Trophy: The Rose District of Ambaret

Nestled in the great capital city of Ambaret is the jewel of civilization, the fabulous Rose District. Many a treasure-hunter desires nothing more than to be able to afford a lavish retirement there. But what makes the Rose District so special? What pleasures and delights await those who manage to survive their careers in the dark places of the world?

@jesseross and I are putting together a standalone book for the Trophy RPG (the game and its many expansions are currently featured in each new issue of Codex). One of the things we’re going to do with this book is include numerous tables that help flesh out the world Trophy takes place in. Keeping with the spirit of Trophy as a community project, we’re going to be crowdsourcing many of the elements that go into these tables. We have previously started a crowdsourcing thread for Fort Duhrin, which you can contribute to here:

For this installment, we’re exploring the Rose District of Ambaret, which is featured in one of the core game’s Drives. We’re looking for 1 type of contribution here:

People, places, and pleasures of the Rose District of Ambaret

NOTE: Please avoid anything that feels like sexual predation or that is misogynistic in nature. We won’t print such things.

You can submit as many entries as you wish. By submitting here, you agree to let us use your contribution in the Trophy standalone book and PDF (you will be credited as a contributor). Submissions should be fairly brief (no more than a sentence or two). Here are some examples:

“The Rose District gets its name from the hedge maze garden at the heart of the neighborhood. On feast days, the maze is populated by performers and artisans—something new to see around every twist and turn.”

“The wealthier denizens of the Rose District hold the softness of one’s feet and the paleness of one’s skin to be among the greatest of status symbols. As such, men and women being carried through the streets on covered litters is a common sight.”

“Kali Ventrice is the foremost snail vendor in the Rose District. Her purple-hued gastropods—which she sources from the terrible, marshy Fen—are famous for both their delectable flavor and aphrodisiac-like qualities.”

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So will this book contain all the Trophy stuff from Dark 2 onwards? I’m late getting on the train and planned to pick up Gold in next month’s Codex and then grab Dark 2 after Gen Con.

Is this a short-horizon project or should I be grabbing all the Trophy I want to play before 2022 or something?

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We’ll be on Kickstarter later this year (probably October) early next year (probably March), and should be able to turn the game around quickly (probably by spring or early summer of 2020, but don’t quote me on that). And yes, this will have all of Trophy published so far collected into one book.

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It will contain everything currently released. It won’t contain any of the material that drifts the game from a fantasy setting (we have some non-fantasy Trophy pieces coming out in the future). We’re not yet sure about Gold. It kind of depends on how it’s received when it comes out next month.

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In Ambaret, you can’t go far without running into a member of the danmaque (“dan ma kay”), who study the passing fads of the nobility, and train others in their ways. Dancing, poetry, dueling … whatever the social elite fancy, they are prepared to do, but they work for anyone who hires them. Some patrons have exclusive danmaque, of course. Often they retire when the noble fancies a new one, and they train new performers in schools they run.

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The Rose District of Ambaret boats the headquarters of the Heralds’ Guild, a body that regulates the use of arms, sigils, emblems, and crests. The learned who make up the guild become fabulously wealthy, and only uncharitable observers would say it’s because elite families are constantly bribing them to exaggerate their honors or downgrade rivals’. The most exclusive of parties take place in the Guild’s grand library of crests, so guests can observe their hosts’ sterling pedigrees firsthand.

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On those few days when a lavish party is not being thrown by nobles, many the nobility can be found mingling at the Great Steam Baths. The steam never escapes the great building but the surrounding area always carries the rosy scent of the steamy aroma. The bath also employs the best massage therapists in the region. It is wonderful place to relax, detox, or catch up on the juiciest gossip. If you can afford it, of course.

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In older times before the district officially took this name, they made a fine and acrid paste from virgin rosehips and folk would place the paste between the slips of sensitive skin and enjoy the subtle keen of its itch as much as the delicate daubing of the tongue that took it away.

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The Hollowed Halls (not Hallowed Halls, as some fools think) are a series of long, interconnected caves beneath the streets. The rumble of footfall and wagon wheels on the streets above make this place reverberate with a constant, low noise that slowly focuses into a deep, constant tone. You can hear your inner self speak to you here, with no distractions–never any distractions.

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Looking at the monolithic Art Deco Structure that is the Rose District from afar, it is impossible to see the Royal Mint and Treasury at it’s core beneath the encrustation of banks, vaults and Exchanges that have accumulated over the years. Everyone wants to live in the shadow of such wealth but few find satisfaction or respite at the foot of this shining idol.

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“You never heard such as the Rose Criers. Sure as at a town or some far place as Fort Duhrin you have Readers and Criers hawking the King’s Word or such. But did you ever hear them call out the latest rumours `bout the Queen’s choice of undergarment? Or share word of a distant prince who would marry thee if only he were sent a golden pouch? Tis fantastic what they call news today!”

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Next time you are in town come visit with me! We will avoid the tiresome crowds at the War Fountains. Surely, if we have to win so many wars we could build smaller memorials? I hear there is a new retreat in the Rose District. Under vine shaded arcades we will dance and dine. It is called Viscount’s, how droll!

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The weavers of Ambaret are renowned for producing silks of peerless quality - softer yet stronger than any other fabric, in shimmering hues which shift under moonlight. Less known are their methods, involving the breeding of large and highly venomous spiders which much be attached to looms and fed constantly in order to keep producing silk.

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Roses have Thorns, my friend, and so does Ambaret: Where other cities have brutish clod with batons or nightsticks to police the streets and force people to mind the laws and regulations, Ambaret has nothing of the sort. Ambaret has Thorns, though - elegant figures who might be servants or lesser nobles, not standing out in any crowd at all. They will stab you quickly and almost painlessly, though, and those who know the streets say that your crime will be known be the poison they use on their blades: A mild one for public misconduct, a quick one that will make you limp and prone for theft, and a lethal one that will make you dance to your death for violent crimes.

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When clouds gather over the Rose District of Ambaret vendors hurry to raise their trestles and open the street markets. As the first thunder booms and the godlight snap-dances across the horizon the crowds gather. Then, even as they feed and gossip and buy, one will be chosen and with a flash and a crack, will ascend to heaven.

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“Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.”

There grow roses, yes. But the rose outshines them all. Some believe it to be but a metaphor for a perfectly beautiful courtesan or chevalier. Others tell that its pollen is a most powerful aphrodesiac. However, all stories agree that the one rose is the embodiment of beauty. And bliss.

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Be careful, my dear, what you wish on Ambaret because it might reach to the ears of the Knights of the Black Rose and they will decide to grant it.

Later, when you are enjoying your wish, they will approach you and ask yo you to do them a small favor in return.

And they won’t stop never

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The many roses of Ambaret:

Scarlet Fever for a lover,
Sky-the-Hunter for a knight.
Snowcloud Shiver for the dying,
Leafless Suncup for a child.

Pouting Moss for serf or druid,
Poets choose the Dawn-that-Glows.
Merchants love the Silver Shilling,
but what is the truest rose?

It’s not Throne Thief, clad in amber,
nor Tears Eternal, pale as fog.
And not even Queen-Is-Bleeding.
No. It is the rose-of-dog.

She’s the first, and she’s the strongest,
On street or barrow, growing wild.
On pauper’s grave or noble’s palace:
Dog-rose is the Forest’s child.

  • Children’s song in Ambaret.
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The ghost of Penelope Dawn is believed to haunt the hedge maze. An illusionist of her time, her shows were something of legend, and now so is her spirit.

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Much to the chagrin of the district guards, the House of Thorns is one of the capital’s most exclusive pleasure houses. It is staffed by elegant gentlemen who ply the patrons with the finest food and drink, surrounded by exquisite art and sublime music. And of course, as the name suggests, you can expect a prick or two.

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