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D&D General D&D's feel - forums vs. Reddit

JEB

Hero
As mentioned last week in another thread, I took the "what makes D&D feel like D&D" poll I posted here and on rpg.net, and posted it again on Reddit. The poll was posted on r/DnD, and then crossposted to r/Dungeons_and_Dragons, r/dndnext, r/4eDnD, r/DungeonsAndDragons35e, r/adnd, r/BECMI, r/odnd, and r/rpg. The idea was to try and get as close to a "public" poll as possible, with representation from fans of every version of the game.

Unfortunately, I didn't get nearly as many responses as I was hoping - possibly due to some strong objections to the nature of the poll itself, and its focus on game elements rather than the play experience. Despite that, I still got more responses from Reddit than I got here and on rpg.net combined: 185 in total.

I just posted my thoughts on Reddit as well, but I figured it would be interesting to compare the combined results of D&D players on two of the hobby's major forums, to those of D&D players on some of the major D&D hubs on Reddit.

Important caveat: As with ENWorld vs. rpg.net, I specifically asked anyone who took one of the two forum-based polls to avoid responding to the Reddit version, so that might make the differences a little more extreme than they would be otherwise. (However, I'm pretty sure they would have been pretty different anyway.)

I'm using the same tiers I used in every poll summary (items in bold are in different tiers between the two sets):

Forums (ENWorld + rpg.net combined)Reddit
Very important to D&D's feel (80% and up)Levels [89.4%]
Distinct character classes [86.6%]

Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha) [86.0%]
Hit points [83.2%]
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha) [80.4%]
Important to D&D's feel (60% to 80%)Armor Class [76.0%]
Using multiple types of dice [67.6%]
Saving throws [67.6%]
Distinct character classes [75.0%]
Levels [73.4%]

Armor Class [66.8%]
Hit points [63.6%]
Using multiple types of dice [69.6%]
Debatable importance (40% to 60%)Distinct character races/lineages [57.5%]
Experience points [52.5%]
Lists of specific spells [52.5%]
Alignment [41.9%]
Saving throws [54.9%]
Distinct character races/lineages [54.3%]
Lists of specific spells [51.1%]
Alignment [50.5%]
Experience points [47.3%]
Initiative [46.7%]
Less important to D&D's feel (20% to 40%)Initiative [36.9%]
Lists of specific magic items [38.6%]
Hit dice [28.5%]
Lists of specific equipment [26.3%]
Hit dice [34.2%]
Lists of specific magic items [33.7%]
Lists of specific equipment [28.3%]
Creature types [27.7%]
Damage types [20.1%]
Not important to D&D's feel (20% and below)Creature types [19.6%]
Deities [19.0%]
Multiclassing [16.8%]
Great Wheel cosmology [15.1%]
Proficiencies [11.2%]
Damage types [10.1%]
Feats [8.9%]
Surprise [8.4%]
Conditions [5.0%]
Challenge ratings [5.0%]
Advantage/disadvantage [3.9%]
World Axis cosmology [3.4%]
Backgrounds [2.8%]
Deities [19.0%]
Feats [17.9%]
Proficiencies [17.4%]
Great Wheel cosmology [15.8%]
Challenge ratings [15.8%]
Surprise [14.7%]
Conditions [14.7%]
Multiclassing [14.1%]
Advantage/disadvantage [14.1%]
Backgrounds [11.4%]
World Axis cosmology [9.2%]

Some observations:
  • Overall, a lot of the less popular elements on the forums were much more popular on Reddit, but some of the more popular elements on the forums were somewhat less popular on Reddit.
  • Everyone seems to agree that ability scores are very important, though how "very important" still differs.
  • Classes, levels, and hit points are still important to the Reddit crowd, but significantly less so than forum folks. Hit points actually have the biggest drop, nearly 20% lower on Reddit.
  • Classes outrank levels on Reddit.
  • Most of the debatable stuff is debatable on both forums and Reddit, even if the numbers differ a bit. With 364 results from 11 different communities, I'm pretty confident now that a lot of D&D players are divided as to how important those are to "feel". (Though I suppose the sample is still small, even if the diversity of sources is notable.)
  • Initiative is considered more a part of D&D's feel on Reddit (though it only ups it to "debatable" tier).
  • Most of the "less important" and "not important" stuff is also agreed upon by both forums and Reddit, although even the stuff ranked lowest on Reddit still has more support than most of the stuff in the same tier on the forums.
  • However, despite 5E being the currently popular edition, its key elements are still near the bottom of the heap (if about 10% more popular). That's tenure for you.
  • Alignment is almost exactly at 50% on Reddit, nearly 10% higher than on forums. But it's still "debatable". (As I noted on Reddit, the word "divisive" comes to mind.)
  • Damage types are a lot more popular on Reddit, about 10% and a whole tier higher. Challenge Ratings also get about a 10% bump. I'd suspect that's the influence of folks from 3E and 4E adding to 5E, but I would have thought there were plenty of overlapping fans of all three here, too...
  • The numbers on deities were extremely close. Rounds to 19% in both, and more precisely it's 34/179 (18.99%) for ENWorld+rpg.net, and 35/185 (18.92%) for Reddit. Kinda creepy.
  • Lists of specific spells had exactly the same number of votes in both polls, 94.
  • The Great Wheel is also ranked about the same, though the World Axis has more support on Reddit.


Bonus! Combining all the results (ENWorld + rpg.net + all nine subreddits), to create what's probably the closest I can get to a general opinion on D&D's "feel"...

Very important to D&D's feel (80% and up):
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha): 302 [82.96%]
Levels: 295 [81.04%]
Distinct character classes: 293 [80.49%]

Important to D&D's feel (60% to 80%):
Hit points: 266 [73.08%]
Armor Class: 259 [71.15%]
Using multiple types of dice: 249 [68.41%]
Saving throws: 222 [60.99%]

Debatable importance (40% to 60%):
Distinct character races/lineages: 203 [55.77%]
Lists of specific spells: 188 [51.65%]
Experience points: 181 [49.73%]
Alignment: 168 [46.15%]
Initiative: 152 [41.76%]

Less important to D&D's feel (20% to 40%):
Lists of specific magic items: 131 [35.99%]
Hit dice: 114 [31.32%]
Lists of specific equipment: 99 [27.20%]
Creature types: 86 [23.63%]
Damage types: 85 [23.35%]

Not important to D&D's feel (20% and below):
Deities: 69 [18.96%]
Multiclassing: 56 [15.38%]
Great Wheel cosmology: 56 [15.38%]
Proficiencies: 52 [14.29%]
Feats: 49 [13.46%]
Surprise: 42 [11.54%]
Challenge ratings: 38 [10.44%]
Conditions: 36 [9.89%]
Advantage/disadvantage: 33 [9.07%]
Backgrounds: 26 [7.14%]
World Axis cosmology: 23 [6.32%]

Thoughts, everyone?
 
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dave2008

Legend
Thank you for doing all these polls and sharing the data. I do have one thought;

You list items in the 40-60% range as "debatable importance." I would say that there is no company in their right mind that would remove something that 40-60% of its fan base thought was important. Basically, what I am suggesting @JEB is that your organizational titles are a bit misleading.
 

dave2008

Legend
It confirms for me the idea that mushing D&D back down to just four classes, or three classes, or even two classes (weapon-user / spell-user) is something that some people might say, but almost nobody actually wants.
I think that is a bit of leap from the data as there was nothing about number of classes. I could argue that you get more "distinct" character classes with only 4 classes instead of 20 classes that start to walk all over each other's toes.

To be clear, you could be correct, but I don't think this data does anything to support your claim.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Thank you for doing all these polls and sharing the data. I do have one thought;

You list items in the 40-60% range as "debatable importance." I would say that there is no company in their right mind that would remove something that 40-60% of its fan base thought was important. Basically, what I am suggesting @JEB is that your organizational titles are bit misleading.
I don't think they mean the debate would be within WotC... the debate is with all of us taking the poll.

Heck... WotC knows they'd need to include a whole bunch of stuff from the bottom tiers too just to make a functional game, even if us players don't necessarily see the need.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I think that is a bit of leap from the data as there was nothing about number of classes. I could argue that you get more "distinct" character classes with only 4 classes instead of 20 class that start to walk all over each other's toes.

To be clear, you could be correct, but I don't think this data does anything to support your claim.
If they all use the exact same mechanics, how can they be more distinct? Or do you mean that by having less classes there is less fluff attached to every character, and thus players are going to create more varied fluff? If that's what you mean, then I agree. I suspect that people who say they want just two classes (warrior and caster) what they'd really like is a true classless system where they can create their PC mechanically however they want and then layer on top of it whatever fluff or story they want to describe them.

Monk comes with a specific story. If you want to attempt to cleanse it of that story and make up a new one (like the pugilist type of character for example), a person certainly can try. But it's really hard to get everyone to necessarily buy into it, and there's a crapton of mechanics that you'd need to refluff and ask everyone else to go along with and remember your refluff. A two-class or classless system has little to no fluff and thus a person can add story on top of everything to their heart's content.
 

JEB

Hero
It confirms for me the idea that mushing D&D back down to just four classes, or three classes, or even two classes (weapon-user / spell-user) is something that some people might say, but almost nobody actually wants.
Depends how respondents interpreted "distinct" character classes. For some, two might be plenty distinct. I would agree that it's likely most respondents meant several classes that feel different from each other, probably the ones we've seen in most editions of the game... but the numbers alone don't tell us for sure.

You list items in the 40-60% range as "debatable importance." I would say that there is no company in their right mind that would remove something that 40-60% of its fan base thought was important. Basically, what I am suggesting @JEB is that your organizational titles are a bit misleading.
Eh, I think if about half of the respondents think something is part of D&D's feel, and half don't, then whether or not it's objectively important to D&D's feel is very debatable. And I say that as someone who definitely likes stuff in that middle tier and would prefer it stay.

That said, I do absolutely agree that it would be a big gamble for Wizards to toss out anything in the middle tier, and certainly shouldn't be done without careful consideration. It's just less risky than stuff in the top two tiers.
 

dave2008

Legend
If they all use the exact same mechanics, how can they be more distinct? Or do you mean that by having less classes there is less fluff attached to every character, and thus players are going to create more varied fluff?
I'm not sure were are coming from the same perspective. Why would classes have the exact same mechanics?
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I find reddit rarely has the tolerance to allow for debate because most interactions are made as if they already know exactly what's wrong with everything and anyone with different opinions are just wrong.

They're lax when it comes to moderation as well. Something I deeply appreciate in this forum. I can't count on one hand how many times I've been cursed out or called stupid in the dndnext subreddit.

Also, it feels like many more people on reddit are more interested in the ability to killing stuff and exploring with equity. Its neat to have that but its almost as if they want to play 4e but don't want to play 4e.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I'm not sure were are coming from the same perspective. Why would classes have the exact same mechanics?
I meant that with four classes (for example), you are seeing multiples of the same class in most parties. And thus except for the few individual subclass mechanics for any of those classes, the rest of the class feature mechanics will be the same. Having two Fighters means more mechanical duplication than having a Fighter and a Paladin (for example). Thus there is less distinction from my perspective.
 

dave2008

Legend
I meant that with four classes (for example), you are seeing multiples of the same class in most parties. And thus except for the few individual subclass mechanics for any of those classes, the rest of the class feature mechanics will be the same. Having two Fighters means more mechanical duplication than having a Fighter and a Paladin (for example). Thus there is less distinction from my perspective.
OK, I get it.

Well, that really depends on how you make the classes and, as you noted, the fluff provided and brought by the Players. Backgrounds can also play an important distinction too. Personally I would like the paladin to be a type of cleric, same with the druid. So those "classes" would be options within the framework of the cleric, or what I now like to call the Invoker class.

In my hypothetical class system you could easily see a dozen different fighters feeling different even if they are all the same class.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Thank you for doing all these polls and sharing the data. I do have one thought;

You list items in the 40-60% range as "debatable importance." I would say that there is no company in their right mind that would remove something that 40-60% of its fan base thought was important. Basically, what I am suggesting @JEB is that your organizational titles are a bit misleading.

For several items in that category - and some in other categories too - they've changed several times over the history of D&D. D&D may need an initiative system and/or alignment but which way it's done is entirely debatable and that debate could easily include removing them in favour of something "better". I mean, if the 6E designers came out saying they were considering getting rid of alignment entirely and replacing it with a mixture of boons and flaws to reflect the personality of characters and monsters, would that be so terrible as to make the game !Not-D&D? A cleric of the goddess of passion who is expected to protect lovers, glory in battle, avenge personal slights and never marry doesn't really need an alignment, whereas a listing of expected conduct could be part of the Boon system quite easily.
 

TheSword

Legend
I find it fascinating that despite the claims that Alignment is dead, and a pointless relic, nearly half of all respondents consider it important to the feel of D&D.

I feel less alone, now I know it’s not just me and @Oofta that feel that way.

I’m not surprised the great wheel doesn’t rank highly in importance, as awesome as it is. You can have a perfectly healthy d&d campaign without visiting the outer planes. It also hasn’t really had much support since the Planescape setting ended... that was 25 years ago. Though it’s time will come again.
 

I find it fascinating that despite the claims that Alignment is dead, and a pointless relic, nearly half of all respondents consider it important to the feel of D&D.
It is dead in the sense that it essentially has to be a non-mechanical optional feature at this point, rather than something that's built into the mechanics, which is a big change from earlier editions of D&D.

It's also more divisive, opinion-wise, than a lot of elements, in that people who are against it or for it tend to be more strongly so. Further, I don't have figures, but I strongly suspect that it's drastically dropped in popularity over the last 30 years. Like, had you polled a D&D forum in, say, 1995 (if one existed - I was all about Shadowland.org, the WoD forums and RPG.net and stuff back then), I suspect we'd have seen alignment at like 80%+ support. Then in say 2005 it'd be down to like 65-70% support, then by 2010 maybe 50-55%, and now here we are with 46%. I don't think that trend is likely to reverse.

Sorry, I read this and it seems kind of mean. That isn't intended - you're totally entitled to love the hell out of it! What I'm trying to say is that it's a feature that it is necessary to exclude from being mechanical, and that is only likely to continue to be pushed to the periphery of D&D as time goes on.

On the topic generally I find it pretty interesting that reddit through ability scores were the key defining trait of D&D moreso than, say, classes, or levels, which seems pretty wild to me. I can play a game that feels exactly like D&D to me with different ability scores or none, but I can't do that without classes (I can do it without really proper levels, as Dungeon World shows). YMMV.
 

TheSword

Legend
It is dead in the sense that it essentially has to be a non-mechanical optional feature at this point, rather than something that's built into the mechanics, which is a big change from earlier editions of D&D.

It's also more divisive, opinion-wise, than a lot of elements, in that people who are against it or for it tend to be more strongly so. Further, I don't have figures, but I strongly suspect that it's drastically dropped in popularity over the last 30 years. Like, had you polled a D&D forum in, say, 1995 (if one existed - I was all about Shadowland.org, the WoD forums and RPG.net and stuff back then), I suspect we'd have seen alignment at like 80%+ support. Then in say 2005 it'd be down to like 65-70% support, then by 2010 maybe 50-55%, and now here we are with 46%. I don't think that trend is likely to reverse.

Sorry, I read this and it seems kind of mean. That isn't intended - you're totally entitled to love the hell out of it! What I'm trying to say is that it's a feature that it is necessary to exclude from being mechanical, and that is only likely to continue to be pushed to the periphery of D&D as time goes on.

On the topic generally I find it pretty interesting that reddit through ability scores were the key defining trait of D&D moreso than, say, classes, or levels, which seems pretty wild to me. I can play a game that feels exactly like D&D to me with different ability scores or none, but I can't do that without classes (I can do it without really proper levels, as Dungeon World shows). YMMV.
Perhaps. Though without any evidence to back you claim up I’m not so sure. Alignment was far far far more divisive in 3e.

Don’t worry, I don’t take it as mean, I just recognize you as one of the 54%.

I take heart, that I think WOC is unlikely to remove something from the game that almost half of responding think is important to the feel of the game. There would be other less controversial things to take out.
 

Alignment was far far far more divisive in 3e.
This is what I mean though re: mechanics. Alignment isn't controversial when it doesn't get forced on anyone because of the mechanics they want to use - i.e. their class or race (thought tbf D&D has generally realized the latter was "not on" since 2E, it's just that's been inconsistent, sometimes even within the same book). 3E tried to make alignment mechanical and mandatory at a point in history when it was kind of "too late" to really do that without creating an issue, because, I would suggest of the weird attempts in early 3E to go "back to the basics!", i.e. pushing GH as a setting, looking at 1E more than 2E for a lot of inspirations (including bringing back Monks and Barbarians), and so on. Attempts which were soon given up on to be fair.

I have little doubt 6E will have something called alignment in it, fully-explained, and fully-optional. I'd strongly suspect NPCs and monsters in official books won't have an alignment applied to them, though - or if they do, it may well be in an appendix at the back of the book or something.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
This is what I mean though re: mechanics. Alignment isn't controversial when it doesn't get forced on anyone because of the mechanics they want to use - i.e. their class or race (thought tbf D&D has generally realized the latter was "not on" since 2E, it's just that's been inconsistent, sometimes even within the same book). 3E tried to make alignment mechanical and mandatory at a point in history when it was kind of "too late" to really do that without creating an issue, because, I would suggest of the weird attempts in early 3E to go "back to the basics!", i.e. pushing GH as a setting, looking at 1E more than 2E for a lot of inspirations (including bringing back Monks and Barbarians), and so on. Attempts which were soon given up on to be fair.

I have little doubt 6E will have something called alignment in it, fully-explained, and fully-optional. I'd strongly suspect NPCs and monsters in official books won't have an alignment applied to them, though - or if they do, it may well be in an appendix at the back of the book or something.
If they persist in putting encounter tables in the DMG instead of the Monster Manual, they might put alignments there, too. Seems to me that might mean they'd end up putting alignments for creatures in other monster books in the appendices with the encounter listings. Which isn't really disagreeing with you, just seeing another way alignment could be not in the main stat block.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
It confirms for me the idea that mushing D&D back down to just four classes, or three classes, or even two classes (weapon-user / spell-user) is something that some people might say, but almost nobody actually wants.

I think that is a bit of leap from the data as there was nothing about number of classes. I could argue that you get more "distinct" character classes with only 4 classes instead of 20 classes that start to walk all over each other's toes.

To be clear, you could be correct, but I don't think this data does anything to support your claim.

I think it's more about packages and archetypes that anything.

For example, you could get away with sticking the druid and paladin in the cleric. However,especially from what I've seen oft he reddit DnD community, you BETTA add in all the iconic class features as an option.

You can't just give the cleric a sword and lance and call it a paladin. You need the smites, auras, immunities, and Charisma importance r/dnd, r/dndmemes, and most of the forums and greater community expect. And that is often more that the "back down to 4" crowd is willing to do and is just re-recreating classes again.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think D&D could work well with 4 classes IF they let the archetypes have more impact on the base class. Like having 10 features over 20 levels instead of 5-6, the ability to change how primary features of the class work (changing the spellcasting stat, frex).
 

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