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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.

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.



Screenshot 2019-02-07 at 10.09.43.png



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]​
 

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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 aren’t much beyond move and/or hit for most characters. 2nd and 3rd levels are where more options get added in (which I’m 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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Skywalker

Adventurer
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.
 

KarinsDad

Adventurer
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.

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Just out of curiosity, how long did that take real time and how often a month do you play?
 

I’m 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 I’m 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.
 

It’s worth repeating that Beyond has ways to scrub its data to clean up test or never been used characters, as I’ve 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.

I’m sure group attrition is the biggest reason high level play isn’t 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 I’m 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.
 

Hussar

Legend
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?
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
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.
 

lkj

Hero
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.

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Sacrosanct

Legend
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.
 

AriochQ

Adventurer
. 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.
 

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