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


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Alexemplar

First Post
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.

D&D's version of the Ranger and Paladin rely greatly on their sorcery/supernatural abilities. I don't think anyone wanting to make an Aragon, Robin Hood, and King Aurthur character is particularly keen on their supernatural power- and definitely not in the form of charms and spells ala Gandalf or Morgan la Fay.

I'm also challenging the idea of modeling Hercules as a Barbarian as his going crazy and murdering his family was very out of character for him. He spent the entire rest of his story trying to atone for it. I'd hardly use a class that reliably flies into a murderous rage nearly every day to represent him.

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.

Aside from the ones already mentioned, most western fantasy readers/players are also familiar with Gilgamesh/Enkidu, Persus, Achilles, Odysseus, Finn McCool, Baldur, Beowulf, Samson, Link, John Snow/Brienne of Tarth/the Hound/the Mountain/Gray Worm etc.

And before we get into the, "but they had divine aid/demigod blood so they should be Paladins/Clerics..." argument, we should note that this is the case for most everyone in old tales.

Merlin and Morgan la Fay were of supernatural heritage. As was Circe in Greek myth. Sorcerers in the Hyborian age get their powers from bargains with dark powers and become inhuman in the process. Magic and sorcery in nearly all cases was the work of supernatural beings in one form or another. And of course there's good ol' Gandalf- the poster child for what in D&D is a human secular arcane wizard- who was actually a nigh immortal spirit sent by a more powerful spirit of goodness and just happened to be in human form, but could have fallen to become a firery horned fiend- aka an angel. If you really want to get pedantic about it, Tiefling/Aasimar Sorcerers and Warlocks (and to a lesser extent, Clerics) are much better representations of most any well known spellcaster than D&D's Wizards are (save Harry Potter et al).
 
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D&D's version of the Ranger and Paladin rely greatly on their sorcery/supernatural abilities.
Yes and no. A lot of the spells used by either class are actually in tune with what could be defined in mundane abilities. If a Ranger uses Cure Light Wounds, you could interpret as magical or just simply as a nature-based healing ability ("here - put this herb on the wound to heal better). Same with other 'spells'.

When D&D was busy converting 4E to 5E, they integrated a lot of the various abilities and 'powers' for each Class into the collective spell lists. Pretty much every Class, baring the Barbarian (who still get some spirit-based abilities as options), can access 'spells' at some point. I choose to interpret them in different ways depending on Class.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not sure if someone else mentioned this, but at a rough estimate (if my off the top of my head math is right), there is about a 9% increase in the numbers due to multiclassing. There's about 109,000 per 100,000 characters. So at least [-]81[/-] 91% of characters are not multiclass.
Fine as an average, but experience tells me some classes are multi-ed way more than others - and that's what I want to know about. :)

Lanefan
 

Alexemplar

First Post
Yes and no. A lot of the spells used by either class are actually in tune with what could be defined in mundane abilities. If a Ranger uses Cure Light Wounds, you could interpret as magical or just simply as a nature-based healing ability ("here - put this herb on the wound to heal better). Same with other 'spells'.

Telling the person who wants to be Aragon/Gimli/Legolas that the spells they're using are not really spells doesn't help a whole lot when they use pretty much all the same mechanics as spells. Not any more than telling someone that throwing around alchemist fires, healing potions, and using the Arcana skills makes them Gandalf.

After all, that's why they've introduced non-spellcasting variants of the Ranger in 3rd and 5e and removed it from the class entirely in 4e. Although the change in 4e was met with protests because a lot of people believed explicit spellcasting (and not just refluffed) spellcasting to be an integral part of the Ranger's identity to the point where they brought it back in Essentials and re-affirmed it as a core feature in 5e.

When D&D was busy converting 4E to 5E, they integrated a lot of the various abilities and 'powers' for each Class into the collective spell lists. Pretty much every Class, baring the Barbarian (who still get some spirit-based abilities as options), can access 'spells' at some point. I choose to interpret them in different ways depending on Class.

I imagine the expansion of spells into all classes is a result of them wanting to give non-spellcasters more abilities, but not wanting to give them "powers"/action points/stunts as a core mechanic. When they do, they're often met with resistance.

That pretty much leaves you with nothing but skill checks and spells. They tried expanding the Superiority Dice mechanic into more Fighter sub-classes so they could had more utility, but that too was dialed back after negative responses.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Aragorn is a Ranger - in fact, he's the archetypal Ranger on whom the (only true version of the) class is based. Gimli and Legolas are both Fighters, though very different within the class. Pippin and Merry work their way into becoming Fighters as the story goes along. Boromir is a Fighter. Faramir, Eowyn, and a bunch of others are all Fighters.
Conan the Barbarian. Its right in the name.
Except Barbarian should not be a class, but a race. Conan is a Barbarian Fighter.
Robin Hood is totally a Ranger.
Yes, as are most of his Merry Men; though Little John is a Fighter.
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.
Can't speak to Wu Xia or Eregon but King Arthur's knights are the archetypal Paladins.
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.
D&D novels gave us Drizz't and for that alone should be ignored for all time.
Heracles is totally a barbarian.
No, a Fighter...and a very high level one at that. He's not even Barbarian as a race - he's half-Human, half-deity.

Lanefan
 
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Jhaelen

First Post
EDIT- And, of course, the boring, bland Fighter is by far the most popular. Because of course it is. Which just goes to show that the internet is not always representative of actual play. :)
Well, according to statistics 'vanilla' is the most popular ice cream flavour, and the 'Forgotten Realms' the most popular D&D setting...

If something is slightly tolerable for everyone, there's a good chance it will end up the most popular choice overall compared to more polarizing options.
 

Alexemplar

First Post
Well, according to statistics 'vanilla' is the most popular ice cream flavour, and the 'Forgotten Realms' the most popular D&D setting...

If something is slightly tolerable for everyone, there's a good chance it will end up the most popular choice overall compared to more polarizing options.

Something that can be said of D&D in general.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
My favourite aspect of this statistics is that the MOST popular class is ONLY TWICE as popular as the LEAST popular class. It might sound like a huge difference, but it is not. This tells me that all 5e classes are good solid design.
 

Telling the person who wants to be Aragon/Gimli/Legolas that the spells they're using are not really spells doesn't help a whole lot when they use pretty much all the same mechanics as spells. Not any more than telling someone that throwing around alchemist fires, healing potions, and using the Arcana skills makes them Gandalf.
Well, I've found it does and have used it with groups before as a rationale. The Cure Wounds spell being a prime example, but so too things like Goodberry and Hunter's Mark, etc. The actual game mechanics operate the same, but you can imagine the rest however you want really - it's all pretty abstract.
 

Except Barbarian should not be a class, but a race. Conan is a Barbarian Fighter.
A Barbarian isn't a Race. It's a culture, and so it could arguably be a Background (the Outlander), but unfortunately D&D doesn't recognise a 'culture' as a thing. They use Race and Class combos - and you couldn't deny the opportunity to play a Half-Orc Barbarian could you?
 

Mephista

Adventurer
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. Bilbo was at least mistaken for a Rogue. ;)
The dude had a holy sword, and "The hands of a king are the hands of as healer." That's totally paladin with healing magic, sorry, I'm going to flat out disagree with you here.

You're pretty much just revising any warrior type into Fighter, by creating unrealistic definitions of other classes and leaving Fighter without its own, and not bothering to give an explanation why anyone should be one, just assuming they are by default. That's BS. I mean, hells, your defense of Wu Xia is "they use weapons!" So can monks!

Your argument is nothing more than confirmation bias.
D&D's version of the Ranger and Paladin rely greatly on their sorcery/supernatural abilities.
Aragorn is defined by his healing hands, you know. Supernatural abilities innate to the heirs of Numoir is actually a whole thing. That's actually very central to his identity. He also got spirits on his side, and used magical scrying orbs in a direct challenge against the Dark Lord. He's pretty darn magical for Middle Earth's standards.


I'm also challenging the idea of modeling Hercules as a Barbarian as his going crazy and murdering his family was very out of character for him. He spent the entire rest of his story trying to atone for it. I'd hardly use a class that reliably flies into a murderous rage nearly every day to represent him.
Hercules is renowned for his excessive strength and training in the wilderness by wrestling animals. Fighters in 5e are known for their weaponry training and specializations and techniques. Hercules has more in common with the barbarian than the fighter class. None of the legends of Hercules fit with how a Fighter acts. Trying to call Hercules a fighter is very strained.


This argument is basically boiling down to just "any warrior defaults to Fighter if it doesn't fit a narrow definition." And that's something I call BS on.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
An article by Gus Wezerek on FiveThirtyEight looks at race and class combination in D&D, using data from D&D Beyond. Wezerek suggests a reason for the popularity of human fighters: "It lets you focus on creating a good story rather than spending time flipping through rulebooks to look up spells."
View attachment 89642
Image from Curse via FiveThirtyEight​
I wonder how many of those human fighters are variant humans? Which would represent players flipping through the rulebooks to find the best optimisation, rather than creating a good story...

By which irony, I mean to point out that the data is interesting but the conclusion seems facile. Flipping through a book doesn't prevent you contributing fully at the table: chances are you know your abilities better and spend less time trying to do stuff that doesn't work.
 

Imaro

Legend
Well, according to statistics 'vanilla' is the most popular ice cream flavour, and the 'Forgotten Realms' the most popular D&D setting...

If something is slightly tolerable for everyone, there's a good chance it will end up the most popular choice overall compared to more polarizing options.

Lol... or more people could just genuinely like vanilla. Same with D&D...
 

ro

First Post
Well, according to statistics 'vanilla' is the most popular ice cream flavour, and the 'Forgotten Realms' the most popular D&D setting...

If something is slightly tolerable for everyone, there's a good chance it will end up the most popular choice overall compared to more polarizing options.

Vanilla is actually a valuable spice and not a plain/nothing flavor. Vanilla gets a bad rap.
 

Imaro

Legend
Vanilla is actually a valuable spice and not a plain/nothing flavor. Vanilla gets a bad rap.

It's a version of the "New Coke argument" of 4e that gets bandied about by those who aren't so keen on 5e. I want to say it's almost trying to shame the game and those who play it because it's popular. Kind of silly actually.
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
A Barbarian isn't a Race. It's a culture, and so it could arguably be a Background (the Outlander), but unfortunately D&D doesn't recognise a 'culture' as a thing. They use Race and Class combos - and you couldn't deny the opportunity to play a Half-Orc Barbarian could you?
I will point out that the barbarian class can be excellent for certain character concept that aren't barbarians culturally speaking...

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using EN World mobile app
 


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