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. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      They might go over it in the video linked above, but D&DB has ways to differentiate PCs being played and test cases when they analyze the data. This is likely already correcting for test characters.
      Iíd be interested in looking into that since otherwise ďnumber of characters = number of gamesĒ is a massively false premise. Iím also kinda skeptical of how accurate they could be in actual usage since I have many characters I created in DDB for games, but never used DDB in game for them - either they were PbP online, or imported to Roll20, or printed as PDFs for a one shot. Their usage would not look much different than a test character. Plus I also have multiple characters in some campaigns.

      Shifting to anecdotal data of my own usage (but specific numbers to illustrate my point), I have 56 characters in DDB. 30 have never been played. 5 were NPCs (for 2 games) that I generated in DDB because I wanted them detailed. I have 3 characters that were PbP, only 1 of which was lasted long enough for me to go back and level my character, the other 2 I created, copied over to Paizo boards for reference and never accessed on DDB again. I have 8 that were part of a single one-shot (printed as PDFs for players) so were again created once and never accessed again (and therefore possibly looking just like a ďtest characterĒ, many of which I also printed PDFs of). I have 4 characters I actively use in DDB during game for a campaign with just my wife that has stopped but will be picked up again later. I have 2 characters for a Dragon Heist game Iím playing with my wife while the other is paused. Another few characters from games that ended. Plus my PC from my main, regular group (level 11 and looking good for full 20) isnít even in DDB because heís a 3pp class.

      So (if I added things right scrolling back and forth):
      - 56 characters
      - 45ish I only created and either never accessed again or accessed rarely, but only 2/3 were ďtest charactersĒ never used
      - 16 are PCs used in 6 games (or 21 & 8 with NPCs)
      - 6 that I actively used DDB in game (from only 2 games)
      - longest running PC isnít even in DDB

      Iím not sure the situations Iím in are really rare. Thinking of everyone I play with (in person on online), # of DDB characters and # of games, have very little relation at all.


      So even thinking about usage stats they would have on the back end (and as a full time web app programmer, I can think of many), I donít know how you could pull any reliable metric of ď# of gamesĒ from DDB characters. Putting on my other hat as a PhD student, I see FAR too many confounding variables to be able to draw that conclusion with any confidence.

      It is still interesting data about characters, of course, and I enjoy DDBís data results. I just think trying to map that to data about games relies on a lot of unsupported assumptions.
    1. DQDesign's Avatar
      DQDesign -
      @Sacrosanct

      neither me or DEFCON 1 are obliged to make lists of people, also if for diametrically opposite reasons.
      personally, I find "proscription lists" really creepy.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      @Sacrosanct

      neither me or DEFCON 1 are obliged to make lists of people, also if for diametrically opposite reasons.
      personally, I find "proscription lists" really creepy.
      So that's a "no" then. You can't back up your claim. If you're going to accuse people of doing X behavior, you need to back it up. Otherwise don't bring it up in the first place. And people will just assume you're making up lies to fit your biases.
    1. Mr. Wilson -
      I'm a little skeptical of this data for a variety of reasons including self-selecting parameters and the ability to create new characters on a whim that aren't actually used in play but as a thought exercise.

      With that said, I'd say I'm not shocked by the results either as this has generally been what WoTC has claimed their data revealed.
    1. Mr. Wilson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      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?
      My last campaign lasted until the players hit level 17 (or, they would have hit level 17 after the boss fight). After fighting an Avatar of God and defeating the BBEG, their story was completed. It took about 1 1/2 years to get from level 3 to level 17 playing about 5 hours a week with the occasional missed week.
    1. DQDesign's Avatar
      DQDesign -
      @Sacrosanct

      I prefer to be considered a liar rather than someone who separates the world into good and bad people.
      a kind of approach which produced a looot of troubles in the past.
      so if the price of being someone who does not put people on a list is being considered a liar, then feel free to consider me the king of liars.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Heh... I didn't feel as though I needed to name names, as almost all of us could probably rattle off a bunch off the top of our heads.

      And heck, I'll even do a solid by stating that I'm probably one of the ones @DQDesign would actually put down as one of the "infallible WotC" types. Because quite frankly I don't give them any more blame nor credit that what they have produced in their books. The books are their books. If their stuff is useful, I use it. And anything I don't wish to use, I don't. And if there's other stuff I wish to have that the books don't have, I make it up. Because that is literally what they keep telling me to do. Make a ruling, don't bother demanding rules. And I take them at their word and don't blame them for making that choice and repeatedly telling me of their choice. Because if I didn't like that choice in the first place, I didn't have to play 5E.

      To get angry at them for not putting in a book that which I wanted but which they chose not to is ridiculous in my opinion. And I usually have no problem pointing out how ridiculous it is. Much to the chagrin of the people who have to occasionally throw me out of particular threads because I'm sometimes not subtle enough about it.
    1. toucanbuzz -
      Data matches my personal experience for a variety of reasons:

      1. It's hard to keep the same people on the same campaign for the years necessary to reach high level play, whether it be interest in the same old character, or people moving on or people having kids, etc.

      2. D&D adventures don't support high level play. It's great running published material, but even Out of the Abyss (up to 15th) felt like they put all their creative effort on the front end (up to level 7) and kinda shrugged like "meh" on the back end. There wasn't nearly enough content to reach the recommended finale levels and the in-depth dungeons and material was heavy-loaded for starting levels.

      3. Many monster manual creatures are ill designed (and somewhat dull) for high level play, having very few powers with which to challenge a very diverse party.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      @Sacrosanct

      I prefer to be considered a liar rather than someone who separates the world into good and bad people.
      a kind of approach which produced a looot of troubles in the past.
      so if the price of being someone who does not put people on a list is being considered a liar, then feel free to consider me the king of liars.
      Well, you're doubling down on the hyperbole, I'll give you that. Saying who is doing what you're accusing people of is not separating them into good or bad people. Good lord. It's simply pointing out concrete examples that support your argument. There is no judgment of their character going on. And if you can't do that, then it pretty much means you should probably reevaluate your argument in the first place on grounds of merit.
    1. Arnwolf666's Avatar
      Arnwolf666 -
      This is my problem with the game. I donít even want to play under 10th level anymore. I want to play the levels 10-20. I just want to puke at playing another character that isnít at least 5th or 6th. And the wizard doesnít even come in to his own until around 10th level for my taste.

      Disclaimer: there is absolutely nothing wrong with people that like the first 10 levels. I am only expressing my own aesthetical tastes towards playing.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arnwolf666 View Post
      This is my problem with the game. I donít even want to play under 10th level anymore. I want to play the levels 10-20. I just want to puke at playing another character that isnít at least 5th or 6th. And the wizard doesnít even come in to his own until around 10th level for my taste.

      Disclaimer: there is absolutely nothing wrong with people that like the first 10 levels. I am only expressing my own aesthetical tastes towards playing.
      Absolutely. Just like there's nothing wrong with people who like to start at higher levels

      I've often mentioned in conversations around people who demand higher level support that the reality is that the business model doesn't really support that any more than an homage or a nod. That doesn't mean I don't have sympathy for folks like yourself, who prefer a certain range and don't see much official support for it. Thank goodness for DMs Guild. I know it's not what you want, but at least it's something to help.
    1. Oofta's Avatar
      Oofta -
      I think the numbers over-emphasize low level characters. I know I have several characters that I just wrote up as backups/just-in-case characters. I have far more character ideas than I have game time.

      As far as high level characters, I've played in and run campaigns up to 20th level. While I have a personal fondness for low level play because of how quick and deadly low level combat can be, high level play works better in 5E than previous editions in my experience.

      Then again I played in/ran home campaigns and we didn't have any issues tweaking monsters or building encounters that on paper should have been double deadly. However, there are only so many earth-shattering campaign stories out there; how many times can there be a demon invasion? How often can ancient evil dragons form cabals to take over the world? There are only so many stories that work at higher levels.

      Especially if you don't really want a story campaign and just want a group of murder-hobos getting rich looting ancient tombs there's not a lot of reason to get to the higher levels.

      I suspect though most of it just has to do with people keeping groups together along with (possibly) older editions not working as well at higher levels.
    1. OB1's Avatar
      OB1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Wilson View Post
      I'm a little skeptical of this data for a variety of reasons including self-selecting parameters and the ability to create new characters on a whim that aren't actually used in play but as a thought exercise.

      With that said, I'd say I'm not shocked by the results either as this has generally been what WoTC has claimed their data revealed.
      Itís worth repeating that Beyond has ways to scrub its data to clean up test or never been used characters, as Iíve seen several posts like this one.

      Beyond can see when people use the long/short rest functions, reduce hps, use spell slots and other limited use abilities, and level up by single levels over multiple weeks/months instead of all at once to separate out characters that are being played from those just being created for fun.

      Iím sure group attrition is the biggest reason high level play isnít more common, as going 1-20 takes time whether you use XP or milestone.

      Which is why there is nothing wrong with starting a campaign at Tier III or Tier IV! Each Tier tells a different kind of story, and there is no reason anyone should HAVE to play the first 16 levels of a character to experience the kind of story that Tier IV has to offer. Origin stories are fun, but sometimes you just want to jump right into an Avengers plot line!
    1. TwoSix -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arnwolf666 View Post
      This is my problem with the game. I donít even want to play under 10th level anymore. I want to play the levels 10-20. I just want to puke at playing another character that isnít at least 5th or 6th. And the wizard doesnít even come in to his own until around 10th level for my taste.

      Disclaimer: there is absolutely nothing wrong with people that like the first 10 levels. I am only expressing my own aesthetical tastes towards playing.
      If anything, we really should see more play at Tier 3 and 4, not less. 5e isn't really much more complex in the teen levels, and the numbers don't grow out of control. A 5e game at level 15 isn't really much different than a 3e game at level 8 or 9.
    1. jgsugden's Avatar
      jgsugden -
      I have created hundreds of first level PCs and advanced them up througha few levels as I plotted various designs. I wonder if they included thse types of characters or excluded them from their statistics.
    1. jgsugden's Avatar
      jgsugden -
      Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
      ...

      Beyond can see when people use the long/short rest functions, reduce hps, use spell slots and other limited use abilities, and level up by single levels over multiple weeks/months instead of all at once to separate out characters that are being played from those just being created for fun.
      Except I have played in games where I made a PC in Beyond, printed it out and then never updated Beyond, and also have created a 'second' PC for another game to evaluate what I might have done in combat had I played a class I had not had a chance to play recently... a "phantom" character that experienced hp losses, rests, etc... but never hit the table.

      They have no way to clearly identify what is rel and what is illusion, but they can estimate.
    1. lkj's Avatar
      lkj -
      As I usually do in threads like this these days, I'll note that I'm DM'ing a tier 4 campaign (PC's closing in on 20th level and the big climax). We've played since 1st level. It did take us a long time (mostly because our play time is limited).

      But man, we are having a blast.

      AD
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwoSix View Post
      If anything, we really should see more play at Tier 3 and 4, not less. 5e isn't really much more complex in the teen levels, and the numbers don't grow out of control. A 5e game at level 15 isn't really much different than a 3e game at level 8 or 9.
      You're absolutely right that it isn't more complex, and numbers bloat isn't nearly as bad as 3e, but I think the biggest factor (at least bigger than those two) as to why are aren't seeing much Tier 4 is because players want to play different PCs by then. It's a time thing. Not a complexity or bloat thing. Pretty much everyone I know wants to try out different characters by the end of tier 2. That, and a lot of people seem to prefer it before PCs become superhero in status or power. At least by what I've seen.
    1. TwoSix -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      You're absolutely right that it isn't more complex, and numbers bloat isn't nearly as bad as 3e, but I think the biggest factor (at least bigger than those two) as to why are aren't seeing much Tier 4 is because players want to play different PCs by then. It's a time thing. Not a complexity or bloat thing. Pretty much everyone I know wants to try out different characters by the end of tier 2.
      Oh, I don't disagree with that, I do that all the time (remake new characters). Maybe just more campaigns that start at level 11+.
    1. Olaf the Stout -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      Frankly, D&D is too complex at any level, especially beyond 10th. I'm new to 5E, and been running the Starter Set for about five sessions. It is fun. And yet...we lost one player due to complexity at 1st level. And even though I played 3e back in the day, my head swims to keep track of everything. It's fun, but still...

      I implore "Mearls, Crawford, and team" to produce another kind of D&D which is still a RPG (not a boardgame or TCG), but which is super-streamlined. I call it "Simply D&D." It could perhaps be based on the Tails of Equestria system. Or it could be an even more streamlined distillation of the Basic Rules.

      But the main thing is that a character only gets one Power per level. So by 10th level the character has 10 powers. And only 20 powers by 20th level.

      Juveniles have one power (a Race power), Adults have a Background power, and Adventurers have one Class power. Literally, one. Like, the Wizard has one spell.

      The first session of the game is run as a party of 2nd-level classless "commoner" adults. (For an even simpler start, could also run a game as children PCs...especially when running the game *for* children.)

      Anyway, the first session is only about learning how to use the system: Initiative, Action + Move, Ability Checks, HP, AC. That's about it.

      Here's an overview of SD&D:

      https://sites.google.com/site/dndphilmont/simple-rpg
      You lost a player at 1st level due to complexity? What the heck were they playing that made things too complicated, because at 1st level your options arenít much beyond move and/or hit for most characters. 2nd and 3rd levels are where more options get added in (which Iím guessing was completely intentional by the designers).

      Anything outside of combat is not much beyond a d20 roll with your skill modifier. I could see someone new to RPGs getting overwhelmed by the fact that you can do anything you want, but that is a RPG issue, not a D&D one.
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