It is fair to say that the D&D Starter Set adventure, “The Lost Mine of Phandalin”, is a good adventure. I’m currently running it for the third time, and my players are doing things my other groups haven’t done. It’s a really good introduction to the game, and just by being a fantastic adventure. There’s a lot in it for experienced players as well as new players.
In Lost Mine of Phandalin, you agree to escort a caravan of supplies to the mining town of Phandalin at the request of Gundren Rockseeker, a local dwarf. Things don’t quite go as planned – and the player characters will find themselves drawn into a number of events revolving around the small town of Phandelver and the legendary Lost Mine. Along the way, you get to meet (and possibly befriend and work for) members of the five major factions that support adventurers, as well as proving yourself as skilled (or lucky) adventurers.
The adventure will advance characters from 1st level to 5th level. What do you do next? Well, why not try one of the other published adventures? However, what happens if you want to use your characters from Lost Mine in the new adventure? That’s fine: each of the adventures has a point that allows new characters to enter it. It’s not always explicitly stated, however. So, here’s how I’d integrate characters who’ve finished playing the Starter Set into the published adventures.
Tyranny of Dragons – Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat
The Tyranny of Dragons story has two adventures; Hoard of the Dragon Queen is levels 1-7, The Rise of Tiamat concludes the story with levels 8-15. The beginning of Hoard of the Dragon Queen sees the characters aiding the small town of Greenest in the south of the Sword Coast against a sudden attack by the Cult of the Dragon, who burn the place down to the grounds and take as much loot as they can carry. The characters are then asked to investigate the Cult’s camp, where they discover the treasure is being shipped up the Sword Coast.
At this point, the five factions (Harpers, Order of the Gauntlet, Emerald Enclave, Zhentarim and Lord’s Alliance) are now really paying attention to what the Cult is doing. The Cult is beginning to attack towns all over the Sword Coast. So, they begin sending out agents to discover what’s going on. The characters are some of those agents. In the adventure, they’re asked to investigate by agents of the Harpers and the Order, but it wouldn’t be hard to adjust things so they’re asked by their own factions to investigate. The fourth episode of the adventure sees the PCs following a Cult’s treasure caravan up the Sword Coast until it reaches a work camp near Neverwinter (on the edge of the Mere of Dead Men). The characters should be about 4th or 5th level moving into Chapter 5.
This is where characters from Lost Mine should be introduced. Players who have adventured through Lost Mine will have gained a number of contacts with the factions, most likely with the Lord’s Alliance (Sildar Hallwinter), but with other factions as well depending on their actions (check page 15 of Lost Mine, it’s got a list of the important NPCs and which ones are the faction contacts). Have those contacts inform the players that the Cult of the Dragon has been attacking towns all over the Sword Coast and shipping their treasure to secret locations. One of the treasure caravans is about to arrive at the work camp, so could they go there and investigate where it’s going – after all, it’s only a couple of days travel away!
From this point, you can play through the rest of Hoard as written, and then continue through Rise as well.
Elemental Evil – Princes of the Apocalypse
This story has only one published adventure. Unusually, it’s for levels 3-15! It’s also very much a sandbox adventure, where the characters can potentially wander into quite dangerous parts of the adventure by mistake. More than one adventuring party has suffered major casualties while playing this adventure!
Although the main adventure is levels 3-15, material is provided for levels 1-2 in a chapter of side treks. In this chapter, the characters begin in the town of Red Larch, and get introduced to a number of odd things happening about the town – especially the discovery that a number of important townsfolk have been doing things not necessarily in the public interest!
For those players starting out at level 3, there are a number of potential adventure hooks, but the trigger for the main storyline is a trade delegation from Mirabar disappearing in the Sumber Hills. The players have been sent by their factions to investigate…
All of which means that you really don’t need to adapt Princes very much to play it after Lost Mine. The major problem – that the characters are level 5 instead of level 3 – is negated by the sandbox aspect of the adventure. Yes, there will be a couple of locations that the party will find easy, but that’s part of this style of adventure. (They’ll probably end up in one of the high-level sections too early, anyway!) Once again the faction members in Phandalin are the main entry point to the story. The trade delegation going missing means that agents of the factions need to investigate, especially due to all the other reported weirdness in the Sumber Hills, and so the party are asked to investigate.
If you know that you’ll be going from Lost Mine into Princes, you may want to include some of the backgrounds and motivations from Princes into the player character backgrounds as they begin Lost Mine – yes, they’re doing this job for Gundren at the moment, but once they’re finished with it, they know they’ll be travelling to the Sumber Hills to discover what’s going on. However, even if you just finish Lost Mine and then decided to go into Princes, you can adapt some of the motivations to hook the players into the story, in addition to the request from the factions.
Rage of Demons – Out of the Abyss
Again, this is only one book, but it’s for levels 1-15. I’m writing this with it only a few days from being released, but I do have the opening section (the portion for D&D Encounters) and have read Chris Perkin’s notes on the story. So, I know enough to comment on how to move from Lost Mine to this adventure.
The beginning of Out of the Abyss begins with the characters prisoners of the drow! Obviously, this will not lead to a fulfilling and happy life (or a particularly long one), so the characters need to escape. And that’s the start of the adventure. The players need to escape the drow, and make their way back to the surface. That journey will get them to around level 5. They’ll get hints on the journey up that things are even weirder than they suspected in the Underdark, but eventually they’ll emerge to the surface. Where? Oh, in the north of the Sword Coast, not too far from Phandalin and Neverwinter.
And sometime soon after that point, King Bruenor Battlehammer will summon them, inform them that things are now Really Really Bad in the Underdark, and having heard of their exploits, he thinks they’re just the people to save the situation. Well, one of the situations, because there are probably other parts of the storyline which characters in the novels (Drizzt) and computer games and D&D Expeditions adventures are dealing with… And so they head back underground to deal with the rest of the adventure.
So, to move from Lost Mine into Out of the Abyss just requires King Bruenor to summon the characters after hearing of their exploits helping Gundren Rockseeker and finding the Lost Mine, and tell them of the dreadful trouble down below and send them to face it!
It should be noted that Rage is likely more of a sandbox adventure with a less-defined story path. Characters can explore the Underdark and end up in a lot of trouble! The notes in the Encounters portion indicate that the players can stay in the Underdark longer than just levels 1-5. Bruenor is designed for use around 7th level, but using him a couple of levels earlier and inserting some of the previous sections as encounters on the way down will aid the group have enough experience when they face the hard stuff. (More as I learn it!)
You can also use your Lost Mine characters to play any of the D&D Expeditions games that take place in local game stores and conventions around the world (and there’s also people doing so in online games these days). There’s just one thing you need to make sure you do when playing Lost Mine: keep a valid D&D Adventurers League Log of the XP, gold and magic items you gain. You’ll find full details on how to do this in the D&D Adventurers League Players’ Guide. You can find the guide, log sheets and other resources on the Wizards website.
Note that the Expeditions have limits on what level characters can play them: tiers of levels 1-4, 5-10 or 11-16 at present. So, make sure you have a character of the proper level. (A character at level 4 or 10 can spend downtime and gold to immediately advance to the next level, which is useful when you’re just short of having a character at the proper tier.
There’s a lot of adventuring opportunities out there. So, if you’ve started with the Starter Set, there’s no reason not to just continue with those characters into any adventure that interests you. There are others made by other publishers. Or you could always write your own adventures!
And don’t forget that in November the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide will come out with new options for your characters and information for the DM on the setting of these adventures!