One of the great attractions of DnD is the ability to build and evolve the world that your characters call home. The DM can play god, and the players, through their actions, help flesh out the fine detail until your world becomes a unique place. It is a world limited by your imagination and the time you dedicate to its creation.
But sometimes your imagination runs dry or time is limited, so you look for off-the-shelf campaigns and scenarios. You can use these as worlds in their own right, either as a holistic part of your campaign or as a bolt-on to your existing world. Today, we’re looking at some of the best free DnD campaigns for 5e.
Campaigns in DnD 5e
DnD, like many similar games, built much of its reputation because you could buy such expansions and additional settings. The advantages are apparent. You could spend hours writing your own campaign or adventure and find that it could be more dynamic, balanced, and exciting. Or, you could buy one that has been professionally written, playtested, published, and peer-reviewed in the form of feedback.
And now with the benefit of the internet, many such campaigns are available to download, and you now have a cheap and time-saving alternative to your world-building dilemmas. This is pretty crucial as our disposable allowance becomes smaller and smaller.
There are many options available, and a quick search will reveal volumes of them and associated feedback so that you can judge what best suits you and your players but below are some of the most popular and highly regarded.
Free Campaigns List for DnD 5e
This is a reasonably short adventure that acts as a prequel to the Curse of Strahd events. That scenario is designed for players of the 3rd level, and Death House takes the characters from their first steps in the world of adventuring and gives them enough experience to attain the 3rd level. From there, they are ready to jump into the next chapter.
Death House provides a tense and horrific battle of wits between the players and the titular home. A great story, a solid introduction to the game for newbies, and a perfect place to kick off a campaign.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen
The Hoard of the Dragon Queen is the first three chapters of a much longer campaign, so think of this as the free demo designed to entice you into a video game before fully committing to it. Suitable for 307 players at the 3rd-level, where players are pitted against The Cult of the Dragon and must uncover and foil their nefarious schemes in a dangerous, fast-paced race against time.
The Tyranny of Dragons Storyline
The following five scenarios are all set in the same world and, taken together, provide a well-rounded and fully realized world for you to use as a home for your campaign.
Shadows over the Moonsea
Suitable for 1st and 2nd level characters, Shadows Over the Moonsea is the perfect place to kick off a campaign set in this world. With the coastal settlements under attack and a mysterious ghost ship to blame, the players work for the high priest of Kelemvor, the death god, to explore, investigate and stop these attacks before they endanger the city of Phlan.
The Scroll Thief
The Scroll Thief is another great introductory campaign that sees the player party take the role of detectives to investigate a string of thefts from the academic establishments in Scholars Square in the grand city of Phlan. Stop the thefts and ensure the crime spree doesn’t escalate into something more serious.
Tyranny in Phlan
The Tyranny in Phlan adventure favors characters more in the 5-10th level region, and a familiar face (which is why it pays to run through the scenarios in order) requires the players’ detective skills once more. Unfortunately, this adventure leads to a brilliant second chapter, though that one isn’t free.
Dues for the Dead
Dues for the Dead is a perfect follow-up to the events around Moonsea, as the High Priest you met before is now recruiting low-level adventurers to guard some holy ground that seems to have been subjected to some unwanted undead activity. Creepy catacombs and ghastly ghoulish encounters are guaranteed.
Outlaws of the Iron Route
In the Outlaws of the Iron Route campaign, the grand city of Phlan is in peril, or at least its trade routes are, and these are the arteries that keep the city alive. Two rival bandit groups are consumed in a turf war and the right to prey on the merchant caravans that move in and out of the city. The mission is simple, Make it stop!
In Winter’s Splendor, the mid-winter Gala is in full swing in the Sea District of Waterdeep, and all are having a good time; drinks flow, food is feasted on, and fun and celebration are the names of the game. Then suddenly, a famous and respected guest is attacked. Players need to use their wits and weapons to get to the bottom of the plot and do it all in their fancy finery and dancing shoes.
The Frozen Sick scenario is free at D&D Beyond and is the perfect adventure to take characters from 1st to 3rd level. A recently returned explorer has turned into an ice state, something that adventurers need to get to the bottom of immediately. Not a simple task when you find yourselves taking on the criminal underworld and ancient guardians from their own darker and more dangerous subterranean homes.
Wildemount: Dark Star
Another D&D Beyond exclusive, Wildemount: Dark Star is aimed at 4-5 7th-level players. The titular Dark Star is a powerful device protecting the town of Galgard; after a millennium of warding off evil, its powers are starting to fade, and zombie hordes are gathering and attacking the town. And for everyone townsperson lost, the horde gains one recruit. Can anyone save them? Maybe you could. Maybe you must.
Hopefully, you’ve gotten some good ideas for your next adventure with our free DnD campaigns list! Before you embark, be sure to check out some of our useful guides like Durable Feat 5e, Online Character Builders 5e, and DnD Currency 5e.