D&D 5E Fivethirtyeight Article About D&D Race and Class Combos

The impact of a mere '+1' or '+2' on Ability scores (associated with Prime scores for Classes) tends to make a big indication of which combo to go with. On that basis, you can see how small changes could balance up some of these things.

Halflings might be chosen for more Class combos if there was more flexibility on Ability bonuses. You could get this by having a greater variety of sub-Races. If there was a sub-Race of Halfling that gave a +1 bonus on Wisdom scores, you might see more Halfling Druids, for example. Likewise, Gnomes used to be considered excellent choices as Bards in previous editions, but because there is no Charisma bonus in this edition, the combo is sub-optimal and so Gnome Bards are practically extinct.

As I said above, the reason why Half-Elves are so highly rated (as a 'rare' Race) is because they are overpowered. They take the best bits of the Elf, an Extra +2 on Charisma and have the versatility of Humans with a +1 on any two Ability scores following on. That versatility just about makes them best at every combo - which is a problem, I think.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Faulty data - I made dozens of sample characters just to test out the technology. Just because I made a character does not mean I am playing it.

For those that want to see them in order from most common to least common combination:

[sblock=List]
#RaceClass
4,888HumanFighter
3,076ElfRanger
2,744ElfWizard
2,568HumanWizard
2,542HumanRogue
2,339HumanCleric
2,326HumanPaladin
2,257ElfRogue
2,199DwarfCleric
2,188TieflingWarlock
2,009DwarfFighter
1,946HumanMonk
1,808Half-ElfBard
1,797HalflingRogue
1,779ElfDruid
1,729GoliathBarbarian
1,715HumanRanger
1,714HumanWarlock
1,709Half-OrcBarbarian
1,688DragonbornPaladin
1,454HumanBard
1,435HumanBarbarian
1,401Half-ElfWarlock
1,360GnomeWizard
1,349ElfMonk
1,335DragonbornFighter
1,325Half-ElfRogue
1,324HumanSorcerer
1,323DwarfBarbarian
1,258Half-ElfSorcerer
1,242ElfFighter
1,062TieflingSorcerer
1,031DragonbornSorcerer
996HumanDruid
976Half-OrcFighter
971DwarfPaladin
921ElfCleric
891Half-ElfRanger
875DragonbornBarbarian
865GoliathFighter
841ElfSorcerer
835AarakocraMonk
817Half-ElfPaladin
806TieflingBard
801HalflingBard
798TieflingRogue
755ElfWarlock
750GenasiMonk
651ElfBard
648GenasiSorcerer
646Half-ElfFighter
628Half-ElfCleric
611Half-ElfWizard
600GnomeRogue
584DragonbornWarlock
584GenasiDruid
580GenasiFighter
572AarakocraRanger
558GenasiWizard
551HalflingMonk
516TieflingWizard
516Half-ElfDruid
510DragonbornCleric
495GenasiRogue
492ElfPaladin
484DwarfDruid
473TieflingPaladin
459GenasiCleric
457DragonbornMonk
440HalflingRanger
429AasimarPaladin
427Half-OrcPaladin
420GenasiRanger
415DwarfRanger
415GenasiWarlock
405DwarfMonk
400GnomeBard
399Half-ElfMonk
395DwarfWizard
394DwarfBard
389GoliathPaladin
388GenasiBarbarian
379TieflingFighter
371DragonbornBard
362DwarfRogue
362AarakocraRogue
355DragonbornRanger
353TieflingCleric
352GenasiBard
346DragonbornWizard
339HalflingFighter
336ElfBarbarian
332GnomeDruid
326GoliathMonk
325DragonbornRogue
322GenasiPaladin
313AarakocraBarbarian
311GnomeWarlock
310HalflingSorcerer
309TieflingMonk
309DragonbornDruid
308HalflingCleric
306HalflingBarbarian
304GnomeCleric
302HalflingDruid
296HalflingWarlock
286DwarfWarlock
284Half-OrcMonk
281TieflingDruid
279AarakocraBard
275AarakocraDruid
274AasimarCleric
273AarakocraFighter
272Half-OrcCleric
272TieflingRanger
264DwarfSorcerer
257GnomeFighter
257HalflingWizard
257GnomeSorcerer
249AarakocraCleric
245Half-OrcRanger
238GnomeRanger
233Half-OrcRogue
227GnomeBarbarian
215Half-OrcDruid
212Half-OrcWarlock
210AasimarWarlock
207HalflingPaladin
203AarakocraWarlock
199Half-OrcBard
198TieflingBarbarian
196GnomeMonk
192GoliathCleric
190GoliathDruid
187GoliathRanger
181AarakocraWizard
177AarakocraSorcerer
174AasimarSorcerer
153Half-ElfBarbarian
151GnomePaladin
149AarakocraPaladin
144GoliathBard
144AasimarBard
143Half-OrcWizard
139GoliathRogue
136GoliathWarlock
126Half-OrcSorcerer
116AasimarFighter
114GoliathSorcerer
109GoliathWizard
87AasimarMonk
71AasimarRogue
70AasimarBarbarian
67AasimarWizard
65AasimarDruid
60AasimarRanger[/sblock]
The data set is imperfect...but it matches up with what WotC has been saying for years about the spread of preferences, to a tee.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Half Elves, as an uncommon race, are so popular is because their design is overpowered

Maybe, but it could also be that a lot of player's like a to choose a race that is relate-able. Half-Elf has that balance that is just fantasy enough and familiar enough.

I remember playing one in NWN based on 3E when in every case a Human or Elf would have beet better, but gosh darn it, I liked the idea of making "me with pointy ears". I still do.

So I play Half-Elf Fighters, Barbarians, and Rangers. The +2 to Charisma just gets wasted every time.
 


Mephista

Adventurer
Also, given that both humans and elves are highly rated, people are picking half-elf as an extension of liking humans and elves. Instead of a race onto itself, we might need to consider it as an extension of human/elf popularity in general. It having good stats might very well be an extension of that.
 

Rygar

Explorer
The data set is imperfect...but it matches up with what WotC has been saying for years about the spread of preferences, to a tee.

Are those counts for the number of each row? If so, there's a more interesting story here. Off the cuff, that'll work out to about 45k-50k. From that...

1. We have to eliminate all of the people who downloaded it, played with it, then forgot about it.
2. We have to eliminate all but one instance for all people who decided to use it to store a bunch of characters they might one day use.
3. We have to eliminate all but one instance for each person who uses it to track more than one character.

That would give us the total subscriber account. Which, being *very* generous and assuming people have an average of two characters, is only 25k-ish. An average of three characters means about 17k users, etc.

Those numbers are *really* bad IMO.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
I've listed the results as a percentage of the total below for easy of comparison.

HUMAN 23.1%
ELF 15.1%
HALF-ELF 9.6%
DWARF 8.7%
DRAGONBORN 7.5%
TIEFLING 7.0%
GENASI 5.5%
HALFLING 5.4%
HALF-ORC 4.6%
GNOME 4.2%
GOLIATH 4.1%
AARAKOCRA 3.5%
AASIMAR 1.6%

FIGHTER 12.7%
ROGUE 10.4%
WIZARD 9.0%
BARBARIAN 8.3%
CLERIC 8.3%
RANGER 8.1%
PALADIN 8.1%
WARLOCK 8.0%
MONK 7.2%
BARD 7.1%
SORCERER 6.9%
DRUID 5.8%

I haven't any interpretation to put on it, but the selection of race looks much more skewed than the selection of class. For class, the ratio between most and least chosen is only a bit more than 2x. For race, it's already 4x between the top and the middle.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Human fighters are the go to beginning character. It feels that we are getting more and more new players. That can account for the uneven distribution.

Most traditional fantasy and mythic heroes tend to be what D&D calls fighters. And human. Plus both are some of the most relateable class and races. I seriously doubt that it's merely just new players gravitating towards them.
 


Are those counts for the number of each row? ...

Those numbers are *really* bad IMO.
No, they're statisics: characters per 100k characters. There aren't 109k characters in DDB, there could be any number, less than 100k (if it were a lot less the numbers'd start looking weird) or more - could be a lot more, even millions.
 

cbwjm

Legend
Worth mentioning:

I wonder how many of those human fighters were made just so that people could use them to argue about GWM/SS/PM :p
Partially a jab, but look at that insanely lop-sided the race distribution when compared to every other combination, and remember that variant humans get a feat at level one, which makes them ideal for both low level feat testing and circumventing the main penalty when multi-classing (which is not getting ASI on time)

More interestingly:

The Cleric has been knocked out of the "core 4".

Aasimar are the rarest of all characters, even more rare than birdmen. Though it doesn't specify if this is the DMG's or the Volo's Guide's take of the race.

I'm not sure that human fighters would have been chosen for the feat since this is looking at the free content which includes a total of two feats, so the majority of these likely aren't taking variant human as only those who have invested in the app would have a reason to do so.

From memory, the free aasimar is the DMG version.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
Most traditional fantasy and mythic heroes tend to be what D&D calls fighters. And human. Plus both are some of the most relateable class and races. I seriously doubt that it's merely just new players gravitating towards them.
Well, I agree about the human part, but the fighter part? Not so much.

Aaragorn is totally a paladin. Or a ranger, depending on your view. Gimli, Sam and Merry might be fighters, but Frodo and Sam are not. Bilbo is a rogue.
Conan the Barbarian. Its right in the name.
Robin Hood is totally a Ranger.
Wu Xia stories default to the monk class.
You've got Eragon with the mix of magic and swordmanship, but the magic comes from the oath to the dragon, so paladin to me once again over Eldritch Knight.
King Arthur is pretty much an iconic paladin as well.
D&D novels tend to have wizards and rangers and rogues and clerics as main characters. Kelemvor is about the only actual fighter that I'm aware of, and there were a ton of characters in that story arc.
Heracles is totally a barbarian.
I know of a few stories with tactician / warlord types, and that's supposed to be part of the fighter chasis in 5e... but that's not the intent I think you're going with here.

So, who are these legendary Fighter types? Most of the ones I can think of actually fit other classes better than Fighters. The only real exception I can think of is the main character stories of some MMOs seems to default to a fighter/warlord mix type.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I'm not sure that human fighters would have been chosen for the feat since this is looking at the free content which includes a total of two feats, so the majority of these likely aren't taking variant human as only those who have invested in the app would have a reason to do so.

From memory, the free aasimar is the DMG version.

It would be more accurate to say the list excludes race options that are only available when you pay for something. Kobolds of any stripe are right out, but if you have a Eldritch Knight Human Fighter, that is counted on the list, despite being premium content.
 



Well, I agree about the human part, but the fighter part? Not so much.

Aaragorn is totally a paladin. Or a ranger, depending on your view.
Did he cast spells? Heal with a touch? Have an animal companion? No. He was the inspiration for the ranger, but since then there've been skills added to cover what spells did so haphazardly for the early ranger, and the ranger has 'evolved' to use all sorts of actual spells much earlier. He might have been a 4e ranger or UA spell-less ranger, but not a PH ranger. Paladin is right out. In 5e, Outlander Fighter.
Gimli, Sam and Merry might be fighters, but Frodo and Sam are not. Bilbo is a rogue.
Bilbo was at least mistaken for a Rogue. ;)
Conan the Barbarian. Its right in the name.
Howard's depictions of Conan didn't go in so heavily for the Rage thing, and certainly didn't invoke totems... Fighter or MC works at least as well. And, Barbarian, should have been a background like it was a kit in 2e. ;P

Robin Hood is totally a Ranger.
Doesn't cast spells, doesn't do anything D&D-identity-crisis-rangery, really.
Folk Hero Fighter, archery style, off you go.

Wu Xia stories default to the monk class.
Wu Xia use weapons, lots of them, often armor.

King Arthur is pretty much an iconic paladin as well.
Sure, always healing people by laying on hands and casting spells.

Lancelot had a 'fall from grace' that was paladin-appropriate enough. And Galahad, of course, is the prototypical paladin. They never cast spells, though.

D&D novels ...
Are self-referent.

Heracles is totally a barbarian.
He'd likely fly into a rage and snap you neck if you said that to his face. Y'know, in ancient Greek... ;P

Seriously, though, the one time he famously did 'Rage,' it was because Hera had driven him mad.

So, who are these legendary Fighter types?
Most of the characters you just mentioned. The rest of the Knights of the round table. Basically every other 'knight' that didn't run around casting spells and laying on hands. Roland and almost all of Charlemagne's Paladins, ironically (and one of them was vaguely a Warlock or something, too, weirdly enough). Beowulf. Hector. Pretty much the cast of GoT who aren't clearly rogues.

I mean, process of elimination: do you sneak around and stab people in the back? Do you go berserk? Do you have magical abilities? Three strikes and you're a fighter, there's nothing else left in 5e.
 
Last edited:

Parmandur

Book-Friend
No, they're statisics: characters per 100k characters. There aren't 109k characters in DDB, there could be any number, less than 100k (if it were a lot less the numbers'd start looking weird) or more - could be a lot more, even millions.
Essentially, percentages to the third decimal point.
 



Robin hood was an assassin, I read it in White Dwarf years ago...

Actually, I always thought of Robin Hood as a Rogue - "steals from the rich to give to the poor" with either a noble or outlander background, depending on the tales you read. If I were to choose an archetype, then maybe the Swashbuckler would fit, although you'd want to base it on ranged combat if you could.

Anyway, not a Ranger - which I think is more akin to Aragorn or Jon Snow. They have a terrain that they guard, a quarry to hunt and a people or noble cause to protect. For me, totally different concept to Robin Hood.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top