OstinatoArpeggio Info

Field Play

Whenever a character is not in battle mode, they are said to be "in the field." Although battles are a large part of the Arpeggio system, the field is the default state, and is akin to the actual world that the player would explore in an RPG video game. In the field, a character's battle stats, special attacks, and weapons become largely useless, and they must rely on the field stats: Strength, Hand-Eye, Platform, Knowledge, Clever, Charisma, and the characters' Unique field abilities, if they have any. With these stats, characters can perform actions in the field; the higher the numerical value of a stat, the more a character can do with it.

Field tasks are simple things like picking up a heavy object with the Strength stat, jumping onto a floating platform using the Platform stat, or spotting a partially concealed object using the Clever stat. In order for a character to complete a field task, their corresponding stat must have a value greater than or equal to the difficulty value of the task. So, a heavy object will have a Weight stat similar to the Weight stat of characters; if the object's Weight is 5, then any character with a Strength stat of 5 or higher could pick up and carry the object, and any characters with Strength stats of 4 or less would be unable to budge it. A floating platform would have a Height stat, and characters would need greater or equal Platform stats to be able to jump that high, and so on.

Field puzzles are composed of multiple field tasks that need to be completed in a specific order or used together in a specific way in order for the entire group of player characters to progress past a certain point in the field. Only full puzzles, and not individual tasks, will reward participating characters with support points. Often, these puzzles will allow one player character to reach a spot that the others cannot, and once there, that character will find some other field task that, once completed, will allow the other players to pass the spot. Variations on this basic idea utilizing different field stats allow for many different conceptual puzzles; throw in the Charisma stat, which can be used to manipulate other characters into using their field stats to help the players solve a puzzle, and the characters' Unique abilities, which can be anything at all, and there is a lot of room for variation while keeping the mathematics extremely simple.

In addition to using their field stats to accomplish tasks and surpass puzzles, player characters in the field can talk to non-player characters (NPCs), who might and/or might not give them helpful information. Some NPCs might be willing to sell items to the players, and others might provide other services such as running inns or cooking for the players. Along with NPCs, players in the field can encounter special objects that serve as heal points or save points, or have the opportunity to sleep for the night in whatever location they currently find themselves.

Buying and Using Items

Healing items and the like can be used in the field just as they can in battle, only since there's no concern about taking turns with the enemies, many can be used in rapid succession, or even all at once. Many Status Conditions lose their effects in the field, so items that induce these will be wasted if used. Similarly, attacking items won't do much good, being generally not strong enough to destroy field objects, much as they wouldn't be able to break through a wall in a video game. Field items, as the name suggests, are designed to be used in the field, often granting a temporary boost to a field stat. Such field items typically have no use in battle, resulting in a wasted turn if attempted.

Apart from the lack of turns, one particular rule differentiates the use of healing items in the field from in battle: if a character is dead and a teammate wishes to revive them, any item that restores HP can revive a dead character if used on them in the field. In the heat of battle, only healing items marked with "Revive" (or "Auto-Revive" in the case of ones like Life Shrooms) can revive a dead character, with normal healing items only working on people who are still standing. There isn't much of a conceptual justification for this, but it probably has something to do with time and stress.

Items of any kind, including things like weapons and armor, may be sold in the field at stores. This works pretty much how you would expect, with one or more forms of currency being used throughout the game world, and sold items being priced in these terms. The possibility of haggling (i.e., asking the store staff for a lower price, or perhaps a trade) would vary depending on the setting and the Maestro's feelings on the matter. Money, whatever form it takes, does not take up inventory slots, being stored separately with no default limitations on how much can be carried. I'll just go ahead and say that I personally am supremely uninterested in monetary transactions, so their mechanics in Arpeggio are underdeveloped. If you're an economics major yourself, feel free to fill in the metaphorical massive national debt that is this hole in my game mechanics.

Heal Points and Sleeping for the Night

Since battles will naturally wear down a party's HP, VP, and MP, and since items that restore these points are generally one-time-use, the majority of RPGs will provide some means in the field of allowing the player characters to fully restore all of their stats. In Arpeggio, there exist two variations on this: heal points and inns. As you can guess by the name, an inn is generally a building owned by an NPC that provides temporary lodging. Oftentimes characters will be charged a monetary fee for each night that they want to stay at an inn, putting a certain limit on how much the players can use them. Since Arpeggio is a tabletop game instead of a video game, it would be possible for the players, once out of money, to force their way back into an inn's services, which would likely have ramifications in the ongoing plot of the game, but before this brutish option should be considered, another is available: bereft of a bed, a character can choose simply to sleep for the night wherever they can lay down, be that a forest clearing, the middle of a boss's castle, or a park bench. This leads us to the actual game mechanic: how much a character is healed by a night of sleep depends on whether the Maestro classifies their current sleeping quarters as comfortable or uncomfortable. A night of sleep, regardless of comfort, will always cure all of a character's Status Problems, including returning their blood alcohol level to 0.00 no matter how high it was; a character who had been drunk before sleeping will awaken hung over, and the Feral status is a special case that may not be cured by sleeping, depending on its exact portrayal in your particular game of Arpeggio. A hangover, regardless of comfort, means that the character's VP and MP will not have been restored overnight, so those will still be at whatever they were the previous day, and the hangover also makes the character unable to fall back asleep until some time has passed, preventing them from just immediately sleeping another night to negate its effects. In a similar manner, comfortable sleeping quarters will fully restore HP overnight, but uncomfortable ones won't, leaving it at what it was. An exception to this is that if a character was fully dead at 0 HP and was dragged into uncomfortable sleeping quarters by teammates, that character will be revived to 1 HP by a night of uncomfortable sleep. Sleep will also remove all turn-based Status Benefits, but the HP-based Fire, Ice, and Raccoon States are retained, and their extra HP is healed up to its maximum of 5 under comfortable conditions.

In contrast to an inn, a heal point, often represented by some special object such as the Heal Blocks from Paper Mario or the Red Crystals from Bug Fables, is a particular point in the field that normally costs nothing to use, can be used an infinite number of times, takes mere seconds to use, and always has its full effects when used, those effects being full restoration of HP, VP, and MP, as well as curing all Status Problems except for drunkenness and alcohol poisoning (because blood alcohol level is unaffected) and being high or, again, potentially, Feral. Therefore, apart from these more potent Status Ailments, heal points are often more convenient than inns, but they cannot be taken and carried around with the party. They can revive dead teammates if a still-living teammate can carry the dead one(s) to them. In Paper Mario, Heal Blocks didn't restore Star Power, a feature that is typically absent from Arpeggio, but if you're using something like it in your game, it might make sense for heal points not to restore it, requiring it to be restored by a night of sleep.

Save Points and Quick Saving

To save their game, the players must find a save point, which again could be represented by Paper Mario's Save Blocks or Bug Fables' Blue Crystals, or whatever else you prefer. However, saving is largely for show: normally, the game loads from exactly where the players left off; the only time that re-loading from a save point is necessary is when all of the players die and therefore none of them are remaining to drag each other to heal points or inns, or revive each other with items. This situation, as in many video games, is referred to as a Game Over. Saving the game without using a save point is referred to as Quicksaving (or Battle Saving when done in mid-battle). Due to the possibility of reloading from a save point, the Maestro must keep records of the player characters' stats and inventories from the last save point in addition to the normal records of the current moment in game time. I save entire separate character sheets for this purpose, so that I can simply copy these over the new ones in order to reload the save.


Because Arpeggio is based largely off of Paper Mario, the expectation is for there to be an extensive list of food-based healing items. Furthermore, Paper Mario's system of combining items through cooking may be implemented. This system takes the following form: one item may be cooked to produce a presumably better item, or two items may be cooked together to produce an item with their combined effects or some other effect altogether. No more than two ingredients may be used, to prevent things from getting too complicated. However, multiple recipes may produce the same result item, while some items will have no use as ingredients and/or not be obtainable through cooking. When an incompatible recipe is attempted, the result is an item called a Mistake, which typically has minimal healing abilities.

In Arpeggio, if the player characters have a source of fire and the proper ingredients, they may attempt to cook a recipe by themselves. In this case, even if they use proper ingredients, the recipe only has a 50% chance of success; if the coin comes up tails, then the result is still a Mistake. (An exception can be made if one of the players is actually a chef or the like.) If the players go to see a professional chef instead of cooking on their own, then recipes cooked by the chef will always come out right. It is up to the Maestro whether or not and how much a chef will charge for this service.

If the players have access to multiple different chefs, then these chefs may have specialty recipes that only they are capable of producing (meaning that if anyone else tries cooking the same ingredients, they will always make a Mistake). Alternately, a given ingredient combination could produce different recipe items when cooked by different chefs. However, this is highly optional as it could get very complicated.


A game of Arpeggio can be played without any maps to speak of, but for the Maestro, drawing a map of the area that the players are currently exploring can remove some of the stress of on-the-spot decision-making, at least regarding geography. Even if the Maestro uses a map, there may be no need for the players to see it: the Maestro's descriptions of the setting could easily be enough for the players to work off of. If this is the case, a simple hand-drawn map of little to no artistic merit can suffice, with the basic idea being to define border walls, field puzzles, and the locations of enemies, treasure, and NPCs.

For more complicated and interactive mapping techniques, many tabletop gamers turn to a website called roll20. This site allows the Maestro/GM and the players to view a virtual gameboard, and has many cool functions for keeping track of stats, rolling dice, facilitating online communication, and so on. Roll20 is, obviously, designed to work with more prominent RPG systems rather than Arpeggio specifically, but it is not tailored to a single system and can prove useful for any. That said, I have nothing to do with its conception and am not responsible for any conceivable negative effects that it might have on you, beyond recommending it.

Example Field Tasks