The Best D&D 5e Modules, Ranked

Since its release in 2014, the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons has seen a myriad number of DnD 5e modules published under its ruleset. Each of them details a unique adventure that brings a variety of themes, setting, creatures, and narratives to a tabletop near you. However, some of these adventures are structured better than others.

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RELATED: Dungeons and Dragons: Hilarious Magic Items

By having a set-in-stone trail of events, these modules rob players of their agency in choosing the story’s direction. Despite the stumbles of these early publications, in the half-decade since its introduction, many well-polished 5e modules have come to the fore.

Updated April 15, 2023, By Chris Stomberg: Another year, another set of brand new adventures to add to the list. The Wizards of the Coast team has been hard at work releasing adventures that tie into other settings and themes previously unexplored in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. There’s really no such thing as too many options as far as roleplaying games are concerned.

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

23 Tyranny Of Dragons: Hoard Of The Dragon Queen / The Rise Of Tiamat

Dungeons & Dragons dragon breathing powerful energy
Dungeons & Dragons Hoard of the Dragon Queen Cover Art via Wizards Of The Coast

As mentioned in the introduction, the Tyranny of Dragons storyline modules definitely have their issues. These modules were released separately as part of the same story, with Hoard of the Dragon Queen taking players through levels one to seven and the Rise of Tiamat continuing the action all the way up to level 15.

The two books will require no small amount of work from the Dungeon Master to allow for a more free-flowing and versatile storyline, but that’s not something that all players desire. For players who are constantly waiting for the Dungeon Master to provide the next prompt or story beat, Tyranny of Dragons is a perfectly suitable choice.

Furthermore, it’s one of the only modules that do a great job of putting the dragons in Dungeons & Dragons, and it lends itself especially well to players who wish to become heroes in the most traditional sense.

However, be warned that if you plan to run this module duo, finagling with some of the combats presented in its pages is a must. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a number of dead PCs throughout the story, as well as the possibility of TPKs (total party kills), and a less-than-climactic final battle with the dragon queen.

22 Hunt for the Thessalhydra

Hasbro Gaming Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplay Starter Set
Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplay Starter Set via Hasbro Gaming

Hasbro Gaming Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplay Starter Set

One of the interesting details of Stranger Things that made the show so popular was the D&D game the main characters were playing. It turns out that wasn’t a reference but a crossover.

The module they were using, Hunt for the Thessalhydra, has been developed into a real D&D campaign by Hasbro and was released in 2019.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: Top Tips For Role-Playing Martial Classes

It’s designed to accommodate both seasoned players and novices, just in case you were inspired to try an RP game by the Netflix hit but new to tabletop gaming. You don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this module, but it does help, so players who enjoy the more immersive, traditional D&D games might not be as inspired.

21 The Lost Dungeon Of Rickedness: Big Rick Energy

rick and morty versus dungeons and dragons cover art by Jim Zub Cropped
Rick And Morty Versus Dungeons & Dragons Cover Art by Jim ZubĀ 

This is a real thing, and it was actually developed by Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty starter box set doesn’t just include a unique, themed adventure, it’s also designed with iconic images from both the game and the show and includes pre-generated characters inspired by Rick and Morty.

This particular module is more geared towards beginners and those who appreciate some levity in their gaming, as most interested players are expected to be fans of the show but not necessarily familiar with D&D.

20 Strixhaven: A Curriculum Of Chaos

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos Cover by Magali Villeneuve. Three students study magic in a library while a small gargoyle is bored.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos Cover Art by Magali Villeneuve

Strixhaven is a book that takes place in the setting of Strixhaven University, which is a location drawn from the multiverse of Magic: The Gathering, made up of five different colleges. Each player will decide on the college that their character is attending, and the story takes off from there.

This book is unique in that it occurs over a broad timeline of years versus the traditional weeks or months that a campaign normally takes place over.

Additionally, it’s also unique in that it includes four adventures that work for standalone drag-and-drop play, or that can be woven together to create a module spanning the first ten levels. Players who are interested in character downtime, evolving relationships, character progression, forbidden secrets, Magic: The Gathering, and academic intrigue will love to take a waltz through this module’s doors.

19 Dragons Of Stormwreck Isle

A blue dragon attacking a human in a plateau
Dragons of Stormwreck Isle Cover Art By Ilse Gort

Only taking players from levels one to three, this starter set is the newest addition to the line of adventures made for brand-new or beginner players. While it’s a rather short adventure, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle does an incredible job of introducing new players to the worlds of D&D as well as some of the game’s most infamous antagonists.

If you’re interested in getting some of your friends to play D&D or are a beginner DM (dungeon master) looking for somewhere to get your feet wet, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is the perfect adventure for you. While veteran players might pall at the short length of this adventure, it’s just the right size for anyone who wants to give the game a try before committing a healthy chunk of their schedule to a campaign.

18 Candlekeep Mysteries

Dungeons and Dragons: Two Characters In A Library Studying Ancient Tomes
Candlekeep Mysteries Cover Art by Clint Cearley

While not technically a module in its own right, the adventures in Candlekeep can easily be tied together to create an overarching narrative. This makes Candlekeep Mysteries the perfect book for any dungeon master who has players with especially busy lives.

Since each adventure is insulated, players can easily drop in for a couple of sessions and understand the entirety of an adventure’s story.

At the same time, each adventure is also a part of the greater library of Candlekeep, allowing the dungeon master to tie these separate stories together with a single location. The 17 standalone D&D adventures in this book span from levels one to 16 and are perfect for making a long story that won’t leave players who miss a session here and there confused.

17 Critical Role: Call Of The Netherdeep

adventurers gather in angelic wings against sea serpent
Critical Role Call of the Netherdeep Cover Art by Minttu Hynninen

This is the first of many adventures to come that take place in the beloved Critical Role setting of Exandria. The adventure spans from levels three to 12 and will see players explore broad swathes of the Critical Role world as they wrestle with the mystery of a long-forgotten being’s plea.

One of the coolest things about this adventure is that it introduces a rival adventuring party with which the players can forge a relationship. Whether these rivals end up as friendly competition or deadly enemies is entirely up to the players.

Call of the Netherdeep is a great fit for anyone who is an ardent fan of Critical Role, enjoys exploration and mystery, or loves complex NPCs (non-player characters).

16 Storm King’s Thunder

blue giants surrounded by thunder dragon in background
Storm King’s Thunder Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

This adventure will take players from levels one to 11. As many good stories do, it opens in the middle of some action. Immediately thrusting the players into a desolate town that’s only remaining inhabitants are a pesky tribe of goblins.

The rest of the adventure is very loosely structured. The antithesis of The Rise of Tiamat, Storm King’s Thunder does no railroading in telling players where to go next.

Instead, it peppers in hooks and leads to multiple locations, persons, and mysteries throughout the more self-contained adventures. As a result, many DnD enthusiasts feel that the plot is paper-thin.

Requiring a lot of work and creativity on the dungeon master’s behalf in order to string the chain of events together. However, this does provide a level of customization many DMs will appreciate.

15 Dragon Heist

pirate with hat above elven nobles
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

Dragon Heist takes place in the extravagant city of Waterdeep. Players will delve into this urban setting over the course of levels one to five in an attempt to determine the location of a ruler’s rumored hidden treasure.

Contrary to most DnD adventures, the events of Dragon Heist play out within a single city. As such, the adventure lends itself to more social encounters and exploration than combat. Tables whose primary purpose is to roleplay will love this adventure, but for those who prefer hack-and-slash style gameplay, it is not recommended.

14 Princes of the Apocalypse

angels attack during thunder storm
Princes of the Apocalypse Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

Princes of the Apocalypse

Princes of the Apocalypse is a great choice for DMs with advanced players who need to flex their muscles. It is designed to accommodate characters from level one onward.

It’s a challenge if you’re a player but a breeze if you’re a DM, and it might be higher on the list if it had a wider scope than the lengthy dungeon crawl. The storyline and villains are also rather generic, but it’s supposed to be about the dungeon anyway.

That’s a matter of taste, as some players love the dungeon crawl motif while others might find it dull or repetitive, so we’ll leave this close to the middle of the rankings.

13 Dungeon Of The Mad Mage

drow mind flayer and githyanki behind crazy human mage white beard
Dungeon of the Mad Mage Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

The sequel to Dragon Heist, Dungeon of the Mad Mage puts the dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons. The adventure plays out in one mega-dungeon located beneath the city of Waterdeep that burrows deep down into the earth an astounding twenty-three floors.

This module is low on story arcs and narrative while being high on exploration and action, and it gets back to the beginnings of Dungeons and Dragons. There’s not much of a story to explain besides that a group of foolhardy and greedy adventures is putting their lives at risk for a chance at fame and fortune, and there’s nothing wrong with this.

For some players, that’s all they need.

12 Dragonlance: Shadow Of The Dragon Queen

Draconian bandits attack caravan on road
Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen Fallen Caravan via Wizards of the Coast

This is the first officially published adventure set in the world of Krynn where the popular Dragonlance novels take place. Fans of Dragonlance ought to look no further than this adventure as it features races, backgrounds, storylines, and monsters from the books.

Surprisingly enough, some of the feats for player characters published in this book are incredibly powerful, and the book warns that they should only be allowed in Dragonlance campaigns due to their lore implications. Shadow of the Dragon Queen spans from levels one to eleven as the players seek to defend Krynn from one of the Dragon Queen’s terrible generals.

Additionally, this adventure can be played alongside a board game to help bring the Dragonlance wars to life on a much grander scale than your players’ adventuring party would normally allow.

11 Dragon Of Icespire Peak

white dragon in snow attacked by green fire from mage
Dragon of Icespire Peak Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

Released just last year within the D&D Essentials Kit, Dragon of Icespire Peak is comprised of a few mini-adventures based around the lazy town of Phandalin. Taking players from levels one to six, the adventures within are distributed through local job board listings.

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This removes some of the intrigues of social interaction but also provides a clear goal that the players need to accomplish in order to receive a specific reward. While somewhat bland as far as the story, Dragon of Icespire Peak is quite useful.

For players new to the game – the audience this material was designed for – it’s an ideal setup.

10 Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

ice wind dale snowy owlbear and art
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

It’s just not the Wizards of the Sword Coast without a trip to Icewind Dale, one of the deadliest but most scenic regions in the 5e universe. This module is designed to accommodate lower-level characters but intends to guide them all the way up to level 15, making it primarily for experienced and serious players who are in it for the long haul.

The challenge in this module is all about cold-weather survival as much as it’s also about the exciting adventure. This long and detailed campaign has everything, including towns, a wilderness to explore, beasts to fight, and some tried and true dungeon crawls.

9 The Wild Beyond The Witchlight

top hatted man and clown above carnival with butterfly
The Wild Beyond The Witchlight Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

This module is just perfect for any lover of Halloween, carnivals, and general creepiness mixed with cuteness. It’s brand new and is already getting rave reviews, with many fans already begging their resident Dungeon Master to bring the book to life.

Taking you from levels one to eight, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight tells the tale of a carnival run by Mister Witch and Mister Light who put on a carnival with much more magic than meets the eye. It involves everything classic D&D brings with a few added races and crazy Alice in Wonderland vibes.

8 Ghosts Of Saltmarsh

adventurers or party on boat attack sahuagin
Ghosts of Saltmarsh Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

As the name suggests, Ghosts of Saltmarsh places the players in a nautical fantasy setting. If clearing out pirates, sailing the high seas, and aiding the council and security of a burgeoning coastal settlement sounds interesting to your players, this is the module for you.

Taking your players from levels one to 11, the adventures within appear unrelated at first. However, as your players progress and discover more clues, they come to the realization that the separate happenings around Saltmarsh are no mere coincidence. Besides a compelling overarching story, Ghosts also provides players the opportunity to involve themselves in some saucy political intrigue.

7 Descent Into Avernus

evil angel and hellrider in fiery landscape
Descent Into Avernus Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

Descent into Avernus can be summed up in one movie: Mad Max. Though the beginning of the adventure is an innocent enough investigation, eventually the players find themselves trapped in the first layer of the Nine Hells.

This literally hellish landscape is home to the Blood War, an unending battle between the demons and devils that call the Nine Hells home.

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Players interested in the intricacies of morality, religion, and the gods will love this module. It constantly asks the players where to draw the line between what’s right, what works, the ideal, and the realistic. This provides some juicy character development as player and character beliefs are tested and, if found wanting, twisted toward corruption.

6 Out Of The Abyss

Demogorgon ape with two heads in cavern
Out of the Abyss Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

This module makes Dungeons and Dragons more akin to a survival horror game than a sword and sorcery RPG. But this unique twist is what makes the adventure so great.

Spanning levels one to 15, the first few players will be put into encounters that they aren’t very capable of fighting back against. Instead, they are forced to run for their lives while scrounging for food and items that make survival possible in the Underdark.

There is a level of player agency that is lost to the brutality of the beginning levels of this module, but the game is very clear about how outmatched the players are. If the PCs do survive the early game terrors, they will find their decision-making ability quickly returned, so you might want to make this clear before running the module.

5 Lost Mines Of Phandelver

green dragon roars at adventurers
Lost Mines of Phandelver Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

This is the short module that comes inside the D&D Starter Kit. Taking players from levels one to five, it’s the perfect starting point for a larger campaign, and over the course of this adventure, players will live out the fantasy of coming into their own as local heroes.

The module starts off with a bang, thrusting the players into a combat situation. After that’s finished, the players will get clues to investigate that lead them to their first dungeon, and eventually, they will make it to the small town of Phandalin, where the plot thickens.

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Lost Mines is a classic D&D adventure equal parts combat, exploration, and mystery. It features a compelling story that wraps itself up nicely within a very reasonable amount of time. It’s the perfect introduction to D&D for new players.

4 Tomb Of Annihilation

undead lich with skull staff next to statue of face
Tomb of Annihilation Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

Whether you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, dinosaurs, undead, or all of the above, Tomb of Annihilation has something to offer. Over the course of levels one to 11, the players will unravel the source of the death curse.

This module takes place in the jungles of Chult, rife with ancient ruins, swathes of mindless undead, tribal humanoids, and peculiar flora and fauna.

The module is a hex crawler, which means the PCs will spend a lot of time facing random encounters as they traverse the jungle from one area to the next. Sometimes the overarching story is put into the background of the narrative, but clever DMs will find ways to keep it relevant.

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