By Daniel Greenberg , 65 pages Clanbook Malkavian is one of the infamous examples of the idiosyncrasies of early Vampire the Masquerade supplements. This clanbook is loved by some players as a great example of how the book itself is a reflection of the clan. On the other hand, many people were not happy with the purposefully bad art, silly layout, and backwards pages. For the record, I am not a fan of Malkavians.
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By Daniel Greenberg , 65 pages Clanbook Malkavian is one of the infamous examples of the idiosyncrasies of early Vampire the Masquerade supplements. This clanbook is loved by some players as a great example of how the book itself is a reflection of the clan. On the other hand, many people were not happy with the purposefully bad art, silly layout, and backwards pages. For the record, I am not a fan of Malkavians. Malkavians are not always bad; some players are exceptionally good at playing lunatics and mental patients.
The theme of Clanbook Malkavian, however, is enlightened, collective madness. Assuming they have a purpose, according to specialists on Clan Malkavians, is safer. To do otherwise will cause the Malkavian to become a gibbering lunatic. The Introduction is a story about a newly Embraced Malkavian named Adam who is struggling against the Malkavian madness as his Sire, Mistress LaVeel, tries to guide him through the process of becoming a Malkavian. He runs blindly trying to come to grips with his new state of being and the twisted thoughts in his head.
He runs down an alley where he encounters another Malkavian, Crazy Jane, who helps him finally sever his connection to reality and allow his madness to envelope him.
Chapter One explores the core beliefs and history of the clan. Fans of Mage the Ascension will recognize these purposes as being similar to concepts in that game. Malkavians also have a connection to Changeling the Dreaming because they are trying to undo the static reality that keeps Faeries from traveling to the real world.
The shared references of static reality and consensual reality that are part of the core Malkavian philosophy espoused in this book inject too many of the themes of Mage and Changeling into Vampire the Masquerade. The idea that Malkavians understand the greater truths of reality is a good one and that they have gone mad because they understand those truths is a good one, but using the same language that Mages and Changelings use to describe reality dilutes Malkavians rather than making them stand out.
One of my favorite characters in Bloodlines. Jeanette made crazy cool! It is Malkav who is trying to follow Caine along the path to a reality shattering enlightenment. He is still trying to perfect his vision, and the Malkavians are each a little experiment to test how reality works, supposedly. Some traveled to Arcadia and made alliances with Faeries and they tried to maintain the contradiction and possibilities that allow Faeries to exist.
They even visited the Far East where they made met the strange Kindred of the East. This history puts Malkavians as the point of connection between too many other supernatural groups.
Later, Malkavians were instrumental to the outcome of the Anarch Rebellion. Originally the Malkavians stayed neutral playing pranks on both sides, but they decided to side with the Camarilla which swung the balance of power to the Elders. However, one of their number, Princess Vasantasena, left the Camarilla and joined the group that became the Sabbat and thus created the Malkavian Anti-tribu. According to Chapter Two, The Malkavians have seven or eight intra-clan Traditions that they follow, maybe.
Although seven are listed and number three is given two different Traditions, these guidelines represent the most interesting section of the book as it gives insight into the workings of the Malkavian clan. The Fourth Tradition is probably the most fun and disruptive, the Tradition of Pranking. Chapter Two also includes the new mechanics for Malkavians. The first is a new Secondary Ability, Malkavian Time, that allows Malkavians to access the shared consciousness of the Malkavian Madness Network that allows all clan members to hear the plans of other Malkavians but not share their own.
Three new Auspex powers are included here as well. The most useful for Storytellers is the eighth level Auspex power, Malkavian Madness Network, that lets someone who possesses this power call a meeting of nearby Malkavians.
A good Storyteller can make use of this power for many different plots. A new seventh level of Obfuscate, Visit Faerieland, gives Malkavians a method of traveling to Arcadia and back. However, this noteworthy Discipline is too high level to be useful for average games and serves to keep the intended Malkavian-Changeling connection out of reach of most players. I guess you hide yourself so well that you wind up in Arcadia surrounded by Changelings and Faeries?
This chapter also includes a couple of pages on how to better role play a Malkavian. Playing a Malkavian is difficult for most players because role playing a derangement is difficult to get right.
Finding that balance is important for players. Having this page with the text reversed is just frustrating because the author and editors have made the most useful information the hardest to read. Chapter Fore their spelling not mine offers a variety of madmen to play. However, these templates offer players who have never role played a Malkavian a good selection of madmen and lunatics to base their characters on.
Crazy Jane, who appears in the introductory story, is given a better write up here. Vasantesena, who led a faction of the clan into the Sabbat, is described here as well.
The most interesting character introduced in this section is Rasputin, the mad monk of Russian history.
Along with the upside down and backwards pages, these jokes fall flat after nearly 20 years. The artwork is supposed to represent the kind of art the Malkavians would create themselves such as the first grade vampire daisies or the messy stick figure drawings.
Also, the layout of the book is designed as if the book was put together by the Malkavians themselves which is strange since the book was not written by a Malkavian. One page is black with white ink, another is upside down and most frustratingly one page is printed backwards.
Delirium on the other hand If you are looking to learn more about the Malkavians or want to improve your ability to role play as a Malkavian, then this book offers some good information. However, much of that good information is overshadowed by the quirky lay out and the forced connections to Mage the Ascension and Changeling the Dreaming. On the other hand, if you are a Vampire the Masquerade Storyteller looking to bring Changelings into your Chronicle, this book has a few good ideas that can be used to that end.
Overall, this book is frustrating to read and too busy associating Malkavians with Changelings and Mages to be of general use to players just interested in Vampire the Masquerade.
Nevertheless, for old school fans of Vampire the Masquerade and Malkavians this book is a must have if only for its quirks and the nostalgia associated with its silliness. If you want an original printing you can find it on Amazon. Posted by.
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