When a character's current HP reaches 0, the character is
rendered unconscious and completely unable to act, whether in battle or in the field.
(HP has a minimum of 0, so anything that should have turned out lower will be bumped up to 0.)
Although the character cannot act, their VP and MP are not reduced, and all Status
Problems are removed (except for drunkenness,
alcohol poisoning, and being
Feral; these are inactive while the character is dead, but return
once they are revived). All Status Benefits are also removed, however. A
currently dead character may be targeted in battle, but attacks of any kind will have no effect,
with the exception of those designed to revive dead characters, which will
restore some of the dead character's HP and thereby bring them back to life, allowing them to act
and be affected again. In the field, any item or
ability that heals any amount of HP, even if not marked "Revive," can revive dead characters, so
it's much easier to do when no longer in the heat of battle. If a dead character whose blood
alcohol level is 0.08 or higher is revived in battle, then upon revival, they
will attain a Sleep Status Ailment with a turn count of
5, but this will not happen if the character is revived in the field. If a
character is dead during the point when their teammates win a battle, then the dead character
does not receive any XP from that battle.
If a character dies during battle, and is subsequently revived, that character does not gain or lose any extra turns. This means that if a dead character is revived before the conclusion of their Phase, then they can take action after being revived, but if a character is killed after already taking an action that turn (for example, as a result of being hurt by a Burn or using a melee attack on a Spiky character), and is then revived before the Phase concludes, they cannot act again, because they already acted during that turn. A Phase concludes when all of the characters on that team who are currently alive have taken their actions; if nobody revives a dead character, they do not save up that unused turn for later, but if the last living character to act revives a dead teammate, that teammate can act that turn. (If that teammate then revives another character, that other character can also act, etc., assuming these characters have not already used up their turns.)
Items such as Life Shrooms automatically activate when a character dies and revive the character to a given amount of HP. Characters are not allowed to stay dead if they have an automatic reviving item; however, if they have more than one kind, they may choose which one activates first, and thereby choose how much HP to which they will be revived.
As in Paper Mario, characters are considered to be "in Danger" when their HP approaches
zero. In Paper Mario, the Danger Zone was always 5 HP or less (with 1 HP being considered a
more intense "Peril" zone), no matter how much HP Mario had. In Arpeggio, for player
characters, the Danger Zone begins at 3 HP, but for every time the
character increases their HP through leveling up, the Danger Zone increases by 1.
(It does not increase if the player chooses VP or MP instead.) From this, Hegel has
reverse-engineered for me the formula (maxHP/5)+1, so use that to find the
Danger Zones of non-player characters with wonky amounts of max HP, rounding where necessary.
Naturally, for many low-HP characters the Zone would just be 1 HP, but characters who only have 1
max HP are not considered to always be in Danger.
The Danger Zone itself does not do anything (if Arpeggio were a video game, it would be indicated onscreen as a warning to the player, like the annoying beeping in Pokémon). However, some specific characters may gain power or be affected in other ways when they fall into the Danger Zone. If so, this will be noted on their character sheets.
For convenience, the Danger Zone values are listed here.
- Maximum HP / Danger Zone
- 10 / 3
- 15 / 4
- 20 / 5
- 25 / 6
- 30 / 7
- 35 / 8
- 40 / 9
- 45 / 10
- 50 / 11
- 55 / 12
- 60 / 13
- 65 / 14
- 70 / 15
- 75 / 16
- 80 / 17
- 85 / 18
- 90 / 19
- 95 / 20
- 100 / 21
If a character becomes drunk, then when they wake up the next morning, their VP and MP will be empty, even if they slept in a comfortable location. HP, however, will do its normal thing per comfort or lack thereof. Blood alcohol level always returns to 0.00 after sleeping for a night, so drunkenness and alcohol poisoning will be lifted, as will all other Status Problems (except for being Feral). Once the VP and/or MP has been restored by whatever means, the hangover has no further effect. However, to prevent players from immediately going to sleep again just to heal the VP and MP, the hangover will be said to make the character unable to get to sleep until such time as the Maestro sees fit. Of course, even then, if the character wants to sleep at an inn that charges money, more money will need to be paid to stay again.
Addiction and Withdrawal
Characters may become addicted to certain substances, most often
alcoholic items (which affect blood alcohol level),
marijuana-based items (which induce a high),
cigarettes and cigars, or junk
food items like potato chips. Addiction and withdrawal take place over a period of
days; since a "day" passes when the players sleep
for the night, players may sometimes complete an entire chapter of their adventure in a
single day, and other times go through several days without accomplishing anything. Furthermore,
consumption of addictive items during consecutive days does not always result in an addiction: an
addiction only begins to be built if triggered by one of four conditions. If the
character in question suffers some trauma such as the (irreversible) death of a
loved one, then the player may choose to send the character spiraling into addiction; if no such
excuse occurs but the player wishes to get the character addicted anyway, then
this is fine as well. If the character uses addictive items often in an attempt to abuse the
trigger necessity, then the Maestro may trigger the addiction as a punishment.
Lastly, enemies may use special attacks to trigger the start of an addiction in
a character who has used an addictive item on that same day. A character may begin a game of
Arpeggio already fully addicted to a substance, in which case the trigger
occurred in the past and may and/or may not be important to the character's backstory.
Once an addiction is triggered, it progresses through 15 "levels," beginning at level 1 on the day of the trigger, with non-addicted characters essentially being at level 0. If the addicted character consumes at least one item of the kind to which they are addicted, then the addiction will progress to the next level the following day; if the character does not consume any of the item, then withdrawal symptoms will begin the next day. As the addiction grows stronger, the character will have to consume more of the addictant per day to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring: up to addiction level 8, the character must consume at least as many items as the addiction level, so two at level 2, eight at level 8, etc.; from level 9 to level 15, this minimum number remains at 8.
To be rid of an addiction, a character must go through a complete withdrawal, which means going cold turkey for a number of days equal to their current addiction level. Withdrawal symptoms during this period increase to a peak and then level back off, but consumption of even one addictant will put the addiction right back where it started, so the addiction level does not actually fall until the withdrawal is complete, at which point it drops all the way to 0. During any point of the withdrawal, the character will treat all sleeping quarters as uncomfortable, making it harder to heal HP. For a level 15 addiction, day one of withdrawal will inflict a penalty of Clever -1 and Charisma -1 (the minimum of 1 still applies to both of these), which will increase by 1 with each subsequent day up to -8, at which point both stats are essentially minimized to 1; following this, the penalty will decrease by 1 each day, from -7 back to -1, and the day after this final -1, the character will have undergone a complete withdrawal and be rid of the addiction. This is not the only penalty: in battle, during any stage of withdrawal, at the beginning of the addict's Phase of every turn, there is a 50% chance that the character will fall Asleep for 1 turn; when the Clever and Charisma penalties are past the halfway point (in this case, a range of -5 to -8, since 4 is half of 8), there is a separate 50% chance that the character will become Confused; and at the very peak of withdrawal (here, the day of the -8 penalty), the character will be considered perpetually Slow in battle (making them immune to actual Slowness or Fastness). For a lower level of addiction than 15, the same rules apply, but with the appropriate numbers; level 14 would mean a peak of two consecutive days of Clever and Charisma -7, and the character would be Slow during both of these days, but we round the half down meaning the Confusion may only occur from -5 to -7; at level 1 the character need only go through a single day of Clever and Charisma -1 and would not suffer Slowness or Confusion, but would have the 50% chance to fall Asleep; at level 2 there would be two consecutive days of -1 and possible Sleep; at level 3, the middle day would be -2 with Slowness and potential Confusion; etc.
As stated, withdrawal symptoms will occur if the addict consumes some but not enough of the addictant per day. These symptoms are somewhat different than the ones the character suffers going cold turkey: in this case, the penalty to Clever and Charisma is equal to the number of addictant items that the character still needs to consume to soothe the addiction (times negative one =P )—so if they need 8 and have only consumed 5, then Clever and Charisma will be at -3. Furthermore, during battle, the character will never be Slow, but will always have separate 50% chances of falling Asleep for 1 turn and/or becoming Confused. Sleeping quarters will still be treated as uncomfortable if the character fails to consume enough items by the end of the day. Whether or not the character consumed the necessary number of addictant items on the day prior to going cold turkey does not affect the cold turkey withdrawal symptoms.
Some characters may show the symptoms of a mental disorder either while addicted to a substance or during withdrawal, or both, but this would be specific to each character, just as a perpetual disorder would. Characters who normally have a disorder may lose it or change to a different one while addicted, and so on.
Without going through withdrawal, an addiction can only be cured by a special item called Cold Turkey, or else by miraculous curing abilities like the Star Beam or the Gladr of Rebirth.
A session of Arpeggio may be played when one or more players are unavailable, with their player character(s) running on autopilot, and the available players making any important decisions for the character(s), such as which attacks to use in battle. The justification for this in-story is a mysterious disease officially designated Egregious Guardian Angel Deficiency, or EGAD, but colloquially called "deest" (plural "desunt"). The cause of this disease is unknown even in sci-fi settings, and it tends to have a sudden onset and disappear just as quickly. When a character is in a state of deest (or when multiple characters are desunt), they lose higher brain function, able to move and speak but unable to engage in conversations or solve logical problems. The character's Brain Power is not hampered, nor are any other battle stats, but they are unable to use the Knowledge, Clever, or Charisma field stats, essentially rendering their value as 0 until the deest wears off. When it does, the character will often not have much of a memory of what happened while they were ill, although this may vary based on out-of-game conversations. Deest cannot be inflicted upon a character by attacks, abilities, or circumstances that can cause Status Problems, nor can it be cured by ones that cure them, but it almost always wears off eventually with no lasting effects. While under the condition, however, a character will not earn XP, support points, or weapon use points for any of their actions, and is also incapable of using any form or variant of the Tattle ability, due to the communication impairment. In keeping with the musical naming scheme of Arpeggio, the disease is named after an obscure musical term that can be traced back to the Latin deesse, "to be missing."
It is possible to create attacks that affect the outcome of coin flips; as examples I'll use the galdrar Bliss and Sorrow from Fire Emblem 10, which in that game affected a feature called "Biorhythm" that is absent in Arpeggio. Bliss makes all coin flips come up as heads for one turn, and Sorrow makes them all come up as tails. These, obviously, are supposed to be beneficial and detrimental respectively; however, it is slightly more complicated than that. For calculations of accuracy or the chance of an attack inflicting a Status Problem, heads is always good and tails is always bad. But, some attacks have two possible effects, listed as "Effect One OR Effect Two;" in these cases, heads will result in Effect One and tails will result in Effect Two. If one effect is good and the other is bad, the good one will most likely be Effect One, but if both can be good, then a guaranteed heads may not induce the desired effect. Particularly, attacks which may cause Instant Death or a different effect will list Instant Death as Effect Two, so if Bliss is used, Instant Death will not occur. (Of course, this could be circumvented by using Sorrow on the teammate instead of an enemy, but this would only work if the teammate's accuracy were not hampered, otherwise the attack would miss for sure.) If there are more than two possible effects, the outcome may normally be determined by a die, and in this case, the Maestro can decide to either make Bliss and Sorrow have no effect, or else have them default to the first and last effect listed, respectively, with no chance of the middle one(s) being caused. (Or make something else up.)
In Paper Mario, many of the enemies who counted as Spiky only had a single spike
directly in the center of their heads, and out of a desire for a certain verisimilitude, these
enemies can be safely targeted by any attacks in Arpeggio, explained as the attacker aiming
carefully enough (note how Bowser can be jumped on in Paper Mario, right between the horns). But
some characters are so profoundly spiky that they will deal damage to direct
attackers even in Arpeggio. Since the hammer was used to safely attack spiky foes in
Paper Mario, any weapon in Arpeggio can offer the same protection (with some
exceptions). Therefore, Spikiness only affects
unarmed melee attacks. Such an attack against a Spiky character will cause the
attacker to take 1 damage, which ignores the attacker's Defense
Power, and will fail to do anything to the Spiky target, being
interrupted before completion. However, Spiky damage does not ignore armor, so
if the attacker is wearing armor, the armor's HP will absorb the damage, and the attack
will get through.
An attacker being Spiky does not change what happens against a Spiky target. Since Spikiness is an inherent part of the character's shape, it cannot be taken away like a Status Benefit can (although for something like a Spiny, the Spikiness is actually a property of their shell, and will be lost if the shell is lost, and anyone else who wears the shell will count as Spiky while wearing it). If a Spiky character becomes Electrified, the Electrification damage takes precedence, so melee attackers will receive 1 Thunder-type damage instead of 1 non-Elemental damage, but attackers who are immune to Thunder will still be hurt by the spikes.
Made of an Element
This is for characters such as Lava Bubbles
and Embers who are composed entirely of fire and,
therefore, would be painful to touch. While fire is the most common, characters
can be made of any of the eight Elements in Arpeggio (though only one at a time). The
effect of being Made of an Element is somewhere between Spikiness and Electrification: like
Spikiness, only unarmed melee attackers are damaged, but like Electrification,
the damage is Elemental, and two characters who are made of the same Element can
freely attack each other without either being hurt. Since the damage is
Elemental, it is subject to Elemental modifiers, but being bonus damage rather than direct damage,
the modifiers are cut in half; this means that a +2 weakness results in +1 for 2
damage total, a +5 weakness in +2 for a total of 3, a resistance has no effect,
and an immunity holds, allowing characters immune to an Element to
freely attack characters who are Made of that Element.
An additional effect of being Made of an Element is that the character's own unarmed basic attack counts as Elemental. Any special attacks that are physical and melee would logically be Elemental as well, although players are allowed to create non-Elemental ones as long as they can come up with some justification for it, and so special attacks will still be assumed to be non-Elemental if no Element is indicated. Another effect is that when these characters are targeted by attacks that drain HP, VP, or MP, harmful Elemental energy is drained instead, resulting in the would-be drainer taking damage equal to how much would have otherwise been healed; this damage is Elemental, so modifiers apply (though halved again), and if the drainer is immune to the Element, then draining will work normally.
Like Spikiness, being Made of an Element is an inherent part of the character's structure and cannot be removed, and like both Spikiness and Electrification, contact damage dealt ignores Defense Power but not armor. Since damage may be higher than 1 due to Elemental weaknesses, if the damage is higher than a suit of armor's Defense value, the remaining damage is done to the attacker's HP as usual, an in such a case the attack is prevented as would happen without armor. If a character who is made of something other than Thunder actually becomes Electrified, then like with Spikiness, Electrification damage takes precedence. However, unlike Spikiness, if a character who is Made of an Element gets turned to Stone, then the Elemental effect is suspended for the duration of the Stone effect, with the logical exception of someone who is Made of Earth.
The following additional exceptions apply to the rules above:
- ~If a character is Made of Thunder, this is treated as the character always being Electrified, and therefore it affects characters who use armed melee attacks as well. If the character receives Electrification, then for the duration of the condition the character is treated as if not Made of Thunder nor Electrified, dealing no contact damage, making Electrification detrimental to these characters. They will even be shocked by other Electrified characters.
- ~If a character is Made of Poison, then in addition to taking 1 Poison-type damage, direct attackers have a 50% chance of being Poisoned for 2 turns.
- ~If a character is Made of Plant, they will retain a non-Elemental basic attack, will not inflict any contact damage, and will not cause draining attacks to deal damage. However, they are immune to Leech Seed regardless of their own Elemental Modifiers, and are healed in Harsh Sunlight by 1 HP per turn.
Because characters who are Made of Plant don't deal contact damage, they may also be
Spiky (e.g., a Pokey). If a character who
is made of any Element other than Plant is also made Spiky, the only effect this will have is to
deal Spiky damage to other characters who are made of that same
Element (or to characters who are immune to that Element); against
anyone else, they are treated as if only Made of an Element, with no increase or
other effect to their contact damage. Player characters should not be allowed to be both Made of
an Element and Spiky unless they take some kind of detriment in exchange.
Conceptually, a character can technically be composed of Elemental materials without having the effects of the corresponding "made of" condition (for example, Clefts are rock monsters, but count as merely Spiky rather than Made of Earth), or alternately a character can be made of normal biological materials but have a similar automatic Elemental defense (perhaps comparable to Gaara from Naruto). The former requires no note on the end of the character's sheet, but the latter would require a custom-written explanation for exactly how the effect works.
The transformation abilities of the laguz
(humanoids who can shapeshift into animals) from Fire Emblem 9 and 10 are accounted for in
Arpeggio with a mechanism very similar to their transformation gauge from those games.
As in Path of Radiance, the gauge is full at 20, rises by 4 per
turn and 2 more whenever the character attacks or is attacked in humanoid form,
and falls by 3 per turn and 1 per incoming/outgoing attack when
in animal form. Also, when a laguz is in animal form, their Attack Power,
Magic Power, Defense Power, Brain Power, and
the field stats Strength, Platform, Charisma,
and Weight are doubled; field stats may exceed the
normal maximum of 9 via this transformation. In the field, the gauge does not change, so
the character remains in whatever form they were in when the last battle ended (although they can
revert to humanoid form if in animal form, or enter animal form if the gauge was full). However,
if a laguz character is healed by a heal point or a night of
sleep, the gauge fills to maximum.
When the gauge reaches 20 (it cannot go any higher), the character gains the ability to transform into animal form, but if they choose not to, then the gauge remains full at 20. Once in animal form, if the gauge falls to 0 (it cannot go any lower), then the character automatically reverts to humanoid form. If the character is in animal form and the gauge is higher than 0, the character may choose to revert to humanoid form to save transformation power. Neither transforming nor reverting uses up the character's turn in battle, but a character who has done one cannot do the other on the same turn, unless the gauge is full at 20.
If a player wishes to have a similar transformation ability but does not want to be classified as a laguz, then the same gauge system can still be used for convenience. If the character is not classified as a laguz, then they will not take bonus damage from laguz-killing weapons, although the Maestro could craft similar weapons designed to deal extra damage to whatever the character is classified as. Since a Wyrmslayer affects dragon laguz as well as other kinds of Fire Emblem dragon characters, it would still affect non-laguz characters who transform into dragons (though only in dragon form). Other Fire Emblem games often have similar animal shapeshifters under different names, but these often transform using something like a magical stone that counts as a weapon, so they wouldn't need a special gauge like this.
If a player wishes to have a character who can change form on command rather than
having to charge up the laguz gauge, this is acceptable assuming that forms are not overpowered.
Since the character can change form whenever they want instead of having to wait
for the gauge to fill, the two (or more) forms should be about equal in power,
as opposed to laguz who are twice as strong in animal form. However, the forms may differ
(otherwise what's the point?), being for example an attack form and a defense form. If the player
wishes, switching between these forms can have different kinds of requirements than filling a
gauge, such as necessary items.
Whether there are such requirements or not, changing forms in mid-battle should use up that character's turn. Additionally, each different form that the character takes may have different attacks that are only usable in that form; if an attack is usable by all forms, then that attack will cost 1 AP to create as per usual, but if an attack is only usable in one form, then the player may create another attack that is only usable in the other form (and again for all forms) without spending another AP. The idea is that, in whatever form the character is currently in, they should be able to use a number of special attacks equal to their AP (obviously taking into account whether or not the character spent any of their first 3 AP on Defense Power), so as long as the character does not have access to more than this number of attacks at any given time, the total number of attacks that the character knows between all forms may exceed their number of AP. If, for example, the character has three forms and has an attack that is usable in two of those forms but not the third, then the third form may have a different attack, and so on.
Changing forms may also change a character's base battle stats and/or field stats, but in a similar vein to the above, points may only be swapped between them in such a way that the total number of points is still the same in any given form. Field stats still must range from 1 to 9, but Unique field abilities may be added or lost from one form to another (each form may only have one Unique ability, though). HP cannot be changed between forms; VP and MP may be swapped such that one form acts as a magic user and the other uses physical and/or psychic attacks, but when the character changes forms, the maximum AND current values are swapped, so changing forms does not restore any points to the overall total, and the different forms do not have separate pools of VP/MP. I'm not allowing any HP/VP/MP alterations that are more complicated than a full VP/MP swap, but other Maestri may allow this if they think they can handle the math. Attack, Magic, Defense, and Brain Powers, in contrast to field stats and HP/VP/MP, may exceed the player character maximums of 3, 4, 9, and 5 respectively for a character who can change forms, but none of these stats are allowed to drop below 0 except for Brain Power (where a negative value results in insanity as usual), and they may not exceed new maximums of 6, 8, 21, and 10 (or a minimum of -10 Brain Power for an insane character), and the total number of points spread between all four of these stats in any given form may not exceed 21. (This comes from adding the normal stat maximums all together: 3 + 4 + 9 + 5 = 21.) So, for example, for a player character starting at Level 0 who wanted to be able to switch between an offensive form and a defensive form, instead of beginning with 1 Attack, 1 Magic, 0 Defense, and 1 Brain, the character may begin with an attack form that has 3 Attack, 0 Magic, 0 Defense, and 0 Brain and a defense form that has 0 Attack, 0 Magic, 3 Defense, and 0 Brain. (This character would of course not have good defense against psychic attacks in either form.) If the character spends all 3 of their starting AP on Defense Power instead of attacks, then the attack form could have 6 Attack, 0 Magic, 0 Defense, and 0 Brain, and the defense form could have 0 Attack, 0 Magic, 6 Defense, and 0 Brain, or else maybe 0 Attack, 0 Magic, 3 Defense, and 3 Brain, but the attack form would already have maxed out its Attack stat and could not increase it later in the game. (If a starting AP is spent on Defense Power, then it is essentially just added to the overall pool and can go to Attack, Magic, Defense, or Brain Power. Alternately, it could go toward Defense Power in one form and instead become a special attack in another form, just remember that the forms will appear to have different point totals because of this.) 0 Attack does of course mean that the character will be almost completely unable to inflict any damage while in defense form, so a point or two may be left in Attack Power, but hopefully you get the idea of how the numbers should balance out between forms. When a character like this receives a permanent stat increase, then the character will need to decide which stat goes up separately for each form, and can if they so choose increase the Defense Power of the attack form and the Attack Power of the defense form, or whatever. Going back to negative Brain Power values: in the case of an insane character (even if the character is only insane in one form), negative points actually count as positive points in terms of the point total. For example, a character who had a defense form with 0 Attack, 0 Magic, 3 Defense, and 0 Brain could not also have an attack form with 6 Attack, 0 Magic, 0 Defense, and -3 Brain. Even though 6 + (-3) = 3, the negative points are obviously acting more as positive points on a different wavelength, so they each cost an AP, and the character could at most have 2 Attack, 0 Magic, 0 Defense, and -1 Brain.
Different forms may have different Affinities, mental disorders, and/or any of a million other things. In fact, the difference between forms can be so radical that they are essentially completely different characters. This could actually be incorporated into the story, with the single "character" actually being two or more characters who are somehow linked, such as being each others' selves from alternate realities who can somehow switch places, being one character who is possessed by another character, or being some kind of tag team like the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros.
The only limits to the number of forms that a character can have are the Maestro's and player's willingnesses and abilities to keep track of them.
At character creation, a player may choose to combine their HP and VP into one pool, which will most likely have a unique name based on the character, but some examples would be FP (as in Paper Mario), PP (Power Points in Pokémon, but maybe "Pool[ed] Points" here), and Aura (like in RWBY). What this means is that Level Up increases to either HP or VP will increase the same total pool by 5, and the pool's maximum value may go up to 200, while MP still functions normally as a separate pool. Because the combined pool acts as both HP and VP, damage dealt to the character will be taken out of the pool, and so will the cost of VP-fueled attacks used by the character. In essence, the character gets the benefit of a larger maximum HP pool and the detriment of having to take from it to use special attacks. One strategy for Pointpooling would be to build a character who specializes in magical attacks, largely negating the detriment of having to use up HP in order to attack, but because the player will probably have chosen to Pointpool for conceptual reasons, they will probably want to specialize in VP-fueled attacks. Naturally, attacks that target their damage at VP instead of HP will still affect the combined pool, and draining attacks will drain either HP or VP depending on which one they were supposed to target, despite damaging the same pool either way. Players are allowed to pool HP with MP instead of with VP, but this does not work as well conceptually and is therefore less common. Can all three stats be pooled into one 300-max monster? Ehhhhh... maybe.
I don't know much about this myself, but I gather that in the old Star Wars Expanded
Universe books there was a race of aliens who had no midi-chlorians and thus no connection to the
Force; I could imagine a player in Arpeggio wanting to do something similar with their character
and the magic or psychic abilities that exist. To go with magic as an example, this might mean
that the player would want the character to have zero maximum MP and never be
able to get any. If such a character started with 10 HP and 10 VP and increased both of them to
100 through leveling up, this character would be at Level 36, and since there
wouldn't be room for further level ups to do anything, this might be the maximum achievable Level
for such a character. The problem is that new special attacks are learned every five levels, so
this character would only learn a total of 10 special attacks instead of
14 (potentially minus 1-3 for starting points of Defense Power). Since starting
and ending with a maximum of 0 MP already puts the character at a disadvantage, the Maestro might
allow the character to continue leveling up purely for the purpose of
learning new attacks, with no HP/VP/MP increase occurring. Alternately, you
could keep the Level at 36 but repurpose the experience bar such that every time
it's filled to 20 again, the character learns a new special
attack immediately until achieving 14 of them. On the other hand, if
along with having no MP the character is also completely immune to magical attacks or something
like that, you might use the smaller number of special attacks as a way to balance that out.
The other consideration is that I've allowed enemies who have zero maximum VP or MP to wear one free badge for each maximum of zero, regardless of the BP cost of the badge. You could therefore follow the same rule for players, but be careful with this as a player is more likely to unfairly exploit it and wear a high-BP badge that renders their character overpowered. Of course, simply not providing the character access to such a badge is one way to stop that, but that requires some foresight.
Surrogate Leveling Up
For a character like Iron Man, I would have the suit-wearing character be unable
to Level Up, and instead the suit of armor would Level Up, gaining more HP, VP,
and MP; the character inside would remain with their starting stats (which would
be the normal player starting stats for a player character; the suit would also probably start
with such stats), and would probably not be able to do much other than attempt to revive the
armor. As such, unlike normal suits of armor that break after use, this kind would only be
temporarily disabled. Whether permanent Attack and Defense
increases apply to the suit-wearer or only the suit could perhaps vary, but the suit
would most likely have to absorb all damage or the wearer would be in danger of
dying long before the suit itself. This kind of armor would be similar to a
vehicle, but would essentially get a full character
sheet just like the wearer, having even more stats than a vehicle.
In a similar vein, a character such as a Pokémon Trainer would be unable to Level Up and would have their Pokémon do so instead. This could get complicated if the Trainer wanted to use a whole team of six Pokémon, as they would Level Up separately from one another and therefore be underleveled compared to the other player characters in the game (unless those are also Pokémon Trainers, I suppose), but carrying six Pokémon could be made possible by a weapon item called a Poké Belt or some such thing, which would allow the user to carry six Poké Balls (also weapon items) on it. This would leave room in the weapon inventory for a Pokédex and one or two other weapons that could allow the Trainer to do a bit of damage after the Pokémon have fainted. Whereas Iron Man armor would directly protect the wearer, it would be easier to bypass the Pokémon and target the Trainer, but since this is a bit unfair, it should not be too frequent. If the Trainer were to only use one Pokémon, then only one Poké Ball would be needed, and the belt could be excluded.
The experience of catching wild Pokémon could be replicated by storing unused Poké Balls in the normal inventory and only treating them as weapon items once they contain a Pokémon, but since only ten extras could be carried (and at the expense of other items), I would advise not bothering with different types of Poké Balls and giving the single type a high catch rate. Wild Pokémon could potentially start above Level 0, but be careful not to give the Trainer a chance to catch something game-breaking. Whether Pokémon can learn moves in the normal Arpeggio style or are limited to four as in their games could perhaps vary, as could the actual effects of the same move when performed by a different Pokémon. Pokémon Abilities, if important enough to bother with, would usually go in the "Notes" section of their character sheets.
I guess XP should be split between multiple participants as it is in older Pokémon games, i.e., if two Pokémon participate in a battle, each only gets half the total XP reward, and similar further divisions. Due to the small numbers used and odd numbers probably being rounded down, this can be a steep penalty, but I'm none too comfortable with giving all participants the total reward in this scenario, as one could then quite easily Level Up all six Pokémon at the same rate. But if that's what you would prefer in order to keep all of the player characters at the same Level, then that would make things easier to keep track of, so do what you like.