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  • Bloodline Conversion- Malkavians

    Hello once again, everybody! Haberdasher here, with another bloodline conversion. This week, I present everybody's favorite bloodline of lunatics and madmen: the Malkavians. And I included a bonus set of rules for some extra insanity.

    Thoughts on the Malkavians: I first asked myself whether I wanted to convert the "Malkovian" bloodline as presented in the 1e corebook, or if I wanted to use the idea of "Malkavia" as a disease that grants some unique powers as presented in the Ventrue clan book. After some thinking, I decided that the most interesting answer was: both. Under this conversion, Malkavia is a mystical disease that can affect any vampire, but does not really grant any special benefits, while the Malkavians are a specific bloodline of Ventrue who have gained special powers through infection with Malkavia. Thus, the Malkavians use the discipline spread presented in the 1e corebook, but also receive Dementation as a bloodline gift, here reimagined as a series of devotions that rely on synergy between Auspex and Dominate.

    I spent a lot of time on the Malkavians. The biggest challenge was on how to handle their focus on derangements in 1e, since derangements are no longer a mechanic in 2e. I settled on a modified version of their 1e bloodline weakness, and decided to portray them as having the Delusion Condition, with a second Condition representing flare-ups in their Malkavia that are brought on by dramatic failures.


    Bloodline Conversion- Malkavians (With rules for Malkavia)
    My dear neonate, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am stupid. I must inform you that I am not stupid, but instead irrevocably, tragically insane. Oh child, apologies will get you nowhere. The damage to my pride is as irreversible as chinaware thrown to the ground. Reparation is the only way to set this right. Since you wounded my pride… the only way to rectify this is to shatter your mind. I daresay it’ll be an improvement.

    Malkavia. Even the passing mention of this disease in Elysium can send an entire domain into an uproar. Disease is supposed to be a concern of mortals: Vampires cannot suffer from physical diseases, even though they can harbor them. And all Kindred know that their minds are as vulnerable to madness and insanity as any mortal’s. So the knowledge that there is a communicable disease that can warp the minds of those who contract it… does not sit well with many Kindred.

    It is all too common in human and Kindred nature try and find a scapegoat to blame for their fears and problems. In the case of Malkavia, Kindred blame- rightly, as a matter of fact- the Malkavians. Any Kindred can contract Malkavia, but the Ventrue bloodline known as the Malkavians can wield it like a weapon in a frightening art known as Dementation. Mercifully, the Malkavians are few in number, and those few Kindred who are aware of their existence take great pains to make sure this remains the case.

    Background: Once, the Malkavians had no name. When referred to- and rarely at that- they were called the Afflicted, mad prophets and insane soothsayers of the Lords who suffered from a condition that was every part of the curse as the Fog of Ages. Some thought the Afflicted a strange amalgamation of the Vitae of Lords and Shadows; others thought they had interacted with the gods, and the reception of divine truth had shattered their minds. Whatever the case, the Afflicted had some degree of respect among the Kindred, and it was uncommon for a Prince to not have an Afflicted serving as something between a court jester and a court magician.

    This was the status quo up through the Middle Ages- until the Black Death swept through much of the world. The behavior of the infected convinced many vampires that the Afflicted were somehow to blame, and it was not long before nomadic Sanctified were preaching that the visions and prophecies of the Afflicted were the doing of the devil. With time, vampires came to believe that drinking the blood of the insane turned one into an Afflicted. Soon, the Afflicted were shunned from the All-Night Society, forced to the edges of human civilization. It was at this point that the Afflicted began to feed upon the mentally ill and haunt mental asylums- these places were ignored by most Kindred anyways, and the Afflicted decided to exploit an untapped food source.

    The term “Malkavian” was not used until the 19th century. In the 1770s, Nicholas, a Defiant ancilla of the Polaski dynasty of Ventrue from Warsaw, decided to research the Affliction as part of his Great Work. In his investigations, Polaski came across records dating back to the 1600s of a Russian Afflicted named Gregori Malkav. One account from the Seneschal of Bucharest said that the Prince of that city had staked Malkav and buried him. The details get fuzzy from there, but Polaski somehow exhumed Malkav, and by 1773, was performing experiments on him. Over the course of about forty years, Polaski came to the conclusion that the Affliction was not a part of the Curse, but in fact a disease that affected the mind, like syphilis or rabies, and was able to affect vampires. The disease could not only be spread through Afflicted Vitae, but also through the powers that were unique to Afflicted Lords. He named the disease Malkavia, after his patient.

    As the years passed, Polaski became increasingly wary of his subject, and in 1818, he fled Warsaw altogether. Malkav Dominated one of Polaski’s abandoned ghouls into releasing him from his cell, Embraced the other, and then fled. Malkav next turned up in England at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, under the pseudonym of “Anton Malkov,” supposedly a relative of the Romanovs that the Czar wanted out of the public eye. Malkav was the patient of one Dr. James Griffin Hartleigh, who developed a quick rapport with Malkav, and got Embraced for his troubles. Hartleigh murdered his wife under the effects of Malkavia, and left the asylum forever. He spent several months searching for answers, and eventually stumbled across Polaski, whom Malkav had mentioned in passing during interviews. Polaski was displeased to learn that Malkav had Embraced, and decided that the best course of action was to Dominate Hartleigh and use him to find Malkav. Hartleigh, however, instinctively inflicted crippling fear not unlike Rotschreck on Polaski and escaped. He went on to Embrace several childer of his own, doctors and corporate heirs who could help him understand his condition and work his way into Kindred society.

    Malkav did not remain at Broadmoor forever. Records from the asylum say that Malkav was “killed” in 1889 by another inmate; more likely, he was merely forced into torpor again. Malkav resurfaced in Moscow in 1900, searching for a cure to the disease named for him, and from there, whispers of “Malkavia” began to spread across Europe, and by the 1920s, “Malkavian” replaced “Afflicted” in the vampire lexicon. Today, Malkav is supposedly being held in a psychiatric hospital somewhere in Siberia, attended by doctors and orderlies who routinely test his limits and pump him full of drug cocktails- on his orders.

    The Becoming: One might think that there is little rhyme or reason to how Malkavians Embrace, but as the Bard said, “though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.” Malkavians sometimes Embrace merely to have company in their misery, but there are some patterns: priests, psychiatrists, mothers and fathers, and even people who merely show a Malkavian kindness often find themselves Embraced. Malkavians tend to be erudite lunatics and charming psychopaths, prioritizing Mental or Social Attributes, Skills, and Merits.

    In the Danse Macabre: Few Princes tolerate known Malkavians. Those who do usually keep close tabs on them, and restrict their feeding and Embracing rights. Sometimes a Malkavian makes it easy for a Prince, and requests a psychiatric hospital, special-needs school, or drug den as a domain; when something goes wrong, a Prince has an easy and plausible scapegoat. Other Malkavians try to worm their way into the All-Night Society and obtain positions of prominence, and pray that they are never found out. Others accept more dreary Requiems: making their Haven in the spooky house at the end of the road, or the trailer with boarded-up windows down by the canal. Those who try to venture into the All-Night Society tend to be drawn to groups that are consumed with zeal or obsession: the religious fervor of the Lancea et Sanctum has attracted many Malkavians, and more than one clever Lunatic has managed to pass themselves off as a particularly fanatical Sanctified advocates. Malkavians with more secular bents find the Carthian Movement attractive; and at least the Firebrands are less likely to try and stake an Afflicted if he’s revealed.

    Clan: Ventrue

    Nickname: Afflicted (among themselves), Lunatics (by everybody else), Our Charming Cousins (by Ventrue)

    Bloodline Bane: All Malkavians are incurably insane. The particulars of each Malkavian’s delusions are as unique as they are, and a bad turn of events can briefly exacerbate their symptoms. All Malkavian characters have the Persistent Deluded Condition, which can never be resolved. Additionally, experiencing a dramatic failure brings on a second Persistent Condition, which is fixed and determined at character creation, or upon joining the Malkavian bloodline or contracting Malkavia. This second Persistent Condition should be thematically consistent with the delusion that your character suffers due to the Deluded Condition. The second Condition cannot be resolved by its normal means; instead, it is automatically resolved by the following night. A character can still gain beats from this second Condition.

    Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate, Resilience

    Bloodline Gift: Dementation
    It is a cold, hard fact of life (well, undeath) that any Kindred can contract Malkavia. However, only the Ventrue of the Malkavian bloodline can gain access to the greatest power that Malkavia can bestow: Dementation. This set of Devotions allows a Malkavian to bestow a small, temporary part of their insanity on others. Other Kindred who know of Dementation think, incorrectly, that it is a vector for Malkavia, if not the vector. The Malkavians laugh bitterly at this theory. Even the most most terrible of Dementation's powers is nothing compared to the eternal hell that is Malkavia.

    Phobia (Auspex @@, Dominate @@)
    Phobia allows a Malkavian to dredge up an adversary’s deepest fears, or inflict them with the Malkavian’s own fears.
    Cost: None
    Dice Pool: Presence + Empathy + Dominate - target’s Composure
    Action: Instant
    Roll Results
    Failure: The character fails to project his fears onto the target, or to stoke the target’s innermost fears.
    Success: The character creates a sense of irrational fear in his target that is similar to Rötschreck. The target can attempt to resist the effect by rolling Resolve + Composure, and match or surpass the number of successes that the character achieved on the activation roll. If the target fails, the character may spend an Instant Action every turn to continue using the power, and the power stops when the target successfully overcomes it or the character chooses to stop using the power. Otherwise, the target is considered to be under the effects of fear Frenzy. This ability has no effect on humans. Alternatively, the character can inspire a phobia in the target. This phobia takes the form of the Shaken Condition. The target can attempt a Wits + Empathy roll to identify the character as the source of the power. This second effect can affect both vampires and mortals.
    Exceptional Success: The additional successes are their own reward.
    This Devotion costs two Experiences to learn.


    Cassandra’s Vision (Auspex @@@)
    As a Malkavian grows in power, he begins to gain visions. Madness, at least for Malkavians, has the unexpected benefit of sometimes allowing them to peer forwards in time, or discern a solution to a predicament, but they must be careful that they do not mistake their own insane thoughts for enlightenment.
    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Auspex
    Action: Instant
    Roll Results
    Failure: The character receives a vision that carries no truth or insight. The user may make an Intelligence + Composure roll to try and realize that the vision is useless.
    Success: The character receives a vision containing genuine insight. The user can use this to either grant themselves a +3 to an untrained Skill, or a +2 to Initiative on a single Initiative roll. Alternatively, the user can request information or inspiration needed to progress the story or aid the troupe.
    Exceptional Success: The user can choose two bonuses to rolls. An exceptional success does not impact the amount of information revealed by a vision.
    This Devotion costs two Experiences to learn.


    Gaslighting (Auspex @@, Dominate @@@@)
    Rumors that Dementation has the ability to afflict Malkavia probably stem from Kindred who witnessed or experienced a successful use of Gaslighting. It stems from the ability of Dominate to plant false memories, but is more insidious than that. This ability does not shift or distort memories, but engenders self-doubt. As time goes on, the character begins to question their own perception of reality, constantly second-guessing themselves.
    Cost: 1+ Vitae
    Dice Pool: Presence + Intimidation + Dominate
    Action: Extended. The target number of successes is the target’s Composure + Blood Potency. Each roll represents ten minutes of the character projecting his will on the target. The target must be in sight and in-person for the ability to work.
    Roll Results
    Failure: The target leaves the character’s field of vision completely, or the character is distracted from the target. The Devotion fails, but the character loses no Vitae.
    Success: Once the character achieves a number of successes equal to or greater than the target’s Composure + Blood Potency, he spends one Vitae to Gaslight the target. Within a few minutes, the target is gripped by doubt and suspicion. The next time the target awakens from sleep, they immediately enter a reflexive extended action, and must roll Wits + Resolve vs. a target number equal to the total number of successes that the user achieved. The character may increase this target number by two by spending additional Vitae, to a limit target number of 20. Regardless of whether the target earns a success or failure on their role, they lose one point of Willpower (players under the effect of Gaslighting may spend Willpower to augment their rolls to combat it). Once the target is at zero Willpower points when an interval occurs, they instead receive the Confused Condition, and cannot resolve it until Gaslighting ends. The interval for rolls and Willpower loss is normally two days, but the user may halve the interval in exchange for suffering a -2 to the activation roll per halved interval. Gaslighting lasts until the target achieves or surpasses the target number.
    Exceptional Success: If the user achieves an exceptional success in the extended roll to use Gaslight, the target is affected with the Confused Condition from the start. If they are at zero Willpower Points when an interval occurs, the Confused Condition is resolved and replaced with the Persistent Deluded Condition.
    This Devotion costs three Experiences to learn.


    Not All There (Auspex @@@@, Dominate @@@@)
    With this Devotion, thoughts become jumbled and scattered, the psyche becomes murky, and trains of thought begin to meander off into oblivion. Malkavians can turn their minds into the psychic equivalent of a writhing eel, impossible to pin down- alternatively, they can turn the effect on enemies, making them incapable of stringing thoughts together or maintaining their concentration.
    Cost: 1 Willpower
    Dice Pool: Manipulation + Empathy + Dominate - target’s Resolve or Composure when not used on self.
    Action: Instant
    Roll Results
    Failure: The user fails to scatter his or her own thoughts- or those of the target. The Willpower spent to activate this power is not recouped.
    Success: When used on a target, this power imposes a penalty on the target’s next Wits, Resolve, or Composure roll equal to successes achieved, or to an attempt to use Auspex, Dominate, Majesty, or Nightmare on the user equal to successes achieved. Alternatively, the user may use Not All There on himself to grant a bonus to his next Wits, Resolve, or Composure roll equal to successes achieve, or his next attempt to use Auspex, Dominate, Majesty, or Nightmare equal to successes achieved.
    Exceptional Success: Additional successes merely further enhance a bonus or penalty.
    This Devotion costs four Experiences to learn.


    Dementia Praecox (Auspex @@@@, Dominate @@@@@)
    A Malkavian with knowledge of this technique is an unholy terror. This power has shattered marriages, ruined careers, and toppled public figures. But the worst part of Dementia Praecox is that as awful as it maybe, it is temporary; unlike the madness experienced by those who wield it.
    Cost: 1 Willpower
    Dice Pool: Presence + Empathy + Dominate vs. the target’s Resolve + Blood Potency
    Action: Extended and contested. Each roll represents a turn of psychic combat. The user’s target number of successes is the subject’s Resolve + Blood Potency. The target’s target number of successes is the user’s Presence + Empathy + Dominate. The user cannot spend Willpower on the activation turn, but can spend a Willpower on subsequent turns. The target can spend Willpower on turns as usual.
    Roll Results
    Failure: The user fails to break down his target’s psyche. The power fails, and any Willpower the user spent are wasted.
    Success: The user plants a false reality or particular desire in the target’s mind. The target accepts the reality or desire as true, or a part of their identity until the effect ends. The effect normally lasts for 24 hours, but the user can extend the effect by 24 hour increments by accepting a -1 to his rolls on the extended contested action, up to a cumulative penalty of -5. The belief can be as simple as making a pickpocketing victim believe they merely lost their wallet, or make a mortal believe that they are a vampire. In mechanical terms, Dementia Praecox can do things like: impose a Persistent Condition, compel a vampire to waste Vitae, cause the target to spend Willpower on an unimportant task, make the target injure themselves, deny them the 8-Again, 9-Again, or 10-Again qualities, deny them the benefit of their Vice or Virtue (or Mask or Dirge for Kindred), or deny the target use of Skills or Merits that they have dots in, or make the target think they have dots in Skills or Merits they do not possess. The Storyteller should think of an in-character explanation of the chosen effect (the target thinks they are unattractive, hedonistic, injured, etc.).
    Exceptional Success: Exceptional successes do not give special effects.
    This Devotion costs four Experiences to learn.


    Rules for Malkavia
    Properly speaking, a “Malkavian” is a Ventrue of the main clan who develops Malkavia, and so joins the Malkavian bloodline. This grants him or her all of the effects of being a member of the bloodline. A member of any clan can develop Malkavia, but only Ventrue who are not already part of a bloodline can join the Malkavian bloodline. This doesn’t stop other Kindred from referring to all those with Malkavia as “Malkavians,” regardless or clan or bloodline, and Malkavians are often willing to tutor their “devotees” in the bloodline’s disciplines, further muddying the waters.

    Any vampire with Malkavia who Embraces passes Malkavia on to their childe; a person Embraced by a member of the Malkavian bloodline is automatically a member of the bloodline.

    A living character who directly drinks Vitae tainted with Malkavia, or is fed upon by a Kindred with Malkavia, must roll Stamina + Resolve vs. the vampire’s Blood Potency. If the living character achieves fewer successes, she suffers from the Madness Persistent Condition for a number of days equal to the Blood Potency of the vampire in question, and may transmit Malkavia for a number of hours equal to the Blood Potency of the vampire in question. If a vampire drinks from a living character infected with Malkavia, they must roll Stamina + Blood Potency vs. the mortal’s Willpower. If the vampire achieves fewer successes, they suffer from the Malkavian bloodline bane, and can transmit Malkavia, for a number of months equal to the source’s Willpower dots. If a vampire directly consumes the Vitae of another vampire infected with Malkavia, or has their own Vitae consumed directly by a vampire infected with Malkavia, they are permanently infected with the disease. This is represented as the vampire possessing a bane, which matches the description and rules for the Malkavian bloodline bane.

    A character can be infected with Malkavia through less obvious, but definite, sources. Interacting with an unholy artifact, coming into contact with the ashes of a powerful, long-dead vampire who had Malkavia, or performing a particularly heinous act at a low Humanity score could all be sources of Malkavia. However, a Storyteller should be very careful when considering infecting a player’s character with Malkavia; discuss the possibility with players before introducing “spontaneous” Malkavia into a Chronicle, and see what their opinions on the subject of playing a character with Malkavia are.

    Despite its ability to affect the mind, Dementation cannot infect somebody with Malkavia. Malkavians see Dementation as giving others a taste of the horrors they face on a nightly basis.
    Last edited by Haberdasher; 09-28-2016, 03:36 PM. Reason: Clarified the mechanics of Malkavia infection for non-Malkavians


    Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

  • #2
    After reading your Toreador conversion, i'm hunting for your posts and bloodlines conversion. Not only i've liked your take on Malkavia, but i've also enjoyed the story. Good work.


    Userhat Aegpts Vlrs. Coren "Ojos de Fuego". Mithrael. Menehet.

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    • #3
      Wow. This is probably the best Malkavian/Malkovian conversion I have seen so far. It nicely weaves the bloodline and disease together in order to form a cohesive whole. Well done.


      On a related note, could you do a writeup for updating Malkavia as a Bane? Or do we use the Bloodline Bane as the description for it?


      "My Homebrew Hub"
      Age of Azar
      The Kingdom of Yamatai

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      • #4
        I like it.

        My only reservation is nightmare really feels more appropriate. More specifically the combination of nightmare and obfuscate.

        I was thinking of possibly a meket variant that uses nightmare.
        Thoughts?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post
          Wow. This is probably the best Malkavian/Malkovian conversion I have seen so far. It nicely weaves the bloodline and disease together in order to form a cohesive whole. Well done.


          On a related note, could you do a writeup for updating Malkavia as a Bane? Or do we use the Bloodline Bane as the description for it?
          Yes, the Bloodline Bane is used for the Bane/Condition for those who suffer from it but are not members of the bloodline. I'll update the rules for Malkavia to reflect that.

          My only reservation is nightmare really feels more appropriate. More specifically the combination of nightmare and obfuscate.
          I can understand that line of reasoning. I retained Auspex as the fourth discipline for the Malkavians because I thought it fit the backstory of them being advisors and seers, and the thought of people not being able to discount a Malkavian's ramblings just in case they picked up something true with Auspex is too tempting a plot hook.

          Another reason I shied away from Nightmare was that, Nightmare being the signature discipline of the "monstrous" clan, I was a little reluctant to do the "insanity is monstrous" thing. It's not a line I wanted to push, having had first-hand experience with people who have either learning disabilities or dementia. I think Auspex better communicates the tragedy of the Malkavians: With Dominate and Auspex, they could have their run of any domain they wanted. How frustrating must it be to have this supernatural mental disease limit you so egregiously. That's the impression I've gotten from people with cognitive disorders- they know what's wrong, and they hate it.

          If you can find a way to make a Mekhet variant of Malkavians work with Nightmare, go for it. I don't mean for this to be read as "these are reasons why you shouldn't use Nightmare for Malkavians." I simply meant this to be an explanation for my thought processes on why I kept Auspex from 1e.


          Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

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          • #6
            Oh yes I definitely agree. Auspex is a great choice.

            The reason I like nightmare for this is not to slight anyone with a mental disorder, but the thought that Malkavia can present in different ways.

            Perhaps the Malkavian seems to know more than they should (auspex)

            Perhaps they can share visually the things they see through obfuscate , or hide it.

            Or perhaps they can bring to bear what they suffer on others with nightmare.

            I suppose a nossie bloodline with auspex would fly for my idea as well. Perhaps that's where their Nosferatu curse comes in. Maybe that's how they make others uncomfortable. People fear what they don't understand.

            Dunno just some thoughts.

            They explained off one bloodline having Gangrel and Nosferatu as they are actually 2 very similar bloodlines.

            I could see Malkavian work for each clan in its own way I suppose.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by overload View Post
              Oh yes I definitely agree. Auspex is a great choice.

              The reason I like nightmare for this is not to slight anyone with a mental disorder, but the thought that Malkavia can present in different ways.

              Perhaps the Malkavian seems to know more than they should (auspex)

              Perhaps they can share visually the things they see through obfuscate , or hide it.

              Or perhaps they can bring to bear what they suffer on others with nightmare.

              I suppose a nossie bloodline with auspex would fly for my idea as well. Perhaps that's where their Nosferatu curse comes in. Maybe that's how they make others uncomfortable. People fear what they don't understand.

              Dunno just some thoughts.

              They explained off one bloodline having Gangrel and Nosferatu as they are actually 2 very similar bloodlines.

              I could see Malkavian work for each clan in its own way I suppose.
              Well, give it a whirl! Can't hurt to try!


              Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

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              • #8
                This is really good. Thanks for the writeup.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Resplendent Fire View Post
                  This is really good. Thanks for the writeup.
                  Your welcome.


                  Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

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