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Alias Varys
Title Undergaoler
Culture Crownlands

Rugen is an undergaoler in charge of the third level of the dungeons of the Red Keep, known as the black cells.[1]

Appearance and Character

Rugen is portly, unshaven, gruff,[1] unkempt, and coarse of speech.[2] He has a round scarred face and a stubble of dark beard.[3] He smells of sweat and sour wine.[4] Rugen wears the typical clothing of a gaoler: a spiked steel cap, a leather half cape, mail over boiled leather, and a dirk and shortsword at his belt.[3][4]

Since the black cells rarely have prisoners, Rugen comes and goes as he pleases. The other gaolers are afraid of him, and no one knows much about him. He has no friends or relatives, and does not drink or frequent brothels. His sleeping cell is damp and dreary, and the straw he sleeps upon is mildewed. His chamber pot is overflowing.[1]


Rugen was appointed as an undergaoler during the reign of Aerys II Targaryen.[1]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

In the secret passages below the dungeons of the Red Keep, Arya Stark sees a stout man in a steel cap talking with a man with an accent and a forked yellow beard, and thinks there is something oddly familiar about him. She tries to tell her father, Lord Eddard Stark, about the men, but he dismisses her warning and suggests they are mummers.[3]

Imprisoned in the black cells, Eddard is visited by Lord Varys in a gaoler disguise. Eddard recognizes Varys under the mummer's scars and false beard.[4]

A Storm of Swords

Ser Jaime Lannister forces Varys to free Tyrion Lannister from the black cells. In disguise as Rugen, Varys doses the guards' wine with sweetsleep, so that they fall asleep, then changes to the guise of a septon to escort Tyrion out through the secret passages of the Red Keep.[5]

A Feast for Crows

On the night Tyrion escapes from the black cells, it is also discovered that Rugen has gone missing.[6]

During the search of Rugen's apartments by Qyburn, a coin from the reign of Garth XII Gardener, King of the Reach, is found beneath his chamber pot. Queen Regent Cersei Lannister believes that the Tyrells have played a role in Tyrion's escape.[1]

Jaime investigates the missing Rugen, asking the chief undergaoler Rennifer Longwaters about him. Jaime feels his questions are a farce, as he knows Rugen is Varys and why he is missing, but he has to make a show of investigating Tyrion's escape nevertheless.[2]

Cersei continues to obsess over Rugen and his connection to the Tyrells.[7]


Varys had transformed himself into a grizzled turnkey, reeking of sweat and sour wine.[4]

—thoughts of Eddard Stark


George R. R. Martin has confirmed that "Rugen" is actually a cover identity of Varys.[8] Jaime Lannister also knows that Rugen is Varys.[2]