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D&D 5E The Fall Of The Dwarves: What Races Do People Actually Play?

What races are people actually playing, and how much of it is Tolkien fantasy as against other stuff?

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Fortunately D&D Beyond provides a better source of data than we've ever had. The most recent data from less than a week ago in December 2020 alas does not provide percentages.
  1. Human
  2. Half-Elf
  3. Dragonborn
  4. Tiefling
  5. Half-Orc
In February 2019, using stats found via this very site:
  1. Human
  2. Variant Human
  3. Half Elf
  4. Tiefling
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Wood Elf
  7. High Elf
  8. Half-Orc
  9. Goliath
  10. Mountain Dwarf
  11. Lightfoot Halfling
  12. Hill Dwarf
Which is a bit of a change from what people were creating in launch month for D&D Beyond (mid 2017)
  1. Human
  2. Elf
  3. Half-Elf
  4. Dwarf
  5. Tiefling
  6. Dragonborn
  7. Genasi
  8. Halfling
  9. Half-Orc
  10. Gnome
  11. Goliath
The percentages are presented in different ways in 2019 and the launch month, with launch month merging the various subraces. So to compare like with like:
  • Wood elves and high elves taken together in the 2019 data are more popular than half-elves (or variant humans)
  • Meanwhile if we split the wood elves and high elves from 2017 they are probably both behind tieflings and dragonborn
  • Dwarves taken together in 2019 are only just behind dragonborn. They've still fallen from ahead of tieflings and dragonborn to behind them
  • Halflings combined in 2019 are neck and neck with half-orcs and ahead of goliaths
  • Genasi combined in 2019 are a little behind goliaths and slightly ahead of combined gnomes
Interesting that dwarves have fallen so heavily out of favour - and half orcs have climbed so strongly into favour; I guess there's been a lot of talk here. The thematics of tieflings and dragonborn (entirely unsurprisingly IMO) have made them core races and even the dwarfs are disappearing in favour of half-orcs (which IMO is a surprise).
 
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This also leads to the question about what should be counted as a race for stats purposes. IMO the high elves and wood elves should be by default not aggregated because the concepts you get from one are very different from the other. But the dwarves and the halflings should be merged because hill vs mountain dwarf isn't that strong a conceptual difference for most people. And likewise stout vs lightfoot halflings isn't a "you get the concept just on the race".
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I anticipate we'll see a bump for dwarves in a post-Tasha's 2021. I think the general dwarven aesthetic isn't that compelling, and their racial features are good but not compelling enough to push them up.

Once the +2/+2 becomes floating, that plus the free medium armor proficiency will make them much more popular for lightly armored casters, I think that will be enough to push them over half-orcs. Dragonborn and tieflings will stay popular purely on the strength on their aesthetics.

I'm projecting, but I think the overall popularity of animalistic and monstrous races means that we'll see more of them in some far-future 6e core product.
 

Puddles

Explorer
I personally love Dwarves. My gut response is to say, Dwarves are probably more popular with male players than female and non-binary players (generally speaking), and as the percentage in the playerbase of the latter 2 rises (which is great!), Dwarves are going to fall down the rankings as a result, while the races they resonate more with will rise in popularity.
 

Interesting. Given how weak (mechanically speaking) dragonborn are, I find interesting that they are among the top 5 most played races in the official site...
The look at the classes and subclasses show popularity to very much be theming over mechanics; the hunter ranger is really high up and the most popular subclasses (dominating their main class) are life cleric, dragon sorceror, and fiend warlock.

Also I'm reminded of how many attempts there were to get a playable dragonborn into 3.X. There was a +3LA Monster Manual option, there was a prestige class, there was a Savage Species option, and at least one other. People want to play a humanoid dragon in dungeons & dragons.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It will be interesting to see if the changes from Tasha's has any impact because in theory they're now a better choice for several options.

I mean, it doesn't matter to me personally because I still love playing dwarves. Mostly because of the bad accent, but still.
 


Minnesotan, right?

I think Tasha's will likely have an impact on these metrics, though I suspect the free feat of variant humans will still have a strong appeal. Human and variant human definitely are popular at my tables.

It will be interesting to see if the changes from Tasha's has any impact because in theory they're now a better choice for several options.

I mean, it doesn't matter to me personally because I still love playing dwarves. Mostly because of the bad accent, but still.
 



G

Guest User

Guest
Dwarves need a cosmetic upgrade. They're not as attractive as elves or tieflings. They're not as mighty or exotic as half orcs, dragonborn, or goliaths. Halflings seem to be in the same boat.
By making those races tall? I've watched a great deal more visual media the last several months, than I typically have in the past.

Attractiveness, in western media, is not depicted as short, stout, and hairy.

Slapping some curved horns on dwarves, isn't going to change the dominant cultural paradigm.
 

By making those races tall? I've watched a great deal more visual media the last several months, than I typically have in the past.

Attractiveness, in western media, is not depicted as short, stout, and hairy.

Slapping some curved horns on dwarves, isn't going to change the dominant cultural paradigm.
Sadly, yeah, this is a thing. Height is equated with attractiveness. Probably at least in part for instinctive, evolutionary reasons (taller people had better nutrition). I do think more could be done to expand the dwarf beyond the specific cultural preset Tolkien gave them though.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
Would be curious if a survey could be attached ranking why a particular race was chosen.

Mechanics?
Visual appeal?
- subcategories of tall/short, exotic looking, prefer as monstrous as possible, has a feature (e.g. a tail) that I like
You've never played this one before?
Story or campaign-driven reason?
- subcategories of this race fits in best with the adventure, this race has a unique place in this world (e.g. dwarves in Dark Sun)
You watched someone else play one?
You're emulating a particular character from a book or movie?
You were influenced by artwork?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Dwarves need a cosmetic upgrade. They're not as attractive as elves or tieflings. They're not as mighty or exotic as half orcs, dragonborn, or goliaths. Halflings seem to be in the same boat.

The issue likely isn't cosmetic.

Dwarves are very traditional. This isn't attractive to people who want to make big advertiser personalities without falling into stereotypical acting or blatant subversion of it.

Halflings have the same issue to a much lesser extent but have mechanical weakness on stop of it.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Would be curious if a survey could be attached ranking why a particular race was chosen.

Mechanics?
Visual appeal?
- subcategories of tall/short, exotic looking, prefer as monstrous as possible, has a feature (e.g. a tail) that I like
You've never played this one before?
Story or campaign-driven reason?
- subcategories of this race fits in best with the adventure, this race has a unique place in this world (e.g. dwarves in Dark Sun)
You watched someone else play one?
You're emulating a particular character from a book or movie?
You were influenced by artwork?
You chose randomly?
 

I think dwarves are cool because they are the best example true heroes not always have to be Mr & Miss Universe, or a good-looking paladin with a shinning armor. They are noble, brave and loyal.

I would bet if there is a D&D cartoon with shorter humanoids, these may become more popular. Tyrion Lannister is a good example a shorter character also can be very interesting and even charismatic.
 



ccs

41st lv DM
Would be curious if a survey could be attached ranking why a particular race was chosen.

Mechanics?
Visual appeal?
- subcategories of tall/short, exotic looking, prefer as monstrous as possible, has a feature (e.g. a tail) that I like
You've never played this one before?
Story or campaign-driven reason?
- subcategories of this race fits in best with the adventure, this race has a unique place in this world (e.g. dwarves in Dark Sun)

You watched someone else play one?
You're emulating a particular character from a book or movie?
You were influenced by artwork?
Most often that one for me.
Sometimes it's "Haven't played this before" or "I just painted up this cool mini". My only Dragonborn was a joke - Gorgira, the fire breathing green dragonborn. Stomping about & burnanating things.
 

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