Sample Derangements

Some of these derangements have already been described in the World of Darkness Rulebook. These descriptions focus on how Kindred (or, in some cases, ghouls) experience the ailments. We also add a few new ones.

Some derangements are severe forms of other conditions, but different from those discussed in the World of Darkness book. In such cases, after a character acquires the mild derangement, he and the Storyteller may choose what severe ailment might set in. For example, a character who already has the irrationality derangement gains another. According to the World of Darkness Rulebook, multiple personality is the severe form of that derangement. The character and Storyteller may decide, however, that the character is better suited to delusional obsession (see below). Of course, as the World of Darkness Rulebook also states, sometimes a single act or scene is so mind numbing that only full-blown insanity and dysfunction can result. In these cases, Storytellers may decide that a character acquires a severe derangement whether or not she already has the mild form.

Some of the following derangements are mild in and of themselves, and have no progression to the severe form. These are marked as “mild only.”

Bulimia (severe; follows Fixation): People with this neurosis try to drown their anxiety through activities that comfort them, especially food. Doing so leads to a binge-and-purge cycle. The bulimic stuffs himself to relieve stress, then selfdisgust at his own gluttony drives him to vomit out what he’s eaten. The bulimic soon seeks to feed again, though, and the cycle repeats.

Vampires face a special temptation toward bulimia because feeding is the strongest physical pleasure left to them. A bulimic vampire relieves his fear and guilt by gorging himself on blood, perhaps feeding several times a night and burning the Vitae as fast as he can. The character can augment his traits for frenetic activity or wound himself as a form of punishment, then heal the wounds so that other Kindred won’t see his weakness and self-loathing. At severe levels, the vampire might even will himself to expunge Vitae by vomiting — no small feat and a noteworthy act of will, since vampires don’t store blood in their stomachs.

Effect: A bulimic vampire becomes hungry more easily than other Kindred and has a harder time resisting the urge to feed. Whenever the character feeds, the player must succeed at a Resolve + Composure roll or the vampire feeds until full, whether or not he really needs the extra Vitae. Additionally, the character must use that Vitae frequently; the player must spend at least one Vitae per scene for the character until the character rests for the day, even if circumstances wouldn’t otherwise warrant it. A player may, for example, devote Vitae to Strength for a turn in which no Strength roll is necessary, or spend a Vitae to heal a single point of bashing damage even though Vitae normally heals two points of bashing damage. A bulimic character also suffers an automatic -2 penalty to resist hunger frenzies. Forcibly preventing the character from drinking his fill might provoke a rage frenzy (no modifier to difficulty).

Delusional Obsession (severe; follows Irrationality): This derangement can emerge because of centuries of torpid dreams, or simply a strong desire for the world to be the way a character wants. Delusional obsession consists of a fanatical belief in something that just isn’t true. Lots of people hold beliefs that other people find absurd, of course, but a delusional obsessive structures his life or unlife on them. Classic examples include the survivalist holed up in a cabin with canned beans and a shotgun, the street-corner preacher ranting that “The end is near,” and the dotty old lady with a hundred cats. Nearly any hobby, belief or interest can seem dangerously crazed when it takes over a character’s existence. Delusional obsession might be dismissed as fanaticism, but it is even more extreme.

Effect: A Willpower point must be spent to resist whenever an opportunity arises to act in accordance with the character’s obsession, or whenever he must act in direct opposition to his obsession. For instance, a gardening fanatic might have to expend Willpower to stay out of a florist’s shop. A Kindred who believes that every instance of a crescent or lunar reference indicates Lupine activity might need to expend a Willpower point to step into an Islamic cultural center or to stay in the same room as someone named Moon.

Dependent-Personality Disorder (severe; follows Irrationality): This emotional derangement most often afflicts ghouls or blood-bound Kindred. The character becomes utterly dependent on his regnant or domitor. He resists making even the most trivial decision for himself. This disorder might arise from fear of abandonment (especially strong in the case of ghouls who know that sudden aging or death awaits them if they lose their supply of Vitae). It might also grow from an exaggerated fear of displeasing a harsh or demanding master.

Effect: If a character has this derangement, the player does not include Resolve in contested dice pools when the domitor attempts to Dominate him (although Blood Potency still applies). Indeed, the character often follows up on any statement that might be construed as a request for the character to do something.

Phobia (mild): A person who suffers from a phobia has an unreasoning fear of something. A phobia can result from a traumatic experience associated with an object or condition, or might be a purely neurotic way of hiding from a real source of anxiety. Common phobias include a fear of open spaces, leaving one’s home, of enclosed spaces or germs, but nearly anything can become the focus of a phobia. Kindred are especially prone to phobias of fire, sunlight or hunger. A phobic vampire might avoid going outdoors for fear of sunlight, even if she knows dawn is hours away.

Effect: Your character moves away from the object of her phobia. If she must be near it, she can tolerate being no closer than her Speed in yards. If it approaches her, she must move away at least her Speed in distance in her next action. She cannot easily target the trigger with close combat or ranged attacks. Such attacks suffer a -5 penalty as your character shakes just looking at it. If space or circumstances don’t allow her to maintain her distance, she freezes like a deer in headlights until she finds an opening by which to escape. (Her Defense still applies if attacked and she can choose to dodge and can take cover from Firearms attacks, but she can take no other actions while “frozen.”)

A successful Resolve + Composure roll must be made for a phobic Kindred to simply approach the subject of her fear. Any sort of shock or surprise associated with the subject of the phobia can cause Rötschreck. Roll normally for the character to resist, suitably modified by the degree of exposure.

Hysteria (severe; follows Phobia): Kindred hysteria operates much like that of mortals, except it rises to new heights, as would be expected for a mental ailment of the undead. The vampire’s emotions run high and stressful situations can cause fits of rage, weeping, fainting or other emotional displays.

Effect: This condition operates as a phobia (see above), but on a failed Resolve + Composure roll your character cannot be in the same room with the object of her fear. She must run away from it immediately, and cannot tolerate being within sensory range (sight, sound, smell) of it. If the trigger comes within sensory range, she must move away at full running speed as soon as she can take an action. She cannot target it for an attack under any circumstance. If it touches her, make another Resolve + Composure roll for her to not freak out and run as far away as she can, thinking of nothing else until she’s left the subject far behind. (Even if this roll succeeds, your character must still leave the room or area.) If any of your Resolve + Composure rolls suffer a dramatic failure or your character is unable to escape, she faints and loses consciousness for the remainder of the scene. If your character is unaware of the object’s proximity until it touches her, a Resolve + Composure suffers a -3 penalty. If it touches her where she can’t see it but she can feel it — a spider dropping on her neck or in her hair — the penalty is -5.

For a Kindred character, you must roleplay most aspects of hysteria, above, but also suffer a -1 penalty on all rolls to resist frenzy that relate to the object of fear. Any action that relates to the object and that results in a dramatic failure automatically causes your vampire to frenzy.

Manic-Depression (severe; follows Depression): Severe mood swings characterize this derangement. It occurs in two forms, one psychological and one a defect in brain chemistry. The psychological form is a modified form of hysteria. The victim can swing from an enthusiastic, confident, even ecstatic state to lethargy and despair. The mood swings can happen any time, but any success can push the manic-depressive into exaltation, and any failure can plunge the person into depression.

The second form of manic-depression is an organic disorder. It follows a regular cycle that can range from hours to weeks. The manic phase begins with an excess of energy and confidence, when he needs to use certain Skills. For instance, a tough-guy “protector” persona might emerge whenever the character needs to fight, so the baseline identity doesn’t need to face the moral and emotional stress of combat. The “protector” persona takes possession of the character’s combat Skills, while the other personalities don’t admit that they know how to fight.

This is an extreme derangement. The character must experience a life-altering trauma or supernatural tragedy to manifest it. The ailment cannot normally be acquired by failing a Humanity roll unless the sin performed is truly ghastly. MPD is an elaborate derangement, and a challenge to roleplay. Its symptoms are frightening and the suffering it exacts from its victim is monumental. It should not be an excuse for slapstick, wacky, foolish or childish behavior.

Obsessive Compulsion (severe; follows Fixation): A character with this derangement focuses her attention on a single repetitive behavior or action as a way to distract herself from feelings of anxiety or inner torment. The compulsive character turns everything into a ritual and feels utter dread of any disruption of her behaviors.

Many European vampire legends say the undead suffer from an obsessive need to count collections of small objects, and so a mortal can protect himself by leaving piles of grain where he sleeps. A marauding vampire, legends say, feels compelled to count the grain before he feeds, and this can keep the vampire occupied until dawn. Kindred who believe in the stories mortals tell about them might suffer from this kind of fixation.

Effect: Determine a set of specific actions or behaviors that your character follows to the exclusion of all else (even if doing so interferes with his current agenda or endangers his existence or others’). The effects of obsessive/compulsive behavior can be negated for the course of one scene by making a successful Resolve + Composure roll at a -2 penalty. If your character is forcibly prevented from adhering to his derangement, he may lose control among enemies or allies and attack either (or both) indiscriminately. An obsessive-compulsive vampire is subject to a frenzy roll in this situation.

Paranoia (severe; follows Suspicion): Paranoia is a species of delusion. The paranoid believes that enemies persecute her and make her miserable. As a paranoid’s delusions intensify, she spins out elaborate conspiracy theories to explain who’s doing the persecution, and why. Everything goes into the conspiracy. Do the neighbors stay up late? They must be spying. Does she have headaches? Her enemies have dosed her with some insidious toxin. Did she lose her job? The conspiracy arranged it… and of course, they want other people to believe she’s crazy. As paranoia deepens, the sufferer might plot to strike back at her persecutors, whomever she imagines them to be.

This derangement can be hard to diagnose among the Kindred because they really do have enemies in the Danse Macabre. A paranoid vampire, however, can’t tell a real enemy from one that exists only in his head. Imagined enemies can range from the CIA to Satan himself. Paranoid Kindred often turn obsessive-compulsive as well and adopt complex feeding precautions to prevent their enemies from “tainting their blood supply.” They also parse every question or comment for hidden then proceeds to a sort of ecstatic frenzy as the person’s mind races faster and faster. Eventually the person calms down and then slides into a depression as lethargic as the manic phase was energetic. This form of manic-depression can mimic the effects of schizophrenia, and lead to a near-suicidal state.

Effect: Whichever form of the ailment your character has, whenever he fails a task, the Storyteller may secretly roll his Resolve. A failure means the character lapses into depression for the rest of the scene. The character also goes into depression whenever the player makes a dramatic failure on a roll, or the character has less than two Vitae.

While depressed, the character loses half his Willpower points (rounding fractions down), to a minimum of 1. A depressed vampire cannot expend Vitae to gain dice for Physical tasks, either.

Each scene thereafter, the Storyteller rolls one die. On a success, the character throws off the depression and becomes upbeat, energetic and obsessively active for as many scenes as he was depressed. He regains the Willpower points he lost before, and all rolls to resist frenzy suffer a one-die penalty.

Megalomania (severe; follows Narcissism): Clinical megalomania can consist of a delusion that the individual is some famous and powerful person, contemporary or historical, or even that he is God. A megalomaniac vampire might imagine that he is some famous or infamous Kindred, or the Devil himself.

A romantic form of megalomania might be called “James Bond Mastermind Syndrome.” This sort of megalomaniac obsessively seeks ever-greater wealth and power. Such individuals hide their anxiety (even from themselves) behind a mask of arrogance and supreme self-confidence. The character may seek power by means ranging from intricate conspiracies to brutal murder and terror. To this sort of megalomaniac, everyone is a minion who should do what he’s told, or a competitor who must be destroyed. This belief extends to even members of the vampire’s own coterie.

Effect: If your character ever loses a contest to someone he feels is socially inferior, he loses one point of Willpower due to shame and self-loathing (which is at the heart of his megalomania; he secretly fears that he’s a fraud).

Multiple Personality (severe; extreme; follows Irrationality): Multiple-Personality Disorder (MPD) results from traumas so severe and prolonged that the victim’s mind splits into several personalities. When a vampire suffers this derangement, the Storyteller and player need to agree on a set of alternative personalities for the character, as well as on what situations call each personality to the fore. Each personality should have some connection to the trauma that fractured the character’s mind. Alternate personalities might believe they belong to different clans, bloodlines or covenants, or even not be aware that they are undead.

Effect: A character with multiple personalities can manifest different Skills or perhaps increased or diminished Social Attributes for each identity (the number of dots allocated to your character’s Social Attributes are rearranged by anywhere from one to three). The character does not actually possess more Skills than other characters, he merely switches personalities motives and meanings. Suspicion extends even to progeny and thralls subjected to Vinculums — maybe they’re only pretending to be loyal!

Power Fetish Obsession (mild only): Although Kindred value their supernatural powers, their Disciplines and Vitae expenditures remind them of their undead state. Some Kindred project their powers onto an object, so they don’t have to take responsibility for them. Other Kindred develop the “power fetish” delusion as a stronger form of good-luck superstition. Whatever the reason, the character believes she cannot use her supernatural powers without the help of a special object. In folklore, for instance, the Swiss vampire called the Alp became powerless without its hat. A character with this derangement might believe that she cannot use her undead powers without the dress she wore when she was Embraced, her lucky bracelet or some other article.

Effect: Any attempt to use Disciplines or expend Vitae without that object reduces any dice pools for an activity by three dice.

Sanguinary Animism (mild only): Only Kindred can suffer from this special derangement. This delusion grows out of a vampire’s fundamental awareness of guilt about feeding on mortals. Kindred with this delusion believe they take part of victims’ minds or souls along with their blood. For hours after feeding, the Kindred hears a victim’s voice in his head, berating him, begging for mercy or making demands. The vampire even experiences ersatz memories from his victim’s life, all concocted by the vampire’s unconscious mind, but seeming very real.

Weak-willed or especially guilt-stricken Kindred might even carry out actions on behalf of their victims. Whenever a sanguinary animist feeds on a mortal, the player makes an Intelligence + Composure roll. If the roll succeeds, the imaginary voice and memories of the victim torment the character for the rest of the night, but the character can function adequately. If the roll fails, the images in the character’s mind are so strong that the other personality can influence the vampire’s actions. The angry victim-personality usually means to harm the character, but the vampire might silence the victim’s voice by doing something he imagines the victim would like. If the player cannot roleplay the possessing victim’s personality, control of the character can pass to the Storyteller for short times. Control automatically reverts to the vampire just before dawn.

For all the anguish that sanguinary animism causes, it illustrates how derangements work (badly) to relieve guilt and stress. As long as the victim’s voice continues, she isn’t really dead — or so it seems— while the vampire supplies her own punishment.

Effect: Sanguinary animism becomes particularly severe when a vampire kills his vessel. In this case, the Intelligence + Composure roll is at -3 dice. A dramatic failure means that the ersatz personality of the victim becomes a permanent fixture in the vampire’s mind. Under stress, the victim’s voice becomes more insistent. The Kindred might distractedly respond aloud to the voices in his head. Further shocks could drive the vampire into multiple-personality disorder (see above), with the Kindred taking on the fantasized personalities of victims. Diablerie is an especially bad idea for sufferers of this derangement!

Schizophrenia (severe; extreme; follows Vocalization):Schizophrenia is the most severe of all derangements. This mental illness includes hallucinations, delusions, radical mood swings, manic or obsessive babbling on certain themes, and outbursts of violence. The victim constantly hears strange hums, roars or voices in his head. People on TV or passing by seem to look at and threaten him. Delusions of grandeur are common: The schizophrenic thinks he’s Jesus, Napoleon (no, really, it happens) or the president.

Unlike most lesser derangements, schizophrenia has a proven organic cause, an imbalance of brain chemistry that drugs can treat in mortals. Stress also plays a role in sending a latent schizophrenic over the edge, though, and mortals need both drugs and psychotherapy to recover from the disease (if they can at all).

Schizophrenia presents a formidable roleplaying challenge. The player must decide on a general set of delusions, hallucinations and behaviors that relate to the trauma that causes the derangement. The Storyteller, meanwhile, should prepare to include hallucinatory details in her descriptions to the player. The character doesn’t know what’s real, so the player shouldn’t either. The player can probably guess that when the TV weatherman looks at the character and says, “Your sire wants to kill you. You have to kill him first,” that isn’t real. When he waits at a bus stop and someone pulls a dagger from under a coat, however….

Effect: A character with this derangement is unpredictable and dangerous. His player automatically suffers a -2 penalty on all Social rolls, and he might be aggressive or violent toward people who confront him with trauma such as accusations, disturbing truths or heated arguments. Make a Resolve + Composure roll for your character to avoid escaping or attacking the source of trauma. The player and Storyteller should also designate a set of conditions that trigger the character’s mood swings and delusions. Under these conditions, a -2 penalty applies to resist frenzy and Rötschreck as the vampire’s mind is racked by imaginary horrors.

Your character must experience a life-altering trauma or supernatural tragedy to acquire this extreme derangement. It cannot normally be acquired by failing a Humanity roll unless the sin performed is truly gut wrenching or horrific.

Sample Derangements

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