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D&D General Rank these starting adventures

Best starting adventure

  • Lost Mines of Phandelver

    Votes: 34 48.6%
  • Against the Cult of the Reptile God

    Votes: 4 5.7%
  • Village of Hommlet

    Votes: 4 5.7%
  • Sunless Citadel

    Votes: 5 7.1%
  • Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

    Votes: 9 12.9%
  • Lost City

    Votes: 3 4.3%
  • Keep on the Borderlands

    Votes: 7 10.0%
  • Horror on the Hill

    Votes: 2 2.9%
  • Palace of the Silver Princess

    Votes: 2 2.9%

  • Total voters


If you were to choose from the options below to run a new party through at level 1, which would it be? Assume you're a skilled DM who can flesh out details and modify things as you see fit.

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Following is the only possible true and correct ranking of the starting modules.

1. Lost City

2. Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

3. Lost Mines of Phandelver

4. Village of Hommlet

5. Keep on the Borderlands

6. Against the Cult of the Reptile God


7. Palace of the Silver Princess

8. Sunless Citadel

9. Horror on the Hill

Now, you can argue with me. If you enjoy being wrong. Or, if you prefer being on the side of truth, justice, and no friggin' bards, then just start your post like Mistwell- "Snarf Zagyg, you are correct."


I would just run LmoPhandelver since I have it, will not need to convert it, and it is designed to expose new players to 5e. I have also run it where some of the old ones, I only played in 30 years ago.


Rotten DM
Snarf Zagyg, you are correct. You just got the numbers in the wrong order.
1. Village of Hommlet
2. Lost Mines of Phandelver
3. Sunless Citadel
4. Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
5 Keep of the Borderlands
6. Against the reptile God
7. Lost City
8. Palace of the Silver Princess
9. Horror on the Hill

In that case, it'd fall out like this:
  1. Lost Mines of Phandelver
  2. Village of Hommlet
  3. Sunless Citadel
  4. Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  5. Keep on the Borderlands
The rest I don't know well enough to rate for this sort of situation. Lost Mines is great for new players (and is easily tweaked if any of the old hands have already played it), and Hommlet is a classic that's not too sprawling and intimidating. Sunless Citadel has Meepo. Saltmarsh is a dungeon crawl, but a focused one with some tricks up its sleeve. Keep has a classic setup, but I could see new players chafing a little at it.

I am the only one with Horror on the hill. :(
It was my first adventure to DM ever. I loved every bits of it. But Lost City and Keep on the Borderland were strong contestants. LMoP is also a great adventure but the feel of the old adventures is too strong for me.


New Publisher
Lost mines is really quite good. If you own both Phandelver products, you can add some great encounters from Dragons also....and there are a lot of resources out there, and it is already 5e......

Village of Hommlet is a great starter for a campaign but that is an entirely separate category from Starter Adventure.

From a narrative perspective, a Starter Adventure should be disposable, and not necessarily tied to any Campaign Plot elements.

The above, typically does not describe the role of Village of Hommlet.

I really appreciate the Sunless Citadel. Just a solidly designed starter dungeon, that can be modularly inserted anywhere..(I know that sounds painful..for the players 😀).


I've started some brilliant campaigns with Hommlet, and most of the major NPCs in town are now former player characters- can tie it in with Sunless Citadel, KoTB or many others. I usually have forge of fury nearby too- good lead in to PoTA (whch is how I last used it).

I think though for out of the box ease of play for 5e that Phandelver will probably come out on top though.

No love for N1- under Illefarn? Not truely a classic but a good low level mini campaign which I combined with scourge of the Sword Coast during the playtest days to great effect.



Lost mines is really quite good. If you own both Phandelver products, you can add some great encounters from Dragons also....and there are a lot of resources out there, and it is already 5e......

So is Saltmarsh, technically, as it's part of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. And Sunless Citadel is also 5e converted for roll20 IIRC


New Publisher
So is Saltmarsh, technically, as it's part of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. And Sunless Citadel is also 5e converted for roll20 IIRC

good point. And I have the Saltmarsh book, and most of the adventures are really quite good. I don't think that is a bad choice at all. Sunless is good, I'm stealing the bottom layer for a Daelkyr cave system in my Phandalin based campaign (in Eberron).

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Well, Lost Mines of Phandelver is the best starting adventure of these options.

However, I've run it (and Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh) and I don't enjoy running the same adventure more than once, so next time I have new players I'm probably going to run the Baldur's Gate introduction to Descent into Avernus. It looks pretty fun to me!

And you should add Dragon Heist to this list. I enjoyed running it more than Phandelver, and my beginner players loved it.


Victoria Rules
One question: as these are mostly brand new players, how lethal do you really want to be? I ask because that'll affect which of these you might want to go with. Also, what edition or system are you using?

My personal pick would be Keep on the Borderlands. It's gonzo enough to be fun, it introduces a bunch of different monsters and tropes which lay a good groundwork for future endeavours (and you can build story hooks into any of the different monster colonies if you want), its lethality level is largely dependent on how the players/PCs approach it, you can easily add some outdoor or wilderness adventuring to introduce the players to that, and the town can become a home base as they continue.

Against the Cult of the Reptile God is good but there's one or two encounters in there that can be TPKs waiting to happen. Village of Hommlet is almost a guaranteed TPK for raw 1st-level types if DMed to its potential.

Sunless Citadel isn't bad at all, though you'd probably want to add in a nearby home base.

The rest I'm not all that familiar with. I don't even own Horror on the Hill; and have neither run nor played through any of the others though at some point in the past I'll have read each one, as I own them all.

It won't be a popular choice, but I'll throw a bone to 4e's Keep on the Shadowfell as a half-decent intro dungeon-crawl-style adventure. Just watch out for the last encounter, the one with the BBEG, as that encounter and scene are very poorly written up IMO and will leave you floundering if your players try anything the least bit creative.

And while it's a bit tough for a very-first adventure, for their second adventure I highly recommend L1 Sercet of Bone Hill.


Voted "Against the Cult of the Reptile God," mostly because the very solid meat and potatoes, "rescue the princess cleric, save the village" B11: King's Festival wasn't in the running.

I've noticed that a lot of people keep assuming this is for 5E, but this is General. Each edition has had an iconic starting adventure, but Keep on the Borderlands has been the starting point for tons of campaigns across almost every edition since it came out, making it the overall best. Lost Mines is the best 5E starter, just as Sunless Citadel was the best for 3E. Village of Hommlet was good for 1E, but because of the specific nature of it being set in Greyhawk and it setting up the Temple of Elemental Evil, it doesn't stand that well on its own.

Oh, and having run Against the Cult of the Reptile God numerous times, this is an excellent adventure that should have been much higher level. As it is, you have to have a McGuffin just to have a chance to survive, and it's entirely possible for the players to screw it up, leading to a TPK.

Enrico Poli1

1) Against the Cult of the Reptile God
2) Keep on the Borderlands
3) Horror on the Hill
4) Lost Mines of Phsndelver
5) Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
6) The Sunless Citadel
7) Palace of the Silver Princess
8) Lost City
9) Village of Hommlet

Good call. I really like that one, and am going to be running it soon. Whether being run for experienced or new players, it's pretty cool. It's easily expandable and allows for a strong degree of PC choice while not just throwing them into a sandbox blind.

Missing from the list: Dragon of Icespire Peak (Essentials).