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D&D Stats: What The Typical 5E Party *Actually* Looks Like

RSIxidor

Explorer
During one of Mike Mearls' sub-class building streams he was asked why he doesn't just include some options as feats. His response was that less than half of all tables use feats.

I bet multiclassing is even less than that.

We have what, over 20 million 5e players now?

I agree with the others saying to take these stats with a high degree of skepticism.

It's easy to not be exposed to all the people who play differently.
Seems like people forget that feats are an optional rule and not assumed to be in every table by default. However, I wonder if the number of tables using D&D Beyond use more feats and multiclassing than those that don't. Of course, that's just speculation without data but it would not surprise me.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Seems like people forget that feats are an optional rule and not assumed to be in every table by default. However, I wonder if the number of tables using D&D Beyond use more feats and multiclassing than those that don't. Of course, that's just speculation without data but it would not surprise me.
When D&D Beyond shared information in the past, the majority of characters in play at all levels did not have Feats: 9% in Tier 1 used Feats (so more than half of Humans were standard Humans with no Feats), and After Level 12 some 44% used Feats (PCs under Level 10 represent 90% of all PCs).
 

Hussar

Legend
This brings up a related question I've often wondered about.

Is there such a thing as a bad powergamer? Not in terms of being obnoxious, or a bad person, but someone who has an actual goal of powergaming and optimizing and munchkining, but is just terrible at it?

Sort of like, "Muahahahahahaha! My Strength-build wizard will rule them all! Bow before me and my awesome True Strike!"
I have certainly seen this. Players who have the goal to make some super optimized characters which wind up having massive gaping holes in their specialization rendering them absolutely useless outside of their narrow niche.
 

Mistwell

Hero
I've really enjoyed the book myself over the years (more for the setting fluff text than the player options), but perhaps that's an accurate diagnosis. o_O

But seriously, yes, this is data on people who felt it was important to pay for Ghostwise Halfling and Arcana Cleric material in case they needed it.
Hey, I love ghostwise halflings. I am playing a ghostwise druid in one of my games. And he's an awesome telepathic cave bear most of the time!
 

Ashrym

Explorer
When D&D Beyond shared information in the past, the majority of characters in play at all levels did not have Feats: 9% in Tier 1 used Feats (so more than half of Humans were standard Humans with no Feats), and After Level 12 some 44% used Feats (PCs under Level 10 represent 90% of all PCs).
I think, and this is pure speculation based on personal experience, that a lot of tables do use feats. The way the game is designed they don't take feats until after they max out important ability scores, which is why games show them being used at higher level.

It's not so much that the games aren't using feats, it's that the characters in games aren't taking them until higher levels. And since many games end before they get that high, it reduces the number of characters showing feats overall when pulling them from raw data like that.

The only 5e games I see with no feats are the few only using the 4 class basic rules or SRD rules.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Our table allows feats, but very few characters actually have them.

Two reasons:
  • Most of the players are more into role-playing than the nitty-gritty of character optimisation. Feats are a level of complexity they just aren't interested in.
  • It's very rare for characters to be over level 10. Even if they would eventually take feats, they use their first couple of ASIs to increase their prime attribute.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Our table allows feats, but very few characters actually have them.

Two reasons:
  • Most of the players are more into role-playing than the nitty-gritty of character optimisation. Feats are a level of complexity they just aren't interested in.
  • It's very rare for characters to be over level 10. Even if they would eventually take feats, they use their first couple of ASIs to increase their prime attribute.
The RPers in my groups are nearly the exact opposite. They'll (almost) always take feats over an ASI. They're optimizing to the characters they're envisioning/reacting to the story, not chasing the next +1. (I've taught them well. :)) And since most of our games top out at 10-12th lv they reason that:
1) Unless they're playing a fighter, they don't have time to gain a few more +s AND whatever cool options feats might present. So max bonus? Or cool character/story related options?
2) They've seen 1st hand that 5e isn't really that reliant upon achieving the maximum + on a dice roll.
 
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Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Yes, we have one RPer who took a UA skill feat for expertise in Animal Handling, but I don't think the others have actually studied the rules closely enough to know if there are feats that would support their character concepts.

Apart from me. My character has a feat at level 6, and is likely to multiclass if they survive to level 9.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Fighters a great dip class even a single level, con saves are huge for every spellcasters.

Wizards kinda suck low level vs the charisma classes. Warlocks are easy to min max, take agonising blast and Eldritch blast.

Hexblades probably popular as it reduces MAD and warlocks a great MC class.

The outlier is Elf, females seem to love them. The popular races seem power based, Humans, Dwarves, Half Elves mechanically are all good. Most are a bit meh.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I think, and this is pure speculation based on personal experience, that a lot of tables do use feats. The way the game is designed they don't take feats until after they max out important ability scores, which is why games show them being used at higher level.

It's not so much that the games aren't using feats, it's that the characters in games aren't taking them until higher levels. And since many games end before they get that high, it reduces the number of characters showing feats overall when pulling them from raw data like that.

The only 5e games I see with no feats are the few only using the 4 class basic rules or SRD rules.
If we are talking personal experience, in mine no tables allow Feats at all: I doubt either of our experiences are absolute, however. WotC has maintained for years that their in-depth research shows that the overwhelming majority of tables do not use Feats (across hundreds of thousands of games), which is why they haven't pushed the mechanic. The D&D Beyond stuff is less proof and more an interesting correlation to the more rigorous studied they have done.

(Full disclosure: I give 1 out of 5 to any Feat option in Unearthed Arcana, and write in that I would like to see Feats die in a fire whenever they give me a field to do so)
 

Dausuul

Legend
WotC has maintained for years that their in-depth research shows that the overwhelming majority of tables do not use Feats (across hundreds of thousands of games), which is why they haven't pushed the mechanic..
The "overwhelming majority of tables?" I'd like to see a cite for that claim. If you're talking about Jeremy Crawford tweeting that "the majority of characters don't use feats," you are assuming that the only reason a PC wouldn't have a feat is that they are banned at the table, which is utterly wrong.
  • From levels 1-3, feats aren't available at all (except to variant humans).
  • At levels 4 and 8, feats are competing with "+2 to your prime stat." This is a tough call and many players, especially caster players, will prefer to max their prime stat first.
  • At level 12, you get your first opportunity to take a feat after hitting your stat cap.
So, if you want to estimate how many tables allow feats, level 12 is the most informative: That's the level where a PC is very likely to have a feat unless a) the player just doesn't like feats or b) the table doesn't allow them. Per D&D Beyond, 58% of PCs at levels 12-16 have a feat.

There may be a little selection bias here; high-level tables might be more inclined to allow more complex options. However, if that were a significant factor, you would expect to see the percentage continue to climb as you approach the highest levels, and it doesn't - it stays around 58% through level 20. This suggests that selection bias is not playing a major role.

Moreover, at the lower tiers, 34% of PCs grab a feat the instant it becomes possible to do so (levels 4-7), and the number is up to 49% by levels 8-11. That is not at all consistent with the idea that most tables - let alone an "overwhelming majority" - ban feats.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
That claim came from online tables a few years ago.

5E is 5 years old as of 3 years ago a majority IIRC 52% didn't use feats.
The next table I see not using them would be a first but a lot if it I suspect is 5E design. Most PCs won't have them low level.
 

Parmandur

Legend
The "overwhelming majority of tables?" I'd like to see a cite for that claim. If you're talking about Jeremy Crawford tweeting that "the majority of characters don't use feats," you are assuming that the only reason a PC wouldn't have a feat is that they are banned at the table, which is utterly wrong.
  • From levels 1-3, feats aren't available at all (except to variant humans).
  • At levels 4 and 8, feats are competing with "+2 to your prime stat." This is a tough call and many players, especially caster players, will prefer to max their prime stat first.
  • At level 12, you get your first opportunity to take a feat after hitting your stat cap.
So, if you want to estimate how many tables allow feats, level 12 is the most informative: That's the level where a PC is very likely to have a feat unless a) the player just doesn't like feats or b) the table doesn't allow them. Per D&D Beyond, 58% of PCs at levels 12-16 have a feat.

There may be a little selection bias here; high-level tables might be more inclined to allow more complex options. However, if that were a significant factor, you would expect to see the percentage continue to climb as you approach the highest levels, and it doesn't - it stays around 58% through level 20. This suggests that selection bias is not a major factor.

Moreover, at the lower tiers, 34% of PCs grab a feat the instant it becomes possible to do so (levels 4-7), and the number is up to 49% by levels 8-11. That is not at all consistent with the idea that most tables - let alone an "overwhelming majority" - ban feats.
Yeah, Crawford has said that frequently, using the language of overwhelming majority. Play over level 10 accounts for less than 10%, so that's 58% of a fraction. The 4% who use a variant Human are a decisive minority of those playing Humans, so the majority who can take a Feat do not in favor of the stat bumps.

If anything, D&DB users are probably more prone to use the Feat rules, and there are problems with the data that we have available. Clearly, plenty of people use Feats, including a fair number of the few that play into epic levels. However, every indication is that most do not use Feats, which matches with the official market research.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
The important word is "tables," not "overwhelming." Where has he said that the majority of tables do not allow feats? Got a link?
Are you playing the quote game? I can confirm he made comments along the lines of most players don't use feats.

It wasn't an overwhelming amount so the statement most tables don't use feats is more accurate IMHO.

It was also a few years ago, online more players might be using feats now so new data might render his statement incorrect now.
 

Ashrym

Explorer
Are you playing the quote game? I can confirm he made comments along the lines of most players don't use feats.
That gets back to why players don't use feats. Anecdotal though it may be, my experience correlates with @Dausuul as per above. The majority of players won't use feats due to the levels the games are at and competition for ASI's early.

Player's not selecting feats doesn't actually mean feats are banned at a table. That would be jumping to conclusions. I do find it's pretty common that no one has taken a feat a low levels but that's because they've taken ASI's instead, not because the feats are banned.

On that same note, the game works for me without feats too. I skip them a lot on MAD classes. I'd happily play a game without them and @Parmandur is not being unreasonable in not liking them. Feats add complexity that isn't necessary at the same time they add options, so to each his own.

I just don't think tables are banning them so much as players are choosing not to take them until levels at which the number of players is more limited.

It's a bit of a tangent though. I think the typical table still 5e party still runs with a fighter, cleric, and rogue. I'm disagreeing with the article in the OP at this point. Wizard vs sorc vs warlock seems almost interchangeable for what's typical, and a fifth melee seems common with barbarians or hexblade warlocks. The article would be better if it was an actual percentage of class break down at each level with a comparison of how many characters there are at each level. IMO.
 

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