I'm pretty interested in buying the D&D Starter Set as a way to get introduced to D&D and being a GM/DM for the first time. Ever since I discovered this RPG Stack, I have read a lot of D&D Q/A out of curiosity and I really wanted to try it out.

I have already played a bit as a player with a group of friends, and I'd like to DM for this group as I'm a bit shy and I know them pretty well so I can anticipate how they will act and can react better to this.

What I'd like to know is: Given a party of moderately experienced players (a party of about 4/5 at maximum), and considering the information above, roughly how many hours of play can the starter set campaign be expected to last? (at a minimum, without including side quests/jobs, with fights going well, etc...).

Prior experience with the starter set would be really appreciated.

As a note, I've also asked a second question here about transitioning from the starter set to another module.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I do not think this needs closure. All of the answers are exactly what we look for: actual gameplay experience. And there seems to be a consensus. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 28 '19 at 16:28

So this is more of a guess because I played half this module and DM'd it once for another group.

If you really just go for main plot and your group is straight forward, then I think it still would take at least 30 hours.

When your group likes to roleplay or have some fun combined with some sidequests, then I think this can easily go up 70 hours.

The group I DM'd meets every week and we play about 4-5 hours per session. With all the sidequests we finished after 3 months. This party was completely new to the game and we had some start issues. We also lacked a bit on the roleplay part. At the end most of my players reached level 4.

There are people that DM this module regularly they probably can give you a more precise answer. But for now i hope this helps you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When I ran this module (as a new DM with new players), we blew through chapter 1 very quickly, took a 3 hours detour in chapter 2 and took our sweet time with cragmaw castle and beyond. It depends on the group. If they explore every nook and cranny of every map, it'll take a lot longer than 30 hours. Running to the end of every map will probably take close to 20 hours. 30 is a very fair estimate. \$\endgroup\$ – SaggingRufus Feb 28 '19 at 15:30

50 hours over 14 sessions for my group

I've recently just finished being DM for a group going through LMOP. They started with four players and ended with five and went through every location and side-quest mentioned in the book. I also added in some homebrew roleplay opportunities, combat encounters and locations for them to explore, but these only took up about 8-10 hours of the overall time.

My group were very inexperienced though as it was the first time any of use had ever played D&D. The players took a long time and multiple discussions to come to any sort of agreement over what course of action to take. They were also not very focused although this got better towards the end.

It was however a LOT of fun. I don't think there were any moments where we were bored or underwhelmed by the adventure. So we all definitely got a lot of good value (time and entertainment) wise out of the adventure.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So 40-42 hours without the homebrew part ? Did your players were only new to DnD in particular or to RP in general ? \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Feb 28 '19 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah that sounds right. Brand new to TTRPG's, except for one who regularly plays Warhammer. The rest had a mix of experience with video games, card games, other board games etc. So I think for them a big part of the reason why it took so long is because it was a new way of playing games they had no experience in. \$\endgroup\$ – BradenA8 Feb 28 '19 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, thank you a lot for these precisions. I'm now pretty sure that this will be long enough to be sure that both me and my party would like to continue with another module (maybe Storm King's Thunder as saw in the other questions answers). \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Feb 28 '19 at 15:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ After finishing LMOP, my group is now currently playing Storm King's Thunder. Although they wanted new characters for this campaign, it would definitely be a great transition for you. \$\endgroup\$ – BradenA8 Feb 28 '19 at 16:12

My group of VERY (read, very) new players is about 85% of the way finished with it and it's taken 7 sessions so far. Some of our sessions were a little shorter than three hours, but thats about 20ish hours so far. This leads me to believe it would be less than 10 sessions maximum and experienced players could probably do it in 6 sessions. LMoP "by the book" is pretty much on rails, there's a natural progression that it leads you to. Of course if your players want to go off the rails, that takes time.

My group also did one of the "side" missions:

They went to Thundertree to find the location of Cragmaw Castle, instead of searching out a goblin raiding party. The druid there gave them the information, but they never asked where Wave Echo was even though the book seems to suggest the druid would know where it is, therefore skipping Cragmaw entirely.

One final point:

The last area "Wave Echo Cave", can take a lot of time because its not a linear progression through the dungeon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The one they did do, I'm not sure counts as a side mission as it is part of the main story path. \$\endgroup\$ – Stickyz Feb 28 '19 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would highlight that they only did one (minor) one, if that's the case. Or say that they nearly entirely just followed the main story :). That may be more helpful :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 28 '19 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stickyz Your estimation is the shorter here so I'd like more details about your party. Did they roleplayed a bit about actions they did or just saying what there characters do ? \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Mar 1 '19 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zoma They dont RP much at all, extremely new players that need a decent amount of direction. We also have 5 players every session. However, I think its more of a reflection on the actual module, it can be extremely linear and an experienced group could breeze through it. There are also some...interesting shortcuts that the book seems to lay out. Of course dnd has a way of going off even the tightest of rails. 6, 4 hour sessions (24 hours) could probably finish it if all the...more obvious clues are followed and they move quickly through the last dungeon. \$\endgroup\$ – Stickyz Mar 1 '19 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stickyz A more experienced group is no more likely to move quickly through a module. D&D isn't a videogame that you get 'better' at. In fact, experienced players may move slower with caution learned the hard way in previous campaigns. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mar 7 '19 at 3:11

I'm going to give an optimistic estimate of 6 sessions, or about 24 hours. I'm basing this on three sessions that I played with a few friends, where we were able to get about halfway through the campaign. I should note that my friends opted to skip all of the side quests. Also, based on my personal experience it will take longer with a larger group. We're currently running Curse of Strahd right now, but with at least five players rather than just two to three. It's moving a lot slower.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to leave my answer up for right now, but Xirem seems to have more experience with the module than myself so his estimate is probably better. \$\endgroup\$ – Raj Feb 28 '19 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ every point of view is good to have as your party skipped all sidequests while Xirems did these ones. And it has pointed to me that I forgot to tell the size of my potential party. \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Feb 28 '19 at 14:04

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