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The Logo of Clan Malkavian.

The Malkavians are a clan of vampires from White Wolf Game Studio's books, role-playing games Vampire: The Masquerade and, Vampire: The Dark Ages. In modern times, they are associated with the Camarilla. Their symbol is a broken mirror. White Wolf states, "Stories speak of an epidemic of contagious dementia exploding among those of Malkav's blood." (VtM3—p. 72) Malkavians frequently haunt asylums, hospitals, and slums.

As with all the vampire clans in the World of Darkness setting, Malkavians suffer from a specific flaw: in this case, they are incurably insane. However, many Malkavians believe their insanity to be a strength rather than a weakness. Exactly why they all suffer from insanity is unknown, but according to the Book of Nod, all third-generation vampires were cursed by Caine after the second-generation vampires were destroyed. One of these third-generation vampires was Malkav, from whom Malkavians come.

According to Malkavian legend, when Malkav was killed, all his childer came to his corpse and drank the blood of their father, thus collectively diablerizing Malkav. He is said to speak inside each and every Malkavian's soul and connects them into one collective consciousness. This "hive-mind" is sometimes called "the Cobweb" or "the Malkavian Madness Network", which contains each thought and memory that any Malkavian in the world has ever had (and sometimes is about to have).

The Malkavians possess a rare ability (Discipline) called Dementation, which can alter the way a victim senses reality. It can be used to increase the Malkavian's own oracular ability or to induce insanity in others. In earlier editions of the game, this power was the initial province of the Malkavian antitribu, but now can be found in the vast majority of the clan's membership. Some Sabbat Tzimisce elders endeavor to learn Dementation, however, to gain insight in the great ways of the Jyhad if they succeed. Most Malkavians are willing to attempt to educate others of their rare power, but unfortunately, learning Dementation will often turn a non-Malkavian insane themselves; as a result, study of the Discipline is rare among other Clans and the Malkavians themselves are often viewed with a mixture of suspicion and contempt.

With the formation of the Camarilla, the Malkavian elders came to the conclusion for the clan to survive they would have to remove Dementation, instead taking up the commonly-known mental Discipline Dominate. According to the Malkavian Clanbook, Dementation was blocked by six of the oldest Malkavians who called for a gathering of the entire clan through the Malkavian Madness Network. This became known as The Great Prank, and strangely, no one else noticed that the Malkavians were gone. When almost all the Malkavians had been collected, they were changed.

Roughly one-tenth of Malkavians did not attend for whatever reason, and as a result the clan was split into two parts - the changed and the unchanged. Those who had their grasp of Dementation blocked remained part of the main clan, while those who refused to do so became known as the antitribu - most of whom later joined the Sabbat. The Malkavian antitribu continue to practice Dementation, growing steadily more insane due to the brutal conditions of Sabbat unlife (represented in game-terms by Sabbat Malkavians having two permanent derangements rather than the Camarilla's single derangement) while the more "stable" Malkavians remained part of the Camarilla. This division lasted for centuries until the Final Nights, when the "ban" was released in 1997 and Dementation surged back into the minds of Malkavians everywhere, an event which became known as The Awakening. This roughly coincides with the death of Anatole (White Wolf's canon Malkavian character), but there is no definite link between these two events, although it may have been related to the Week of Nightmares in July 1999.

One reason the Malkavians are so highly tolerated is summed up in the advice an elder vampire gave to his childer: "Listen to the Mad Ones." Despite their insanity, or perhaps because of it, the Malkavians have the capacity to "see" the future. So a vampire who pays attention to a Malkavian can get a warning before things go wrong, so long as the Malkavian's ramblings can be correctly translated.

Clan Progenitor Faction Disciplines Nicknames Weakness
Malkavian Malkav Camarilla Auspex, Obfuscate, Dementation Madmen, Lunatics Every last vampire of Malkav's blood is irredeemably insane in some form or another. Some attribute this to a curse of the blood, while other Lunatics actually call it a special blessing, a gift of insight. When a Malkavian character is created, the player must choose at least one derangement for that character at the time of the Embrace; this derangement can be temporarily fought with Willpower, but can never be permanently overcome.


Final Nights

The 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 Trick" 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.

Malkavian Antediluvian

The Malkavian Antediluvian is known only through myth and impressions left upon his mad clan. Some say that he was not even human, instead claiming he was a fallen angel or a descendant of Lilith. The only thing the stories share is that one way or another he was touched by an incurable madness, but that his dementia allowed him to look past the veil of reality and perceive truths hidden to the eyes of others. While accounts disagree on whether the Malkavian Antediluvian was killed, a somewhat common belief among Malkavians is that whether his body has been destroyed or not, their progenitor continues to exist as the Malkavian Madness Network.

It should be noted that while the Malkavian Antediluvian is almost universally referred to as Malkav, this is just an epithet, possibly coined by the Noddist Aristotle de Laurent;[1] the Antediluvian's real name has probably been covered up and lost to history.

In Clanbook: Malkavian, Malkav is depicted as trying to surpass the limitations of immutable reality and return it to a state of infinite possibilities. This goes along with that book's emphasis on the Malkavians as forces of revolution and dynamism, as well as their association with fae. According to the tale, Caine himself was attempting to teach his descendants to break free of Creation's artificial barriers, and it was Malkav who came closest to achieving this enlightenment. To that end he destroyed his own ability to filter and interpret the world around him, driving him mad but bringing him closer to seeing the hidden possibilities inherent in the universe. His clan shares in Malkav's burden so that through them the Antediluvian can continue to refine his insights and continue to break through more barriers.[2]

Malkav has likely become the Malkavian Madness Network, a psychic link connecting virtually all members of Clan Malkavian. Whether this is the Antediluvian's attempt to ascend to a higher state of being or simply an escape from Final Death, he is a mental force capable of sharing his madness and vision with all his descendants, possibly even directing their actions. Some extremists go so far as to say that the Madness Network is Malkav's nervous system, and that Clan Malkavian itself is the Eldest's physical manifestation. However, the extent to which Malkav truly exists or has control over the Madness Network remains a mystery that is unlikely to be solved any time soon, as no one has evidence of the Antediluvian taking direct action.[3]

One idea espoused by some members of the Sabbat is that Malkav is asleep, and that should he wake the Ancient's mind will overwhelm his entire clan and consume them. Their hope is that by continuously increasing their numbers the clan will one day stretch Malkav's essence too thinly, rendering him truly vulnerable. This would perhaps explain why even members of the Camarilla do not always outright destroy those who come through the Embrace broken and unable to survive.[4] The fact remains that of all the Antediluvians, Malkav's purpose or intentions are probably the least understood. He may be as preoccupied with the Jyhad as all the other ancients, or he may be attempting to guide his clan (or even the entire world) to an enlightened state.

Minor bloodlines

Malkavian antitribu

Malkavian antitribu Clan Symbol

Cainites are humankind's base nature made flesh, and the Sabbat are Kindred who accept their nature and revel in the power of the Beast. The Malkavian antitribu, then, are the Beast unrestrained. While Camarilla Malkavians may instruct or illustrate an idea using their madness, the antitribu seem more concerned with spreading madness, much like a disease. If a Malkavian is crazy like a fox, their antitribu are rabid foxes. The Malkavian antitribu wield their dementia like double-edged swords. To the antitribu, insanity is a weapon, albeit one that hopelessly distorts them. Mastery of its use may take decades, or even centuries. At once completely independent, yet strangely joined to other Freaks by an inscrutable group consciousness, a member of this clan is not easily forgotten no matter how badly one may wish it so. Malkavian antitribu are skilled at psychological abuse. By combining forceful words with subtlety, and the use of trust violated by moments of sheer terror, the Freaks can pry information from the most stoic victim or mortify even the staunchest of captives. It is for this reason the Sabbat hasn't destroyed the clan outright; it's too useful. From the most distinguished archbishop to the lowest ductus, vampires who have dealt with the Malkavian antitribu know that they are holding a weapon that may fully intend to annihilate its wielder.

Like other Malkavians, the Malkavian antitribu suffer the permanent mark of madness, though few know that they are incurably insane, and many outlets for their philosophy exist in the Sabbat. They seem to have the least fear of Final Death of any Cainites, both inside and outside the Sabbat. They make fine soldiers or officers in times of war as well, for they are not afraid to do what is necessary to win. The Malkavian antitribu believe that it doesn't really matter who fights the battles, as long as chaos comes out of order, and the cycle of chaos continues. For a time the Sabbat were unsure of how to deal with the Malkavians in their midst. The Freaks could follow the rules when it served their purposes, but for the most part, they were uncontrollable. Some Sabbat packs kept their Malkavian members locked away, bound in basements and crypts until the sect needed to loose the psychotics on their enemies.

According to popular rumor, it was this lack of respect for their unique insights that promoted the great Malkavian disease. Starting in the depths of a thought-starved delirium, the seeds of mass psychosis started to form. Maybe it was an attempt by the Malkavian antitribu to show the clans that they would not be so easily manipulated. Maybe it was just a neat thing to try at the time. Whatever the case, one thing is certain the parent clan outside the Sabbat has become infected. What this means, none - outside the Malkavian antitribu know, but its possible repercussions set even the stalwart Lasombra on edge. Even this minuscule bit of knowledge comes only from consistent corroboration on the part of worried Cainites.

The Malkavian antitribu display a keenly vicious edge to their insanity. Rumors abound of Sabbat packs seers who divine a War Parties success by reading entrails ripped from a still-living human and of blood-maddened prophets who presage the coming of Gehenna in this, the Time of Thin Blood. The most dangerous of all the serial killers, suicide cultists and the like may be bred for special missions into fast-held Camarilla territory, sent to spread the madness with which they are burdened, to pave the way for the Great Jyhad.[5]

Prior to the revised edition rules and the continuance of the meta-plot, only Malkavian antitribu could practice Dementation with their Camarilla counterparts starting with Dominate instead.

Bloodline Founder Parent Clan Faction Disciplines Nicknames Weakness
Malkavian antitribu Unknown Malkavian Sabbat Auspex, Dementation, Obfuscate Freaks When a Malkavian character is created, the player must choose at least one derangement for that character at the time of the Embrace; this derangement can be temporarily fought with Willpower, but can never be permanently overcome. Additionally, Sabbat Malkavians are often too undisciplined (or too indulgent in their own monstrousness) to resist frenzy. A Sabbat Malkavians player may never spend a Willpower point to avoid her characters frenzy.

Malkavians of note

  • Malkav, Antedeluvian of clan Malkavian.
  • Anatole, the prophet.
  • Therese/Jeanette "Tourette" Voerman, Baroness of Santa Monica.
  • Dr. Alistair Grout.
  • Dr. Douglas Netchurch.
  • Jaeger the Shepherd.
  • Nissiku, The Clever Prince.
  • The Eater/Word-Eater.
  • The Dionysian.
  • Rasputin.
  • Dr. Samuel Greenman.
  • Sir Edward Carrick.
  • Civalysis Starkiller.
  • Vasantasena.
  • Crazy Jane.
  • Malk Content.
  • The Plague-Bride.
  • Sterlling.
  • The Ankou.
  • Fabrizia Contreraz, Sabbat Archbishop.
  • Dawn Nakada.
  • Ray Perth.
  • Hermann Göring, former second-in-command of the National-Socialist German Workers' Party.

Version differences

In 1st Edition Vampire, the Malkavians were portrayed as something halfway between mages and changelings. 1st edition Malkavians had strong ties to Faerie and were also generally obsessed with altering perceptions, pranking was part of a long tradition of "reality busting".

Malkavians are one of the easiest clans to play badly, generally as comic relief or overly "cute" characters. Initially, game books made little effort to discourage characters that could be dismissed in this way. The player-created term "fishmalk" surfaced to describe such characters, referring to a joke about the clan's tendencies according to players ("How many Malkavians does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "A fish!"). Later editions of Vampire emphasize the violent and unpredictable nature of Malkavians, mentioning that the insanities of the clan are less likely to involve bunny rabbits and more likely to involve straight razors. This is particularly notable when comparing the two editions of Clanbook: Malkavian. The first edition includes a mess of inside jokes and arcane editing (notably the canonical appearance of Page XX), while the revised version implies that the clan are largely puppets of Malkav.

2nd and Revised edition Malkavians differ primarily in whether they possess Dementation or Dominate in-clan. Since this is an event in the Vampire timeline, players are allowed to (optionally) choose which discipline their Malkavian follows, and elder Malkavians can opt to switch Dominate for Dementation.

Since Dementation was typically only possessed by the Malkavian antitribu, possession of the discipline marked an individual as Sabbat. This may be the origin of the stereotypes of the "gentle joker" Camarilla Malkavian and "psychopathic killer" Sabbat Malkavian; no such easy distinction is possible in the Revised edition.

Vampire: The Requiem

In Vampire: The Requiem, set in the new World of Darkness, an analog to the Malkavians has been found in the Malkovian bloodline (whose founder was Anton Malkov) of the Ventrue clan. Like Malkavians, they are incurably insane. This bloodline retains Dominate and Resilience from their clan but replaces the Ventrue power of Animalism, gaining Obfuscate and Auspex - giving the Malkovians the same powers and weakness as the Malkavian precursors.

There is an alternate "translation" of Malkavians to Requiem presented in the clan book Ventrue: Lords of the Damned. This restores the Dementation power, however rather than being a bloodline or other recognized lineage like the Malkovians, characters in under this option suffer a vitae related disorder called Malkavia. Malkavia is some form of supernatural malady, a blood-curse that is transmissible and apparently incurable. Although it is believed to have first affected the Ventrue any vampire, no matter the clan or bloodline, can become a Malkavian. Malkavians all possess a unique discipline known as Dementation, which grants them the power to affect or create insanity in others, among other applications. This discipline is reliant on its user's insanity, and if his core derangement is inhibited, so too will his use of Dementation.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

The Malkavians appear as a playable character in the PC game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines developed by Troika Games in 2004.[6]


  • Vampire: The Masquerade (3rd Edition) by White Wolf (1998)
  1. ^ VTM: Book of Nod, p. 10
  2. ^ VTM: Clanbook: Malkavian, p. 17
  3. ^ VTM: Clanbook: Malkavian Revised, p. 41-42, 58
  4. ^ VTM: Clanbook: Malkavian Revised, p. 39, 45
  5. ^ Justin Achilli et al., Guide to the Sabbat (White Wolf Game Studio, 1999, ISBN 1-56504-263-8)
  6. ^

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