Varnhold3 is a seemingly abandoned settlement located southwest of Restov, near the northern Tors of Levenies in the Nomen Heights region of the Stolen Lands. It is notable for being inexplicably and suddenly vacated save for a single word scrawled on one of its buildings.4
The Kiravoy River bisects the settlement as it drains from the Tors of Levenies, originating west of Varnhold and flowing east and then north. There is no bridge across the river within Varnhold; instead, its residents cross via a shallow 4-foot-deep ford. The natural Varnhold Pass northwest of the settlement provides passage through the Tors of Levenies, and a road connects the settlement to Nivakta's Crossing via the Kiravoy Bridge to the east.
Varnhold itself is comprised of about two dozen significant structures, most of them built from fieldstones with shake-shingled roofs. A few older buildings are sod dugouts. In addition to homes for its residents, these structures include:5
- Hogkeeper's farm: A shambles of a pig farm on the northwestern outskirts.
- Tannery: Also on the northwestern outskirts.
- Cheerful Delver Brewery: A two-story complex with a loading dock that hangs over the Kiravoy River. It produced one brew, the Cheerful Delver Stout.
- The Waterhorse: A simple two-story inn, symbolized by a green-maned horse with a fish's tail, with six guest rooms and a commons with a kitchen. Its hostler is Miriam Kolescu.
- Church of Erastil: A small chapel with pews and an altar, served by cleric Caspar Morgarion. A graveyard near the church has 14 marked graves, many of them casualties of conflicts with the Nomen centaurs.
- Varnhold Stockade: A hilltop triangular fort with 8-foot wooden walls, palisades for defensive archers, four watchtowers, gatehouse, a well, bunkhouse, kitchen, and a solid blockhouse that also serves as Lord Varn's home. Varnhold's wizard Cephal Lorentus also lived in the stockade to serve as its master of dispatch and birdkeeper, managing the flock of messenger pigeons in its dovecote.
- Commons: A small park with a well and pillory sits in the the intersection of several smaller paths at Varnhold's center.
- Livery and blacksmith: Livestock and mount animals could be kept in its fenced yard.
- Corral: Storage for livestock, as well as tools for maintaining the stockade.
- Storehouse: Previously Lord Varn's home during the stockade's construction, it now holds food stores, tools, and other supplies.
- Smithy: Howitt Gurney served here as Varnhold's smith, weapons trainer, and sergeant-at-arms.
- Grange: A massive barn used as grain storage.
- Crafters' homes: Including homes serving as shops for a tailor, potter, weaver, and gemcutter.
Prior to establishment
The lands near Varnhold were the rangelands of the Nomen centaurs, a tribe of centaurs drawn to the area—known as the Dunsward—to guard entrances to the Valley of the Dead, where the tomb of the cyclops lich Vordakai lies. This sacred task continued for generations of the tribe, until Taldan expansion pushed the centaurs further south to the fringes of what would later became known as the Stolen Lands; the battles with Taldan invaders led to the tribe losing much of its identity and history.4
When Restov began recruiting settlers for the Stolen Lands, the Ulfen ranger and treasure hunter Willas Gundarson joined the Varnling Host and used Varnhold as a headquarters for expeditions based on a mistranslated map he copied from deep within Casmaron. Gundarson purportedly began scouting the area for threats toward the growth of Varnhold, which was merely a pretense to search for what he believed was a lost hoard of treasure.4
Restov lost contact with the colony in around 4710 AR, and its swordlords—including Jamandi Aldori—suspected political enemies were involved and began requesting that settlers in the Stolen Lands north of Varnhold investigate the colony's fate.6
The new colonists found nothing more at the site than spriggans, vermin, and a hastily scrawled word on the doorjamb of The Waterhorse inn: "Nomen".4 The vacant village was subsequently overrun by the Culcheck tribe of spriggans, as well as other wild animals and creatures who had been forced from the land upon Varnhold's establishment.5
Paizo published a Kingmaker Adventure Path issue about Varnhold, The Varnhold Vanishing, which includes a map of the settlement on p. 20, a map of the Varnhold Stockade on p. 27, and a map of the surrounding Nomen Heights on p. 10.
- Steven T. Helt et al. (2022). "Chapter 6: The Varnhold Vanishing". Kingmaker Adventure Path, p. 251. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-429-1
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 51. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 4. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0. Per James Jacobs, the name "Varnhold" was chosen for its alliteration with "vanishing".
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 7–8. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 19–32. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 6. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0. Years in AR estimated from publication date.