D&D: Oh…The Humanity
Humans are by far the most popular race in D&D. But did you know that most players don’t choose feats either?
Humans are the most popular race in Dungeons and Dragons. In other news, water has been found to be wet, the sun confirmed to be hot, and cheese has been awarded best truck in its class by J.D. Power and Associates. We’ve seen this news before, when 538 did their analysis of D&D Beyond’s userbase. However, Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer (and Lead Design on the PHB) for 5th Edition has more than just D&D Beyond data to go on. So when he took to twitter to talk about the most popular race by far, he meant across any edition.
And what started off as an interesting point of data quickly caught on and led to some neat insights into how the designers think about D&D. And, apparently, how the majority of the playerbase does as well. I’m talking about that last statement in the tweet up there: Story & aesthetics often appeal more than power. This is an interesting point to take in.
Now, admittedly, I’m a little biased here–I spend a lot of my time rummaging through D&D Forums and trying to figure out how the game works. And, as a result, a lot of my perception of “the community” is informed by that. You spend a while arguing about why Great Weapon Mastery doesn’t really add that much to damage per round (or why it’s totally worth it every time) and you’ll get the idea that everyone thinks like that.
But, that said, I think this is great–but would like to point out there’s nothing wrong with powergaming, and there’s plenty of room for Spikes at the table, indeed they can make for some of the most memorable moments in a campaign. But it’s interesting to see that what’s captivating a lot of people is the ability to play the character they want to play. And that a lot of what drives player choice tends to be the ability to lean into an archetype.
And looking at the source material that goes into building D&D’s mythos, it’s no surprise that Dwarves, Elves, and Humans should be the most popular. It doesn’t get more iconic than Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, after all. And then of course there’s your Conans and Red Sonjas, your Galadriels and Elrics. Your Xenas, Gabrielles, and and Morgauses. And then of course there’s Varric, who did what I thought was the impossible and got me interested in playing a Dwarf for the first time ever.
And according to Crawford it’s little to do with mechanics. Most players don’t even use feats in 5th Edition (another one that I find surprising).
But I suppose that’s a pretty cool way of looking at it. You can read the whole thread here…and it’s encouraging to see that there’s a variety of play styles supported in this edition. There’s no one right way to do it. 5th Edition encourages the marriage of story and mechanics, giving everyone a place at the table. So keep that in mind as we head into the weekend folks. And now, I want to know:
What goes into the characters you play? When you sit down to make a character, what goes through your head?