of Fureidis is 528 million, which is slightly more than the 524 million that it could support sustainably and comfortably. The result is a slight pressure on degradable resources, increasing conflict over resources at sea, and an increase in the share of national income going to landowners at the cost of labour. This is producing an increase in ventures to mine the sea-floors and asteroids, but also a tendency of people to emigrate to the Fringe — 692 Roosevelt, in Reticulum Sector, is a popular destination.

As the settlers of Fureidis amounted to a large sample drawn from all over Old Earth there is a wide spectrum of phenotypes, and no genetic founder effect.

Settlement structure

Dry land covers only 3% of Fureidis’ surface, amounting to myriads of islands of various sizes festooned over a global ocean in clusters and arcs. Human settlement amounts to a rash of megaplexes: vast, crowded, ill-planned high-rise cities. And not all of these are confined to single islands; engineering on Fureidis it the equal of constructing immensely long bridges over or under wide bodies of water, besides which aerial vehicles are numerous and affordable.

Besides that, a significant number of people on Fureidis don’t live on dry land at all. Many live on boats or ships, which may roam the seas or spend almost all their time moored. Beside that there are residential pontoons the size of a city block, towers that stand on piers in shallow water, and even a few submerged habitats.


The economy of Fureidis is development level 6.4, producing approximately the equivalent of ForeSight tech level 6.5 or GURPS TL 9 (mature). That’s approximately the median development level in Flat Black weighed by population: Fureidis is a colony of middling wealth employing typical technology. The most sophisticated method of production in FS TL 6 is photolithographic layering of photonic components. Fureidis is advanced to use micrometer-scale 3-D stereotype printing to assemble organs and limbs using cultured cells and biomimetic materials as the “ink”. (See Development levels rather than tech levels (segué into soft-tech robofac factories))

Fureidis imports materials (such as minerals and high-spec crops from Navabharata) and low-tech components (such as panels and weaves from Persatuan) from less-developed colonies, and photonics and micromechanical systems from more advanced ones to assemble the typical products of TL 8 for local use (or lower-tech substitutes sometimes, for cheapness). Deep in the Core, Fureidis is well-placed to export microfabbed and biofabbed components to both highly-development and backward colonies.

Because the Empire will not transport weapons technology, the typical smallarms used on Fureidis are ForeSight’s “cone pistols” and “cone rifles”, which fire miniature gyrostabilised rocket-propelled HEAT grenades.

The equilibrium wage of labour in such economies tends to be small. Fureidis has addressed that issue with a global tax on rents, interest, and profits, which is applied to a lump-sum “basic stipend” paid to all adults. A smaller stipend for children is paid to their mothers to the age of 16, and an intermediate one to the adolescent to age 20 (subject to restrictions on how it may be spent). There is constant political contention over the rate of the taxes, the amount of the stipend, the cost of vocational training, and the shortage of highly-skilled workers.

Space industry

Fureidis has its own space launch and landing industry and orbital facilities. It is engaged in the commercial exploitation of the asteroid belt next out from Alpha Mensae in the system, which it does under Imperial indirect jurisdiction.

The starport is an orbital facility (“the Up-Port”) operated by the Eichberger Foundation, which Spaceways’ interstellar ships dock and passengers and cargos transship to Furedisean shuttles for landing. Most landing facilities are on pontoons.


The unit of currency on Fureidis is the deenar, which has a purchasing power of 0.011 SVU and exchanges for ₢ 0.00528. Most deenars exist only in computer accounts, digital funds transfer being the rule, but coins are in circulation for 1, 5, and 20 dinars, and laminated bills for 100 d, 500 d, 2 000 d, and 10 000 d.


Fureidis is a constitutional republic with a broad distribution of powers. Each island has its only local government with local responsibilities, and these have an independent constitutional authority, but they were never at any time independent sovereignties that federated, and the government is perhaps best described as a feudal representative republic.

The head of State for Fureidis is the Pelaku Surgya (“Perpetuator”), whose powers, nominally sweeping, are in practice ceremonial or reserved for dire emergencies. The Perpetuator is elected for a term of five years from among constitutionally qualified candidates nominated by the Great Deliberative Council.

The Great Deliberative Council consists of 99 members. Eleven are elected each year for overlapping nine-year terms, by proportional representation. The Council sets policy, holds ministers to account (they serve during its pleasure), permits the appropriation of public funds and borrowing on the credit of the State, confirms and may impeach the holders of statutory offices, and may amend schedules, set rates, and recognise facts as provided by statute. But to amend or enact a statute it must put a bill to plebiscite, requiring a 2/3 majority. This makes government cumbersome.

Each island or group of small islands has its own pelaku and its own deliberative council, on the same scheme but smaller scale. Local governments have independent constitutional authority over defined local matters. They can be impeached by the Great Deliberative Council, but the process is difficult, so they are practically independent, and often quarrelsome. Islands compete with one another to lure business into their jurisdictions by making attractive regulations, waiving taxes, and imposing barriers to trade. They also engage in disputes over maritime resources, despatching their rangers and coast guards to arrest trespassers and seize their ships and tackle, sometimes even to destroy structures and shoot down drones. Few people have been killed yet, but the world government is annoyed.


The judiciature on Fureidis is a hierarchy of expert jurists, called hakim. Courts are self-perpetuating by co-opation. That is, higher courts fill vacancies on their benches by electing hakim from lower courts for promotion. The lowest courts top themselves up by co-opting qualified lawyers: professional advocates and legal academics.

Judges sit in panels to try felonies and other serious cases, alone to deal with misdemeanours and minor civil matters. Procedure is adversarial, the judge or panel acting as finder of fact and declarer of law in what is formally a dispute between the State and the accused.

Protections for the accused are moderately strong, though confessions in custody and uncorroborated police testimonies are admitted, and the courts will draw inferences from silence. One interesting exception is that in prosecutions for incest, adultery, and sodomy (which are felonies) and fornication (a misdemeanour) the courts positively require eyewitness testimony from four witnesses, each confession counting as only one eyewitness testimony. The same rule does not apply to rape or child abuse.

Law enforcement & peacekeeping

Each local government (island or small group) has its a single police service, which includes a uniformed branch with peace-keeping duties and a detective branch, promoted from police, with investigative functions. The world government has a small array of investigating agencies and independent commissions, and commands a world gendarmerie.

Each local government also has its own coast guard with a buffet of rescue, enforcement, inspection, and revenue-collection duties. These have sometimes been engaged in vigorous disputes over fishing grounds, poaching etc., though so far stopping short of warlike action. The maritime branch of the world gendarmerie is no happier about this that the Imperials in orbit.


Fureidis is afflicted with an assortment of old but un-repealable “moral” laws that create victimless crimes.

  • There are sweeping bans against the use of recreational drugs such as alcohol (but not mild stimulants such as caffeine.
  • Prostitution and patronising prostitutes are a felony and a misdemeanour respectively.
  • Most types of gambling are forbidden.
  • Pornography and sex toys are banned.
  • Sodomy, adultery, and incest (to a patrilineal standard) are felonies, and fornication a misdemeanour, but they are hard to prove to the required standard.
  • Public nudity and even indecent dress is a misdemeanour.

Despite all that, polygyny is technically legal (provided that each wife permits subsequent wives when drawing up the marriage contract), though considered immoral.

In addition to this, most local governments require wholesalers and vendors of many goods, and suppliers of many services, to have local licences and to buy deal only in locally-made goods.

The result of all this is that there are lucrative black markets in imported goods, unlicensed services, gambling products, alcohol and other drugs, pornography, racy entertainments, and prostitution. These naturally support organised crime, which is naturally violent and contributes to corruption.

Ships at sea are allowed to carry military smallarms “to protect themselves from pirates”.


Serious crimes are punished with terms of incarceration. Lesser offences by exacting either fines or labour services.

Up above you say “5.28 E+6,” or 5.28 million. Which is correct?

What’s the difference? E+3 is thousand, E+6 is million, E+9 is billion.

5.28 E+8 is correct, and I have errors all over the place. I must check the code.

Well, in the passage I quoted, you said “is 5.28 billion,” which would be 5,280,000,000. In the passage “up above” you wrote “5.28 E+6,” which would be 5,280,000. Or maybe that’s a misreading on my part; when I look at it now I see 5.28 E+8, which is 528,000,000. I think I’m seeing inconsistencies. I take it that 528,000,000 is the correct figure?

Yes, I made a mistake in the code that converted numbers to engineering notation, producing the errors that you noticed earlier. Basically, “10^(I48-J48)” was missing from one formula and “10^(I49-J49)” from another, though strangely “10^(I52-J52)” was not missing from the one where that is required.

Alerted by your message, I fixed the bug in the code, and have edited my messages above so that they will be useful for later reference. Thank you for your help.


I feel that this work I’ve done on Fueidis is bland and unimaginative. I wasn’t very happy with what I was producing about Navabharata either.

Navabharata’s bizarre status hierarchy offers the prospect of some interesting problems for player characters to figure out; it’s like something that might have challenged Anthony Villiers. Or perhaps like the hollowed out asteroid in “Strikebreaker.” I can see it coming to life as player characters try to contend with its heterotopian complexities. I’m not sure I’m seeing a comparable fundamental underlying weirdness on Fureidis. Indeed I’m not sure I see that it’s a place players would be sent to to deal with as a “problem.” Yes, they’re at the limit of their carrying capacity, or only just barely past it, but that doesn’t seem like a crisis in itself. And it’s not clear what beliefs they have that would profoundly puzzle outsiders; really they seem fairly run of the mill, a middling world.

Of course, the setting of Flat Black probably has a lot more middling worlds, where things don’t work entirely satisfactorily but the societies have, in GURPS terms, quirks rather than out and out disadvantages, than it has either worlds in crisis or pragmatically utopian worlds. But those middling worlds are not going to be the bright spots in the tapestry.

On the other hand, the trick might be to work over that description and come up with, say, three social trends that point at movement out of the mildly unpleasant middle into bizarre and catastrophic failure, any one of which a PC group might need to address. Perhaps, for example, there are emerging and increasingly violent criminal empires, or a mainstream artistic culture that glamorizes successful criminal imperialists. Or perhaps the culture’s method of dealing with its overpopulation is one that in fact impels further population increase rather than stabilization.

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As it happens, th PC in the adventure that I am running on Fureidis is dealing with a crimelord.

How do you decide how the Fureidisian NPCs react to the PCs’ presence, statements, and actions? Do you have a mental model of the NPCs’ motives and priorities, or of their construal of others’ motives and priorities, or more broadly their theory of mind? Do you know what they take as normal behavior and how the PCs are departing from it? I’m not gettihg a sense for that from your writeup of Fureidisian economics and government. But it seems you must have something like that, at least tacitly, if you are able to run a scenario set on Fureidis.

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By the way, it just struck me that “Fureidis” sounds curiously as if it might be a Japanese representation of a foreign name (of a person or country) in an anime series: fu-re-i-di-su. (Compare e-su-ka-fu-ro-o-ne, represented in English as “Escaflowne.”)

That’s the sort of thing that I try to get at with the “Values” and “Taboos” entries on the planet sheet, but I’m not sure that I have a good enough idea for Fureidis. I have the people of Fureidis as obsessed with cleanliness as the Japanese or Singaporeans, which suggests strong feelings about purity and infection or contamination. Also, I have them strongly engaged by Platonic romance and poetry about love and fidelity. But it feels random and incoherent. I’m not feeling the force on the society of the great oceans and the over-built islands, the cool maritime climates, the criminals and the big rich.

The write-up above is far from complete, posted when I was called off to other tasks and before I had got to the sections on society and culture.

Very perceptive! It’s an Arabic representation of Avestan pairidaêza or perhaps the derived Greek παράδεισος. The colony was ostensibly named for an Arab village in Israel, but of course the promoters intended to suggest Arabic firdaws without blasphemy.

Perhaps it needs a Dionysian counter-culture.

(A) Perhaps that would be the pirates?

(B) I just reread E.E. Smith’s First Lensman, where he points out that no one would really be surprised if an interstellar transport company had ties with space pirates, because such ties between the respectable rich and outlaws have been commonplace all through history. Maybe there are such covert ties on Fureidis?

© Is there a puritanical substratum within the larger society? If so, are there “Baptists and bootleggers” political alliances that keep things like recreational drugs and sex toys illegal?

One thought about taboos etc.: Do they have the traditional Muslim ban on charging interest (“usury”)? If so, could there be a symbolic equation of interest with shit, along the lines of “dirty money”? And perhaps a cultural conflict between the enlightened elite who accept rationales for certain things not really being usury, and the proles who think that all finance is dirty? Could there be a class of people who do the dirty jobs of moneylending and loan collection, people that someone in desperate need will go to and keep a deep dark secret? I’m thinking, too, of Dante putting both usurers and sodomites in the same circle of hell, as “violent against nature,” because both practice unnatural forms of breeding (money is sterile, as Aristotle tells us)?