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The Malkavian in our group is played by a trigger-happy player who tends to use the cheap lower ranks of Dementation multiple times per session, mostly on his own party. Dementation is the vampiric discipline that infuses others with "madness", the first ranks are Passion (extremely strengthen or weaken an emotion in someone) and The Haunting (give someone more or less subtle hallucinations). The latter costs one blood point, the former is free.

We've established early on that we are ok with this, but by now this behaviour has started to alter some PCs noticeably (or, realistically, should do so), as they become haunted or their emotions are heightened/dampened for weeks after a good roll and we can't skip time IT, due to plot. The characters are all neonates and don't suspect their buddy to be responsible for all the weird emotions lately, they mostly don't even realise there is anything off about the constant paranoia and mood swings, it might be a side effect of being thrown into this undead society.

The way we've been playing so far was that The Haunting would haunt one character once and then play out, disregarding later attempts to invoke the same again. However, every use of Passion would alter one emotion of the "affected" player's choice (we went with the most present at that moment) for the time decided by the dice. This allows Passion to stack. One PC sort of became the favourite target for these jokes and is now juggling an emotional turmoil that was not part of the character's concept at all.

So, to the question: Is there anything in the rules that supports or contradicts the stacking of Passion? And also, how should it be handled if it comes up so often? Is there more about this in the Clanbooks, maybe? The way it is now, I feel like the whole discipline is just a shortcut to cause chaos and disruption to the game, without any apparent gain for anyone. What I really want to know then, I guess, is more along the lines of How to balance the use of Dementation in a game where it is used heavily PvP?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @PrometheanVigil Please don't answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 30 '17 at 18:13
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In my opinion you cannot balance the use of anything in a storyteller game like Vampire The Masquerade. Concerning balance of power VtM and games from the WoD are inherently flawed. But let's just take your approach.

Balance
The first two Ranks of Dementation (Passion and Haunting) are Disciplinesranks that require the user to talk to his target. This is a very good indicator that the user did something to people watching them (and older vampires could have their own share of experience regarding Malkavians and Dementation). This would be a good balance especially if the other players still have sires or even got mentors. These would find asking themselves why their pupil/child is as unhinged lately.
You can also take other malkavians, that don't think it's a good idea to bless everyone in ones vincinity with Dementation all the time. (And having a character concept of a malkavian that is just a raging lunatic who just randomly dishes out Dementation at everyone he meets, is something the player should rework - at least in my opinion - as it doesn't fit the theme of malkavians being struck with psychological derangements.)
Another way to balance it would be that only one feeling could be heightened or dulled in case of Passion, or only one sense could have hallucinations in case of Haunting.
It would also be possible and plausible - at least in my opinion - that the target of the malkavian just adapts to the abuse. So it would be harder for the malkavian to amplify the feelings or haunt the target.

Supporting/Contradiction of Stacking
Well. The V20 System rules (p. 148) do not explicitly state that this is or is not possible. But there is a kind of soft cap on Stacking. It states:

Effects of this power might include one- or two-point additions or subtractions to difficulties

So you can say that it's up to the Storyteller (you) whether or not this is a cap. Like the target is calm, with the first stack of Passion it's mad and with its second stack it's a raging storm. But is there any step up from a raging storm?
So while not stated explicitly in my mind it's hinted that while it is possible to stack the Storyteller should cap it rulewise.

I hope this helps.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I didn't find anything in the rules about the user having to talk to the target (only the fourth rank requires that in my version), but having other characters noticing recent strange behaviour seems like a good idea. Even if the PCs themselves would not come to the conclusion, a friendly more experienced character might - and, thinking of it, possibly even find out they themselves could have been influenced. \$\endgroup\$ – ethan Jul 2 '17 at 18:11

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