The Problem With Malkavians

The Malkavian are one of the thirteen vampire clans in the (popular but now defunct) roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade. Each vampire clan have their defining characteristics, like the Gangrel who are known for being feral loners, or the Toreador who value beauty and passion above all else. The Malkavian are mainly known for being insane; all clan members have some form of mental derangement.


The Malkavian clan's official emblem.

The Malkavian clan seem to be a favourite among fans of the game, but Malkavian characters are often mishandled. Too many see it as an excuse to simply do whatever they see fit, and to generally “act silly”. Why not wear bunny slippers and carry a big teddy around? That’s pretty crazy! Or how about blurting out random nonsensical words and phrases, and laughing loudly afterwords? That’s also pretty crazy! In short, Malkavians are often played for comedic purposes. And for geeky comedic purposes at that; no pretensions to Oscar Wilde wit here.

To quote one of my own songs, insanity is no joking matter. Actual mental derangements are usually quite tragic, and not funny. And considering that Vampire: The Masquerade is a roleplaying game in the horror genre, I imagine that Malkavians and their derangements should be played for creepiness; being in their presence should be unsettling – as opposed to an experience that’ll simply give you a head ache, as seems to too often be the case.

Straight Jacket

Those crazy, lovable Malkavians...

One of the best Malkavian characters I have been exposed to so far would probably be Dr. Grout from the PC game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (an awesome game, by the by, even though they’re also guilty of portraying the more stereotypical Malkavian as well). He’s subtle, creepy, and intriguing, not wearing his insanity on his sleeve. Just listen to this dictation message by the good doctor.

But the Malkavian are a diverse bunch. There probably is room in the Malkavian clan for the in-your-face bunny-slippers-wearing ha-ha-look-at-me-and-how-crazy-I-am types as well, but too often it seems like the clan consists of nothing but these types. My guess is that those particular Malkavians would have a fairly short lifespan (or un-lifespan – get it?), unless the powerful vampire elders are a more tolerant bunch of guys than me.

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