D&D 5E Suggestions for intro dungeon crawl?

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I'm about to start a game for a group of fairly young players (~9 years old). I've tried Phandelver with that age group, and as basic as that is, I've found it's still hard to know "what to do" for young players who don't really understand the whole roleplaying thing, with all the freedom that comes with it. But going room to room in a dungeon they get.

I'm looking for an old school dungeon crawl that is thin on (but not totally devoid of) plot, suitable for starting at level 1 or 2, and ideally has mostly "monsters" as adversaries, so we don't get into tricky moral territory.

Any suggestions?

Plan B is that I just grab a @Dyson Logos map and start sticking skeletons and spiders in rooms.
 

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
You can't go wrong with Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury.

Those two are actually where I experienced how challenging the RPG paradigm is for new/young players. It's easy to underestimate when one has years of experience.

But I'm thinking I might start with Zenopus and then go to Sunless Citadel, so they start at level 2.
 


J.Quondam

CR 1/8
The adventure in the Essentials kit, Dragon of Ice Spire Peak, starts off as a handful of little fetch quests. It's literally a job board: choose one, go do it, come back, get paid. That might be a recognizable motive for any kiddo who's played a crpg or mmo. Iirc, one mission is a very simple crawl, one's a slightly more involved crawl to hunt a monster, one is a more outdoorsy one possibly involving parlay with a pretty dangerous monster. And that module all happens in the same place as Lost Mines of Phandelver, so it's easy enough to overlap that one when the players get their sea legs and are ready for something a little deeper.
 

Reynard

Legend
Did you play or run them? I ran both but dont remember anything about either. Were they good?
I have run both numerous times. They are my go to introductory dungeons. There's enough happening in Sunless to give new players a feel for how dungeons work, including potentially "friendly" factions. I taught 13 year olds how to play D&D with it, so it's also simple enough. Forge makes a great follow up.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I taught 13 year olds how to play D&D with it, so it's also simple enough. Forge makes a great follow up.

I can believe it would be great for 13 year olds, but I tried it with <10 years old and it was too confusing. They understand kick open the door, kill monster, take loot, but negotiating with potential allies was too much.
 



Reynard

Legend
I can believe it would be great for 13 year olds, but I tried it with <10 years old and it was too confusing. They understand kick open the door, kill monster, take loot, but negotiating with potential allies was too much.
I wouldn't be inclined to try and teach younger than 10 year olds D&D.
 

Endroren

Adventurer
Publisher
I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't suggest Temple of Modren (part of Heroes of Thornwall) and the Forgotten Gate. They're both 1st level 5E compatible dungeon crawls. Simple, straight forward, clear goals, and plenty of monsters. Plus puzzles, opportunities to act heroically, and some cool underlying story you can spin into a longer adventure if everyone wants to keep the game going!
 



I did the essentials kit with an 8 year old, and it was fine. But, there were other adults as players, so that helped guide things along. The biggest challenge I found is the attention span. There had to be a couple breaks for snacks and random running around.

This might be too complicated, and I've never run it, but always looked fun:

 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I wouldn't be inclined to try and teach younger than 10 year olds D&D.
I don’t teach them D&D. They describe the character they want, and I make it. When we play, I describe the environment, they tell me what they want to do, and I either narrate results or ask for dice.* It works great; I've used it with kids as young as 5.

*You know, the 5e playloop....
 

Stormonu

Legend
I think too open a structure is probably bad for most beginners, especially kids.there a reason A LOT of people bounced off D&D at first introduction back in the day.
That's why you start it at them already at the caves, and skip over the travel back and forth to the keep (until they're ready for it).

Though I'd probably also remove the monstrous women & kids from the areas for that age group.
 


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