In the land of Gorspa sparrows are considered bad omens that bring misfortune or death. This superstition goes back generations to the fearsome Sparrow King who many once ruled Gorspa with an iron fist. He wore a cloak made of sparrow feathers which many people believed was enchanted but no one was able to prove. The Sparrow King was consistently able to uncover plots made against him in secret and have the conspirators publically executed. This only fueled rumors that his cloak allowed him to transform into a sparrow in order to spy on his enemies. The climate of fear and uncertainty prevented any usurpers among the nobility or uprisings among the peasants and The Sparrow King ruled unopposed for many years.
Knowing he would not live forever The Sparrow King had an elaborate crypt constructed to house his remains. Funded by aggressive taxation, stonemasons hollowed out a large hill simply to serve as the entry into the crypt. Tunnels were dug deeper down into the earth and connected to a natural underground cave system which would serve as his final resting place. The Sparrow King wished to carry his wealth with him into the afterlife and had much of Gorspa’s treasury hauled into the crypt to be hidden behind deadly traps. Unwilling to share power The Sparrow King never married and left no direct heir to rule after him.
Upon his death, the noble families of Gorspa gathered in the crypt where his will and regarding the line of succession was to be read. The will proved to be a ruse and The Sparrow King defeated the last of his enemies in life by having loyal soldiers seal the crypt leaving everyone inside to die.
Gorspa survived the chaos caused by The Sparrow King’s final act but was left scarred by his rule. Many years later a band of thieves broke into the crypt hoping to find the hidden treasure. After three days a lone survivor crawled out moaning about dead things moving around in the dark. Despite those dire warnings the crypt of The Sparrow King continues to attract both greedy treasure seekers hoping to strike it rich as well as virtuous holy warriors seeking to eradicate a possible infestation of the undead.
The insidious nature of the crypt has led to the death of those who enter and they soon rise to become minions of the crypt itself. The upper level of the crypt is made of worked stone with alcoves built into the walls seemingly at random. Within many of these alcoves stands a desiccated corpse that animates and attack if a living being draws near. Dressed in whatever gear they wore in life these zombies mindlessly press intruders deeper into the crypt by blocking the way back out. This creates a cascading effect where more zombies animate and most intruders are quickly overwhelmed.
Below the stone entryway is a maze of narrow dirt tunnels which slope downwards towards the caves. These tunnels are patrolled by the skeletal remains of The Sparrow King’s last loyal soldiers. They have been patrolling the same paths for so long they have worn grooves into the dirt floors. Unlike the zombies above, these skeletons are equipped to take advantage of the cramped quarters of the twisting tunnels. Skeletons armed with spears and shields directly engage intruders while others armed with bows will hamper them from just out of reach. Upon defeating an intruder the skeletons will take the corpse to an alcove on the upper level in order to replenish any destroyed zombies before returning to their patrols.
The lowest levels of the crypt are the caves that hold the lost treasure of Gorspa but also house its most fearsome guardians. The noble families of Gorspa died in great anger and their betrayal has festered in these dark caves. Shadows, spectres, and wraiths haunt the caves, mad with rage over the kingdom they believed was snatched from their grasp. The memory of their family name and the privilege associated with it is the one fragment of personality that these bodiless spirits still cling to. By wearing or brandishing the sign of one of these ancient families it is possible for someone to walk among them unharmed. The spirits would see them as a member of their own family and continue to bottle up their fury for other intruders.
Rumors of the undead brimmed crypt have drawn the attention of Salvort, a necromancer of middling ability. He sees the crypt with its replenishing supply of undead as a source of inspiration that can help him improve his magical abilities. Unfortunately, his lack of skill leaves him unable to venture far into the crypt on his own. Under the guise of magical research, Salvort has been making the rounds in local taverns to hire adventurers to accompany him into the crypt.
Kobolds of the Red Wyrm Tribe accidentally burrowed into the crypts lower tunnels. They were seeking a shortcut around some large chunks of limestone when they crashed right into a skeletons patrol. Pride prevents the kobolds from simply leaving and now the entire tribe is engaged in a guerilla war effort against the crypt and its undead hordes. The kobold’s trap making skills have proven effective against the unintelligent skeletons and zombies, but the undead have numbers on their side. The fighting has become a stalemate with neither side gaining much ground on the other but an outside force could shift the balance for one side.
Drag & Drop Encounter (CR 4)
As the PCs explore deeper into the Crypt of the Sparrow King they come upon a particularly cramped section in the tunnels. The end of the tunnel lies in darkness beyond the torchlight and there is just enough room for a single Medium-sized character to squeeze through at a time. Once all of the PCs are well into the cramped tunnel they will hear the moan of five zombies lying in wait. Due to the restricted mobility in the tunnel, only the PC in the front will be able to engage one zombie at a time. At the GMs discretion, some types of weapons might be considered too unwieldy to use in cramped quarters like this. After at least two of the zombies have been defeated, a group of three skeletons will flank the PCs from behind and attack furthest back PC using spears.