Dungeons & Dragons is a game of choices, but for many D&D players, deciding which class to play may be the toughest choice they make. The best class choice is almost always the class you want to play as most, but D&D players always end up being just a little curious about how popular their chosen class is in the grand scheme of the game. Well, we now at least know what the least popular class in D&D seems to be.
In a new video about some of the changes coming to One D&D‘s Unearthed Arcana update, Game Design Architect Jeremy Crawford talks about reworking the Druid class. He also reveals an interesting detail about the Druid class itself.
“In the last eight years, as we have looked at player data, we have found that for as beloved as the Druid is from a sentiment standpoint, in actual play the Druid is the least played class in Fifth Edition of the classes that are in the player’s handbook,” Crawford reveals.
Why is the Druid seemingly so unpopular in the grand scheme of the game? Crawford doesn’t dive too deeply into the numbers, but he does theorize that the Druid’s complexity is a big part of the problem. Druid players have to spend a lot of time in the manual pouring over various stat pools related to their iconic transformation ability, and the time spent going over those numbers and possibilities doesn’t always pay off when it comes to the transformation itself. As Crawford puts it, only dungeon masters were ever meant to spend that much time buried in the book.
To help combat that issue, the team is introducing a series of changes that they hope will reduce the number of stat options a Druid player must consider while still allowing them to assume some pretty wild forms for the purposes of role-playing. If it all goes according to plan, Druid players will be able to turn into something wild like a creation from “John Carpenter’s The Thing” (Crawford’s words) or an Owlbear while only having to keep up with a few basic stat pools that will limit the amount of time they have to spend browsing the book. The team also hopes to expand upon the Druid’s sometimes overlooked roles as a “nature magician and healer.”
The proposed changes are fascinating, and I’m sure that hardcore D&D players are eager to see if they end up working without sacrificing the class’ identity or power level. For even more casual D&D fans, though, the idea of the Druid class being the least popular class in the game by a seemingly noteworthy distance is one of those things that is both kind of surprising and really not that shocking.
While I would have thought that the unique nature of the Druid class would have elevated it above some of the classes that can feel a little similar to other class options, Crawford really does seem to have a point about the class’ complexity. From a mechanical standpoint, playing as a Druid can sometimes feel like a lot. It’s hard to imagine many first-time D&D players deciding to choose such a complex class, and longtime fans may have developed other favorites by the time they learn the game. Druids in other role-playing games (such as WoW) also sometimes suffer from being able to do so many things while not necessarily excelling at many of those things.
There’s also the possible influence of the “generic character creator” problem. See, even in its unfinished form, Baldur’s Gate 3 features one of the most extensive character creation systems in any fantasy RPG. Yet, an early test conducted by Baldur’s Gate 3 developer Larian revealed that the average character created in the game looked like…well, just some average guy. Larian jokingly referred to the median model as the “default Vault Dweller.”
In that sense, I suppose it’s possible that the Druid’s shape-shifting abilities may be a little too inventive and may not mesh with the more classic fantasy dreams and concepts that some players come into the game with. Still, it would be nice to see Druids get a little more love. It’s a really fun, really inventive RPG class.