Tales From the Yawning Portal DnD 5e — Summary and Guide 

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

Released in 2017, the anthology series Tales From the Yawning Portal collects some of Dungeons & Dragons’ most iconic adventures from previous editions and updates their rules to be compatible with 5e. Whether you’re in search of a starter adventure to outshine Lost Mine of Phandelver or want to dive into the Tomb of Horrors, this D&D sourcebook has it all. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Tales From the Yawning Portal collects 7 “Classic” D&D adventures from previous editions and updates their rules and art for 5e
  • The adventures included are The Sunless Citadel, The Forge of Fury, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, White Plume Mountain, Dead in Thay, Against the Giants, and Tomb of Horrors
  • The adventures in this book can be played as an Anthology Campaign — using the Yawning Portal Tavern in Waterdeep as the narrative glue between adventures — or simply be used as a source of standalone adventures or short campaigns. 
  • There are adventures for every level from 1st to 20th, although the quality (both of the originals and their adaptations) can vary. 

What Is Tales From the Yawning Portal

Tales From the Yawning Portal is an anthology series that updates seven classic D&D adventures from earlier editions of the game for 5th Edition, including the 3e starter adventure The Sunless Citadel and Gary Gygax’s notorious Tomb of Horrors

The adventures are tied together by the narrative hub of the Yawning Portal Tavern, a watering hole in the city of Waterdeep built atop the infamous megadungeon of Undermountain (which isn’t explored in any real detail here but gets a full 5e conversion in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage) with a big hole in the floor through which would-be adventurers are lowered to their uncertain fate. 

Tales From the Yawning Portal provides some advice for DMs on how to portray the tavern and its bartender as well as some vague suggestions for mysterious strangers offering quests with the option of converting the book into a full campaign. Personally, however, I wouldn’t use the tavern as more than a narrative link and make the adventures into tales retold by its patrons. 

Tales From the Yawning Portal — Adventure Summaries 

There are seven “classic” D&D adventures packed into Tales From the Yawning Portal, and while playing each one of them in order will take a party of adventurers through a complete (if tonally messy) campaign from 1st to 20th level, most people prefer to run the occasional one as a standalone adventure or as part of a larger homebrew campaign. 

The Sunless Citadel

  • Levels: 1-3
  • Author: Bruce R. Cordell
  • Written for: 3e (2000)

Written as the starter adventure for 3rd Edition, The Sunless Citadel is widely regarded as one of the best adventures for introducing new players to D&D. It sends fledgling adventurers into a ruined fortress where they must navigate an ongoing faction war between kobolds and goblins, strange magical corruption, and a showdown with an evil druid. 

The Forge of Fury

  • Levels: 3-5
  • Author: Richard Baker 
  • Written for: 3e (2000)

Published as the immediate follow-up to The Sunless Citadel, Richard Baker’s module ratchets up the difficulty by pitting the PCs against the denizens of a ruined dwarven fortress overrun by orcs, goblins, trolls, and worse. What results is a rather linear dungeon crawl that steadily increases in difficulty as the players delve deeper into the fort. 

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

  • Levels: 5-8
  • Authors: Harold Johnson, Jeff R. Leason
  • Written for: AD&D (1e) (1980)

Originally written for the Origins gaming convention (where it was used as the official D&D competition module for the tournament), The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is set in the world of Greyhawk. In the adventure, the PCs explore a stepped pyramid deep in the heart of a tropical jungle (early D&D was nothing if not heavily inspired by pulp adventure stories) filled with horrible traps. 

White Plume Mountain

  • Levels: 8-9
  • Author: Lawrence Schick
  • Written for: AD&D (1e) (1979)

The original “fun house” dungeon, White Plume Mountain was originally conceived as a sort of job application by Lawrence Schick in an attempt to get Gary Gygax to hire him as a designer. Gygax (not to mention an entire generation of D&D players and dungeon masters) loved the giant mountain dungeon’s bizarre tone and corridors packed with bonkers magical traps and inexplicable monsters — all the work of a mad wizard hoarding incredibly powerful artifacts. 

Dead in Thay

  • Levels: 9-11
  • Author: Scott Fitzgerald Gray
  • Written for: 5e (2014)

Interestingly, Dead In Thay was written for D&D 5e… sort of. It was used in the early testing stages of the game’s current edition and centers around the Doomvault — a sprawling megadungeon inspired by a great deal of the cruelty and hardship found in Tomb of Horrors and the original Undermountain adventure. 

Against the Giants

  • Levels: 11-17
  • Author: Gary Gygax
  • Written for: AD&D (1e) (1979)

Easily the longest adventure in this book — and the only one not centered on a single large dungeon — Against the Giants actually collects three separate adventures written by Gary Gygax for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the late 1970s: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and Hall of the Fire Giant King. 

As the name suggests, the adventure sees the players begin by responding to a series of hill giant raids on human lands. While raiding the hill giant chief’s village, the PCs discover emissaries from two other giant nations. 

You can read a more in-depth summary of the adventure — as well as its excellent spiritual successor, Storm King’s Thunder for 5e — in our guide to giants here

Tomb of Horrors 

  • Levels: 17-20
  • Author: Gary Gygax
  • Written for: AD&D (1e) (1979)

Notorious for being deadly, infuriating, and more or less responsible for stoking over 30 years of “DM vs Player mentality,” Tomb of Horrors is a compact dungeon absolutely brimming with traps designed to confuse and confound even the most “expert” players. This is not an adventure you run because you want to have fun; it’s a series of brutal logic puzzles wrapped up in cruel jokes. You can read our full guide here, but my advice is not to bother with this adventure. It’ll leave a sour taste in your mouth to cap off a whole 20-level campaign with everyone getting vaporized in the third room by a save or die roll that came out of nowhere. 

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