Tales from the Yawning Portal is a compilation book of seven adventures compiled from over 40 years of D&D. From the Gygaxian ecology adventures of 1st and 2nd edition to the narrative laced missions of 3rd and 4th, there is enough dungeon here to run a complete campaign and bring your players all the way to 15th level, at which point you will dutifully kill them in the Tomb of Horrors.
Technically speaking, all of these dungeons are Fun House dungeons; filled with crazy encounters, fantastical monsters, and devious traps. Death awaits around every corner, but at least it will be fun and exciting. These dungeons were also designed to be stand-alone adventures that could be dropped into any campaign without much backstory or previous development. As such, a little work will need to be done if you intend to provide a narrative thread that connects all these adventures.
In my campaign, we are continuing the saga of the Saviors of Phandalin following their adventures in The Lost Mine of Phandelver. Our heroes have journeyed to Waterdeep, where we are running through a crazy combination of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Tales From the Yawning Portal. Without giving too much away, at the end of each Yawning Portal adventure, the heroes will obtain an item or advance the story toward a secret grand finale. Of course, as our campaign completes each adventure in Tales, I will post an individual Resource Guide devoted to it. You can catch up on their other adventures here:
Before starting any new campaign, I give my players a brief summary of adventuring and combat basics – Rules FOUR PAGE. I also give them a Setting Overview for the Forgotten Realms set in the year 1492 DR, the official setting and year for all 5th edition adventures – FAERUN 1492. This Overview gives the players knowledge about the world that anyone living in the world would already know, such as geography, religion, curency, the calendar, and a brief history. I’ve left the start date blank for you to decide and feel free to use or alter anything else to best suit your campaign.
Regardless of how you set up your campaign, you will probably attempt to run the adventures out of the Yawning Portal Inn. And who wouldn’t? It is the coolest tavern in all the Realms. Of course, you may choose any other tavern to best suit your setting and style, but let’s focus on the Yawning Portal. The book does a fair job of describing the people, events, and specifics of the inn, but it does gloss over the main attraction of the place – the giant gaping hole in the floor that leads to the biggest mega-dungeon in the world, hence the name The Yawning Portal. This hole leads to Undermountain, which is a whole entity unto itself and far too large to explore here. But your players will probably want to go down there at some point, so you should be prepared. There are a number of products that delve into this dungeon including the 5th edition adventure, Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, which I do not own, & the 2nd edition box set, Ruins of Undermountain, which I do own and use for my campaign.
In addition, you should be knowledgeable about the city of Waterdeep as well. This is also a topic that is too large to include here, but I have created a How to Run a Fantasy City Guide that is specifically designed with Waterdeep in mind. It has my best tips and tricks that I use to run a make-believe metropolis. And it includes lots of maps, directories, and handouts to help manage it all. You can also refer to the afforementioned Waterdeep Dragon Heist Resource Guide for even more specifics about adventuring in The City of Splendors!
Okay, enough blather! Let’s get on to the adventures. Clicking on each link will lead to an individual Resource Page for that adventure.
The Sunless Citadel – Journey to the ancient buried temple of a dead dragon cult where a turf war has erupted between groups of goblins and kobolds, a mad druid tends the most evil tree in the world, and of course, there’s a dragon.
The Forge of Fury – Delve deep into a lost dwarven stronghold rumored to hold a horde of powerful magic weapons. Unfortunately, a horde of Orcs have staked a claim, alongwith troglodytes, duergar, and yes, there is another dragon.
The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan – Trapped inside this deadly reverse dungeon, your players only have a short amount of time to overcome the devious traps and monsters before they succumb to the poison gas that fills every room.
White Plume Mountain – The classic Funhouse dungeon. Journey to a dormant (?) volcano to match wits against the mad wizard, Keraptis, while you attempt to steal three legendary magic items, including the soul-stealing, Blackrazor.
Dead in Thay – An homage to “killer” dungeons. Enter the Doomvault, if you dare, as you try to thrawt the evil plans of the devious Red Wizards of Thay in their nefarious plot to siphon tortured souls to feed their undead leader.
Against the Giants – Written by the master himself, Gary Gygax. The giant clans are attacking human lands. Is this natural or is something more sinister at work? Plan to sneak into three giant strongholds to uncover the truth.
Tomb of Horrors – The deadliest dungeon of all time. The ultimate test of skill, wits, and mettle; will you succeed in plundering the tomb of the legendary lich, Acererak? Or will you die like all the rest? BTW, your DM is trying to kill you!
So, did you survive all of these killer dungeons? Really? Congratulations. Now ask yourself if you did it legitimately, or did your DM pull a few punches because he felt sorry for you?
And if you like these Resources pages, then check out the ones I’ve created for the other campaigns I’m running at the D&D Campaign Resources Page.
As always, it’s better to show than tell, and Game On!