D&D 5E Nominate Today's Top Adventures for Use in 5E

Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
5) Test of the Warlords (BECMI). You experience high level play, dominions, wars, etc
4) Tomb of Annihilation (5e). Perfect hexcrawl with a time limit, then a deathtrap dungeon. IMO best 5e Adventure.
3) Reign of Winter AP (Pathfinder 1e). You experience being in a fairy-tale, in sci-fic, in an historical game, finally into myth...
2) Savage Tide AP (D&D 3.5). You play this, and you feel like inside an adventure movie. Also absurdly difficult.
1) Age of Worms AP (D&D 3.5). The quintessential D&D campaign, a true love letter to the game.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I tried to run it as written and it was horrid. I think the part we all hated the most was the very railroady chase sequence. (It doesn't help that 5e's chase rules suck.) YMMV I guess.

I did use the Xanathar's lair to great effect in a different campaign, though. I also gave Trollskull Manor to my DotMM group, but they've been spending 99% of the campaign in the dungeon, so it hasn't really been used. So yes, as a toolkit, it's great. As an adventure, it is absolutely hands down the worst adventure WotC has published for 5e. So I maintain that it does not fit @LordEntrails' criteria for inclusion.
I hear very mixed things about how well it worked for people. We had fun with it, and as a book of urban dungeon modules I think it is good. All the 5E books work as thematic module collections, I feel.

So, my top 3 are getting mentioned by literally everyone, not much mroe to say:

1. Lost Mines of Phandelver. My wife ran it the first week 5E was out with no prior DMing experience as written and it was a blast. Stone cold classic.

2. Curse of Strahd. Chapter 3 or 4 is just I6 reprinted, but everything around it is tied in perfectly. Great experience.

3. Tomb of Annihilation. Welcome to the Jungle.

Now, more controversially perhaps:

4. Princes of the Apocalypse. Great direct followup for Lost Mines if Phandelver, and actually a really tightly designed yet expansive sandbox of Dungeons.

5. Tyranny of Dragons (specifically the edited combo book). Now, I ran Hoard of the Dragon Queen straight out of the book with zero prep and...it went great. This one is a bit uneven, but in balance there is a lot going on in here.
 
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TheSword

Legend
Ugh, no. Both of those are as bad as Dragon Heist if not worse. Age of Worms has some fun moments, but none of them let you affect the outcome of the adventure in any way. Your PCs are just along for the ride. And Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a hideous mess written by people who don't understand that a TTRPG adventure shouldn't be written like it's a CRPG.
Well done for being the first to go negative. Probably more constructive to spend the column inches for why your choices are good, rather than knocking other people’s. It’s never particularly nice to see criticism of something another person likes that starts with the phrase “ugh, no.”

For the record. There are plenty of opportunities to influence outcomes in Age of Worms. It is a series of adventures where PCs repeatedly affect the outcome of each adventure. It sounds like you have a problem with the AP format. Which is a shame because you’ll miss out on some excellent products if you dismiss them.

Odyssey is great. I’m not sure why you think it’s a mess. It has a very clear structure that mixes short linear sections with sandbox and a compelling set of overarching villains similar to the method Curse of Strahd. There’s nothing wrong with bringing compelling elements of quality CRPG (of which BG 1 & 2 are clearly quality) into TTRPG. If only everyone could write so vividly and include PCs in a plot so thoroughly. I seem to remember us having this disagreement before. You’re entitled to your opinion though.
 

pukunui

Legend
For the record. There are plenty of opportunities to influence outcomes in Age of Worms. It is a series of adventures where PCs repeatedly affect the outcome of each adventure. It sounds like you have a problem with the AP format. Which is a shame because you’ll miss out on some excellent products if you dismiss them.
I've only ever played Age of Worms, although I did run part of one of the adventures as a standalone once. The entire time I was playing through the AP, I felt like we were just there to observe the plot as it rolled along on its tracks, and while we could certainly affect things within each individual module, we couldn't do anything to affect the overall plot. There didn't seem to be any way to stop the BBEG from appearing at the end, for instance ... unlike, say, the Tyranny of Dragons campaign where the PCs can actually prevent Tiamat from being summoned if they do all the right things. Perhaps that is a possibility in Age of Worms and we just didn't achieve the things we needed to. Nevertheless, I found it extremely railroady and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Odyssey is great. I’m not sure why you think it’s a mess. It has a very clear structure that mixes short linear sections with sandbox and a compelling set of overarching villains similar to the method Curse of Strahd. There’s nothing wrong with bringing compelling elements of quality CRPG (of which BG 1 & 2 are clearly quality) into TTRPG. If only everyone could write so vividly and include PCs in a plot so thoroughly. I seem to remember us having this disagreement before. You’re entitled to your opinion though.
I don't remember disagreeing with you specifically about this one, but I'm sure people can find my thoughts on the adventure in the threads on that topic if people want to know. I shan't spend any more time on it here.

I will, however, go back and edit my post to include some praise for my top 5 picks.
 

TheSword

Legend
I've only ever played Age of Worms, although I did run part of one of the adventures as a standalone once. The entire time I was playing through the AP, I felt like we were just there to observe the plot as it rolled along on its tracks, and while we could certainly affect things within each individual module, we couldn't do anything to affect the overall plot. There didn't seem to be any way to stop the BBEG from appearing at the end, for instance ... unlike, say, the Tyranny of Dragons campaign where the PCs can actually prevent Tiamat from being summoned if they do all the right things. Perhaps that is a possibility in Age of Worms and we just didn't achieve the things we needed to. Nevertheless, I found it extremely railroady and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
The general purpose of APs isn’t to stop the later episodes happening. The AP is less about stoping the BBEG from coming back in advance (because you don’t know how it’s going to happen until it happens. Good APs explore a variety of themes and challenges that don’t preclude future ones, allowing success or failure to allow the story to continue - rather than forcing the PCs to succeed to carry on. It’s the opposite of railroad.

If you haven’t DM’d or at least read the Campaign it’s probably best not to start your criticism with “Ugh, no.”
 

pukunui

Legend
If you haven’t DM’d or at least read the Campaign it’s probably best not to start your criticism with “Ugh, no.”
I have read through it, albeit not recently. I disagree with your assessment of an AP not being a railroad but I don't wish to derail (pardon the pun) this thread any further by beating that dead horse.

I have added my reasons for my picks to my original post at your request.
 



TheSword

Legend
I think there is a reason WotC has moved away from strict Adventure "paths" and moved towards sandboxes with loosely connected modules.
To be honest WotC never really did publish APs. With a few notable old examples like against the giants. It was always Paizo that published the APs and they made a very successful publishing company on the back of it.
 

3rd: Dragon Heist
Controversial, I know. The reason people dislike this is due to its overall layout, and elements of railroading that seem difficult to avoid. However, in the hands of a skilled DM this adventure is pure gold. The plot and mystery is well-written to intrigue PCs, and the hook (100,000 gold!) is guaranteed to raise their hackles. The key is to take all the disparate pieces and coalesce them into something truly awesome. Other folks like the Alexandrian have done a great job with this, but I hacked together a version not nearly as complex that worked fantastic. Pick a villain and use their lair as the actual end to the adventure (while giving the PCs help to balance against a possibly too powerful foe) and they'll talk about this adventure for years.

Bold choice, and I think it is too difficult to run successfully out of the box to really rank very high, but I'll definitely say my group had a blast playing Dragon Heist and I wouldn't be surprised if a disproportionate number of the most fun 5e campaigns have been Dragon Heist. At the end of the day most players are just way more likely to come up with interesting things to do with interesting consequences in an urban sandbox than in the settings of any of the other campaigns, and the best part of the game has always been when players try things that the DM and/or the adventure didn't foresee.
 

As the OP I feel I should chime in on the Dragon Heist discussions. I get it., and for me I would not list it because I felt I had to do too much to make it useable (and great). But feeling otherwise is certainly acceptable. Remember all, this is individual nominations. When it comes time to vote, we can all get our say :)

(Though don't feel discussion is not desired!)
 

TheSword

Legend
OK, 5 greatest adventures that still work today, regardless of system they are written for:
5 Lost Mine of Phandelver: a masterpiece of an introduction.
4 Curse of Strahd: I was genuinely terrified playing this
3 Rappan Athuk: puts the “dungeon” into D&D
2 The Enemy Within: multi-layered intrigue and looming menace
1 The Night Below: simply the greatest campaign

And I hate myself for leaving out Dwellers in the Forbidden City, Saltmarsh, Tsojcanth and Caverns of Thracia
I’d forgotten about Night Below. What a beautiful adventure. I’m gutted I never got to play in your campaign. I’m just torn as to what is take off my top five to put in there.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I’d forgotten about Night Below. What a beautiful adventure. I’m gutted I never got to play in your campaign. I’m just torn as to what is take off my top five to put in there.

I played the first book in 5E and the campaign in 2E.

Pt 1 holds up really well. Very similar to LMoP as a template imho.

Turns into a dungeon hack later and rescuing the people 10-12+ levels later doesn't work so well in practice. Evils of Harranshire rocks and I used it as a campaign launch.

LMoP everyone's gonna say this and it's fair enough.


PotA I think is better than people credit it for. Might actually be top 5 of the 5E stuff but the 5E adventures aren't great let's face it. Salt Marsh number 3 behind LMoP and Strahd.

Lost City still holds up.

Individual parts of Savage Tide and Age of Worms are good, they fall apart later imho.
 


TheSword

Legend
Kingmaker has to be in any list of great campaigns. Even in its slightly flawed 1e state it was still amazing. I’m awaiting the re-release with baited breath and will definitely run it again.

Skull and Shackles mentioned above was similarly wonderful. I wasn’t joking when I said you could lift it wholesale and put it into Spelljammer or the Sea of Fallen Stars.

Curse of the Crimson Throne is one of the best Pathfinder Adventure Paths, because it’s a city adventure and tied to the place really well. The city is a really good backdrop and the events of the AP are very dynamic. Having both played in it and prepped it for 5e. It is a really solid story. Great scenes, great characters. Who doesn’t love an evil plague doctor! Crying out to be moved to Waterdeep.

Carrion Crown is also very very well done and could easily be ported across to Ravenloft. It takes a journey through all the great horror tropes, a haunted house, the created, werewolves, things in the lake… all Pursuing a madman across the land to stop him bring back an ancient evil.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Kingmaker has to be in any list of great campaigns. Even in its slightly flawed 1e state it was still amazing. I’m awaiting the re-release with baited breath and will definitely run it again.

Skull and Shackles mentioned above was similarly wonderful. I wasn’t joking when I said you could lift it wholesale and put it into Spelljammer or the Sea of Fallen Stars.

Curse of the Crimson Throne is one of the best Pathfinder Adventure Paths, because it’s a city adventure and tied to the place really well. The city is a really good backdrop and the events of the AP are very dynamic. Having both played in it and prepped it for 5e. It is a really solid story. Great scenes, great characters. Who doesn’t love an evil plague doctor! Crying out to be moved to Waterdeep.

Carrion Crown is also very very well done and could easily be ported across to Ravenloft. It takes a journey through all the great horror tropes, a haunted house, the created, werewolves, things in the lake… all Pursuing a madman across the land to stop him bring back an ancient evil.

I've mined parts of Skull and Shackles. Like most APs the 2st few adventures are great.
 

1st: The Enemy Within Campaign - released by Cubicle 7. Without a doubt the best campaign I’ve ever played and DM’d. (I’m on the third run through!) Brilliant characters, setting and investigation. Locations are evocative. You could easily run it for 5e using the rules for gunpowder in DMG. The perfect mix of plot and sandbox. It also does a very good job of bridging the gap between local heroes and kingdom heroes. All you would need to do is convert treasure and NPC stats. You’d lose a bit of the old world flavor but the adventure is still at core amazing. Highlights include secret societies, carnivals, corrupt nobles, deadly meteors, mutants, lurking ratmen, imperial politics and small but vicious dogs. Run it, you won’t regret it. There is a reason this is on every top ten list of adventures of all time… the re-release is much better.

2nd: Age of Worms. The best of the 3e adventure paths. A really solid campaign of growing evil. Strong individual chapters and a nice overarching theme. Part One the Gathering of Winds has probably the best dungeon I’ve seen in a game for tier 1 characters.

3rd: Odyssey of the Dragonlords. Epic, campaign with a capital E. Heroes at the heart of everything in a great setting. Very thematic. Beautiful to read and to DM. Best Greek campaign I’ve seen.

4th: Way of the Wicked. Written for Pathfinder but easily convertible. It has may favorite hook for adventuring and has one of the best story arcs I’ve seen in a campaign. A pleasure to DM. Of course it is for an Evil Party, and the methods the writer uses to keep things coherent is very clever. One of the chapters the party get to build their own dungeon and protect it against adventurers!

5th: Curse of Strahd. The best of the 5e WotC hardbacks. A great tight story which links everything back to the BBEG. Very atmospheric and fun to DM. The only reason it hasn’t placed higher is that I think after the awesome 80% of the book, the castle is a bit of an anticlimax.

Honourable mention: Tales of the Old Margrave. By Kobald Press. Designed for 5e. Again very thematic and atmospheric. A series of beautifully written adventures that capture a Hansel and Grettel theme.

Honourable mention: Kingmaker. It was amazing for pathfinder 1e but had its flaws. A new release should be out soon which improves these and also offers a 5e monster and NPC conversion. Worth waiting for that.
Isn't that The Whispering Cairn?
 

TheSword

Legend
Isn't that The Whispering Cairn?
Good spot! I corrected.

I always get those two mixed up! Probably because I think Gathering of Winds is such a good name for a first adventure for a party 😂.

It’s a nifty mechanism to go back to the first dungeon and open up an previously unexplored part of it. Ties things back to the start in a satisfying way.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
I hear everyone on LMoP, it’s a very well structured adventure and it showcases a good breadth of baddies that have a reason to be there. It is a great introduction to a bunch of standard DnD tropes, but it’s also trodding very well worn ground. It’s basic DnD done right, but…i guess, yes, not everything has to be new and exciting if it just works.

No one has yet really gone to the stuff on DM’s guild, so I will. With my sole nomination.

The Collected Works of MT Black Volumes I & II. I guess that’s two products. There’s better production value in Two, and it has more stuff over Level 5, but One has more adventures you can link into mini campaigns. Overall, while they’re just one shots, they are far more imaginative and interesting than just about anything the Big Books have. A tremendous value and easy to run right off the page. West Marches in a box that is a pdf. Great intros to SKT or PotA if you’re not impressed with the get to level 4/5 intro stuff those have. Side quests any time. If we’re talking things people should run, should experience in 5e, these are some of the best little set pieces out there. Cheap and quick reads too if you doubt me.
 

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