What makes a good introductory session?

I’ve been hired to run 5E at a local Comic shop after the new year. The couple that own the shop are really wanting to give 5e a go. They made an attempt before covid hit but didn’t really get going and want someone with some experience to run for them. I’ll be running at the store every other Friday. Detials like Long form or one shots are still up in the air and may depend on how many regulars we have show up each week. How ever the first game will be the owners and their three kids (not sure of ages)

So I’m getting to run for and entire family that is basically all new to the game. I’m exited about it but it made we wonder what makes a good intro to the game? Since I have a Scion game starting soon I’ve been listening to an actual play by one of the developers and the starter adventure she was running literally had scenes that broke the game down in to it’s basic components. Investigation, social and Combat. The story was pretty simple and firmly on rails but works great as the intro I needed on how the system works.

I want to do the same thing for 5E. I have some ideas but wanted to pick the brains of some other DMs.

So what would folks say are the three or four most important parts of D&D that I should highlight, in and intro/sampler adventure?

Thanks in advance for your input!


Consider running Sunless Citidel. It introduces lots of interesting twists on preconceived tropes that new players may have.

Long live Meepo!


I would go with what @OldSchoolDM recommends, Sunless Citadel, that is converted from 3.5 to 5e in Tales from the Yawning Portal book. I know many people like the Lost Mine of Phandelver for a good intro adventure. Depending on the length of your session, you’re probably not going to knock either one of these out in one 4 hour go, but there are good break points.

ps: welcome to the forums. We’re glad you joined.

Also chiming in for sunless citadel, it is a great starter adventure with several layers to it.



Thanks for the suggestions, I’ve got a copy of Yawning Portal heading my way. My only hesitation about using it might be it taking more than one session. I’m wanting to give them a full adventure for their first session but I’ll see how the break points feel. Leaving them with a cliff hanger might work well too.

and thanks Sean glad to be here!

You’re right, it’s more than one session. You can put a simple fetch quest right into the beginning to give them a quick win, but the desire to keep going is a big part of the game for new players.

I think if they meet Meepo just before the end of the session, they’ll be hooked…

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Clearly I need to google this Meepo and find out what’s up with him/her/them.

Find a part of the adventure where you can get them to delve into the Citadel.

I haven’t run Mines of Phandelver but I’m sure it’s a good intro to the game since it’s in the starter set. Also, it might also be a good idea to run that one for the shop owner since he will be mostly selling that box and appreciate playing it for “R&D”.

In regards to Sunless Citadel, be careful because I played it with new players and it took too many sessions. But I think it was due to a problem player. Anyways, my big suggestion is to remove all the empty rooms. Sure, it’s more “realistic”, but players waste a lot of time wondering if they missed something hidden.