The Malkavians are a bloodline of vampires from the Ventrue clan cursed with insanity. They are members of the Camarilla and, strangely enough, a pillar of the organization. The Ventrue resent the attention the Malkavians draw to their own mental instability, and since Ventrue and Malkavians are sometimes hard to tell apart, few Lords dare discount the horrifying possibility of a hidden contamination of the entire clan.
Throughout history, the Malkavians have been the seers and oracles of the Kindred, bound by strange compulsions and insight.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, every last vampire of the bloodline 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.
No one is sure as to the origins of the Malkavians but there are two current origin stories that is popular among vampire historians.
The first involves the Victorian Era, which was the time of Freud and Jung, as the old theories of phrenology, demon-possession and divine punishment gave way to more learned theories of psychology and psychiatry. 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.
The second origin story popular among Malkavians is the Noddist story of Enoch and Proto-Malkavians. The Malkavians originated in the pre-Deluge city Enoch. Little is known about the clan’s early composition, only that their Antediluvian Malkav was a seer Embraced by one of the Second Generation. Malkav was particularly close to two other Kindred: Saulot, the founder of the Salubri, and Set, god to his followers. Some accounts suggest the three shared the same sire, possibly Enoch himself.
Sometime after the Flood, Malkav was ambushed and murdered by his fellow Antediluvians. Most Malkavians believe that he is still alive, and some Malkavians speculate that when Gehenna arises, he will devour the clan whole and reconstitute himself.
As to which story is correct? It depends on the Malkavian you are speaking with.
In 1998, rising cases of malkavia (also known as dementation) is rapidly spreading and infecting many vampires within the Camarilla and not just among the Ventrue.