Karak-Varn (Kh. lit. "Stronghold of lake enclosed by mountains"), nowadays sometimes called Cragmere, was once a flourishing hold of the Dwarfs. Today, it is a ruin, given up to the Skaven and other enemies of the Dwarfs. It is one of two Dwarf holds which overlook the Black Water Lake, at the junction of the Black Mountains and the Worlds Edge Mountains.
The nature of the Black Water crater made the perfect location for the Dwarfs to mine Gromril - the star-iron which Dwarfs use to forge legendarily solid armour and razor-sharp weapons. Like Karak Ungor before, the Dwarfs mines were their own downfall: as they mined deeper into the cliff-face, they dug so deep that their tunnels touched the underground waters of the lake. This made the whole foundation of the hold unstable. When that part of the mountains was struck by one of the earthquakes which are common to that part of the world, the Black Water rushed into the tunnels, galleries and workings, washing away thousands of Dwarfs and tonnes of their treasures.
For long years since its construction, Karak-Varn had been regarded with envious eyes by the Skaven, for similar reasons to those which had brought the Dwarfs to it in the first place. Whilst the Dwarfs treasured Gromril, the Skaven lusted for the warpstone which had been laid down in the same way. They boiled up through the wrecked tunnels with goblinoid allies, driving the Dwarfs from their ruined hold even as they struggled to shore up the damage. The taint of warpstone spread through the city, and no Dwarf would willingly live there, even if the things which lurk within were driven from it. The hold was abandoned and left to the horrors that lurk there.
The Dwarfs have relinquished the corrupted stronghold, but have not forgotten the precious Gromril within its mines - expeditions frequently brave the terror of the dark beneath Karak Varn for the remnants of the Gromril still to be found in the deeper passages. Dwarf Engineers have built many cunning devices to enable the Dwarfs to probe the depths, even those underwater, where the richest and as yet unplumbed workings can be found. This is dangerous work as Skaven still dwell in Karak-Varn, and worse things too.
The Gold of Karak Varn
In ancient times, before the time of Sigmar, when Mankind was made up of savage tribes, it was the hold of Karak Varn that proved to be the most prosperous in its gold reserves. Lucrative seams of the mineral ran long and deep into the mountain and for a time it swelled the coffers of the High King and ensured a position of prominence for Karak Varn. The hold was later destroyed in the earthquakes that wracked the Dwarf Realm, and many of its mines were lost to flood. Scattered accounts suggest that several attempts were made to reclaim them and resettle the hold but all ultimately failed, and to this day Karak Varn remains a ruin inhabited by Orcs, Goblins and fouler creatures.[2a]
- Warhammer RPG 1st Edition: Dwarfs - Stone & Steel
- pg. 37
- 2: Grudgelore
- 2a: pg. 27
- White Dwarf Magazine Nº 152
- pg. 54