You can talk about the various characters that Richard played, his druids, psionicists, dwarves and half-elves; but none matter before or since Bolan Ironedge or Donal Darkbane. From his barbarian origins (as Bolan) to the dark depths of vampirism (as Donal) this character was Richard’s genius.
If Matthew‘s characters were the light-bearing hero’s, Donal was the antithesis. A wickedly evil work of art, Bolan reached 8th level as a barbarian, and, in our game this was no mean feat – 8th level was earned only after 2-3 years of playing several times a week.
Richard felt that Bolan was growing a little stale as he approached the coveted name level. But, it just so happened that as Rich was feeling that way, Bolan was dragged unwillingly away from the World of Greyhawk and into the realms of Ravenloft. Once there Bolan took, shall we say, a darker turn; Richard’s role-playing pushed back the boundaries so far that Donal was born.
The dark powers that govern Ravenloft continued to test Donal until he learned just how far he was prepared to go to meet his own ends; but of course, the Mists of Ravenloft also demanded consequences for Donal’s choices. Could this wonderfully evil bastard ever hope for redemption?
Donal’s greatest moments are too many to mention: the cold-blooded murder of the ranger in Malek’s tower; the battle with Daclaud ‘Dominani’ Heinfroth; his dealings with the kindred of Ravenloft; his relationships with Bevelin, Ponto, Mort and Michael; his time before vampirism when he was infected by a weretiger; his enmity with the archmage Bigby; his first and his second trip through Dragon Mountain.
I would go so far as to say that Donal Darkbane was the most important character still active in our Greyhawk Campaign at the time of its demise. His tale could not have been further from it’s end…
Gaming with Richard was amazing. His role-playing style was so much darker and grittier than Matthew’s that I got to experience the best of both worlds. Richard was really the only one of my players that I believed had the stomach and appetite for Ravenloft (it’s possible I was wrong). Every gaming group needs a player like Rich, to remind them how dark it can get in the shadows.