Dr Rudolph van Richten was born in the domain of Darkon. In the most recent Ravenloft module Curse of Strahd, he traveled to Barovia to kill Strahd disguised as the Half-Elf bard Rictavio (Below). He used Khazan's tower as a hideout.
He is based on Professor Abraham van Helsing from the novel Dracula.
Dr. Rudolph van Richten is the greatest monster hunter to have ever lived and the true identity of the circus half-elf troupe leader Rictavio.
The name Rudolph van Richten is known; the common folk know it, the monsters know it--he is a legend. Imagine if you will, the “scary stories” that parents tell their kids to possibly frighten them away from certain things. Van Richten is the scary story that monsters tell their children. By the time your players meet him (for real--not just his disguise), they should have heard the name several times.
He is incredibly cunning and very intelligent. His ability to think and react through high pressure situations, comes from his years of experience dealing with (and destroying) the most dangerous and vile monsters imaginable. His skill-set is eclectic in the extreme. He has picked up bits and pieces of useful knowledge from all over. He is not proficient with Smith's tools, but knows how to Silver a weapon. He's not proficient with a Poisoner's Kit, but knows how to make several toxins and compounds that are effective against various sorts of monster. He's not a proficient survivalist, but can identify monster tracks on sight. He's not proficient in Investigation, but he can piece together the evidence of a monster attack easy as breathing. This comes from Van Richten's obsessive campaign against monsters. He is on a lifelong rampage of revenge over what Baron Metus did to his family. He has gathered up every single possible tool that he can get his hands on that will make him more effective at killing monsters and discards most of the rest.
One must always remember, he doesn't fight or battle or hunt monsters, he kills them. And he does it as ruthlessly as the monsters themselves. Players that travel with him should be constantly shocked (and appalled) at all the sneaky, filthy, under-handed tricks he pulls in order to kill the maximum number of monsters as swiftly and efficiently as possible. That is how Rudolph van Richten operates.
Today, van Richten is not as young as he once was. If anything, this has emphasized his traits. Once upon a time, he was young and strong and agile--able to fight monsters directly and come out on top. But now he's old. His body can't keep up with his old ways of fighting, so he's had to adapt. He focuses more on magic now, but mostly focuses on killing things without having to actually fight them. In a straight fight, he’s more likely to let the PCs handle the front lines. They're young enough to handle it, after all, which could be where he would use his support-caster loadout as he's very capable in the arcane arts and conjuring up Clerical spells.
As to his personality, he’s not a generic crotchety old man. He’s a really old monster hunter...master of his trade and too old to put up with any shenanigans or BS from players (think of a combination of a Witcher, Batman and Outlaw Josie Wales). He's mellowed out somewhat since he got started, but he’s still quite determined to see the end of any monster he can.
His age is a balancing factor that should keep him from turning into the star of every campaign he's in. While van Richten’s personality and aura should boarder on the mythic, he has worked with countless groups of adventurers and heroes...it would be easy for him to steal the spotlight from the PCs. So the DM should balance this with the fact that he's old and he's cautious.
But he does have a major flaw. Van Richten suffers from a curse bestowed on him by a Vistani:
Live you always among monsters, and see everyone you love die beneath their claws.
Its effect on him can best be summarized with this statement: "Rudolph van Richten Dies Last." This curse is both a boon and a bane to him. The curse is a large part of why he has lived so long--how he has accumulated so much experience and expertise. He is cursed to always see his friends and allies die--which means he has to live long enough to see it happen.
For a long time, he was unaware of the exact nature of the curse on him, but he is apparently aware of it now.
The story of his protege Ezmerelda and his history was written in the van Richten's Journal (CURSE OF STRAHD pages 254-255). It involves him destroying Ezmerelda's caravan while she was very, very young. She survived the undead assault and later got picked up by another caravan of Vistani (it was actually the Zarovan tribe--Madam Eva's caravan). She originally wanted revenge on van Richten, but time with Eva (and the presence of the most powerful Vistani of them all) showed her the tragedy of what had happened from an outside perspective. Ezmerelda realized that the whole thing was a horrible tragedy and wrongs had been committed on both sides. She, thus, set out to try to find van Richten and try to make things right...though Eva never told her about the curse her mother had laid on van Richten.
Van Richten and Ezmerelda must travel to the place the curse was first laid...a small clearing in the forests of Barovia where the ruins of Ezmerelda's caravan still lie. Both must verbally acknowledge the wrong that had been done and verbally forgive one another for it...then the remains of Ezmerelda's caravan must be burned.
He resides in a tower on an island in Lake Baratok, just west of Vallaki.
Alignment: Lawful Good
Armor Class: 17 (half plate of flowing sanctity)
Hit Points: 77 (14d8 +14)
Speed: 30 ft.
Strength: 9 (-1)
Dexterity: 13 (+1)
Constitution: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 17 (+3)
Wisdom: 18 (+4)
Charisma: 16 (+3)
Saving Throws Con +5, Wis +8, Cha +7
Skills Arcana +7, Deception +7, Insight +12,
Investigation +7, Medicine +8, Perception +12,
Religion +6, Sleight of Hand +4
Condition Immunities charmed
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 22
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic,
Dwarvish, Elvish, Gundarak, Infernal, Sylvan
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
Special Equipment. In addition to his +1 sword cane
and light crossbow, Van Richten wears a hat of disguise,
goggles of night, and a ring of mind shielding, and he
carries a spell scroll of raise dead.
Half Plate of Flowing Sanctity +1 mithril half plate.
Once a day, a flask of water placed in the belt of armor
becomes holy water.
Spellcasting. Van Richter is a 9th level Cleric of Helm,
1st level Wizard. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom
(save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). Van Richten
has the following Cleric and Wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): light, mage hand, mending, minor
illusion, prestidigitation, sacred flame, thaumaturgy,
toll the dead
1st level (4 slots): alarm, bless, cure wounds, detect
evil and good, feather fall, find familiar, healing word, identify, protection from evil and good, shield, sleep
2nd level (3 slots): augury, beacon of hope, lesser restoration, protection from poison, silence, spiritual weapon warding bond, zone of truth
3rd level (3 slots): glyph of warding, magic circle, mass healing word, revivify, speak with dead, spirit guardians
4th level (3 slots): death ward, freedom of movement
5th level (3 slots): dawn, greater restoration, mass cure wounds, raise dead
Skulker. Van Richten can hide when he is lightly obscured from the creature from which he is hiding. When he’s hidden from a creature and misses it with a ranged weapon attack, making the attack doesn’t reveal his position. Dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on his Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight.
Undead Slayer. When Van Richten hits an undead with a weapon attack, the undead takes an extra 10 (3d6) damage of weapon’s type.
Cunning Action. Van Richten can use a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage or Hide action.
Sneak Attack. When Van Richten surprises a target, has advantage on an attack roll, or an enemy is within 5 ft. of the target, Van Richten deals and extra 7 damage.
Assassin Proficiencies. Van Richten is proficient with Disguise and Poisoner’s Kits.
Assassinate. When Van Richten hits a surprised enemy, it’s automatically a critical hit. When he attacks an enemy that hasn’t yet had a turn, he gains advantage on the attack.
Channel Divinity. Turn Undead: Undead within 30 ft. of Van Richten must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, they are turned for 1 minute or until they take damage. A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from him as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 ft. of him. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action. Undead with CR 1 or less are automatically destroyed on a failed save.
Preserve Life: As an action, Van Richten can distribute 45 hit points. This feature can restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum and has no effect on an undead or construct.
Multiattack. Van Richten makes two attacks with his sword cane or light crossbow.
Sword Cane. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 +2) bludgeon damage (wooden cane) or piercing damage (silvered sword).
Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 +2) piercing damage.
Healer. As an action, Van Richten can spend one use of a Healer’s Kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 +4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.
Final Ward. Van Richten has a permanent glyph of warding tattooed on his neck that activates when he’s bitten there and chooses to say “Erasmus, I’m coming home” in Celestial. All targets in a 20 ft. radius must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 5d8 +5 radiant damage on a failed save or half as much (rounded up) on a successful one. Van Richten automatically fails the save and is disintegrated along with all of the items on his person.