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Related: I want to ask for recommendations, but that's off topic. Is there any way to ask my question?

I'm starting a new 5th edition D&D game with a group of friends. I've DM'ed before, but they're all new. I'd like to get started without having to buy an "expensive" ($30-$40) module before really getting a feel for how they are as players and what sort of game they expect. I also don't want to just wing it and/or homebrew adventures for much the same reason, and I feel it would do them a disservice.

I want to ask something along the lines of "Where can I find adventures for first-level characters for cheap/free?", but that sort of question generally gets closed as "shopping" around here.

How can I ask a better question while still getting what I want?

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All content suggestion questions are simply off-topic

This is primarily because there isn't a right or best answer for 'what adventures work for these criteria' in a world where there are dozens of on- and off-brand adventures available. Similarly, 'what books are best if I can only buy some' is inherently subjective.

The going response is to visit various forums or the Chat section.

A communication back and forth will result in more accurate suggestions for where/what to get for your particular case.

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Asking on an RPG discussion forum is the way. Even if recommendations were on-topic here, you'd get worse recommendations here than at a discussion forum.

I'm a regular reader (less often poster) on two of those forums, and it's ridiculously easy to get recommendations on them. The ease of getting recommendations of all kinds — even super-subjective ones, like what ideas they should use next for their campaign — is so significant on an RPG forum.

Given that forums work so very well for recommendations, and RPG.se struggled to be good at them even when we experimented with it, there's zero reason to need or want to post them here. The nature of recommendations means that we are actually worse at it — forums simply suit that kind of inquiry like a glove, and the quality of recommendations are therefore much higher.

The most oft-cited reason to want to ask here is because of the quality of our answers for other questions, but when it comes to recommendations specifically, that perception is a trap. The quality measures here just don't translate to that different task. RPG forums' answers are simply better in every way.

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Ask about how to find the answer, rather than for the answer itself.

The canonical example of a shopping question is 'What’s the best low light point-and-shoot camera?'. The canonical way of fixing it is to instead ask 'How do I tell which point-and-shoot cameras take good low light photos?'. Applying that to your situation, you'd want to ask about how to tell what modules are good before buying them or how to find modules that are good/cheap or whatever. That's sort of what you've already done here, though, and I'm not sure the site will tolerate anything beyond 'go to a forum instead'; recommendation questions are a somewhat contentious issue and meta discussion on them doesn't always go well.

If you do want to ask about how one tells what modules are good before buying them or whatnot, and you want to talk on meta to figure out how to do that first, I'd recommend you take a look at our questions regarding the game-rec and tool-rec tags so that you understand better where people are still mad about stuff and what sorts of things are going to spur strong reactions that would otherwise be unexpected before doing that.

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