Dragon Ball Z is undeniably one of the most widely beloved anime of all time. One element of its widespread success is how unique it was for is time. Few other anime or franchises feature planet-destroying, super-human aliens capable of radiating energy and changing their hair color while moving faster than light itself on a planet that’s about to blow. Watching the series is pure wish-fulfillment — and fans who want to go a step further can live their Dragon Ball Z dreams through Dungeons & Dragons.
D&D players can build their characters as one of the iconic Z-Fighters or as a customized original character inspired by Dragon Ball Z. Even more remarkable, there are multiple ways of creating this type of character, depending on how open the DM is to Unearthed Arcana and homebrew material.
Arguably the most straightforward method of creating Dragon Ball Z characters in Dungeons & Dragons, there is plenty of homebrew content made by fans for this purpose.
D&D Wiki is a 14 year-old online home to a great library of fan content created for multiple editions of Dungeons & Dragons. Naturally, the site has an archive of homebrew material created for play inspired by Dragon Ball Z, including races, classes and equipment — ranging from Saiyans and Frost Demons to Saiyan Armor and Flying Nimbus. These allow players to create iconic heroes from the series or build an original character from that world.
It’s worth noting these classes and races become unbelievably power at higher levels. For example, the Ki Fighter class — a versatile class designed to give players access to the vast skills of the Z-Fighters and their adversaries — comes with adjusting ki attacks that increase as players advance. It’s heavily inspired by the pre-existing D&D Monk Class, which also uses Ki. However, the similarly named Ki Warrior class is even more potentially powerful. DMs need to prepare for this power imbalance should they allow homebrew Dragon Ball Z material in their campaign.
Forgoing homebrew material makes it impossible to perfectly create Goku, Piccolo, or Frieza. However, players can come very close with out-of-the-box thinking and some general flexibility. For Saiyan fighters, the class of choice should either be Monk or Fighter. Characters like Goku could get away with using a quarterstaff as a substitute for his Power Pole, especially in the Fighter class.
Monks allow Saiyans to use ki blasts and focus on unarmed attacks. When a monk reaches their Monastic Tradition, players can choose the Sun Soul tradition, which will grant them a great deal of energy-focused attacks, like Radiant Sun Bolt and Searing Sunburst. Monks also have increased mobility to rapidly hit, evade and jump incredibly far. All of this will come across in-game like something straight out of Dragon Ball Z.
On the other hand, Fighters with the unarmed fighting style from Unearthed Arcana can multi-class into magic users to create beam attacks. In-game flavor text can turn spells like Magic Missile, Scorching Ray and Sunbeam into Kamehameha or Final Flash attacks, so long as they function the same. Alternatively, players could choose the Druid class, especially if they intend to transform into a Great Ape using Beast Shape. Ultimately, it all depends on what aspect of Dragon Ball Z players wish to re-create.
Choosing or creating a class is only half of the struggle. More difficult is figuring out how to properly choose a race that grants players boosts from the various races in Dragon Ball Z. Once again, there is no perfect solution, but, so long as the DM allows players to use some flavor descriptions that take pre-existing races and cover them in a Saiyan-colored paint, there’s no reason these can’t function as Saiyans, Namekians and the rest.
Arguably, the easiest two Dragon Ball Z races to create in Dungeons & Dragons are Androids and Majins, because they somewhat already exist in the form of Warforged and Genasi. Warforged are robots that are part biological and mechanical, all capable of incredible power. Genasi are essentially genies, which fits with the Majin aesthetic.
The Saiyan Race is very similar to the Aasimar, who can temporarily transform into their Aasimar form. While the official Wizards of the Coast listing features Aasimar sprouting spiritual wings, players can easily flavor text this into either a Kaio-Ken or Super Saiyan.
The other races are a little harder. Namekians and Frieza’s races in particular are challenging. If players insist on building one of these two, homebrew versions might be essential. However, if the DM won’t allow homebrew material, players may need to compromise and accept substitutes. The best substitute for the Namekians is the Gith, an extra-planar race wise beyond years. If they want a brutal fighter Namekian, go with Githyanki, while the wiser, more technically advanced Namekian should be a Githzerai. As for Frieza’s race, players can create either a Simic Hybrid or Shifter.
With these tips, Dragon Ball Z can achieve major wish-fulfillment in D&D.
Everyone wants to take part in the wish-fulfillment fantasies of Dragon Ball Z — and they can do that through Dungeons & Dragons.