5e Dungeons & Dragons Facebook Survey Results

by Mike Shea on 4 September 2017

In October 2016 I ran a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons survey of 6,600 dungeon masters to better understand how DMs prepare and run their games. I wasn't happy to stop there, however. Lately I've been posting numerous single-question polls over at the D&D 5th edition Facebook group, a group with roughly 100,000 members.

This group gives us a fantastic way to get almost immediate feedback on how D&D DMs and players experience the game. This article contains a number of these polls, the dates of the poll, the number of respondents, and the results.

These are certainly flawed polls. The D&D group isn't a perfect representation of D&D DMs overall and their response falls well into the problems of selection bias. However, the results of these polls often provide a better view than just guessing or basing our opinions on personal anecdotes.

So we shouldn't put too much weight on these results but, at the same time, they give us an insight that's likely better than guessing.

I'll update this page with the results of future polls as I conduct them.

Facebook D&D Poll Table of Contents

Do DMs like the idea of passive monster initiative?

Question: "D&D DMs: Jeremy Crawford mentioned the idea of running monster initiative as a passive 10+dex to save time instead of rolling for initiative. What do you think of this idea?"

Poll posted 12 September 2017, 817 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I like it"54366%
"I don't like it."27434%

Do DMs change monster hit points during combat?

Question: "5e DMs, do you regularly alter monster hit points during combat?"

Poll posted 1 September 2017, 523 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"Yes, I both increase and decrease hit points during combat."36870%
"No, I don't modify a monster's hit points once the battle has started."12925%
"Yes, I increase hit points to increase the challenge."194%
"Yes, I reduce hit points to speed up combat or improve pacing."31%
"I don't even track hit points."41%

Which D&D Gameplay Pillars do Players Prefer?

Question: "D&D players, of the three pillars of D&D gameplay, which do you enjoy the most?"

Poll posted 31 August 2017, 158 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
NPC Interaction and Roleplaying9459%
Exploration and Investigation4227%

How Much Time Per Hour do DMs Prepare for Their Game?

Question: "In the following Kotaku interview, Jeremy Crawford recommends 30 minutes of prep per hour of playtime. What is your prep time to play time ratio?"

Poll posted 30 August 2017, 209 respondents.

Note, we can compare results from this survey to the results from the 2016 DM survey limiting those results to the 2,900 DMs who ran four hour games (the most common duration. The last column shows the percentage of respondents for the same preparation time block. It isn't always a perfect fit, particularly for those higher than 60 minutes prep per hour of gameplay, but it gives a reasonable comparison and seems to be pretty close.

ResponseRespondents% of total2016 survey %
I don't prepare at all. 157%2%
less than 15 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. 2311%13%
15 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. Voters for this option4019%23%
30 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. 6431%27%
60 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. 3718%22%*
90 minutes of prep time per hour of game time.84%14%**
120 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. 157%14%**
More than 120 minutes of prep time per hour of game time. 73%14%**


* For this result I combined the 3 hours per 4 hour game and 4 hours per for hour game results from the 2016 survey.

** These results all represent the 2016 DM survey's "More than four hours" or "more than 60 minutes per hour of gameplay". This is best compared by combining results "above 60 minutes per hour" from the new survey (14%) to "above 60 minutes per hour" from the original survey (14%).

How do DMs Build Encounters?

Question: "DMs, how do you balance encounters when preparing your D&D game?"

Poll posted 28 August 2017, 276 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I use monster challenge ratings as a rough gauge of difficulty and improvise encounter balance from there."15757%
"I don't really balance encounters. I choose the type and number of monsters based on the story and situation."7226%
"I use Kobold Fight Club to balance encounters."2710%
"I use another online calculator to balance encounters."124%
"I use the encounter building guidelines in the Dungeon Master's Guide."83%
"I use the new Unearthed Arcana encounter building guidelines for balancing encounters."00%

Do DMs Plan or Improvise NPCs?

Question: "5th edition Dungeon Masters, do you plan NPCs ahead of time or improvise them at the table?"

Poll posted 25 August 2017, 121 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I improvise nearly all of my NPCs at the table."43%
"I mostly improvise my NPCs at the table."3428%
"I prepare about half of my NPCs ahead of time and improvise half at the table."6352%
"I mostly prepare my NPCs ahead of time."1714%
"I prepare nearly all of my NPCs ahead of time."33%

Do DMs Roll Dice In the Open?

Question: "For 5th edition dungeon masters, do you roll your dice in the open or hide them?"

Poll posted 22 August 2017, 914 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I hide my rolls."63570%
"I roll in the open."27930%

What Level do D&D Players Typically Reach in a Campaign?

Question: "What is the highest level D&D campaign you've run or played in?"

Poll posted 17 August 2017, 269 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
1st to 3rd83%
4th to 6th4416%
7th to 9th6625%
10th to 12th3613%
13th to 15th5520%
16th to 18th207%
19th to 20th4015%

Do DMs Use the Monster Manual at the Table?

Question: "When running a D&D game, do you use the Monster Manual right at the table to look up stat blocks? Do you reformat and reprint them? Do you use some digital tool to look them up?"

Poll posted 12 August 2017, 453 respondents

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I use the Monster Manual at the table."31670%
"I reformat and reprint monster stat blocks for use at the table."7416%
"I use some digital tool to look up monster stat blocks at the table."5211%
"I use something else to look up monster stat blocks at the table."112%

Do DMs Enjoy Preparing D&D Games?

Question: "Do you enjoy preparing your D&D game?"

Poll posted 5 August 2017, 427 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total

How Many DMs Have to Deal With Disruptive Players?

Question: "Do you regularly have to deal with disruptive players?"

Poll posted 30 July 2017, 82 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total

How Many D&D Players Play in the Adventurer's League?

Question: "Do you play in D&D Adventurer's League Organized Play games whether real life or online?"

Posted 23 July 2017, 427 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total

Do DMs Roll for Monster Damage or Use Static Damage?

Question: "When running a D&D monster, do you roll for monster damage or use the listed static damage?"

Poll posted 15 July 2017, 530 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I roll for damage."47990%
"I use the listed average damage."5110%

How do DMs Use Published Adventures?

Question: "How do you use the official published hardback D&D adventures (Curse of Strahd, Storm King's Thunder, Out of the Abyss, etc)?"

Poll posted 10 June 2017, 169 respondents.

ResponseRespondents% of total
"I do not run the official published hardback D&D adventures.7142%
"I moderately alter published adventures to fit my campaign.4426%
"I run them as they are written with very few changes.3621%
"I significantly alter published adventures to fit my campaign.1811%

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