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5E The Most Popular D&D Classes & Subclasses

D&D Beyond posted these stats on the most popular D&D subclasses by class based on the "high thirties" in millions of characters on the platform. This is a revisit from last year, with updated data, and only includes single-classed characters.

Fighter is the most-played class (as has always been the case with these stats), followed by rogues, warlocks, clerics, and wizards.

The 'free' (SRD) subclasses are the most popular subclasses on D&D Beyond, which is no surprise.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Undrave

Hero
And if you think about it, the 4e Barbarian was only Primal because the Primal Power source lacked a striker and the Fighter already had all the "Hit for more Ws" powers. The 4e barbarian only really got blatantly supernatural because classes didn't share powers and the Barbarian would only have copies of fighter powers if it didn't get spiritual.

When t came to Ranger, rangers were only pure martial in 4e because "utility magic" was stripped out the class system and made into rituals. The classic Ranger would just take the Ritual Caster feat

If classes only gave at will powers and but shared daily/encounter powers, both Rangers and Barbarians would have access to Martial and Primal powers based on player choice. Maybe even Arcane for rangers and Diven for barbarians too.

That's why I wish that they'd rework the "Brute" Fighter and remake the "Thane" and "Shout" Barbarian. I'd suspect both would be extremely popular based on this table.
I disagree. The Barbarian was primal because it would be bonkers to have a primal power source and not have the barbarian be primal, and they weren’t designing from traditionalism, so there wasn’t any particular reason for it not to be.

A purely martial Barbarian is boring and has no reason to exist if we have the Fighter, plain and simple. I think it's way more interesting that the Barbarian is specifically a warrior in touch with primal spirits than just 'guy who gets angry', something that could be literally covered by any other class with access to big axes.

I'm not super versed on the history of the Barbarian class but I'm pretty sure 4e is where the unarmored defense feature popped up? So there's a whole swath of Barbarians with crappy AC to stay in leather to match the 'image' of the class?

Whenever a Warlord gets brought up there's always someone to say "It should just be a Fighter subclass!", well a martial only Barbarian probably should be that too. The Barbarian only gets enough legs to be a full class (unlike a Warlord, IMO) by adding the Primal aspect into it.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Again, I completely disagree. The Barbarian should always have been primal, and was only not primal because of how magic worked in prior editions.

The concept is directly and unequivocally part of what “primal” is in the 4e description. It would have been incredibly wierd to make it martial. Even weirder than it was to have the ranger be martial.

The fact that it’s daily powers (and many utility powers, but okay) were the main primal magic of the class is an odd point to make when...the class is totally defined by its daily powers. Like...it’s daily powers are it’s rages, and are designed to define how the character fights in most battles during a day.
A purely martial Barbarian is boring and has no reason to exist if we have the Fighter, plain and simple. I think it's way more interesting that the Barbarian is specifically a warrior in touch with primal spirits than just 'guy who gets angry', something that could be literally covered by any other class with access to big axes.

I'm not super versed on the history of the Barbarian class but I'm pretty sure 4e is where the unarmored defense feature popped up? So there's a whole swath of Barbarians with crappy AC to stay in leather to match the 'image' of the class?

Whenever a Warlord gets brought up there's always someone to say "It should just be a Fighter subclass!", well a martial only Barbarian probably should be that too. The Barbarian only gets enough legs to be a full class (unlike a Warlord, IMO) by adding the Primal aspect into it.

Barbarians can come in different types. There can be different ratios of mundane or spiritual powers and different levels of openness of supernatural effect.

It really comes down to your philosophy on the relationship of the fighter and barbarian.

To me the fighter is the warrior of skill and formal training. The barbarian is the warrior of raw athleticism and emotion. Nurture vs Nature. Trained Skill vs Born Talent

The primal, arcane, or divine aspects of rage can be added later as an improvement of their physical power.

But I can see a few versions of barbarian who do not call on primal, arcane, or divine power. Barbarians can be off any combination of "power sources".

As we can see the Zealot is a popular subclass of barbarian. I could even see a psionic barbarian who psychically taps into their anger to fuel their telekinetic swipes.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I’m fine with more no magical Barbarians, but like...what would they be?

That's one of the big issues with wanting more non-magical Archetypes in general: the Fighter, Rogue and Berserker between them are so versatile and have so many options before you consider magical variants, they can cover most character concepts that need no magic that I can think of: certainly possible to make more variations, but the necessity to do so to cover more types is pretty low.
 

Parmandur

Legend
A purely martial Barbarian is boring and has no reason to exist if we have the Fighter, plain and simple. I think it's way more interesting that the Barbarian is specifically a warrior in touch with primal spirits than just 'guy who gets angry', something that could be literally covered by any other class with access to big axes.

The Barbarian is a martial with a long rest based mechanic that is less reliant on equipment. It would have been better if maybe the flavor was a little less baked in to make that more clear, and allow more wiggle room for variant Subclasses, but that's enough to justify an alternative Class.
 



vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
RE: Mundane barbarians

Well, AimE has at least 2 good archetypes of non-magical barbarian: the rider (aka the rohirim) and the foehammer (armored barbarian). To that I'd add an unarmed one, a dual-wielding one and maybe a leader-y barb.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
RE: Mundane barbarians

Well, AimE has at least 2 good archetypes of non-magical barbarian: the rider (aka the rohirim) and the foehammer (armored barbarian). To that I'd add an unarmed one, a dual-wielding one and maybe a leader-y barb.

I don't expect to see an "unarmed" barbarian but I could see a Tarzan like subclass with bonus damage to simple weapons and unarmed attacks.

I'd love a Tarzan barbarian and a George of the Jungle ranger.

----

Anyone have a hypothesis why Valor and Swords didn't make the top 3 for Bard?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Anyone have a hypothesis why Valor and Swords didn't make the top 3 for Bard?

Probably because the other bards have much cooler things.

Lore: You can insult something so hard it fails it's next attack or skill roll (way more fun than inspiring your allies to hit more often). Also you can pick up basically any spell in the game, at a level that people actually play at.
Glamour: You are a Rockstar, complete with adoring fans and groupies. You rock so hard that people are in awe of your very presence.
Whispers: You are a Super-Spy who is so terrifying that it warps people's minds. Also, when you kill someone, you can use their shadow to wear their skin as the perfect disguise.

Swords and Valor? You get to stab people really good, it's no wonder they aren't as popular.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
RE: Mundane barbarians

Well, AimE has at least 2 good archetypes of non-magical barbarian: the rider (aka the rohirim) and the foehammer (armored barbarian). To that I'd add an unarmed one, a dual-wielding one and maybe a leader-y barb.
Rohirrim I’d definitely make a fighter. I can’t imagine it as a Barbarian at all. Foehammer...I guess. What makes it different from other barbarians?

I’d need more story than a fighting style for a subclass, personally.

For me, that pretty much leaves a leadery Barbarian. Could be mundane, could be Bardish with a magic aura of inspiration while raging.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Rohirrim I’d definitely make a fighter. I can’t imagine it as a Barbarian at all. Foehammer...I guess. What makes it different from other barbarians?

I’d need more story than a fighting style for a subclass, personally.

For me, that pretty much leaves a leadery Barbarian. Could be mundane, could be Bardish with a magic aura of inspiration while raging.
Rohirrim is a bad example as they weren't that wild.

But a barbarian rider could work like ASOIAF's Dothraki, WHFB Marauder Horsemen, M&B's Khergit. "Barbaric" horseman is a common fantasy trope.
 

wizard71

Explorer
I love this survey because a common post o. This and other forums is how the Champion Fighter is SO underpowered and unfun to play that the class should be erased. The champion fighter is the most popular subclass of the most popular class. Goes to show what forum posters know
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Rohirrim I’d definitely make a fighter. I can’t imagine it as a Barbarian at all. Foehammer...I guess. What makes it different from other barbarians?

I’d need more story than a fighting style for a subclass, personally.

Hey, tell that to Cubicle 7, but when you look at the archetype on paper, it works. Also note, there's no ''barbarian'' in AiMe, the class is called Slayer and it removes the more animalistic/wilderness theme of the barbarian.

The foe-hammer can benefit from Rage while wearing heavy armor (and gets to add their dex bonus to heavy armor, which is OP as hell and wouldnt port to regular 5e). IIRC, the archetypes can use a BA to bash enemies with their armored fist while raging, can auto-crit X/long rest and can break shield and armor by sundering their weapon. Think like ASOIAF's the Mountain had a baby with 4e Essentials's Slayer.

The rider has a damage bonus when charging or when mounted. It also has bonus with thrown weapon, dealing max damage when rolling with advantage and ignoring long range if mounted. At higher level, they can sound their horn to share the bonus from rage and reckless attack with their party for a round and have the same Intimidating Presence as the PHB Berserker.

For the Thane barbarian (leader), I'd go with the shou-ty archetype. Use war cries to boost allies and debuff enemies.

For the Hurricane (dual-wielding barb), I'd take Mearl's idea for ranger correction from Happy Fun Hour, mainly its new weapon style, Whirling Blade.

''When you engage in two-weapon fighting while wearing light or no armor, you do not expend your bonus action and add your ability modifier to the second attack. You can still gain the benefits of two-weapon fighting once during your turn. ''

Maybe add a somekind of ''attack on the run'' feature where you can attack every creature within X once without triggering AoO as long a you hit X per day, like a martial version of Chaos Bolt. If you go the with the Dervish theme you could also add fire and heat resistance or stuff like that.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Rohirrim I’d definitely make a fighter. I can’t imagine it as a Barbarian at all. Foehammer...I guess. What makes it different from other barbarians?

I’d need more story than a fighting style for a subclass, personally.

For me, that pretty much leaves a leadery Barbarian. Could be mundane, could be Bardish with a magic aura of inspiration while raging.

I could see a "Sword-Saint" Ronin type for the Barbarian, who is entering a Zen trance for the"Rage" feature.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
For the Thane barbarian (leader), I'd go with the shou-ty archetype. Use war cries to boost allies and debuff enemies.

I think a whole "nonmagical" shout subsystem would be a great addition for the barbarian.

Another idea is to steal the Calm Fury path from 4e: a barbarian who understands rage completely and can channel all their rage into single decisive strikes.
Basically bringing back Rage Strike.

I love this survey because a common post o. This and other forums is how the Champion Fighter is SO underpowered and unfun to play that the class should be erased. The champion fighter is the most popular subclass of the most popular class. Goes to show what forum posters know

The two don't exactly conflict.

Champion fighter is a favorite of new players, hardcore "roleplayers", and players with very accepting DMs.

Forums tilt to veteran players and fans of mechanics.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Hey, tell that to Cubicle 7, but when you look at the archetype on paper, it works. Also note, there's no ''barbarian'' in AiMe, the class is called Slayer and it removes the more animalistic/wilderness theme of the barbarian.

The foe-hammer can benefit from Rage while wearing heavy armor (and gets to add their dex bonus to heavy armor, which is OP as hell and wouldnt port to regular 5e). IIRC, the archetypes can use a BA to bash enemies with their armored fist while raging, can auto-crit X/long rest and can break shield and armor by sundering their weapon. Think like ASOIAF's the Mountain had a baby with 4e Essentials's Slayer.

The rider has a damage bonus when charging or when mounted. It also has bonus with thrown weapon, dealing max damage when rolling with advantage and ignoring long range if mounted. At higher level, they can sound their horn to share the bonus from rage and reckless attack with their party for a round and have the same Intimidating Presence as the PHB Berserker.

For the Thane barbarian (leader), I'd go with the shou-ty archetype. Use war cries to boost allies and debuff enemies.

For the Hurricane (dual-wielding barb), I'd take Mearl's idea for ranger correction from Happy Fun Hour, mainly its new weapon style, Whirling Blade.

''When you engage in two-weapon fighting while wearing light or no armor, you do not expend your bonus action and add your ability modifier to the second attack. You can still gain the benefits of two-weapon fighting once during your turn. ''

Maybe add a somekind of ''attack on the run'' feature where you can attack every creature within X once without triggering AoO as long a you hit X per day, like a martial version of Chaos Bolt. If you go the with the Dervish theme you could also add fire and heat resistance or stuff like that.
So, I’m familiar with AiME, and I disagree with their decision to make the Rider a Barbarian cognate.

Your Thaneborn sounds fun, but definitely doesn’t sound mundane to me.

The dervish could be, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to not make them at least a little divine.
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's the barbarian version of the Battlemaster. Except the only maneuvers are "Charge!", "Kill Them!", "Crush Them!" "ROOOOOOOAAAAR!" and "(Unintelligible)"

"Kill Them!" gives your allies sweet damage bonuses.
Now it doesn’t sound as interesting to me, but who knows maybe it would be totally rad.
 

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