Best Modern D&D Adventures- Top 10.

Zardnaar

Hero
The following are my personal top 10 favourite "D&D" modern adventures. Just to clarify a few things I count modern as 3.0 onwards, and D&D also includes things like clones and Pathfinder but not D&D cousins such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and 13th Age. The reason is there are a few Pathfinder and OSR adventures IMHO where it would be kinda criminal not to include them.

The reason I also used the words modern are because lists of the top 30 adventures are also heavy in AD&D and Basic adventures which I am fine with but often they include popular titles such as B2 Keep on the Borderlands which I do not think it is even the best of the B series let alone the best of the TSR adventures (I would rate B 4,5 and 10 as higher for example).

Also note that I am not 100% familiar with every D&D adventure ever published since the year 2000, and some I have forgotten about. In some cases 3E and 4E for example they are not exactly famous for lots of high quality adventures but there were a few gems here and there. A failure to be included on this list doesn't mean an adventure is bad, but the ones included here are often 4.5/5 stars or higher at least going by various online reviews. Sometimes an entire AP might be here, at other ones I might include part of an AP. This is because a lot of APs are not actually completed to level 15-20 in my experience and the tendency for most D&D adventures that are good to be in the level 1-8 range anyway. In other cases I may not be familiar enough with an adventure to rate it fairly (I have not played it/ran it/read it thoroughly), or I don't even know it exists. If I want to convert an adventure to 5E and run it its probably doing something right. In order.

10.Deep Carbon Observatory (LotFP)
This adventure is an OSR adventure of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It won't be winning any prizes for art work, layout etc but the adventure is very good and it has a very interesting plot hook. There is an ancient kingdom of darkness and bad wrong fun, and there is a flood. Its dark, gritty, bizarre, baffling and brilliant. The artwork is something of a throwback to the 70's as in before TSR could afford to hire professional artists. This one might need a large dose of absinthe or other suitable drink. You have been warned.


9. Madness at Gardmore Abbey (4E)
Poor old 4E, in general the consensus seems to be 4E only had 2 good to great adventures. Its not the first time I have seen a deck of many things used as an active part of an adventures (House of Cards IIRC in Dungeon) but this is a good adventure. Most of you probably know my opinion of 4E, but I went and bought this adventure due to the amount of buzz online about it and the PDF was cheap enough.


8. Quests of Doom (Volume One) (5E)
This is a bit of a cheat as there are multiple adventures in the book but I can think of 2 that stood out. Irteps Dish and adventure set in a magical petri disk (PCs are shrunk to microscopic size), and Bad Moon Rising- werewolves with a twist. They are shorter adventures but I loved them alot and the 5E ones can be completed in 2-3 sessions probably. A nice mix of all 3 pillars, and short adventures can be nice on occasion- see previous comments about thoughts on longer ones not being completed. There is a Pathfinder version of Quests of Doom as well and I think the 5E ones were converted from that.

7. Assault on Blacktooth Ridge. Castles and Crusades
This one has been done as a 5E version as well. This kind of combines the best parts of T1 Village of Hommlet with the best parts of B10 Nights Dark Terror. There is a small miniature campaign setting included with a decent amount of the surrounding area for the PCs to explore with a decent sized Dungeon complex to explore. Its kind of a throwback to 1E type adventures. We played through it a few years back using C&C and I own the 5E conversion as well. It covers wilderness, social and combat pillars quite well and has several sequels set in the surrounding areas although they are inferior to this one IMHO. Its not to different than Lost Mines of Phandelver in structure.

6. The Stolen Lands Pathfinder
The Stolen Lands are a great hexcrawl for level 1 PCs. You can actually level up without a single combat as you get xp for exploring. It also has an interesting and flawed villain and several sidequests the DM can assign along with multiple ways to resolve the final encounters. Clever PCs can make this adventure a complete cakewalk via exploring and putting the pieces together, or they can derp charge the final encounter and hope for the best. The Kingmaker AP is a bit of a mixed bag but part 1 can be played as a traditional adventure and if you try for the whole lot playing down the kingdom building aspects in the follow up adventures might be a good idea as the adventure kinda loses focus and breaks down later. Part 2 is also good but it starts becoming a different game but pt 1 is brilliant IMHO.

5. Princes of the Apocalypse 5E

This is probably the best of the 5E APs although you could make the argument for Curse of Strahd or perhaps Tomb of Annihilation. I quite liked reading it, playing it and running it and its not to hard and follows a mostly set piece type structure although PCs can wander off the beaten path. Its a lot easier to run than say Out of the Abyss, its a lot better than The Hoard of the Dragon Queen/Rise of Tiamat Adventures and better than the other 5E books with the possible exceptions of CoS and ToA, as always YMMV based on personal preference.

4. The Savage Tide (pt 1 and 2) 3.5
Towards the end of 3.0 early Paizo started doing the adventure path concept and they are still doing it. The Savage Tide was part 3 so they had time to filter it through the 1st two APs and Paizo is still doing it although they started going downhill IMHO where they were tied to the latest PF splatbook. Like most APs/longer adventures the AP starts to go off the rails a bit later on but the 1st two parts were set in Sasserine and were so fun you kind of don't want to leave and the 2nd half of the AP leaves a lot to be desired perhaps due to the 3.5 rules/hard to maintain focus on after so long.

3. The Whispering Cairn 3.5
I had to include a dungeon hack somewhere and I remember enjoying this one a lot more than most of the 3E era adventures. This might be due to being level one in the 3E era however. This adventures can basically stand on its own however and a lot of good AP adventures can. In the modern era of 5E its more like using a single chapter of the new adventures as a stand alone adventure. What AP is better Age of Worms or Savage Tide? I'll leave you to decided but both of them started out really well.

2. Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder

For those of you who have wondered what Paizo did right this adventure is generally regarded as their finest effort and they basically hit 3 in a row with this and the Age or Worms and Savage Tide APs. From around 2005-2009 Paizo was basically bringing their A game and hit their peak from a creative and artistic PoV IMHO. interest characters and locations check. Interesting cartography check. Interesting plot check. Overall this was about as good as a Paizo AP ever got, although perhaps slices of other ones (such as The Stolen Lands) you could argue are better but they fall apart more later on than RotRL. Pathfinder 2 is going to revisit the Runelords and I ended up using more than a few elements of this AP recycled into other adventures such as Sandpoint and Magnimar. Paizo hit the ball out of the park multiple times and WotC gave us their version of Dungeon with early 4E adventures. Chalk and cheese really.

1. Lost Mines of Phandelver 5E

Starting to go through this adventure again for the 3rd or 4th time and still enjoying it and I just keep my mouth shut as its a new DM. Could this adventure be better? Yes, but it also lacks any glaring flaws IMHO and it has quite a few seeds scattered throughout it the DM can follow up on or ignore. It could do with a better introduction perhaps, but this module I think is a modern classic and its this generations equivalent of B2 Keep on the Borderlands (quality wise maybe more like B4 The Lost City). Several of the other adventures in this list follow a similar formula with a base, a bit of wilderness and several local dungeons. This adventure is good for 4 or 5 levels, supports the 3 D&D pillars, and has various threads weaved through it to follow up on. Its also the perfect size as well IMHO and I suspect it will turn up on best of lists in 20 years time.

So that is basically it, my personal top ten list of adventures. 3.0 didn't have to many adventures I recalled fondly at least at the level to make this list, 3.5 had a few more mostly in Dungeon, 4E has maybe 2 good adventures and Pathfinder and some OSR ones made an appearance. 5E probably has 2-3 really good adventures, but very few outright terrible ones (HotDQ maybe) and the rest tend to be in the average to good range so its batting very well so far IMHO (Paizo has also had a few duds, like the next few after RotRL). There are some adventure I am sure others will nominate especially Rappan Athuk, but as I said its my list and and lean heavily towards storylines and compelling characters/situations and I find megadungeons kinda boring TBH. Minor critiques of WoTC would include heavy reliance on previous edition materials (each adventure is basically a rehash/tribute LMoP being an exception), and Paizo APs tended to become formulaic (and kind of got worse as time went by with a few exceptions).
 
Last edited:

DEFCON 1

Legend
My #1 modern adventure is 'Last Breaths of Ashenport' for 4E. Because it has a full and interesting C'thulu-esque storyline, a starting town, but also plenty of space to fill in adventures around it. It's also a great coastal adventure site that you can attach to things like Saltmarsh and a number of the first generation Adventurer's League modules that were written for Phlan.

If anyone is looking to create a coastal campaign, you can't go wrong with using the upcoming Ghosts of Saltmarsh, the new Isle of Dread revamp, and then adding in adventures like Last Breaths of Ashenport (4E), Captain Slygo's Treasure (4E) and Secrets of Sokol Keep (5E AL) among others. Figure out which town(s) you want to use as a home base and then incorporate the stories of all of them together.
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
Your list has my favourites in there - except for one: The Red Hand of Doom. This was (for me) the best 3rd edition adventure without a doubt, and the only adventure I have seen that has handled war well from a character perspective.
 

Mistwell

Hero
Savage Tides starts great, but as soon as you leave the town it gets pretty bad in my opinion. And I think it's kinda cheating to just list parts 1 and 2 when that's not the entirety of the adventure and you were not rating parts of adventures with this list. I would definitely rate Forge of Fury and Sunless Citadel much higher than Savage Tides because of that pretty serious issue with the adventure path. I'd also rate Curse of Strahd pretty high.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Savage Tides starts great, but as soon as you leave the town it gets pretty bad in my opinion. And I think it's kinda cheating to just list parts 1 and 2 when that's not the entirety of the adventure and you were not rating parts of adventures with this list. I would definitely rate Forge of Fury and Sunless Citadel much higher than Savage Tides because of that pretty serious issue with the adventure path. I'd also rate Curse of Strahd pretty high.
It's not hard to spin those parts off though and yeah I think things like pt 1 of the Stolen Lands or Savage tide are very good. The Stolen Lands could be run almost as is.

Sinister secret of Saltnarsh for example is really good the follow ups are good as well so I used that to rate the early parts of APs as they can stand alone vs say a good part of the middle of an AP.

Forget of Fury and Sunless citadel I didn't think we're that great back in the day. They're not bad by any means but there are better about. 3E lacked a lot of great adventures imho although it had plenty of above average to good ones.

Kingmaker doesn't have much of a metaplot either and Stolen Lands easily stands on it's own imho. It's similar to LMOP in alot of ways a bit more sandbox and is a great small scale hexcrawl.
 
Last edited:

dnd4vr

Adventurer
The following are my personal top 10 favourite "D&D" modern adventures. Just to clarify a few things I count modern as 3.0 onwards, and D&D also includes things like clones and Pathfinder but not D&D cousins such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and 13th Age. The reason is there are a few Pathfinder and OSR adventures IMHO where it would be kinda criminal not to include them.

The reason I also used the words modern are because lists of the top 30 adventures are also heavy in AD&D and Basic adventures which I am fine with but often they include popular titles such as B2 Keep on the Borderlands which I do not think it is even the best of the B series let alone the best of the TSR adventures (I would rate B 4,5 and 10 as higher for example).

Also note that I am not 100% familiar with every D&D adventure ever published since the year 2000, and some I have forgotten about. In some cases 3E and 4E for example they are not exactly famous for lots of high quality adventures but there were a few gems here and there. A failure to be included on this list doesn't mean an adventure is bad, but the ones included here are often 4.5/5 stars or higher at least going by various online reviews. Sometimes an entire AP might be here, at other ones I might include part of an AP. This is because a lot of APs are not actually completed to level 15-20 in my experience and the tendency for most D&D adventures that are good to be in the level 1-8 range anyway. In other cases I may not be familiar enough with an adventure to rate it fairly (I have not played it/ran it/read it thoroughly), or I don't even know it exists. If I want to convert an adventure to 5E and run it its probably doing something right. In order.

10.Deep Carbon Observatory (LotFP)
9. Madness at Gardmore Abbey (4E)
8. Quests of Doom (Volume One) (5E)
7. Assault on Blacktooth Ridge. Castles and Crusades
6. The Stolen Lands Pathfinder
5. Princes of the Apocalypse 5E
4. The Savage Tide (pt 1 and 2) 3.5
3. The Whispering Cairn 3.5
2. Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder
1. Lost Mines of Phandelver 5E
LOL, other than #5 on your list, I have never heard of any of these. Of course, even PotA I have read about here on the forum, but that's it. I don't think I've even see it in the bookstore I go to...
 

Zardnaar

Hero
LOL, other than #5 on your list, I have never heard of any of these. Of course, even PotA I have read about here on the forum, but that's it. I don't think I've even see it in the bookstore I go to...
A few are 3rd party or Dungeon magazine. Others were a decade ago. You haven't heard of 1?
 

MockingBird

Explorer
Tomb of Annihilation was a lot better than I thought it would be. Curse of strahd seems really good. I have it but havent run it yet. Rise of the Runelords was pretty good, wished they would convert it to 5e. I didnt really care for any of the 4e adventures, I dont recall seeing many but the ones I did see just didnt grab my attention.
 

pogre

Adventurer
I often have impressions of adventures based on the group I am playing through it with. For example, right now I am having a blast with Dungeon of the Mad Mage and loving every minute of it. I'll have a lot of great memories running through the adventure. On the other hand, Princes of the Apocalypse was pretty average for me - mostly because my group was a bit flaky at the time. I can recognize that the structure and writing are probably better for Princes, but judgment is clouded by my personal play experience.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I often have impressions of adventures based on the group I am playing through it with. For example, right now I am having a blast with Dungeon of the Mad Mage and loving every minute of it. I'll have a lot of great memories running through the adventure. On the other hand, Princes of the Apocalypse was pretty average for me - mostly because my group was a bit flaky at the time. I can recognize that the structure and writing are probably better for Princes, but judgment is clouded by my personal play experience.
That's a big one. I don't think Dungeon of the Mad Mage is bad at all but there are dozens of adventures that a good so a top ten by definition Wii exclude a few.

I never got into Ravenloft and I find Strahd a big boring cliche. Curse isn't bad by any means and Princes, Curse and Tomb are probably the best 5E APs at least compared to the rest.

DotMM is probably on par with several of the Pathfinder APs for example. A lot of 5Evones to suffer a bit from original it though as they are usually based off an older adventure. None are out right terrible although HotDQ might be coming close.
 

Advertisement

Top