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D&D General What elements should D&D keep? forums vs. Reddit

JEB

Hero
Just concluded the Reddit version of the "what elements does D&D need to keep?" poll (posted here and on rpg.net). 225 responses in all, a pretty solid response, and as close to a "public" opinion on the subject as I think I can get.

Just as I compared responses on the "feel" poll, and for "keep" between ENWorld and rpg.net, I figured it would be interesting to compare the 164 "keep" responses between both forums with the 225 on Reddit.

Two caveats:
1. I asked folks who answered on the forums not to respond on Reddit, which may skew things a bit.
2. A reminder that the poll only asked what folks want to keep (i.e. "I want this to stay"), so not voting for an item can be either "I don't care" or "I want it gone".

Items in bold are in different tiers between the two sets of responses.

Forums (ENWorld + rpg.net combined)Reddit
Very important to keep (80% and up)Distinct character classes [92.1%]
Levels [90.9%]
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha) [85.4%]
Hit points [82.9%]
Using multiple types of dice [88.9%]
Distinct character classes [88.4%]
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha) [86.7%]
Levels [85.8%]
Hit points [84.4%]
Armor Class [81.3%]
Important to keep (60% to 80%)Using multiple types of dice [78.1%]
Armor Class [76.2%]

Distinct character races/lineages [72.0%]
Saving throws [72.0%]
Lists of specific spells [66.5%]
Initiative [63.4%]
Distinct character races/lineages [79.6%]
Saving throws [72.0%]
Initiative [71.6%]
Lists of specific spells [70.2%]
Damage types [62.2%]
Lists of specific magic items [60.4%]
Debatable (40% to 60%)Lists of specific magic items [55.5%]
Damage types [48.2%]

Advantage/disadvantage [47.0%]
Conditions [43.9%]
Creature types [43.3%]
Multiclassing [43.3%]
Lists of specific equipment [43.3%]
Experience points [42.7%]
Proficiencies [42.7%]
Feats [40.2%]
Conditions [56.9%]
Creature types [56.0%]
Multiclassing [55.6%]
Lists of specific equipment [55.1%]
Feats [54.7%]
Proficiencies [51.1%]
Experience points [50.7%]
Advantage/disadvantage [48.9%]
Hit dice [47.1%]
Deities [45.8%]
Surprise [42.2%]
Less important to keep (20% to 40%)Hit dice [37.2%]
Backgrounds [36.0%]
Deities [31.7%]
Alignment [31.1%]
Surprise [29.3%]
Great Wheel cosmology [20.7%]
Backgrounds [38.7%]
Alignment [34.2%]
Challenge ratings [30.2%]
Great Wheel cosmology [20.4%]
Not important to keep (20% and below)Challenge ratings [19.5%]
World Axis cosmology [9.2%]
World Axis cosmology [8.4%]

Observations:
  • There's more overlap between forums and Reddit on "keep" than "feel" overall in the upper and lower tiers, a lot of the percentages are closer together. This might strengthen the argument that these numbers represent D&D fans' views more generally. Or at least the opinions of fans who chat online about D&D...
  • In general, stuff in the debatable tier was leaning slightly against keeping on forums (mostly below 50%), and slightly leaning towards keeping (mostly above 50%) on Reddit.
  • Using multiple types of dice was popular in both sets of results, but even more so with the Reddit crowd, who rated it #1.
  • Levels were a bit less popular on Reddit (but still very high-ranking).
  • Distinct character races/lineages are almost in the "very important" tier on Reddit, noticeably more popular than on forums.
  • Damage types are significantly more popular on Reddit, which was a big surprise (mostly because I never figured on it being something folks would be passionate about).
  • Having lists of specific magic items also just barely squeaks over the border into "important" on Reddit.
  • Hit dice, deities, and surprise are all much, much more popular on Reddit than on forums.
  • Advantage/disadvantage, one of 5E's signature mechanics, is slightly below 50% support on both sides. Backgrounds are also comparably low, in the high end of "less important".
  • Despite alignment's value to memes, that didn't help its popularity on Reddit, only 3.1% more popular.
  • Challenge Ratings are much more popular on Reddit, but still very much in the less important side of things.
  • No matter where you go, only about 20% of folks actively want to keep the Great Wheel. (Though they certainly outcompete the poor World Axis.)

Here's a final tally of all the votes (389 total) from all sources on the elements D&D should keep:

Very important to keep (80% and up):
Distinct character classes: 350 [89.97%]
Levels: 342 [87.92%]
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha): 335 [86.12%]
Using multiple types of dice: 328 [84.32%]
Hit points: 326 [83.80%]

Important to keep (60% to 80%):
Armor Class: 308 [79.18%]
Distinct character races/lineages: 297 [76.35%]
Saving throws: 280 [71.98%]
Lists of specific spells: 267 [68.64%]
Initiative: 265 [68.12%]

Debatable (40% to 60%):
Lists of specific magic items: 227 [58.35%]
Damage types: 219 [56.30%]
Conditions: 200 [51.41%]
Creature types: 197 [50.64%]
Multiclassing: 196 [50.39%]
Lists of specific equipment: 195 [50.13%]
Feats: 189 [48.59%]
Advantage/disadvantage: 187 [48.07%]
Proficiencies: 185 [47.56%]
Experience points: 184 [47.30%]
Hit dice: 167 [42.93%]

Less important to keep (20% to 40%):
Deities: 155 [39.85%]
Backgrounds: 146 [37.53%]
Surprise: 143 [36.76%]
Alignment: 128 [32.90%]
Challenge ratings: 100 [25.71%]
Great Wheel cosmology: 80 [20.57%]

Not important to keep (20% and below):
World Axis cosmology: 34 [8.74%]
 
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225 = fair amount?
Technically, it's 389 if we count all respondents (assuming no one did a bad and voted more than once).

You are, however, correct that even if sampling bias weren't a problem, this is a pretty small poll to draw conclusions from, in absolute terms. In relative terms, this isn't the worst thing in the world. We just have to keep in mind that these are merely a best guess at real values, and not hard, reliable data.

But then again, WotC is really, really bad at writing surveys. Dunno if you guys remember, but back during the Next Playtest, we literally had some questions that were "what did you like most about <foo>?" or "Do you agree this captures the spirit of <bar>?" Collecting real data about the preferences of players is a nontrivial effort even when you have the reach and power of the actual creators.
 

TheSword

Legend
So I hate to pick apart the polling but the questions don’t actually give the information that the OP is purporting to display.

OP asked 225 people “Which of the following elements should D&D keep in future editions?”

But that question doesn’t give any idea as to which elements are important to keep. The respondent could care trivially about retaining the dice in an RPG or could feel very strongly about retaining levels. And vice versa.

@JEB you have equated frequency of choice with importance. When in fact these aren’t the same thing. Based on what I said above most respondents feeling trivially affectionate about dice for instance in a ‘sure why not, can’t think of anything better kind of way’ would appear to make dice extremely important to keep.

Whereas some people may feel very strongly that deities should be kept, but others trivially unconcerned - leading the suggestion that it is less important. Where in fact it could be very important to those 39%.

I think if you wanted to make these kinds of polls actually speak to importance you need to ask that question. Probably by asking people to rank their choices of importance. It will give you far more useful data.

I’m not sure forum posters are the most representative group of general public opinion. I appreciate your point that it’s limited by medium and resources. if you wanted to reflect public opinion, what be worthwhile might be a smaller study of casual players to see if their choices correlate with the findings of forum goers.
 

TheSword

Legend
But then again, WotC is really, really bad at writing surveys. Dunno if you guys remember, but back during the Next Playtest, we literally had some questions that were "what did you like most about <foo>?" or "Do you agree this captures the spirit of <bar>?" Collecting real data about the preferences of players is a nontrivial effort even when you have the reach and power of the actual creators.
It depends what the survey was for. They may have wanted to confirm their existing strategy rather than generate new ideas. On the other hand qualitative questions like ‘what do you like most?’ is not necessarily a wasted question if they are trying to generate new ideas.
 

JEB

Hero
So I hate to pick apart the polling but the questions don’t actually give the information that the OP is purporting to display.

OP asked 225 people “Which of the following elements should D&D keep in future editions?”

But that question doesn’t give any idea as to which elements are important to keep. The respondent could care trivially about retaining the dice in an RPG or could feel very strongly about retaining levels. And vice versa.
By the instructions I included with the poll, I told folks to vote for an element if they actively wanted to keep it. I think it's reasonable to assume that if you wanted a particular element to remain in the game, keeping it would be important to you; and also that if you don't actively want a particular element to remain in the game, keeping it is not important to you. And that these totals therefore reflect opinions as to how important or not important keeping an element is to respondents.

@JEB you have equated frequency of choice with importance. When in fact these aren’t the same thing. Based on what I said above most respondents feeling trivially affectionate about dice for instance in a ‘sure why not, can’t think of anything better kind of way’ would appear to make dice extremely important to keep.

Whereas some people may feel very strongly that deities should be kept, but others trivially unconcerned - leading the suggestion that it is less important. Where in fact it could be very important to those 39%.
I imagine that for the 39% that actively wanted to keep deities, it was pretty important to them; they did, after all, actively say they wanted to keep them. That doesn't change the fact that 61% were, at best, indifferent to keeping deities.

I think if you wanted to make these kinds of polls actually speak to importance you need to ask that question. Probably by asking people to rank their choices of importance. It will give you far more useful data.

I’m not sure forum posters are the most representative group of general public opinion. I appreciate your point that it’s limited by medium and resources. if you wanted to reflect public opinion, what be worthwhile might be a smaller study of casual players to see if their choices correlate with the findings of forum goers.
There's certainly room to capture more nuance about folks' opinions. And if you're interested in pursuing such polls and surveys to get a better response, I certainly encourage it!
 
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TheSword

Legend
By the instructions I included with the poll, I told folks to vote for an element if they actively wanted to keep it. I think it's reasonable to assume that if you wanted a particular element to remain in the game, keeping it would be important to you; and also that if you don't actively want a particular element to remain in the game, keeping it is not important to you. And that these totals therefore reflect opinions as to how important or not important keeping an element is to respondents.


I imagine that for the 39% that actively wanted to keep deities, it was pretty important to them; they did, after all, actively say they wanted to keep them. That doesn't change the fact that 61% were, at best, indifferent to keeping deities.


There's certainly room to capture more nuance about folks' opinions. And if you're interested in pursuing such polls and surveys to get a better response, I certainly encourage it!
Okay. I gave feedback about use of importance or lack of in polling. You can ignore that. Sure.

We do a lot of polling with work. What a person considers important and what they’ll include in comments are often very different.

For instance our customers often say they would like to be recognized on their birthdays, when given that as an option in a list of things we could do for them. By frequency using your method we would think it would be massively important. However when we compare how important it is against other elements, it is a tiny fraction of the importance of things like responding to feedback in a timely manner.

If your only response to the feedback is to say why it’s wrong and suggest I do it myself if I want better... well then, you do you. I thought you’d invested quite a bit of time in this and therefore would want it to be accurate in its predictions.
 

JEB

Hero
Okay. I gave feedback about use of importance or lack of in polling. You can ignore that. Sure.

We do a lot of polling with work. What a person considers important and what they’ll include in comments are often very different.

For instance our customers often say they would like to be recognized on their birthdays, when given that as an option in a list of things we could do for them. By frequency using your method we would think it would be massively important. However when we compare how important it is against other elements, it is a tiny fraction of the importance of things like responding to feedback in a timely manner.

If your only response to the feedback is to say why it’s wrong and suggest I do it myself if I want better... well then, you do you. I thought you’d invested quite a bit of time in this and therefore would want it to be accurate in its predictions.
Just to be clear, the question I literally asked is, "Which of the following elements should D&D keep in future editions?" I didn't ask people to say if they thought the element was important to keep. I just asked if they, personally, wanted D&D to keep it.

Ranking the results by importance is my assessment, based on the assumption that if someone actively wants D&D to keep a thing, then to them, it's important that D&D keep it. If it wasn't important to keep, they wouldn't have voted for it.

I admit I'm scratching my head at the idea that someone would say they wanted D&D to keep, say, character classes, but actually not think it's important that D&D keep character classes. If that's the case, why did they vote to keep it?

And likewise, if 90% of people want to keep character classes, but 30% of people want D&D to keep alignment, how it doesn't suggest that more people are interested in keeping classes than keeping alignment. That certain elements are more important to keep than others, to appeal to the widest possible number of respondents.


Now, it's true that I didn't explicitly tell people to rank those elements relative to each other. Personally, that sounds like a really tough poll to answer, but the results could be extremely interesting. I just don't see why it has to be me, personally, that does the poll this time...
 
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TheSword

Legend
Just to be clear, the question I literally asked is, "Which of the following elements should D&D keep in future editions?" I didn't ask people to say if they thought the element was important to keep. I just asked if they, personally, wanted D&D to keep it.

And likewise, if 90% of people want to keep character classes, but 30% of people want D&D to keep alignment, how it doesn't suggest that more people are interested in keeping classes than keeping alignment. That certain elements are more important to keep than others, to appeal to the widest possible number of respondents.
I think this is the crux. You have tabulated your outcomes based on importance to keep. But you haven’t asked anything about importance in the question. If there was a limited number of choices so people had to make a value judgement on importance then it would allow that kind of inference. But you’ve just given a list, allowed people to tick whatever they like and then supposed the ones that more people ticked were the most important. This method gives equal weighting and assumes all choices are
of equal importance... which of course they aren’t.
 

JEB

Hero
So, @TheSword, while I disagree with your assertion that the results don't in any way reflect importance in the eyes of respondents... for the sake of argument, let's assume you're right.

Then what do the results mean? I've got the results all listed right there in the original post, so I invite you to assess them yourself.

For example, 90% of respondents want to keep classes. If it isn't important to them that D&D keep classes, what else might it mean?
48% want to keep advantage/disadvantage, and 52% are indifferent to keeping it. What might that mean?
33% want to keep alignment, and 67% are indifferent to keeping it. What might that mean?

And as you can see, some elements had much larger numbers of people wanting to keep them than other elements. So what do these relative rankings indicate to you?
 

TheSword

Legend
So, @TheSword, while I disagree with your assertion that the results don't in any way reflect importance in the eyes of respondents... for the sake of argument, let's assume you're right.

Then what do the results mean? I've got the results all listed right there in the original post, so I invite you to assess them yourself.

For example, 90% of respondents want to keep classes. If it isn't important to them that D&D keep classes, what else might it mean?
48% want to keep advantage/disadvantage, and 52% are indifferent to keeping it. What might that mean?
33% want to keep alignment, and 67% are indifferent to keeping it. What might that mean?

And as you can see, some elements had much larger numbers of people wanting to keep them than other elements. So what do these relative rankings indicate to you?
Exactly what the questions says...

That these are the things that more people wanted to keep in the game.

More people wanted to keep Character Classes in the game than wanted to keep the World Axis.

What it doesn’t say is how important these things were. That is a value you’ve inferred just because more people have ticked that box.

Another example, lots of people might like the presence of a summary of common familiars in the back of the PHB. If asked should we keep a list of common familiars in the back of the PHB I’d imagine most people would tick yes, it is i controversial. However if asked which elements of the PhB are most important I’d imagine familiar examples would be pretty low down in the priority list.
 

JEB

Hero
Exactly what the questions says...

That these are the things that more people wanted to keep in the game.

More people wanted to keep Character Classes in the game than wanted to keep the World Axis.
If Wizards of the Coast removed classes from a future edition of D&D, 90% of respondents would consider that a decision against their preferences, because they want Wizards to keep that element.

However, if Wizards removed the World Axis and never referenced it again, only 9% of respondents would consider that a decision against their preferences. 91% apparently wouldn't care.

So which of those seems more important to keep, in terms of meeting the preferences of the largest number of respondents?
 

TheSword

Legend
If Wizards of the Coast removed classes from a future edition of D&D, 90% of respondents would consider that a decision against their preferences, because they want Wizards to keep that element.

However, if Wizards removed the World Axis and never referenced it again, only 9% of respondents would consider that a decision against their preferences. 91% apparently wouldn't care.

So which of those seems more important to keep, in terms of meeting the preferences of the largest number of respondents?
If classes were a ‘nice to have’ and we’re a non-controversial option that didn’t really factor into the game. Then it might not be much more important option. They fact that you’ve picked a substantial element of the game clouds your point.

Saving throws and Deities is maybe a bit more difficult to weight importance though for instance. People said they would keep saving throws but not how important they were to keep.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I have no idea what the point is in arguing with what @JEB put together. This is a poll purely for curiosity from and for a select group of D&D players. A poll that will in no way shape or determine anything going forward in the world of D&D for Wizards of the Coast in the future. If anyone's response to these things are anything more than "Huh, interesting..." then I have to wonder what exactly do they think is going to happen?

I mean, are people afraid that if other folks see these results it's going to actually impact and shape those folks own opinions of the game to the point that things they don't believe should be in the game going forward are going to be added? "Uh oh.... according to these polls they think Armor Class should be kept in the game! But AC sucks as mechanic! I better make sure everyone knows that these polls are flawed so that more people don't start believing Armor Class is actually important to have!"

That's just ridiculous.
 

TheSword

Legend
I have no idea what the point is in arguing with what @JEB put together. This is a poll purely for curiosity from and for a select group of D&D players. A poll that will in no way shape or determine anything going forward in the world of D&D for Wizards of the Coast in the future. If anyone's response to these things are anything more than "Huh, interesting..." then I have to wonder what exactly do they think is going to happen?

I mean, are people afraid that if other folks see these results it's going to actually impact and shape those folks own opinions of the game to the point that things they don't believe should be in the game going forward are going to be added? "Uh oh.... according to these polls they think Armor Class should be kept in the game! But AC sucks as mechanic! I better make sure everyone knows that these polls are flawed so that more people don't start believing Armor Class is actually important to have!"

That's just ridiculous.
Not sure how you’re adding 2+2 and getting that bushel of potatoes.

The results were tabulated by importance and I just said the question asked in the poll doesn’t speak to the importance of each point. Just it’s frequency.

It was intended as a really simple comment about inferring information from polls that isn’t there. Really don’t understand all the pushback on the feedback. I would think it’s a really uncontroversial point.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
WotC has said in the past that forum opinion (which would include the equally self-selected relatively small part of the player base in the Reddit poster community) runs almost directly counter to actual broader player opinion.
 

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