5th Edition Adventure Elevator Pitches

A mostly spoiler-free collection of “elevator pitch” descriptions of D&D 5e’s officially published adventure books.

This should be useful as a guide to helping your group select its next D&D campaign.

Lost Mine of Phandelver

First you’re hired to escort a shipment of goods, then you have to search for your missing employer. There’s a mine involved, and it’s been lost to time. This is the adventure from the starter set, and it’s designed to be an intro both for players and DMs, and it’s widely hailed as being one of the best adventures at that task.

Traits: Side quests, dungeons

Tyranny of Dragons

Cultists are trying to bring together powerful artefacts to resurrect an evil dragon god. You’re trying to rally the forces of good to stop this threat.

This story arc is contained in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat adventures, and is also available in a combined form with some additional art as Tyranny of Dragons.

Traits: Politics, dragons, cultists, railroad

Princes of the Apocalypse

You thought a dragon cult was bad? Child’s play! We’ve got cults all over the place and these don’t even like each other! Will you stand up against those seeking to overrun the world with the forces of elemental evil?

Traits: Elementals, Cultists, dungeons

Out of the Abyss

You’re prisoners of the Drow, evil, underground-dwelling elves, in the labyrinthine and cavernous Underdark. To survive and escape, you’ll need to navigate the abyss, negotiate with or defeat strange beasts and alien horrors, scavenge food and water, and stay sane long enough to reach the surface world.

Traits: Railroad, sandbox, factions, demons, dark elves, dark dwarves, dark gnomes

Curse of Strahd

You find yourselves trapped in the gothic Victorian land of Barovia with the towering Castle Ravenloft, home of Count Strahd von Zarovich, a powerful vampire. Will you defeat this evil to secure your escape or will he be having the party for dinner?

Traits: Roleplay, horror, dungeon

Storm King’s Thunder

Something has upset the pecking order of the giants and they’re all vying for top spot. Will you scour the entire Sword Coast and northwestern Faerun to find out why and fix it?

Traits: Sandbox, flying cloud castles, large encounters

Tomb of Annihilation

Something is causing all who have been resurrected to wither and no-one new can be brought back to life. Will you brave dangerous jungles full of dinos and zombies to find out what?

Traits: hex crawl, dinosaur racing, exploration, a dungeon run by an evil litch, exploration, jungle exploration

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

You rescue a guy and are given the deed to a tavern. A villain is trying to get the vast treasure trove hiding under the city of Waterdeep, and you’re trying to stop them. There is no heist to pull off, and “dragon” refers to the Waterdeep gold coin which have a dragon emblazoned on them.

Traits: Investigation, urban, roleplay-heavy, some replayability

Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

There is an entrance to a dungeon created by a mad wizard hidden in an Adventuerer’s tavern where you can pay to be lowered down into a giant well that’s the entrance to this dungeon. Not everyone who goes in comes back out.

Traits: Megadungeon, story light

Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus

Discover the truth about what happened to the fallen city of Elturel, and journey into the first layer of Hell to fight demons and devils.

Traits: Railroad, exploration, fetch quest

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

This is being released later this year, so we could do other stuff until it’s out. We don’t really know what it’s about yet. The Goddess of Winter (Frostmaiden) has been raised by the mad wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood.

Traits: horror, winter, isolation, paranoia, secrecy, three kobolds in a coat pretending to be a human?