Civilization and Culture
On the surface, clan Malkavian is barely a clan. The majority of Malkavians are only marginally aware they belong to a clan; Sabbat Malkavians generally claim to be Panders. What connections Malkavians generally have are informal and generally paternal, sire-childe relationships being the most common, although Malkavian sires are prone to abandoning their childer. Scratch the surface, however, and the Malkavians become a smörgåsbord of paranoid delights. Malkavians operate on their own timescale, and will gather spontaneously for incomprehensible events. Malkavians usually do not explain how they know these gatherings are occurring, and when they do the explanation is not necessarily worth anything. Scratch deep enough and it appears that the Malkavians are highly organized, so highly organized they do not even know they are, and instead they continue to pursue incomprehensible and arcane goals that even they are not aware are relevant. This organization is generally termed the "cobweb", "Malkavian Time", or the "Madness Network" and is a form of shared consciousness unifying all Malkavians. The strength of the voices varies from Malkavian to Malkavian, however all of them are at least aware of its call and capable of interacting with it. Dead Malkavians' memories live on in the Cobweb, and it is implied heavily that Malkav himself is this network. The cobweb is only accessible by Malkavians, and they themselves only marginally understand it – most of them merely listen to the voices, but elders have demonstrated a powerful capacity to manipulate the rest of the clan through it. It is rumored that powerful Methuselahs partially exist within the Cobweb and can "download" themselves on their descendants if needed. The Cobweb also reacts to the presence of powerful Malkavians, like the Ankou.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Malkavians have traditionally fulfilled two roles in Vampire society: seers and jokers. As seers, the Malkavians have relied on advanced Auspex and the Cobweb (Madness Network) to provide information. Malkavians being Malkavians, this information is generally jaundiced, incomplete, filtered through cracked lenses or a total lie. The joker role is somewhat more complex: Malkavians have a clan tradition of pranking. The exact purpose of these pranks is open to debate; they often appear intended to readjust the target's perceptions, but are also often sadistic. In the Camarilla, Malkavians are tolerated; they are rarely princes but often are important primogen or otherwise figures of authority. Given their obvious insanity, princes traditionally give the Madmen a certain amount of latitude; in return, Malkavians are generally expected to demonstrate enough self-control to not break the Masquerade. This is not a benevolent arrangement but largely driven by fear on both sides: fundamentally, Malkavians are unknowable and the general attitude among Princes is that it is better to keep them quiet and happy, since unhappy Malkavians have a tendency towards introducing bizarre and inexplicable incidents to the equation. Conversely, Malkavians need the protection of the Camarilla, and have been modified as discussed above to make them more amenable to it. Many Malkavians are gifted with insight into the world around them. Through their shared madness and the powers of Auspex and Dementation, many are able to glimpse little bits of the future or the past. True Oracles and Seers, however, go beyond these common talents. They are blessed (or cursed) with strong visions that come upon them without warning. No one knows for sure from where this connection originates. Some embrace their powers and attempt to channel them. Some try to shun the visions and get on as if nothing happened. Other unsensitive Malkavians use the picture of the prophet for their own advantage like mortal fortune-tellers, using vague prophecies to secure themselves safe places. Those with the true Sight, however, often suffer for it, as they receive visions they do not understand at first and then watch helplessly unfold before them. During the Dark Ages, the Malkavian Orders of Mystery, also known as Ordos, tried to channel the gift of prophecy to mimic the Methuselah-Oracles of Antiquity, but with the formation of the sects and the severing of Dementation, their practice fell out of use. Despite their madness, most Malkavians are not anti-social. In a certain period of time during their unlives, they may experience the cravings of companionship. Often, such companionship can ground the Lunatic's madness, giving them a focus that solitary Malkavians often lack.
EmbracesThe Malkavians are one of the more intellectually focused of the Camarilla clans (with the Tremere arguably being the only clan as interested in cerebral pursuits). As a result, Malkavian candidates for the Embrace tend to be intelligent and more than a little... odd. While the Malkavian embrace guarantees insanity, they do tend to choose candidates who are already halfway there. Lunatic childer do come from all economic and cultural strata however, though most have some sort of hard-luck story or black secret behind them that caused their sire to take note. Truly damaged Malkavians who are unaware of the meanings of their actions may not even be aware that they have sired childer, which makes for very difficult entry into Kindred society for these castoffs, many of whom end up among the Caitiff. Those Malkavians whose derangement is so severe as to make them non-functional are called the Gnawed.
As with all the major clans, the Malkavians originated in the pre-Deluge city Enoch. Little is known about the clan's early composition, only that their Antediluvian, Malkav, was a seer Embraced by one of the Second Generation. Malkav was particularly close to two other Kindred: Saulot, the founder of the Salubri, and Set, self-appointed god to his followers. Some accounts suggest the three shared the same sire, possibly Enoch. Sometime after the Flood, Malkav was ambushed and murdered by his fellow Antediluvians. Most Malkavians believe that he is still undead, only now he exists entirely within the Madness Network (or "Cobweb"), the group mind that all Malkavians share. Some Malkavians speculate that Malkav literally is Clan Malkavian and that when Gehenna arises, he will devour the clan whole and reconstitute himself. Many of the early Malkavians posed as city-gods, using their oracular powers to convince the population that they spoke and listened to the gods. In Greece and the lands of the Fertile Crescent, many of the early Malkavians prospered as oracles and soothsayers and later, their foresight placed them into the role of viziers and advisors to the ruling Ventrue of Rome. It was on behest of the Malkavian prophetess Tryphosa that Camilla called for the war against Carthage and it was with the aid of Alchias, the Malkavian ruler of Syracuse, that the Romans proved to be successful in the end. Later, however, the Malkavians were blamed for the more instabile emperors and when Rome finally fell apart, the Malkavians drifted away, shattered and lost. Several Malkavians, however, became attracted to early Christianity (a running gag within some elements of the Clan are the consequences of a grave robbery in 33 CE), seeing Jesus as the reborn Malkav who would end their curse. Some even claimed that Andreas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was secretly a Malkavian, and tasked by him to find Caine to persuade him to finally ask for forgiveness from God.
Dark ageThe Dark Ages were a difficult time for the Malkavian; still suffering from their fall from grace as an important clan after the collapse of Rome, many of the Kindred feared and distrusted the Madmen. Many more pitied their sad, insane state. Humans, needless to say, also feared the madness of the Malkavians; many were persecuted more for their derangements than vampirism. That is not to say all Malkavians suffered horribly; quite a few became advisors, seers, and jesters to well-placed and powerful Cainite Princes. However, the bulk of the clan lived up to the Low Clan status bestowed on them by the more self-important Kindred. Part of this age were also the Ordo, secret covenants of Malkavians who sought to utilize their madness to predict the future and carried on the legacy of the Malkavian Oracles of Antiquity. The Renaissance was a chaotic and paradoxical time for the Lunatics, much to their delight. The developing forms of literature and philosophy granted them a freedom that was only overshadowed by the religious backlashes against it. Malkavians stood on both sides of the fray, often also enjoying dabbling in Camarilla and mortal politics that provided an intricate web of possibilities to disrupt. Many Malkavians also came to regard the growing medical developments, particularly insane asylums.
Victorian AgeThe Victorian Era was the time of Freud and Jung, as the old theories of phrenology, demon-possession and divine punishment gave way to more learned theories of psychology and psychiatry. Asylums now started doing what Malkavians had been practicing for centuries – taking an interest in insanity. While the reforms of these hospitals no doubt crippled more than one Malkavian's supply of blood, the new system permitted the Lunatics to experiment with madness like they had never before. Some set themselves up as psychologists – others visited psychologists as patients. The rise of the Bohemian lifestyle within society meant many more kine were willing to expand their own perceptions with new cultures, experiences and drugs. The Malkavians were only too happy to oblige. New forms of expression and ways of thinking both nourished the Malkavians and allowed them to be as florid as they pleased – after all, if a finely dressed gentleman is shouting about how dogs on the street are telling him to kill people, why it must simply be the newest performance piece going around the salons.
Modern NightsThe Malkavians always had a dangerous reputation due to their madness and their signature Dementation discipline, which can induce madness in others. With the Inquisition and the formation of the Camarilla, the clan faced possible extinction at the hands of other clans – the Malkavians were just too dangerous to continue existing. In order to prevent this, the elders of the clan changed the Clan in ways unknown and incomprehensible – the result was that the majority of Clan Malkavian discarded Dementation in favor of the Dominate discipline. More disturbingly, the majority of Malkavians, even those present at the time of the change are unaware that this happened. A small fragment of the clan preserved the Dementation discipline, defecting to the Sabbat and becoming antitribu. This "Great Prank" means that almost all Malkavians are antitribu. While Sabbat Malkavians possessed the same mystical abilities as their ancestors, the violent environment of the Sabbat drove the antitribu even madder: all Malkavians have a mental disorder they cannot overcome, but Sabbat Malkavians have two. This division was fixed in 1998, when for reasons unknown to anyone, the Dementation resurfaced within the Camarilla, although several "Domination" Malkavians remained unaffected, for some reason.
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