OstinatoArpeggio InfoItem System

Card System

In Arpeggio, trading cards featuring the characters and species found in the game world are a special type of item, combining the functionality that they had in Super Paper Mario (increasing damage dealt to the character on the card by the holder of the card) with the "Spy Cards" minigame from Bug Fables. Spy Cards was named after "Spying," the Bug Fables equivalent to Tattling on enemies; since Arpeggio does typically use the term "Tattling" instead, it's no longer preferable to call the game Spy Cards, although "Tattle Cards" might similarly sound too Paper Mario-centric. It could be called "Character Cards," but that's a bit bland. Frankly, I'm not too concerned about the name, so it can vary between different Arpeggiated games, but in games where it has focus, it's probably fair to conceptually have it be equivalent to real-life regular playing card games, with similar potential for alternate games played using the same cards.

The original Spy Cards was basically (or so I gather) a simplified version of Yu-Gi-Oh, with appropriate parody NPCs. It also used a value called TP, or Teamwork Points, because this was Bug Fables' equivalent to FP, VP, or MP, and the card game just borrowed that name from the battle mechanic. But since Arpeggio uses VP and MP instead, and since there are two of them and it's unclear which to use, I'm instead calling the value for the card game CP, for, of course, Card Points.

Unlike many real-life trading card games, this one does not feature "mana" or "energy" cards, instead simply giving each player a set amount of CP per round, which helps to even the playing field and avoid the issue of "hitting a mana pocket" (drawing too many mana cards at a time for them to be useful). Like the small numbers used for the battle systems of Paper Mario and Bug Fables, this form of simplification proves ingenious rather than reductive, as a large part of the strategy of the card game is based around properly using the amount of CP that you have in a given round.

The generic entry for a card as a normal item in Arpeggio is here, and a Catch Card is effectively a blank one of these cards that can be used in battle to turn a targeted enemy into a copy of that enemy's card. Spell Cards, as opposed to Character Cards, do not feature in the card minigame, only having utility in battle.

Card Game Rules

Deck Size

A deck consists of 15 cards. These must include 1 Boss card and 2 different Miniboss cards, while the remaining 12 can be either Attacker or Effect cards, and the same Attacker or Effect card can be duplicated as many times as you want within a deck. It could be possible to experiment with different deck sizes in Arpeggio, but 15 was the standard in Bug Fables.

After a card is played, it is reshuffled back into its deck. Therefore, cards are never "lost" or "used up," and can always be expected to reemerge later. Due to the small deck size of 15, it often won't be long before they do, although it's still possible to be waiting for a specific card all game and never get it.

In Arpeggio, a single character can normally only carry 10 items, and each individual card would take up one of those slots. The Strange Sack expands a character's item capacity to 19 slots, but a single deck would still take up most of these. Luckily, in addition to the Strange Sack, there's also the Card Pack, which, while taking up only a single item slot, can hold up to 52 cards inside. (52 being the typical number for a deck of normal real-life playing cards, in case you're wondering where that number came from.) With one or more Card Packs, a character can easily carry enough cards to mix and match between several decks.


In the first round, both players get 2 CP. This means that only cards with a CP cost of either 1 or 2 can be played. Playing a card uses up that card's CP cost within a given round, but CP is refilled for the next round, so there is little reason not to use as much of your CP as possible in a round. For round two, both players will get 3 CP, and CP will continue increasing by 1 per round until it reaches 10, at which point it will no longer increase. As a consequence of this, a single card cannot have a CP cost higher than 10, as it would be unable to ever be played. (Unused CP from previous rounds does not carry over to the next one, so in any given round both players will always have the same amount of CP available.)

Building your deck of 15 cards has a lot to do with the chance that cards with a certain CP cost will be drawn. In early rounds, you'll want to draw low-cost cards so as to be able to play them, but in later rounds it would be detrimental to have only low-cost cards, because they may not allow you to use up all of your CP in a round, which will likely result in you losing that round.

In Arpeggio, it may be possible for cards to manipulate CP in ways that never happened in Bug Fables. These would generally be rarer cards and won't have too extreme of an effect, so as not to completely destroy game balance.


This has nothing to do with a character's actual HP value used for battle, but again borrows the name from the battle mechanic in order to streamline understanding of the concept. In the card game, both players have 5 HP. The first player to reduce the other's HP to zero wins the game. This is accomplished by winning rounds: when one player wins a round, the other player loses 1 HP.

In Bug Fables, there was no way to deal more than 1 damage to the other player in a single round. However, it was possible for players to heal some of their own HP with certain cards. In Arpeggio, there may be cards that can result in a player taking more than 1 damage, but they would be especially rare as it's a bit overpowered.


Attacker cards, and sometimes other card types, will have an Attack stat. This Attack stat is generally equal to the card's CP cost, which means that when going for straight Attack in a round, the highest amount that a player can achieve will usually be equal to their amount of CP usable in that round. It is for this reason that cards that can achieve an Attack higher than their CP cost are particularly rare and valuable, and that they don't need to exceed it by more than 1 point to all but guarantee a win that round. However, card values must add up properly in order to be used effectively; for example, if a player has 7 CP available in a round, but only has two Attacker cards with CP costs and Attack stats of 4, then only one of the two can be played that round, and so the player will only have 4 total Attack in that round, and may be blitzed by the other player's cards that can add up to closer to 7.

If both players achieve the same total Attack value in a given round, then that round is a tie, and neither of them lose any HP. And regardless of just how much higher one player's Attack total is when they win around, their opponent still only loses 1 HP. Therefore, while maximizing Attack is the basic goal of a round, there is no particular benefit to winning by a greater number of points, and occasionally a player might intentionally use less than their total CP cost if they have reason to suspect that their opponent will be unable to match their Attack. Such suspicions would be based on observations of the opponent's previously played cards, but of course you can't see your opponent's hand, so it's always a bit of a risk.


Boss cards, Miniboss cards, or Effect cards sometimes have an Attack stat, but they may also (or instead) have a Defense stat. Like Attack, the Defense of all cards played is added together for that player, and naturally, one player's Defense total works to defend against the opposing player's Attack total. So, barring any interfering effects from Effect cards, Defense totals are subtracted from opposing Attack totals in a given round, and only the remaining Attack values are then relevant. However, like with normal Arpeggio battle mechanics, Defense subtraction cannot reduce one player's Attack total below zero.

The presence of a Defense stat on a card, even alone, is enough for it to count as an Effect card rather than an Attacker card, so Attacker cards will never have Defense, only Attack. Therefore, Defense is sort of considered a special effect, but it's probably the most basic kind.


Both players draw three cards to start with. Subsequently, they can both draw up to three cards each round, but each player's hand cannot exceed five cards in size, so they can only draw enough to achieve five at most. The number of cards that can be played in a round is limited only by their CP costs, so a hand may be completely used up in a given round. In Bug Fables, it was not possible to intentionally draw fewer cards than allowed, and there would be no real reason to do so, but if a Maestro does allow this, it should come with the caveat that a player must always have a hand of at least one card, in other words must draw at least one card if their hand was completely used up last round. In contrast, it is possible to not play any cards in a round, even if you have enough CP to do so (and if all of the cards in your hand have a higher CP cost than your current CP available, then you can't play any of them). As noted, after a card is played, it is reshuffled into its deck, regardless of the result of the round. Rounds continue until one player wins the game, or until one forfeits.

Players can, of course, decide to play multiple games in a row in order to create a tournament. Additional rules, such as whether a given player is allowed to swap out decks between games, are up to those players. The card game is usually just for entertainment, but to further the Yu-Gi-Oh parody, the Maestro could hinge the fate of the world on its outcome. If you do this, be aware that even the most "unbeatable" deck is subject to the luck of the draw, and things may not turn out the way you expected.

Types of Cards

Attacker Cards

Attacker cards are the most basic type, and generally consist of regular enemies that would be fought in a game of Arpeggio. An attacker card has a CP cost, and it has an Attack, which are usually the same exact value. Therefore, most of the time, the amount of CP that you spend is the number of points of Attack you will get in that round. Other card types are the ones that will throw this out of whack, but Attacker cards are very straightforward and a pretty necessary part of most decks. Unlike Boss and Miniboss cards, a deck can contain duplicates of the same Attacker card, and in fact it's perfectly normal and sometimes vital to reuse the same card multiple times in a deck, for example in order for them all to be Empowered by their related Boss card. That kind of thing is what the "Type" field is for; when no type-related effects are at play, though, the type of an Attacker card does nothing, so there won't be things like Elemental weaknesses or resistances based on type. It is just a minigame, after all.

Traditionally, Attacker cards have a green background color.

Effect Cards

Effect cards are like Attacker cards in that a deck can contain multiple copies of the same Effect card, but where Attacker cards simply provide an Attack stat when played, Effect cards tend to have other, well, effects. These are still relatively simple effects in order to avoid overcomplicating the minigame, but they can really throw things for a loop when used right. There were a limited number of effects among the cards in Bug Fables, but naturally I've added more in making all of the cards for the other games and things in Arpeggio; all effects that I use are listed and explained at the bottom of this page.

Traditionally, Effect cards have an orange background color.

Boss Cards

Boss cards are what they sound like: they feature bosses fought in Arpeggio, or at least the video games that it takes inspiration from. Only one Boss card is allowed per deck, so a deck is often built around a particular Boss card. This is because Boss cards will often do things like Empower a certain type of enemy, so obviously multiple Attacker cards of that type are needed in order to take advantage of that Boss's power. Other Boss cards are more straightforward, basically just functioning like Attacker cards, but occasionally having a higher Attack than their cost, due to being, well, bosses.

In Bug Fables, Boss cards had an orange background color like Effect cards, though a bit more of a yellowish orange. This made some sense given that most Boss cards had similar effects to Effect cards, but in order to go along with Arpeggio's typical purple-orange-green color scheme, I envision Boss cards as being purple in Arpeggio. Of course, it's actually non-visual, so it doesn't really matter.

Miniboss Cards

Miniboss cards are similar to Boss cards, but typically less powerful. A deck must contain two Miniboss cards along with its one Boss card, but a deck cannot contain two copies of the exact same Miniboss card; it must have two different ones. This is in contrast to Attacker and Effect cards, which can be duplicated as much as deck size allows. In Bug Fables, many miniboss battles were against pairs of characters, and as a consequence those characters' Miniboss cards tended to play off of each other, gaining extra effects when both are played at once. As such, the limit of two Miniboss cards is largely about which pair to use, although some of them don't work this way and just have their own solo effect, so it's fine to use two unrelated ones as well. In addition, some Miniboss cards may play off of more than one different card, including sometimes Boss cards, so picking one Miniboss card might leave you with two or more notable options for the second.

Arpeggio does not strictly distinguish between bosses and minibosses in actual battles, and futhermore, sometimes a Miniboss card might feature a regular enemy if the card's effect is simply too powerful to be allowed on an Effect card. Since only one Boss card is allowed per deck, if a full-on boss battle involves more than one boss character, one of them might be made into a Boss card and the other(s) into (a) Miniboss(es) in order for them to be used together in a deck.

In Bug Fables, Miniboss cards had a gray background color. Given Arpeggio's purple-orange-green color pattern and my changing Boss cards to purple in order to match it, I'm not entirely sure what to do with Miniboss cards; they could be left gray, as it's pretty neutral, or they could be made lavender, indicating their role as similar to Bosses but lesser. Or they could just be the same shade of purple as Bosses, since they're rare enough in a deck that it won't exactly be confusing. Again, none of this actually matters, since Arpeggio is usually played with just text instead of images, but if you haven't noticed yet, I can be a bit obsessive.

Card Effects

Default Cards