The Act of Hubris
Malkavia resembles synaesthesia, but affects cognition rather than perception. Sufferers uncontrollably free-associate, interpreting prosaic events in metaphorical or symbolic terms. The effect is disorienting and overwhelming, making it hard to stay calm or communicate with others.
Malkavia usually lies dormant. It’s activated by stress or revelation, such as:
• Eexceptional success on any roll using mental Attributes
• Exceptional success on a supernatural power influencing the sufferer’s mind
• Running out of Willpower points or losing a Willpower dot
• Reaching a breaking point
Active Malkavia makes all rolls involving the sufferer’s Wits or Composure lose the 10-again rule and subtract 1s from final successes. This doesn’t hinder supernatural powers, but inhibits perception, memory, and resistance to emotional manipulation. As well, the following actions always require a roll penalized as above, regardless of the Attributes used:
• Describing or explaining things to people without active Malkavia
• Interacting without appearing to be in a state of altered consciousness
Anything learned while Malkavia is active, especially through Lucidity, remains difficult to explain when Malkavia lies dormant. Characters without Malkavia must make similarly penalized rolls to decipher Malkavian insights on their own.
Malkavia falls dormant when its sufferer is able to regain Willpower from rest, or when a roll penalized by Malkavia succeeds with the aid of a spent Willpower point.
This Discipline allows a vampire to leverage the Malkavian trance. Its powers can only be used by a vampire with active Malkavia.
Any character that successfully comprehends an insight achieved through Lucidity acquires dormant Malkavia. The condition vanishes if it remains dormant a full week.
The vampire gains control over their Malkavia and can glean insights unavailable to those in a normal frame of mind.
Malkavia no longer hinders the vampire’s Composure, but still affects Wits. The vampire can activate their Malkavia reflexively. At the end of a scene in which the vampire’s Malkavia activated for any reason, their Wits + Resolve is rolled. Success lets Malkavia fall dormant.
Active Malkavia enhances cognition:
• Mundane Intelligence rolls enjoy an equipment bonus equal to the character’s Lucidity rating, obviating the need for actual equipment.
• An exceptional success on an action using mental Attributes additionally answers a related yes or no question of the player’s choice.
The vampire learns to parse and synthesize Malkavia’s symbology. They infer hidden connections between elements of their environment and the wider world.
Cost: None initially; 1 Willpower for each further use in the same scene
Dicepool: Intelligence + Investigation + Lucidity
Success: The player can ask the Storyteller one question per success. For instance:
• Why is this here? This weapon was dropped in fear.
• What is influencing this invisibly? The crowd parts for an Obfuscated vampire.
• What is familiar about this? This person is a cannibal.
• What will this do next? This package will explode.
• When or where will this repeat? The murderer will strike again next midnight.
If the Storyteller can’t confidently describe the future, the vampire receives a murky impression. Once an answer exists, the vampire becomes retroactively aware and can have prepared at least a scene in advance. The vampire can hold only one such impression at a time.
Aware of the psychological barriers that normally arrest higher awareness, the character can spread Malkavia deliberately. To use this power, the character either explains something they learned through Lucidity or uses another Discipline to directly influence the subject’s thoughts.
Cost: 1 Willpower; this cost is waived if a power used to make psychic contact already costs Willpower
Action: Reflexive, coupled with some other appropriate action
Dicepool: Intelligence + Expression + Lucidity vs. Resolve + Blood Potency
Success: The subject develops active Malkavia, or the subject’s existing Malkavia activates and is attuned to the vampire’s. This change lasts until the subject’s Malkavia remains dormant for an uninterrupted week. For as long as the effect persists:
• With the vampire’s guidance, the subject can use Lens with the vampire’s Lucidity rating.
• Each night, the vampire learns one thing about the subject as though with Prism.
• Once each night, the vampire can use Lantern against the subject as an instant action at no cost.
A new application of Lantern displaces an old one with a successful clash, or else fails. A vampire can use Lantern on themselves to escape another’s Lantern.
The vampire makes another’s Malkavia an extension of their own. The subject can’t ignore or betray the vampire’s perspective on the world.
When the vampire uses Lantern, they can pay one Vitae to inflict Mirror as well.
Cost: 1 Vitae
Effect: While the subject is affected by Lantern and their Malkavia is active:
• The subject can’t harm the vampire or things important to the vampire, or take actions that would bring the vampire to a breaking point. The subject can act normally in defense of their own intimacies or safety.
• Rolls made for the vampire and subject to explain, or teach things to each other receive a bonus equal to the vampire’s Lucidity rating. The recipient can use one of the teacher’s Skills and Specialties the next time they engage in a specific task.
• Each night, the subject learns one thing about the vampire as though with Prism.
While they’re asleep, torpid, meditating, or otherwise insensate, the vampire can send silent messages to anyone they’ve ever met who has Malkavia. Conscious subjects feel something tugging at their attention, while unconscious or meditating subjects can converse wordlessly with the vampire, transcending language and distance. Subjects of the vampire’s Mirror power can receive communication while awake, but can’t respond.
The vampire can contact multiple subjects at once, and networks of characters can collaborate intellectually; the best applicable traits among the participants are combined, and any time required is divided by the number of minds using Lens.
The vampire can use Prism through the senses of those they converse with, once per subject per night. Most such subjects perceive only their own dreams, but waking subjects of Mirror can serve as proxies for investigation.