The lights are on
There have long been jokes about developers introducing smells into their games. Sure we’d all want to sniff Gandalf’s pipe smoke, but maybe wafting in Gollum’s pungent stench isn’t the best idea.
A company called Adventure Scents has found a way to give us the aromatic wizard’s tower, city streets after a gunfight, musty libraries, and dank sewers. Each of the many scents the company sells ship in a screw-top container intended to sit nearby while playing table-top or video games. Closing the tin quickly cuts off the odor, working well to isolate the beads that give off the aromas.
Some, like Dank Dungeon and Pool of Acid are a bit sharper. None are so terrible or offensive that I felt sick, but they might make you wrinkle your nose a bit.
Others, like Pirate Ship and Flying Airship capture the atmosphere. The former, described as a combination of wood, gun smoke, and sea air fits well. It has an odor of the open sea (without the fishiness you might expect). Flying Airship has a breezier scent, but both give a good sense of being outdoors.
Ancient Library was probably the most off-putting (even more so than Dank Dungeon and Pool of Acid). It has an extremely musty odor that fits its name. Vampire’s Lair has a pungent, earthy smell with just a hint of sweetness. Some of the success in Adventure Scents concoctions is how foreign the mixtures are.
Field of Battle, which is described as smelling of leather, steel, and blood, is probably a bit mellower than I expected. I kind of imagined a field of dead bodies to be more decay and despair and less “blacksmith wearing cologne.”
Some of these scents really hit home, especially those that confuse the nose creating a sense of displacement. Barren Moon is one of those, described as smelling like “chalky dust and bitter loneliness.” I expected a nose full of grade school chalkboard, but instead the odor is wispy and light, like it’s not entirely there.
There is a gimmicky nature to Adventure Scents. They aren’t going to be for everyone, and you (and your friends if using them for tabletop gaming) will need to suspend your disbelief a bit. For those using these for video games, it’s simply engaging another sense.
I used some while playing Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and thought the effect was interesting. I'm more likely to use these for bigger board game parties with mood music and appropriate lighting to help sell the atmosphere, though.
Your mileage is likely going to vary, and you may find the odors a bit too strong. If you stick your nose close, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Instead, it’s best to keep an open tin nearby but not so near that it’s oppressive.
For those that want to take a bit of their favorite scent with them, Adventure Scents sells lockets designed to hold some of the beads. Depending on the quantity of each you want and your intended use, scents range from $5 - $15.
You can see the entire range of canisters and packets on Adventure Scents’ website.