While I’m sure we all love the fantastic battles of Dragon Ball, DBU is, at its heart, a role playing game. There are plenty of things you should be doing outside of Combat Encounters and this section of the ARC Guide exists to help facilitate those all-important non-combat role playing sessions.


Below is a set of advice on how to use the various mechanics of the DBU system outside of a Combat Encounter. As always, these are mere suggestions from our experience with this system. An ARC may feel free to ignore these entirely and run it how they will, but we hope that these suggestions will, at the very least, spark ideas on how an ARC would like to run a DBU campaign.


Outside of a Combat Encounter, it’s generally believed that Skills are king. For most encounters, you will be using Skills in response to situations that require them. You may be asked to use Athletics to lift up a giant boulder (Easy), Acrobatics to put on a stunning display of movement to wow a disinterested crowd (Medium), or perhaps Knowledge (Biology) to become aware of Blutz Waves, their effects on Saiyans, and how that could perhaps lead a Super Saiyan to an even greater power (Hard).

A general suggestion regarding Skill Checks is to not inform the players of the Difficulty Category, as certain characters with particularly high Skill Ranks in said Skill may opt to try and ‘take over’ for a Skill Check, undermining the other player’s attempt. Of course, after a failure, they can do this anyways but generally you should allow even characters with a low Skill Rank to attempt a Skill Check by their in-character actions, as they could always score a Critical Result.

Difficulty TNs. It can be a little hard to understand what Difficulty Category you would give to some Skill Checks outside of a Combat Encounter. The easiest way to look at it is this: the category names, such as ‘Very Easy’, ‘Easy’, ‘Medium’, ‘Hard’, etc… Are from the perspective of a character with at least 3 Skill Ranks in that respective Skill and at least some major commitment to the respective Attribute. This is a scale designated for the intense highs and lows of Dragon Ball, both in power and shows of skill (such as multiple characters being able to create machinery that influences the flow of time in one way or another) and as such, you should generally be rather liberal with how effective certain Skill Checks are – especially for any Skill Checks that do not use Scholarship, Insight or Personality as their main Attribute.

Of course, it is ultimately up to your ARC to decide what Difficulty Category each Skill Check should be based on the scale of their campaign and what they would like each character to be capable of, but for a general idea, here are some examples we think may help:

  • Athletics to lift up a boulder the size of a house (Easy).
  • Perception to hear a distant voice (Medium).
  • Profession (Farming) or Athletics to till farmland (Medium), this could become (Easy) or (Very Easy) if a character has something that could make it easier – such as the Four Witches Technique or being of the Enormous Size Category.
  • An Intimidation Check to stop a mob of ‘heroes’ from attacking you (Hard), though it may become (Easy) if you’ve already shown your excessive strength through eliminating one of them.
  • An Athletics Check to represent running a great distance without losing stamina (Easy), though if it’s for a great distance like Snake-Way, perhaps it could be a Scaling Skill Check (see below) to mark how much distance was covered.
  • A Piloting Skill Check to take a Spaceship through a group of comets for more expedited travel, or to escape a threat (anywhere from Medium to Very Hard, depending on how dangerous you want the route to be).
  • A Clairvoyance Skill Check to read the deep intricacies of a character’s Alignment, even over a huge distance (Very Hard).
  • A Stealth Skill Check to attempt and sneak by distracted guards (Easy), perhaps even (Very Easy) if there’s cover.
  • A Knowledge Skill Check to remember something about your chosen topic (Easy), though if it’s something very niche that only few people could know then it may perhaps be (Hard).
  • A Creature Handling Skill Check to tame a dinosaur would be (Hard), though if you’ve proven your physical superiority in some manner or another, then it could be dropped down to (Easy).

In essence, don’t be afraid to make Skill Checks something that may be very hard for the players to beat every now and then (though it should generally be a rare circumstance), but allow them to reduce their Difficulty Category by using their role play to better their circumstances. As the last example showed, a dinosaur is a fearsome creature who, in the Dragon Ball world, would typically be an apex predator. Taming one would not be easy, yet a comical show of strength establishing the player as a more dominant and fearsome entity could make the creature more submissive out of a survival instinct! Or, just because it’s funny. As long as it fits your campaign, don’t be scared of adding in some laughs here and there (as long as it’s something you think your players will actively enjoy).

Scaling Skill Checks. Sometimes, a Skill Check isn’t exactly ‘pass/fail’. You might be using Knowledge or Investigation to try and gain information on a runaway Bio-Android or trying to use Persuasion to help drag a bunch of unruly Saiyans into your plan to storm a tyrant’s ship. These situations are not ‘all or nothing’, you may find out some small pieces of information to help inform you on your next move but miss out on some others, or only gain a small following of Saiyans rather than gain all of them or none of them. For Skill Checks like this, do not set a typical Difficulty Category but instead allow for varying degrees of success based on which Difficulty Categories were exceeded by the Skill Check.

For instance, if in the two examples shown, you could set a general Difficulty Category requirement of ‘Easy’ to gain at least some information or to encourage at least one Saiyan to follow in their plans, but for each Difficult Category met by the Skill Check above that, you give more information and more Saiyan companions respectively. At a Very Hard or Nearly Impossible level, maybe they find enough clues to directly lead them to the Bio-Android or gather enough Saiyan allies to form a Minion Horde (see – Horde Battle rules).

Using Crafting. Crafting in the DBU system is fairly simple, mainly due to the system’s inherent focus on the ‘Z’ and above level of Dragon Ball. There are some ways to make it more interesting, however:

  • You could require characters to find special materials to create certain pieces of [Tech], which can be a small adventure in and of itself.
  • If not for materials themselves, you could have characters work for money to purchase the necessary materials, allowing for fun events such as having the super powered players work as bodyguards for a day!
  • You could have characters hunt for Blueprints, or gain them as rewards for their actions and otherwise limit which [Tech] they can produce without them.
  • When making a Vehicle or Battle Jacket, you could break the Crafting process down into several steps – requiring Skill Checks to move materials, break them apart and put the different sections together. If you do this, try to focus each segment on each player’s different Skills, allowing everyone to participate.

Social Interactions

Dealing with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) is an especially important aspect of role play outside of a Combat Encounter. Players can form alliances, turn enemies into friends, gain special benefits, and maybe even be taken under the wing of an NPC as an apprentice.

Generally, the core rule of thumb with dealing with social interactions between characters is to play those characters. Allow their personalities to decide what is effective and what is not, prioritizing what characters have said rather than what they roll with any dice. Of course, this is still a dice-centric game, so you shouldn’t be scared of having some key decisions come down to rolls, either!

Skill Checks in Social. You should allow players to request the ability to roll Skill Checks such as Persuasion, Intimidation, Intuition, Bluff, Performance or Perception freely in social exchanges, though do not allow another player to make the same Skill Check immediately after one has just been done to not undermine that evolution of the encounter. Someone who blunders their Persuasion and now has to try and talk out of it is good role play, it allows for fantastic moments where people have to think on their feet and can either spiral into a ridiculous scenario or be a tense, emotional moment where a character has to drop the pretenses and just speak honestly to try and sway someone. Good role play should always be rewarded, and social encounters are a wonderful way to scout out potential scenes for Karma Point rewards.

To set the Difficulty Category for any of these Skill Checks, you can simply decide based on the personality of the target and how they are feeling about what was actually said. Players may not be as eloquent as their characters, so rolling is always important for that aspect, but what is said cannot be overlooked either. Consider both of these factors when deciding the appropriate response from the NPC targeted by their Skill Check.

Below is an example of using multiple Skill Checks in a social encounter to help paint the picture:

  • A Saiyan has managed to contact the Northern Kaio to request information about a threat – specifically what planet they’re on and how the planet is holding up against their onslaught. The Northern Kaio seems reluctant to give out information, but the player can’t tell much more from the ARC’s depiction of the character. So, since they know they have high Intuition, they want to roll a Intuition Check to see if they can tell what emotion is behind the Northern Kaio’s reluctance. The ARC knows that the Northern Kaio has seen the horrors inflicted by the Saiyan race and therefore is not fully trusting of one, but due to that, their intent is fairly obvious so they make it an Easy Skill Check. It wouldn’t be Very Easy as the Kaio is still an ancient being with a long history of talking to people they are concerned about, but it’s still obvious enough that the Saiyan has no problem picking up on it.
  • The Saiyan, now aware that there are hints of fear and overall concern in the voice of the Kaio, puts it down to their being a Saiyan. There’s a few things they can do here, but the player wants a more educated guess. So, they ask to make a Knowledge (History) Skill Check to check on what atrocities the Saiyans have inflicted on the Northern Section of the Universe. As a Saiyan themselves, one raised by braggart Saiyans, the ARC decides this is another Easy Skill Check. The Saiyan may not have a lot of Scholarship, but their two Skill Ranks in History gives them a 50/50 chance to pass it. Unfortunately, they fail. They could use a Karma Point to increase their chances, but they’ve spent 2 in the last Combat Encounter and want to reserve their remaining 4 Karma Points for when they need them.
  • Without more information to go on, the Saiyan can only speak from the heart. They detail their experiences fighting against the threat, how they’ve learned from the mistakes of their people and how they’re not sure if any planet will be safe from this threat unless they (and their friends) track down and finish this now, before it’s too late. It’s an emotional speech, taking from the previous encounters they’ve had and friends they’ve lost during the campaign. As such, when the player asks to roll for Persuasion, the ARC simply declares that it’s already a success. It was an in-character moment, done well and deserving of the success. They could have let him roll and give a Karma Point instead, but they felt like it meant more in the moment to have the Kaio swayed by their heartfelt words. With the information given by the Kaio, the Saiyan relays what they’ve found out to their party, who now know exactly where the threat is and that the planet they’re on is fighting back against them, giving them just enough time to get there. A final thanks is given to the Kaio, before the players head to the planet at full speed.

Combat Maneuvers Outside of Combat

Outside of a Combat Encounter, it can seem difficult to use Maneuvers, as they are typically measured in terms of Action Costs. Below is a general guide on how to make use of your character’s non-Skill abilities outside of a Combat Encounter.

Translating Action Costs. Generally, you can see an Action Cost as a period of time – typically a very small period of time due to how fast Dragon Ball characters are but still, a period of time. There is no set specific number for what that period of time is, though it generally should not be escaping the clutches of a second per Action. The importance of this is that you can use most Maneuvers outside of a Combat Encounter, though ones bound by ‘once per Combat Round’ or ‘once per Combat Encounter’ should still be limited to some extent. For example, the Sense Maneuver and Holding Back Maneuver may be limited to ‘once every few minutes’ and ‘once every half an hour’ respectively. Ultimately, it is up to your ARC and what kind of campaign they intend to run to set out these exact specifics but this is an example of how it could be done.

Instant Actions, as their name suggests, happen instantly while Out-of-Sequence Actions occur as a result of an effect and therefore take as long as that effect would.

Combat Recovery should not be allowed out of Combat, as it is meant to symbolize taking a breather and attempting to regain stamina while in Combat – typically by talking to your Opponent. You already regain energy and such through the rest of the Recovery rules (see – Attacking & Conditions) for being out of a Combat Encounter.

Traits. Traits can be used freely outside of Combat Encounters, though passive effects that occur at the start of each Combat Round or Turn should be treated as if they apply every hour outside of a Combat Encounter. Effects like Battle Born, which are predicated on a Saiyan’s rising abilities during Combat, naturally do not apply for this. 

Ultimately, it’s up to your ARC to decide which abilities do and do not apply through using the almighty ARC ability of common sense and awareness on the lore (either of Dragon Ball or of their own setting) to decide how each Trait will work outside of Combat.

Magical Abilities. Generally, the easiest way to use Magical Abilities is to change the ‘Combat Round’ and ‘Combat Encounter’ in their limitations (once per x), to ‘Ten Minutes’ and ‘Hour’ respectively. Of course, spending a Karma Point should allow one to overcome this limitation if necessary, though your ARC may allow you to persuade them to allow you to use it multiple times if it is simply meant to represent a larger use of one Magical Ability (such as using Magic Materialization multiple times to create a large stack of Apparel for the group to wear).

Ki Points are spent as usual when using Magical Abilities, though their Ki Point Cost is reduced by -1/2 while outside of a Combat Encounter, due to lacking the stressful environment.

Additionally, some Magical Abilities (Precognition, Gravity Manipulation, Telekinesis, etc) may be capable of more than their written effects outside of a Combat Encounter, where a character has more time to focus. As an ARC, don’t be afraid to allow people to use Magical Abilities in creative and narratively-focused ways, even if it isn’t directly what that Magical Ability can do by its written effects.

Attacking outside of Combat Encounters. At what point does an ambush become a Combat Encounter? Well, if all of the players jump out at the same time against an enemy (or a group of enemies against a player), then you could follow the rules for a Surprise Round (see – Actions & Combat) but if a player uses an Attacking Maneuver against a character with no warning, or in a way that would blow everyone’s cover, that’s a different matter.

Follow the typical rules for that Attacking Maneuver against the target, then simply start a Combat Encounter immediately afterwards if any enemies remain. Usually, if a Target did not see this coming, they will suffer from Guard Down against this Attacking Maneuver.

Rewarding Players

Giving Power Levels is one way to reward players, as Progression will show, but there are other ways you can reward players for their good deeds and by making choices to befriend NPCs. The most obvious is by giving them Dev Points to build their own Base and reap its benefits, but you could do far more than that. You can grant them Special Items, give them Special Apparel Qualities for a new set of Apparel or even Legendary Ingredients. You could even give them special Minions, such as through befriending a Saibaman. You could even get creative, make your own Special Items or Special Apparel Qualities or anything else the system may provide (though we suggest playing with the system some before you think of adding anything to it, to make yourself aware of how certain mechanics are balanced).

Don’t feel pigeonholed into thinking Power Levels are the only reward, the system has a large number of tools that can be used to make characters feel as if their actions mattered and to encourage further role play of that ilk.

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