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V5 - Malkavian Revision

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  • V5 - Malkavian Revision

    Malkavians weren't really updated for V20 and I think they need a good update. I'm a huge fan of the clan and have been experimenting with a revision for my own games. I thought you'd like to see what I've come up with. Please tell me what you think. It's pretty rough but I think it'll be entertaining and useful to my players seeking to play the clan.

    Malkavians

    Nickname: Seers, Kooks, Jokers, Harleys

    The Malkavian Clan Philosophy is a doubt in the nature of reality itself. They are constantly questioning people, institutions, and assumptions about the cosmos as a matter of course. Embracing the mentally ill among Malkavians is not just the nature of the Curse of Caine (which would make a sane person mad anyway) but also because these people are often people who are already ostracized by society and forced to cope with the fact their world is a hostile/dangerous place.

    In a very bizarre way, the mortal insane are people who are viewed as better adapted for what the Malkavian Curse will do to them. Malkavians teach their progeny that the universe is an illusion, that things are never what they seem, and that every time you think you have a handle on reality--you're probably wrong. It cultivates a sense of paranoia about everyone and everything.

    They take great symbolism in the Serpent in the Garden but unlike Setites, it's the knowledge is also a curse. Similarly the Apple of Discord and such figures as Cassandra. Malkavians believe that Caine cursed Malkav with insight into the true nature of the world because he was the wisest and kindest of the Antediluvians. Some also believe that Saulot and Malkav were brothers or even the same Antediluvian at different points in their life.

    Common skills for Malkavians to practice are philosophy, history, debate, occult, science, theology, and meditation. Sometimes all the above. They scrounge for insights into the universe and can go to some very weird places for such. Some of their skills are wasted in pointless fringe ideas, conspiracy, or pseudoscience ("I have five dots in phrenology") but others have born out great wonders.

    Many Malkavians are nihilists who believe in no inherent meaning while others seek to actively impose it upon the world. Kindred religion appeals to them but they rarely hold to any organized ritualist one but take a cultish, personal mystical approach.

    Malkavian political philosophy is to be the perpetual gadfly because they are constantly aware of the dupliticous, two-faced, secretive, and hypocritical nature of Kindred. The Emperors never have clothes to them and they find it difficult to take seriously the Camarilla's airs. As such, they tend to be outliers that struggle to remain too useful to dispose of but on the opposition of whoever is in power.

    Malkavian Anarchs are often incredibly devoted to the philosophy but rarely leaders due to their offputting nature and inability to close their minds to the inevitable failures of Kindred leadership ("We're monsters, so after the Prince is dead, we're going to turn on each other.").

    Malkavians who do tend to cultivate power are ones who try to avoid being seen as directly doing so. They prefer to use blackmail, catspaws, puppets, and mind-controlled pawns to do their actions. The ideal Malkavian scheme is one that cannot be traced back to them. Unlike Ventrue mind-control, Toreador beauty, or Brujah inspiration--Malkavians love to plant eyes and manipulate emotions to influence opinions.

    Malkavian Political Camps

    Epicurians

    These are a school of Malkavians that believe in cultivating pleasure above all other things. They do not believe in a higher meaning for the universe but seek only to indulge their every appetites. They love blood, sex, drugs, music, and combinations thereof to keep down the Neast. Unlike Toreador, they do not make any pretension of art from this but just the enjoyment of unlife for tomorrow you might meet the Final Death.

    Soothsayers

    Malkavians claim to have deep insights into the universe. With rare exceptions, though, it is completely random and uncontrollable. Soothsayers, however, cultivate the image of great knowledge about everything from Gehenna to enemies plotting against one. They are masters of cold-reading, investigation, pop psychology, and playing into Elder paranoia. Very usually, everyone is plotting against the powerful so they're more right than wrong. They tend to adopt formal and grandiose titles while playing the role of swami, fortune teller, or mystic.

    The Faithful

    The Faithful are Malkavians who seek to cope with their madness and the Kindred condition via religion. Unlike the Lasombra or Setites, their faiths are almost universally on the extreme and personal side with little focus on ritual but much focus on transcendental religious experimence or direct encounters with the divine. Malkavian religions often barely resemble anything followed by mortals and can be as staggeringly weird as the Sacred Order of the Raincoat or "mainstream" as a sect devoted specifically to torturing oneself for Christ.

    These Malkavians believe themselves to be as blessed as they are cursed and often seek new insights into the divine (such as it is) in their insanity--whether it exists or not. It is speculated many Book of Nod passages were written by such madmen.

    Treated

    All Malkavians are insane but not all Malkavians like it. The Treated have a philosophy of attempting to cope with being insane as best they can. They attempt to ignore their hallucinations, manage their OCD, double check their paranoia, and keep their Beasts under control at all costs. These Malkavians regularly attend group therapy, seek counselling (which sometimes breaks the Masquerade), and try various chemicals in blood to try to blunt their curse. For many, small improvement is still improvement. For others, learning how to APPEAR sane is better than actually being it. Some have been cheated by other Kindred who promise insights or even cures. The Treated's forerunners used to be allied with the Salubri healers but this was a long time ago. A small number still seek Golconda or a vampire cure via medicine or magic.

    Pranksters

    The Malkavian prankster is not actually trying to be funny. The Malkavian prankster hates you, your society, and the world. It's just his way of expressing it is trying to take away the one thing that makes life bearable for many kindred: their rigid rules and society. They deface art in Elysium, burn down favorite haunts of Elders, driving a beloved ghoul to suicide, and taking compromising photos of a typical Toreador "amusement" with mortals to put on the internet. Pranksters are invariably treated as Anarchs even if most have as little respect for Barons as they do Princes. Most did not choose vampiredom and are lashing out in the only way they can: by laughing at the absurdity of it all.


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

  • #2
    I like it.

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    • #3
      i actually really enjoy V5 Malkavians. but yours are cool too

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      • #4
        I just wrote up this.

        Disciplines

        Auspex: Auspex is the highest of disciplines for Malkavians as many seek to expand their consciousness as much as possible in order to understand the true nature of things. It is considered a lifeline for many as it is not (usually) affected by their Derangements. The truth is revealed by Auspex and that is better than gold for those who cannot tell one lie from another in their own head. Many Malkavians develop the ability to see the future, past, and secrets about others that even they don't know.

        Dominate: Malkavian Dominate (or "Dementation") is generally not straight mind control. Instead, Malkavian Dominate works in manipulating emotions and implanting ideas that subjects think is their own. Some have the power to straight up shred minds and destroy a person's grip on reality, at least for a night. Most Malkavians find this a bit crass while others prefer to do more permanent damage like rewrite their memories either for sadistic pleasure ("You don't remember your wife and kids") or to protect the Masquerade by gaslighting a subject ("You just saw a guy in a cheap Halloween costume with fake blood.")

        Obfuscate: All Malkavians are terrified, even if they'll never admit it. They sense the evil horrors in the shadows and know everything they know is a lie (even that). As such, the ability to hide is one of their greatest assets. Unlike Nosferatu, Malkavians tend to prefer to be ignored rather than disappear. Police officers can write off the man running down the street naked in blood or the Prince can shrug off the particularly barbed insult. Other Malkavians have mastered the Bavarian Fire Drill where they simply walk into a location to steal what they need or explain they were meant to be there from the beginning.


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

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nicolas Milioni View Post
          i actually really enjoy V5 Malkavians. but yours are cool too
          Oooo, what did you like?


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

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          • #6
            This is an excellent compiling of what is it about Malks that has worked in the past, but which would give a new player seeing the clan for the first time a foundation to build on. I'm especially fond of the reframing of the prankster trope as a creature still worth taking seriously.

            I think what makes it work is the detached perspective. A narrator's voice from inside the clan, if done well, can ironically serve to limit the perspective.

            My unsolicited suggestion for playing a Soothsayer Malkavian: see if your Storyteller will give you one thing to be RIGHT about. Sprinkle metaphors about this one thing in with the nonsense. Use the advance warning you're given to write a few lines of prophecy in advance. Try to make it cryptic enough that its meaning is only clear in hindsight. Storytellers, pick one headcanon secret from your iteration of the game world and let the Malkavian's player in on it - something that they couldn't have read in a published book, because it's a secret unique to YOUR world.

            For inspiration, look to the Malkavian player's dialogue options in Bloodlines. The Malkavian knows the secret of the Voerman sisters, but only hints about it in the dialogue options. Even the player can miss the clues in their first playthrough, but it's cool as hell when the player realizes what their character was saying after the fact. Handle it right and the "a ha!" moment can feel like authentic magic.
            Last edited by Reasor; 12-06-2019, 11:29 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

              Oooo, what did you like?
              I like that the voermans are the signature characters,and their conversation about the worth of the Clan as A whole.
              That the Anarch Malkavians are called Unchained. There is this bigger focus on the horror having insanity forces upon you. Love that the cobweb has rules

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              • #8
                What I really, really, really miss from the old Malkavians, is the Eyes of Chaos (Dementation 3). The rest of the discipline, I guess I can live without, but the Eyes of Chaos is basically what gave the clan much of it's character as strange visionaries. I also sorely miss the Madness Network, a source of endless delightful weirdness in my V20 chronicles. I'll definitely restore both those two concepts when I portray Malkavians in my upcoming first V5 chronicle. The Madness Network would be super-easy to represent as a Loresheet, while Eyes of Chaos would have to be an amalgam of Dominate and Auspex, I guess.
                Last edited by Natsymir; 12-07-2019, 01:58 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Natsymir View Post
                  What I really, really, really miss from the old Malkavians, is the Eyes of Chaos (Dementation 3). The rest of the discipline, I guess I can live without, but the Eyes of Chaos is basically what gave the clan much of it's character as strange visionaries. I also sorely miss the Madness Network, a source of endless delightful weirdness in my V20 chronicles. I'll definitely restore both those two concepts when I portray Malkavians in my upcoming first V5 chronicle. The Madness Network would be super-easy to represent as a Loresheet, while Eyes of Chaos would have to be an amalgam of Dominate and Auspex, I guess.
                  Madness Network isn't gone. There's a loresheet in CbN to represent being on it. The Cobweb.

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                  • #10
                    Why not group the Malks by families of mental illness (such as schizophrenia, border line personality disorder, anxiety disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and so on)?

                    Edit: It should be possible to have social groupings, and groupings by mental illness and how the mental illness works.
                    Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 12-07-2019, 04:07 AM. Reason: Mr. teddy made me do it.

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                    • #11
                      I don't like it for a number of reasons. First it makes the Malks seem too unified and too ordered, and vampire city population tends to be too small to organize camps of malkavians, lest they were the only vamps in the city. Malkavians have always seemed to be incidentally working together and not much more. I don't like that they 'struggle to be too useful not to be disposed of' because, y'know, that's always been one area Malkavians have been good together; A clan is like your union, and the prince doesn't want to go insane over picking on the lunatics.

                      I object to 'reality as illusion', because, not only does it imply the unified organization you're proposing, are you stepping into Settite/Ravnos philosophy, and I'm pretty sure Set/Malkav discussed opposing philosophies.

                      I also object to this line too "Unlike Ventrue mind-control, Toreador beauty, or Brujah inspiration--Malkavians love to plant eyes and manipulate emotions to influence opinions."
                      Why not all of the above? Just seems like an arbitrary narrowing of play style. Why not use all your dominate capabilities or your good looks when useful? If we discount how this doesn't work in story; it's also not good for play? What, there's a one true way to play and one should only express one camp philosophy?

                      The clan you're suggesting is only superficially similar to Malkavians by virtue of madness.


                      Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                        I don't like it for a number of reasons. First it makes the Malks seem too unified and too ordered, and vampire city population tends to be too small to organize camps of malkavians, lest they were the only vamps in the city. Malkavians have always seemed to be incidentally working together and not much more. I don't like that they 'struggle to be too useful not to be disposed of' because, y'know, that's always been one area Malkavians have been good together; A clan is like your union, and the prince doesn't want to go insane over picking on the lunatics.

                        I object to 'reality as illusion', because, not only does it imply the unified organization you're proposing, are you stepping into Settite/Ravnos philosophy, and I'm pretty sure Set/Malkav discussed opposing philosophies.

                        I also object to this line too "Unlike Ventrue mind-control, Toreador beauty, or Brujah inspiration--Malkavians love to plant eyes and manipulate emotions to influence opinions."
                        Why not all of the above? Just seems like an arbitrary narrowing of play style. Why not use all your dominate capabilities or your good looks when useful? If we discount how this doesn't work in story; it's also not good for play? What, there's a one true way to play and one should only express one camp philosophy?

                        The clan you're suggesting is only superficially similar to Malkavians by virtue of madness.
                        Well no surprise we have different views on the characters. I'd be interested in hearing what you propose for a more interesting and evocative Clan Culture for Malkavians to possess.

                        How would you do it?
                        Last edited by CTPhipps; 12-07-2019, 12:11 PM.


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

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                        • #13
                          "for a more interesting and evocative clan culture'
                          Jeeze, that's a loaded statement

                          Quite simply; less is more.

                          Malkavians aren't so much an organized structure as they are a family; an abusive family where the elders take advantage of their children, but a family: Each Malkavian recognizes the cruelty of their condition; a sire feels responsibility for inflicting madness upon their childer. The Malkavians thus often feel like a lose support group, and the bond between clan members is rivaled only by that of the Nosferatu (In contrast to the Ventrue or Tremere who are loyal to the clan as a whole, rather than it's constituents)

                          Every clan works somewhat like a union; Upset one too much without good reason and it's an affront to the rest. The Malkavians punch above their weight in this; any vampire can make another disappear or set about financial ruin; few can turn a respected vampire into a gibbering, self destructive wreck for all kindred to see whilst maintaining plausible deniability. Moreso than other clans

                          The Malkavians spread themselves among different people; Artists, professionals, professors, survival nuts, religious leaders, people who just happen to have potential. They have diverse skill sets and philosophies, and many members work themselves into the circles of other clans.

                          The Malkavians are so disparate, yet so unified, a confusing trait unique to the clan. Their shared weakness brings together people of all stripes.

                          (but they're all mental primaries, all of them, no exceptions, shut up!)


                          Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                            Why not group the Malks by families of mental illness (such as schizophrenia, border line personality disorder, anxiety disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and so on)?
                            I'm generally not a fan of tying the Malk clan curse too directly to real-world mental illness, because I've seen that go very badly in the past. I see their curse as a more Gothic sort of madness—they don't hear voices because they have a serotonin imbalance in their brain, they hear voices because they have the vast world-spanning collective-unconscious of the Cobweb pressing against their mind, or because they're slightly out of sync with the rest of the world and are hearing fragments of the future, and so on.

                            (Of course the Malks might very well choose to Embrace neurodivergent people, but that's a separate matter and comes down to the individual Sire. If that's what you're talking about here, then my apologies, I'd be fine with that.)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                              Why not group the Malks by families of mental illness (such as schizophrenia, border line personality disorder, anxiety disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and so on)?

                              Edit: It should be possible to have social groupings, and groupings by mental illness and how the mental illness works.
                              I've played in games that try to force real mental illness issues on to Malks, they're universally awful in my experience.


                              Prone to being a Classic Curmudgeon, goshdarned whippersnappers...

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