D&D 5E D&D Beyond Releases 2023 Character Creation Data

D&D Beyond released the 2023 Unrolled with data on the most popular character choices for D&D. The full article includes a wide variety of statistics for the beta test of Maps, charity donations, mobile app usage, and more. However, I’m just going to recap the big numbers.

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The most common species chosen by players are Human, Elf, Dragonborn, Tiefling, and Half-Elf. This contrasts with the stats from Baldur’s Gate 3 released back in August 2023 where Half-Elves were the most popular with the rest of the top five also shuffling around.

Also, keep an eye on the scale of these charts as they’re not exactly even. It starts with just over 700,000 for Humans and 500,000 for Elf, but the next line down is 200,000 with the other three species taking up space in that range. This means the difference separating the highest line on the graph and the second highest is 200,000, then 300,000 between the next two, 100,000 between the next, and finally 10,000 separating all the others.

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Top classes start off with the Fighter then move onto the Rogue, Barbarian, Wizard, and Paladin. The scale on this chart is just as uneven as the last, but the numbers are much closer with what appears to be about 350,000 Fighters at the top to just over 100,000 Monks in next-to-last with under 80,000 Artificers. This contrasts far more from the Baldur’s Gate 3 first weekend data as the top five classes for the game were Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, Rogue, and Bard.

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And the most important choices for new characters, the names. Bob is still the top choice for names with Link, Saraphina, and Lyra seeing the most growth and Bruno, Eddie, and Rando seeing the biggest declines from last year.

Putting that together, it means the most commonly created character on D&D Beyond is Bob the Human Fighter. A joke going as far back as I can remember in RPGs is, in fact, reality proven by hard statistics.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

Oofta

Legend
I think I might have started it by saying my first level party was going to get one to deal with early on, and that a separate but similar party already had.

However it was in fairly controlled circumstances - having just crawled up the well into the Yawning Portal, and was spending the first round disemboweling patrons.

It all spiraled out of control from there.

I know you didn't mean to start this, but other posters ran with it. In addition IIRC someone pointed out that the troll in the Yawning Portal scenario started out with fewer than normal HP? I could be wrong on that one.

I just think you have to really stack the deck against the troll to have it not kill one or more PCs. Which can be a cool encounter! For that matter the dice are fickle and it's also possible that the troll will fail every save, miss every hit. It's also a possible TPK because the rolls are average and the players are not tactical geniuses or don't have slots or the correct spells prepped.

I try to run monsters as I think they would work. Trolls are not smart, but they are still going to lean into their strengths. The environment, encounter distance, tactical options all affect how difficult monsters are. It's the same issue I have with people saying that dragons are easy to kill because they put the dragon into a cave where they barely fit and/or have the dragon land and go toe-to-toe with the PCs. Meanwhile I've had near TPKs with encounters that I thought would not be particularly difficult because of bad decisions by the PCs, luck and terrain.

This is really only a topic of conversation on this thread because further upthread someone was trying to prove the supremacy of casters by cherry picking a scenario. It really has nothing to do with what races or classes people chose to play in 2023.
 

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They are camouflaged predators with a much higher intelligence than most, and they are about the same size as a large alligator or bear. I have no problem imagining a scenario in which a troll lurks and surprises a party who are not being very cautious.

No, that's just how large predators behave. They don't blunder about and hope they stumble upon unconscious prey. They wait and stalk. Same as human hunters. Wild animals are really good at not getting eaten, with all kinds of skills and abilities designed by evolution to help them. Predators have to be up to the job.
Where do you get camouflaged from? Hell..where do you get predator from? Their characterization in the 5e MM is hungry uncooperative savages who take on violent work to get paid in food and treasure.

They have no skill in stealth, and have lower wisdom (the stat that typically governs survival and perception) than wolves, bears, crocodiles, baboons, dinosaurs, and most every other kind of beast I've looked at in the MM.

But let's say they were lurking trying to sneak up on our intrepid adventurers (or anything else in the wild really) with their +1 to DEX and a dream..all they have to do is have a stealth roll that beats the target(s)' highest passive perception, no?

In a caster party, the very very low end of that range would be like an 11 (so 45% chance of failure) and would need to have the whole party with no wisdom casters and no perception proficiency (we've all seen that happen right?). For any party with a cleric or druid in it, probably between a 15 and an 18 (65-85% chance of failure). If anyone has the Observant feat, probably 18-20+ (85% - to 100% chance of failure.

So yeah, maybe a troll who is uncharacteristically prone to stalking things in the wilderness rather than getting paid to be a goon can sneak up on our party like 1 out of every 4-5 encounters. Hardly a 'normal' expectation.
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
So you're on team "Monsters are stupid automatons that always fight to the death and you can see as far in the woods as you want?" Okay.
No. They're on the "trolls are not equipped with thermoptic camo and noise suppression" camp.

You're the one who seems to think that a nine-foot-tall biped would typically go unseen, and unheard, under the canopy of most forests (where brush cover is almost certainly not going to be nine feet tall...) until literally almost on top of a party (within 20').

That, to me, is quite clearly the hyperbole.

Is it possible for a troll to sneak up on the party in the right conditions? Yes, sure. Those conditions would need to be pretty favorable, e.g. the party is at the edge of the canopy where enough sunlight gets through to allow tall brush/small trees, and the troll needs to know they're there long before they could know it is there, and the troll needs a pretty clever plan of attack to get close enough without making enough sound to alert someone, and whomever is on watch duty needs to fail at their job (or, I guess, the party needs to be foolish enough to not have anyone on watch duty). But yeah, sure, under those conditions it's quite possible.

In more general conditions? No, I expect most parties to have a very reasonable chance to spy, or more likely hear, a 9' lumbering biped with weak mental faculties from a reasonable distance away, maybe 40'-50'? They might not know specifically that it is a troll at that point, but the thing is 9' high and probably 4' wide. They'll probably know something is coming.

Here's an example of a clear-cut section of forest, where there hasn't been time for the understory plants to swarm into the newly exposed edge. (Pine forest logging area in Norway.)

Forest-dynamics-clearcut-1024x640.jpg.webp


Note how effectively the only large tree cover is the canopy itself; the understory is nearly empty for all of the space down to ground level. Only a smattering of smaller trees are capable of filling this space, because there isn't enough sunlight to sustain them. Smaller bushes (e.g. huckleberries, at least here in the PNW), ground plants (e.g. ferns), and ground cover (e.g. sorrels) will be the bulk of the below-canopy vegetation, and won't be nearly big enough to conceal a troll that isn't actively hugging the ground to avoid detection. A bear is quite a bit easier to hide in such spaces.

Here's a more close-up example. (Ground view from the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, WA.)

Hoh-forest-floor.jpg


I have little problem believing a party could see a troll coming in these conditions. Yes, visibility is worse than it would be on your hyperbolic example of a salt flat. Yes, there are some opportunities to conceal yourself if you've already gotten the drop on the party and can attack at your convenience. What I'm saying is, I don't give the troll carte blanche to get the drop on the party. These conditions are still open enough that they should, in general, have a chance to be the ones who get the drop on the troll, rather than always being caught by surprise. Most of the time, I would expect neither side to have such a stealth advantage; they will both be aware that something is nearby and prepare for danger.
 
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Oofta

Legend
No. They're on the "trolls are not equipped with thermoptic camo and noise suppression" camp.

You're the one who seems to think that a nine-foot-tall biped would typically go unseen, and unheard, under the canopy of most forests (where brush cover is almost certainly not going to be nine feet tall...) until literally almost on top of a party (within 20').

That, to me, is quite clearly the hyperbole.

Is it possible for a troll to sneak up on the party in the right conditions? Yes, sure. Those conditions would need to be pretty favorable, e.g. the party is at the edge of the canopy where enough sunlight gets through to allow tall brush, and the troll needs to know they're there long before they could know it is there, and the troll needs a pretty clever plan of attack to get close enough without making enough sound to alert someone, and whomever is on watch duty needs to fail at their job (or, I guess, the party needs to ge foolish enough to not have anyone on watch duty). But yeah, sure, under those conditions it's quite possible.

In more general conditions? No, I expect most parties to have a very reasonable chance to spy, or more likely hear, a 9' lumbering biped with weak mental faculties from a reasonable distance away, maybe 40'-50'? They might not know specifically that it is a troll at that point, but the thing is 9' high and probably 4' wide. They'll probably know something is coming.

Here's an example of a clear-cut section of forest, where there hasn't been time for the understory plants to swarm into the newly exposed edge.

Forest-dynamics-clearcut-1024x640.jpg.webp


Note how effectively the only large tree cover is the canopy itself; the understory is nearly empty for all of the space down to ground level. Only a smattering of smaller trees are capable of filling this space, because there isn't enough sunlight to sustain them. Smaller bushes (e.g. huckleberries, at least here in the PNW), ground plants (e.g. ferns), and ground cover (e.g. sorrels) will be the bulk of the below-canopy vegetation, and won't be nearly big enough to conceal a troll that isn't actively hugging the ground to avoid detection. A bear is quite a bit easier to hide in such spaces.

Here's a more close-up example.

Hoh-forest-floor.jpg


I have little problem believing a party could see a troll coming in these conditions. Yes, visibility is worse than it would be on your hyperbolic example of a salt flat. Yes, there are some opportunities to conceal yourself if you've already gotten the drop on the party and can attack at your convenience. What I'm saying is, I don't give the troll carte blanche to get the drop on the party. These conditions are still open enough that they should, in general, have a chance to be the ones who get the drop on the troll, rather than always being caught by surprise. Most of the time, I would expect neither side to have such a stealth advantage; they will both be aware that something is nearby and prepare for danger.

So that second picture. I'd say you could see something maybe 50 feet away. After that? You seriously think you would se something beyond that line of trees in the back? Unless you have X-Ray vision and can see through tree trunks I don't think you would.

I'm not saying they're super stealthy camouflaged ninjas any more than the moose I didn't see until I rounded a bend in the trail. It just depends.

But this is getting old, the horse is dead and I see no reason to keep beating it.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
So that second picture. I'd say you could see something maybe 50 feet away. After that? You seriously think you would se something beyond that line of trees in the back? Unless you have X-Ray vision and can see through tree trunks I don't think you would.

I'm not saying they're super stealthy camouflaged ninjas any more than the moose I didn't see until I rounded a bend in the trail. It just depends.

But this is getting old, the horse is dead and I see no reason to keep beating it.
Given I explicitly said 40'-50', and that the party would not necessarily know "troll" but would know "big nasty thing that could be deadly," yeah, it is getting old. Because you seem to agree with me, but wish to continue acting as though I am (and others are) somehow advocating something crazy and impossible.

Perhaps it would be productive to give a bit more benefit of doubt, rather than instantly jumping to "oh so every combat is on a salt flat, gotcha." Particularly given complaints I have seen regarding excessive reliance on hyperbole.
 

Oofta

Legend
Given I explicitly said 40'-50', and that the party would not necessarily know "troll" but would know "big nasty thing that could be deadly," yeah, it is getting old. Because you seem to agree with me, but wish to continue acting as though I am (and others are) somehow advocating something crazy and impossible.

Perhaps it would be productive to give a bit more benefit of doubt, rather than instantly jumping to "oh so every combat is on a salt flat, gotcha." Particularly given complaints I have seen regarding excessive reliance on hyperbole.
I kinda was agreeing ... but also doing too much multi-tasking and wasn't clear. Oops.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Ok I went ahead and Monte Carloed this. I used fixed initiative (Rogue, Wizard, Barbarian, Troll, Cleric) I varied all the other d20 rolls and all the damage through 1,000,000 iterations. I did this twice to ensure this was a large enough sample for consistent results. I included crits.

...

Outcome - most likely to least likely
Party wins with no losses: 72%
Troll wins, TPK: 15%
Party wins, Barbarian dies, Cleric, Rogue and Wizard survive: 10%
Party wins, Barbarian and Cleric die, Rogue and Wizard survive: 2%
Party wins, Barbarian, Cleric and Rogue die, only Wizard survives: 1%

Average combat length
Median combat length: 4 rounds
Mean combat length: 4.6 rounds
I don't have a dog in this hunt (though I've found that CR of 2x party level is about the highest that can be dealt with reliably, even with above average optimization, level appropriate magic items and fight specific gear), but I'd be super curious as to how the above changes if the Troll goes first in initiative (and how often that is expected to happen), and also see the results for random initiative. Feels like the party wins with no losses 72% of the time in the above is highly dependent on the specific initiative of this scenario.
 

Oofta

Legend
I don't have a dog in this hunt (though I've found that CR of 2x party level is about the highest that can be dealt with reliably, even with above average optimization, level appropriate magic items and fight specific gear), but I'd be super curious as to how the above changes if the Troll goes first in initiative (and how often that is expected to happen), and also see the results for random initiative. Feels like the party wins with no losses 72% of the time in the above is highly dependent on the specific initiative of this scenario.
If the troll is within 30 feet, it just depends on saving throw even if they lose initiative. If they win? Likely 1 or 2 PCs down.

But it just all depends on assumptions and how you rule some things. For example, an example was having someone grappling the troll and then casting sanctuary on the grappler. I would rule maintaining grapple is an attack.

Biggest thing is that I think if the troll is taking a beating it would just run away, heal and come back. I see no reason they would not, they aren't mindless automatons.

Then there's related stuff about how far it would have to get to no longer have line of sight, do the PCs have the right spells and slots, yada, yada, yada.
 

Hussar

Legend
edit - I am not contributing positively to this conversation so, I'll go back to reading for a while.
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
My image of trolls is too colored by nostalgia.

1706778795444.png


I tried to find a copy of the one-frame cartoon with a party laying down string in a dungeon to avoid getting lost and troll around a corner rolling up the string, but after way too long trying, my search-fu failed me and I couldn't find it. I believe it was in the 1e DMG, but I don't have that handy right now.
 

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