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Zukon’s Astral Retreat Free 40×30 Battlemap & Adventure

Zukon's Astral Retreat Free 40×30 Battlemap & Adventure
Zukon's Astral Retreat Free 40×30 Battlemap & Adventure
Zukon’s Astral Retreat Free 40×30 Battlemap & Adventure, featuring a spelljammer-inspired heist. VTT ready!

Zukon’s Astral Retreat Temple Free 40×30 Battlemap & Adventure

The Long Con

While stopping at a bustling city planet to buy goods, you find yourself being followed. It appears a man with a mask projecting a holographic image of a pixelated face is studying you as you go about your business. Should you confront him, he raises his hands amicably and gives a charming smile. He apologizes in a distorted voice for his less than discreet mannerisms, and explains that he has been looking for someone just like you for a job and you couldn’t have come at a better time. He can pay exceptionally well, if you’re willing to hear him out.

Should you be interested, the man’s smile broadens and he invites you back to a more discreet location to talk, walking you to a seedy bar in a less-than-reputable part of town. While there, he orders you some strong drinks (which surprisingly aren’t watered down) and tells you that you can call him “Handler”. He explains that he is in the business of… procuring… rare and highly valuable items. To this end, he has spent the last two years setting up fake identities of eccentric dignitaries for an important job, but due to a tragic–and completely unrelated–accident, his crew who were to play the roles died.

He’s been watching you, and you fit the character and description of one of the dignitaries perfectly. If you’re willing to take on the role, and help him procure three very important items, he will pay you a small fortune. But before he can tell you more, he needs you to swear a binding vow of secrecy.

Once sworn, Handler tells you that the items you’ll need to procure are three exceptional blades. The Moon Blade, the Heaven Blade, and the Blade of Earth. All of them are incredibly sharp artifacts crafted by a master weaponsmith hundreds of years ago, for three rulers, and they all have astonishing abilities. The Moon Blade is said to be able to turn anyone it cuts or whose blade it parries into solid marble, while the Heaven Blade gives its wielder the ability to fly and perform incredible acrobatic maneuvers. The Earth Blade can be used to command the very ground your enemies stand on, opening it up to swallow them whole, or liquifying into quicksand.

These three powerful artifacts are currently in the possession of a very eccentric–and very wealthy–old man, who lives on his own private asteroid in a lavish part of the sector. There is a blockade of ships around his asteroid, and only expected invitees or deliveries are allowed through. The man’s one weakness, however, is that he loves throwing decadent parties with unusual guests once a year–hence why Handler has spent the last two years creating fake identities for his crew. He can’t just throw all that work away now, not when he’s so close!

Should you ask for more information, Handler explains that you’re to attend the dinner party two weeks from now, then steal the blades overnight while most of the guests should be drunk from the festivities. He’ll fly you there in his ship, and pick you up once you have acquired the blades. All you need to do is be yourself at the dinner party, don’t draw too much attention, and figure out how to get the artifacts.

If you agree to the job, Handler sighs in relief, saying he knew you had a good head for business. Then he goes over the specifics of the plan, telling you your name as the dignitary, and that the eccentric man’s name is Zukon, before rolling out a map of the complex and showing you the room where the blades are being stored. It’s only a few rooms away from where the dinner party is to be held, Handler explains. He also pulls out a small river stone with a hole in it, threaded through a leather necklace, and passes it to you; saying that if you hold it and close your eyes, you’ll be able to communicate with him. Only use it when you have the blades, he emphasizes. He’ll come down and land the ship at a secret, more secluded set of docks, but to get there undiscovered you need to use a hidden tunnel that starts in an old shrine, he says, pointing to a place on the map outside the building complex. Follow the plan and you’ll make a quick escape with the goods, he explains.

With everything agreed, you head out one week later on Handler’s ship and soon arrive at Zukon’s private asteroid. Handler easily navigates you past the checkpoint in the blockade, and the guards wave you on through. Once docked, you find yourself at a lavish estate, with meandering gardens lit up with paper lanterns, and loud music wafting across the whole area from instruments playing themselves. Several stoic guards are supervising the festivities, and you follow the trail of other dignitaries into a large dinner hall lit with more lanterns. The music is almost overwhelmingly loud, as is the chatter, and long tables are so burdened with exotic foods that they look as though they may collapse under the weight.

All the others invited to the party are just as eccentric and mismatched as you are. One group only shows their eyes, as they wear colorfully dyed silk robes that completely cover their heads and bodies. People with horns, tails, and blue or red skin mingle in crowds of halflings, orcs, humans, elves, gnomes, and others–less common–species. All of them seem somewhat awkward, and some guests even seem uncertain as to how to use the cutlery to eat!  

As the hours pass, the crowd grows merrier and louder, and you find a perfect opportunity to slip away and head towards the room with the blades. Once inside, you see they are displayed tastefully, alongside suits of traditional armor. Only, above them, dangle two thieves dressed in black, from thick cords suspended on the ceiling. They freeze when you enter, giving you a confused look, before rushing and grabbing the blades below them. As soon as their hands grasp the weapons however, the two suits of armor shudder and come to life!

The suits make quick work of the cat burglars, cutting them down from where they hang like puppets, before turning to you and attacking. They fight with strong, slow motions and shatter the timber floor and desks where their blades lodge after missed attacks. Thankfully, the music is still incredibly loud–even here–and it is unlikely anyone can overhear the fighting.

Once the armor golems have been defeated, if you exit the room with the blades and head towards the rendezvous point, you come across a large room–and the odd group in the silk robes are standing there, whispering harshly to one another. When they notice you, the group is shocked to see you, and initially begin excusing themselves as lost, but when one among their number spots that you have the blades they whip off their coverings and get in fighting stances; revealing mercenary garb and well-used weapons. There is a half-giant barbarian (who appears rather dull), a gnome rogue, two elven rangers, a dwarf with a battle-axe, and a human mage. One of the elves, fixing an arrow on you, demands you hand over the blades, promising they’ll let you leave alive if you do but they’re not going to let you leave here with THEIR rightful loot!

After the rag-tag group is defeated, if you contact Handler he whoops in encouragement, saying he’ll get the ship ready and urging you to hurry to the rendezvous point. Only, as you emerge from the complex and head out towards the shrine with the secret tunnel, you see the very old host, Zukon, meditating on the peaceful lawn between you and it.   

When he sees you with the blades, he smiles and says slowly, in a thickly accented voice as if this were not his native tongue, “I was wondering who would get the Katanas of the Three first. Some of the other crews weren’t even discreet, and my guards had to take them away. You see, I couldn’t make it look too much like I wanted the blades taken–all the thieves here tonight suspected they were the only ones. I am glad someone finally succeeded, as I could not pass the blades onto a good person. They have brought me nothing but sorrow, but unfortunately, the curse that rests upon them means they must be willingly accepted by their new owner, else one cannot rid themselves of them.”

Should you ask him about the curse, he gives a tight smile and says “They will cause all those you love to die, one by one. You see, the maker of the blades believed a good ruler should not have earthly attachments, nor vulnerabilities of the heart. He did not explain that to the rulers he gifted them too, however. There is a reason they were locked away by their last owner before his early death. I should never have requested they be recovered to be seen by the world again. However, I do not wish for death to take me before I can be free of this burden. Hence, I set up this little… game. It has brought me much amusement, I think. Perhaps the power they offer you will be worth the sacrifice.”

With that, Zukon grabs a bead from around his neck and disappears in a puff of smoke.

GM’s Notes:

Should the players hand off the Blades of the Three to Handler, he will accept them gladly. Thus, the curse will be lifted, and fall upon him instead. However, he does have a wife and three young children whom he loves very much…

If your players instead seek to lift the curse from the blades, it can be achieved with the blessing of a good god, a blade-owner sacrificing their life to save one they love (which will cleanse the blade for future owners), or a powerful curse-lifting spell. Should the players seek instead to leave the blades as a means to lift the curse, they will reappear each morning by their owner’s side.

Perhaps, the happiest solution for this, is for the players to go back into the party and throw the blades into the crowd of eager thieves. Should they do this, many of the thieves may kill each other in a large brawl to claim such a high-value prize for themselves, but the most ruthless will succeed and own the blade. The wise thieves will flee the conflict instead of risking their necks.

Should the players do this last option, Zukon will be impressed, and offer them a non-magic historical item that they may sell for a reward in lieu of the blades. He will congratulate them for having wisdom that he didn’t, at their age, and wish them well in future.

If you enjoyed this adventure, take your players to The Wandering City this was written for, as well as 14+ locations in our early access Game Master’s Adventurer’s Guide Bundle, which has over 300 pages of content. You’ll get 74 battlemaps with system-agnostic adventures written just for them, maps of the towns, locations, faction lists, important NPCs (portraits included), more adventure seeds, plus digital item cards with loot your players can find! That’s at least 74 easy sessions of fun for only $28, take a better look here

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