90% of D&D Games Stop By Level 10; Wizards More Popular At Higher Levels
  • 90% of D&D Games Stop By Level 10; Wizards More Popular At Higher Levels


    D&D Beyond has released some more data mined from usage of its platform. A couple of weeks ago, it published some stats on the most viewed D&D adventures, from Dragon Heist and Strahd all the way down to Rise of Tiamat. This time, it's a look at player characters by tier of play.




    Tier 1 is levels 1-4, Tier 2 is levels 5-10, Tier 3 is levels 11-16, and Tier 4 is levels 17-20.

    Tier 1 contains the most characters created on the platform (as you would expect), followed in order by Tiers 2-4. About 90% of games do not make it past the 10th level mark, as the developer notes.






    This chart shows that the fighter is the most common class at all tiers, followed by the rogue. At third place it switches up a bit - the wizard becomes more popular in Tiers 3-4 than in Tiers 1-2, while the cleric and ranger both have a strong presence at lower levels but drop off at higher levels.

    You can find the report in the latest DDB development video below.


    Comments 132 Comments
    1. Draegn's Avatar
      Draegn -
      I do not understand how people can be surprised that in a game where one uses their imagination that the preference is to play something you cannot be in the real world. I wager some would blame Harry Potter for the number of wizardly players, at least until the next series of books or films is released.
    1. 200orcs's Avatar
      200orcs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Farquhar View Post
      Effect of small sample sizes I guess. Rogues are the most popular amongst my groups, clerics the least.
      Yes, for sure. I do run games for about 15 people, different campaigns etc. Still a tiny size though.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      It's also not a stretch to suggest that WotC consider testing another product line (alongside their D&D RPG, D&D Cooperative Boardgames, and D&D Parlor Games).

      If I'm not welcome to voice this at ENWorld, the moderator is welcome to notify me.
      It's not that you aren't welcome to suggest this on ENWorld... you absolutely can and may suggest anything you'd like. But I suspect the reason why people will respond with "Just change it yourself" is because of an important fact that I don't think many folks really want to admit to themselves...

      ...us folks on ENWorld have almost not a single bit of sway with anyone at Wizards of the Coast.

      We like to THINK that we are "tried and true" D&Ders, and thus our opinions should hold some weight and that WotC would be wiser to heed our words... but there has never been a single indication that WotC has ever listened or taken our opinions to heart. As a result, those of us who have been here for a long long time just have come to accept that anyone stating what they think WotC should do is just screaming into the wind.

      And thus folks say "Do it yourself". Because that is the only way you'll ever actually get what you want in a timeframe that is useful to you. We're trying to help you. We know you aren't going to get what you want from WotC, so please please please don't wait around hoping that it'll happen. Do it yourself. Please! You'll be a much happier player if you rely on yourself and not WotC for what you need.

      So it's not that we're trying to be jerks about it... it's that we know what the result of your request is going to be. ENWorld is not the place to make your desires known to the folks at WotC, because they just don't hear us here. Or if they do... it's just one small facet of the overwhelming cacophony of requests that they gather together and then eventually decide to process some time down the line.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      I tend not to like high-level play, but in my experience, 5e handled better in the 10+ levels than 4e and 3e. 1e and 2e tended to break down more as a result of magic item overload at that point, rather than class complexity.

      That being said, 10-ish is a good place to finish a tale. In a game with nigh-infinite possibilities for characters and campaigns, I feel that it’s important to know when to move on and make a fresh start.

      I recently listened to the Dragon Talk podcast about that 35+ year campaign. While the idea of telling a tale over that amount of time sounds awesome, the more I listened to it, the more I was horrified at the accrued kludge of it.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      yes, but none before 5e explicitly addressed the issue in terms of game design. bounded accuracy should address this in 5e, and according to the data it seems not to be able to.
      1e did. You reached name level at 9th level, which had many design elements to shift the game. That's when you got followers or strongholds. That's when you stopped getting HP adjustments for Constitution. Demi humans had level limits that were almost all maxed out by that level. And the vast majority of adventures were up to name level (ish). I think it was pretty clear in 1e that it was designed for most players to play up until name level.

      I'm not surprised at these results at all, because it aligns with how D&D has largely always been played, especially for the first 25 years of the game. Also, I think a big factor as to why we see those numbers the way we do is because people want to try something new. After playing several sessions with Bob the fighter, they want to try out Joan the warlock. In the TSR era days, often players would go back to Bob later on, which I don't see much in 5e. It seems in 5e, PCs are campaign specific and aren't really played anymore outside of that campaign, while in AD&D, I saw a lot of "We're gonna play the G series." and players choosing which PC from their pool of characters that fit that level range to play. I suspect it's because AD&D adventures were shorter, and in 5e the adventures are designed for an entire campaign.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      Not surprising, but this hardly seems unique for any particular edition. It requires much more effort and commitment (and maybe some luck) to reach those tier 3/4 levels from scratch.

      I've always considered how seldom I ever used high level options in actual play and how much space could be salvaged in the core books to focus more on those tiers that are most often used. I would like to see core books that only go to level 10 for the majority of players, and then supplement books (i.e. PHB 2, MM2, DMG2) expand play for more dedicated players into tiers 3-4. Call those "Advanced" or "Expert", if you like. It might curb an implied idea that level 20 is the endgame achievement for all campaigns. Just a thought, but one I've held for a long time.
      JL - I would give you XP for this but can't for some reason. I agree that would be much better. Focus on level 1-10, slow down the leveling in make those levels with more features that are more "heroic" than "mythic," and move everything else out to supplements. Love it!
    1. Retreater -
      My experience is that most of my campaigns fizzle out within 6 months due to player interest, real world reasons, or TPK. We also meet every 2 weeks, so it's rare to get beyond the 7-9th level range. I'm running Tomb of Annihilation and I'm using a milestone leveling system so the group is finally at 10th level - which would've been impossible using regular XP awards with our schedule (and would have also necessitated in running every encounter in the book and additional ones to pad the XP, which would have slowed down the game tremendously).

      In the past, in different editions, I've had groups that requested to start at a higher level to be able to try out high level play. We've found that jumping into this level of play without character familiarity is exhausting to play and DM (especially in 3.x). Those campaigns fizzled out after 2-3 sessions, max.

      That said, the highest we've played in 5E (around 15th level to conclude Princes of the Apocalypse) went pretty darned well with a group of experienced players who've known each other for years.
    1. DQDesign's Avatar
      DQDesign -
      @DEFCON 1

      you are right, the problem is that a lot of people here just think that the current dnd official development team is something more akin to a pantheon on infallible design gods and that any request addressed to them or any comment about their deeds is heresy. and it is impossible to distinguish them from the people who state that is useless to ask because noone is listening.
    1. DQDesign's Avatar
      DQDesign -
      @Sacrosanct

      I meant through math embedded in system, sorry not being clear. name level does not imply a sort of 'control' on the randomness and the numerical results of in-session dice rolls.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      @DEFCON 1

      you are right, the problem is that a lot of people here just think that the current dnd official development team is something more akin to a pantheon on infallible design gods and that any request addressed to them or any comment about their deeds is heresy. and it is impossible to distinguish them from the people who state that is useless to ask because noone is listening.
      Who thinks that? If it's "a lot of people" then it should be pretty easy to name some names of people who are doing that.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      @Sacrosanct

      I meant through math embedded in system, sorry not being clear. name level does not imply a sort of 'control' on the randomness and the numerical results of in-session dice rolls.
      Yeah, and as I said, there are rules like level limits, and CON bonus no longer applying. I.e., actual game mechanics that do exactly what you're saying 5e does that no other edition did.
    1. Retreater -
      I know I tend to share a lot of frustration on these boards, but it's because I feel a kinship in the community here and value the input. I've been DMing for 25 years, but I am always learning. So if I air criticism about game design, I do so with the purpose of finding ways around my issues to improve the game experience of my players.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      I know I tend to share a lot of frustration on these boards, but it's because I feel a kinship in the community here and value the input. I've been DMing for 25 years, but I am always learning. So if I air criticism about game design, I do so with the purpose of finding ways around my issues to improve the game experience of my players.
      Which is always a noble goal, and one that more often than not you will get ideas and assistance from, from those of us here.

      But what I think oftentimes happens is that coupled with a request for ideas on how to improve their game... many posters (not saying you specifically, but just posters in general) also take potshots at the designers for being stupid and how could they have designed such "obviously" poor or broken rules. It's never enough to want solutions, they also want to denigrate the work that was done because in their opinion WotC focused on the wrong things, or didn't playtest enough, or refused to write a book that catered to every single playstyle out there, etc. etc. etc.

      And thus a thread that was meant to just be a font for ideas devolves into people showing up to defend WotC against what they feel is unwarranted attack by people who apparently didn't know or didn't care about what WotC was and is trying to do... only what they didn't do that the poster feels should have been an obvious thing. When the actual "obvious" answer is that's just not 5E was designed to do.

      If someone needs specific ideas for specific problems at their specific table... it goes a long way to just address it like that, without placing blame for why they feel the need to ask. "Hey, I'm hoping to find an amended weapons table that does X, Y, & Z... anyone know of any, or any old threads that talked about it, or anything on DMs Guild about it?" for example. You ask it like that, and you'll get plenty of people dropping you links and such. Yeah, there will be the occasional person who will "help" by saying "Why do you need that? The weapon table is fine!"... but at that point you hopefully will have already received your answer and then you just don't need to answer their inane question.
    1. Dausuul's Avatar
      Dausuul -
      Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
      I'm surprised by how many are playing in tier 4. 5.4% is a lot (even with DoMM out).

      I'm not really sure how Beyond works, is it possible that people are creating level 20 characters as character building exercises? Maybe that plays into why classes are differently popular at different tiers.
      Yes, it is possible, and in fact I think that is the most likely explanation for tier 4 being more popular than tier 3. These stats don't distinguish between characters being actively played and characters created as a thought exercise. I bet that if you took that chart and broke it out by level, you would find next to nothing from 17-19 and a huge spike at 20.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
      Yes, it is possible, and in fact I think that is the most likely explanation for tier 4 being more popular than tier 3. These stats don't distinguish between characters being actively played and characters created as a thought exercise. I bet that if you took that chart and broke it out by level, you would find next to nothing from 17-19 and a huge spike at 20.
      that's my thought as well. Not only players creating level 20 from the get go, but I'd suspect those people who play to level 17 don't stop until they hit level 20. If you're gonna do 95% of the race, might as well finish, right?
    1. Flexor the Mighty! -
      In my final 5e campaign they hit 10-11th level and started curb stomping demon princes so we just called that a campaign and retired the PC.
    1. DQDesign's Avatar
      DQDesign -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      Who thinks that? If it's "a lot of people" then it should be pretty easy to name some names of people who are doing that.
      I don't know, you could ask to her:

      Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
      many posters (not saying you specifically, but just posters in general) also take potshots at the designers for being stupid and how could they have designed such "obviously" poor or broken rules
    1. Magister Ludorum's Avatar
      Magister Ludorum -
      I'm sure that this is true for most players, but my own chronicles tend to go from level 3 (the usual starting point) and end somewhere in Tier 4, despite the fact that we level much more slowly than the RAW. (We use milestone leveling).

      My current Greyhawk 5e game began in a small village in Nyrond dealing with low-level members of the cult of Iuz, and is planned to culminate in a confrontation with the Old One himself in the bowels of Castle Greyhawk 7+ game years (not real years) later. I'm hoping that 5e will make this more enjoyable at high levels than my previous 3.5e FR chronicle which spanned 3 game years and went to level 18.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      I don't know, you could ask to her:
      DEFCON 1 is talking about literally the opposite of what you accused. You said there were lots of people who act like the WoTC team are infallible gods. I asked who, and you to provide names. DEFCON is talking about people who take pot shots at the developers and attack them personally. Like CapnZapp, or FrogReaver, or Hussar (and others) have done in the past.

      So again, if you're going to make an accusation, I'd hope you could back that up. Especially since you said "lots of people" are doing what you accused.
    1. Blue's Avatar
      Blue -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      The results are congruent with what WotC has been saying about high level play for years, hence their focus on publishing Tier 1 & 2 AP material.
      Wizard's haven't made their percentages known, so it's not useful as a way to vet this data except in gross shape. That we can confirm matches up. "Yeah, more low level play than anything else".
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