Best Intro Adventures For D&D 5e, Ranked

Highlights

  • With the popularity of D&D web series and online platforms, it’s a great time to join in on the fun and start your journey into D&D.
  • “Duet” style of play, which only requires two players, is a great way to onboard newer players onto larger parties and there are adventures specifically designed for this style.
  • There are a variety of introductory adventures available that cater to different preferences and levels, allowing players to start their D&D experience with ease.

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Dungeons & Dragons allows you to let your imagination run free as you set out on an adventure with a few of your friends. The game has been around for nearly 50 years with each edition bringing something new and shaping the game into a tabletop roleplaying game that everyone can enjoy.

Currently, we’re in the 5th edition of the game and with the creation of D&D based web series and online platforms, like Roll20, that allow people to play together online, D&D is the most popular it’s ever been. It’s never too late to join in on the fun and there are several introductory adventures to begin your journey into D&D.

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Updated November 20, 2023, by Christopher Padilla: There’s always more adventures to be had! In addition to adding new entries – both by independent developers and by Wizards of the Coast – we’ve also credited all the indie creators with their respective adventures. Unless stated otherwise, each module and adventure was published by Wizards of the Coast.

25 First Blush

The covers for First Blush and Second Glance, the first and second part of a the Crystalline Curse trilogy of Duet campaigns

The hardest part of playing D&D as an adult? Getting four or more people’s schedules to line up as a semi-regular occurrence. Two people, on the other hand, is much more doable. Such is the appeal of the ‘Duet’ style of play, which only requires two players, one player and one DM.

You don’t have to stay a duo forever! This style of game is a great way to on-board newer players onto larger parties.

First Blush is a good starting point in this style of play, having an easy start but ending with a high-stakes fight to the finish. The game favors an experienced DM, since they will be controlling up to two other ‘party members’ who serve as sidekicks for the player. If you enjoy this style of play, the authors Jonathan and Beth Ball published multiple adventures in the Duet style, including two follow-ups to First Blush– making it a trilogy–.

24 Truly, Madly, Deeply – Module 1

multisided dice of various colors, open wooden box

Patrick Higingbotham’s Truly, Madly, Deeply is not just a great starter adventure, this module is specifically designed to teach both players and DMs the specific fighting mechanics of D&D 5th Edition. Players don’t have to have their characters sheets completely finished, and the encounters can be adjusted to accommodate the players’ levels, but the module is intended for levels 4 and lower.

Though it’s billed as a way to get kids into the D&D 5e, this is a great intro game for anyone who’s new to the game, or even new to tabletop RPGs. If your group of newbies isn’t satisfied with premade characters or just filling out a sheet, Module 0 allows players to roleplay the character creation process.

23 Explorer’s Guide To Wildemount

D&D: Explorer's Guide To Wildemount Has Most Pre-Orders Since The Core 5E Books Were Announced
Chronurgist via Wizards of the Coast

The adventures within the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount are fun new adventures that can appeal to more than just fans of the web series Critical Role. Created by Matthew Mercer, these adventures are set in the world of Exandria and within the continent of Wildemount.

For fans of Critical Role, it should be noted that Wildemount is the setting of the second season of the show and that this book is only canon up to episode 50 of that season.

Wildmount is a land on the brink of war with the rising tensions between the Dwendalian Empire and Xhorhas. The four adventures included in the book introduce players to new creatures, subclasses, spells, and more; like Dunamancy, magic that can manipulate possibility, time, and gravity.

22 Toecap’s Puzzle House

A Goblin family on the cover of the Toecap's Puzzle House adventure

Not all adventures have to be grand world-saving affairs. Sometimes, a small mystery in a closed setting can be just as thrilling. Toecap’s Puzzle House is an ‘Escape Room’ style encounter whose small setting and (seemingly) clear goals are good for newer players.

Like any good escape room, the Puzzle House is easy to get into but gets more complex as it unravels, meaning that the more experienced players in mixed groups won’t get bored. There are multiple interlocking puzzles to solve, meaning that the more investigative members of your group get to shine, regardless of their D&D experience. If you like the world that Christopher J Foster has created, then you can delve into the whole trilogy as well.

21 Storm King’s Thunder

Dungeons & Dragons has always allowed players to exist in a world of high fantasy, where they can become all manner of different creatures, wield the power of magic and fight against creatures like dragons. Storm King’s Thunder plays heavily into that high fantasy with an adventure that pits the “small folks”, humans, elves, dwarves, etc, against giants, who have started to terrorize civilization.

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The storm giant King Hekaton who usually keeps order among the various giant races, is missing, and the only way the small folks can even begin to defend themselves is by using the power of rune magic, the very thing the giants used in their battle against dragons.

20 Death House

Via: Wizards of the Coast

Death House is a great introductory adventure for any DM wanting to run Curse of Strahd. It’s a short and creepy adventure that will set the mood for players’ adventures in Ravenloft. As players first enter the village of Barovia they’ll encounter the siblings Rose and Thorn who ask them to get rid of a “monster” that is trapped in the basement of their house.

If the players agree to help, they soon find themselves with little choice but to brave the horrors of the house and discover its grizzly history. Just make sure no one is too attached to the characters they take in, as few ever make it out of this house alive.

19 The Fey Fayre

Components of the Fey Fayre, left to right: An ice cream stand, the adventure's cover, the entrance to the faire

For those intimidated by the whole concept of pretending to be heroic adventurers, The Fay Fayre by indie publisher r-n-w provides a low-stakes but nonetheless interesting hook for newer players. With its disarmingly whimsical premise, this one-shot has your players attending the titular faire.

Your players can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the event as they participate at the different stalls. They can play games, get prizes and have a good time all around. However, it’s not all fun in games and eventually the party will have to band together to clear their names!

Even with experienced players, The Fey Fayre can be a great icebreaker, serving as an alternative to the standard “You meet in jail/a tavern/a dungeon, etc.” adventure start

18 The Golden Bones Of Lightwatch Tower

The Golden Bones of Lightwatch Tower

The Golden Bones of Lightwatch Tower

A stand-alone adventure that is intended to accommodate level one and level two players, The Golden Bones of Lightwatch Tower is also designed as a starting adventure for those new to D&D. The story isn’t overly complex, but it is detailed and compelling, and creative storytelling is a big part of what publisher Glamour Games brings to the RPG table.

That means it’s far from being a simple hack and slash. Players will have to use their wits to navigate Lightwatch Tower as they attempt to discover its secrets.

17 Prepared!

Dungeons and Dragons Prepared!

Kobold Press is well-known for publishing high-quality, unofficial adventures for many editions of Dungeons and Dragons along with other tabletop games, so it’s no surprise to see one of their works on this list. Prepared! is an anthology of one-shot adventures that range from intriguing to hilarious.

So if you need to get a group of players into the game without throwing them into the commitment of a full-campaign setting, this is the adventure book you need. It’s got everything from goblins building forts on the side of roads, to the sky falling down around the player characters, meaning there won’t ever be a dull moment while you’re playing.

16 Dragon Of Icespire Peak

Via: Wizards of the Coast

Dragon of Icespire Peak is an introductory adventure that can be played by as many as five level-1 players or even just one level-1 player. Players get a really great feel for what the game is about as they start off by exploring the temple of the evil dwarven god Abbathor.

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Players will face against some pretty tough enemies in their first level and will, eventually, face against the Dragon of Icespire Peak, a powerful white dragon that can drop more than a few PCs to zero with one blast of her icy breath.

15 Hoard Of The Dragon Queen

via Wizards of the Coast

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is part of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, where the Cult of Dragons tries to bring back the evil Tiamat to terrorize Faerûn. Tiamat is the goddess of evil dragons and it goes without saying that her revival spells doom for Faerûn.

It’s up to players to stop her followers and their allies the Red Wizards of Thay. After players finish Hoard of the Dragon Queen they can jump right into The Rise of Tiamat.

14 Trolling For Keeps

Trolls, Undermountain, Trolling for Keeps

Trolls

It’s a basic story with an equally simple premise, including a quest, helpless villagers, trolls, and of course, a keep that needs storming. The antagonists featured in this module are a unique variant of troll, one of the small but significant details that makes this module a fun experience for beginners.

Trolling For Keeps, authored by Rickie McComb, is versatile enough to be used with a variety of gaming systems, so this is not only an ideal choice for beginners but also a great way to transition from another type of RPG game like Harnmaster.

13 Candlekeep Mysteries

Dungeons and Dragons Candlekeep Mysteries
Candlekeep Mysteries by Clint Clearley

Released by Wizards of the Coast in March of 2021, Candlekeep Mysteries is an official anthology of 17 one-shot adventures for characters ranging from levels 1-16, meaning there are adventures for any kind of characters you might want to play.

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Importantly, these adventures all take place in and around Candlekeep making it easy to run any of them once you know the setting. And they don’t all focus on combat, so if you have friends who like a mystery but who aren’t so keen on learning the intricacies of high-level D&D combat, this is a great way to introduce them to the game.

12 The Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse

Dungeons and Dragons The Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse

The Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse is available from the Dungeon Masters Guild and offers an adventure that is around six hours long, maybe a little longer for the less experienced dungeon master. But despite being unofficial, this adventure is incredibly well-designed and clearly laid out making it easy for anyone to run.

It even comes with maps you can use online or print out to help you set the scene as your players encounter Eelfolk and negotiate with pirates. Kelsey Dionne, the author of this adventure, also released a follow-up: The Corruption of Skyhorn Lighthouse, which is designed for players level eight onwards.

11 Tales From the Yawning Portal: The Sunless Citadel

Tales from the Yawning Portal
via Wizards of the Coast

Tales from the Yawning Portal

Tales From The Yawning Portal is a collection of some of the most popular and compelling adventures in Dungeons & Dragons history. While it includes the TPK (Total Party Kill) adventure Tomb of Horrors, it also includes The Sunless Citadel which is a less brutal and more beginner-friendly adventure to act as an introduction.

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The Sunless Citadel was the first published adventure for 3e and has been adapted for 5e. Players explore a long-abandoned fortress that holds many dangers, but also a tree that grows an enchanted apple. At the summer solstice, the tree that grows can grant eternal life and in the winter solstice, it steals life.

10 Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

via Wizards of the Coast

For players who are interested in D&D but not all of the more high-fantasy and horror aspects of it, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is one of the best introduction adventures you can hope for. Set in urban cityscape, players will find themselves having to use their smarts, cunning, and charm to investigate some of the most prominent figures in the city of Waterdeep, without alerting law enforcers.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is intended for levels 1-5 and is a richly detailed adventure filled with the culture and history of Waterdeep and four antagonists to choose from. The choice of the villain determines the season, meaning you get more than one unique playthrough of this adventure.

9 Secrets Of Sokol Keep

Secrets of Sokol Keep

Secrets of Sokol Keep

It was believed that the Keep had been retaken decades ago, but communications have been cut off, and locals suspect a dark old mystery has risen from deep within the forgotten bowels of Sokol Keep. What secrets were already buried in the ancient ruins, centuries before the clerics of Tyr built their temple on the site?

Secrets of Sokol Keep is a classic adventure for level 1 to 4 players that combines an ancient mystery with a heroic quest and a dungeon crawler. It’s everything a novice adventurer could want.

8 A Most Potent Brew

Dungeons and Dragons A Most Potent Brew

A Most Potent Brew by indie publisher Winghorn Press is a perfect introduction to Dungeons and Dragons for any group, it is played using first-level characters meaning you don’t have many abilities to confuse or overwhelm you, and it’s based entirely on the basic rule set which is available for free from Wizards of the Coast.

So combined with the fact this adventure is free, that means you don’t have to spend a penny to enjoy this entertaining take on the familiar quest of clearing out giant rats from the basement of a house. There are even handouts for the puzzles to help new players figure things out, meaning you really can’t go far wrong by starting with this adventure.

7 Ghosts Of The Saltmarsh

via Wizards of the Coast

Adventures don’t just occur on land in Dungeons & Dragons, there are plenty of ones that take players out into the ocean, and Ghosts of Saltmarsh is the best intro to the wonderful watery adventures this game has to offer. Ghosts of Saltmarsh includes many classic adventures from the first edition of D&D, adapted for the rules of 5e.

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Designed for players at level 1 it will take them all the way to level 12 as they find themselves in Saltmarsh, a seemingly quiet fishing village that will soon become the epicenter of destruction from water-dwelling creatures, undead sailors, cutthroat smugglers, and more. Anyone wanting to experience some of the best nautical adventures of the game Ghosts of Saltmarsh is for you.

6 Tome Of Encounters

This anthology of encounters, penned by multiple authors, is designed not only to introduce the new rules of 5e but also to show how versatile the latest version of the games is. There are 25 encounters in the book to challenge players of various levels, along with new monsters, new NPCs, and new rules for Haunts.

Part of its charm is the nostalgia value, with encounters written to emulate those halcyon days of the 2nd edition. It’s also one of those modules all DMs should have on hand in case they need some decent filler, so it’s not just a resource for players.

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