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  • #16
    Malkavians need to have more examples of what kind of derangements to play, IMHO.

    Also, some Malkavians trying to MANAGE their condition.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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    • #17
      I dunno, I actually enjoy Fishmalks unironically (in certain circumstances).

      And I say this as someone who suffers from mental illness, as well as neurological and psychological disorders.

      Few things are a better middle finger to the personal horror and metaplot crowds than a well-written and well-played Fishmalk.

      Ravnos and Malkavian are my two favorite clans and although I rarely play fishmalks, I don't play super-serious "woe is me" wangstmalks either. There is a middle ground.

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      • #18
        It depends how you define Fishmalks.

        Because Fishmalks should NOT include just "kooky" or "weird" Malkavians.

        Because everyone loves the Malkavian in Bloodlines, don't we?


        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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        • #19
          I like them in a videogame, where they are (crucially) not voiced. I don't know if I'd enjoy them much at a table. That particular type of Malkavian is impossible to do as a PC in tabletop because everything they say is in some way prophetic about the plot.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
            I think the story in that picture is the Malks are crazy but not as crazy as they appear. And so they are hanging out in the kitchen and talking to each other about something mundane (returns on investments in the pickled fish trade) when they notice they PCs walking up.
            And so the two Malks are like, "Quick we gotta cray cray for the straights." And the one dude drops his pants and slits his wrists. The other Malk starts fondling the dead fish the cook left on the counter, 'cause you gotta work with what is available and sometimes the only thing available is a dead fish.
            Edit: More Malkavians should be run like Hannibal Lecter.

            My take on this image is that they aren't Malkavians at all.

            Caption: "Yes, I'm sure. Forcing him into the vaulderie will end that Mariner Gangrel's bond over you just as easily if he's in his flight form."

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Tubect View Post
              I like them in a videogame, where they are (crucially) not voiced. I don't know if I'd enjoy them much at a table. That particular type of Malkavian is impossible to do as a PC in tabletop because everything they say is in some way prophetic about the plot.
              Not unless the Storyteller takes notes on the poetic nonsense coming out of the Malk player's mouth, and tries to work it in somewhere down the line. Preferably interpreting the symbolism in a manner not even the Malk player considered.

              Remember, whether it's DnD or WoD, the GM is allowed to change their own plans, so long as it doesn't create obvious logical problems. It's just a game. There is nothing sacrosanct about a Storyteller's planned vision, that it can't be modified or scrapped if the players present more interesting possibilities. Indeed, the Storyteller will be doing that a lot regardless, because no plan survives contact with the players.

              Edit: On the other hand, just because a Malkavian makes a cryptic statement they think is prophetic or insightful, doesn't mean it must be so. Malkavians are people. People are allowed to be wrong. Malkavians, especially, straddle the line between wisdom and delusion; they can miss moments of clarity as mere figments of their imagination, and mistake figments of imagination for important revelations. Their mystique comes from never knowing when a Malkavian is truly speaking nonsense, and when they are being secretly brilliant.
              Last edited by Bluecho; 03-12-2019, 04:38 PM.


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              • #22
                Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                Because Fishmalks should NOT include just "kooky" or "weird" Malkavians.
                Absolutely. "Serious" Malkavians can be just as disruptive, and come from a place of disruptive intent, as "kooky" Malkavians. Just like any other clan, merit, or flaw can be played disruptively. Likewise, the "kooks" can be played in a non-disruptive way, just as much as Malkavian behavior can be played for comedic effect in the rare times it can be done without coming off offensive.

                Hell, I played a Dominate Malkavian one time whose derangement was ADHD, who was high Humanity, and had the Lucky and Sanctity merits. Can't remember what his Nature/Demeanor were, but the character was the "well-meaning fool who gets by on dumb luck" archetype. One other player, who ironically was highly disruptive in her own right, got salty over it, but the character ended up being a riot, I managed to get at least one table-wide belly laugh out of the group per game session without being disruptive, and everyone else at the table loved him. When we played a later chronicle that happened inside the same continuity, everyone at the table including the ST, all but begged me to reprise him but I decided instead on a new character since playing him would have put me 50-75 experience ahead of everyone else.
                Last edited by Theodrim; 03-12-2019, 06:44 PM.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                  Malkavians need to have more examples of what kind of derangements to play, IMHO.
                  I once saw a guy play a Malkavian who was Hamlet in all but name. He believed that the ghost of his dead father was haunting him, demanding vengeance against the people who plotted his demise.




                  What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                  Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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                  • #24
                    In chronicles that I ST, I typically divide Malkavians into several categories.

                    First, are the "lucid" Malkavians. They are basically normal (whatever that means for vampires) except that they have one incurable, but manageable mental illness (derangement in game terms). Real life has lots of examples of politicians, artists, scientists, and many other famous/important people who suffered from some form of mental illness, but didn't prevent them from leading their life. These are the most normal Malkavians. Often it is not even apparent that these characters have derangements or are Malkavians, which can be creepy in its own way as players wait for the hammer to drop. Other times, it is obvious which can either be seen as sympathetic or a sign of weakness depending on the character.

                    Second are the Malkavians whose derangements skirt more towards the horror genre and are seen as "vampire appropriate." These are the derangements the PCs pick when they want to be more of the Hannibal Lecter types or be disturbing and creepy. I like these types of characters, but I don't think they should be the ONLY Malkavian concepts out there.

                    Third are the barely functioning Malkavians. Their derangements skirt towards real insanity (not being responsible for their own actions), but are still able to function in vampire society. That may be because of themselves, or by help/assistance given by others, or various methods of control employed by others, or perhaps their Beast somehow ends up saving them. But one way or another, they can function long term as vampires. They don't break the Masquerade, end up destroying themselves, or get killed by others. Characters who are over the top, but still cool and fun to play with can often be in this category.

                    The fourth group of Malkavians are those that can't function being a vampire over the long term (though they may be successful in the short term). These are people who might even be OK if they were human, but their derangements just make them incompatible of handling the burden of being a vampire (either intrinsically, or not capable of maintaining the laws of Kindred society). These Malkavians are inevitably put down. A lot of time, its their sires who have to do it before they are released. Sometimes their derangements take hold after being released, and it is the Prince who orders them destroyed. Or the character perishes at the hands of hunters, the sun, or their own hand. I make this be a serious problem for the clan, but one that is managed. They don't like it, but they understand that is the way it is. As an ST, I can get a lot of good stories out of these as NPCs. But I tell Players to stay away from any concept that looks like it couldn't be successfully played long term.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Tubect View Post
                      I like them in a videogame, where they are (crucially) not voiced. I don't know if I'd enjoy them much at a table. That particular type of Malkavian is impossible to do as a PC in tabletop because everything they say is in some way prophetic about the plot.
                      That's been a problem since the beginning - the idea that a Malkavian's derangement is actually some kind of "insight". That's not how mental illness actually works. And while it is possible for a skilled author to pull this off since she is writing EVERYTHING in that setting, it is not in an RPG because so much of the game is not in the hands of the ST. Nor is it appropriate to think it is the job of the ST to feed the Malkavian player secrets or insights about the plot. Maybe if it fits what the ST wants. But usually I don't think that is the case.

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                      • #26
                        My impression was always that Malkav herself was quasi-omnisentient (which is what broke her mind in the first place), and that her connection to her offspring is what gave them occasional flashes of insight. Their insanity being a result of something glimpsed during the embrace rather vice versa. But that's just me.


                        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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                        • #27
                          Apparently the blog's author made a few famous post with lists of characters you shouldn't play
                          but that problem, as well as fishmalks, is resolved by a recent post by the same author that i strongly reccomend http://taking10.blogspot.com/2019/01...as-fun-to.html

                          To sum it up if the people at the table have fun with your character it's all good, even with fishmalks.
                          If instead they get annoyed by your character (storyteller counts as people at the table too), maaaybe you should play another character.

                          There is no wrong character per se, only characters that might be detrimental to specific person's enjoyment of the experience. We don't play alone, we should adjust to other people preferences
                          Someone in your group gets immensely annoyed by fishmalks, don't play one
                          Everyone in your group absolutely love the fishmalks, for the love of gaia someone must play one (they probably don't like horror much, but it's their game and they can do what they want)


                          101 simple plot ideas for VtM

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Black Fox View Post

                            That's been a problem since the beginning - the idea that a Malkavian's derangement is actually some kind of "insight". That's not how mental illness actually works. And while it is possible for a skilled author to pull this off since she is writing EVERYTHING in that setting, it is not in an RPG because so much of the game is not in the hands of the ST. Nor is it appropriate to think it is the job of the ST to feed the Malkavian player secrets or insights about the plot. Maybe if it fits what the ST wants. But usually I don't think that is the case.
                            One thing that frustrates me playing with or trying to run a game with Malkavians is that a derangement is a flaw; theoretically meant to be equal in drawback to every other (Not that they are) so should be as constant but manageable as the Ventrue's Weakness or rare and debilitating as a Toreador's.

                            Expecting insight from the "Madness network" for free is turning the weakness into an inconvenience at worst and negligible drawback for too many characters

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Illithid View Post
                              One thing that frustrates me playing with or trying to run a game with Malkavians is that a derangement is a flaw; theoretically meant to be equal in drawback to every other (Not that they are) so should be as constant but manageable as the Ventrue's Weakness or rare and debilitating as a Toreador's.

                              Expecting insight from the "Madness network" for free is turning the weakness into an inconvenience at worst and negligible drawback for too many characters
                              Well, that depends on how the Storyteller is presenting these bits of "insight".

                              Here's an example: Let's say the coterie is investigating someone's home, and the Malkavian PC sees a stuffed lion head mounted over the fireplace mantle. The Malkavian, being a Malkavian, tries to talk to it.

                              Now, you as Storyteller are well within your rights to have this go nowhere. But you can also make the lion head talk back, at least from the Malk's perspective. They can have a conversation, and the Malk could ask questions about the building and the people who live there.

                              Now, the overly permissive angle that I think Illithid would take issue with is if the Storyteller just has the lion head spill all the information right out. That WOULD be the Malkavian using their madness for free advantage. That's not so much a good thing.

                              But how about instead, the Storyteller treats this lion head the same way they would treat all other NPCs: as a "person" with goals, values, and limitations. The lion head might not know anything the coterie don't already know. Or the lion head could know something, but be reluctant to reveal what it knows to a total stranger. If the PC wants that precious info, they actually have to stretch those Social Attributes, and persuade, intimidate, or seduce(?) the lion head into giving that info up.

                              In such a case, then, the Malkavian's "insight" doesn't give them anything for free. That they can talk to an inanimate object is just them having another avenue for moving the plot forward, like other characters who hack computers, find notes, decipher riddles, and pump real people for information. Those characters might use Computer, Investigation, Enigmas, or Persuasion; the Malk could do the same things with the same abilities, just in a different coat of paint.

                              It's also worth remembering that the lion head might be either lying or mistaken. The Malkavian PC might think they've cracked the case, when they've only "found" a red herring at best. It's also wholly appropriate for any true insight to be coached in riddles and symbolism. A potent player challenge could come from puzzling out the solution to a cryptic message. Exploiting madness may not be any easier a task than solving their problems the mundane way, though it has the potential to resolve the problem in an unorthodox way.


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                              • #30
                                Something else to consider is that, just as a Malkavian PC could be afforded unique opportunities by their madness, they can also be presented with unique challenges or hindrances. Not just in the sense that their mental illness already hinders them, but in the sense that their perception of Reality can be skewed and toyed with in ways that sane folk don't have to, for no other reason than because the Storyteller decided to do it. Their connection to the Malkavian Madness Network makes it so they don't just need to contend with their own, idiosyncratic mental problems, but also whatever problems are inflicted on them from the outside. Either because of other Malkavians, or from more mysterious sources that sneak in through the fractures in the character's mind.

                                Let's say the coterie splits up to check out different leads, and the Malk PC heads off alone to one place. Only to find that the most obvious route to their destination within a building is blocked by a hallucinatory wall. The wall may just look like a regular wall, as if the PC can't tell it's not supposed to be there, or it could be an obviously out-of-place obstruction. Like a wall of blurry colored smoke, or a web of thorny brambles. Hell, it might be a more subtle compulsion not to cross a certain threshold or circumvent an easily bypassed object. Whatever madness afflicts the Malkavian prevents them from easily using that path, forcing them to search for either an alternate route or a means of dispelling their barrier.

                                This is one of those things that can get the most "gamey" and artificial. But this can be alleviated somewhat by using symbolism to halfway justify the obstacles summoned by the PC's madness. Or, alternatively, the Storyteller can lean into the unreal nature of the situation, to reinforce the sense that the player's character is not engaging with a wholly realistic version of Reality.

                                An entire solo "dungeon" can be forged, simply from the twists in perception that the PC must contend with. Greater periods of insanity may create situations where the building itself seems larger and more elaborate than originally thought. (See also the entire Silent Hill franchise). Only when the PC has contended with the challenge can they progress...if they're even allowed to progress themselves. They may need to gain the assistance of the rest of the Coterie. It depends on what the Storyteller wants to do with the Malkavian's character and why.

                                Moreover, the nature of the hallucinations or compulsions - if imposed "from the outside" as it seems to be - may indicate something about the great narrative. Whether the player can decipher the symbolism or motifs imparted by these altered reality effects is up to them.


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