Varistan (City of Cyphers)

(pop: 13,300) Varistan; also known as the "City of Cyphers," is a small Eldaran seaport located about 180 miles north of the Redpeaks, along the western coast of the Sea of Orel.

Informally known as the "City of Cyphers," Varistan is a thriving seaport and center of trade; located on the so-called "Bloody Coast" region of the Sea of Orel, where the mouth of the Velskir River forms a natural cove off the seacoast. Placed between two large rocky bluffs each over 300 feet in height, the city occupies both banks of the river. The majority of the city is situated on the eastern bank, nestled behind the outer rim of the Calspur Hills, which cuts it off from hilly tidal swamps to the west. The Velskir River finds its way through the desolate hills and valleys of the Sokoro Highlands region. The Cyphergate Road leads west out of the city, but it is poorly maintained, as most traffic in and out of the city is via the harbor. The ominous stone arch, which towers over the entire harbor, is never out of sight; its rune-covered span dwarfing everything around it.

The most famous landmark of the city is the Cyphergate; an ancient huge stone arch built over the city harbor. In essence, the "gate" is a giant stone arch spanning the natural cove around which the city is built. It is covered on both sides with ancient Elvish runes and archaic symbols, although their exact meaning is unknown. The original purpose of this arch and the identities of those that built it are now lost to history. In fact, the city is home to the Guild of Cyphermages; a group of sages and scholars who have devoted their lives to studying the arch, and other ancient mysteries of Corwyn. Today, Varistan has a somewhat seedy reputation and is ruled by an openly corrupt Eldaran nobleman named Baron Avery Kromar.



The seventh largest city in all Eldara; Varistan is also the most notorious. Once a secret pirate haven, Varistan has grown over the last several centuries into a port city in its own right. At first it served as a den of piracy, but over time the city has expanded into a true settlement, the frontier’s frontier, a notorious outpost on the lonely strip known as the Bloody Coast of the Sea of Orel. Yet while Varistan has grown into a proper city, it remains true to its roots;you can get rich quick in Varistan, if you’ve got skill and a bit of luck. Yet, for every Varistan success story, there are a dozen nameless bodies buried in potters’ fields or tossed to the hungry denizens of the sea.

Inside the city gates, everything is tranquil, but there are outside threats that have plagued the city for decades. Off the Bloody Coast, ships are constantly harassed by pirates. West of the city in the Sokoro Highlands, mounted barbarian tribes called the Velskir harass travelers and raid merchant caravans on the Cyphergate Road heading to and from the city from Eldarand.


Although part of modern-day Eldara, this city is far older with an ancient history stretching back through the ages. In the Third Age, Varistan was the capitol of a lost Thannish civilization known as the Sokoro Union. Long ago, the Sokoro Union was conquered by king Valden the Conqueror and became part of his kingdom of Valdor. When Valdor collapsed, the city became part of the new kingdom of Eldara. But even before the first human Thanns emigrated here in the Third Age, the arch had already endured for many centuries. Many sages believe the arch hails back to the First Age of Corwyn, and was an important part of the ancient elvish civilization of Ectharë.


Varistan is divided into a total of nine separate districts (although two of them, Lubbertown and the Boneyard, technically lie outside of the actual city walls):

Gambling District: Overlord Kromar’s Large Dragon’s Hoard Gambling Hall is located in this part of the city along the northwestern shore of the Velskir River.

Leeward District: The city’s largest district, Leeward is built into the protecting curve of the city’s eastern ridge, where it is sheltered from the worst of the winter winds. The majority of the city’s population resides in the tall tenements of this district, and most buildings have a shop at street level where standard goods and services can be obtained.

Merchant District: Known derisively as Lubbertown for the fact that most of its inhabitants arrive at the city by land rather than by sea, this district is well patrolled by the guardsmen and has developed its own social order, informal system of laws, and distribution of goods and employment.

River District: This section of town runs along the banks of the Velskir River and consists primarily of shops and mills. Varistan’s atrophied trade items are crafted in this district. The waste produced by the district’s tanners and fishmongers and the fact that many of the city’s sewage gutters converge here have earned the place the unofficial name of “Reek District.”

Slums District: The slums of Varistan are a truly depressing and dangerous place to be. Easily the poorest section in the city proper, the Slums have the highest crime rate and the most brothels and alehouses per capita. It lies along the city’s eastern side against the ridge.

The Boneyard: This deceptively named place actually serves as the city’s dump and ship’s graveyard. Its name is derived from the many old hulks and collections of ships’ ribs that protrude from the swampy ground. The whole area is a partially flooded salt marsh that is generally 2 or 3 feet deep, although some hidden patches of quicksand are much deeper. Many large vermin, both human and non-human, infest this area.

The Devil’s Fork: This small island is nestled near the north end of the city on the Velskir River. On the island is the Citadel, also known as Castle Kromar. The castle serves above as barracks for Varistan’s 250 guardsmen, home to the Baron, and its dungeons hold for the city’s malcontents and the Baron's political enemies.

Wharf District: This rough-and-tumble district lies hard on the edge of the very docks of the city and is where much of the city’s day-to-day action of commerce and thievery occurs. Nearest the docks are a series of warehouses and cheap grog houses where merchant and pirate crews alike mingle in a haze of rum-soaked blood and debauchery.

Windward District: Built on the slopes of the city’s western ridgeline, this is Varistan’s affluent district; the buildings here are generally quite tall and its streets winding and steep. The majority of the city’s scholars and sages dwell in this windy district.

MAP OF VARISTAN: City of Cyphers


1. The Cyphergate
2. Main Harbor
3. Inner Harbor
4. Velskir Ferry
5. River District
6. The Publican (Inn/Tavern)
7. Windward District
8. The Mission
9. Wharf District
10. Marketplace (open area around the well)
11. Arena
12. Cyphermages Guildhall (Beltran, Samaritha)
13. Rotgut District
14. Lymas Smeed's House
15. Watchtower
16. City Well
17. Temple of Ethenghar (Casperian)
18. Leeward District
19. Temple to Myrival
20. the Golden Goblin Gambling Hall
21. Clegg Zincher's Estate
22. Boss Croat’s Estate
23. The River Rat (Inn/Tavern)
24. Temple of S'Thar
25. The Citadel (Castle of Baron Avery Kromar)
26. Gambling District (the Dragon’s Hoard)
27. Shantytown
28. Warehouses
29. Graveyard
30. Athelmar’s Home
31. the Boneyard


This city serves as the starting point for the Second Darkness Adventure Path