THE HEADLESS MONKS
Awareness: 2, Coordination: 4, Ingenuity: 2, Presence: 1, Resolve: 6, Strength: 4
Brave, Indomitable, By the Book, Code of Conduct, Distinctive(headless) , Obligation (To the Church)
Special: Invisible to Life Scans (Headless Monks don’t register as living beings to most scientific equipment and sensors).
Natural Weapon: Hand Blast (4/6/L), Power Swords: +4 damage
Fighting (Sword): 3. Marksman: 2, Subterfuge (Sneaking): 4
Story Points: 1-3
The Headless Monks are a religious faction of the Church. Dressed in monks robes with their hoods pulled up their true nature isn’t known by many, even lowering their cowl is heresy.
Using advanced science a monk’s head is removed, along with their neck. This supposedly makes them immune to persuasion and fear which suggests that this is a form of artificial intelligence, perhaps in a similar manner to how a person’s personality could be copied in ‘Silence in the Library’. This is further supported by the fact they follow an AI, the Papal Mainframe.
Despite this loss the monk still shows an awareness of their surroundings, suggesting that the same technology that commands their body also detects light and sound. It is reasonable to think that they might have additional senses, even those that are beyond human capabilities such as being able to ‘hear’ radio waves or ‘see’ infrared.
The fact that they aren’t detected by sensors looking for life may indicate that their body isn’t functioning organically. Since they no longer have an orifice to ingest food or drink it stands to reason that they no longer need this sustenance.
Instead their body is animated by technology, preserving it from further decay. Since everything needs a power source the monks could have batteries placed inside them, amongst the now useless internal organs. This could be the source of their energy blasts from their hands.
Regardless the monks are still vulnerable, showing no particular resistance to damage. The same sword strike that would kill a living man will kill a monk. This suggests that without an intact body the technology can’t operate, even if it doesn’t actually need the body parts that are damaged.
The reason that they remove their heads is so that they can listen to their ‘hearts’. This philosophy is the opposite of the Cybermen, who believe that emotions should be removed in order for cold logic to rule.
It must be said that the end result appears to be the same. The Headless Monks do not display any individual identity or remnants of their previous personality. In fact they are same kind of single-minded warriors that the Cybermen are.
The Papal Mainframe could serve the same function as the Cyber-Planner. The Headless Monks could be a successful Cyber operation to have humans willingly covert themselves. It is known that the Cybermen have a large presence in this time frame and the Doctor did go to them to obtain the location of Demon’s Run.
To reflect the lack of a head I’ve given them low scores for Awareness, Ingenuity and Presence. While not stupid it was the Clerics who realised that the Doctor was trying to trick them into fighting each other. The Headless Monks might not be easily persuaded but I think they can be tricked.
Their lack of fear and iron will is represented by a high Resolve score, bolstered by the Brave and Indomitable traits. No matter who they are facing it will be almost impossible for a Headless Monk to become scared.
Their skill range is limited, concentrating on combat, but feel free to expand this to reflect individual duties. If the Order of the Headless Monks generally work on their own then they would need pilots to fly their ships, medics to perform the beheading procedure and technicians to fix their machinery.
‘The Wedding of River Song’ reveals that the heads are also kept alive, although only the rich can preserve them. Skulls, their flesh having rotted away, were still capable of movement and thought. This suggests the presence of some invisible technology, such as nanobots, continuing to hold their minds and animate what remains of them.
What this means is that should a player character or NPC be converted into a monk all is not lost. The player characters simply need to find out where their head has been taken, rescue it and reattach it before decay sets in.
This task would be made more difficult as the body would probably not want to have the head reattached, attacking the player characters at any opportunity. They’d need away to fight their former friend without damaging or destroying the body.
From ‘The Time of the Angels’, we know that the Order of the Headless monks have been wiped out by the 171st century, their final resting place being the Delirium Archive. That still gives player characters 12,000 years to encounter them.
The monks are horrific in the same way the Cybermen are. They have mutilated themselves in order to follow a very specific agenda. They have willingly given up their humanity becoming something monstrous in the process.
The stories of how they met their end are still left to be told and it may very well be that your player characters have a role to play in that.