Core Rules

The following are the main, essential rules that form the base of the entire DBU system. Here, you will learn how each of these rules affects general and specific game functions. The better you comprehend and absorb them, the easier it will be working within the DBU engine. Every rule on this page will always be applied to every instance during game play, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Remember, as stated in the Core Concepts, specific rules will also supersede general rules in nearly every case.

While reading these rules, you will come across many terms. There are cases where some terms might be used before they are defined. In these situations, we will provide bracketed references that will direct you to the correct pages for more information.

We will start with the three-step ‘how-to-play’ guidelines – the fundamental framework for everything that happens in the DBU system.

How to play. These simple steps apply for all situations, whether you are cautiously searching for an artifact, monologuing with a villain, or in a pitched battle against a gang of saibamen.

Defender Wins. In the case of a tie between two or more players, the defender always wins. If in any circumstance this rule seems inappropriate, the participant with the highest bonus, roll, Skill, or Attribute might win.

Specific Over General. Specific rules hold rank over general rules, meaning if a general rule says, “Target Number is 9” but a specific rule says “Target Number is 6”, the specific rule would supersede the general rule. If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

Minimums. There will be times when a rule or situation arises that will reduce a numeric value to 0 or less. In these circumstances, unless a specific rule states otherwise, you will always have a minimum numeric value of 0 from any sources that you have been entitled to. No rule can cause you to have a negative numeric value, or take away all your dice.

Combat Round. When a Trait, Talent or other effect says that an effect ends in or lasts for x amount of Combat Rounds, it means that it will end at the start of your turn in x amount of Combat Rounds after the current Combat Round has ended. For instance, if you have an effect that will end in 2 Combat Rounds, you finish the current Combat Round, finish the next Combat Round and then on the Combat Round after that one, at the start of your turn, the effect will end.

The Rule of One. You will come across many ways to reduce the costs, requirements, or other such restrictions for abilities, attacks, and other similar capabilities. Regardless of the rules, Trait, guide, or other sources, you are always required to spend at least one of the relevant type of point to use or purchase capabilities.

This rule excludes examples that are inherently (before modifiers) 0 – such as the Ki Point Cost for the Telepathy Magical Ability (See – Spellbook).

Effect Treatment. If an effect possesses the phrase ‘treated as if’, it means that other effects activate as if you were in the described state while not actually entering whatever state.

Aptitudes. Your Aptitudes are values derived from your Attributes which are pertinent to combat. Haste, Awareness, Impulsive, Corporeal, Morale, Cognitive, Defense Value, Initiative, and Soak are Aptitudes. It is important to keep track of these Aptitudes as they may change during combat.

Double Dip. You cannot gain any specific instance of a Trait, Talent or Proficiency more than once, unless specifically specified otherwise. Here is a list of examples to help you understand this rule:

  • You cannot gain more than one Saving Throw Proficiency per Saving Throw.
  • Techniques cannot gain the same Advantage or Disadvantage multiple times, but you may choose to increase the rank of a particular Advantage or Disadvantage. This presents a good example of an exception to the rule, as the Stat Boosting Advantage explicitly allows you to select it multiple times for different Attributes.
  • You cannot select any option from a selection of effects multiple times, even if you can apply that effect multiple times at the moment of use such as through the Archwizard or Master of Martial Arts talents. These talents allow you to apply an additional Advantage but you cannot select this option more than once for a single instance of a Signature Technique being used.
  • You cannot gain a single Talent more than once, even if that talent has a selection of different effects when you gain them. The Archetype Focus Talent only allows you to reduce the Critical Target for a single type of Attacking Maneuver but you cannot gain Archetype Focus multiple times to cover each different type of Attacking Maneuver.
  • Selections from a single Trait cannot be gained more than once. If you would gain the option to select from a specific Trait’s choices again, you must pick different choices.

Round Down. In DBU, a lot of values are multiplied and divided. When you divide any value, if it reaches a fraction then it is rounded down, unless otherwise stated.

Allies and Opponents. When in a Combat Encounter, characters other than your own are categorized into ‘allies’ or ‘opponents’. An ally is a character definitely on your side, striving towards the same objective or fighting against the same opponent. An opponent is any character except your own that is not an ally.

A character can become an ally or an opponent during a Combat Encounter, changing their dynamics within the Combat Encounter. This has to be announced, as a great number of effects within the system refer directly to either ‘opponents’ or ‘allies’.

You are not considered your own ally, as both ‘ally’ and ‘opponent’ refer purely to other characters.

Willing Failure. When making any dice roll, you may decide to make your Dice Score 0. This rule does not apply to the Morale Saving Throw to enter Fury.

Resources. Outside of Life Points and Ki Points, there are various resources that can be gained through Traits, Talents and other effects. A Resource is any stackable bonus that grants one or more benefits for each stack of it. For example, the Battle Born Trait gains stacks of Battle Born, which are a Resource as each one increases a specific Combat Roll by +1(T).

You lose all Resources at the end of each Combat Encounter. If you gain any Resources from a Transformation, you lose all instances of that Resource when you leave that Transformation for any reason – even if you are transforming to a higher stage of that Transformation.

Ki Point Cost. Most Maneuvers will include an amount of Ki Points you must ‘pay’ or ‘spend’ to use the Maneuver. This is known as the Ki Point Cost. Any additional payments in Ki Points as part of that Maneuver are considered as part of that Ki Point Cost and added on before any reductions to the Ki Point Cost occur. Effects that are separate from that Ki Point Cost, originating from a Trait, Talent or other effect that occur when using that Maneuver but do not explicitly increase the Ki Point Cost are not considered as part of that Ki Point Cost.

Movement. Effects that move one character from one Square to another Square on the Battle Map are known as ‘Movement’. You can move your character through a number of effects (primarily the Movement Maneuver) and even move other characters through certain effects. When one character uses an effect to move another character, reduce the number of squares they move by -1(T) for every Size Category larger the targeted character is.

  • Collision with Terrain. If an effect used by one character moves another character into a Square occupied by Terrain (either as the final destination or along the path of their movement), the moved character must make a Corporeal Save, TN Medium. If they succeed, they stop at that piece of Terrain and take 1/2 damage from the collision (see – Hardness, Battle Terrain). If they fail, they continue through the Terrain for as much of the Movement as possible (as long as the character who moved them has a Tier of Power that is equal to -1 the Hardness Level or higher) and receive the full damage from the collision.
  • Collision with another Character. If an effect used by one character moves another character into a Square occupied by another character (either as the final destination or along the path of their movement), the character in the way of the moved character must make a Impulsive Save, TN Medium. If they succeed, they act as if they are not in the way of the moved character and the moved character passes by them. If they fail, they are struck by the moved character and each character takes 1(T) Standard Damage for every 2 squares moved by the moved character, using the Tier of Power from the attacker, up to a maximum of 6(T) damage – the Tier of Power used for this calculation is that of the character who initiated the Movement. Both the moved character and the struck character must then make an Acrobatics or Athletics (they decide) Skill Check, TN Medium. If they succeed, nothing happens. If they fail, they are knocked Prone. The moved character is placed at the Square adjacent to the character who was struck, along the path of their Movement.

    If a character uses the Willing Failure rule to allow themselves to be hit by the moved character, they may make an Opposed Force or Spirit (whichever is higher) Ability Check against the character who initiated the Movement instead. If they fail, follow through as normal. If they succeed, they stop the momentum of the moved character and the moved character is placed at the Square adjacent to the character who was struck, along the path of their Movement.

Gaining Transformations. One of the core aspects of the game, and indeed, all of Dragon Ball, is transformations. Transformations are only accessible with ARC permission, unless they are granted by a Trait or effect. Most of the time, the ARC will give you access to a Transformation during a narrative event in the story, but they may also allow it with Downtime Training. Discuss with your ARC how you want to obtain your Transformations. Legendary Forms have conditions to be used to unlock them, but your ARC may choose to use different conditions if they feel it fits better.

1. The Architect describes the environment and the world – The Architect tells you about your surroundings, your characters, and what is near you, presenting a basic variety of options for you to choose from.
2. You decide and describe what you want to do – Maybe a party leader speaks for the whole group, “We’ll attack the target on the left,” as an example. Sometimes, different characters might do different things; while you might attack a close enemy, your friend might move to protect a critical person of interest. You don’t need to take turns during typical role-play events, however during a Combat Encounter (See – Actions & Combat), an Architect will use Initiative Order to resolve actions.  Encounters are where actions are more structured and you (and the Architect) will take turns choosing and resolving each action as it occurs, in order. This is called the Initiative Order. However, most of the time, play is fluid and flexible, adapting to the conditions of the scenario.
3. The Architect narrates the results of action – The results of one action often will lead to another decision or action, which brings you back to step one.

Your actions take place in your group’s and the Architect’s imaginations, relying on the ARC’s verbal imagery. Some Architects might use music, objects, sound effects, and other means to set the mood. An ARC might also use different voices for different villains, monsters and other characters. Additionally, an Architect might use a grid map and miniatures to represent each character involved in a scene to help keep track of events taking place.


The Dice. The DBU game uses polyhedral dice – you can find these types of dice at nearly any game store as well as a lot of bookstores. The game uses a specific number-sided dice in all instances. A die is referred to as a d6 or a d10, where the letter ‘d’ stands for die and the numerical value stands for the number of sides it has. For example, when asked to roll 3d10+1d4 you will roll three ten-sided dice and one four-sided dice.

When rolling dice for any reason you are always entitled to at least 1d10. As an example, if you are rolling 1d10+1d6 and are subjected to Penalization Dice you would keep the natural result of the d10 and lose the d6 result. However, if you were rolling 2d10+1d6, you would lose one of the d10s.

Dice Types. There are several dice types in the DBU, described below:

  • Natural Result (NR) is the face-up numeric value shown on the dice after it is rolled.
  • Dice Score (DS) is the total value of all Natural Results from a specific roll, plus any additional bonuses or modifiers.
  • Extra Dice (ED) are additional dice added to a roll. There are rules, such as Tier of Power (See – Below), which will grant you Extra Dice. In these cases, the bonus will be described as +xdn, where x is the amount of dice you roll and n is the number of faces present on that dice.
  • Dropped Dice (DD) are dice removed from a specific roll. BEFORE you roll, you remove a designated number of dice. 
  • Penalization Dice (PD) are dice removed from a specific roll. AFTER you roll, you remove a designated number of dice. The value of the rolled dice is removed from the Dice Score. Typically, a rule will specify which dice would be removed.
  • Repeat Dice (RD) are dice that are re-rolled. When asked to re-roll a die, separate the previous roll from the Dice Score and re-roll the associated dice, then add the new result onto the Dice Score. The second result is always kept and you can NEVER re-roll a die that has already been re-rolled.
  • Solid Dice (SD) are dice that can NOT score Critical or Botch results.

Dice Rules. When rolling a die, there are certain rules that need to be remembered, described below:

  • Critical Result. When you roll a d10 and the Natural Result is a 10, you score a Critical; a Critical allows you to roll 1 additional d10 and add its Natural Result to that Dice Score. Only d10s can score a Critical Result and the extra 1d10 from a Critical Result is Solid Dice.
  • Critical Target. Some Traits, Talents and other effects may reduce your ‘Critical Target’. A Critical Target is the minimum Natural Result required on a d10 to score a Critical Result. By default, all non-Solid d10s rolled have a Critical Target of 10. For example, if you have a Critical Target of 9 on your Strike Rolls, you score a Critical Result on a Natural Result of 9 or 10. If your Critical Target was 8, you’d score a Critical Result on a Natural Result of 8+.

    You cannot, through any means, have a Critical Target lower than 7.
  • Botch Result. If you roll a d10 and the Natural Result is a 1, you score a Botch; a Botch reduces your total dice score by 5. Only your base d10 can score a Botch Result.
  • Keep the best. When a rule directs you to roll multiple dice and keep the highest or best result, roll these dice separate from your regular roll and add the Natural Result back in. For example, if you were to roll a 1d10+1d6 but you had a trait that allowed you to roll a 2d10 and take the highest instead, you would roll the 2d10 and take the higher Natural Result in the place of the 1d10.

    Apply these same rules but with the lower Natural Result for any rule that directs you to roll multiple dice and keep the lower Natural Result.

Dice Category. The dice used in Dragon Ball Universe are d4, d6, d8 and d10, in varying amounts. When a specific die’s Dice Category is increased that means going up a certain amount of steps in this scale – for example, if a rule gives you an Extra Dice of +1d4 and another increases that by +1 Dice Category, you’d replace the 1d4 with a 1d6. If a rule would increase the Dice Category of a die past the d10 you instead add a d4 to it, and any future Dice Category increases will affect that smaller die until it too becomes a d10 and it wraps around again.

This means Dice Categories progress like so: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d10+1d4, 1d10+1d6, 1d10+1d8, 2d10, 2d10+1d4, 2d10+1d6…

Any multiplication applied to a die, such as (T) or (bT), is maintained through Dice Category increases, and applied to all the dice that might be added due to wrapping around. So for example, a 1d10(T) that incurs a +1 Dice Category increase becomes a 1d10(T)+1d4(T).


Effect Priority. Sometimes, in DBU, multiple effects may change a certain variable in what could be conflicting ways. To help understand which one comes out on top, consider a hierarchy of a concept known as ‘Priority’. An effect with a higher priority will supersede an effect with a lower priority and thus remain dominant. In ascending order of priority, there are: base values, Aspects, Traits, Talents and Magical Abilities.

For example, the Metamorphosis transformation allows you to change your base Size Category for each stage of that transformation, but you may gain the King’s Stature Meta Trait, which can give that stage the Size Increasing (Level 2) Aspect. Since Aspects have higher priority than base values, your Size Category would be Enormous regardless of what Size Category you would have chosen previously.

Multiple effects might occur simultaneously that have set minimums (such as the Ki Point Cost reduction of Cosmic Efficiency). In this case, always use the minimum set by the effect with the highest priority.

Dice Priority. If you have multiple effects that allow you to roll 2d10 and take the highest, they do not stack and you would follow the usual process for rolling 2d10 and taking the highest. If you have multiple conflicting effects, that would cause you to roll 2d10 and take the highest and also roll 2d10 and take the lowest, they cancel out into rolling your standard 1d10, regardless of the amount of effects in either direction.

Effects like this cannot be applied to any rolls that do not use your base 1d10.


Rolls and Checks. Does your punch hurt a Saibaman, or simply miss? Will the Time Patrol officer believe an outrageous bluff? In all cases where the outcome of an action isn’t clear, the DBU engine relies on dice rolls to determine if it ends in either success or failure.

Attributes and their Modifiers are the basis for nearly all dice rolls. Ability Checks, Combat Rolls, and Saving Throws are the main kinds of rolls you will make – these types of rolls form the core rolls of the game:

  • Ability Checks are rolls that use your Attributes or Skills – making them the most varied types of rolls,
  • Combat Rolls are the Strike, Wound and Dodge Rolls you make in combat,
  • Saving Throws are the special rolls for avoiding an effect or pushing through some form of barrier.

Roll the dice and add any modifiers. Roll a d10 and add the relevant modifiers and additional dice. You may receive additional dice from your Tier of Power, Talents, Racial Traits or any number of reasons. If you are to apply them to a specific roll, then roll those dice before you apply any Modifiers. Modifiers are derived from one of the seven Attributes and any other bonuses that give a flat number. Modifiers can also come from a multitude of rules that you are entitled to or that are imposed onto you.

Compare the dice score to an opposition target. A Passive Opposition is an obstacle that is fixed, meaning something that isn’t actively trying to oppose you. It could be anything, such as lifting a heavy object, climbing a cliff, or any otherwise unchanging hindrance. The Target Number of this opposition is static and will be determined by the Architect or a rule.
An Active Opposition means the obstacle is actively attempting to oppose you. This can be an enemy combatant or any other hindrance with a varying quality. The Target Number of this type of opposition changes and will be rolled in accordance with a rule.

Target Number. The Target Number (TN) is a numeric value that represents how hard an action is to do. When you check to see if an action succeeds, you will roll dice and add any relevant modifiers or subtract penalties, then compare the Dice Score to the TN.

If the Dice Score is equal to or higher than the TN, the roll is a success – you succeed and complete the task. However, if the Dice Score is lower than the TN then it’s a failure. This means you do not overcome the objective or make any progress toward completing the task – your ARC might even give setbacks to a future task for the failure.

When you reach a new Tier of Power, the standard static (Passive Opposition) Target Numbers increase – Each Tier of Power after the first increases the passive Target Numbers by +3. This includes every Difficulty Level of Target Numbers from “very easy” to “nearly impossible.”

As a note, Skill Check TNs are calculated differently.

DifficultyBase TN
Very Easy3+
Very Hard15+
Nearly Impossible18+

Proficient Roll.  When making an Ability Check or Saving Throw with proficiency, reduce your Critical Target by -1. Additionally, increase your Dice Score by +1(T) when making an Ability Check or Saving Throw you are proficient with.

Base Value. Sometimes, a roll may refer to the ‘base’ version of an Attribute or Aptitude. When this is the case, it refers to a value that is only increased by your Attribute Modifiers before the addition of any transformations (including Manifested Powers) or other modifications (increases made by Attribute Points contribute to your base Attribute Modifiers). For example, the Full Power Boost Legendary Transformation has the Invincible Trait, which allows you to double your base Soak Value, meaning that for this effect you ignore any bonuses to your Soak Value other than what is gained through your Tenacity Modifier. You would apply this effect before any other effects, such as the Durable Form Aspect that the Transformation possesses.

Tier of Power

Tier of Power. Tier of Power is a fundamental concept in the DBU system. Whenever a bonus has a (T) involved, it means to multiply the bonus before it by your Tier of Power. For example, if you see a bonus of +2(T), that means that at Tier of Power 1, it’s a +2, at Tier of Power 2, it’s a +4 and at Tier of Power 3, it’s a +6. If you see a bonus of +1d6(T), it’s a bonus of +1d6 at Tier of Power 1, +2d6 at Tier of Power 2 and +3d6 at Tier of Power 3.

Additionally, whenever (bT) is written, it applies the rules above but it only uses your base Tier of Power – ignoring any increases or decreases to your current Tier of Power and only using what your Tier of Power is based on your Power Level.

If a Trait, Talent, Signature Technique, Magical Ability or any other effect applies a bonus or penalty using (T) or (bT) to another character, it uses the Tier of Power or base Tier of Power of the character whose effect it was to calculate any bonuses or penalties.

For each Tier of Power after the first, you gain something known as Tier of Power Extra Dice. These are added onto all rolls you make, with the exception of rolls with their own specified dice (Example: the Rapid Fire Profile or Initiative).

To help remember what Tier of Power Extra Dice you’d use, see the table below:

Power LevelTier of PowerExtra Dice

Price of Power. The Ki Point cost of Signature Techniques and Magical Abilities increase by +1/2 of their base cost for each Tier of Power after the first. For example, if your Signature Technique had a cost of 10 Ki Points, it would cost 15 Ki Points at Tier of Power 2 and 20 Ki Points at Tier of Power 3. Most other abilities have a (T) beside their Ki Point Cost, letting you know to increase it when at higher Tiers of Power.

Breakthrough. When you temporarily treat your Tier of Power as a higher value, you do not increase your Ki Point costs through Price of Power or the requirements for checks through Difficulty Levels. For instance, if you are Tier of Power 2 but have used the Thrill of the Fight Trait to treat yourself as Tier of Power 3, a TN Medium Saving Throw is still 12.


Size. The size of your character is important and can affect your Attributes and Aptitudes. Your race will give you the typical, average size that your character will be, but you can always elect to make your character smaller or larger than average to give a unique and interesting degree of creativeness. Your character can be Small, Medium or Large – check with your ARC to discuss changing the average size of your character.

SizeM Threat RangeSpeed ModifierDefense ValueSoak ModifierSquares Occupied
Nano (Example)Adjacent-6+3(T)-3(T)1
Tiny (Example)Adjacent-3+2(T)-2(T)1
Small (Example)Adjacent+0+1(T)-1(T)1
Medium (Example)Adjacent+0+0(T)+0(T)1
Large (Example)Adjacent +1 Square+0-1(T)+1(T)1
Enormous (Example)Adjacent +2 Squares+3-2(T)+2(T)2×2
Gigantic (Example)Adjacent +3 Squares+6-3(T)+3(T)4×4
Size penalties can NOT reduce any Aptitude lower than 2.

Punching Down. When attacking a target(s) that is 2 or more size categories smaller than you, increase your Wound Rolls by +1d8(T). Moreover, if the target(s) is 3 or more size categories smaller than you, all Standard Damage counts as Direct Damage.

If Punching Down has its Dice Category increased, it becomes Solid Dice.

Punching Up. When attacking a target(s) that is 2 or more size categories larger than you, increase your Strike Rolls by +1d4(T). Moreover, if that target(s) is 3 or more size categories larger than you, you do not suffer penalties when using the Called Shot Maneuver.

Gigantic Grip. The Punching Up rules do not apply towards Grapple Checks. For each Size Category you are larger than an opponent, increase your Grapple Checks to maintain a grapple by +1(T), to a maximum of +3(T).

Death and Defeat

Will to Survive. You are not defeated the instant your Life Points reach 0. If a trait, Magical Ability or other effect allows you to heal yourself, you can avoid being defeated by having your Life Points increase above 0. Additionally, once per Combat Encounter, if you are defeated and an ally uses a trait, Magical Ability or other effect to let you regain Life Points, you stop being defeated but you cannot use any actions during your next turn, even Instant Actions.

Afterlife. While your character is deceased but has retained their body in the afterlife, typically marked by a halo floating above their head, there are certain factors that come into play. Characters can be given a special permission to enter the living world despite being dead, either for great deeds they’ve accomplished or due to a state of emergency. You can only remain in the living world for 24 hours, if you have been given that permission. After that time, you are automatically returned to the afterlife.

While dead, reduce all of your Stress Tests by -1(T) and if any of your traits would reduce your Life Points, halve the amount of Life Points you would lose.

Reduce the Draining Aspect by -1 for all transformations. If you transform into a transformation or stage of a transformation with the Draining Aspect while in the living world, reduce the amount of time you can remain in the living world by -2 hours for each level of the Draining Aspect that transformation originally had.

You can only return to the living world while dead once per character.

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