You might have missed Dungeons & Dragons’ attempt to hop on the year-end wrap up bandwagon alongside Spotify, Starbucks, UK bank Monzo and literally anyone else who collects your personal data for (mumble mumble) reasons, but the synopsis contains some genuinely fascinating insights into how players use the online tabletop service.
Published back on January 16th, D&D Beyond’s 2023 Unrolled aggregates all of the created characters, campaigns and downloaded supplements into a grand and somewhat simplified view of the demographic playing D&D with its official digital toolset. Some stats, such as the 37,000 users who donated to charity events by purchasing Extra Life products, shows the beneficial potential of a marketplace, but I have to admit that most of the other figures paint the general D&D player in a hilariously banal light.
Nothing illustrates this more than the combination of D&D Beyond’s most popular class, species and character name: a human fighter named Bob who is roughly 28-years-old. Yep, I’m not joking - the popular tabletop RPG’s most prevalent digital character is the equivalent to Mass Effect’s John Shepard and Halo’s John-117 (aka Master Chief). This marks the second year in a row that Bob topped the name charts.
Characters named Link rose by 23% since last year (it’s anyone’s guess why), alongside big gains for Seraphina (+18%) and Lyra (+6%). The biggest losers are a grunge rock band combination of Eddie, Bruno and Rando, who all fell by at least 39% as players likely turned to names that don’t remind them of denim jackets and curly mops of unwashed hair.
All of the Basic Rules species topped the charts except for gnomes, who were ousted from the top ten by genasi, but D&D Beyond’s Unwrapped revealed a stark distaste for anyone clocking in below 5 feet - gnomes, halflings and dwarves staggered behind half-elves, Dragonborn and Tieflings. Goliaths, Aasimar and Aarakocra are nipping at their heels, too, so 2024’s wrapped might show a very different spread.
Other popular classes take cues from fighter and favour martial offerings. It seems most players don’t want to faff with spell slots and squishy armour classes, opting for barbarians, rogues and paladins. Those who do dabble in the arcane would rather embody the studious wizard, and both warlocks and clerics are locked in a near neck-and-neck pole position.
Regardless of class, most of the 6 million character sheets created in 2023 averaged just below level 5 at the cusp of D&D 5E’s distinction between ‘local heroes’ and ‘heroes of the realm’ - time to step out beyond the known boundaries, folks!
The popularity of Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3 video game rippled across D&D Beyond in the form of Origin character sheets offered within the app. Mirroring the bemusing vanilla tastes of generic characters, the friendzoned wizard Gale was the most downloaded option from the full suite of companion characters - the Waterdavian wife guy also proved the people’s choice amongst the video game’s cast.
D&D Beyond will continue to play a central part in Wizards of the Coast’s plans for their golden goose brand - the company will launch a new trio of core rulebooks later this year and have announced plans for an official virtual tabletop that will no doubt weave D&D Beyond functionality throughout.