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Malkavian (VTM)

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ClanMalkavianTitle
LogoClanMalkavian
Name: Malkavian
Plural: Malkavians
Pronunciation: mal-kah'-vee-uhn
Nicknames: Kooks, Lunatics, Madmen, Clan of the Moon, Malks
Antediluvian: Malkav
Faction: Camarilla
Disciplines: Auspex, Obfuscate, Dementation (formerly Dominate)

The Malkavians are a clan of Kindred cursed with insanity. Every Malkavian is in some fashion insane; in game terms, they have at least one derangement they can never remove. They are one of the original seven clans of the Camarilla and a pillar of the organization. Throughout history, the Malkavians have been the seers and oracles of the Kindred, bound by strange compulsions and insight.

Due to their inherent clan weakness, every last vampire of Malkav's blood is irredeemably insane in some form or another. Some attribute this to a curse of the blood, while other Lunatics actually call it a special blessing, a gift of insight. When a Malkavian character is created, the player must choose at least one derangement for that character at the time of the Embrace; this derangement can be temporarily fought with Willpower, but can never be permanently overcome. They are also pranksters, with their "jokes" ranging from benign to sadistic.

History Edit

Early History Edit

As with all the major clans, the Malkavians originated in the pre-Deluge city Enoch. Little is known about the clan's early composition, only that their Antediluvian, Malkav, was a seer Embraced by one of the Second Generation. Malkav was particularly close to two other Kindred: Saulot, the founder of the Salubri, and Set, self-appointed god to his followers. Some accounts suggest the three shared the same sire, possibly Enoch.

Sometime after the Flood, Malkav was ambushed and murdered by his fellow Antediluvians. Most Malkavians believe that he is still undead, only now he exists entirely within the Madness Network (or "Cobweb"), the group mind that all Malkavians share. Some Malkavians speculate that Malkav literally is Clan Malkavian and that when Gehenna arises, he will devour the clan whole and reconstitute himself.

Many of the early Malkavians posed as city-gods, using their oracular powers to convince the population that they spoke and listened to the gods. In Greece and the lands of the Fertil Crescent, many of the early Malkavians prospered as oracles and soothsayers and later, their foresight placed them into the role of viziers and advisors to the ruling Ventrue of Rome. It was on behest of the Malkavian prophetess Tryphosa that Camilla called for the war against Carthage and it was with the aid of Alchias, the Malkavian ruler of Syracuse, that the Romans proved to be successful in the end. Later, however, the Malkavians were blamed for the more instabile emperors and when Rome finally fell apart, the Malkavians drifted away, shattered and lost. Several Malkavians, however, became attracted to early Christianity (a running gag within some elements of the Clan are the consequences of a graverobbery in 33), seeing Jesus as the reborn Malkav who would end their curse. Some even claimed that Andreas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was secretly a Malkavian, and tasked by him to find Caine to persuade him to finally ask for forgiveness from God.

Dark Ages Edit

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Clan Malkavian in the Dark Ages
IanWatsonAdded by IanWatson

The Dark Ages were a difficult time for the Malkavian; still suffering from their fall from grace as an important clan after the collapse of Rome, many of the Kindred feared and distrusted the Madmen. Many more pitied their sad, insane state. Humans, needless to say, also feared the madness of the Malkavians; many were persecuted more for their derangements than vampirism. That is not to say all Malkavians suffered horribly; quite a few became advisors, seers, and jesters to well-placed and powerful Cainite princes. However, the bulk of the clan lived up to the Low Clan status bestowed on them by the more self-important Kindred. Part of this age were also the Ordo, secret covenants of Malkavians who sought to utilize their madness to predict the future and carried on the legacy of the Malkavian Oracles of Antiquity.

Islamic Malkavians, known as Bay't Majnoon, were more respected than the Christian counterparts in Europe. Many were held as advisors, bodyguards, and even Islamic prophets. Some Majanin took this last position a bit far, breaking off from the main bay't, calling themselves khaqas and forming their own twisted version of Islam that drove their disciples mad. Between this and their claims to supplanting Muhammad as the last prophet, the Ashirra watched them with a wary and unfavorable eye.

The Renaissaince was a chaotic and paradoxical time for the Lunatics, much to their delight. The developing forms of literature and philosophy granted them a freedom that was only overshadowed by the religious backlashes against it. Malkavians stood on both sides of the fray, often also enjoying dabbling in Camarilla and mortal politics that provided a incitrated web of possibilities to disrupt. Many Malkavians also came to regard the growing medical developments, particulary insane asylums.

Victorian Age Edit

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Clan Malkavian in the Victorian Age
IanWatsonAdded by IanWatson

The Victorian Era was the time of Freud and Jung, as the old theories of phrenology, demon-possession and divine punishment gave way to more learned theories of psychology and psychiatry. Asylums now started doing what Malkavians had been practicing for centuries - taking an interest in insanity. While the reforms of these hospitals no doubt crippled more than one Malkavian's supply of blood, the new system permitted the Lunatics to experiment with madness like they had never before. Some set themselves up as psychologists - others visited psychologists as patients.

The rise of the Bohemian lifestyle within society meant many more kine were willing to expand their own perceptions with new cultures, experiences and drugs. The Malkavians were only too happy to oblige. New forms of expression and ways of thinking both nourished the Malkavians and allowed them to be as florid as they pleased - after all, if a finely dressed gentleman is shouting about how people on the street are telling him to kill dogs, why it must simply be the newest performance piece going around the salons. In fact, a friend of yours heard it on the streets of Paris...

Final Nights Edit

The Malkavians always had a dangerous reputation due to their madness and their signature Dementation discipline, which can induce madness in others. With the Inquisition and the formation of the Camarilla, the clan faced possible extinction at the hands of other clans - the Malkavians were just too dangerous to continue existing. In order to prevent this, the elders of the clan changed the Clan in ways unknown and incomprehensible - the result was that the majority of Clan Malkavian discarded Dementation in favor of the Dominate discipline. More disturbingly, the majority of Malkavians, even those present at the time of the change are unaware that this happened. A small fragment of the clan preserved the Dementation discipline, defecting to the Sabbat and becoming antitribu.

This "Great Trick" means that almost all Malkavians are antitribu. While Sabbat Malkavians possessed the same mystical abilities as their ancestors, the violent environment of the Sabbat drove the antitribu even madder: all Malkavians have a mental disorder they cannot overcome, but Sabbat Malkavians have two.

This division was fixed in 1998, when for reasons unknown to anyone, the Dementation resurfaced within the Camarilla.

Organization Edit

On the surface, clan Malkavian is barely a clan. The majority of Malkavians are only marginally aware they belong to a clan; Sabbat Malkavians generally claim to be Panders. What connections Malkavians generally have are informal and generally paternal, sire-childe relationships being the most common, although Malkavian sires are prone to abandoning their childer.

Scratch the surface, however, and the Malkavians become a smörgåsbord of paranoid delights. Malkavians operate on their own timescale, and will gather spontaneously for incomprehensible events. Malkavians usually don't explain how they know these gatherings are occurring, and when they do the explanation isn't necessarily worth anything. Scratch deep enough and it appears that the Malkavians are highly organized, so highly organized they don't even know they are, and instead they continue to pursue incomprehensible and arcane goals that even they aren't aware are relevant.

This organization is generally termed the "cobweb", "Malkavian Time" or the "Malkavian Madness Network" and is a form of shared consciousness unifying all Malkavians. The strength of the voices varies from Malkavian to Malkavian, however all of them are at least aware of its call and capable of interacting with it. Dead Malkavians' memories live on in the cobweb, and it is implied heavily that Malkav himself is this network. The cobweb is only accessible by Malkavians, and they themselves only marginally understand it - most of them merely listen to the voices, but elders have demonstrated a powerful capacity to manipulate the rest of the clan through it.

Clan Variants Edit

Malkavian antitribu Edit

LogoBloodlineMalkavianAntitribu
Founder: Malkav
Faction Leader: Vasantasena
Nicknames: Freaks
Faction: Sabbat
Disciplines: Auspex, Obfuscate and Dementation

The Malkavian antitribu are, if possible, even more insane than their Camarilla sibling. This is in no small part due to the brutal (un)living conditions associated with being a member of the Sabbat. To the antitribu, insanity is a weapon, albeit one that hopelessly distorts them. Mastery of its use may take decades, or even centuries. At once completely independent, yet strangely joined to other Freaks by an inscrutable group consciousness, a member of this clan isn't easily forgotten -- no matter how badly one may wish it so. Malkavian antitribu are skilled at psychological abuse. By combining forceful words with subtlety, and the use of trust violated by moments of sheer terror, the Freaks can pry information from the most stoic victim or mortify even the staunchest of captives.Rumors abound of Sabbat packs' seers who divine a War Party's success by reading entrails ripped from a still-living human and of blood-maddened prophets who presage the coming of Gehenna in this, the Time of Thin Blood. The most dangerous of all -- the serial killers, suicide cultists, and the like -- may be "bred" for special missions into fast-held Camarilla territory, sent to spread the madness with which they're burdened, to pave the way for the Great Jyhad.

While all Malkavians suffer from some sort of mental illness, be it depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the members of the Sabbat have two (in early editions; in Revised Edition, this is changed to Sabbat Malkavians never being able to avoid Frenzy by spending Willpower).

Dominate Malkavians Edit

LogoVariantDominateMalkavians
Founder: Malkav
Nicknames: Kooks, Carriers
Faction: Camarilla
Disciplines: Auspex, Obfuscate and Dominate

Although they typically do not differentiate themselves from the main body of the clan, this offshoot was, for some reason, protected from the Great Prank which caused the clan to reacquire Dementation as its signature Discipline. These Malkavians continue to have Dominate as their Camarilla brethren did throughout most of the modern nights. Although certainly suffering from the same weakness as their brethern, the derangements of the Dominate Malkavians are stereotyped as being more internalized and "sedate" (such as sociopathy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a tendency towards hallucination); similarly, they possess little of the oracular ability of other Malkavians. They still carry the "infection" for Dementation, and may infect other Kindred despite not being infected themselves.

Culture Edit

Malkavians have traditionally fulfilled two roles in Vampire society: seers and jokers. As seers, the Malkavians have relied on advanced Auspex and the Cobweb (Madness Network) to provide information. Malkavians being Malkavians, this information is generally jaundiced, incomplete, filtered through cracked lenses or a total lie.

The joker role is somewhat more complex: Malkavians have a clan tradition of pranking. The exact purpose of these pranks is open to debate; they often appear intended to readjust the target's perceptions, but are also often sadistic.

In the Camarilla, Malkavians are tolerated; they are rarely princes but often are important primogen or otherwise figures of authority. Given their obvious insanity, princes traditionally give the Madmen a certain amount of latitude; in return, Malkavians are generally expected to demonstrate enough self-control to not break the Masquerade. This is not a benevolent arrangement but largely driven by fear on both sides: fundamentally, Malkavians are unknowable and the general attitude among princes is that its better to keep them quiet and happy, since unhappy Malkavians have a tendency towards introducing bizarre and inexplicable incidents to the equation. Conversely, Malkavians need the protection of the Camarilla, and have been modified as discussed above to make them more amenable to it.

The Ankou - almost every clan has tales of ancient terrors stalking the night. One such legend is among the Malkavians. He is the Ankou, the Reaper itself. The Malkavians who know of the Ankou treat its legends with reverence and loathing. A few have said it is the first of the serial killers, or possibly their patron saint. Some believe the Ankou to be a Methuselah. Its power is so great that it can walk unscathed through Garou territory or even vanish from one place and appear miles away. Vampires, especially Malkavians, are known to vanish from their hunting grounds without a trace. And sometimes the word whispered in the Madness Network is "Ankou."

Embraces Edit

The Malkavians are one of the more intellectually focused of the Camarilla clans (with the Tremere arguably being the only clan as interested in cerebral pursuits). As a result, Malkavian candidates for the Embrace tend to be intelligent and more than a little...odd. While the Malkavian embrace guarantees insanity, they do tend to choose candidates who are already halfway there.

Version Differences Edit

In 1st Edition Vampire, the Malkavians were portrayed as something halfway between mages and changelings. 1st edition Malkavians had strong ties to the Faerie realm, and were also generally obsessed with altering perceptions; pranking was part of a long tradition of "reality busting".

This has led to a traditional "Fishmalk" problem. Malkavians are one of the easiest clans to play badly, generally as comic relief or overly "cute" characters. Later editions of Vampire emphasize the violent and unpredictable nature of Malkavians, mentioning that the insanities of the clan are less likely to involve bunny rabbits and more likely to involve straight razors. This is particularly notable when comparing the two editions of VTM: Clanbook: Malkavian Bullet-pdf . The first edition includes a mess of inside jokes and arcane editing (notably the canonical appearance of Page XX), while the revised version implies that the clan are largely puppets of Malkav.

2nd and Revised edition Malkavians differ primarily in whether they possess Dementation or Dominate in-clan. Since this is an event in the Vampire timeline, players are allowed to (optionally) choose which discipline their Malkavian follows, and elder Malkavians can opt to switch Dominate for Dementation.

Since Dementation was typically only possessed by the Malkavian antitribu, possession of the discipline marked an individual as Sabbat. This may be the origin of the stereotypes of the "gentle joker" Camarilla Malkavian and "psycho killer" Sabbat Malkavian; no such easy distinction is possible in the Revised edition.

GalleryEdit

Vampire: The Masquerade clans

Assamite · Brujah · Cappadocian · Followers of Set · Gangrel · Giovanni · Lasombra · Malkavian · Nosferatu · Ravnos · Salubri · Toreador · Tremere · Tzimisce · Ventrue

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