What is a good first heroic campaign for D&D 4e, levels 1-5?

I'm a very experienced AD&D GM, and have run levels 1-5 in 4e: Red Box + Reavers of Harkenwold. I want to start a new mixed-experience group (some 4e, some 3.5/Pathfinder, and no experience at all) group through levels 1-5 in 4e so that I have a large enough pool of players I know and trust to merge the groups to continue on a shared path through paragon.

So - I'd really prefer to used prepared content for this adventure, but not run the same modules I did for the other group, given that the parties will be mixing afterward and the last thing I want to hear is "Did you find the XXX? What? No? You got gipped!"

What is the best 1-5 Level adventure(s) you've run out there? I don't care if it is download, free, \$, PDF, or purchasable online or at your FLGS. All I care about is did your group (which included newbies) have a good time and it didn't require more than an hour prep on your part per session.

*Feel free to suggest multi-module chains. I'm comfortable finding a way to glue good stuff together. Also, one of the reasons for the short prep requirements is I'm likely to build paper terrain for this adventure, so something with interesting visual elements is a big plus.

What is the best first adventure to run in D&D 4e? does not contain an answer to this question.

I think you'll want to go with the Chaos Scar series. This is a DDI set of adventures for low level characters that should get you through levels 1-5. It's not a campaign per se, more of a sandbox, but should be no problem to string together if you're an experienced DM. I ran some of it with my newbie group, before that group ended, I had planned to run all of it.

I started with the D&D Encounters Keep on the Borderlands adventure; however, the adventure as written is just combat encounter after combat encounter, so I stretched it out and chopped it up a bit. You may have to find it on ebay if you want a print copy, I ran mine from a PDF.

Interspersed in that adventure I ran other side adventures from the Chaos Scar series, of which there are 15 for levels 1-4, which you can find here (DDI Subscription Required): Chaos Scar

1A  Stick in the Mud
1B  Den of the Slave-Takers
1C  The Brothers Gray
1D  Death in the Pincers
1E  The Tainted Spiral
1F  The Lost Library
1G  A Chance Encounter
1H  Eyes in the Forest
1I  Elves of the Valley
2A  Sliver's Call
2B  The Shrine of Glass-Spire Forest
2D  The Hammer Falls
3A  The Crawling Fane
3B  The Splintered Spring
4A  Glowstone Caverns


The characters were based out of Restwell Keep, which is detailed here (DDI Subscription Required)

The map of the Chaos Scar is great and can be found here (Free, as a .jpg)

There are two good resources for Chaos Scar info, both D&D Groups are old and outdated, but good info is here and here (Free)

I really liked the background of all the adventures that I ran and those that I read. I was hoping to use more of them but we stopped after 2 levels unfortunately. If I ever run another newb group I would probably use this series again.

After what's listed in the first link there are the following adventures:

 LVL Dungeon# Name
- 4     178   The Crawling Fane      Chaos Scar
- 4     180   The Pillar Of Eyes     Chaos Scar
- 4     182   Vanguard Tower         Chaos Scar
- 5     181   The Slaver's Stone     Chaos Scar
- 5-7   192   Scarred for Life       Chaos Scar
- 6     183   The Radiant Morn       Chaos Scar
- 6-8   193   Rumble in the Valley   Chaos Scar
- 7     184   Head in the Clouds     Chaos Scar
- 7     196   Reflections of Ruin    Chaos Scar
- 7-9   189   Scarblade              Chaos Scar
- 8-10  186   The Runecutter's Ruin  Chaos Scar
- 8-10  190   Pit of Delirium        Chaos Scar
- 8-10  197   Heart of the Scar      Chaos Scar


I hope this helps!

• Thanks for the details about the Chaos Scar. I'll definitely check those out! – F. Randall Farmer Jan 13 '12 at 6:30

HS1: The Slaying Stone module; It's how I started by campaign and apart from the introduction, it was a well made module. There is a short level 2 sequel published in Dungeon magazine #179: The Den of Dreus in which the players face off against the villain behind the scenes. These can lead into to HS2 Orcs of Stonefang Pass module for Level 4/5, but that leaves at least a two level gap.

• It says "Level 1" - does it go all the way up to Level 5 (where HS2: The Orcs of Stone Fang Pass starts)? Did you play that part of the chain? What is the name of the DDI adventure you mentioned? It might be the perfect glue for this quest chain. – F. Randall Farmer Jan 11 '12 at 2:00
• HS1 should get the players to 2nd level. HS2 does indeed start with level 5, though you could probably play it at 4th level without making changes. community.wizards.com/dndinsider/wiki/DDI_Adventures requires a DDI account, and has a list of adventures from dragon listed by level. – Simon Withers Jan 11 '12 at 4:11
• @SimonWithers - When I got home I checked my copy of HS2 (don't own HS1 yet) and it says "the two adventures shouldn't be played back-to-back" and the players "will need to gain a few more levels" first before starting HS2. I'm still looking for a complete chain suggestion... – F. Randall Farmer Jan 11 '12 at 6:52
• Found the follow-up to HS1 on DDI: The Den of Dreus - wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/duad/20100604. It's for 2nd level characters. @Raptorbite, you could put it in your answer. I looks like it generates a total 2825xp, so that's not enough to get a party to the next level, much less level 5. – F. Randall Farmer Jan 11 '12 at 7:14
• @F.RandallFarmer unfortunately I've not really looked at the HS modules, so don't have any suggestions for bridging the gap between L2 and a bit and L4/L5 :( – Simon Withers Jan 12 '12 at 4:02

Now that a best answer has been selected and the bounty awarded, I'd like add an answer (even if it is explicitly excluded by my original question...)

I highly recommend running the Red Box adventure "The Twisting Halls" and following up with adventure in the Dungeon Masters Kit: "The Reavers of Harkenwold". They provide the appropriate hooks to connect them together, and a web search shows that both adventures have extensive player-mods and suggestions, even for inexperienced DMs.

• I'm going to run my group through an assortment of short quests at first, leveraging the answers here and from a similar thread I found on ENWorld. First up will be a The Graveyard of Col Fen from the Open Grave book. – F. Randall Farmer Jan 20 '12 at 0:24
• Next up I chose The Isle of the Sea Drake from Goodman Games. – F. Randall Farmer Mar 15 '12 at 18:15