Well, this is certainly different, I've never done a sort of behind the scenes chapter of one of my stories before but it's not unheard of as I've discovered upon reading certain books. The Thrawn Trilogy, at least Heir to the Empire anyway, had a sort of "running commentary" by Zahn where you see bits and pieces of the book followed by his comments on how and why said scenes or dialogues happened the way they do.
This, of course, isn't one of those but rather a sort Perfect Files or Daizenshuu concerning the main cast and the various ideas I had for their roles, what changed, what stuck and what got axed entirely.
I'll do an alphabetical run through of the various concepts and characters so without further beating around the bush, let's get to it!
Black - Possibly the trickiest guy to nail down, not just because of needing to correctly portray him but also because of the multitude of concepts and possible ways his fights and ultimate fate would have gone about. Let's start with the characterization, anime Black is probably one of the best villains in the franchise history for a very simple reason: his supreme confidence.
Unlike many other antagonists throughout the series who talk a big game then throw a hissy fit whenever something goes awry, Black in the anime never does this. Even when the odds are starting to stack against him, he just smiles, shrugs and gets back into the fray without missing a beat. Even Vegeta stomping him at the end of episode 63 of Super only momentarily broke his stride but he was very quick to recover, a stark but appealing contrast to everyone ranging from the various RRA officers to Daimao to Vegeta,...
However, taking this nonchalance to an extreme would run the risk of him becoming repetitive or look like a total moron. Black laughing off minor to moderate setbacks is fine, him not losing a step when his plans are in genuine, serious jeopardy would only make him look like an idiot. Hence why Black never becomes genuinely afraid until the very end of my version of events.
He's also a guy who has an interesting relationship with Goku where he simultaneously hates Goku's guts but also has a deep respect for him, viewing him as the pinnacle of all Saiyan's. This obsessive love, hate relationship he has with Dragon Balls MC was key to nail down and to portray how his old tendencies clash with his ever-growing Saiyan lust for battle.
Thus, another situation that was key to nail down was to have Black's composure break convincingly before his plans really went to shit. Having Goku troll him over teasing him with even greater power only to literally snatch it away from him felt like an appropriate time to have Black have a mini-breakdown that was in-character for him before his ultimate emotional and physical downfall a chapter later.
I had a few conversations on Kanzenshuu and SpaceBattles to figure out how to make a particular aspect of Black work and that was the portal and clones. Him breaking a dimension via his power is fine, him creating clones from it doesn't. I'd posted several questions on the aforementioned sites to try and find a way to possibly have that incorporated into the story to no avail. Every attempt to try and explain the clones only made it even more convoluted.
Several people recommended the idea of the clones being other versions of Black across multiple timelines and that makes absolutely no sense. If there were so many Black's around, where are their Zamasu's? Where are the dozens of new Time Rings to bury Gowasu when he shows it to Zamasu? If there are other timelines, what's happening to them? Are they safe now that these Black's have been snatched away? It simply raised far too many questions that had nothing to do with anything so the portal and (most) of the clone concept was completely axed, I do not regret it one bit.
The idea of Black having a fakeout beam battle was something I'd come up with fairly early on as I was reading and watching the two version of the arc across the anime and manga. I thought having Black do a fake out break down to lull the good guys into a sense of security only to pull the rug out from under them would be a nice twist and would fit into the overall battle being people trying to one-up each other with brains and brawn together instead of just raw power.
In the manga, Merged Zamasu has a sort of Super Boo type attack where he unleashes a series of beams into the sky to attack multiple people at once. I decided to combine this with the beam clash fakeout and to expand it in scope to create a genuine, global level throat for Black to wear down the good guys with.
Kibito and Gowasu were a pain in the ass as they could say evacuate the Earth and help zap everyone away, leaving Black alone on the Earth and totally screwing his plans up. This is where, on the spur of the moment, the clone concept came back through the Multi-Form technique. That was, part of that concept could make it into the story in a far more believable way and it would help me cover my ass writing wise without scrapping Black's entire strategy.
A big change that was originally planned was the second phase of his fight with the others. Originally, after Goku did the fakeout with the Kaio-Ken Bomb, Vegeta, Trunks, and Gohan would've blasted Black together and managed to seriously wound him. This would've forced Black into a retreat with the others hunting him down. However, Black would've turned the tables by doing a fake out with the Taiyo-Ken, at which point he'd almost cut both Gohan AND Vegeta in-half before blasting them away.
As I was writing the post-explosion stuff, though, it felt more right to show this as Black not holding back anymore. Goku had legitimately spat in his face with the fakeout and seeing Black take the kid gloves off in sheer rage helped sell the desperation of the situation better than the good guys getting the ropes on him if you ask me.
The ways in which Black was gonna get defeated will get detailed more in the fusion and Gohan sections but needless to say, him dying as he spat out the same words as his future counterpart was always going to be how I intended for him to die.
Fusion (Vegetto, Gohanks, Vegehan,...) - I can already hear some of you say "But ekrolo! Fusion never happened!". That's right, but it very nearly did! One of the possible endings I had in mind was to make fusion work out, just as the Mafuba did. After Gohan got blasted and started running ideas through his head, he'd remember the Potara fusion but learn that Kibito's earrings were blown up, Gowasu was destroyed by Black's copy, leaving Black himself and Zamasu the only ones with a pair.
This would've had a whole scheme happen with Goku getting Black's earrings and then giving it to someone else to fuse at which point Black would get soundly defeated. A couple problems with this, firstly, Zamasu is sealed and he has one of the earrings, meaning I'd have to write a whole thing with the others letting him out but then how would they seal him back in,... similar to the portal and clones, it raised too many questions and diverted from the story.
Another issue that played a much bigger part was that it would've been generic as all fucking hell. It would've just been the ending of Fusion Reborn except with someone else doing the stomp. It was so predictable and boring that I don't regret leaving it out.
Future Zamasu - Not much to say here, the whole thing of seeing what breaks when Goku hits him during his "I'm the best thing ever in the universe!" speech #2328424 was something I came up with on the spot but him getting sealed in the Mafuba permanently was always gonna be his final fate.
Future Trunks - A smaller POV character but critical none the less. I originally had a totally different introduction to him in this story, the events of episode 63 at the start are pants-shittingly stupid with Future Trunks (somehow) randomly back in the base with Mai doing a special mission to kill Black without his help because of reasons with the random super energy bullet. None of it makes any sense and just makes me roll my eyes even years later. Hence why I was going to do a bit chronicling how Trunks gets away and him waking up as another attack is being mounted by Black and Future Zamasu at which point he'd fight them. During the scuffle Mai would break the Potara with the energy bullet, actually making that whole thing matter instead of just being pointless filler.
It was admittedly a cool concept you might wish I had put in but ultimately, it didn't really contribute much to the story besides being a fix for a stupid series of events from Super. It didn't really advance anything at all so it was never even done past a sort of concept phase. I was also still considering the fusion idea so that contributed to not having it go this way.
Him getting to ultimately kill Black was inspired by the manga but I had a couple alternate ideas for it with Trunks running him through while he's still chocking on the floor, ultimately, I settled for Trunks killing him as he's trying a last ditch effort to win.
Gohan - The guy who's baffling choice in the actual series inspired me to do this. To say Gohan has been weirdly handled in Super, alongside Krillin, would be an understatement given the fact they start then give up on fighting at least 2 or 3 times throughout the 131 episode run time. But in Ep 62, they made a big deal out of Gohan realizing nobody told him about Trunks' bad situation in the future and he follows up on this by doing nothing. Even as a guy who thinks the Gohan fanbase is one of the most obnoxious out there concerning DB AND as a guy who doesn't hold the character in super high regard, I thought this was kind of a shitty thing to do with him.
Not really surprising, Toei always inserted scenes of varying lengths to create the illusion of developing people or giving them something worthwhile to do that amounts to nothing because, just like the old days, if Toriyama has Gohan be a non-entity in the Black arc, he cannot by default actually decide "Hey! I'm not just gonna sit here and NOT help my friend!". Just like how Goten and Trunks had filler scenes in the Boo arc where they were starting to mature but because Toriyama needs them to stay dipshits, these scenes amounted to nothing.
Now that I've probably alienated some people by complaining about Super (which I am not sorry for because by and large its one of the worst DB products ever produced) let's get on to some concepts I had for him. One thing I immediately shot down was a shitty DB fanfic trope of having Gohan's massive potential suddenly get restarted so he can power up and stomp again because I guess God will strike you down if you don't regurgitate bad DB fanfic stuff like that or something.
I wanted Gohan to earn whatever power he had and since Old Kai not only unlocked all his hidden potential but also pushed it past what it was possible to do, Gohan was gonna have to work his ass off to get stronger. Thus, the idea of him prematurely getting back to his Boo arc self and training with Vegeta to surpass that was born.
I originally had the training go on for longer with Gohan getting disheartened as he hits a sort of wall with SSBlue only for Vegeta to smack it out of him but as I wrote the chapter itself, it didn't feel right as Gohan was already well into full-on training mode and whatever doubts he had would've fallen by the wayside, hence why I dropped this idea.
I also wanted his training with Vegeta to produce some more interesting results. As I was watching the Universe Survival arc and the Black arc, I noticed Vegeta blocking Black's sword and Goku's barrier to counter U9 and thought "Hey! We can have Gohan help Vegeta develop a counter for Black's weaponry!" just to produce something more interesting besides a power boost.
Them using Videl and Chi-Chi's fighting moves also comes from me browsing the DBFighterZ thread on Kanzenshuu and noticing reference images for potential mods to insert the two into the game using manga images. Since Goku, and by extension Black, never fought either of them, I thought to have Gohan and Vegeta use them would spice things up just a bit more. It would also allow Gohan to avenge Chi-Chi and by extension Goten, by having him beat Black up using moves of the family members of Gohan's he'd killed, even in another timeline.
Now onto Gohan's plan, once again, I wanted to do something besides the generic, boring DB thing and as I started running down potential things to happen, I realized with Kibito, the Microband and Gohan's smarts, I had something interesting going on there. An original plan was for Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and even Kibito to toss around the tiny Gohan, distracting Black in various ways so Gohan could jump down his throat in the midst of the chaos but I felt that keeping Gohan's gambit as a sort of surprise for the characters and the audience was far more impactful and once Gohan went in, you'd know whatever happened else was more or less fluff before Black croaked.
This way, the audience is kept in suspense to see WTH Gohan's doing and I feel this worked out for the better.
Goku - Him not using the Kaio-Ken really bugged me, a LOT. I assumed the Toei staff would just forget him stacking it on Blue ever happened and use the disease thing as a way to treat it as a one-off event that would never happen again until it does... at possibly the stupidest point to use it in the actual events.
Hence why I decided to give Goku something a little different with him being worried about using the KK Blue as it could hamper his ability to improve moving forward, an aspect of himself Goku values very highly that I can see freaking him out if he lost it. It also helped spice up Piccolo's role in what I feel is a natural way, Piccolo showed some pretty damn impressive ki control vs Frost and I thought a lot of his principles could help Goku figure out how to make, at least, the basic KK Blue work better on short notice.
The KK Blue Bomb was something I came up with as I wrote the training chapter, I was reading the Super manga for ideas and Goku focusing his aura into a punch or a Hakai seemed like something I could appropriate for my own needs, helping to create a sort of Makankosappo for Goku to use instead of a full-blown KK Blue early in the fight.
Kibito - A character whose role was greatly expanded upon. As I was reading the manga, I remembered how Beerus actually thought Kibito was behind or somehow involved with Zamasu and Black because he used to dislike humans too. I thought this was fascinating, especially after reading their manga sparring match and I decided to insert that into anime events as a past occurrence to help build something.
I even toyed around with the idea of calling this story Gohan & Kibito Save The World but Piccolo ultimately served a more natural support role over Kibito. Kibito wouldn't really be able to help with the KK Blue stuff or the Mafuba very well. Still, having Kibito head into the future made sense over Kaioshin (who's linked to Beerus' life) and having him help defeat what are essentially two evil versions of himself was a little subplot I wanted to throw for a character who is massively overlooked and not usually very interesting to boot.
Piccolo - Another cliche of DB fics is Piccolo powering up alongside the humans, usually through getting KK or some other power up. I wanted instead to emphasize the fact that Piccolo has moved on from battle, he was once just as fighting hungry as Goku or Vegeta but he's cooled off and I thought it would be much more interesting to capitalize on his knowledge, experience, and ingenuity in a supporting role to help people win while Gohan took on the more action-heavy role.
Another alternate ending I almost went with was Piccolo going to the future with Kaioshin, observing the battle vs Black in an alternate take where it went poorly and he decides to revive Future Gowasu, so U10s GoD could blast down to Earth and kill Black. This seemed like an appealing direction but then I realized it would totally destroy the point of Gohan being there, Piccolo could just do that without Gohan even coming along as Rumosh could rofl stomp Black, Zamasu and Merged Zamasu fairly easily so what's the point of Gohan being there.
It hurt the story that was about these two individually and together altering events to not just improve the fight but legitimately save the future timeline long term. Hence why I scrapped this idea in favor of giving Piccolo a reduced on-screen role, but one that had great importance regardless.