Dragonball Z Logo


Written by Michael Surbrook and Curry Coffelt



Welcome To The World Of Dragon Ball Z!

Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z (or DBZ for convenience) are two of the most popular anime/manga series to ever come out of Japan (the other contenders would have to be Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, and Urusei Yatsura,; or these days, Bleach, Inuyasha and Full Metal Alchemist). Created by Akira Toriyama in the mid-Eighties, Dragon Ball started out as a fanciful retelling of the ancient Chinese tales of Songoku, the Monkey King. With time, Dragon Ball expanded in scope. The characters aged, growing in both stature and power. Old foes died, and new ones appeared. The cast become quite large, although not all of the characters remained active—some drifted quietly into the background, while others vanished entirely. Eventually, after close to 10 years and over 750 chapters (and 41 180+ page collected volumes), Toriyama decided he had done as much with Dragon Ball as he could and drew the series to a close.

Dragon Ball versus Dragon Ball Z: Before we go further, let me make one thing clear; Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are the same thing. Toriyama's manga was named Dragon Ball throughout its run. The initial anime TV series, which covered manga Volumes 1-16, was named Dragon Ball as well. When the new series, which covered Volumes 17 to 41 premiered, it was named Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Zeta in order to differentiate it from the older TV series. I'm using Dragon Ball Z, as people are more familiar with that name. Also, since my focus in on Volumes 17-33 or so, it only makes sense that I use the same name as the second TV series.

The major difference between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is (in my opinion) the art. Toriyama's line work becomes much tighter as the series progresses. He gets away from inking in explosions with a brush—switching to thinner pen lines, he draws his characters much more angular and muscular, and gets away from the more exaggerated facial expressions to convey humor and emotion. In general, the series tends to be more serious as it progresses, getting away from the earlier lowbrow "bathroom humor" of the first few volumes to become a more serious adventure manga. Eventually it becomes highly over-the-top in regards to the fights and power levels of the main characters (and their opponents) and Toriyama mercifully ends the series before it collapses under it's own weight.

The popularity of Dragon Ball Z was such that a third TV series was eventually produced. This series, called Dragon Ball GT, does not follow anything written by Akira Toriyama, although he did create some character designs and give it his blessing. Personally, I have not seen it, and what little I've heard about it makes me think that is for the best.

What Is Dragon Ball Z Hero All About?

Dragon Ball Z Hero is my attempt to write a reasonably comprehensive, albeit simplified, role-playing guide to Akira Toriyama's manga series Dragon Ball. This guide will adapt many elements of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z into HERO System game mechanics, allowing Game Masters to use characters and other elements from the series in a variety of settings.

I hope to try and cover a lot of the major characters, races, gadgets, and genre conventions from the series. For example, I hope to offer sample Saiyajin template; a Super-Saiyajin template; a Namekjin template; notes on the different Super-Saiyajin forms; Capsule Corps data; sample vehicles (like the mini-ships used by Freezer's troops, Trunk's time machine, and the Capsule Corps spaceship); gadgets (like the Dragon Radar and Scouters) and basic information about common powers in the game.

I will admit that Dragon Ball Z Hero will not cover the entire series. I will probably concentrate on characters and situations in the manga from right after the death of Freezer to the Cell Game. I feel that this portion of the series offers the most flexibility in powers, abilities, and playability. I will also like to point out this guide presumes you know a bit about Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. I'm not going to fill it up with times lines and histories, since you kind find a lot of that on the web already (I recommend using Wikipedia's Dragon Ball section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Dragon_Ball). The different character sheets do have a background section that will give you a condensed version of the character's life in the manga.

The Rules Of Dragon Ball Z

Probably the best way to introduce Dragon Ball Z is by the basic "'rules" of the universe. Of course, these aren't Toriyama's rules, they are my rules, derived from the general look and feel of the manga.

1) You are tougher than your environment—This is proved time and time again in the series as Goku and company are smashed through mountains, walls, trees and what not with few ill effects.

2) You are NOT the baddest bad ass in town—No matter how tough you are, there is always someone tougher or more powerful waiting in the wings. Goku and Piccolo defeat Raditz only to encounter Nappa, then Vegita, then Freezer, then....

3. Size is not an indicator of power—Goku was a short little kid who could wallop most anyone at the start of Dragon Ball. Kulilin is the shortest of the Z-fighters and is also one of the most powerful. Freezer's final form was rather short and very slim, yet he could whip almost anyone at that point.

4. Power is often an indicator of size—The bigger they are, the harder they hit. Piccolo, Cell, Buu; these guys are very powerful and all of them are fairly tall and/or broad.

5. The best weapons aren't guns and swords, it's fists and chi blasts—Guns are useless in Dragon Ball. Most major characters are virtually immune (or unhitable) by people with firearms, and the damage they can dish out is far in excess of even the largest bombs. Even Trunks abandons his sword after training in the Room of Spirit and Time.

6. Be prepared for weird science—Cybermen are grown from small_caps seeds and a drop of water in a matter of minutes. Vegita trains in a 100 G room. Hovercraft, reactionless drive starships, highly advanced cybernetics, genetic engineering, and devices (such as planes) that can be collapsed down to the size of a large pill. Dragon Ball Z is full of outlandish science and technology, most of which is there just to move the plot along.

7. It's a universe full of Star Trek aliens—and just like Star Trek, there are almost no non-humanoid races in the series. On top of that, aliens can interbreed—witness Goku and Chi Chi's children (Gohan and Goten) as well as Vegita and Bulma's (Trunks and Bra).

Now that that's out of the way... On with the show!




Note that this list is by no means complete, and does not present any characters introduced after the Cell Game.

The Dragonball Spine Image

Credits: I would like to thank Curtis Hoffman, one-time maintainer of the now-defunct Akira Toriyama Superdatabase and Ian Kelly who ran the equally defunct The Dragon World website, for all the work they did in putting information on the web, enabling me to create this page.

This is an unofficial RPG adaption. It was made by fans for fans, without the consent or knowledge of Akira Toriyama or any of the other copyright holders. This RPG adaption was made, and is distributed, for personal use only. It cannot be distributed for profit or included in any distribution media other than the Internet or private BBS systems. This RPG adaption cannot be distributed on printed matter. You are allowed to print a few copies for personal use of your RPG gaming group only.

Return to the HERO System Worldbooks

Surbrook's Stuff is maintained by webmaster Michael Surbrook. If you like what you see, please send him your comments about the page.