What springs to mind when you try to think of the most archetypal Dungeons and Dragons character? Is it a halfling rogue fulfilling the classic role as the party burglar? Is it a gruff, indomitable dwarf warrior like Bruenor? Perhaps you picture something a little edgier like a tiefling warlock with a dark past. It turns out, the most average adventurer is Bob.
While doing research about the most commonly used weapons in 5e, I stumbled across D&D Beyond’s dev update series YouTube. In it, Adam Bradform compiled and analyzed character data from the millions of characters created and tracked on the site. After combing through his findings, I began to wonder what the most average character looks like.
Before continuing, I have to issue the mandatory caveat about the source of this data. First, not every player uses D&D Beyond. Of course, some track the characters in their virtual tabletops of choice or record them on paper the old fashioned way. Additionally, not every character created on Beyond is actually used. However, I think it’s fair to assume the numbers from Beyond pretty decently reflect the real landscape of player choices.
In a game where you can be a fire breathing anthropomorphic dragon, most people stick with the familiar human as their race. Appropriately, many people choose a pretty common real-world name for their character.
One of the more odd stats was that about 9% of all characters are named Bob. For context, in our world Robert is the 3rd most common name, so one out of every 717 humans can be called Bob. Maria is actually the most common name on Earth. However, Bob has been the most used name in the realms. In 2019, the second most common name was Varis followed by Nyx. In 2020, Jack supplanted Varis. Nyx lost it’s place to ‘cleric,’ which definitely proves intelligence is the official dump stat for that class.
And what class is Bob? He’s probably a fighter, as 13% of all characters are. Specifically, he’s chosen the champion subclass because 40% of all fighters go that route. We also know how most people assign ability scores to fighters, so there’s a good chance Bob’s stats look a lot like this:
It’s a little harder to tease out what Bob is equipped with on his adventures, but weapon and armor use rates give us a pretty good guess.
Based on Bob’s presumed ability scores, it doesn’t make sense that he’d be wearing leather armor, so it’s pretty safe to assume he goes into battle in chainmail. Since shields are also very ubiquitous with roughly a quarter of all players carrying them, it’s a good bet Bob the Average has got one. From this, we can tell Bob’s armor class is a respectable 18.
Looking at the weapon rates, Bob probably never leaves home without at least one trusty dagger on his person. But since that doesn’t make a ton of sense as his main weapon, the next most likely and logical choice would be the longsword.
You might guess that Bob has some kind of military background, but ‘soldier’ is actually the second most common selection here. Bob is more likely to be a criminal/spy. This means the ranks of adventures travelling the world are swelled with some seedy elements.
Based on available data, we can also forecast the trajectory of Bob’s questing career. Spoiler alert: it’s not particularly impressive. As a matter of fact, Bob probably won’t make it to 5th level. At any given time, about 62% of characters on D&D Beyond are in tier one of play, which spans levels one to four. It’s not a given, but if he’s lucky, Bob might join the nearly 27% of characters in tier two (levels five through ten). It’s unlikely Bob gets to experience the higher levels of play as only about 10% of characters ever exceed 10th level.
If Bob should fail in his adventures, we also have a pretty good idea of where and how he meets his end. Wizards of the Coast are very secretive about their sales numbers, but Curse of Strahd is the best selling module on Amazon at time of writing. Based on the character level data, there’s a better than 50-50 chance Bob meets his end in the misty, brooding land of Barovia. To be fair (and a bit less dramatic), Bob doesn’t necessarily die most of the time; the game he’s in might just be abandoned. If he does manage to vanquish the ancient vampire lord, there’s a very good chance he retires at that point. There’s no data on this, I’m thinking he opens a tavern somewhere.
To sum it all up, the average adventurer is a low-level ex-con roughian wearing chainmail, who wields a longsword in his ultimately doomed mission to defeat the evil master of Ravenloft.
While Bob’s story may not be the most uplifting, the good news is you’re very likely to have at least one character rise above Bob-level mediocrity. While I don’t have access to any numbers on the matter, I feel pretty secure saying you, dear reader, have had a more remarkable run in the ttrpg world. Next time a session doesn’t go all that well, just remind yourself that you’re probably doing better than Bob at the very least.