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

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...
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
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.
 

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

Legend
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

(He, Him)
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.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
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
 

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