log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E What proportion of the population are adventurers?

R_Chance

Adventurer
We're going to use zoom. If you play more theater of mind, it is pretty good.

We always used miniatures. We started out playing miniatures and board war games before D&D. Then D&D dropped in 1974 and we were addicted. Late summer of '74. I'm surprised I graduated from high school looking back :) Chainmail was our medieval miniature ruleset of choice. My D&D campaign world started out as a miniature campaign setting for that. Going digital means losing the lead / pewter but the tactical / maps are still important...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
We always used miniatures. We started out playing miniatures and board war games before D&D. Then D&D dropped in 1974 and we were addicted. Late summer of '74. I'm surprised I graduated from high school looking back :) Chainmail was our medieval miniature ruleset of choice. My D&D campaign world started out as a miniature campaign setting for that. Going digital means losing the lead / pewter but the tactical / maps are still important...
While ToM works well for us, but it doesn't mean losing any of those things if you want them. In Zoom, we can show maps, and you can even share a second camera over the maps and minis for all the players to see (at least in theory, I have to see if I can locate a second webcam to test it out). If I get to try it out soon, I will let you know how it works out.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
While ToM works well for us, but it doesn't mean losing any of those things if you want them. In Zoom, we can show maps, and you can even share a second camera over the maps and minis for all the players to see (at least in theory, I have to see if I can locate a second webcam to test it out). If I get to try it out soon, I will let you know how it works out.

Thanks. That sounds interesting.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Bumping this thread because in my reading of Polyhedron I actually came across a canon answer for the "average" AD&D campaign by Roger Moore. 90% 0th level NPC's. 5% 1st level, 2.5% 2nd level, then halving each level beyond that. In terms of class distribution, it's 45% fighters, 20% wizards, 20% clerics, 10% thieves, and all those other classes with high ability score requirements are packed into the remaining 5%. So by default, about 1 in 25 people are spellcasters, which does seem pretty high magic, and the average village has several temples with clerics capable of healing your party.

So yeah, that's the "official" answer for how common adventurers are in the AD&D 1e system, for whatever it's worth.
 

I always used an (adapted) form of the math from the 2e sourcebook High Level Campaigns.

According to that book, it was ~10% of the population has character classes, and ~90% are 0th level. For 3e, that would mean that ~10% has PC class levels and ~90% have NPC class levels. If 1 out of 10 is 1st level, half that are each higher level, with 1 out of 20 being 2nd level, 1 out of 40 being 3rd level, 1 out of 80 being 4th level, and so on (meaning 20th level PC-class characters are rarer than 1 in a million in society)

As to how many actually engage in adventuring. . .wandering from place to place, raiding dungeons, attacking BBEG's, generally being the typical D&D adventuring group? Probably very few. They aren't unheard of, but I'd say its 1% of society or less, maybe 1/10th of the population that has PC classes.

Most Clerics aren't adventuring clerics, they staff the temples and shrines. Most Wizards don't tromp around dungeons, they stay in their libraries and towers. Most Fighters are parts of armies or militias or city guards, not adventuring parties. Most rogues are independent thieves or part of a criminal organization, not an adventuring party. Monks usually stay in their monasteries. Druids patrol their woods and keep to their groves. Even Paladins probably work directly for a Church instead of being "freelance".

So, for the OP's question about Waterdeep, with it's population of about 2 million, I'd go with saying that there are around a quarter million there with PC classes (200,000 1st level, 100,000 2nd level, 50,000 3rd level, 25,000 4th level, 12,500 5th level), but only about 1/10th of those are any kind of regularly adventuring group, which would still make around 25,000 adventurers, mostly low-level ones. These are the folks that merchants might hire to find a lost shipment, or the city guard might subcontract something to, or that some wizards might hire for a "fetch quest" for some exotic spell components", or a temple might hire to help escort pilgrims.

In a fairly typical small village of 1,000 or 2,000 people you might have a hundred or two hundred with PC class levels, and maybe a dozen or two adventurers at most, meaning maybe 3 or 4 parties.
 

Bumping this thread because in my reading of Polyhedron I actually came across a canon answer for the "average" AD&D campaign by Roger Moore. 90% 0th level NPC's. 5% 1st level, 2.5% 2nd level, then halving each level beyond that. In terms of class distribution, it's 45% fighters, 20% wizards, 20% clerics, 10% thieves, and all those other classes with high ability score requirements are packed into the remaining 5%. So by default, about 1 in 25 people are spellcasters, which does seem pretty high magic, and the average village has several temples with clerics capable of healing your party.

So yeah, that's the "official" answer for how common adventurers are in the AD&D 1e system, for whatever it's worth.
I missed your comment when I was replying.

Yeah, AD&D 2e used very similar math, saying that 90% of the population is 0th level, and saying that each higher level is half as rare as the level below it. High Level Campaigns didn't have a breakdown of what percent were each class though.
 

lichhouse

Dreamer
This thread had gotten me thinking, so I took a look at some old school starting bases, Hommlet and the Keep, and compared them to Phandalin, the iconic 5E starting village. Hommlet has 20% leveled characters, including several 8th level local lords, and a 7th level druid. Keep on the Borderlands is also in the 15-20% leveled characters range, with a 6th level fighter and 5th level cleric (plus another 140 level 1 fighters as garrison). Meanwhile, Phandalin has no one with character levels - all the named people in the village are "commoners".

To me it points to how design aesthetics and expectations of game play have shifted. Older campaigns anticipated a more Swords & Sorcery vibe (rogues and scoundrels) so even the villages are detailed in case a mischievous player tries to loot the local church or rob a towns person. Modern adventures are written from the perspective that players are heroic and there to bash monsters. Player characters are special and adventurers are rare. Contrast to Hommlet, where the local lords are explicitly ex-adventurers who won a fortune defeating a dragon; they're using their adventuring loot to build a tower to rule the surrounding lands. Two very different mindsets on world building demographics, how common are adventurers or leveled characters, what is the game about, and so on.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
This thread had gotten me thinking, so I took a look at some old school starting bases, Hommlet and the Keep, and compared them to Phandalin, the iconic 5E starting village. Hommlet has 20% leveled characters, including several 8th level local lords, and a 7th level druid. Keep on the Borderlands is also in the 15-20% leveled characters range, with a 6th level fighter and 5th level cleric (plus another 140 level 1 fighters as garrison). Meanwhile, Phandalin has no one with character levels - all the named people in the village are "commoners".
I use a concept of being on a war footing or center of excellence to represent that gradient. So Menzoberranzan being both on a war footing and a center of excellence has more creatures with PC classes or class-equivalence per capita. Whereas relatively peaceful villages along the patrolled roads of Greater Waterdeep might have fewer per capita.

Motives for doing that were 1) thinking about Greater Waterdeep's 2m population versus Menzoberranzan's 20k and 2) when modelling rl regions demographically I found that some had marked in character differences that resulted in ratio differences, such as where agriculture is highly automated versus where it is highly manual: a ratio chosen for the former might not fit the latter. One size doesn't fit all.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Thanks. That sounds interesting.
I don't recall if I ever replied about this, but with Zoom you can easily set up and share a second camera. So, you can have a mini-battlemap and move minis, etc. just as in the live game and your players can all see the action.
 

lichhouse

Dreamer
I don't recall if I ever replied about this, but with Zoom you can easily set up and share a second camera. So, you can have a mini-battlemap and move minis, etc. just as in the live game and your players can all see the action.

Here's a screen cap from our last game that shows what dnd4vr is suggesting - I put an iPad camera by the battlemap (and joined the meeting from two devices - laptop and iPad). In Zoom, the players can double click on an attendee (including the battlemap camera) to make it full screen as necessary. It's been a straightforward way to play over Zoom without going the VTT and tools route. (Plus I get to DM Tomb of Annihilation from within the Tomb of Horrors, lol).

zoom picture.png
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Here's a screen cap from our last game that shows what dnd4vr is suggesting - I put an iPad camera by the battlemap (and joined the meeting from two devices - laptop and iPad). In Zoom, the players can double click on an attendee (including the battlemap camera) to make it full screen as necessary. It's been a straightforward way to play over Zoom without going the VTT and tools route. (Plus I get to DM Tomb of Annihilation from within the Tomb of Horrors, lol).

View attachment 121242
That's great. Yeah, with a second device that would work as well. I just have my laptop so if I wanted a camera I would have to hook up a USB camera and share that.

Have you found an easy way on Zoom to share files directly with members instead of using DropBoox, etc.? That is the only thing missing IMO that I haven't found an easy way yet. It is probably obvious, but I just haven't found it.
 

mcosgrave

Explorer
This thread had gotten me thinking, so I took a look at some old school starting bases, Hommlet and the Keep, and compared them to Phandalin, the iconic 5E starting village. Hommlet has 20% leveled characters, including several 8th level local lords, and a 7th level druid. Keep on the Borderlands is also in the 15-20% leveled characters range, with a 6th level fighter and 5th level cleric (plus another 140 level 1 fighters as garrison). Meanwhile, Phandalin has no one with character levels - all the named people in the village are "commoners".

I was thinking about something similar, but in the case of Waterdeep (which is where this thread started 10 pages back!), there are a number of named high level characters there, but we can’t assume that —all— the high level characters are named in sourcebooks and modules? Or can we? are there likely to be other high level NPCs who are not named anywhere? I’m going to go with a ‘Yes’ on that which raises the question: How many?
If we come up with a number of high level NPCs in a city like Waterdeep, and back fill to lower levels based on calculations like those done by Mercurius :

For every 1 20th level character, there are 15 total level 17-20 characters, 1008 level 11-16 characters, 64512 level 5-10 characters, and 983040 level 1-4 characters. Or to put it another way, only about one in every 65,000 1st level characters make it to 20th level. That doesn't seem that far-fetched, if you think about it.

Then we have quite a large number of PCs in a city : larger than the 1% or 2% suggested by some posters.
I haven’t actually done the math in this yet (because I don’t have a handy list of all the named Level 20 or higher characters in Waterdeep!) but I have a feeling this explodes out to a lot of levelled folk; this would tend to support the argument that everyone has some level.
(My interest and idle speculation here is because of my party of Level 5 players in Waterdeep who’ve annoyed a lot of people; I’m trying to figure out how much trouble they are in and how likely they are to attract official attention and notoriety. I think they’re doomed though: too much time hanging out with a certain Drow! )
 

I was thinking about something similar, but in the case of Waterdeep (which is where this thread started 10 pages back!), there are a number of named high level characters there, but we can’t assume that —all— the high level characters are named in sourcebooks and modules? Or can we? are there likely to be other high level NPCs who are not named anywhere? I’m going to go with a ‘Yes’ on that which raises the question: How many?
If we come up with a number of high level NPCs in a city like Waterdeep, and back fill to lower levels based on calculations like those done by Mercurius :



Then we have quite a large number of PCs in a city : larger than the 1% or 2% suggested by some posters.
I haven’t actually done the math in this yet (because I don’t have a handy list of all the named Level 20 or higher characters in Waterdeep!) but I have a feeling this explodes out to a lot of levelled folk; this would tend to support the argument that everyone has some level.
(My interest and idle speculation here is because of my party of Level 5 players in Waterdeep who’ve annoyed a lot of people; I’m trying to figure out how much trouble they are in and how likely they are to attract official attention and notoriety. I think they’re doomed though: too much time hanging out with a certain Drow! )
Some advice, DnD is not a sim game. So there is enough leveled characters of appropriate level to keep the current adventure interesting and challenging.
 

Some advice, DnD is not a sim game. So there is enough leveled characters of appropriate level to keep the current adventure interesting and challenging.
Some people like the worldbuilding and demographics.

There's more than one style of DM'ing. A more hands-off, free-form DMing style wouldn't worry about it, but other DM's like that kind of analysis and fiddly-bits management of the world.

There's a reason that official demographics rules about how common are characters of various levels has been published in multiple editions of the game (in High Level Campaigns for 2nd edition, and in the 3e/3.5e DMG as core rules), and that's something that some players and DM's like and find interesting.
 

Some people like the worldbuilding and demographics.

There's more than one style of DM'ing. A more hands-off, free-form DMing style wouldn't worry about it, but other DM's like that kind of analysis and fiddly-bits management of the world.

There's a reason that official demographics rules about how common are characters of various levels has been published in multiple editions of the game (in High Level Campaigns for 2nd edition, and in the 3e/3.5e DMG as core rules), and that's something that some players and DM's like and find interesting.
I know some DM like demographic and precise world building, myself I have done that in the past. It’s a nice hobby, but I have experiment that all these numbers don’t produce great game most of the time. Having the precise picture of all boss and high level characters in a city can help to make some trouble for a level 5 party, but it can also produce an overwhelming plot and shut down all initiatives.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I know some DM like demographic and precise world building, myself I have done that in the past. It’s a nice hobby, but I have experiment that all these numbers don’t produce great game most of the time. Having the precise picture of all boss and high level characters in a city can help to make some trouble for a level 5 party, but it can also produce an overwhelming plot and shut down all initiatives.
This is a thread on demographics (titled "What proportion of the population are adventurers?"), so... all about the fidly bits and worldbuilding :)
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I was thinking about something similar, but in the case of Waterdeep (which is where this thread started 10 pages back!), there are a number of named high level characters there, but we can’t assume that —all— the high level characters are named in sourcebooks and modules? Or can we? are there likely to be other high level NPCs who are not named anywhere? I’m going to go with a ‘Yes’ on that which raises the question: How many?
If we come up with a number of high level NPCs in a city like Waterdeep, and back fill to lower levels based on calculations like those done by Mercurius :



Then we have quite a large number of PCs in a city : larger than the 1% or 2% suggested by some posters.
I haven’t actually done the math in this yet (because I don’t have a handy list of all the named Level 20 or higher characters in Waterdeep!) but I have a feeling this explodes out to a lot of levelled folk; this would tend to support the argument that everyone has some level.
(My interest and idle speculation here is because of my party of Level 5 players in Waterdeep who’ve annoyed a lot of people; I’m trying to figure out how much trouble they are in and how likely they are to attract official attention and notoriety. I think they’re doomed though: too much time hanging out with a certain Drow! )
I've always assumed that large wealthy locations that are transportation hubs are going to draw a higher percent of the adventuring population than some dusty village in the farm belt. That's always been my go to reason for a higher proportion of mid to high level characters in a city like Waterdeep.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Somewhere between one in a thousand or one in ten thousand.

We have a real life example with Spain. In 1492 I think Castile had a population of 4 million and Aragon about a million iirc.

A few hundred were willing to go fight the Aztecs. They looted a lot of gold attracting more so over the next few decades hundreds went and explored/conquered the Amazon, Peru, Florida etc.

This probably added up to a few thousand in multiple expeditions.
 


This is a thread on demographics (titled "What proportion of the population are adventurers?"), so... all about the fidly bits and worldbuilding :)
So I will give my first law of demographic for DnD,
for any size of a location, there is always at least one group or individual rival, and one possible ally or in need for help.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top