What's a Malkavian?

Chances are, you aren't really asking this question. However, we like to cover all the grounds. Whether you call them Seers, Lunatics, Kooks or Freaks, the Malkavians are a Clan of vampires whose membership is comprised entirely of the insane.

The Malkavians contribute to the Camarilla, the Sabbat, the Anarchs, and even the Inconnu as well. They are Princes, Bishops and gang leaders, and they all have a lot to offer any group they join. Their keen skills of detection are balanced by their own ability to hide the truth, and the package is further spiced by the ability to manipulate the mental instabilities in other beings. They are soothsayers and spies, and their wisdom is generally unparalleled.

But all Kindred realize another fact about the Malkavians, they are dangerous and mentally loose. They may not be dangerous in the way that a caged gorilla is dangerous, but their insight and insanity make them problematic when they are at their worst. The problem with being insane is the annoyance it can sometime cause when one is unable to express one's self properly. It also tends to cause one to ignore etiquette and other social necessities. In other words, some mental cases really piss people off.

Consequently, the Malkavians could be just about anyone. They look just like everybody else. See that man in the suit and tie? He's a Malkavian. See the girl with the staff and cloak? She's a Malkavian. See that person over in the corner who can't be seen? That's a Malkavian.

Where do Malkavians Come from?

Malkavians are normal people. Every Malkavian who ever existed was, at one point, a completely normal human being. In fact, they were even sane at some point in their life. They were children, teenagers, and adults. They were people with goals and ideas that were most likely changed by their embrace. This is an important point about Malkavians, they were once normal, everyday folks. Then, one of two things usually happens.

In the simpler cases, a Malkavian embraces the normal, everyday person. Then they go crazy. They start seeing things, they forget who they are, or they learn who they really are. They didn't ask for it, but Madness came to them. Sometimes, the embrace shatters their mirror like a gunshot. Sometimes, the crack is slow and creeping. Whatever the case, no normal person survives the embrace mentally intact.

Of course, some of the sane people aren't necessarily normal. As is suggested by the comedians and philosophers of our time, madness (in mortal terms) can be found in the sane. Those who see a different perspective, or those who think in new and different terms are often called "crazy" when in fact they should be called "revolutionary," "visionary," or "different." Note that these ?gifted' are, to some Malkavians, favored targets for the Embrace.

In other cases, the normal, everyday person goes through some freakish, life-shattering event. It might be traumatic, it might be ecstatic, but the event triggers a crack in their immaculate mind. From there, the crack slowly spreads through the rest of their perfect mirror, and they are forever changed. They are the insane, and they are flooded with problems and concerns.

Then, while they are in this state, the Malkavian who would be their sire finds them, and for whatever reason, takes them as a childe. The embrace often fosters the insanity, and their Madness sprouts new limbs from its strong trunk. But every once in a while, sire is taken by surprise when the embrace fixes the old problem, and starts a crop of new ones.

Malkavians are universally, irrevocably insane. They can never, ever be cured. Insanity is their lifeblood, and one could as easily separate white from a grain of rice as "cure" a Malkavian.

The Problem with Insanity

Insanity is bad. There has been an interesting movement of later years to claim that insanity is good. But it is not. The movement in question is mostly philosophical, and behind the idea of opening up one's mind to new and unique ideas, to being silly, and to basically having fun regardless of what ?They' think about it. I think that's a great idea, and I am fully in favor of it.

But that is not insanity. Contrary, insanity closes the mind. It usually entails denial, fantasy, repression and displacement. Insanity is harmful to one's self and others. The insane are treated like patients, not like geniuses, and the insight they gain is generally insensible.

Insanity is usually brought on by trauma. Sometimes, an acute trigger (a one-time event, like a spouse's death) immediately cracks a person's mind. Other times, the source is chronic (happens over time, like abusive parents or social ostracism) and slowly degrades the mind into Insanity. Whatever the source, Insanity is the mind's defense mechanisms in overload. (Of course, I am not taking into account biochemical imbalances, like schizophrenia. It should be noted that even these psychoses are often triggered into activation.)

The Resolution of Madness

That being said, we bring ourselves on to the subject of Madness. As purported by philosophers from Nietzsche to Lewis Carroll, madness is the keyhole to the door of the mind. To Nietzsche, madness (in the case of the Madman) was the behavior of believing and stating things that the common people would never understand, much less agree with. In Carroll's work, madness was paradox and puzzle, the enigmas of words and mathematics. In both cases, madness was really an insight, and an ability to see things as more than their simple presentations.

Madness, then, is "abnormal behavior" that is not indicative of mental instability, but is actually unique ideas or thoughts. Madness is found in poems and music, and any creative form. Madness is also found in people who try to relate wisdom through humor or metaphor. Madness is the expression of a unique idea in unique ways. So, Madness isn't really harmful (although those with unique ideas do tend to be harassed if they are particularly deviant). So, in a way, Madness is just an expression of individuality.

But wait, there's more!

So, then, are Malkavians insane or mad? Much to their chagrin, the Malkavian Clan is both. While they have an incredible insight into the events around them, and the workings of the mind, it carries with it a debilitating inability to function with mental precision. Some Malkavians say that true understanding makes it impossible for them to relate to others (except, perhaps, the few scant madmen or Malkavians who can see it as they do), but who trusts the words of the insane?

In the rulebook, the Malkavian Clan's advantage and disadvantage are concerning their derangement. It can be thought of as Madness and Insanity, respectively. Madness is the insight in the form of awareness and the Malkavian Madness Network. Insanity is in the form of a derangement that must be taken.

The good thing about having both insanity and madness is the flexibility it gives when considering Malkavian behavior. Is she running into the night because she's insane, or because she knows something we don't? No one's quite sure. Of course, with the power of insanity and madness comes great responsibility.

As perhaps the most mentally complicated of the Clans, a Malkavian has to take a derangement. The responsible Malkavian player carefully considers what substance makes the frame of his Malkavian.

So far as the rules are concerned, Malkavians have to take a derangement at character creation as their disadvantage (although some Malkavian players have called this ?just another advantage').

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