When two or more characters work together as a team, they build support betwixt
themselves. Support levels progress from nonexistence to C (a respected teammate),
then to B (a close friend), and are capped at A (one who is considered
family); several different things build support. Firstly, if the characters participate in a
battle together and are victorious, 1 support point is awarded.
Secondly, if the characters solve a field puzzle together (as opposed to one
character completing a simple field task), this will also earn them 1 support point. Thirdly, 1
support point is awarded to a team of characters when they complete a particular story
arc—to be more specific, story arcs usually culminate in the characters receiving one
permanent base stat increase apiece. Lastly, the Maestro
may award support points for specific occurrences in role playing, which will
more likely be between pairs of characters rather than the entire party,
allowing party support levels to differ. However, a single support point is always earned between
at least two characters, so a given character cannot have more or fewer support
points with someone than that person has with them.
To go from n/a to C, a pair of characters needs 11 support points. To climb from C to B, the duo needs 22 more points. To get from B to A, an additional 42 points are needed. This puts the total required to get from n/a to A at 75 support points. Thus, support is not built very quickly.
Support is primarily for player characters, but sometimes non-player characters may have built support between themselves; if so, this will start out at a certain level, and will not change throughout the course of the game. This is because non-player characters are not normally involved in enough battles for their support levels to increase; if the Maestro wishes to design a story arc that involves one or more NPCs all the way through, then an exception can be made, and non-player characters could be allowed to build more support, or the players could be allowed to build support with one or more NPCs. It would also be possible for a player character to begin a game already having a support level with an NPC, based on the characters' backstories; support between different player characters, however, should usually be earned in-game so as not to begin with an unfair advantage.
If a boss battle involves more than one boss character, then these characters may have a support level built between them, but this is not required.
Unlike character levels and weapon levels, which, once earned, are permanent, support levels can
be decreased. However, this is slightly more complicated than just subtracting
A support point of -1 is "awarded" when characters who have built support complete a battle on opposing sides (which means that one of them will have died, but we're working under the assumption that they would later be revived). Negative points can also come from the field, but would probably not be in the form of puzzles—more likely, a dramatic revelation by one character would shock the other so much (and be so out of their favor) that a negative support point would be appropriate. Following such revelations, further negative points might come more easily, such as with each opportunity that one character takes to continue to oppose the other instead of reconciling.
If the two characters have some support points at the time—for example, if they are at a C support level with 19/22 points toward B level—then negative support points simply subtract from the total—so the example would go down to 18/22. However, a full support level does not actually break until the total of negative points earned reaches the same number as the positive total necessary to reach that support level in the first place. This means that if two characters have a C support level, their support points must progress downward from 0/11 and reach a total of -11/11 for the C support level to break and return to "n/a." To follow through, it takes a marked total of -22 support points to break a B support level, and -42 to break an A level.
There are no negative support levels, so characters with an "n/a" support relationship cannot earn negative points.
Even if two teams of characters enter into battle against one another as a form of friendly competition, they still get negative support points, which falls under the same justification as support being buildable between characters who are supposed to be enemies.
When a support level is broken, "(broken)" will be written after the resulting lower level. If positive support points are then earned toward repairing the broken support level, then instead of beginning at 1/11, 1/22, and 1/42, the count will begin at -10/11, -21/22, or -41/42, making the repaired support level twice as hard to earn as a regular one.
Because making and breaking support takes so long, an entire game of Arpeggio (with the players progressing from Level 0 to Level 55) can be built around the idea of a major betrayal. In practice, games will probably not last this long.
When two characters who have support built between them enter a battle, the
characters receive Stat Increases at the battle's onset; there is
no further effect later in to the battle. The stats that are increased and the exact numbers are
determined by the two characters' Affinities: each of the eight Elements in Arpeggio
doubles as an Affinity (see below). Support bonuses are only applied to the two characters who
have built support, but if one character has built support with multiple characters (who are all
in the battle), then all of those support bonuses are activated for that character. On the other
hand, a character's own support bonus is only activated once in regard to that character. So, for
Bob has a Fire Affinity, Fred has an Earth Affinity, and Jim has a Plant Affinity. Bob has built support with both Fred and Jim, but Fred and Jim have not built support with each other. When the three battle as a team, Bob will receive the stat bonuses from Fire, Earth, and Plant Affinities, but his Fire Affinity bonus will not be doubled, even though he has support with two characters. Fred will receive the Fire and Earth bonuses, while Jim will receive the Fire and Plant bonuses.
Unfortunately, if two characters have the same Affinity, they still only receive one dose of the support bonus: there is no circumstance under which it is doubled (or anything higher). However, the normal rules for Stat Increase combining do apply, meaning that, for example, if one character has an Earth Affinity and another character has an Ice Affinity, and the two have built A-level support, then they receive a Defense Increase of 3 for 3 turns (combining Earth's 3 for 1 turn with Ice's 1 for 3 turns). If two characters who have support built between them enter a battle on opposing sides, then their support bonuses are activated, but become negative—so whichever stat would normally be Increased is instead Decreased by the same amount, for the same number of turns.
If a battle is already in progress and some characters enter it some turns in, those characters' support bonuses activate at that later time. If a latecomer has built support with someone already present, their bonuses activate at that later time even for the character(s) already present. It would also be possible for a character to have an attack that reactivates support bonuses later into the battle, but this should not be common. (Pokémon emerging from Poké Balls count as entering the battle at that time, but if the same Pokémon is switched out and sent back in, or faints and is revived, its support bonus does not activate again; just remember it as each Pokémon's bonus only being able to activate once per battle.)
An Affinity is expressed as one of the eight Elements used in the
Arpeggio system, and every character has one Affinity, no more, no less.
Affinities determine the support bonuses awarded to pairs of characters as described above, and
have no other effect. As with the answers to multiple-choice questions, the closest
match to the character's personality should be selected, even if some aspect of the
description given here is in direct opposition to said personality. It would be possible to give
a character an attack that, for example, deals damage
using the Element of their Affinity, but these kinds of abilities should be very rare—which
means that by and large, a character's Affinity has nothing to do with the
Element(s) that they use in battle, nor with their Elemental Modifiers. Instead, it's more like a
metaphorical connection: sturdy like Earth, fluid like Water, aggressive like Fire, etc.
The Maestro should be wary of players attempting to choose their characters' Affinities based on which support bonuses they want, and should discourage this in favor of matching the characters' personalities. However, if a player is unsure about what kind of character they want to make, an Affinity can be used as a starting point for their character's personality. All that being said, Affinity isn't meant to restrict a character's behavior in the way that the Alignment chart does in some tabletop games, and so if a character starts behaving differently, their Affinity does not change. Rather, at that point, the Zodiac comparison comes full circle, with the Affinity chart simply being wildly inaccurate for some characters.
The eight Affinities and their characteristics and support bonuses are:
- Earth: Characters with an Earth Affinity are simple, strong, stubborn, blunt, and enduring. They are not easily taken aback and will persist steadily toward a goal regardless of whatever shows up to stop them, but if a better option exists, they may have trouble realizing or accepting this. They are straightforward and prefer results over theories and speculation. If a character has an Earth Affinity, then a C support level will trigger a Defense Increase of 1 for 1 turn; a B level will increase Defense by 2, and an A level will increase it by 3. Example Characters: Ike, Chell, a Goomba
- Ice: Characters with an Ice Affinity are introspective and fragile; they hide themselves away, emotionally if not literally. They may intellectualize, they may be abrasive, or they may seem constantly cheerful, but underneath it all they want to cry. Their trust is slow to earn and equally slow to lose. At C-level, an Ice Affinity triggers a Defense Increase of 1 for 1 turn; at B, this lasts for 2 turns instead of 1, and at A, it lasts for 3 turns. Example Characters: Luigi, Vivian, Soren
- Water: Characters with a Water Affinity are kind, calm, and level-headed; nurturing but not naive. They tend to soothe those around them, and while their grief over loss is likely to be intense, they are very adaptable and will sooner change tactics than give up, often focusing on finding the positive in the negative. They are openly emotional but have enough self-control to avoid compromising their values. A Water Affinity triggers a Magic Increase for 1 turn, raising the stat by 1 at C-level, 2 at B, and 3 at A. Example Characters: Katara, Superman, Steven Universe
- Wind: Characters with a Wind Affinity are lighthearted, versatile, curious, and easily distracted. They prefer levity over gravity—serious situations or attitudes cause them stress, but all they want is for the weight to be lifted, so they bounce back easily. They may be socially awkward or clueless, but they always mean well and come off more as cute than annoying. A Wind Affinity triggers a Magic Increase of 1, which lasts for 1 turn at C-level, 2 turns at B, and 3 turns at A. Example Characters: Aang, Ruby Rose, Spider-Man
- Fire: Characters with a Fire Affinity are energetic, competitive, prideful, and quick to anger. They never back down from a challenge, and their disregard for danger often inspires others and lands them leadership roles, but they tend not to think ahead and are easily frustrated by failure. A Fire Affinity triggers an Attack Increase for 1 turn, raising the stat by 1 at C-level, 2 at B, and 3 at A. Example Characters: Mario, Bowser, Zuko
- Thunder: Characters with a Thunder Affinity are quiet observers who save their energy for precision strikes. They are usually seen as mysterious and intimidating; other characters have an instinctual respect for them, but because their presence screams "don't ask," they can have difficulty forming close relationships. However, they have a good sense of their own values and will not hesitate to admit mistakes, but always work to improve. A Thunder Affinity triggers an Attack Increase of 1, which lasts for 1 turn at C-level, 2 turns at B, and 3 turns at A. Example Characters: Batman, Azula, Stefan
- Poison: Characters with a Poison Affinity are streetwise and charming, know this, use it to their advantage, and often go to lengths to maintain the image. A Poison Affinity character's main interest is usually themselves, and even when they care about others they generally brush off acknowledgement of this. When things are going their way, they're patient and smug, but when the tides turn they're prone to extreme emotional reactions. A Poison Affinity triggers a Brain Increase for 1 turn, raising the stat by 1 at C-level, 2 at B, and 3 at A. Example Characters: Dimentio, Naesala, Bugs Bunny
- Plant: Characters with a Plant Affinity have particular interests, often intellectual in nature, and so long as they are able to pursue those interests, they are content regardless of the world around them. They are studious and regenerative, and make steadfast friends even if they can be absent-minded. They may have trouble picking up on the emotional states of others and once aware probably won't know what to do anyway, but their own emotions turn sour when their enthusiasm for their interests is not shared by those close to them. The Affinity triggers a Brain Increase of 1, which lasts for 1 turn at C-level, 2 turns at B, and 3 turns at A. Example Characters: Adrian Monk, Hermione Granger, Velma Dinkley