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.

Screenshot 2019-02-07 at 10.06.23.png



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.



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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.


[video=youtube;4tuIrGLKSik]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tuIrGLKSik[/video]​
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Russ Morrissey

Comments

imagineGod

Explorer
A good place to stop a campaign with relatable hero characters who are not gods.

My personal target maximum is 10th level, with anything above just a buffer, that is, if characters level up very rapidly and reach 11th or 12th (cue my current Starfinder Campaign free from that 3rd edition epic level nightmare).

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition did well to cull those 30th level delusions of grandeur in players, and, instead, encourage more exciting low level play.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
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.
 

lyle.spade

Explorer
A good place to stop a campaign with relatable hero characters who are not gods.

My personal target maximum is 10th level, with anything above just a buffer, that is, if characters level up very rapidly and reach 11th or 12th (cue my current Starfinder Campaign free from that 3rd edition epic level nightmare).

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition did well to cull those 30th level delusions of grandeur in players, and, instead, encourage more exciting low level play.
Well said. I wonder if part of it is time, as well - that is, the time spent playing in and running a campaign that starts at 1st level, and how a typical campaign only lasts a few months, at most, before it gasses out for some reason or another. I've started a few campaigns at Tier 2, and even a few at 3, and they almost always tend to come to an end after 5-6 months, for any variety of reasons related to the game itself or life. Long campaigns will lead to higher character levels in DnD, and so perhaps that fact is a shadow cast by the lifespan of DnD campaigns, rather than deliberate efforts to not turn into superheroes with swords.

For me, I don't like high-level play for that very reason: the characters are not relatable and the stories, in order to challenge the characters mechanically, easily turn into 'can you top this' encounter-focused affairs that lose the story.
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
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.
 

200orcs

Villager
It's interesting how my tables distribution is totally different. Fighters are not popular at all. Barbarians and Ranger and Warlocks are the most frequent proudly followed by Rogue and Sorcerer.
 
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DQDesign

Guest
Not surprising, but this hardly seems unique for any particular edition.
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.
 
It's interesting how my tables distribution is totally different. Fighters are not popular at all. Barbarians and Ranger and Warlocks are the most frequent proudly followed by Rogue and Sorcerer.
Effect of small sample sizes I guess. Rogues are the most popular amongst my groups, clerics the least.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I'd put two caveats on this data.

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.

Second, this is rather self-selecting, for those who use DDBeyond.

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.
 

Matt S1

Villager
There's a Kickstarter where the guy takes out all the spells that are almost never picked and converts D&D to 12 levels. Great idea on my opinion. My group of over 40 years has never gone past 12th level in our campaigns.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
There's a Kickstarter where the guy takes out all the spells that are almost never picked and converts D&D to 12 levels. Great idea on my opinion. My group of over 40 years has never gone past 12th level in our campaigns.
Link? That sounds really interesting.

I've played higher levels, a couple times, but it was almost always as part of a "special story" or pulling established characters out of retirement to deal with a bigger threat -- I've let one PC ascend to god-hood and that happened at 12 level (and a ranger). I've just never found higher levels that interesting or fun, especially when the stupid-powerful spells come out (basically, 5th level+).
 

AriochQ

Explorer
Often campaign self-destruct before players reach high levels, but for those that do make it that far, lack of high level play may have more to do with the DM than the players. Players seems always willing to take down the next baddie and tend to enjoy increasing in power, even to god-like levels. DM's, on the other hand, become increasing tasked attempting to challenge those players at higher levels. As players level, their circle of influence grows. It is easy run a campaign centered in a small town, city, or even a kingdom. At high levels, you usually start dealing with inter-kingdom and extraplanar stuff with world-affecting events. That is a real chore for the DM if they want to have any sense of continuity in their settings. In my experience, the DM is usually the one who initiates the "Why don't we start a new campaign?" conversations and the players tend not to feel strongly either way (They like the characters they have, but are also often itching to try a new character they have been mulling over).
 

Travis Henry

Villager
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
 

Parmandur

Legend
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.
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.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I'd put two caveats on this data.

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.

Second, this is rather self-selecting, for those who use DDBeyond.

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.
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.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
My group has been having an absolute blast in Tier IV over the last year. It’s a different style for sure but the results are some of the best sessions we’ve ever played.
If you haven’t tried Tier IV in 5e yet I highly recommend it!
 

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