D&D 5E Rank the Official 5e Adventures (Updated)

Retreater

Legend
Nearly a year and a half ago, I posted the linked thread asking everyone's ranking of the official 5e adventures. Not wanting to necro the thread, I thought I would update it in this post. I'm curious your thoughts. (New additions to my list are in red text.)

Top Tier – only minor issues (if any)
1. Curse of Strahd
2. Tomb of Annihilation
3. Lost Mines of Phandelver
Mid Tier- can be good with some work; or just “ho-hum” in delivery
4. Princes of the Apocalypse
5. Out of the Abyss
6. Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Lower Tier – needs some polish to come together as a campaign; or glaring issues that need to be addressed
7. Storm King’s Thunder
8. Descent into Avernus
9. Ghosts of Saltmarsh
10. Tales from the Yawning Portal
11. Waterdeep Dragon Heist
12. Rime of the Frost Maiden

Failure Tier – unusable
13. Horde of the Dragon Queen
The other adventures I do not own and do not plan to own or read.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Stormonu

Legend
I’d put Ghosts in the mid-tier. It has one weak point (Danger at Dunwater section), but it just makes that section short if the PCs are on their toes.

It may be because of the DM I’m playing under, but I would put Tomb of Annihilation is the Failure Tier. As it has been run for my group at home, it’s an unorganized mess that depends too much on sandbox play (i.e., the DM better be really good at improvising).
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Top Tier
1. Curse of Strahd
2. Tomb of Annihilation
3. Lost Mine of Phandelver
4. Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Mid Tier
5. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
6. Out of the Abyss
7. Dragon of Icespire Peak
8. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
Lower Tier
9. Tyranny of Dragons
10. Storm King's Thunder

Haven't read or played Princes of the Apocalypse. I am about 1/3rd or so through playing Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus, so I can't evaluate it fairly yet.

I'm not gonna include the anthology/compilation books because they are such mixed bags and really a different animal from these adventures.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Top Tier
1. Curse of Strahd
2. Lost Mine of Phandelver
3. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
4. Candlekeep Mysteries
Mid Tier
5. Tyranny of Dragons
6. Out of the Abyss
7. Rime of the Frost Maiden
8. Descent to Avernus
Lower Tier
9. Ghosts of Saltmarsh
10. Tomb of Annihilation
11. Princes of the Apocalypse
Garbage Tier
12. Storm Kings Thunder
13. Tales from the Yawning Portal
14. Dragon Heist

I'm a big HotDQ apologist; I actually think it's pretty cleverly designed, if awkward and unfinished. Unfortunately, as well designed as it was for new players, it was pretty perfectly engineered to drive old school grognards up the wall

It's certainly more playable than the OG Tomb of Horrors, and more enjoyable than the wet thud of Dragon Heist
 

I haven't run any of these, but the one that I would want to run is ghosts of saltmarsh, so it is interesting that it is a lower tier for many of you. The starting town itself is the perfect base for sandbox play. Plus, it's not in the forgotten realms!
 

I haven't run any of these, but the one that I would want to run is ghosts of saltmarsh, so it is interesting that it is a lower tier for many of you. The starting town itself is the perfect base for sandbox play. Plus, it's not in the forgotten realms!
It can be in the Forgotten Realms. There are suggestions as to where to place it.
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
Top Tier
Lost Mine of Phandelver
Mid Tier
Descent to Avernus
Ghosts of Saltmarsh*
Dungeon of the Mad Mage*
Lower Tier
Storm Kings Thunder
Horde of the Dragon Queen

Other than Ghosts and Mad Mage, these are the modules our group have played. I am currently running Descent. Mechanically it has its flaws, yes, but I've found it very easy to work around those or even ignore sections that don't work well. Lulu technically doesn't even exist - she's mind trapped in a Ring of Mind Shielding worn by the Cleric. Makes for amazing role play in our group. In fact, the overall role play and character development in this one adventure has been so great that it is the key factor in me rating it so high. YMMV.

I own Ghosts and DotMM and have read through them and find them to have great potential, and I am looking forward to running them soon.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Top Tier – only minor issues (if any)
Curse of Strahd
Lost Mines of Phandelver
Tomb of Annihilation*
Mid Tier- can be good with some work; or just “ho-hum” in delivery
Dragon of Icespire Peak*
Tales from the Yawning Portal
Candlekeep Mysteries*
Tyranny of Dragons*
Lower Tier – needs some polish to come together as a campaign; or glaring issues that need to be addressed
Rime of the Frost Maiden*
Ghosts of Saltmarsh
Princes of the Apocalypse*
Waterdeep Dragon Heist
Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Failure Tier – unusable
Storm King’s Thunder
Descent into Avernus*
Horde of the Dragon Queen
Out of the Abyss

*haven’t run or played in, just my second-hand impression.
 
Last edited:

Top Tier – only minor issues (if any)
Curse of Strahd
Lost Mines of Phandelver
Tomb of Annihilation*
Mid Tier- can be good with some work; or just “ho-hum” in delivery
Dragon of Icespire Peak*
Tales from the Yawning Portal
Candlekeep Mysteries*
Tyranny of Dragons*
Lower Tier – needs some polish to come together as a campaign; or glaring issues that need to be addressed
Rime of the Frost Maiden*
Ghosts of Saltmarsh
Princes of the Apocalypse*
Waterdeep Dragon Heist
Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Failure Tier – unusable
Storm King’s Thunder
Descent into Avernus*
Horde of the Dragon Queen
Out of the Abyss

*haven’t run or played in, just my second-hand impression.
I find it interesting that you put ToD in the Mid Tier, but HotDQ (the first half) in the Failure Tier.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I find it interesting that you put ToD in the Mid Tier, but HotDQ (the first half) in the Failure Tier.
Well note that ToD has an asterisk, indicating that I haven’t played or DMed it, so its placement is just based on my secondhand impression. I have both played and DMed HotDQ though, so its position is based on experience, and I’m much more confident in that evaluation. But from what I’ve heard, it sounds to me like ToD plays much better than HotDQ does. Maybe it should be in lower tier rather than mid? I dunno, but I get the impression that it should at least escape the failure tier.
 

Without going into spoilers, can anyone summarise why SKT seems to be universally so despised? I'm in the middle of it now, and am actually looking forward to reading it once the campaign finishes. But the DM runs his campaigns pretty by the book, and while there's been a few parts which seem a bit lumpy, it hasn't seemed TOO bad.
 
Last edited:

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Without going into spoilers, can anyone summarise why SKT seems to be universally so despised? I'm in the middle of it now, and am actually looking forward to reading it once the campaign finished. But the DM runs his campaigns pretty by the book, and while there's been a few parts which seem a bit lumpy, it hasn't seemed TOO bad.
The hook suffers from serious one-point failure. The PCs have absolutely no reason to trust this cloud giant who just showed up to a town that was recently ransacked by cloud giants, but if they don’t, the adventure just doesn’t happen. Also, there’s a huge chunk of the adventure that’s literally just “run some other adventures until the PCs are high enough level for the next part” with no other guidance. I’d be willing to bet the parts that seem “a bit lumpy” are the parts that are actually written in the adventure, and the good parts are entirely of your DM’s creation. Not because they’re going off-script but because there isn’t even a script to be on.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think if you’re going to rank something, you should be clear what criteria you’re using to rank that way. I see a lot of people putting adventures in wildly different places and they’re doing it all for different reasons.

My ranking is based on how much fun the adventure was for me to run/read/play in - aggregated where I’ve done more than one of those things. I don’t care how easy it is to read or play. I’m not really interested in easy. I don’t pick a module off the shelf and expect it to play at the table word for word as written. Just fun. I also consider if and how long we played the campaign for to be a good indicator of fun.

Curse of Strahd
Tomb of Annihilation
Dragon Heist
Out of the Abyss
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (early days)
Rime of the Frost Maiden
Tales of the Yawning Portal
Descent into Avernus
Princes of the Apocalypse
Rise of Tiamat
Horde of the Dragon Queen
Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Storm Kings Thunder
Candle Keep Mysteries.

The listing probably say more about those posting than the adventures themselves 🤣
 
Last edited:

Top Tier
1. Lost Mines of Phandelver
2. Curse of Strahd
3. Princes of the Apocalypse

Mid Tier
4. Tomb of Annihilation
5. Tales from the Yawning Portal
6. Dungeon of the Mad Mage
7. Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Bottom Tier
8. Storm King’s Thunder
9. Descent into Avernus
10. Waterdeep Dragon Heist
11. Out of the Abyss

Abject Failure Tier
12. Rime of the Frost Maiden
13. Horde of the Dragon Queen

I love Princes of the Apocalypse and Lost Mines. Curse of Strahd is a no brainer for a top tier campaign module. I put Tales ftYP as Mid Tier because it's not a single adventure or campaign but could be. I enjoyed playing the various dungeons and, with the exception of the Hill Giant fort, there's a lot of fun adventures. I actually enjoyed the Sunless Citadel MORE in 5e than I did in 3e. I didn't like Out of the Abyss as much as I hoped I would. I felt the side quests were more fun than the actual main plot. I had to put Rime of the FM as a failure. Like Horde of the DQ, it has a bad execution of the metaplot. Even though both of them are failures, they still have some parts I've used in my own campaigns (monsters, magic items, encounters), but as modules I hated playing in them.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Without going into spoilers, can anyone summarise why SKT seems to be universally so despised? I'm in the middle of it now, and am actually looking forward to reading it once the campaign finishes. But the DM runs his campaigns pretty by the book, and while there's been a few parts which seem a bit lumpy, it hasn't seemed TOO bad.

My issues with SKT:

- It opens with 5 levels of prologue that are basically unconnected to the main story and are also a big combat slog.

- There is then a town siege scenario with a gimmick where the players are asked to temporarily run NPCs in addition to their own characters, for no particular reason. This section is a hassle to run. You might think it's worth it because the players will then feel a connection to the NPCs they've just played or the town they've just saved, but nope; these NPC characters are barely used thereafter, and the adventurers immediately leave the town on various fetch side quests, with no reason to ever return.

- For levels 5-7, the DM is basically told "Here's the Sword Coast; have them do some stuff. See you in two levels!" As a DM, the reason I'm buying a pre-written adventure is because I would like to be given an adventure to work off, not a 50-page thumbnail list of locations.

- At level 7-ish, the main adventure, advertised as covering levels 1-10, finally starts. There are some solid set-piece encounters and nice maps here, but in the end the main storyline is just okay and there's a risk of the adventurers being bigfooted in the main event by their powerful NPC allies. Also, without DM adjustments, it's quite possible that the players will never actually find out what is going on in terms of the overarching events that drive the "plot".
 
Last edited:

Yora

Legend
Fasciating. As someone who has no personal contact with any of the adventures, I was under the impression that Strahd, Storm King, and Frost Maiden are by far the most popular.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Fasciating. As someone who has no personal contact with any of the adventures, I was under the impression that Strahd, Storm King, and Frost Maiden are by far the most popular.

Strahd is very popular, and imo still the strongest 5E adventure.

Rime is popular now mainly because it's the newest campaign; time will tell where it settles in people's estimation.

Storm King is popular but it's quite bad. I think a lot of DMs gravitate towards it because it appears to offer meat-and-potatoes generic D&D settings and encounters. It seems like an easy transition from Lost Mine of Phandelver for DMs who are looking for more of the same, and for whom superior adventures like Curse of Strahd and Tomb of Annihilation seem too weird or exotic or not their idea of what D&D is.
 

Storm King is popular but it's quite bad. I think a lot of DMs gravitate towards it because it appears to offer meat-and-potatoes generic D&D settings and encounters. It seems like an easy transition from Lost Mine of Phandelver for DMs who are looking for more of the same.
This is my experience, and I don't want to spoil the adventure but the end is REALLY bad. Lots of Storm King's Blunder is bad. In retrospect I should put it as a failure because the execution as written is not good. However, the individual writing, the backstory, and the overall history how it ties in to the rest of the DND Universe is good writing so I want to keep it out of "failure".
 

I would put Ghosts as a top tier.

And, although I know I am in the minority, I ran the first half of Hoard and, with very minor tweaks, and it went great. I then handed it off to a new DM and it went just as well. They were younger and newer players, and they loved it.

Lastly, in my opinion, Rise of Tiamat is fantastic. If not top tier, it is at least mid tier.
 

Retreater

Legend
Fasciating. As someone who has no personal contact with any of the adventures, I was under the impression that Strahd, Storm King, and Frost Maiden are by far the most popular.
I think Strahd was pretty strong. It's not the best adventure of all time - but probably the best we've seen for 5e.

I rated "Storm King's Thunder" and "Rime of the Frost Maiden" in my lower tier because of issues I had running them.

As noted earlier in this thread, SKT has one of the weakest openings I've seen. My players refused to get the quest from the NPC. The adventure has you investigating a town destroyed by flying giants and then expect the players to trust the flying giant they meet immediately afterwards, ride around in his floating tower, and undertake a lengthy quest on his behalf.

SKT at least has some good locations and fun encounters that can be used in other campaigns. The story is convoluted, the potential wasted in secret machinations the DM is supposed to hide from the characters for nearly 10 levels of campaigning.

RotFM (which I'm running currently) is worse than SKT because of its illogical, frozen, no-sun setting (at least SKT had some variety). The encounters are poorly designed - with frequent challenges that have only one solution (that is also beyond what the party can achieve at the recommended levels). The dungeons are too small to have good exploration potential. The segments of the adventure have absolutely nothing to do with each other - the main villain has nothing to do with the other factions - and is dealt with halfway through the adventure, so the party has zero reason to continue the adventure.

RotFM ranks so low because it doesn't even have good parts to take from it. I have to "beef" it up with sidequests from other adventures and ignore the stuff in the book because it is so poorly designed.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top