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Yet another Dementation "rewrite"

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  • Yet another Dementation "rewrite"

    Hello, first-time poster, long-time lurker here.

    I have recently been wanting to play V20 again, and I have been toying around with various character concepts. One of those concepts is a Malkavian detective. I have always really liked the Malkavians as a whole, but have never gotten a chance to play one. The thing that really appeals to me about them is the whole "Oracle Driven Mad by Lovecraftian Knowledge" angle of the clan.

    I have always kind of disliked their Discipline because of this though, because I never thought that it fit very well. I know Dementation was originally created as a tool for NPCs to use against the players, so it didn't have much use beyond causing chaos, and I believe that was long before the idea of Malkavians as oracles ever came along.

    Therefore, I decided to put together a bunch of combo powers, added some madness-themed downsides to said powers, and I think it just might be looking like some kind of proper Discipline. As far as lore goes, I think it would make sense for Malkies who joined up with the Cam to start shaping Dementation into a more prophetic powerset. Then Sabbat Malks can keep their nonsense.

    Here's what I've got so far, please let me know what you think. I tried to add enough drawbacks so the powers wouldn't be utterly broken as a basic Discipline:

    Dementation: A Discipline for the Mad Prophets.

    (Dem •) Bullshit! -The Malkavians have long held a reputation as surprisingly accurate, but dangerously unpredictable seers. The first power learned by most Lunatics is to discern between truth and deception by allowing the Cobweb to make use of their senses. It is easy to fool one Kindred. It is much harder to fool an entire Clan. Lies become obvious to the Malkavian and a perceptive Kindred could easily come to a sound judgment, provided they aren’t overwhelmed by the voice of Malkav.
    System: Spend a blood point. For the remainder of a scene, any lies told in the Malkavian’s presence must succeed on a contested Manipulation + Subterfuge roll (difficulty 8) against the Malkavian’s Perception + Empathy (difficulty 6). Success means the subject still lies, but the Malkavian recognizes the deception. She cannot, however, sense subtler deceptions such as omissions or half-truths. She also cannot determine what information in a statement is false, only that there was a lie. On a botch, the whispered truths drifting out from the Cobweb become shouted lies and the user must make all social rolls at a +2 difficulty for the rest of the scene due to distraction. This power can only be used once per scene. (Originally Glare of Lies: Auspex 2, Valeren 1, Vampire: Dark Ages V20)

    (Dem ••) Sixth Sense -Paranoia is unfortunately common among the Madmen. This is to be expected to some degree, as not only are many of them uniquely “disturbed,” but their tendency to know things that they shouldn't know also leaves many Malkavians in the Modern Nights with targets on their backs. Thankfully, during the Dark Ages some members of the clan had the foresight to develop their signature Discipline in a way that could aid them in the event of any attempted acts of vengeance, preemptive or otherwise. With this skill, a Malkavian taps into the prophetic power of her blood, and for the remainder of the night will be warned of any ambush or surprise by the Cobweb. However, Malkav’s blood demands a heavy price for such a gift and the Malkavian will start seeing threats around every corner as the paranoia of the entire clan fills her head. You won’t catch her off-guard, but flickering shadows will become lurking enemies and good-natured jokes will seem like veiled threats to the user of this power.
    System: Spend a blood point. For the remainder of the night, the character cannot be ambushed or surprised by mundane methods. While this power is active, the user also gains the Paranoia Derangement. If the user already has the Paranoia Derangement, then the mechanical effects of the Derangement are doubled. Any non-supernatural stealth attempts against her fail automatically. Against Obfuscate and other such abilities, compare the Kindred’s Auspex the way you would normally. If Sixth Sense alerts the character, she’s assumed to have the highest initiative for the first turn of combat. After the first turn, she must roll normally. This power only protects against the first such ambush in a given night. The character may re-activate Sixth Sense for another blood point. Additionally, she may activate it directly before slumber in order to benefit from its protections during the day. (Originally Guardian Vigil: Auspex 1, Celerity 1, Fortitude 1, Vampire: Dark Ages V20)

    (Dem •••) Eyes of Chaos - This peculiar power allows the vampire to take advantage of the fleeting clarity hidden in insanity. She may scrutinize the “patterns” of a person’s soul, the convolutions of a vampire’s inner nature, or even random events in nature itself. The Kindred with this power can discern the most well-hidden psychoses, or gain insight into a person’s true self. Malkavians with this power often have (or claim to have) knowledge of the moves and countermoves of the great Jyhad, or the patterns of fate.
    System:This power allows a vampire to determine a person’s true Nature, among other things. The vampire concentrates for a turn, then her player rolls Perception + Occult. The difficulty depends on the intricacy of the pattern. Discerning the Nature of a stranger would be difficulty 9, a casual acquaintance would be an 8, and an established ally a 6. The vampire could also read the message locked in a coded missive (difficulty 7), or even see the doings of an invisible hand in such events as the pattern of falling leaves (difficulty 6). Almost anything might contain some hidden insight, no matter how trivial or meaningless. The patterns are present in most things, but are often so intricate they can keep a vampire spellbound for hours while she tries to understand their message. This is a potent power, subject to adjudication. Storytellers, this power is an effective way to introduce plot threads for a chronicle, reveal an overlooked clue, foreshadow important events, or communicate critical information a player seeks. Important to its use, though, is delivering the information properly. Secrets revealed via Eyes of Chaos are never simple facts; they’re tantalizing symbols adrift in a sea of madness. Describe the results of this power in terms of allegory: “The man before you appears as a crude marionette, with garish features painted in bright stage makeup, and strings vanishing up into the night sky.” Avoid stating plainly, “You learn that this ghoul is the minion of a powerful Methuselah.” (Unchanged, V20)

    (Dem ••••) Scrooged - Most Kindred believe that, as long as they’re careful, they will be able to live (or whatever it is that Kindred do) forever. But the Malkavians know better. Everyone dies; some people just die sooner than others, but most Kindred don’t realize that. This power allows Malkav’s brood to share their visions with others via touch. Unfortunately for the recipient, the madness of the Clan prevents everything except for the most horrible insights from being shared. The victim is overwhelmed by images of their own grisly death and seek to escape; running from their possible futures in a blind panic. Some victims of this power find themselves suddenly participating in a car crash; others feel the pain of organ failure as they find themselves laying in a hospital bed; some even find themselves staked and unable to scream, watching helplessly as dawn begins to break. Due to the unstable nature of the Malkavian’s second-sight, these visions are not necessarily the future and the events that take place are merely some of the myriad possibilities that have been pulled from the ‘Web. Prophecy can be a fickle thing, but most Kindred don’t realize that, either.
    System: The user spends a blood point and makes a Manipulation + Empathy roll (difficulty 8). Each success pulls a disturbing image out from the Cobweb regarding the target’s possible suffering or demise. On a failure, the blood is wasted and the Malkavian sees only a blurry, incoherent mess. On a botch, the Malkavian finds themselves assaulted by the same images they sought to inflict on the victim and must make an immediate frenzy check at standard difficulty. The user must then succeed at touching the target with a Dexterity + Brawl roll. Upon a success, the target is assaulted by visions of their own possible demise and must immediately roll for frenzy at a difficulty penalty equal to the number of successes rolled by the user on the initial activation roll or succumb to Rötschreck. Mortals get no such roll. They must flee in terror immediately. The target thinks the images are real and acts accordingly. The images last for a scene. (Originally Screams Made Real: Auspex 4, Dementation 4, Lore of the Clans)

    (Dem •••••) Phone a Friend - Many Kindred rightfully look to the Malkavians as seers and prophets, but those who have mastered Dementation are the ones most often consulted for their augury. Malkavians who know how to Phone a Friend can take their propensity for prediction one step further and actually seek out the answer to a question from the gestalt-mind of the Clan. If anyone in the Clan knows the answer, the Malkavian will be able to sense them through the Cobweb and pluck the answer out of their mind. However, there is a price: those Kindred who are unable to navigate the churning rivers of madness might find themselves dragged along in a direction they didn’t intend.
    System: The vampire must spend a turn focusing on the collective madness of the Malkavian Clan, and then rolls Wits + Investigation, difficulty 8. If the roll is successful, and if it is an answer that some Malkavian knows somewhere, the vampire gets an answer to her question, with each success adding clarity to the answer that comes back. If the roll is failed, however, the collective madness begins to overwhelm the vampire. She gains two additional derangements immediately (Storyteller’s choice) for the duration of the scene. On a botch, one of the acquired derangements becomes permanent, although it can be removed as normal (unlike the derangement gained from the Malkavian clan weakness). For particularly dangerous or powerful questions, the Storyteller may give the vampire a temporary derangement even on a successful roll, and even more dire consequences for failure. (Unchanged, originally Sibyl’s Tongue: Auspex 6, Lore of the Clans)
    Last edited by JustAnotherCaitiff; 06-11-2019, 11:47 PM.

  • #2

    I have long had Demontation be something that can be passed onto objects such as ancient texts or artifacts - very much in the Lovecraftian theme but I have never actually written up new powers. The only amendment I might make is that not every character with Demontate is a Malkav... so "Phone A Friend" for example would need tweaking to allow a user with the ability to tap into an alternative hive mind of nutters.

    Great first post


    • #3
      Love the ideas you're working with, and I thought of some questions to help further develop.

      Lvl5 Phone a Friend is basically the old Dementation 6, Sibyl's Tounge, right? What are your reasons for downgrading it from an elder power?

      A lot of the powers seem to take the "Demented" out of " Dementation". One of the terrors of Malkavians isn't just that they're insane, it's that their insanity is contagious. The only one that runs with this theme in your rewrite is Lvl4, Scrooged. Is this intentional, and if so, what's the thought behind it?

      Finally, I have an idea for something to add to the pile of Dementation ideas (only writing the fluff, as it could be scaled to different powerlevels).

      Many have seen a Malkavian staring into space like they forgot what they came in here for. They laugh, take it in stride and keep walking. The Malkavians, ever the masters of weaponizing their own insanity, have found a way to turn the affliction onto their enemies.
      Those affected by this power lose all sense of time and direction, and find themselves at a loss to form coherent thoughts. It becomes hard to recall any kind of facts, and even formulating sentences becomes beyond the hapless victim.
      Victims of this power, lost in their own minds, often take any chance they get to latch onto anything coherent, and their confused minds may agree to or do things they otherwise would have questioned. Tales of Malkavians entering a meeting only to leave moments later with an unbelievably good deal in hand can be attributed to this power, leaving their associate dazed and not understanding what they just signed.

      It deviates a bit from your intent, but I still think it fits the idea of weaponizing madness, and could lead to some really interesting fast-talking Malkavians breezing past security guards while flashing a BurgerKing-KidsClub card.

      Edit: Saw now that Confusion is an actual Dementation power from earlier editions. Shows how much I know about history....
      Last edited by pang4; 06-14-2019, 01:36 PM.

      Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.


      • #4
        Bullshit seems problematic with Auspex being inclan, you are litterally going to have a speed bump power once someone hits auspex 2...


        • #5
          pang4: I downgraded it from an elder power because it was the best fit that I could find for the theme I was going for and, as far as elder powers are concerned, it isn't terribly overpowered or game-breaking. Also, I noticed that V5 did the same thing with some powers that were previously 6+.

          I have actually altered it slightly since I made this post to prevent it from being abused in a disruptive way by automatically giving the user a temporary Derangement when using the power, with a botch making it permanent but removable like normal. That puts a bit of a limit on how many times in a night the user can ask a question. Otherwise, it would be a little too easy to find out the antagonists plots.

          And to answer your second question, yes it was intentional. It always bothered me that Malkavians have this huge reputation as "mad prophets" but then they only have one poorly-defined, super ST-reliant power that represents that. I know there are kind of lore reasons for that, either The Great Prank and Sabbat Malks infecting everyone with the new Discipline or them cutting everyone off from the Discipline during the Dark Ages, but the writers are backpedaling from that now, anyway. Look at V5: Dementation has been reduced to 2 combo powers in Dominate and Auspex, which I think is a damn shame. So basically, I wanted something that would give Malkavians their own signature Discipline again, but that matched the whole Lovecraftian/Greek idea of a mad oracle.

          Of course, I didn't want to fully throw out the whole "infectious madness" angle entirely, so I gave them that dot 4 to keep the theme in the pot, as it were, just toned down so they're not so fishmalk-y. They also needed at least one decent combat power, although now I am considering just making it a line-of-sight thing instead of touch. It's scarier that way. I really wanted the "Demented" in Dementation to refer to what happens to the user of the power, or those they seek to share their insights with. Secret knowledge has a steep price, and I wanted to play up the Lovecraftian angle of it.

          Lian: What do you mean by "speed bump power?" I am not familiar with that term. I feel like it just means that the power may be problematic or disruptive to an ST, right? But, Salubri also have Auspex as in-clan and Bullshit was originally a Valeren combo power, so I am not sure why there would be a problem. I tried to give it enough of a downside for it not to be op as a 1st dot. Do you think I should add a bigger drawback like automatically giving the user a Derangement or something?


          • #6
            Jeevesosiris: I would just say as an ST that using my version of Dementation connects the user to the Cobweb whether they're a Malkavian or not. Although, I would also be strongly in favor of giving that person a permanent Derangement for trespassing on the Malkavian Clan's mental turf. I dont think Dementation is all that common outside of the clan, but I certainly could be wrong. Especially in Sabbat packs I suppose.


            • #7
              I run my dementation the same way. A prerequisite for HAVING the discipline is having a derangement. If you ever heal that derangement, you lose access to all your Dementation powers until you gain a new one. A Malkavian teaching the discipline knows this, and spells the first weeks conducting terrible mental torture, to ensure the disciple's mind is the right kind of broken.

              Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.


              • #8
                Originally posted by JustAnotherCaitiff View Post
                Jeevesosiris: I would just say as an ST that using my version of Dementation connects the user to the Cobweb whether they're a Malkavian or not. Although, I would also be strongly in favor of giving that person a permanent Derangement for trespassing on the Malkavian Clan's mental turf. I dont think Dementation is all that common outside of the clan, but I certainly could be wrong. Especially in Sabbat packs I suppose.
                One of my payers is a Toreador investigator type who found a stash of occult documents and strange Lovecraftian curiosities of a deranged Malkavian conspiracy theorist. He spent a great deal of time studying them so I had him manifest Demontate as a consequence. As he is not a Malkavian I have him develop a new derangement for every level he takes it up.


                • #9
                  That is definitely how I would handle it. I probably wouldn't go quite as far as you have, with each level of Dem resulting in a new Derangement, but if the player can remove them like normal Derangements then it isn't all that bad. I would probably just give them one permanent one to deal with.