Dementation

Dementation is the Discipline that allows a vampire to focus and channel his madness into the minds of those around him. Though it’s the natural legacy of the Malkavians, practitioners of Dementation need not actually be mad to use the Discipline… but it helps.

Disturbingly, Dementation doesn’t actually make their victims mad, but rather it seems to break down the doors to the hidden darkness of the target’s mind, releasing into the open whatever is found there. Some Malkavians claim that this is because insanity is the next logical step in mental evolution, a transhumanist advancement of what modern people consider consciousness. Other Kindred scoff that this reasoning is an outright justification for the chaos that Dementation brings. They don’t scoff too loudly, however, lest the Malkavian advance their consciousness next.

Some elder Kindred believe that this discipline is a corrupted form of Dominate. Indeed there are similarities their usage: unless otherwise stated, any use of Dementation requires a character to capture a victim’s gaze. The Dementation can therefore be used on only one subject at a time, and is useless if eye contact is not possible. There may be further penalties (up to -3) if the victim is aware of what is going on and is actively trying to avoid eye contact with the character.

• Passion

The vampire inflames his victim’s emotions, heightening them to a fevered pitch. The Cainite may choose which emotion is affected, however, he may have an easier time inciting emotions that are in some way related to his own derangement (e.g. a paranoid Malkavian may have an easier time inciting fear; a depressed Malkavian, sadness; a narcissistic Malkavian, rage; etc.)

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Cost

None

Dice Pool

Presence + Empathy + Dementation – Composure. +1 bonus die if the emotion inflicted is related to the character's madness.

Action

Contested; resistance is reflexive

Usage

Each success on the activation roll for this Discipline adds or subtracts a die on one roll by the victim to resist frenzy or resist a Social action. While the game effect lasts only for one roll, the emotional effect lasts for the remainder of the night.

•• The Haunting

Furthering the illusion that Dementation actually spreads madness, is this power. When a Malkavian has mastered this ability, she is able to plague a victim with a lingering madness that withers one's poise and self-control. A short while after being exposed to this power, victims start to wonder if they're going crazy. Later, they become certain that they are. The “haunting” effects occur mainly when the victim is alone, and mostly at night.

When invoking this power, a Malkavian twists the victim's own mind into questioning itself, doubting its own perceptions and knowledge, and rotting its own stability through anxiety. It starts with something as subtle as being unable to find one's keys, and progresses through the kind of creeping doubt that makes one wonder things like, "Didn't this room used to be red? I'm sure it was red," and, "I didn't leave that out – who's been in here?" Eventually, the victim may not be sure if he is being haunted, going crazy, or just being fucked with, but he will have no doubt that something is very wrong.

As a Malkavian masters this power, he may eventually tap into the subject’s repressed fears, guilty memories.

Cost

1 or more Vitae

Dice Pool

Presence + Intimidation + Dementation

Action

Extended. The target number of successes is equal to the target’s Willpower dots. Each roll represents one minutes of engaging the target in conversation and projecting the user’s malevolent will.

Usage

Once the Malkavian has accrued a number of successes equal to or greater than the target’s Willpower, she spends one Vitae to begin his suffering. Within a few minutes, the target’s derangement (if any) is triggered by his own imagination – he thinks someone on the subway is being intentionally rude to him, or he imagines his superior is angry at him, for example. If the target has no derangement, he does when he next wakes up.

Each night, the victim of this power may attempt to break free of its effects by rolling Wits + Resolve versus a target number of successes equal to the user’s Manipulation + Intimidation. The user can raise this target number by +2 for each additional Vitae she spends on the turn when the power is activated, up to a maximum target number of 20.

The victim is not aware of this struggle going on in his own psyche – his efforts to regain his stability are happening in the back of his mind, outside his conscious control. (Yet the victim’s player may be aware of it, and can spend Willpower on the character’s behalf.)

Every roll the character makes to attempt to overcome the effects of The Haunting, whether it is a success or failure, reduces his Composure by one dot. If Composure is exhausted, subsequent rolls reduce Resolve by one dot per roll. If Resolve is exhausted, no further damage is accrued. This Attribute damage is healed as if it were lethal damage, with one point recovered every two days (see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 167).

The default length of time that this power lasts is a week. The user may try to extend this time by taking penalties to the initial invocation roll.

Until the victim completes the extended action to overcome this power, he continues to suffer the effects of his derangements. A victim can be subject to only one instance of this power at a time. Should a victim be targeted by several Malkavians, the most powerful instance of The Haunting is effective. This power affects mortals, ghouls and Kindred alike.

  • Dramatic Failure: The user experiences "feedback" and he himself becomes the victim of the power instead of the target.
  • Failure: Nothing happens. The target may or may not be alerted to the Malkavian's attempt depending on the target's familiarity withe the discipline.
  • Success: The power works as intended.
  • Dramatic Success: The power works as intended, and there is a secondary effect beneficial to the user's agenda: for example, the victim reveals some guarded secret while reacting to his madness, or the powers effects may last longer than the user intended.

••• Eyes of Chaos

As a Malkavian progresses in his abilities with Dementation, the power of his blood tears down his preconceptions, his assumptions, his expectations and his trust that the world is what it appears to be. The Malkavian's perceptions are heightened and freed, his mind becomes receptive to inputs both sensory and extrasensory, and he finds the Blood channeling barely comprehensible signals in the way that dental fillings pick up freak transmissions.

The benefit of this hallucinatory state is the ability to sense and act without shame or doubt. The consequence of this wicked power is that no small part of the telemetry the Malkavian receives is hallucinatory bullshit – static and nonsense generated by his cursed Blood and psychic interference from the same place that torpid nightmares come from. To make sense of his visions, a Malkavian must pick carefully through the sensations he experiences – the sights, the smells, the sounds – for those repeating details that, over time, he can learn to depend on.

But to do that, he must also come to admit that his own mind and his own senses cannot truly be trusted. Kindred legends claim that this power taps into some vast communal consciousness of the Malkavians – a consciousness as demented as the worst of them. Dementation savants claim that Malkavian blood is constantly giving off signals which interact with other Malkavian blood and are, together, modulated by the thrumming frequencies of the universe. This power makes the Malkavian a receiver for those frequencies. By making sense of the telemetry, a Malkavian can gain insight into the rhythms of the material world, and beyond. Malkavians with this power often have (or claim to have) knowledge of the moves and countermoves of the great Jyhad, or the patterns of fate.

Cost

1 Vitae

Dice Pool

Wits + Occult + Dementation

Action

Instant

Usage

The Malkavian experiences a vision punctuated by flashes of genuine insight. Again, two primary effects are possible as a result of this: The first effect grants the Malkavian an intuitive and fleeting burst of understanding. It is not knowledge per se, but more of a momentary knack. With this use of the power, called the insight effect, the Malkavian may invoke one of the following bonuses:

  • +3 bonus to any untrained Mental Skill
  • +1 bonus to any untrained Physical or Social Skill
  • +2 bonus to Initiative
  • Use of the Danger Sense Merit (+2 to detect ambush) for one scene.
  • +2 bonus to one perception roll

The second optional effect of this power grants the Malkavian a supernatural vision containing valuable information about his surroundings or even the future. This “visionary” effect is, essentially, a request on the player’s behalf for information or inspiration necessary to further the story or help bail out the troupe’s characters. The exact nature of this vision is up to the Storyteller, but virtually any kind of supernatural perception is fair game.

  • Dramatic Failure: The hallucinations contain no usable information and impair the user such that he receives a -2 penalty to rolls for the rest of the night.
  • Failure: Nothing happens.
  • Success: The power works as intended.
  • Dramatic Success: The power works as intended, and there is a secondary effect of this power is especially useful.

•••• Voice of Madness

By merely addressing his victims aloud, the Kindred can drive targets into psychotic breaks, forcing them to abandon reason and higher thought. Victims are plagued by hallucinations of their subconscious demons, and try to flee or destroy their hidden shames. Tragedy almost always follows in the wake of this power’s use, though offending Malkavians often claim that they were merely encouraging people to act “according to their natures.” Unfortunately for the vampire concerned, he runs a very real risk of falling prey to his own voice’s power. This power does not require eye contact, but rather requires the targets to hear the user speak.

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Cost

1 Willpower

Dice Pool

Manipulation + Empathy + Dementation vs. target's Resolve + Composure + Blood Potency

Action

Contested; reflexive to resist.

Usage

The character can target anybody that can hear his voice. If there are multiple people present, he can use this power on multiple targets, but suffers a –1 for each mortal target and a –2 for each supernatural target. Targets roll separately to resist and compare their results to the vampire’s. Affected targets immediately experience psychotic breaks, the exact symptoms of which may vary. In general though, aggressive characters tend towards violence and cowardly characters tend towards panic.

If this power is used in combat, each target that loses the contested action will either begin to flee or attack the nearest available target.

If this power is used out of combat, the user imposes a penalty on the target equal to the successes on the activation roll, to a maximum of -5, for the duration of the night. This power can be used to penalize a victim’s Intelligence, Wits, Dexterity or Manipulation.

  • Dramatic Failure: The user experiences "feedback" and is immediately impaired in some way by his own dementia.
  • Failure: Nothing happens.
  • Success: The power works as intended.
  • Exceptional Success: The user may be able to dictate the exact nature of the delusion the targets experience.

••••• Total Insanity

At its pinnacle power, Dementation finally fulfills its namesake. This power imposes delusions on the Malkavian's victims, inserting a misconception, hallucination or outright lie into a target's mind and snapping it off. Victims of this power are left believing things – about themselves, about their loved ones, about the world at large – that simply are not true.

Though the length of the delusions imposed by this power is not long when compared to the years of dementia suffered by the aged living, a few nights of demented behavior can be enough to ruin careers, break up marriages, and bring down powerful figures.

Victims of this power have broken into strangers' houses thinking they were simply locked out of their own homes. They have been found naked in the park, homeless on the street, and covered in blood behind the wheel. They've been found miles away from home, in bed with hookers and high on crack. They've killed spouses they thought were unfaithful. They've gotten themselves killed thinking themselves capable of impossible feats.

A few nights spent in the crucible of madness that makes of a Malkavian's eternity is more than some minds can handle.

Cost

1 Willpower

Dice Pool

Presence + Empathy + Dementation versus the target’s Resolve + Presence + Blood Potency

Action

Extended and contested. The rolls to activate this power and the rolls to resist it are instant actions. Each roll represents one turn of psychic conflict. The user’s target number of successes is equal to the subject’s Willpower. The subject’s target number of successes is equal to the user’s Composure + Dementation.

Note that the user cannot spend Willpower to enhance her dice pool on the initial roll of her extended action, as she must already spend a point that turn to activate this power. She may spend Willpower on subsequent turns as usual.

The subject can spend Willpower to increase his dice pool on each roll (and probably should). In addition, he may spend a single point of Willpower during the extended contest to raise the user’s necessary target number by two successes. This does not entitle the subject to spend more than one Willpower point per turn.

This extended contest is resolved immediately, on the current Initiative count, when the user or the subject achieves the necessary number of successes to win the contest.

Usage

The user declares a belief he wishes to impose on the target’s vulnerable psyche. If the user succeeds at the contested roll, the target absorbs this idea into his personality and worldview, believing it to be true and behaving thereafter as if it were. This imposed delusion might be as minor as the insidious suggestion, “You lost your wallet,” delivered by a thieving Malkavian. On the other hand, the delusion can be life-changing, as major as telling a mortal, “You are a vampire.”

The unpredictability of this power is one of its virtues, in the eyes of many Malkavians. Although it can be used to ruin someone’s life, it is also an intriguing test of character. Would you turn yourself in if you believed you had killed someone? Or would you kill again?

The effects of this power last for 24 hours. A particular target can be subject to only one instance of this power at a time. Additional attempts to use this power on a target already under the influence of it automatically fail – but any Malkavian able to wield this power is also able to intuitively sense when someone is under its influence. This intuition doesn’t reveal the particulars of the subject’s delusions, only that she is currently under the spell of some Malkavian’s Dementation.

When the effects of the power pass, some subjects immediately snap out of their delusions. They often “come to” addled, sometimes terrified, and usually feeling drugged or hung-over. Other subjects may continue passively believing their delusion until it is called to the front of their minds (“Wait a minute, this isn’t my car…”). Only the most modest delusions set victims down, back into their own psyches, so gently.

  • Dramatic Failure: In the unlikely event of a dramatic failure, the user is rendered catatonic and helpless for the remainder of the scene. The power fails and any Willpower points spent on the contest are wasted.
  • Failure: The Malkavian fails to break down her target’s psyche with her maddening onslaught. The power fails and any Willpower points spent on the contest are wasted.
  • Success: The power works as intended.
  • Exceptional Success: The delusion imposed by the power may be more dramatic than the user initially anticipated, or may last longer than 24 hours.
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