No Prep Module: The Hideous Mountain

This adventure can be run as a level 6 adventure for 5 players, or can be easily customized to a party of any size or level. It can work as a small side adventure in an existing campaign, as a standalone one-shot, or the start of a new adventure. Use the links to the tools in their relevant section to customize the adventure to your party.

Play out the initial chartering of the boat as you like. This module can fit into an existing campaign when the players need to sail somewhere, or as a one-shot that starts at sea.

You're on a ship, sailing across the open ocean. The brigantine creaks and sways in the salty wind as it barrels over the ocean swells. You've booked passage on this ship to reach the next continent from the captain, Gnarsh Barclay. He's a tall half-orc man and cuts an attractive figure with his angular stubbled chin, tailored brown suit, and long golden hair. You set out late in the day on one of the last ships to leave port.

  • You can play out the first night aboard the ship, getting to know the captain and some of the crew. You can use this for the captain: Gnarsh Barclay, Male Half-Orc.
  • Space is limited on the trading ship, so the PCs will be asked to pitch in and work on the ship while underway
  • They'll start first thing in the morning, with training on the job.
  • Gnarsh is happy to have adventurers on board for the protection they bring, and will invite them to drink and ask questions about their travels.


You awaken the next morning in your hammock to the sound of a fist continuously banging against a wall from somewhere in the ship.

  • If the players get up and try to find the source of the sound, DC 10 Investigation will eventually lead to the brig.
  • A crew member accidentally locked himself inside while cleaning, and will continue to bang and shout until freed.
  • The lock is a DC 20 Thieves Tools check to unlock, or a DC 15 Strength Check to break open. It has AC 19 and 25 HP.
  • The sailor will be thankful to be released and offer some rum as reward.

Once the players get ready and go to the top deck, you can continue.

As you make your way to the deck, Gnarsh is already shouting and managing the crew's tasks. As he sees you coming up he yells, "you're late! Training time is already over."

  • The players will need to choose where on the ship they want to work, and how they want to go about figuring out what to do. Have each player decide on their course of action and ask for the appropriate skill checks, with a DC based on their approach.

Once all your players have gotten a handle on things (or not) and made enough checks, you can continue. If someone is working in the crow's nest, have them be the one that spots the goblins.

Half the day passes by as you all work the ship, until (someone in the crow's nest shouts, "hoy! Ship off port side! Looks like goblins.")

As the two ships approach, you see the tiny sloop boat with goblins in it, but they don't seem to see you. The boat is completely unmanned and adrift, as the 6 goblins aboard all stand to one side of the boat, staring out at the sea. Following their gaze you see an oversized tricorn hat floating on the water, and scrawled across it is "KAPTiN" crudely spelled with pitch.

  • The goblins are despondently looking where their former captain fell out of the ship and drowned, since he didn't know how to swim.
  • The self-proclaimed captain found the boat and convinced the others he knew how to operate it, but none of them have any idea what they're doing.
  • The players can choose whether to rescue them or kill them, but the goblins are going to try and get a ride home on their ship regardless.
  • They took the boat because they found a treasure map to a place they've named "Hideousmanface Mountain" which is scrawled on the back of the portrait of a hideous man.
  • If any of the players (or all of them) try to declare themselves as the new kaptin, the goblins will happily accept and insist on going to Hideousmanface Mountain.
  • The goblins are cowards and will prefer not to fight, and definitely don't want to fight any of the scary monsters the players regularly contend with.

After they're done with the goblins, then the day continues into night and dinner. You can have some more time spent working the ship and talking with the goblins or crew until the ship is attacked in the early evening.

A sailor cries out in pain as a spear impales itself in his chest. Looking out into the water you see fish-headed kuo-toa and fish-tailed merfolk emerge from the ocean depths.

2 Giant Frog, 2 Kuo-Toa, 2 Merrow, 1 Spitting Sea Serpent

Grid Map With Tokens

You can use the fight above for a group of 5 level 6 adventurers, or customize it to your own party, set the environment to Aquatic, and select Random Deadly.

  • The monsters will attempt to pull the players from the ship and underwater. Anyone they can't, they'll prefer to use ranged attacks on. The Kuo-Toa and Giant Frogs can climb or jump on board the ship if they need to, but the others will stay in the water and dive underwater to break line of sight and attack from different angles.

After the battle, they can deal with the bodies and wind down with dinner before continuing.

It's later in the evening when another call comes out from above deck. Land Ho, in the distance a small island that's little more than a mountain and a beach can be seen. As more of the island comes into view, you see the face of the cliff has been carved into a literal face. The work is amateur and incomplete, but you recognize it as an even uglier rendition of the man on the other side of the treasure map.

  • If the goblins are aboard, they'll be very excited.

If they decide to investigate, you can continue.

As the island comes closer into view, you discover that it's inhabited by a large tribe of kuo-toa. They're all dressed in religious garbs and can be seen bringing offers and giving prayer to the ugly face in the mountain. This appears to be having a curious effect on the mountain, and the mountain is slowly shifting and changing, while the features on the face have begun to occasionally twitch and move.

  • The island has become a compound for fanatically religious kuo-toa who now worship the mountain, causing it to slowly come to life
  • The players can choose the approach they want to take, sneaking in, frontal assault, disguises, whatever they come up with.
  • There's a large compound gate leading into the inner sanctum, the key to which is on a kuo-toa priest. Again, the players can decide how to approach this by stealing the key, setting a trap, or getting through the gate somehow.

Once they get through the gate, they'll be discovered and attacked by a group of kuo-toa.

2 Basilisk, 1 Crocodile, 1 Deep Scion, 2 Kuo-toa, 1 Skyweaver

  • Reskin the scion and skyweaver as uniquely dressed kuo-toa. The basilisk have been trained not to use their gaze on the kuo-toa, and will exclusively target the PCs.


You make your way towards the mountain, further into the kuo-toa compound, which becomes more sparse as you ascend. A long set of stairs wraps around the mountain on the way to the face, and at the base of the stairs is a locked storeroom.

  • The storeroom is locked with the same stats as the brig on the ship. If they get inside they found 1000 gold in valuables and jewelry that the kuo-toa have been offering the mountain, as well as a Cap of Water Breathing.


As you're walking up the mountain, the island begins to rumble and shake. The face on the mountain opens its eyes as parts of the mountain start to crumble away. Massive stone arms burst from the mountain's sides and push at the ground as they try to free themselves from the landmass. A great cheer arises from the kuo-toa, and up near the face of the mountain a regally dressed kuo-toa priest holds some sort of glowing artifact towards the mountain as it rumbles and shifts. Magic Missiles shoot out of the mountain's eyes and start to impact across the terrain of the island.

  • The players need to hurry to the ritual site, while avoiding the mountain's magic missile shooting eyes.
  • Let them decide on how they want to do this, then ask for the relevant skill checks. On failure, they're hit by a magic missile taking 1d4+1 force damage (no save).

Once they reach the ritual they'll have a final showdown with the kuo-toa archpriest.

1 Acolyte, 1 Bandit Captain, 1 Dark Tide Knight, 6 Goat (Cultists), 1 Kuo-toa Archpriest

  • Reskin everyone as kuo-toa. The goats are cultists who will try to grapple and drag the players into a lava-filled fissure with them. The Knight rides a Giant Lizard. The acolyte and archpriest will try to stay out of the melee and cast spells to buff and heal the others.
  • Destroying the artifact and defeating the kuo-toa causes the mountain to lose its sentience and crumble in an earthquake.
  • As they escape the island they find a clutch of basilisk eggs they can choose to bring with them
  • If the goblins are still alive, they'll agree to have the party as their new kaptin and do their share of the work on the ship


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