D&D 5E Phandelver starting to show up in the wild. NewbieDM looks to be the first!

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Painting something a different colour doesn't make it interesting. If everything is weird in your game the players will take weird for granted, and it just becomes the new normal.

Without a baseline of normality, weird does not exist.
I don't think anyone was suggesting making everything weird.

As has been said, a lot of Phandalin is very generic. Taking one or two elements there and making them more interesting can make the setting more memorable and give the place more personality.

In my home campaign (not Forgotten Realms), I had a generic village the players had to protect from a threat connected to an ongoing quest they were on be the birthplace of the man who had invented the printing press, along with a big statue in his name and a lot of regional pride. Suddenly, Bootblack wasn't just a village like any other -- it had a place in the world that everyone could immediately grasp.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think anyone was suggesting making everything weird.

As has been said, a lot of Phandalin is very generic. Taking one or two elements there and making them more interesting can make the setting more memorable and give the place more personality.

In my home campaign (not Forgotten Realms), I had a generic village the players had to protect from a threat connected to an ongoing quest they were on be the birthplace of the man who had invented the printing press, along with a big statue in his name and a lot of regional pride. Suddenly, Bootblack wasn't just a village like any other -- it had a place in the world that everyone could immediately grasp.
I think Phandalij is well set up for that sort of color to emerge in play, from the DM and players.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I think Phandalij is well set up for that sort of color to emerge in play, from the DM and players.
It is, for an experienced DM. I think it could use a bit more color by default, because it's going to be a lot of DM's first adventures and a lot of them aren't going to be comfortable coloring outside the lines at first.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It is, for an experienced DM. I think it could use a bit more color by default, because it's going to be a lot of DM's first adventures and a lot of them aren't going to be comfortable coloring outside the lines at first.
Granted that is goijg to he easier for experienced DMs, but I've played Lost Mines with a newbie DM twice (my wife and my brother-in-law, on different occasions bot ran Lost Mines for their first game), and that worked out very well. A comfortable blank slate can be a great canvas for a newbie to paint on.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't think anyone was suggesting making everything weird.
The weirder the better…but you need to contrast the weird with the mundane otherwise the weird becomes the mundane. Replace weird with fantastical and it’s still true.
I'll go further: It's the best starting adventure for any edition of D&D.
That distinction is still held by Keep on the Borderlands.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
After running the original a million times in AD&D, I've run the OAR version in 5E since the pandemic. There are a lot of things that Gygax did that even an average DM wouldn't do in 2023. It's an important starting point, but the state of the art is much, much better now.
Maybe. But a 10-year-old modules isn’t state-of-the-art. Besides, both Stormwreck and Icespire are both better intro adventures than Phandelver. And that’s just staying in 5E. Phandelver isn’t that great.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
After running the original a million times in AD&D, I've run the OAR version in 5E since the pandemic. There are a lot of things that Gygax did that even an average DM wouldn't do in 2023. It's an important starting point, but the state of the art is much, much better now.
I haven't run either (yet), but on my read T1 seems better than B2, and cane first. And B1 seems promising. But I would take Lost Mines or even Dragon of Icespire Peak.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
That distinction is still held by Keep on the Borderlands.
I don't think it was a great adventure for new DMs even when it was released.

Is it an adventure I adore and have run many times? Yes. But a good adventure for new DMs? Not really.

Keep on the Borderlands has a fundamental flaw: The Keep, which isn't described in a way that someone new to DMing has anything to work with. And then it puts a massive barrier between the players and the fun bit (exploring the caves), because they don't know where the Caves of Chaos are.

I'm tossing up between The Sunless Citadel and Lost Mine of Phandelver for the best of these adventures. Lost Mine probably gets it, not because it's flawless, but because it has a greater range, both providing a directed experience while allowing the players agency.

Cheers,
Merric
 

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