I recently found myself returning to one of my all-time favorite video game franchises: Final Fantasy.
Playing the much-beloved Final Fantasy VII for the first time in over a decade has been a fun experience. Experiencing the characters and sweeping story again brings me back to my earliest introduction to what a roleplaying game (video game, tabletop, or otherwise) can be.
Many conventions from tabletop RPGs like D&D are clearly present in games like Final Fantasy VII. Each party member may have their own goals, but they have come together in their pursuit of a collective goal as well. It drives the story forward as the heroes face down countless and growing threats on their adventure.
So how would the cast of Final Fantasy VII fit into D&D 5e?
Today, we’re going to look at these iconic characters and see how they would work!
We start with Final Fantasy VII’s spiky-blonde-haired protagonist: Cloud Strife.
Wielding his colossal signature weapon, the Buster Sword, we can pretty easily reason that he’s going to be a Fighter with the Great Weapon Fighting style. As a former member of the group known as SOLDIER, it’s a safe bet that he has the “Soldier” background.
To get as much value as possible out of his massive weapon, Cloud would also want to take the Great Weapon Master feat as quickly as possible. Not only will this let him dish out some extra heavy hits, but he’ll also be able to get extra attacks when he lands a critical hit or drops an enemy.
Especially as he levels up and gains more attacks per round, Action Surge allows for even more punishment. When he hits level 20, Cloud will be able to potentially unleash a staggering total of 9 attacks (8 from his attack actions with Action Surge plus 1 more from the Great Weapon Master feat.)
How’s that for recreating his ultimate Omnislash move?
Though we should remember that Cloud also uses magic to greatly supplement his performance. Of all of the party members, he has the second-highest magic stat in the game!
Possessing great skills with both melee combat and magic makes this one easy to call…
Final Verdict: Fighter – Eldritch Knight
The no-nonsense, heavy-hitting, gun-arm-wielding leader of AVALANCHE is possibly my favorite character from Final Fantasy VII’s impressive cast.
To save the planet, Barret is willing to do whatever it takes and doesn’t hesitate to take massive (often explosive) action.
However, Barret is arguably one of the more difficult characters to place in D&D 5e.
For his background, I’m tempted to give him the Folk Hero background.
As a coal miner turned vigilante eco-warrior turned world-saver, a lot of Barret’s story in Final Fantasy VII focuses on him facing his own mistakes and accepting the consequences of them. As proven by the loyalty he inspires in those like AVALANCHE, he does have some ability to rally the common people towards a cause.
However, it’s probably a safer bet to give him the Faction Agent background from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. While Barret eventually decides that he isn’t cut out to be a leader, he’s a 100% ride-or-die ally who is a powerful sentinel in any organization or party he’s committing to.
Considering his ability to get people hyped, I’d say he’s definitely someone with a solid Charisma ability score and the Inspiring Leader feat.
As for Barret’s class…
Between his explosive methods and the fact that he literally has a gun/cannon for an arm, the Artillerist Artificer from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything would be right up his alley. Several of his in-game weapons and ultimate abilities really echo the flavor of the Artillerist class.
In FF7, Barret isn’t the one who built his gun-arm, but he is very clearly able to switch it out on the fly. With a little bit of magic RPG dust, this isn’t terribly hard to fit into your own game if you’re wanting to recreate Barret in your own game.
Final Verdict: Artificer – Artillerist
This bartender is always ready to serve an old-fashioned beatdown!
A trained martial artist, Tifa’s class in D&D 5e is a no-brainer: she’s a Monk.
Much like Monks in D&D 5e, she starts out mildly underwhelming. But as the game goes on, she’s able to chain attacks together with her ultimate ability to unleash an absolute flurry of pain on whoever is in her way.
There isn’t a background that seems to just perfectly fit Tifa’s character. I’m inclined towards the Guild Artisan background since it includes Brewers and Distillers, but it’s a little bit of a stretch. Similarly, living in the slums of Midgar might also qualify her for more of an Urchin background.
Tifa brings a great deal of technique, training, and fortitude to the party. While the Monk’s Drunken Master subclass might seem to fit because she has certainly dealt with more than a few bar fights at her job, that Monastic Tradition just seems a bit too chaotic for Tifa’s personality.
She’s driven, focused, and wholly committed to the people and causes that she cares about.
Not only does the Way of the Open Hand subclass play more to her personality, but it helps really define her knack for barraging an enemy and keeping them locked down. (This is especially true with the subclass’s Open Hand Technique feature!)
Final Verdict: Monk – Way of the Open Hand
The most powerful magic user in Final Fantasy VII (especially when it comes to healing) is capable of shining some light on any party.
Aerith lives a mostly quiet life prior to the events of FFVII that is perfect for the Hermit background. She spends her time with her mother and tending to flowers growing through the flooring of an old church. Attempting to bring some beauty to the slums of the city of Midgar, she sells flowers to those she meets.
One could very easily figure Aerith to be a Cleric of either the Light or Nature domains. But that doesn’t seem like the best fit, in my opinion.
Aerith doesn’t wear armor as the typical Cleric would. While she does get her powers from something else (in this case, the Lifestream), it’s not necessarily her faith and devotion that are letting her gain these abilities.
Instead, Aerith’s abilities are a type of birthright. Her connection to the Lifestream is something that she was born with as a descendent of a powerful magical race called The Ancients. Speaking directly with the planet, she is able to harness these energies to assist her allies.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe she’s…
Final Verdict: Sorcerer – Divine Soul
Red XIII is a little bit of a curveball for this list. This talking… uhh… wolf?… lion?… thing?… is actually quite young for his species. He dreams of being a great warrior and his story has one of the most tear-jerking moments (of which there are several…) in the entire game.
So while there isn’t an official race option in D&D 5e that would fit Red XIII, he does nestle very firmly into a class. His ties to nature and the planet under the mentorship of his adoptive grandfather, Bugenhagen, make him a great take on the Druid class.
His life in the tight-knit community of Cosmo Canyon might make the Outlander background a good option. Fitting the description in the Player’s Handbook perfectly, Red XIII’s most important bonds are to his family, tribe, and the natural world around him.
Thematically, the moon plays an important in Red XIII’s character throughout Final Fantasy VII. Between that and his character’s mixture of human and animal traits, Red XIII fits solidly within the Circle of the Moon.
Final Verdict: Druid – Circle of the Moon
Where would any party be without the quick-thinking (though stereotypically sticky-fingered) Rogue?
For the cast of Final Fantasy VII, this is the ninja Yuffie Kisaragi.
Not only is she quick and downright dangerous with her oversized shuriken (which she throws like a type of boomerang), but Yuffie is able to get tons of value out of classic Rogue abilities in the game.
Whether stealing items from enemies, dropping hard-hitting Sneak Attacks, or making a quick exit, was there any question about her being a Rogue?
Even after so many years since I last played Final Fantasy VII, I couldn’t forget the pure rage that comes from a particular scene in which she steals all of the party’s Materia. With no Materia, you’re left without the ability to cast any spells as you try to get it back from her.
Curse her sudden but inevitable betrayal!
As a master pickpocket with unmatched dexterity and a knack for finding her way both into and out of trouble…
Final Verdict: Rogue – Thief
Love him or hate him, the remote-controlled toy known as Cait Sith is a powerful spellcaster.
Cait Sith is controlled by Reeve, a double-agent within the Shinra Corporation. As far as his 5e background goes, this makes for a comfortable fit with the Spy variant of the Criminal background.
When it comes to his abilities, Cait Sith plays on the classic Gambler class of the Final Fantasy franchise. His Limit Break abilities involve dice and slots that have a wide range of effectiveness. You might deal some truly incredible damage to your enemies, but you might accidentally wipe your entire party!
On one hand, Cait Sith would make for a great example of the Wild Magic Sorcerer in D&D 5e. Any party he’s in needs to expect the unexpected just in case his abilities backfire. However, if things don’t go wrong they can end up becoming awesome. It depends on how lucky you’re feeling!
That said, Cait Sith does also join the party in possession of the “Manipulate” Materia which allows him to control enemies. If Wild Magic is less appealing to you and you’d rather focus on the character’s talents as a spy and gifted manipulator, a reskinned College of Glamour Bard could make perfect sense!
Either way, it’s hard to deny this guy’s charisma!
Final Verdict: Sorcerer – Wild Magic
Next, we come to everyone’s favorite edgy, spooky boy: Vincent Valentine.
Arguably one of the most tragic characters in the entire Final Fantasy franchise, the party finds Vincent locked away in a coffin. In his search for revenge, he brings his powerful magic abilities, a gun, and basically everything in the horror playbook along with him.
Being tied with Cait Sith for the number 3 spot of the game’s best casters (behind Aerith and Cloud), Vincent is certainly some flavor of spellcaster in D&D 5e.
Low HP and physical stats mean that Vincent is best when he’s able to keep his distance from enemies.
While his current semi-vampiric state is explained in the game as a result of being experimented upon by Professor Hojo (one of the game’s antagonists), Vincent has all the signs of a Warlock except a clear Patron.
However, it’s not a stretch to assume that he might have accepted a deal with some powerful force to enable him to get his revenge. This could have resulted in him also accepting a Dark Gift with the idea that the ends justify the means.
He’d almost certainly take the Undead Patron from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. On a similar note, it’s like the Haunted One background was made specifically for Vincent Valentine.
The specific pact gets a little weird… Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Chain don’t work quite as well for Vincent’s character. However, Pact of the Tome would give him more spells for his arsenal while the Pact of the Talisman could take the form of a locket depicting his dearest Lucrecia.
No firearms in your D&D world? He’s likely just as lethal with a crossbow!
Final Verdict: Warlock – Undead Patron
The chain-smoking, bad-temper-having, swears-like-a-sailor pilot of Final Fantasy VII is the last of the playable characters in this list.
Cid Highwind is an expert pilot and a genius when it comes to machinery, but that doesn’t mean he’s content to stay on the airship while his friends are fighting baddies. Quite the opposite – Cid is a beast on the front line!
Like Cloud, Cid would be a Fighter in D&D 5e. But unlike the game’s main hero, Cid isn’t looking to carry some massive sword into battle. Instead, he favors polearms like spears or halberds so that he can keep his enemies from getting too close while he brings the pain.
He’s most certainly going to take the Polearm Master feat which means he’s able to stick enemies as soon as they get within his reach as a reaction.
When Cloud and Tifa are briefly separated from the party, Cid steps up as the leader. He’s gruff, but he proves that he has what it takes to inspire the team and keep everyone focused on the goal. Because he wants to lead by example and takes so much on himself to do this, he really embodies the Champion archetype.
While rockets and airships are Cid’s forte in Final Fantasy VII, you could make a few cosmetic tweaks to the Sailor background to make it all fit.
While Cid can fit into just about any style of campaign with relative ease, he’d be right at home in a setting like Eberron!
Final Verdict: Fighter – Champion
Last but not least, we come to the BBEG of Final Fantasy VII himself: Sephiroth.
It just wouldn’t be right to make any list about the characters from this game without including this guy. Easily among the most popular characters in the entire franchise, Sephiroth nails what it means to be a great villain.
First and foremost, Sephiroth is an extremely powerful combatant. He effortlessly wields his sword, the roughly 7’ long Masamune, to devastating effect.
Meanwhile, he also proves to be a powerful spellcaster and talented manipulator.
Throw in his unwavering devotion to his “mother”, Jenova, (long story on that one) and you’ve got a recipe for a very dark and exceptionally dangerous Paladin.
Where Sephiroth once fought as a member of SOLDIER, he has now been pushed to total insanity in pursuit of his goals. Considering that summoning a giant meteor and ending all life on the planet is the first goal on that checklist… Yeah… I’d say he’s a pretty bad dude…
Sephiroth’s abilities and even his appearance fit the theme of an Oathbreaker Paladin perfectly. For extra “oomph” you might even look at making him a Fallen Aasimar instead of Human.
Something that once stood as light and holy that has since been corrupted to take a darker twist is his entire aesthetic.
Reskinning the standard greatsword to fit the Masamune’s look and taking the Great Weapon Master feat are simple enough starting points towards building a Sephiroth character of your own.
Final Verdict: Paladin – Oathbreaker
Well, that rounds out this list of the cast of Final Fantasy VII as D&D 5e characters.
This is a bit different than my normal content, but I figured I’d try something a little new. It’s always fun pulling characters from other mediums and translating them to D&D.
Are there any on this list that you think would be a different class?
Is there another game/series/etc. that you’d like to see another article like this for?
Let me know in the comments!
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