Today we’re deep diving into the NPC companions: Rudolph van Richten, Nikolai Wachter, Father Donovich, and Zuleika Toranescu!
In the video below, I discuss the motivations behind each of these characters deciding to accompany your party, how to gain their trust, as well as the pros and cons of having them around. Not all allies are created equal, as you’ll see!
If you want all five of these allies’ information in written format, check out the full color PDF over on our Patreon. I’ve included a sample ally down below as a preview for you!
Get the full color PDF of all five allies on our Patreon!
Artifact (Joker 1)
The circus master Rictavio, also known as Doctor Rudolph van Richten, is likely the most legendary vampire hunter of the multiverse. From his heavily trapped carnival wagon, he investigates Barovia for information about Strahd and ways to end him.
Van Richten is haunted by the deaths of his family at the hands of the vampire Baron Metus. He wants to see all vampires destroyed—and Strahd is the most powerful of them all. After all he has learned about the vampire lord, however, van Richten knows he needs allies.
Earning Rictavio’s Trust
Van Richten usually travels alone, as he is cursed to bring death to anyone he grows close to. However, he is willing to travel with the characters if they tell him about Madam Eva’s tarokka reading. Suspicious as he is of Vistani, he recognizes Madam Eva’s considerable prophetic prowess. If this is the only way Strahd can be brought down, so be it.
Get The Essential Guide To
Curse of Strahd Companions
Get extended information on all twenty possible allies in Curse of Strahd for Dungeons & Dragons. This supplement outlines their motivations, how to gain their trust, personality information, and more! It’s the perfect companion to our Raising the Stakes guide for Curse of Strahd.
Weals and Woes
There are several possible advantages to having van Richten in the party:
- Van Richten’s greatest value arguably comes from his extensive experience fighting the forces of darkness, represented by an impressive list of skill proficiencies, only surpassed by Ezmerelda among the characters’ possible allies. He has studied Strahd and his minions, and he knows more about them than anyone else in Barovia, living or dead.
- Like Ezmerelda, van Richten came to Barovia prepared. Among his arsenal, he counts: a hat of disguise, a ring of mind shielding, wooden stakes, vials of holy water, a healer’s kit, and a trained saber-toothed tiger!
- Van Richten is a decent enough fighter, who will not go down immediately and even carries a silvered sword against werewolves. His Undead Slayer feature even puts him at the top of the list of allies when it comes to dispatching undead—only surpassed, possibly, by his former apprentice Ezmerelda.
- Van Richten carries a spell scroll of raise dead, which makes him one of the very few sources of character (or NPC) resurrection in Barovia, if the party does not have access to such magic themselves.
- Van Richten is one of the more powerful spellcasters in Barovia, with a unique spell list that combines some of the best utility spells across all class spell lists. If the party does not know any of these spells (and they are very unlikely to know all of them), van Richten can be a real game changer: protection from evil and good is a universally useful protective spell in Barovia and makes many encounters much easier, augury might give them some insights at crucial decision points, speak with dead can completely flip certain quests on their head, remove curse is an instant solution to some otherwise very annoying situations (such as a Vistani curse). And that’s just a selection!
Just as van Richten’s presence can aid the party, he might be trouble in some situations:
- Strahd is actively hunting for van Richten (see chapter 1, “Strahd’s Goals”). True, he is also spying on the characters anyways. However, the characters intrigue him and he wants to observe them a bit longer—van Richten, however, he wants to torture in his dungeons until he breaks. This puts a huge target on the characters’ backs, only surpassed by traveling with Ireena Kolyana—and unlike Ireena, Strahd has little compunction about hurting van Richten.
- A powerful Vistani curse rests on van Richten: doom will come to those he grows fond of. Van Richten greatly suffers from this curse, and he is very reluctant to travel with the characters, as he does not want to be their death. Ultimately, he goes against his better judgment, but that doesn’t mean the curse won’t strike.