Most Kindred are still unaware of the so-called “Malkovian” bloodline and its peculiar, threatening gifts. The Lunatics are few — a state of affairs that those who are aware of them would like to perpetuate, by whatever means necessary.

Among worried Ventrue elders, the story of the Malkovians’ origins is now verified. It seems that a certain Dr. James Griffin Hartleigh of England’s Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum once became a bit too interested in one of his patients, an Anton Malkov. Malkov was rumored to be related to the czars of Russia, which was a chief reason, Hartleigh believed, why Malkov had been transported to Broadmoor under cover of night. (After all, the asylum hosted many such inmates whose whereabouts were a secret to all but their embarrassed and wealthy families.)

Hartleigh never learned the details of the wretch’s crime, but the director had strictly enjoined him never to touch Malkov nor look him in the eye. Moreover, despite being a recluse who rarely left his dark cell, Malkov seemed to exert a strange fascination over the other madmen. Hartleigh found him an intriguing case, and their rambling interviews only fired his interest. Evidently Malkov felt the same way. Or, at least, it’s the only reason anyone can think of why he chose to Embrace the staid doctor.

Hartleigh stumbled home that same night and murdered his wife. Even now he cannot precisely recall what moved him to do so. True, he had always entertained certain doubts about her and the cook, but… well, never mind that. When he came to and found himself greedily sucking her blood, even such a font of Reason had to admit that something was much amiss. After hastily covering up his deed (which unfortunately required a further murder), Hartleigh stole back to the asylum to demand an explanation from Malkov. The lunatic drove him away with his mocking, echoing laughter. The doctor never dared return.

After some months of painstaking investigation, Hartleigh tracked down a solitary old gentleman whom he had seen mentioned in Malkov’s papers. This worthy was, alas, unforthcoming. Indeed, he seemed quite piqued to learn where the errant Malkov had secreted himself, and he waxed outright wroth as Hartleigh inquired whether he and Malkov were kin and whether there was any family history of insanity or blood-diseases of which he was aware. At last the Ventrue grew exasperated with this embarrassing mistake of a grandchilde and reached into Hartleigh’s mind. But in the intimacy of psychic contact, Hartleigh reflexively reached back — and found something he could twist. With startling ease, he sent the elder Kindred into a fugue state not at all unlike the one in which he himself had behaved so regrettably.

Hartleigh has since Embraced several childer — doctors to “consult” and lordlings to infiltrate the Ventrue to seek the answers he himself was denied by his scandalized clanmates. In time, some of those childer have gone astray from the fold, much as Malkov did, and begotten lineages of their own.

To date, the bloodline has made no serious attempt to claim the status theoretically due it as an innovation of the Blood; its particular creation seems profoundly unwelcome. The Ventrue resent the attention the Malkovians draw to their own mental instability, and since Ventrue and Malkovians are sometimes hard to tell apart, few Lords dare discount the horrifying possibility of a hidden contamination of the entire clan.

Many vampires of other broods are also inclined to go mad with time, and they certainly don’t want any “help” in doing so. For those who aren’t so inclined, their minds are the last sanctuary they have, the one thing they can still rely on after their bodies have transformed so monstrously and their instincts have fallen prey to the Beast. And so most Lunatics wisely endeavor to pass their Requiems in such a way as to avoid rousing their fellow Kindred’s ire. Of course, even the most unassuming Malkovian occasionally find himself plagued by someone who seems to deserve a taste of the curse he’s tried so hard to bear nobly.

As for Malkov, Broadmoor records claim that a fellow inmate killed him in 1889.

Parent Clan: Ventrue

Nickname: Among those rare non-Ventrue who know of them, the Malkovians are nicknamed Lunatics. When the Ventrue mention them at all (generally only to other Ventrue), they refer to them obliquely as “our most charming cousins,” or sometimes as “the escapees.”

Covenant: A fair majority of Malkovians pretend to be something else (generally Ventrue), so they usually favor whatever covenant allegiance makes the most sense for their assumed identities. As a result, many (if not most) belong to the Invictus. The fanatical bent of the Lancea Sanctum also appeals to some Malkovians, particularly those who suffer obsessions or visions. Some petition to join the Circle of the Crone or the Ordo Dracul, hoping for the relief that mystic wisdom might bring, but they are usually marginalized sometime during the initiation process. Rare indeed is the Malkovian whose madness strikes either covenant as an aid to enlightenment rather than a sad liability. After all, the tests and trial periods that both covenants set are explicitly designed to ferret out just such inner obstacles. As Malkovians grow weary of vainly searching for acceptance in the more established circles of Kindred society, it’s likely that more and more of them will show up in the ranks of the Carthians and the unaligned.

Appearance: Malkovians with enough self-command to recognize what they are and what afflicts them often go to some trouble to appear as anything but. Clothes might be fastidious and well coordinated — indeed, even suspiciously pristine. Among those who aspire to Ventrue status, styles appealing to elder tastes are favored. Other Lunatics are too… preoccupied with other matters to attend to such trivialities as vestment. Some can explain the etiquette of gloves and soliloquize on why stirrup pants are an abomination before God and man, but they haven’t the slightest idea what’s wrong with a morning coat that hasn’t been dry-cleaned or mended since 1932.

Haven: Discretion is the key consideration for a Malkovian haven. After all, most Kindred require privacy, but should a Malkovian start to have a bad evening, he really needs a safe retreat where neither easily shocked mortals nor judgmental Kindred can pry. Many Lunatics adapt family homes or vacation homes to this purpose. Such places are often left to slide into a sort of genteel decay, which helps the isolation along. Others rely on the comforting anonymity of cookie-cutter apartment complexes. More outré domiciles like old fallout shelters or church attics aren’t unheard of. In any case, once settled, a haven quickly comes to enshrine its resident’s quirks, manias, idols and fears. While one area within might be scrubbed clean of incriminating detritus and kept suitable for entertaining, the greater part of any Malkovian’s home is a veritable treasure trove and museum on the subject of him.

Background: Motivations for Malkovian Embraces vary as widely as those for any other clan or bloodline. Company in misery is a frequent one. Sometimes a Lunatic hopes that his new childe (be that childe a psychiatrist, priest, mother or simply someone who made the mistake of being kind to the vampire once) will be able to help him with his ailment, or at the very least will have the psychic strength to somehow overcome the madness and so purge the bloodline of its taint. Other sires, like their Ventrue forebears, pride themselves on selectivity, so erudite scholars and folk of “quality” are inducted.

At present, the very idea of a willing Ventrue seeking adoption into the ranks of the Malkovians is an absurdity to both bloods. Occasional rumors surface, however, of Malkovians who have made “converting” a certain Ventrue — in other words, fracturing her mind to the point where joining the Malkovians seems like a good idea, or the only idea — their pet project. So far, no such catechumens have shown up on the doorstep of Dr.
Hartleigh. Much to his relief.

Character Creation: Mental and Social Attributes are usually primary. (After all, there’s no correlation whatsoever between being mad and being dumb, though ignorant Kindred frequently make the mistake. The line hosts many an adroit manipulator and charming psychopath.) Malkovians whose Physical Attributes predominate are uncommon but not unheard of. Malkovians generally favor Mental and Social Skills
as well; Academics, Science, Expression, Empathy and Investigation are particularly useful. Malkovians often possess the same Social Merits as their Ventrue cousins. Most Mental Merits are appropriate (except for Common Sense). Also, be sure to take at least a second dot of Blood Potency, to allow the character to be at all eligible for a bloodline.

A Malkovian’s core derangement is key to her makeup. Mortals with mental illnesses are far more than the sum of their ailments, but a Malkovian’s curse is no mundane affliction. It runs in her very Blood. In all likelihood, it eventually consumes her soul. Accordingly, much care
should be given to choosing and understanding it. Read up on mental illness; steep in literary traditions of madness, particularly the gothic tradition. Mental illness is a serious real-life issue that should be regarded respectfully, but don’t feel obliged to make your character a textbook
DSM-IV diagnosis. It’s more important that derangement amplifies and enriches character, theme and story (rather than derails them).

Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate, Resilience

Weakness: Malkovians suffer the Ventrue clan weakness (-2 penalty to Humanity rolls to avoid acquiring derangements after failing a degeneration roll). In addition, all Malkovians must take a “core” derangement that is theirs for eternity. This derangement may not be cured, reduced in severity or bought off no matter how high the character’s Humanity soars. It could certainly become more severe, however.

This core derangement is also susceptible to being “set off” or aggravated whenever the character uses Dominate. If a Discipline roll is anything other than an ordinary success, the character experiences a bout of his core derangement at some point that night (or first thing the next night if the roll in question occurs too close to dawn). In other words, failures, dramatic failures and exceptional successes all cause this effect. Furthermore, in the case of a dramatic failure, a mild derangement is upgraded to its more severe version for the remainder of the night. (Storytellers, be sensible about this. The middle of a combat in which four goons attack a Malkovian with napalm is not a good time to decree that he curls up into a fetal ball on the floor. The middle of the Prince’s salon later that night is a different story.)

Organization: The relative level of cooperation among Malkovians varies. There are now Malkovians who don’t consciously realize their true heritage. In some lineages, a series of desultory or irrational Embraces has produced neonates who feel only disregard for others of their bloodline — or even outright hatred for them. In others, however, sires and grandsires still maintain a more secretive version of the age-old bonds. They gladly provide mentoring, counseling and comfort in exchange for their descendants’ compliance in their schemes. Malkovians with sires who are too distracted to cultivate them often seek out an “aunt” or “cousin” to fulfill that role instead.

Occasionally, sophisticated collaborations to study and cure the bloodline’s maladies arise. Doctors, pharmacologists, psychologists, mystics and historians keeping each other informed of their discoveries through discreet correspondence. Of course, close contact among Malkovians has other hazards besides just the danger of interference from fearful Kindred. Madness can be contagious, and often it only takes one brilliant mind’s descent into unreason to drag the entire effort down.

Concepts: Absinthe-addled roué, Arsenic and Old Lacestyle death angel, conspiracy theorist, eccentric scholar, failed suicide, health professional, idiot savant, mumbling beggar, religious visionary, scion of decaying noble line, tortured artist

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