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. bedir than's Avatar
      bedir than -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      This I disagree with. By the time a group is mid to high double digit levels, there's pretty much nothing native to the plane, outside of some dragons, that could individually challenge them in any edition. By that time, you're dealing with major demons and devils on a fairly regular basis.
      From the SRD the non-planar non-dragons at CR 15+ are;
      Purple Worm
      Mummy Lord
      Iron Golem
      Androsphinx
      Lich
      Kraken
      Tarrasque

      Campaigns at those levels are seeking undead leaders and kaiju, regularly, not just as the big bad
    1. Travis Henry's Avatar
      Travis Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Olaf the Stout View Post
      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).
      5 personality traits
      a long list of equipment
      18-some skills
      big list of Proficiencies
      the three character powers (Second Wind, Fighting Style, and Position of Privilege) have long descriptions
      the long text on the back of the sheet describing Humans, Fighters, and Background.

      I know many ENWorlders may roll their eyes - but really, it's quite a lot of info. It's an info dump. And yeah, I figure there are tips for managing the info, but still... D&D is very complex, even at first level.

      She's not a gamer gearhead - she's an artist. She liked some aspects of the game, but the crunch and sheer detail was too much.
      At the same time, me and the other fellow were learning the rules for the first time ourselves. I did my best, but the first two sessions were slow and clunky.

      Anything outside of combat is not much beyond a d20 roll with your skill modifier.
      If that were only so. Well then, a character sheet could have hardly more than just the six abilities written on it! Visually, six boxes with six numbers in it would present a very different picture than the 40-some boxes filled with dense text on the front of the Starter Stet's noble fighter pregen char sheet, and its 3 novella-style paragraphs on the back.

      I wish there was a BASIC BASIC D&D which was still an RPG (not a boardgame), and was still a vigorous engine for exploring the D&D Multiverse.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Looking at the stats, it mirrors the experience of the vast majority of my gaming life, throughout about seven editions of the gameís over 35+ years. I have a binder of characters from my basic and AD&D days ó only 2 hit 9th level, the rest are 7th and below. Of my 3e, 4e, and Pathfinder days, only about six characters ever made it to levels 15 and up. Overall, it takes about six to 10 months for us to get a character to 9th or 10th level, and by then the group makeup has changed ó or the DM is getting burnout.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      5 personality traits
      a long list of equipment
      18-some skills
      big list of Proficiencies
      the three character powers (Second Wind, Fighting Style, and Position of Privilege) have long descriptions
      the long text on the back of the sheet describing Humans, Fighters, and Background.

      I know many ENWorlders may roll their eyes - but really, it's quite a lot of info. It's an info dump. And yeah, I figure there are tips for managing the info, but still... D&D is very complex, even at first level.

      She's not a gamer gearhead - she's an artist. She liked some aspects of the game, but the crunch and sheer detail was too much.
      At the same time, me and the other fellow were learning the rules for the first time ourselves. I did my best, but the first two sessions were slow and clunky.



      If that were only so. Well then, a character sheet could have hardly more than just the six abilities written on it! Visually, six boxes with six numbers in it would present a very different picture than the 40-some boxes filled with dense text on the front of the Starter Stet's noble fighter pregen char sheet, and its 3 novella-style paragraphs on the back.

      I wish there was a BASIC BASIC D&D which was still an RPG (not a boardgame), and was still a vigorous engine for exploring the D&D Multiverse.
      "She's not a gamer gearhead - she's an artist. She liked some aspects of the game, but the crunch and sheer detail was too much."

      I have added 60 yo grandmothers who have never played a game of RPg ever to a 3.5 game, novices to HERO supers-games and so on.

      This requires DMing in a way that doesn't result in a "read all this and learn it" experience.

      "Ok so you get the basic idea - what kind of hero-to-be would you like to play?" comes **after** some discussions of genre related bits they like.

      You build some early character for them and hand them a basic summary easy-to-go guide of a character. not just dumping an official DDB print-out.

      Then you hook them with the play, not the rules, not the system. They say "run across the room, jump the table and grab them..." and as they move the figure you start slipping in "so you jump the table make an athletics check" and "roll d20 plus athletics for the grapple attack to grab."

      if they describe too much, just say " she thinks she may not make that much, but she can get this far is that OK? not "turns, actions, bonus..."

      As time goes on, even just a few levels, they will either decide its not for them, that its great and they wanna keep going like this but more often they start picking up some of the bits and fiddly choices being made by you and others and learn as much of the fiddly bits as they need.

      There is a lot of skill needed to bring folks into a game that they are unfamilar with. You don't just sit someone down to play poker and hand them the Roger's Rules and start dealing - unless your intent is to fleece them.

      Obviously, you did not do that sit them down and fleece them but the descriptions of the "trouble" you present speak more for the GM/play style than the player and system.

      By the end of that 3.5 game with the total novice grandma, she was running the show and system-fu was never a problem.

      "Ok so let me stop this right here. **I am not in charge. I am not leader. I wont ever be leader. Got it!?**... Now you go do this and you go do that and you two come here because I need..."

      ahhh... the memories.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      This is also something I wonder - and have not seen an answer on - how do MC characters figure into this? Is a life cleric dip main druid gonna count as one of each? How many of the warlocks are from 1-3 level dips?

      I think it would be very interesting to see the same data represented 4 ways...

      All combined as it is now.
      Single class only
      Multi-class only
      All combined but weighted by "levels in class"

      Additionally I would love to see for each class and subclass how many are single vs multi-class.

      I think those four-five slices on the same datasets of characters could be very informative.
      IIRC, Multiclassing is pretty fringe.
    1. Wiseblood's Avatar
      Wiseblood -
      This sounds cool. Too bad I missed it. And I have no AUD.

      Travis Henry Basic Basic D&D is there in D&D. A lot of people were taught D&D. Some taught themselves. No one gets it right. Not One. If you were lucky enough to start young chances are you grabbed some dice scribbled down some indecipherable drivel about how you were raised by wolves and proceeded to play something akin to good guys vs bad guys. (And loot the bodies or donít because thatís dishonorable IDK)

      If youíre all new to it donít beat yourself up. A few key points is all you need. You need hit points, Armor Class ( or target number) and dice to roll and a modifier if any. Thatís it. All the other rules are superfluous. Theyíre just there to create a more clear shared picture or experience. If everyone at the table can pretend, youíre on your way. If they canít, it still can work and frequently does.

      The rules are abundant and dense. Itís not everyoneís cup of tea. I even play with people that donít even like D&D. They just couldnít stay away from a table full of friends that were chatting and having a good time.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by AmerginLiath View Post
      My initial question seeing this, having not used D&D Beyond, is whether this breakdown includes multiclassing. Fighter especially is a class where I could see characters with a few levels (amid another class) essentially double-counting classes used (with Fighter being so often discussed as the class most dipped).

      I also wonder, given the platform in question, if the length of the campaigns here partly reflect different logistics between in-person and online games ó are the sort of games played on this sort of platform often Howe which are played remotely by disconnected groups whose schedules might break down sooner than in-person groups (or simply coordinate playing times less often)?
      He speculated that part of these results might be due to D&D Beyonds age, as many campaigns using these tools might simply not be there yet. Still, the preponderance of early level play is congruent with what WotC has repeatedly said about what sells.
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      yes, but none before 5e explicitly addressed the issue in terms of game design.
      Huh? 4e had explicit design features intended to handle 1 to 30 play. (Though I believe most 4e play was also in heroic tier, and epic tier the least played.)
    1. ad_hoc's Avatar
      ad_hoc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      At the same time, me and the other fellow were learning the rules for the first time ourselves. I did my best, but the first two sessions were slow and clunky.
      This is likely the root of it.

      Even light/gateway board games are frustrating and seem overly complicated if no one knows how to play.

      There are over 15 million 5e players now. The vast majority of them have been introduced to hobby gaming/RPGs through 5e. I think the biggest factors in 5e's popularity are its intuitive rule set, focus on story, and ease of play/pacing.

      It's possible that your group got too bogged down in rules minutiae as you were trying to learn the game. It works remarkably well if you just give it a go without worrying about getting everything right.
    1. Ratskinner's Avatar
      Ratskinner -
      I would suspect that multiple factors contribute to campaigns ending around level 10:
      1) complexity increases with level, at some point it becomes too much of a chore.
      2) length of story arcs (and how many arcs are suitable to take a character from farmboy to demi-god?
      3) approachability of high level characters...and their adventures
      4) DM/player fatigue..I know most people in my group don't take notes..."Who is this guy again?"
      5) stability of a group over time
    1. Sadras's Avatar
      Sadras -
      We are currently playing a long campaign (XPs reset to 0, on level up) and the character's have just passed midway between 10th and 11th. I am really looking forward to roleplaying the higher tiers with big stakes, impressively terrifying opponents, fantastical settings, exploring the multiverse and its history, cosmological puzzles and enigmas as well as uncovering long forgotten secrets, artifacts and 10th level spells.

      I've done the lower levels for far too long, the challenge and excitement for me now lies at the higher levels and getting to use the other half of the monster's manual which has only been but inspirational reading material for the last 30 or so years.
    1. Raith5's Avatar
      Raith5 -
      Is there any data there about how many people play WOTC adventures vs homebrewed adventures? If most people use WOTC adventures, then this data is not surprising at all - it is simple product of the adventures they supply (which seem to all top off at 15th level).

      I am trying to get my head around whether this is a issue of the supply of adventures specific to 5e or something mechanical with 5e. I stopped playing 3e about 14th because the game more or less broke down because of the imbalance between casters and non-casters, I played 4e to 30th and that worked well at all levels, I have not played high level 5e yet.
    1. S'mon -
      I definitely find 5e plays well at high level; the few problems IME are with mid-level spells like Banishment.

      Currently GMing:

      Runelords - PCs started at 1st, now 16th-19th after 68 sessions since November 2015 (the 16th is a new PC created at that level when we resumed campaign after a 13 month break; the one PC who started at 1st is 18th now)
      Stonehell Dungeon (about to go on hiatus) - PCs are 5th-10th after dozens of games since 2017; new characters start at 5th which keeps advancement limited.
      Primeval Thule - PCs 1st-2nd level after 2 sessions.
      Princes of the Apocalypse - PCs 2nd level after 1 session.

      My main 5e Wilderlands game saw one PC reach 20th after about 150 online sessions ca 2015-2017; never had an issue with the system at high level though CRs certainly aren't very accurate - at one point he (as Barbarian-19 Berserker) soloed an advanced Empyrean (AC 27 & 2 attacks for 6d6+10 & Stun save DC 15 CON) who was easily CR 25.
    1. Enevhar Aldarion's Avatar
      Enevhar Aldarion -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      I wish there was a BASIC BASIC D&D which was still an RPG (not a boardgame), and was still a vigorous engine for exploring the D&D Multiverse.
      The closest you will get to that is the FREE Basic Rules you can download from their website. It covers level 1-20 play, but still has less detail than the Starter Set and easier to learn with.
    1. S'mon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      Heck, I wonder, looking at the BECMI rules, what percentage of groups never got past E?
      I ran BECMI for a couple years weekly, and we got to around 18th level at the end. At that point it definitely felt like the PCs had won the game they started playing at 1st level.
    1. S'mon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Prakriti View Post
      I wish 5E had said something about that. Instead, people think Tiers 3 and 4 are boring or poorly supported. They're not. It's just that people play them the same way that they play Tiers 1 and 2, which is all wrong. By Tier 3, the PCs are among the most powerful creatures in existence. By Tier 4, they are practically gods. They should be reshaping the world, raising armies, founding kingdoms, unlocking the secrets of the planes, not helping villagers rid themselves of a pesky goblin tribe. But that, for some reason, is how some people choose to play the upper levels. And why not? 5E gives them no indication that it should be any other way.
      Just started running 5e Primeval Thule. I love how the Heroic Narratives that replace PHB Backgrounds do very much support the transition to high level play. High level PCs get Followers, at 10th they become clan chiefs and noble rulers, all kinds of stuff that supports traditional 'endgame' play - and being written down in player facing rules it creates player expectation and anticipation, they can plan for long term goals with this in mind.
    1. jedijon's Avatar
      jedijon -
      Who fails to use consistent colors and positioning in ANY FORM of radial chart?
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
      Just started running 5e Primeval Thule. I love how the Heroic Narratives that replace PHB Backgrounds do very much support the transition to high level play. High level PCs get Followers, at 10th they become clan chiefs and noble rulers, all kinds of stuff that supports traditional 'endgame' play - and being written down in player facing rules it creates player expectation and anticipation, they can plan for long term goals with this in mind.
      I liked that approach but... if I were running them, each of the higher level elements would get an **if** added that ties gaining the feature to some accomplishment in service to the "narrative." Turn it into not just a new "sub-class" of unlocked features thst ttigger by level but a mapped set of objectives and rewards.
    1. Paul Farquhar's Avatar
      Paul Farquhar -
      I've heard a couple of people saying stuff along the lines of "well, a high level game should involve things like building a stronghold, running a kingdom, etc". I would suggest that this is exactly what players don't want to do. Why do people play D&D? - to escape their everyday lives, mostly. What do my player's everyday lives entail? Responsibility, organisation, management, homemaking. They don't want a fantasy where they do the things they are trying to escape from (with the stakes ramped up to 11)! They want a fantasy where they go out and bash a few naughty monsters.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Farquhar View Post
      I've heard a couple of people saying stuff along the lines of "well, a high level game should involve things like building a stronghold, running a kingdom, etc". I would suggest that this is exactly what players don't want to do. Why do people play D&D? - to escape their everyday lives, mostly. What do my player's everyday lives entail? Responsibility, organisation, management, homemaking. They don't want a fantasy where they do the things they are trying to escape from (with the stakes ramped up to 11)! They want a fantasy where they go out and bash a few naughty monsters.
      If those are the desires of your players, yup. 5e allows that.

      But for others, the building something that lasts aspect may be equally as rewarding.

      The key is I believe to be able to do what your objectives are and picking the campaign style forbit.

      It may well be that starting st 5th, running thru 10th thrn reboot is the ideal campaign style for a group.
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