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. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      There is also a complete lack of support for gameplay at level 11+. Even most of the campaigns stop at level 10 now.

      We need more books like Colville's Strongholds & Followers that provide a framework and tools for the higher levels.
    1. KarinsDad's Avatar
      KarinsDad -
      Quote Originally Posted by lkj View Post
      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
      Just out of curiosity, how long did that take real time and how often a month do you play?
    1. Olaf the Stout -
      Im not at all surprised that the number of PCs goes down as the levels go up. That would be common to most RPGs and editions of D&D.

      I do wonder how much the 5E stats are also impacted by the fact that the WotC adventures tend to end around level 10-13 (with only DotMM designed to run above level 15). Yes, DMs can easily make their own adventures and Im sure there are plenty of 3rd party adventures at higher levels, but it would not surprise me if a heap of groups picked a WotC adventure, ran that to completion, then started a new campaign with another WotC adventure.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
      Its worth repeating that Beyond has ways to scrub its data to clean up test or never been used characters, as Ive 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.

      Im sure group attrition is the biggest reason high level play isnt 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!
      I probably rambled on too long up above, but even with all of the back end usage info they would have, they still have to rely on dubious assumptions to be able to conclude much of anything about campaigns from character data. Maybe some vague ideas, but there are far too many confounding variables to come to any strong conclusions. But I also need to watch the dev update because Im not clear if DDB drew these conclusions about campaigns, or if Morrus did when he posted it.

      It is still interesting data about characters. And hints at interesting things about campaigns.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      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!
      The problem with this being, I suspect, that instead of playing levels 1-19, slower leveling would simply change the upper end of the range. So, it becomes levels 1-6, or whatever level it generally takes about a year of play to reach.

      The issue has always been time. Even back in 1e, it was expected that you'd hit about 9th or 10th level after about a year of regular play. And then the DM would retire that campaign and you'd start anew.

      Heck, I wonder, looking at the BECMI rules, what percentage of groups never got past E?
    1. Prakriti's Avatar
      Prakriti -
      Quote Originally Posted by Skywalker View Post
      We need more books like Colville's Strongholds & Followers that provide a framework and tools for the higher levels.
      I agree. In AD&D, characters automatically gained followers around level 9, and the meat of the game transitioned away from adventuring and into kingdom management. Which only makes sense: Usually when a character acquires enough wealth to live out the rest of their life in comfort, they have little to no reason to continue adventuring (i.e. risking their life). That's what I don't think a lot of players these days understand: your character can retire. PCs don't have to keep rolling dice until they hit max level or die. They can hang up their adventuring caps and live in peace, possibly becoming important NPCs in the game-world.

      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.
    1. lkj's Avatar
      lkj -
      Quote Originally Posted by KarinsDad View Post
      Just out of curiosity, how long did that take real time and how often a month do you play?
      It's been really sporadic. We started the game at the tail end of the playtest. So 2014ish. We try to play once a week for about an hour or an hour and a half (via google hangouts, roll20 and DDB). But doing that math backwards would be really misleading. Each year, we've had months without getting a game in (because of real life, playing another campaign, or just chatting instead of gaming). But then we've had weekend get-togethers where we've played all day for two days straight.

      It would probably break my brain to try to figure out how much we've actually played over the last 5 years. It is SUBSTANTIALLY less than the equivalent of a weekly game for 5 years (even a game that we only play for an 1.5 hours). My wild guess is that had we managed a consistent schedule, we'd probably have gotten here in a couple years. Faster if we were playing 3 hour sessions instead of half that.

      But that's all very fuzz math.

      Sorry if that doesn't help.

      AD
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwoSix View Post
      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+.
      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.
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Prakriti View Post
      . By Tier 3, the PCs are among the most powerful creatures in existence. By Tier 4, they are practically gods.
      Huh? Neither of those is true in the vast majority of campaigns. Any campaign that it is true, would be considered an outlier IMHO.

      I agree that gameplay needs to change as characters grow in power to keep things interesting. That is true in every RPG. Sometimes players aren't interested in empire building or world shaping and that makes higher D&D level adventuring pretty tough.
    1. OB1's Avatar
      OB1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by KarinsDad View Post
      Just out of curiosity, how long did that take real time and how often a month do you play?
      My primary campaign is at about the same point (18th level) started in the play test and expect to wrap up by May. We play about 10-12 hours a month, but had three different 6 month periods (one after each Tier)where we played another campaign over the last 4 years.

      Tier IV has been the longest continuous Section, having started in Feb of last year, but Im having so much fun running and the players playing that weve been stretching it.

      Alas, the side quests are running out and the Prime Villain is on the move towards its ultimate goal so the end is now coming one way or another!
    1. lkj's Avatar
      lkj -
      Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
      My primary campaign is at about the same point (18th level) started in the play test and expect to wrap up by May. We play about 10-12 hours a month, but had three different 6 month periods (one after each Tier)where we played another campaign over the last 4 years.

      Tier IV has been the longest continuous Section, having started in Feb of last year, but Im having so much fun running and the players playing that weve been stretching it.

      Alas, the side quests are running out and the Prime Villain is on the move towards its ultimate goal so the end is now coming one way or another!
      I think my favorite part of our current campaign is that it never had an overarching metaplot. Don't get me wrong. I love those big story campaigns too (ran a different campaign from 1 to 20 across several editions and many years that had a huge world ending story line). But in this game, I started it off by dropping plot hooks here and there, some based on character backgrounds. Some on the fly. Some where I had an inkling of what might happen.

      And the party just went all over the place plot-wise (and geographically). We are now, finally, in a 'If you fail, demonic armies will be unleashed across the planes' scenario. But that situation is almost entirely of the party's own making. The big end of campaign climax is basically just them trying to fix something they broke.

      I can't tell you how fun that is.

      AD
    1. jimmytheccomic's Avatar
      jimmytheccomic -
      I just finished DMing my second 1-20 campaign! I'm actually really impressed with how well 5e runs at high levels- combat is more elaborate, but each round doesn't take an absurd amount of time. A good fight still just takes 45 minutes or so- I remember running third edition where a single high level fight would eat up the entire evening. I also liked that high level in 5e felt superheroic but the characters were still vulnerable. We've just started our third 5e campaign, I'm planning on pushing this one to 20 as well.
    1. OB1's Avatar
      OB1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lkj View Post
      I think my favorite part of our current campaign is that it never had an overarching metaplot. Don't get me wrong. I love those big story campaigns too (ran a different campaign from 1 to 20 across several editions and many years that had a huge world ending story line). But in this game, I started it off by dropping plot hooks here and there, some based on character backgrounds. Some on the fly. Some where I had an inkling of what might happen.

      And the party just went all over the place plot-wise (and geographically). We are now, finally, in a 'If you fail, demonic armies will be unleashed across the planes' scenario. But that situation is almost entirely of the party's own making. The big end of campaign climax is basically just them trying to fix something they broke.

      I can't tell you how fun that is.

      AD
      Yeah, I had an overarching main quest for each Tier that drove the action but not for the whole campaign. The plot of the next tier grew out of what they did in the previous, which was one of the reasons I needed a 6 month break after each to figure out the next. The Prime Villain of Tier IV only became so because of choices they made in II and III, Id have never imagined it way back when we started.

      Will probably be a while before trying to do a 1-20 again. But up next Ill give them the choice of what Tier they want to play in and build a story contained just to that. Im guessing it will be either II or IV.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      The problem with this being, I suspect, that instead of playing levels 1-19, slower leveling would simply change the upper end of the range. So, it becomes levels 1-6, or whatever level it generally takes about a year of play to reach.

      The issue has always been time. Even back in 1e, it was expected that you'd hit about 9th or 10th level after about a year of regular play. And then the DM would retire that campaign and you'd start anew.
      Possibly, I feel like there has to be a sweet spot. You could of course keep the leveling the same form 1-10 and stop the core books there. Make everything else supplements.

      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      Heck, I wonder, looking at the BECMI rules, what percentage of groups never got past E?
      Crazy wasn't it!? We never got to C, but I did bring in some of the monsters from C into our B & E games.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      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.
      I did not view this broadcast, but before in other vids they clarified that (for better or worse) they separate test characters and play characters thru a variety of criteria including a pattern of leveling up over time, adjustments made in play like HP up down, rests triggered etc.

      I cannot say that what they do is comprehensive or not, but they have at least made the claim to be weeding out test and trial non-played characters.

      Unless they say differently in this video, I have to assume they continue thst practice here.
    1. AmerginLiath's Avatar
      AmerginLiath -
      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 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)?
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Quote Originally Posted by AriochQ View Post
      Huh? Neither of those is true in the vast majority of campaigns. Any campaign that it is true, would be considered an outlier IMHO.

      I agree that gameplay needs to change as characters grow in power to keep things interesting. That is true in every RPG. Sometimes players aren't interested in empire building or world shaping and that makes higher D&D level adventuring pretty tough.
      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.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
      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.
      Yeah me too... but...

      I got a ton of characters on my site both mine and campaigns from players etc and... if they looked at short rest use over time, hp up and down on multiple occasions, etc looking for a number of factors even just ssy 3 different clues out of a set of maybe ten I can think of right off ... they would divvy my characters into played and not played with like 90% accuracy - with one big exception case.

      They would miss out on one-shots - where I run one shots and hand out printed chars to players at FLGS.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      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 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)?
      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.
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      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!
      Well I appreciate you taking the effort to express your sentiments more than the XP. So thank you for that.
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