[UPDATED] Most D&D Players Prefer Humans - Without Feats!
  • [UPDATED] Most D&D Players Prefer Humans - Without Feats!

    WotC's Jeremy Crawford posted about some D&D-related data -- most people play humans, without feats, and base their choices on the character's background rather than starting with a class (update - clarified, below).

    Here's what he had to say.

    • With data from more than one edition of D&D, I can confidently say that people play more humans, elves, and dwarves than all other races combined. No matter how powerful we've made other race options, this fact hasn't changed. Story & aesthetics often appeal more than power.
    • Want to know which D&D race is played more than any other? Humans, by far.
    • We have never witnessed a correlation between (a) power in the game and (b) which races are most popular. Story, aesthetics, characterization, literary and cinematic models—most often those drive the choice, rather than which options are perceived to be most powerful.
    • The popularity of humans, elves, and dwarves has been true for multiple editions of D&D, regardless of game mechanics, regardless of the rules for organized play, and regardless of what the competing racial options have been.
    • Another piece of D&D data: a majority of D&D characters don't use feats. Many players love the customization possible with feats, but a larger group of players is happy to make characters without feats. Feats are, therefore, not a driving force behind many players' choices.
    • Most D&D players make their primary character-building choices based on a character's fantasy archetype, backstory, personality, appearance, and place in the world. To flesh out those things, players are usually satisfied with choosing race, class/subclass, and background.

    UPDATE! Jeremy Crawford dropped me a note with some clarifications. Here's what he said:

    "Quick clarification: I said that humans are the most-played race, and characters with feats are in the minority. In contrast, the website's story states that I said most characters are humans without feats—not quite right.

    I also didn't say anything about a character's background being more important to the player than the character's class."

    (I misunderstood that last bullet point there, but thanks to Jeremy for the clarification!)
    Comments 272 Comments
    1. Gladius Legis -
      I've played in games that don't allow multiclassing, but never games that don't allow feats. Go figure.
    1. Olrox17's Avatar
      Olrox17 -
      I can confirm that 100% of D&D games I played/DMed/watched allowed feats. Color me surprised.
    1. Salamandyr -
      He's very careful in what he says...he says a majority of players don't USE feats, not that they don't play in games that allow feats. He's using the fact that lots of builds don't revolve around feats to minimize their importance to those that do.

      This feels like a half truth; or he's deriving the wrong lesson from his data.

      I'd also like to see where his data comes from. If, as seems likely, half of all characters are first to third level and the game actively minimizes human characters, it's no wonder most characters don't have feats.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Without citation the statement has no sustenance. Just empty words.

      Of course, give that ASI are usually more power than a feat for general use, combined with the low level of characters in play, of course it can look like that. Twice over for spellcasters.

      So of course not many take feats, thry made the cost too high.
    1. Tellerian Hawke's Avatar
      Tellerian Hawke -
      Now that I think about it, that is definitely true, at least for me. My two most powerful D&D characters ever were a Human and a Half-Elf. And most of my other characters have always been either Human, Elf, or Half-Elf. I never really thought about it before now, but yeah. When I have played oddball characters in the past (I once played an Orc Ranger named Schultz) I always had to make more of an effort to get the feel for them, and they never did seem as real to me. Huh, go figure. I guess the old adage is true: Write about what you know. It's true for novels, and for character backgrounds, it would seem.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      @mikal768, apologies - I was merging the two threads and your post disappeared. My fault!
    1. RevTurkey's Avatar
      RevTurkey -
      Er...okay Jeremy. Thanks for clearing that up.
    1. mikal768's Avatar
      mikal768 -
      No worries. Your post is much more concise than mine. Sorry I missed it.
    1. Warmaster Horus's Avatar
      Warmaster Horus -
      Interesting and it's great that a character's story and concept is seen as being so important. That said, the ASI for +2 to a stat is still a pretty sweet reward. It's not like those players aren't getting anything for their ASIs, after all. Some games dissuade the use of feats and in other cases the players may not like the complexity that feats toss onto a PC along with their other class bonuses.
    1. Yaarel -
      It seems most players prefer the ability score increase.

      For example, Wizard Intelligence score 15.

      Level 4: 17
      Level 8: 19
      Level 12: 20

      How many characters reach level 16?

      Even if most campaigns ‘allow’ feats, only a minority of players actually use them.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Without citation the statement has no sustenance. Just empty words.
      Citation? Crawford is a primary source.
    1. Tiago Telles's Avatar
      Tiago Telles -
      I mostly play humans BECAUSE of the Variant Rule, and because I find it easier to get into a character that share the same race as me. But in my table, I'm almost always the only human, the other members tend to be elfs or half-elfs (there is this one guy that ALWAYS make a rogue, either Elf or Half-Elf, and he ALWAYS roll for insane stats! I've never seen him in a game where he didn't have at least a 18 and 2 16. And yes, we always change his dices and he still make the insane rolls...)

      I think I've never played WITHOUT feats. They add flavor and interesting builds. Also, without feats, I think the fighter would be lackluster and just a big ball of stats, since they got so many ASI. Even with point-buy, they would max their main stat at lvl 6 and their secondary stat at lvl 12. While this is good, I don't see the fun of it (maybe because I'm a feat addict, I will use all my fighter ASI to get feats since I rolled really nicelly)
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      For all the increasing options, I’ll agree that most people still seem to stick to humans, elves, and dwarves. There’s the odd dragonborn, halfling, or tiefling, though I think things may change with Volo’s Guide out in the world – it wasn’t out when my last campaigns kicked off.

      From my solely anecdotal experience, in my one group, three of the five players used feats. In my other group, one of the six players used feats. The former group featured more powergamers than the latter, definitely.

      For my part, I’ve only taken a feat once for a character. ASIs have been just too compelling. Of the optional PHB rules, I’d be more likely to remove multi-classing than feats, though.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
      Citation? Crawford is a primary source.
      No, Crawford is a secondary source. This data he only alludes to is a primary source.
    1. Yaarel -
      One thing surprises me. Humans are the most popular race, so most players are using the non-feat human?

      Heh, in my eyes, the non-feat human verges on unplayable. The feat human is decent.

      But I guess that is Crawfords overall point. Most players dont care about power.
    1. mikal768's Avatar
      mikal768 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
      Citation? Crawford is a primary source.
      No he isn't. The data he's using is the primary source. Data which could easily be skewed.
      Some examples- Using only DNDBeyond, which can have mainly SRD/free resources (i.e. no feats). Also, the majority of the characters in the data pool may be from 1-3, in which case only Variant Humans can even possess a feat unless house ruled.
    1. Sleepy Walker's Avatar
      Sleepy Walker -
      Defiantly not how I, or those around me, play. I'd rather work with a 16 or an 18 in the primary stat than not take a feat to try and realize the character's identity with in-game stats.

      *edit: Although I do primarily play human. So far I pick the regular human over the variant, since I find I normally end up with odd stats and I see a lot of benefit for the 6 +1s. Variant human only if I need 2+ feats to realize a character and I am not a fighter. Our table tries to role play the characters a fair amount, so I try and pick things I think I can do or that I think I will have fun being (I know humans, go figure).
    1. Yaarel -
      The original post mentions that these are observations across several editions, not just 5e.

      Likely, the corporation has inhouse data.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Personally, I'm one of those who prefers the Tolkien-esque races to the more modern Tieflings and Dragonborn and the like. But that's just my preferred aesthetic.
    1. mikal768's Avatar
      mikal768 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yaarel View Post
      The original post mentions that these are observations across several editions, not just 5e.

      Likely, the corporation has inhouse data.
      Inhouse data from what? And if it's across several editions, why would it even matter for 5th? After all, 2 editions required feats, 2 editions existed before feats were created!
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