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Malkavia Homebrew: Could use input

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  • Malkavia Homebrew: Could use input

    I've been working on a personal 2E Homebrew of Malkavia and Malkavians, and I think it's pretty solid. I'm also not a terribly veteran storyteller or Homebrewer, and I would love some input. Let me know what you think, if you spot an issue in the mechanics, thematic suggestions, etc. Many thanks!

  • #2
    The Lore of the Malkavians remains largely unchanged from what is found in the Ventrue Clanbook, however, for this homebrew, a greater focus is placed on the interconnectivity of the Malkavians as not only a possible source of their madness, but also as a source of their strength. This interconnected flow of minds is called the Demented Sensorium, a largely subconscious web of collective identity which perpetually bleeds into their lives. Whenever a Malkavian is worried, afraid, angry, happy, or distressed, others around the world will experience shards of those emotions. These shards are called Maladies, and account for much of their erratic, nonsensical, sometimes violent behavior.

    The Madness:
    Each night when you spend Vitae to awaken, roll your remaining Willpower points.
    Dramatic Failure: The Demented is immediately bombarded with sensory information and visions which send them spiraling. Take a Malady and increase its level by 1 automatically. Willpower cannot be used to prevent further increases. If the Malkavian is already afflicted, the level is increased by 2.
    Failure: The Demented Sensorium presses in on the Malkavian, intruding into their psyche and afflicting you with a Malady. You may spend a Willpower to temporarily push away its influence for the scene. If you already have a Malady, you increase its level.
    Success: The impulses and imagery are there, but manageable. You do not take a Malady, but must test for them as normal.
    Exceptional Success: Whether you’re in synch with the Sensorium or stalwartly denying it, the Demented is fully in control of their faculties. They need not test for Maladies for the entire night, and regain a point of Willpower.

    “Maladies always start mild, just a little tickle in the cranium that you can’t quite shake. Then you start to notice things. Patterns, images, ads, little things that enflame and provoke you, mock you or urge you. The molehill becomes a mountain, and suddenly you’re in a manic spiral just trying to make it stop. Will tearing that woman apart make the Depeche Mode song in your head stop its endless, looping, deafening cadence? Are you at the point that you’re willing to try? If not, you will be. Soon. The scariest part is that it might even work.”

    The Maladies of the Demented are not mental illness, in spite of what others may say. They are very real feelings, very real problems, very real fears; they’re just not theirs. Caused in part by the empathic telepathy of the Demented Sensorium, a Malkavian risks being accosted by urges and compulsions alien to them multiple times per night. They can try to fight back, to push the voices and images away, but eventually they will succumb.
    Mechanically, a Malady acts like an Aspiration, but one that can never be truly completed; it’s a vague but potent impulse, no more than a single sentence with almost no context. As a Malkavian falls further and further into instability through failed checks, the number of vague sentences grow, forming a nonsensical series of ideas and compulsions that erode their sense of reality. You may briefly forget where you are, believing you could be in an entirely different country. Your companions become strangers, or think you’ve been friends with a stranger for years.
    A Malady can reward Beats for particularly inspired RP or leaps of “logic” the Malkavian may reach to keep ahold of some semblance of lucidity and reality. The maximum number of Maladies a Malkavian suffers is 5.

    “Yeah, it’s wild. The shit you’ll believe? Fuck, a few nights back, I was hunting. I was feeling pretty shit and this guy catches my eye. See, at first, I’m thinking he’s an easy snack. Then I see his hands and something in me just... clicks. Next thing I know, I’m trying to talk him outside because he’s the doctor who is going to cure cancer, and the Men in Black are going to come and scoop out his mind. I absolutely have to stop this. Funny thing is that really was a doctor. Probably just a coincidence.”

    The initial Malady which affects a Malkavian is always one that can be applied contextually to their surroundings. Whether it’s directed towards someone (“He must be protected”) or themselves (“They want to take it”), the Malady must have qualities that can be applied to a scene. These qualities are called Triggers. When a Trigger is encountered, the Malkavian must immediately roll their remaining Willpower. On a success, they are able to hold onto logic. They know that what they’re seeing and feeling isn’t real. On a failure, they are forced into action. They lose connection to the here and now, knowing only the vague truth of the Malady. The player can also choose to give in to the Trigger and play out the scene. If they “succeed” is irrelevant. They resolve the Malady and regain a point of Willpower in the process. Unfortunately, they must immediately roll to check if a new Malady takes its place.

    Example: Brett awakens with four Willpower points remaining from the night before. He rolls four dice and gains no successes, which afflicts him with a Malady. The Storyteller tells him, “You can’t let her get in.” Brett is still fairly lucid and has places he needs to be, so he spends a Willpower to suppress the urgent anxiety.
    As he leaves a hotel bar where he met with another character, he rolls his three remaining Willpower and succeeds. The voices are still quiet; it’s a good night. Unfortunately, as he’s waiting for a cab, he sees a woman being escorted to a limo. This qualifies as a Trigger, and so he is forced to roll again. He rolls three dice, but this time he fails and is forced to act on his Trigger. Seeing an opportunity for drama (and to gain a few Beats) he elects to take a Dramatic Failure. The Storyteller gives him a Beat and two more Maladies; “It’s your fault she’s in danger,” and “their faces are masks.” After a few moments, Brett’s character rushes to aid this woman, crushed by guilt he doesn’t fully understand. He’s sure he somehow knows her and needs to save her from the monstrous driver who is planning to cut the face from her body. Once the scene is complete, Brett resolves his Malady and regains a Willpower, but must immediately check to see if a new Malady manifests.


    The Malkavian has begun to explore the affliction which ravages his perceptions nightly, first learning that sometimes all it takes is a good scream to get better. Unfortunately, while that scream banishes the Malady which plagues them, it forces the voices of the Demented Sensorium onto another. Some particularly cruel Malkavians don’t mind that one bit.
    Cost: 1 Malady
    Dice Pool: Intelligence + Empathy + Dementation – Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance
    Action: Instant, Resisted
    Dramatic Failure: The Malkavian gets lost in their channeling, and their Catharsis only serves to enflame their Malady. Increase the Malady by 1 and Catharsis cannot be attempted again during the scene.
    Failure: The Catharsis feels nice, but the Malady remains.
    Success: Smash a glass. Scream into a pillow. Punch a wall. Whatever the catalyst, the Malady is forced from the Kindred and into a nearby victim with the highest Resolve. With a point of Willpower, the Malkavian can choose whom the Malady afflicts. All Maladies are transferred to the victim.
    Exceptional Success: The expulsion of the intruding thoughts and images is particularly invigorating. The Malkavian can either choose whom is afflicted by the Malady at no cost, or regain a point of Willpower.

    Seed of Madness ••
    The Malkavian channels into the Demented Sensorium, flexing their mind and drawing deep from the wellspring of disparate madness.
    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Composure + Wits + Dementation
    Action: Extended (4 Successes, 30 minutes per roll)
    Dramatic Failure: The meditation fails utterly, as the Malkavian becomes lost in the torrents of the Demented Sensorium. They are afflicted with Seed of Madness, but with the same effects as a victim of Catharsis. They must endure the entire duration, and no Trigger will free them.
    Failure: The Meditation is relaxing, but an equilibrium between the self and the Sensorium is not established.
    Success: Once the Meditation roll is complete, the Malkavian is given a Malady. Unlike other Maladies, though, the Malkavian has more protections and control over it. If the Malkavian already has a Malady, it becomes a Seed of Mandess upon completion. The Malkavian no longer needs to check for Maladies at the start of every scene; it only increases in intensity once per day, automatically, for a number of days equal to the number of successes on the Meditation completion roll. Triggers will still occur, but the Malkavian may add their points of Dementation to resist the urge to act on it. If the Seed of Madness is inflicted on another through Catharsis, it affects them for the full duration; while Triggers still appear, they cannot quiet the voices.
    Exceptional Success: Additional successes are their own reward, increasing the duration of Seed of Madness’ protection or affliction.

    Demented Sensorium •••
    Misery loves company, and a Malkavian who understands the Demented Sensorium is never alone. The Afflicted speak of their unique connection, and are known, from time to time, to display sudden bursts of unnatural acuity in fields they have no experience with; an amateur handyman suddenly knows the intricacies of martial arts, or the Luddite artist becomes an accomplished hacker.
    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy + Dementation
    Action: Extended (10 – Dementation + Maladies)
    Dramatic Failure: You attempt to connect with the minds of your fellow Malkavians, but falter. You’re overwhelmed and take the False Memories or Delusional Condition, along with a Malady.
    Failure: You gain no successes and are no closer to drawing from the Sensorium.
    Success: You gain the required number of successes and may choose from the list of effects below.
    Exceptional Success: You feel a profound bond and sympathy with your fellow Malkavians. You may choose a second effect.
    • Use your Dementation dots in lieu of any skill you don’t have dots in.
    • Give any single roll the Rote quality.
    • Gain access to the Common Sense, Encyclopedic Knowledge, Eye for the Strange, or Indomitable Merit for the night.
    • Gain access to the Language, Trained Observer (1), or Ambidextrous Merit for the Scene.
    • Gain access to a Fighting Style merit for the course of a fight.
    Suggested Modifiers:
    In your Safe Place/Haven. +2
    In combat or stressful situation. -3
    Afflicted with a Malady greater than the first level. - (number of additional Maladies)
    Touchstone present. +1
    Touchstone in danger. +2

    Oracular Insight ••••
    The Malkavian’s connection to the Demented Sensorium deepens, granting a level of intuitiveness and insight that borders on the prophetic. The mystical latticework of reality becomes visible to the Malkavian, with all the peril to the psyche that entails.
    Dramatic Failure: In lieu of the previous Conditions, apply the Primeval Truths Condition.
    Oracular Insight enhances the Demented Sensorium with additional effects.
    • Gain access to the Omen Sensitivity or Unseen Sense Merits for the session.
    • Gain access to the Aura Reading, Clairvoyance, Laying on Hands, Medium, or Psychometry Merits for a Scene.
    Primeval Truths:
    Your character has gazed into the abyss, and it gazed back into her. She suffers an uncanny angst and melancholy, having seen truths her Earthly self could not hope to comprehend. She cannot regain Willpower, and must spend an additional Vitae to rise each night.
    Face the darkness. Risk Humanity Detachment, or otherwise take a significant action where your character briefly faces the void.

    Bedlam •••••
    This power of the Demented plays no small part in why they are feared; it constitutes an act of malice and viciousness so intense that it can cause permanent psychological harm to those it effects. And those may be the lucky ones, for the victims of this heinous powers will fall into fits of rage and abandon, or simply collapse into gibbering, insensate piles. Death and orgiastic mayhem are the calling cards of this power.
    Cost: 1 Vitae, 1 Malady per Target
    Dice Pool: Intelligence + Intimidation + Dementation vs. Composure + Supernatural Tolerance
    Action: Instant, Contested
    Dramatic Failure: The weight of the Maladies become too much, and overwhelm the Malkavian. They are afflicted with the Madness Condition which persists for the rest of the night and are left with the Amnesia Condition when they awaken the next night.
    Failure: The Maladies contained within the Malkavian blast forth, but shatter against their targets. The effect is unnerving and uncomfortable, but not debilitating. All Maladies are expended, leaving the Malkavian lucid.
    Success: The Malkavian wins the Contested roll and forcibly expels every Malady they are afflicted with into the unfortunate victims. The victims must immediately make a Resolve + Composure check; on a success, they are afflicted with the Madness Condition. On a failure they are afflicted with the Fugue Condition. Both last for the scene. While a Kindred may experience blinding paranoia and rage, they are mysteriously prevented from entering Frenzy. They must remain horridly lucid as their minds shred.
    Exceptional Success: The wave of Demented energy which emanates from the Malkavian is so intense that it can leave a lasting scar on the mind of the victim. The player can choose to inflict the Amnesia, Delusional, or Broken Conditions as Persistent Conditions after the effects of Bedlam wear off.