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An Olfactory Review of Adventure Scents

Adventure Scents [1] provided us with samples of scent packets to review their Adventure Scents product. Angela Murray wrote up a review and took incredible images for those without video, while Matt Neagley, Darcy Ross, and John Arcadian took part in a reaction video.


Angela’s Review

I’m a firm believer in the power certain smells can have to evoke memories and certain feelings, so I was definitely intrigued by the ideas behind Adventure Scents [1]. Heck, I catch a whiff of a particular artificial peach smell and I’m instantly transported back to the age of 13 and riding my bike up to the drug store to buy X-men comic books. Capturing that kind of power for a game would be amazing.

What Was In The Box

  Dragon’s Cave was distinctly earthy and a little musky. Sandy Beach did make me think of an ocean, but not quite the beach. Tropical Rainforest actually reminded me of a local conservatory with a section for tropical flowers. 
The box I received contained three ScentFX Jars, five Scent Packs, a small draw string bag, and one of the lockets. Upon opening the box, I was hit with a cacophony of scents. It was a little overwhelming at first, like walking into a candle shop or sitting in a small room with several great aunts all wearing different perfumes. Everything was packed well, though, and traveled well. There were a few stray scent beads in the bottom of the box, but nothing majorly askew. I do wonder what the mail carrier thought upon delivering the box, since it smelled quite unique.

The three ScentFX Jars I received were Dragon’s Cave, Sandy Beach, and Tropical Rainforest. Sniffing directly from the containers was a little overwhelming, but I could get a bit of what the creator was going for with combining those scents together. Dragon’s Cave was distinctly earthy and a little musky. Sandy Beach did make me think of an ocean, but not quite the beach. Tropical Rainforest actually reminded me of a local conservatory with a section for tropical flowers.

While I chose the scents I received in the ScentFX Jars, the Scent Packs were all a surprise. The five I received were Treasure Vault, Volcanic Jungle, Mayan Temple, Pirate Ship, and Putrid Sewers. Yes, you read that right. Putrid Sewers. It was distinctly putrid and deemed the most realistic smell by the friends I had take a whiff. These were a fun ‘taste’ of the various scents offered. I was particularly intrigued by the hint of cocoa in the Mayan Temple, while Pirate Ship reminded me a little of cologne I couldn’t quite place. Each bag contained enough to get the scent across, but could be a little tricky to open without spilling the contents.

How They Work

For a GM looking to bring a little flash and theatricality to the table, these could be a great addition. I could easily see slipping some of these into a table set up for miniatures, to give that subtle support to the verbal descriptions of the scene. LARPers would probably also find these incredibly handy to add to their arsenals. While LARP isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I have several friends who go deep into prep to give their players as immersive an experience as possible. Heck, even cosplayers could probably find a use for these. I could see a Steampunk costume accented by a locket filled with something vaguely oil and brimstone scented.

One caution I would give, though, is to be mindful of your audience. Not everyone responds to smells in the same way, so your mileage may vary with these products. My gaming group contains two guys with absolutely dead noses and one gal who can tell if someone is sick just by a change in their scent. As awesome as these scents are, they’d be wasted on my nose dead friends, and if applied too liberally, would probably give my super-senses friend a headache.

All in all, I think Adventure Scents offers an intriguing product that could give a boost to a variety of gaming experiences.

What are your thoughts on using scents at your table?

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "An Olfactory Review of Adventure Scents"

#1 Comment By Mr. Flibble On May 27, 2016 @ 6:00 am

“One caution I would give, though, is to be mindful of your audience. Not everyone responds to smells in the same way, so your mileage may vary with these products.”

Responses can include allergic ones (I’m reminded of this because it’s spring in Iowa, and I seem to be allergic to…well, the plant kingdom, as far as I can tell). Good idea to find out about players’ known allergies before trying this.

#2 Comment By Mr. Flibble On May 27, 2016 @ 6:33 am

Another point that Angela doesn’t mention: many scents might hang in the air longer than you really want them to for evocative purposes. Once the PCs find and enter the hidden gate to the Nine Hells at the edge of the faerie glade, you might find the smell of lilacs a little less appropriate for scene-setting.

#3 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On May 27, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

Like John mentions below, I had one of mine spill and it took me quite a while to clean up but after I had put the last of the scent beads in the tin and closed it up it dissipated pretty quickly.

#4 Comment By Scott Martin On May 27, 2016 @ 10:09 am

Sounds like they work and generally hit the target they’re aiming for.

Did you test to see how they worked if left out? Do they fill a room, or are they diffuse?

#5 Comment By John Arcadian On May 27, 2016 @ 10:19 am

I had to cut it from the video for time, but Matt had one of his spill out while opening it. It was 1/3 of one of the tins and was in the room for an hour or two. He said it become a strong smell after a while.

#6 Comment By Angela Murray On May 27, 2016 @ 11:22 am

I’ve had the box of them sitting near my desk since I took the pictures and I definitely get a regular whiff of them, even through the box and their containers. My guess is that while they don’t overwhelm you at first opening of the container, they have a pretty powerful effect if left out for an extended period of time.

#7 Comment By Roxysteve On May 27, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

Depends if the cat finds the boxes and “investigates” while you are out.

#8 Comment By Angela Murray On May 27, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

Luckily the box is far too small for any of my cats to be truly interested in it. No matter how much they try, they would not fit, so they will not sit. 🙂

#9 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On May 27, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

In the spill situation below, the scent covered most of a medium sized room and was pretty powerful. However, once I finally corralled the beads and closed the tin the scent dissipated pretty quickly. I’d say they perform as advertised.

#10 Comment By Roxysteve On May 27, 2016 @ 12:20 pm

Smell-o-vision doesn’t really interest me for a variety of reasons, but when I played Traveller and Call of Cthulhu I would often be asked “what does such-and-such feel like” and I toyed for a long while with the idea of a “feely box”.

I would have a screened hole into which a player could put his/her hands to feel whatever was hiding inside. I imagine everyone (except me) has done that old halloween “bowl o’ brains” thing, so the idea isn’t new.

With a sheet of styrene, one of steel, one of glass, several sheets of various grades of glasspaper and emery paper, some bubblewrap, a tub of Nickleodeon “slime”, soft soap and a couple of other odds’n’sods I reckon I could have come up with a box of tactile experiences that would soon have players as terrified to touch something alien as their characters would be.

Just pop the harmless sample material in the box in a frame to hold it, treat it with whatever goop is needed, pre-chill or heat it a small amount and you have dragon skin or alien monolith side or ye veriest foulnesse from the corners of time. All hidden from sight so the player can close their eyes and imagine the sight while getting the feel.

No headaches or alergies (unless you are very unlucky).

Now I’m wondering if combining this with a technostench-technology might not be a good idea after all. Maybe a small compartment with a fan in it in the top of the feelie box to give a small whiff of whatever it is to the volunteer.

For Call of Cthulhu I wouldn’t bother since the smells are almost always in the nature of dead meat, dead fish, dead (and rotting) vegetable matter or some vile combination of the three that would never come out of the curtains once loose in the house.

Might still be do-able if the perfumolator was connected to a respirator mask to make it a one-player-at-a-time only experience, at the risk of turning the whole affair into a performance art installation.

Although one might have to keep a weather eye out for “Hmm. Feels like slimy scales, like maybe tortoiseshell coated in oil. Smells like some sort of electrical overload, like a fan motor burning up” moments.

#11 Comment By Sardonicus On August 22, 2016 @ 4:24 pm

Loved the video, although I can see my games devolving into ‘here smell this’….