- Created By: Jay P Hailey, Garry Stahl
- Number of Members: Less than 10,000
- Nature of Members: Vulcans and a handful of others who seek wisdom in the way of T'Zal
- Organization: There is a hierarchy among the monks of T'Zal based on classical Ancient Vulcan ecclesiastical ranks. But this is rarely used.
- Game Role: A source of quirky, adventure prone Vulcans
- World Role: The Monks of T'Zal feel that the Universe is, on some level conscious and some level attempting to communicate with its residents via phenomenon and the laws of nature. They explore the far reaches of space and obscure sciences in an attempt to listen to and piece together what the Universe may be trying to say to us all.
- Relative Influence: This is a small sect of Vulcans who have an odd philosophical/ religious outlook. As such they have next to no political influence and little financial influence. However as a group that studies arcane science for messages from the divine, they have had a disproportionate effect on the Science of the Federation, randomly advancing it or adding randomized input to the process.
- Public or Secret: The Monks of T'Zal do not proselytize their philosophy; they feel this would interfere with their ability to listen to what the universe has to say to them. When asked they answer questions freely and as openly as possible. So they are public, but not widely known or understood.
- Publicly Stated Goal: To know the mind of the universe by studying its revealed secrets.
- Relative Wealth: Small. The Monks of T'Zal feel that the pursuit of wealth interferes with priority of listening to the universe. Some monks of T'Zal have developed technology and science that wound up being lucrative; the profits have often gone to fund more research.
- Group advantages: Monks of T'Zal tend to be adventurous and skilled at improvised survival techniques.
Contacts: Advanced scientists and engineers in numbers of fields have contact with Monks of T'Zal as do freelance interstellar scouts and Starfleet
- Special Abilities: Monks of T'Zal are good at traveling and understanding alien cultures. They are good at survival skills under improvised and difficult conditions
- Group disadvantages: They tend to be poor, and isolated.
- Special Disadvantages: They tend to be disliked by hide bound and hierarchically minded people.
- Who belongs: Vulcans and other Sentients who travel to the temple of T'Zal and undertake the orders and training of the Monks of T'Zal.
- Those who favor them: Scientists, explorers, free thinkers, Starfleet Officers who know of them. Scouts, vagabonds and adventurers
- Those opposed to them: People who feel that knowledge should be restricted, or that travel should be restricted.
- Area of Operation: All over known space and then some.
- Headquarters Location: The Temple of T'Zal in the high desert of Vulcan.
- Public Face: Curious seekers after the truth.
- Notable Members: T'Zal the Vulcan priestess who founded the order.
- History of the Group: One Thousand years before the life of Surak lived a Vulcan Priestess of Gol named T'Zal. She was a minor member of a minor order of Gol. They were seekers after Truth explorers within and without of the mind.
T'Zal traveled to the Forge to aid her search for inner strength and outer power. She meditated within the sizzling heat and the deadly cold. She opened her mind to the desert, and it answered.
About the time her fellows had given her up for lost she came in off the desert, her robes were torn, her skin seared by the sun. She was alive, but babbling about the life in the world.
Her recovery took weeks, and some claim she never recovered. Although returned to health of body and mind she claimed to have experienced a sentience within the world itself, nay, within the universe itself.
T'Zal withdrew from the order; she retreated to a hermit's life and meditated on what she had learned. She traveled to the great centers of learning and sought answers with the science of the time. At last, she said, she had found it.
The Answer was science. To know the mind of the universe you must first study its form and how it functions. The brief glimpse she had in a moment of pure inspiration on the Sands of the Forge was but a fraction of all there was to see.
She founded an order to learn the mind of the Universe. Most people saw them as mostly harmless. Unlike Surak of a millennium later she taught that the way of the order was for the order. Only those that sought to be come one of them must follow their ways.
The second precept, openness, was what saved the order from becoming a political pawn. Monks answered every question as completely and truthfully as they could. No secrets were kept.
The coming of the Surakians was welcome by the Monks of T'Zal. With general peace it was easier to seek the Mind. The Vulcan Academy of Science was founded by those taught by the Order. The Monks had little time to teach and re-teach the same knowledge. It was their purpose to seek new knowledge. However the Academy was a good place to drop it off, and many a future Monk receives their education at the Academy.
Typically a monk of T'Zal will be wearing robes or sturdy traveling clothing. They will be packing all they own in a back pack, with a few multi-purpose tools slung for easy access. Monks of T'Zal are excellent travelers and good at interacting with local cultures. They often develop contacts in high and low places. Most Monks of T'Zal specialize in Anthropology and Archeology. Think Indiana Jones with pointed ears and you're about there.
Monks of T'Zal believe that the universe is using IDIC very literally to communicate with its residents and smaller creations. They tend to be very hand-on scientists and believe very strongly in objective truths. They tend to have a very practical set of survival skills and experiences, as well as their academic credentials.
Old Monks of T'Zal retire to colleges on Vulcan or Vulcan Colonies and teach the young the skills and ways of the order.
To become a member of the Temple of T'Zal one must have an academic specialty. Then one must serve an apprenticeship with an older Monk. (Apprentices are called Acolytes) Then one must travel to the temple and take part in the ritual addition of knowledge where the works and biographies of monks and acolytes are their findings are stored. Many ancient artifacts are stored and studied at the Temple of T'Zal.
Acolytes then perform routine duties at the temple, cleaning, cooking, support as well as research assistant. They are also trained in survival and adventuring skills, as well as cross trained in other fields of science besides their own.
When one is acclaimed ready one leaves the temple to wander the universe and uncover its secrets, to learn what the universe has to say about any given specific thing, and how this might relate to other things. Non-Vulcans are welcome into the order but few have the self discipline and desire to make it.
Monks of T'Zal generally, but not always, eschew organized forms of service and exploration,. However Starfleet and other space going peoples who are willing to put up with a free thinking freelance science officer can do very well with a monk of T'Zal.
Starfleet officers who have worked with them on the frontier, and independent scouts and explorers swear by their friends who are monks of T'Zal, when they aren't swearing at them.