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. Travis Henry's Avatar
      Travis Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      "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."

      This requires DMing in a way that doesn't result in a "read all this and learn it" experience.
      Well, if that is what is required, then it'd be great if the STARTER SET wasn't presented in that way. If the character sheet only had like six numbers on it, a box for HP and AC, and a line to write your name, then the required light-touch would be obvious. As it stood, we were all trying to figure out the rules and make heads-and-tails of these densely worded character sheets at the same time. It took us like a half hour at least to read through the pregen character sheets.

      "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.
      But all we had was the Starter Set - there are no character creation rules. I did start with questions: which of these class/backgrounds would you like to play? And what is the name of your noble fighter?

      You build some early character for them and hand them a basic summary easy-to-go guide of a character.
      I don't know how to build a character. I got Starter Set, and for the second session, printed off some spell list from the Basic Rules.

      not just dumping an official DDB print-out.
      It's not a DDB print out. It's the Starter Set character sheet!

      Then you hook them with the play, not the rules, not the system.
      Okay, but I am learning how to play too. That's why I bought the Starter Set.

      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."
      That sounds great, but even after reading the Starter rule book a couple times, that capacity for rules mastery did not sink in.

      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
      Okay, true - yet *I* am learning how to play/DM 5E for the first time too. Are you speaking to me, or to whoever wrote the Starter Set?

      I do appreciate your tips, yet I am speaking as a Novice DM who invited two Novice Players to try to learn how to play D&D with the STARTER SET. And that was my experience and observations. I can only imagine the level of complexity at 10th level+.

      The good news is that the other player is really digging it, and we have been playing one-on-one feverishly now. Into our sixth session - cleared Crawmaw Hideout and Redbrand Hideout. The basics are starting to become intuitive.

      And yet...really, I'm not looking forward to mastering more and more rules and info. I like the D&D world - the adventure sites. And I like the basic D&D "vibe."

      Basically, I want a D&D that is still a RPG, and still looks and feels like D&D, and is set in the D&D Multiverse...but which has only one new power/character ability per level. Including only one spell per level.

      This "Simply D&D" outline gives some good parameters: https://sites.google.com/site/dndphilmont/simple-rpg
    1. Travis Henry's Avatar
      Travis Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
      If you’re all new to it don’t 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. That’s it. All the other rules are superfluous. They’re just there to create a more clear shared picture or experience. If everyone at the table can pretend, you’re on your way. If they can’t, it still can work and frequently does.

      The rules are abundant and dense. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I even play with people that don’t even like D&D. They just couldn’t stay away from a table full of friends that were chatting and having a good time.
      Thanks Wiseblood.

      D&D with just 6 ability scores, hp, and AC...plus one power per level. That's what I'd like.

      I do aspire to perhaps build it into a social venue which "non-gamers" might warm to. We'll see. First I gotta figure out how to play! haha
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      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.
      Yeah, and we actually liked the stronghold building part of the game. I think Paul is mistaken to assume players don't want that. Maybe he doesn't. But fortress building and all that is NOT like real life, so I'm not sure why he would compare the two as being similar. I don't own a castle or an army, do you? Does he? Building castles and raising armies is still very much a game, especially when your stronghold gets attacked, or you expand your area of control. People still love to play Settlers of Cataan even though building farms is pretty common.

      *Edit* And I'd posit that if his players want "to bash monsters", then what better way to do that than to use an entire army? You can bash lots of heads that way
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      Well, if that is what is required, then it'd be great if the STARTER SET wasn't presented in that way. If the character sheet only had like six numbers on it, a box for HP and AC, and a line to write your name, then the required light-touch would be obvious. As it stood, we were all trying to figure out the rules and make heads-and-tails of these densely worded character sheets at the same time. It took us like a half hour at least to read through the pregen character sheets.



      But all we had was the Starter Set - there are no character creation rules. I did start with questions: which of these class/backgrounds would you like to play? And what is the name of your noble fighter?



      I don't know how to build a character. I got Starter Set, and for the second session, printed off some spell list from the Basic Rules.



      It's not a DDB print out. It's the Starter Set character sheet!



      Okay, but I am learning how to play too. That's why I bought the Starter Set.



      That sounds great, but even after reading the Starter rule book a couple times, that capacity for rules mastery did not sink in.



      Okay, true - yet *I* am learning how to play/DM 5E for the first time too. Are you speaking to me, or to whoever wrote the Starter Set?

      I do appreciate your tips, yet I am speaking as a Novice DM who invited two Novice Players to try to learn how to play D&D with the STARTER SET. And that was my experience and observations. I can only imagine the level of complexity at 10th level+.

      The good news is that the other player is really digging it, and we have been playing one-on-one feverishly now. Into our sixth session - cleared Crawmaw Hideout and Redbrand Hideout. The basics are starting to become intuitive.

      And yet...really, I'm not looking forward to mastering more and more rules and info. I like the D&D world - the adventure sites. And I like the basic D&D "vibe."

      Basically, I want a D&D that is still a RPG, and still looks and feels like D&D, and is set in the D&D Multiverse...but which has only one new power/character ability per level. Including only one spell per level.

      This "Simply D&D" outline gives some good parameters: https://sites.google.com/site/dndphilmont/simple-rpg
      I have not seen or read or purchased the starter set so i cannot make any comments on whether or not it is good.

      But, to me, an RPG is not like a board game or a deck of cards that can be unboxed and played without one player having good knowledge ahead of time of how to play - that person being the GM.

      Almost every RPG product i have ever seen said outright that the Gm **should** read thru completely and get familiar with that product before running it. Even the most basic mudles did that - though likely some of the straight-to-pdf dollar mods dont.

      If starter set told you you did not need to do that prep as GM, then hey, that could be a very flawed product.

      i am glad whatever that other game you keep posting to is meeting your group's needs. But its not for me and i certainly hope DnD 5e does not go that way myself.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      Yeah, and we actually liked the stronghold building part of the game. I think Paul is mistaken to assume players don't want that. Maybe he doesn't. But fortress building and all that is NOT like real life, so I'm not sure why he would compare the two as being similar. I don't own a castle or an army, do you? Does he? Building castles and raising armies is still very much a game, especially when your stronghold gets attacked, or you expand your area of control. People still love to play Settlers of Cataan even though building farms is pretty common.

      *Edit* And I'd posit that if his players want "to bash monsters", then what better way to do that than to use an entire army? You can bash lots of heads that way
      Yeah - for my current game, i introduced a "lair development potential benefit" at 3rd level and now the bard player (one of the bard players) is now thinking about and wanting to look into establishing a "base" for a potential lair. He knows its a long way off, but that seed of interest has already been planted by showing one benefit hint to them. More will follow.

      I anticipate that they will look at every partially ruined "site" they clear out (and the other types of location-based hooks they play thru) with an added layer of interest for "maybe after we clear it we could...".

      The beauty is, if they don't, they don't. The game proceeds and the stories occur and that bit drops away - except for when they see others in the world using it.

      But if i had not presented it into the game in a way that showed them its possible - for them - i would not have given them the chance to show me what they want and don't want.
    1. Travis Henry's Avatar
      Travis Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      I have not seen or read or purchased the starter set so i cannot make any comments on whether or not it is good.

      But, to me, an RPG is not like a board game or a deck of cards that can be unboxed and played without one player having good knowledge ahead of time of how to play - that person being the GM.

      Almost every RPG product i have ever seen said outright that the Gm **should** read thru completely and get familiar with that product before running it. Even the most basic mudles did that - though likely some of the straight-to-pdf dollar mods dont.

      If starter set told you you did not need to do that prep as GM, then hey, that could be a very flawed product.
      Whoa whoa there. I read the Starter Rules twice, and the Phandevler Adventure twice. Before starting.
      While I'm sure there are people who are quicker than me, I'm not going to feel ashamed for not being a paragon of system mastery from the start.

      And there's lots of stuff in the Starter Set which is either not clear or *too detailed*.

      For example, not clear for Novice DM: The first encounter is basically like: Here's four goblins. See stats on page such-and-such. But doesn't remind/explain to use the Goblin's Bonus Hide and Bonus Disengage. Sure, the rules for Hide and Disengage and Bonus Action are somewhere in the Rulebook, but geez, for the first encounter, let's give a sentence or two explaining and reminding exactly how this will look in the goblin encounter!

      And the pages-and-pages of write-ups for the various townspeople could've really been distilled into a few bullet points. Name, key info (preferably written out as a sample quote), and adventure seed. Voila.

      But this thread is not about that.

      I'm just saying that, having played 5E at 1st level, it's no wonder people give up by 10th level. It's fun, but would be more fun (for me) if further streamlined.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      Whoa whoa there. I read the Starter Rules twice, and the Phandevler Adventure twice. Before starting.
      While I'm sure there are people who are quicker than me, I'm not going to feel ashamed for not being a paragon of system mastery from the start.

      And there's lots of stuff in the Starter Set which is either not clear or *too detailed*.

      For example, not clear for Novice DM: The first encounter is basically like: Here's four goblins. See stats on page such-and-such. But doesn't remind/explain to use the Goblin's Bonus Hide and Bonus Disengage. Sure, the rules for Hide and Disengage and Bonus Action are somewhere in the Rulebook, but geez, for the first encounter, let's give a sentence or two explaining and reminding exactly how this will look in the goblin encounter!

      And the pages-and-pages of write-ups for the various townspeople could've really been distilled into a few bullet points. Name, key info (preferably written out as a sample quote), and adventure seed. Voila.

      But this thread is not about that.

      I'm just saying that, having played 5E at 1st level, it's no wonder people give up by 10th level. It's fun, but would be more fun (for me) if further streamlined.
      Again, cannot comment on the merits and flaws of the starter kit. but if folks new to the game made it to 10th, i woulda thought they had a grasp on it by then. (Excepting of course a recent example where someone started at 5th, sped thru 5-10 and then an encounter hit what was basically an inexperienced party wrong.)

      Like i said, if you found a system that does better for you and yours, thats fantastic. long long ago i realized not every game will suit every playstyle, preference or need. There have been a friggin' ton of games i bought, read and dismissed as "not for me" or "not for us" even if they had very good stuff in them.
    1. Aiden_Keller_'s Avatar
      Aiden_Keller_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
      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.
      I also wondered this....
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      I know they are very cautious about book bloat in this edition, but after 5 years, even I can agree there needs to be a high level campaign book. Ideally, one that references all the other campaigns in how you can continue and incorporate them (STK, ToA, etc) into a high level campaign. I mean, there's so much there from each that can easily be put into a high level campaign, it's just begging for it.
      Dungeon of the Mad Mage.

      It's good too.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      Yeah, and we actually liked the stronghold building part of the game. I think Paul is mistaken to assume players don't want that. Maybe he doesn't. But fortress building and all that is NOT like real life, so I'm not sure why he would compare the two as being similar. I don't own a castle or an army, do you? Does he? Building castles and raising armies is still very much a game, especially when your stronghold gets attacked, or you expand your area of control. People still love to play Settlers of Cataan even though building farms is pretty common.

      *Edit* And I'd posit that if his players want "to bash monsters", then what better way to do that than to use an entire army? You can bash lots of heads that way
      I think the point being made is often when we start getting into castle building and whatnot, the spreadsheets come out and you have to start tracking all these different variables to figure out how and how long it takes to build the castle.

      Great for those who like that sort of thing (which I do) but, I've seen more than a few players whose eyes glaze over when faced with having to detail out how many wall sections the castle wall needs (and then figure out how much that costs), how much to hire however many workers, where to get raw materials, etc.

      I have to admit, I do like how Dragon Heist did it. It costs X gp to renovate your home. It costs Y GP to run your business on a weekly basis. Here's a handy chart to figure out how much you made or lost this week.

      The entire thing is contained in a paragraph. Instead of handing someone a couple of hundred page long Stronghold Builder's Guide.
    1. Myrdin Potter's Avatar
      Myrdin Potter -
      I ran two campaigns that went to 15th level recently. Both took over 2 years to get there with 3 hours a week of play on Fantasy Grounds. I will occasionally run adventures for them to get them to 20th level, but I started new campaigns for each of them.
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
      And there's lots of stuff in the Starter Set which is either not clear or *too detailed*.
      Amen to that! I also started out with 5e and the Starter Set and I came away with the impression that it’s a “how to play 5e” (i.e. for experienced players/DMs) rather than “how to play D&D” and that first goblin encounter proved it IMO, way too many moving parts and way to little hand holding. I also almost lost a player early on as he tried to get the hang of his wizard character (from the starter set characters) he’d get visibly frustrated when trying to understand spells and slots. Fortunately he stuck with it and he’s now at level 18, but the start was not smooth at all. Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone in your impression.

      Now back to the thread...
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      I know they are very cautious about book bloat in this edition, but after 5 years, even I can agree there needs to be a high level campaign book. Ideally, one that references all the other campaigns in how you can continue and incorporate them (STK, ToA, etc) into a high level campaign. I mean, there's so much there from each that can easily be put into a high level campaign, it's just begging for it.
      My high level campaign started at level 15 with the Demon Lord incursion of the Underdark, basically I launched it at part 2 of OotA, but instead of a cast of thousands it’s just the PCs vs various Demon Lords and traveling the Underdark using the whole book as a resource (and supplementing with Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex) Generally it’s working well (though a little monotonous in the scenery...)
    1. FrogReaver's Avatar
      FrogReaver -
      So 5e has Mutliclassing. I would expect that due to that the classes would add up to over 100% by tier. They don't appear to be doing that. So how are multiclassed characters factored into their stats?
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
      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.
      Yes, they included them. These are characters created on DDB, nothing more. Nearly 9 million of them!
    1. FrogReaver's Avatar
      FrogReaver -
      Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
      So 5e has Mutliclassing. I would expect that due to that the classes would add up to over 100% by tier. They don't appear to be doing that. So how are multiclassed characters factored into their stats?
      It seems to me like the only possibilities for mutlclass characters are
      1) They excluded all multiclass characters from their results
      2) A fighter/wizard multiclass gets counted both as a fighter and as a wizard and increases the total of all characters by 2 instead of by 1
      3) They consider the class of your character to be the first level of a class you took
      4) They consider the class of your character to be the highest level of a class you have

      So really, whichever option they chose, it likely means their class comparisons are so skewed they are beyond useless (no pun intended)
    1. S'mon -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      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.
      I definitely like the pre-3e approach of "IF you build a fortress/temple/guild/tower THEN you get..."

      And IMC I will be modifying the awards a bit to reflect in game events. Eg we have a noble, Aeridnis, of Atlantean House Vorzin in Quodeth, I won't necessarily have hale & hearty Duke Baerad Vorzin keel over when the PC hits 10th level so she can become Duchess. But some kind of social advancement depending on what's been happening in the campaign that gives her access to new resources - becoming the Court Wizard, Grand Vizier, a senior Panjandrum etc all seem possibilities, or maybe Mistress of the Onther Tower, the great library of Quodeth - her grandfather runs it currently but he is getting on a bit... I could even see her marry into another noble house and bring it under Vorzin control.
    1. Quickleaf's Avatar
      Quickleaf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raith5 View Post
      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.
      Chris Perkins spoke at GameHole Con 2015 and mentioned this topic, referring to internal WotC data...

      A great bulk of those who play D&D run homebrew settings. But of those home-brew campaigns, over half of those homebrewers do pillage from other settings ... 15% or 50% of the world they've created has hawked stuff from other worlds. They're comfortable pillaging our products for ideas. That homebrew number, I can't remember the exact percentage, but I think it's like 55% homebrew. And then it's like 35% Forgotten Realms, and then everything else ... Very few people right now, turns out, running Dark Sun campaigns. A sliver of a sliver. Very few people running Hollow World campaigns. Very few people are running Mystara campaigns. It pretty much goes Homebrew, Forgotten Realms, I think Greyhawk's at 5% ands then everybody else is at 2% or 1%.


      There was also a survey run by Mike Shea over at Sly Flourish, wherein out of 6,600 respondents on primary adventures used, 64% answered personal adventures and 36% answered published adventures.
    1. ClaytonCross's Avatar
      ClaytonCross -
      Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
      First, there's no separation between played characters and try-a-build characters, so we don't know this is the proper breakdown for campaigns. I wonder if they can remove characters that have never been given XP.
      No, because of Milestone leveling. I have 2 active characters and in both Campaigns we use milestone leveling. In one the GM counts XP each session but assigns it to the whole group to get an idea when we should level and after we meat an XP requirement and complete our current mission resting in a safe comfortable place with downtime ...then we all level. Like a time jump between seasons of a TV show. In the other group all the player rotate into the GM slot once per level and we level up when all 4 players have run a story arch at that level. The point of the campaign being to train each other how to GM, experience a variety of play under different GMs, and test different styles of play. As each GM turn is a different "mission" we can change Player characters back and forth as well as styles while maintaining a collective world (Forgotten realms so we have shared lore references and maps). That means non of our characters would be represented in data as active characters. We play one session in each campaign once a month using D&D Beyond, damaging, healing, buying, selling, and updating notes. Checking for those changes and confirming they are assigned to a campaign it perhaps the best metric I can think off.

      I would not mind, if they let us mark a character as an unplayed Alt, concept building, and/or inactive character. That would improve their metrics so they would not track them for data. Marking active character's could be misleading as I don't plan not to play a character, groups just fall apart, schedules conflict, GMs move away, and characters don't get played because the campaign does continue.

      Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
      For that, it's still an interesting insight that matches my own observations, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be aware of possible weaknesses in the data.
      Sure, but I don't think Fighter #1, Rogue #2, Cleric #3, Wizard #4 or human due to human variant are any surprise to anyone.

      … I do wonder what the X day timer is for played characters since I have 2 once a month sessions, Its possible for me to play at the binging of one month and the end of the next so unless do 60 days its very possible that at any moment one or the other of my characters is not counted. Also, the November/December time frame is likely to make a large number of characters drop off. I would like it if they marked the slide "Characters played in the last 120 days" for quarterly players, by monthly players, monthly players, and weekly players to all be represented for the most part.

      This in mind I put a Feature request in at D&D Beyond to see if we can get this added.
    1. lkj's Avatar
      lkj -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Yes, they included them. These are characters created on DDB, nothing more. Nearly 9 million of them!
      That's not quite right. They filtered based on metrics that indicated whether or not a character was being used. That included things like whether hit points changed and such. I don't know the details. I'm sure it's not perfect. But they did take a shot at only including 'active' characters.

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