The oldest established of Ravenloft's Darklords, Strahd fought a lifelong battle to reclaim his ancestral lands from the Tergs. After they were pacified, his younger brother, a cleric named Sergei, came to live with him. When Sergei fell in love with a village maiden named Tatyana, Strahd coveted her and tried to woo her away, failing due to his greater age and her love for Sergei. Finally, he transformed himself into a vampire, slaughtered his brother and his brother's wedding reception, then tried to Mind Rape Tatyana into becoming his wife with the use of his innate Charm Person ability, only for her to resist and leap to her death over the castle wall. His curse is that, every generation, Tatyana is reincarnated and he tries to woo her again, but she invariably dies, usually after or while spurning his advances in horror.
Affably Evil: He can be very civil, and even nice when he wants or needs to be.
Sibling Triangle: His downfall; he and his brother fell in love with the same woman, who only loved his brother.
Azalin Rex, Darklord of Darkon
A powerful and tyrannical wizard-lord, who executed his own rebellious son and then turned himself into a lich to try and ensure his legacy would live on despite that. Was initially brought into Ravenloft as an "ordinary" lich and spent time as an unwilling servant to Strahd before he escaped into the Misty Border, which opened up to reveal Darkon. His curse is that his magical abilities are locked where they were when he entered the Mists; he cannot increase his magical power, nor can he learn any new spells, even though he can still design new magic. Also has something of a secondary curse in the form of his son's ghost, who constantly tells Azalin that he forgives his father for killing him, and should just let go so his soul can finally rest in peace. Azalin, of course, is utterly incapable of this.
The Archmage: The most powerful Wizard in the Core, magically and politically, and perhaps even in the whole Demiplane. This is in spite of his inability to learn any new spells. Meredoth and Vecna are (or were) actually higher-level than Azalin, but the former's a recluse, the latter lacks power outside his domain, and both live in Islands of Terror or Clusters beyond the single "continent" in which the most important Domains of Dread are found.
Creepy Ravens: His elite spies are a breed of sentient ravens (King's Ravens, or Corvus Regi).
Department of Redundancy Department: Azalin's name is his Knurl title, Azal'Lan, as misspelt by Barovians. Azal'Lan means "Wizard-King". Yes, Azalin Rex translates to "King Wizard-King"
The Determinator: No matter how many times he fails to escape, no matter how much damage it does to him, He. Will. Not. Give. Up.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He cannot even fathom how one can rule without being at best the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, which is what alienated him from his more altruistic son. Made painfully obvious in a short first-person recount of his situation, where he does a bit of good old-fashioned projection by claiming his son had no comprehension of the strength required to bear the burden of rulership (i.e. crush any dissenters as fast and as hard as you can so they can be examples, even if it's your own flesh and blood).
It Amused Me: When Rudolph Van Richten runs off into the night in pursuit of the Vistani who kidnapped his son, Azalin encounters him and decides it sounds like a fun idea to not only give him protection from the undead roaming Darkon, but to let van Richten have temporary control over an army of zombies. Which, to Azalin's amusement, van Richten then sics on the Vistani when he catches them.
Necromancer: His control over the dead of his Domain cannot be overstated.
Offing the Offspring: Bitterly regrets doing it. In fact, one of his stated reasons for being so dead-set on escaping Ravenloft is to go back to a world where reliable resurrections can be made so as to bring his son back to life to make a second go at molding him into a worthy heir.
The Plan: Specifically stated again and again to be his modus operandi.
The Punishment: One of the more blatant examples in Ravenloft. With his curse came vast magical powers, absolute control over all undead in Darkon, and the ability to read and rewrite the memories of any of his subjects. He easily rivals Strahd for being the most powerful Darklord, both in and out of game.
Secret Police / State Sec: The not-so-secret organisation the Kargat serves him in this capacity, as well as being his agents abroad.
A necromantic experiment of Azalin's that went way out of hand, a human turned into a unique form of elemental. Its transformation sent it insane, convincing it that it really was Death incarnate. When an attempt to escape Ravenloft left Azalin discorporated, Death was outraged, convinced Azalin had escaped it, and sought to send him to true oblivion, killing hundreds of people in the process. When Azalin returned, Death's mass murder earned it its own domain. Its curse is that it cannot escape the truth of what it originally was, no matter how deluded it becomes.
Cast From Hitpoints: By imbuing undead with potions of its own life force (or animating force, or whatever), Death can create very powerful and fanatically loyal servants, like the Four Horsemen. However, this really came around to bite Death in the ass when Azalin unexpectedly destroyed the Horsemen and contained their energies, robbing Death of a major chunk of its power.
Gone Horribly Wrong: Not only was his creation an unintended result of Azalin's experiments, but he murdered the entire city of Il Aluk soon after. It later became his Domain.
One Steve Limit: Averted (we think). The darklord Death isn't the same creature Strahd bargained with.
The Scrappy: His Domain is nigh-unusable due to that it's surrounded by a barrier that kills and reanimates the victims into an undead monster under Death's control and considered inferior to Azalin.
Weaksauce Weakness: Death has an aversion to objects associated with birth, and will recoil from objects such as an infant's blanket. It will also lose some special abilities it has if it hears the crying of a newborn creature.
Conceived when his newly-turned vampire father bewitched his mother, Tristen's mother was murdered by a lynch mob shortly after his birth, but Tristen himself was saved by druids. When his vampyre nature emerged at age 15, he was seen running down and drinking the blood of a doe by his adopted mother, Rual. Knowing she had seen him, and later seeing her talking to some of the other druids, Tristen was convinced she had betrayed him and attacked her while she was meditating. She impaled him upon the point of a blessed deer antler when he leaped at her, and so he went into a frenzy and drunk her blood - as she had just drunk holy water before, though, this caused him intense pain. Believing she had poisoned him, he beat her to death, unaware that he was actually being cured of his vampyre nature. With her dying breath, she berated him for his fatal distrust of her and cursed him, causing him to be trapped in the small grove in which they had fought, as well as condemning him to walk as a vampyre by day, then painfully die and become a ghost each night, only to be resurrected equally painfully every morning. Tristen did not become Darklord of Forlorn until over three centuries later, after engineering a bloody civil war to become the ruler of the land that became Forlorn after the Mists took it.
The Beastmaster: Wolves and worgs (giant evil wolves), with the added twist that he can raise dead ones as zombies.
Offing the Offspring: Tristen's first son died at the jaws of wolves his angry father set on his dog (Tristen didn't intend to kill him, and in fact attacked the wolves trying to save his son, but failed), and murdered his second son while intending to kill his son's priestly mentor. He merely locked his daughter up in the dungeon, but she was spirited away by unknown powers (revealed in the official adventure to be time-travelling adventurers).
Pater Familicide: Falls short only because his daughter's fate is undetermined (see above).
The Scrappy: Tristen isn't too well regarded by fans of Ravenloft, who regard him as one of the most ridiculous and stupidly complicated of the Darklords. The fact his domain is almost solely empty of everything besides Goblyns and beasts (as well as conveniently small and out-of-the-way) means most simply avoid Forlorn, in universe and out.
The Arthaus Gazetteer entry for Forlorn attempts to undo some of this by adding a modest population of humans— many who are druids trying to undo the damage the goblyns do— and a third faction of baddies (an evil druid circle of treants), as well as having possibly-desirable resources to harvest in the plants.
Tailor-Made Prison: Of particular note in Tristen's case; he can't go more than 300 feet beyond a specific tree in the courtyard of Castle Tristenoira. The domain itself is somewhat larger.
Weaksauce Weakness: Tristen can't approach people or places with deer antlers, a consequence of his original death.
Wicked Cultured: He was once, long ago. In Forlorn's current state, there's usually no-one for him to bother with.
Hazlik, Darklord of Hazlan
A Red Wizard of Thay who had a bitter rivalry with a Red Wizardess named Thantosya, not helped by the fact Hazlik desired her lover, a man named Ordiab. Hazlik's downfall came when Thantosya and Ordiab engineered a plan to end the rivalry with Hazlik at last; during a night of courtly intrigue, Ordiab approached Hazlik, suggesting a tryst, but when Hazlik succumbed to passion, Thantosya stepped out with several of their superiors and accused Hazlik of assaulting Ordiab. The higher ranked Red Wizards tattooed arcane symbols of femininity over Hazlik's head and chest, burned his estate and cast him out of their ranks. Hazlik retreated to a bolthole, plotting revenge, and managed to chance upon his two enemies while out gathering reagents. He immediately attacked them, cutting out Ordiab's heart and forcing Thantosya to drink Ordiab's blood before he slashed her throat with a silver knife, for which the Mists claimed him.
Ban on Magic: Prior to the Grand Conjunction, Hazlik outlawed arcane magic in Hazlan. After the Conjunction temporarily returned him back home, and he saw how his enemies had advanced, he revoked the ban in the hopes of gaining revenge.
Depraved Homosexual: Averted. He is a highly depraved individual, and he is homosexual, but the two factors have almost nothing in common. His Act of Ultimate Darkness was related to the man he had lusted after, but he was banished to Ravenloft for cutting out the man's heart and forcing his girlfriend to eat it, not for lusting after another man.
Embarrassing Tattoo: Played for Drama. Hazlik's tattoos, inflicted on him by his enemies, mark him as effeminate. Literally; the tattoos he has all over him basically proclaim "I am a woman".
Revenge: Seeks revenge on his enemies back in his homeland.
Straight Gay: It's subtle, but someone who reads his backstory will realise he is actually a homosexual.
Retcon: In the first version of the Ravenloft setting (Realm of Terror) he was simply tattooed as humiliation by his enemies. The second version of the setting (Ravenloft Campaign Setting aka the Red Box), the love-triangle element was added but he murdered his female lover and fed her heart to her boyfriend (TSR at the time did not want homosexuality brought up in game settings). The lover was gender-flipped when White Wolf acquired the setting (at the very least, it gives a better reason why his punitive tattoos stigmatize him as a woman!).
Adam, Darklord of Lamordia
A highly intelligent Flesh Golem created by Dr. Victor Mordenheim. He earned his domain after one particular night, which saw his creator's adopted daughter disappear, and Mordenheim's wife beaten almost to death at Adam's hands — the precise details are ambiguous, neither Adam or Mordenheim being the most reliable of narrators on this subject. Mordenheim placed his wife in a complicated apparatus that keeps her trapped in perpetual agony, suspended on the verge of death while he tries — and fails — to devise a method to restore her to life.
Affably Evil: He can be very civil if care is taken not to offend or upset him. It is just that he gets upset very easily and so it is hard to have a long conversation with him.
Always Chaotic Evil: Interestingly, many people think this is why he should not be a Darklord, but Mordenheim's Darklord curse-most of his actions are things flesh golems do, unlike his vain, selfish creator.
Odd Friendship: With Merilee Markuza, a child-like vampire from supplement Darklords. It's noted they found comfort in each other, since both are outcasts who despise their physical forms.
Pinocchio Syndrome: Wants to be accepted as a man, not a monster. His curse is that he'll never achieve this.
Synchronization: While Adam is the true Darklord of Lamordia, Dr. Mordenheim is cursed to share the Ironic Hell with his creation, and cannot die unless Adam dies. So long as Adam lives, Mordenheim is immortal and will regenerate From a Single Cell. Even if his body is somehow completely obliterated, his soul will inhabit a freshly-dead corpse, which will be restored to life and assume the appearance of his old body.
Ivana Boritsi, Darklord of Borca
A beautiful woman who looks 18 despite being in her 60s. Inherited Borca from her mother, Camille, whom she poisoned in revenge for sleeping with her lover (also poisoned). Her curse is to never know love, as anyone towards whom she'd feel romantic affection towards would die from her poisonous touch.
Perfect Poison: "Borrowed Time", which stays in your bloodstream for life and causes lethal convulsions every sunset unless you ingest the antidote, "Mercy", every day. Of course, Ivan is the only one who can create both.
Poisonous Person: Similar to his cousin, Ivana Boritsi, he has the ability to create and control poisons and drugs.
Spoiled Brat: Ivan is basically what happens when you take one of these, make them capable of murder to get what they want or if they are denied, and then let them grow to adulthood without ever learning better or being punished.
Lord Wilfred Godefroy, Darklord of Mordent
An ancient looking aristocratic ghost. He murdered his 50+ years younger bride Estelle Weathermay after years of disappointment of having only one child, their daughter Lilia, then murdered Lilia after she tried to stop him. Their ghosts then haunted him until he committed suicide. It wasn't until Azalin & Strahd opened a portal to Mordentshire that the Dark Powers chose the ghost of Godefroy as the Darklord of Mordent. The ghosts of his wife and daughter followed soon after.
Achilles' Heel: For all his power, Wilfred can do nothing to prevent the ghosts of his family from tearing him apart each night.
A ghost who constantly writhes in agony from the pain of her death. Formerly one of the shadow fey who dwelled below Arak, who was converted to the worship of the Spider Queen (Lolth) by visiting drow, and went on to lead a cult to the Spider Queen. Became a Darklord after Loht of the Unseelie Court staked her (and her child) to Mount Lament and she was exposed to the sun, causing a sandstorm that wiped out all life in Arak.
Ax-Crazy: If you're alive, it doesn't matter what you do; sooner or later, she'll attack.
Our Banshees Are Louder: She can kill up to ten people with a single scream. Fortunately, she can only do it once a day.
Retcon: In the earliest editions she was a Drow (as were the other inhabitants of Arak), but she was changed to a Fae when Ravenloft was sold to White Wolf and it stuck.
Kas the Bloody-Handed, Darklord of Tovag
Insane Admiral: Kas turned his entire domain into a militaristic nightmare. Every available resource is utilized for his endless war against Vecna. Everyone is expendable, and he would sacrifice them all if he didn't need some people alive to raise crops and build things for his troops.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Notably, he dropped everything to punish the shadow fey for escaping from him - and got trapped as a Darklord.
Necromancer: Not one of his better-known powers, but he can control any undead in the Rift.
Sealed Evil in a Can: He's trapped in the Obsidian Gate, unable to directly affect the Demiplane, but he can mentally influence the shadow fey and throw out the occasional magical effect.
Viral Transformation: Can transform 'normal' fey into shadow fey at will, but can't compel their obedience.
Dominic d'Honaire, Darklord of Dementlieu
Looks to be mid-50s and somewhat overweight. At age 7 led his nanny to suicide, then manipulated his father to move to Dementlieu (avoiding the Mordentshire police). By adulthood, he had most of Dementlieu under his control.
Big, tall, muscled, covered in scars, and looks to be in his 50s. Led his mercenary band to conquer Darkon, but fled when the helpless villagers they killed rose as zombies. Settled for the nearby realm of Falkovnia, but doesn't like it. Attempts to conquer other domains have all failed.
Badass Normal: Unlike most Darklords, he is fully human, having nearly no supernatural abilities at all, not even the ability to seal the borders of his domain like almost every other Darklord does. (His only power granted by the Dark Powers appears to be greatly slowed aging, to prolong his torment. They gave him a land to rule, but despite it, he's still inferior to his peers. That's his curse.)
Even Evil Has Standards: He doesn't (in fact, he has no redeeming qualities at all, it seems) but he's so vile, even the Darklords whose lands border Falkovnia are disgusted by him. Ironically, despite the fact that he has no supernatural abilities whatsoever, he's crueler than most of the ones who do.
Expy: Of Vlad III Dracula, with a bit of Adolf Hitler (and possibly Ivan the Terrible) for spice.
Fantastic Racism: Vlad is a blatant human supremacist, and Falkovnia enslaves or executes any non-humans that enter its borders at his direction.
General Failure: Vlad is fixated on the "old ways" of doing war — masses of infantry and cavalry slugging it out until somebody falls — and will have nothing to do with combat spellcasters or gunpowder weaponry. As the nations he most frequently goes to war against are all Renaissance-level, culturally (so their soldiers are all outfitted with pistols and rifles), or have powerful spellcasters/magical monsters in the ranks, his armies are universally slaughtered.
Hard Work Hardly Works: His curse means that no matter how hard he tries, he'll always fail in his conquests. His prejudices against gunpowder, battlefield magic, and female soldiers don't help either.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Like Vlad the Impaler (who he seems to be at least partially based on) this is his preferred method of execution, and he uses it very often, demanding at least one a night, often dozens at once, using it as a macabre form of entertainment. (One rulebook actually editorialized when mentioning the fact, something it didn't otherwise do when profiling the darklords, saying, "If Ravenloft is a prison for the damned, few deserve it more than Drakov".)
Murder, Inc.: Has a large, well trained military force under his command.
Politically Incorrect Villain: Vlad is of the official stance that women cannot be of any use besides breeding more men to work and fight for Falkovnia. He also forcibly claims the right to have sex with any Falkovnian woman on her wedding night instead of her husband, something he has no qualms about taking advantage of and which means there are dozens of bastard Drakovs floating around.
Gabrielle Aderre, Darklord of Invidia
Appears to be a 20-something attractive woman. Her mother prophesised that for her to have children would bring only tragedy. Abandoned her mother to a werewolf's claws, then murdered the werewolf lord of Invidia, becoming its new darklord. Her son, one of the feared Dukkar, broke her and almost drove her mad. Her daughter has two possible fathers, one of whom is a wolfwere, and is coming up on the age where she'd be expected to change. On the one hand, she doesn't want her daughter to be a wolfwere; on the other, if she's not, then her wolfwere lover will find out she's been cheating. Neither is a good option.
Fortune Teller: Can read the future as well as a full Vistani using her personal deck, passed down through her family.
Your Cheating Heart: She's sleeping with two men — one human, one a wolfwere — for pleasure and to support her power, with neither being aware of the other man. As mentioned above, this is dragging her towards trouble.
Harkon Lukas, Darklord of Kartakass
A wolfwere, a wolf who can take human form; his favorite form is that of a tall human man. Was unusual for his kind in preferring to socialise, and found other wolfweres shunned him for it. Humans were much more amenable, but he still felt a measure of dissatisfaction, dreaming of conquest and power. Went mad after being taken by the Mists and started killing wolves in the Barovian forests. After nearly getting killed by Strahd (who was probably wondering what all the noise was), he escaped into the Mists to find his own domain.
The platonic form of an Evil Sorcerer in appearance, Meredoth is a necromancer native to Mystara. A loner taken Up to Eleven, Meredoth killed all of his subjects because of his disdain for the living, reanimating them as a vital experiment that would lead to his creation of the first lebendtod. The Dark Powers gave him his own private island on the newly formed Nocturnal Sea, but also removed his ability to have ideas of his own — he literally has to interact with other people to craft magic items, or at the very least steal ideas from others, which is sheer agony to his artistic impulses.
Abusive Parents: What caused his initial misanthropy. His father, an obsessive and introverted creator of golems and other constructs, wanted nothing to do with him and instead left him solely to the care of construct caretakers, only interacting with Meredoth to chastise him for trying to get his attention by subverting the control of his constructs. His mother was a vapid and frivolous enchantress who only cared about her own pleasures and had no qualms about using Mind Control spells to punish or discipline her son.
The Aloner: He would desperately like to be this, and he's willing to enforce it.
The Chessmaster: How he works around his curse while dealing as little with others as possible.
Evil Is Deathly Cold: Meredoth resides on the island of Todstein, which is in a permanent arctic winter; ice, snow and freezing winds all year around.
In the fanmade Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer, Meredoth has the "Cold One" feat, which makes him so cool and clammy that not only does he feel like a dead body to the touch, non-sentient undead are likely to believe he's also dead.
Evil Sorcerer: The only one stronger than Azalin, in fact! Not that he uses it...
Fantastic Racism: Meredoth hates life in general, but he is especially demeaning towards people who don't know anything about magic, due to having come from an empire where social status was determined exclusively by magical proficiency.
In the Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer, this is part of the reason why Meredoth and Azalin will never be able to form an alliance with each other (which, given their curses are practically mirror-images of each other, would make for a seriousGame Breaker): Meredoth is/would be revolted at the fact that Azalin allows "drudges" to hold not only token positions of authority (Darkon's barons) but to actually be of vital importance to him (the Kargat), and similarly would jeer in disdain at Azalin's emotional conflict over his "failures" with his son Irik; by Meredoth's eyes, Irik's total lack of spellcasting ability would have disqualified him from ever being heir to the throne in the first place!
Meredoth also looks down on Azalin for being a lich, because arcanists in the Alphatian Empire have other, "more efficient" ways to preserve their lives and so undeath is looked upon as something only an inept bungler would choose.
Meanwhile, Azalin disdains Meredoth for his lack of interest in escaping Ravenloft, his ineptitude at political gamesmanship, and the similarity between Meredoth's wilful neglect of his domain prior to and after becoming a Darklord and that of Azalin's brother Ranald.
Fisher King: The Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer version has an ability called "What's Mine Is Mine", which lets him immediately sense any sentient creature that sets foot on Todstein. He can also create and control storms around Todstein.
Freudian Excuse: A combination of Abusive Parents, being raised solely by mindlessly obedient golems, and one of his first "friends" stealing Meredoth's ideas for a new form of bone golem, all led to a man who believes that living beings are inherently unreliable and untrustworthy, and only artificially created lifeforms and the undead are worthy company.
Irony: As is common with Darklord curses; Meredoth currently can only create magic items or spells that others have invented, but before being swept up by the Mists he would regularly steal ideas that other wizards had invented (before arranging for them to die or become mindless drug addicts so they couldn't reveal he had stolen them) as well as fight lethal wizard duels for the purpose of stealing his victim's spellbooks as his prize.
Loners Are Freaks: Particularly when they're homicidally insistent about being alone.
Magitek: Being from a mystically-inclined region of Mystara, Meredoth has a lot more equipped than other inhabitants of the Land of Mists. Subtle things, mind you, but it's pretty convenient compared to normal living accommodations in Ravenloft.
The Magocracy: Meredoth is originally from the Alphatian Empire in Mystara, which is one of these.
Misanthrope Supreme: Meredoth hates living creatures; he craves to only have to deal with reliable, dependable, obedient undead and construct slaves.
The Necromancer: Whether Meredoth or Strahd is the most triumphant example of this to be seen in the Demiplane of Dread is a matter of debate; Meredoth has higher level and invented the lebendtod, which can perfectly imitate a living human and has full sentience whilst being totally obedient to the creator, while Strahd invented the more combat-lethal Strahd Zombie/ Skeleton/Skeletal Steed and lacks Meredoth's curse to prevent him from inventing new undead.
Pet the Dog: In the Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer, Meredoth has shown honest kindness towards a single living creature; his huptzeen, Hoarfrost. He actually made a fumbling effort to soothe her fear and discomfort whilst transforming her from a white-fang (a form of giant, fur-covered, cold-immune snake) into a sentient magic item.
Also, not only does she sleep against him every night, on rare occasions, maybe once or twice a year, he will sense her doing so and gently pet her in his sleep. It says a lot about Meredoth that this, combined with his willingness to forgive her for making mistakes, is the most sign of caring any creature has ever received from him.
Unequal Rites: In the Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer, part of Meredoth's "curse" is that he has gained the ability to cast all of his spells spontaneously, like a sorcerer. Meredoth hates this ability, because it reminds him of both the envious resentment he held for sorcerers as a youth and because he despises sorcerers as lacking in diligence.
Frantisek Markov, Darklord of Markovia
A large and fat septegenarian. Grew bored of butchering pigs and started experimenting on them, killed his wife when she found out, and was exiled to the end of the world when the village found her corpse. For whatever reasonnote doubtless involving the condition his wife's corpse was found in, the Mists expanded to gave him his own domain.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Unfortunately for him while he is a master, his curse is to never have a fully human form— and to have his own head in any form he takes (so he's always identifiable). He tends to prefer a gorilla body as closest to human.
Sir Tristen Hiregaard / Malken, Darklord of Nova Vaasa
Looks to be in his late 60s. Inherited his father's curse to "kill any woman he loved and any man who crossed him". Found out the hard way during a tryst with a peasant girl. Killed nine more women before attempting suicide, but the Mists gave him a new realm instead.
Arranged Marriage: Part of Tristen's curse is that Malken will always murder any woman he loves. His extended family of beloved children were born from a loveless arranged marriage.
Diabolical Mastermind: Malken. Indeed, Tristen's life is based around fouling up Malken's network to blunt the impact he makes when active.
Heroic Willpower: Heroic might be a bit of a stretch (Tristen is listed as Lawful Neutral on his character sheet, and whether he's a benign ruler or not really depends on who you ask), but the reason Malken isn't as powerful as most Darklords is that Tristen constantly struggles against him.
Jekyll & Hyde: The Ravenloft version. More-noticeable in the early versions, when Malken was much less intelligent and much more bestial.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Malken is more curse than man. Trying to stab Tristen's transformed body will only kill him, and Malken will go on to possess Tristen's eldest son, whose first act will be to murder his beloved wife. Killing him will only pass the curse on to the next son, and it goes all the way down to an eight year old. And if he's killed, the curse will befall the son of Tristen's eldest son. The only way to finish off Malken for good is for a woman who loves his host to be the one who does him in.
Silver Fox: Tristen is getting on in years, and the books go out of their way to note that he's still pretty good-looking. Of course, given the reputation his situation has caused, there are very few women in Nova Vassa who are terribly interested.
Superpowered Evil Side: Malken, not Tristen, is the actual darklord of Nova Vassa, and has the vast majority of the powers. On the flip side, it is very difficult for Malken to actually use most of them, even when he is in control. (For example, he has no power to seal the borders of his domain, unlike most darklords.)
White Hair, Black Heart: Tristen's hair turns white when Malken's in control. This extends to anyone else Malken "passes on" to.
Pharaoh Anhktepot, Darklord of Har'Akir
Sometime ruler of a mighty empire, now a greater mummy after his desire to escape death led to the ruin of his kingdom and his person being mummified alive. His curse is the desire to live again as a great ruler and king, but to never be able to truly achieve it.
Entitled Bastard: The game notes that Ankhtepot, if he could become mortal again, would never be satisfied with "merely" being a commoner or tiny village headman. In his mind, he deserves the power and prestige of being the mighty king of a mighty empire.
Human Sacrifice: He can kill a sentient creature on one of the altars in his temple to drain their vitality and become human again for a day. However, while he is human, he loses all his powers and defenses, and if killed in this state he will only rise again as a mummy if he is mummified again. Furthermore, Har'Akir is tiny, and there is only a single mud-hut village nearby. If he kills too many, the village will die out and Anhktepot may never be able to become alive again at all.
Plague Master: Like all Ravenloft Greater Mummies, his touch causes the terrible disease mummy rot.
Power Of The Sun: He is still technically the priest of Ra, and, though Ra has abandoned him, the Dark Powers are the ones supplying clerics in the Demiplane of Dread.
Rage Against the Heavens: When he was still pharaoh, he killed priests who could not make him immortal until he walked into the temple of Ra and raged that the gods had failed him. Ra, whose high priest he was, told him that he would live forever, but probably regret it, and gave him the Touch of Death that led to his ruin.
Riches to Rags: From the ruler of a vast empire to occupying the edge of a tiny patch of desert and mud that he doesn't so much rule as occasionally wander out and terrify.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Anhktepot's damnation came from his desire for immortal life. Now, as a mummy, he believes that he would be satisfied with mortality, if he could only have a few more years to reign.
Jacqueline Renier, Darklord of Richemulot
A beautiful female... wererat. Murdered the previous lord, her grandfather, for Richemulot.
Tragic Monster: All she wants is somebody who can love her, but her curse is that she invariably shapeshifts into her animal form whenever she's alone in a room with somebody she really loves — and she falls in genuine love quite easily. Invariably, she then kills him because she's convinced he would never love her back after seeing her true nature as a wererat.
Also, she suffers a crippling phobia of being alone, but all her family despise her, meaning she can either be alone and terrified or force herself to tolerate the company of monsters who she hates and who she hates right back.
Appears to be a young Vistana woman in her late teens. Betrayed her mother and her caravan for power and safety, only to have the surviving members of the caravan hunt her down for vengeance. In seeking to escape, found herself cursed with the mantle of darklord.
Living Shadow: what she is now. Indeed, an amorphous blot of living shadow is what her true form has become, and she struggles to hold a human form.
Laveeda, Leticia and Lorinda, the Three Hags, Darklords of Tepest
All three were found on a doorstep. Had a penchant for murdering travelers for their valuables and... disposing of the bodies via cooking. Tried to seduce a gigolo to escape their farmstead, but he played them against each other and they killed him. The Mists then led them to their current domain in Ravenloft.
A wood elf unwillingly possesed by a fiend, that later merged with him. He secluded himself in an island mansion and studied souls for a means to free himself, but instead went on to perform experiments on other creatures. The mists drew his Island, Vechor, into Ravenloft with him in it.
Reality Warper: Esan is a master of Wild Magic, and can also change the landscape of his domain to whatever his mad whim dictates, including walls of flesh and green skies.
Alfred Timothy, Darklord of Verbrek
A werewolf with a slender, pale human form. Tortured many clerics in an attempt to become one to a "Wolf God" but ultimately failed. He was eventually caught after a rampage and freed by some Vistani, whom he betrayed, and was shortly after swallowed by the Mists. Strong passion forces him into human form, which he despises.
Lord Soth, Krynnish Death Knight (former Darklord of Sithicus)
Snatched by the Mists whilst angrily tormenting the ghost of his seneschal, Caradoc, who he had sent to steal away Kitiara's soul from the Abyss and who had demanded Soth's promised payment of being restored to life first. Eventually found himself entrapped in the center of an Elf-populated land that was a distorted echo of Daargard Keep back on Krynn. His disillusionment with his new domain meant he was eventually returned to Krynn for being too dull for the Dark Powers' likings.
Classic Villain: In the final issue of Dragon (the official D & D magazine), he was named as one of the greatest villains of all time, and he is widely considered by fans to be the archetypal Death Knight.
The Punishment: Even before being turned into a Darklord, Soth's undead state was this. Afterwards, he is condemned to suffer the imperfect reflection of his state; Nedragaard Keep is always "off" in some way and his banshees can never perfectly tell his story of damnation. Doesn't sound like much, but it drove Soth completely bonkers.
Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Inverted; Soth's falling into sullen stoicism (and increasingly immersing himself in a dream-world of his own invention via magic mirrors) meant he was content to just sit there and do nothing. He was so boring that the Dark Powers sent him back to Krynn rather than keep him in Ravenloft, especially after the more-promising Inza showed up as a new candidate for Darklordship.
One a humble doctor in Darkon, who lived happily with his wife and son. That all came to a crashing the night that a Vistani caravan burst into his home and demanded he treat a badly wounded member of theirs. Van Richten worked on him with all his skills, but it wasn't enough and the boy died on the operating table. Terrified of the (justifiably) infamous temper, mecurial nature and dark magic of the Vistani, he begged them to take whatever they wanted from his home but leave him unharmed. To his horror, they did so by kidnapping his son. Desperately he raced out into the night, where he encountered Azalin; for his own amusement, the Lich not only shielded him from the monsters, but allowed him to command an army of zombies. With their help, he caught the Vistani and demanded his son back... only to find he had been sold to Baron Metis, a vampire nobleman. Commanding the zombies to feast upon the Vistani, he went to the vampire and tried to get his son back, but was rebuked. His son escaped before morning, but it was too late; he had already become a "bride", a vampire created by another of its kind as a lover and soulmate. He staked his son, after spending the last hours of his human self together, and then returned home — only to find that the vengeful Metis had slain his wife in kind. This set him upon the road to become the greatest monster hunter, and authority on slaying monsters, in the Demiplane of Dread.
Badass Normal: He never wanted to be a monster hunter, but he adapted quite well.
My God, What Have I Done?: Averted when it comes to his murdering an entire tribe of Vistani; he doesn't shed a tear (and few readers would) over killing them in the first place, and even when he does learn that all Vistani are not evil, he doesn't regret killing them all so much as he admits that it was an immoral act.
Pay Evil unto Evil: When he caught the Vistani who had kidnapped his son and sold him to the vampire Metis, he set a horde of zombies on them, killing every last one of them. Considering they took van Richten's son and sold him to be a gay vampire's undead sex slave, and the fact they only took van Richten's son because their first target was defended well enough to repulse them with violence, it is very hard to see them as not getting what was coming to them.
Staking the Loved One: He had to kill his own son who had been turned into a vampire. This is, along with the murder of his wife by the same vampire that turned his son, what set off his monster hunting career.
Vampire Hunter: Though he also hunts ghosts, werebeasts and anything else that goes bump in the night, vampires are his speciality.
An elven vampire who originally lived in the Forgotten Realms, he fell in love with a woman in an insane asylum who was actually a plane-lost reincarnation of Tatyana. When the Mists stole her back to Ravenloft, he followed her, and found himself in the role of teaching Strahd what it meant to be a vampire before turning on him for his evil ways. He tried to commit suicide under the sun after failing to kill Strahd, but the Mists stole him away, so he failed.
Mistaken For Gods: He is mistaken for the Sun god Lathander in Vampire of the Mists. This even influences the artwork produced by the Church of the Morninglord in Ravenloft, as the Morninglord is depicted as looking like him.