A discussion recently popped up in the GM Mastery Yahoo group when group member Randal asked about using smells in games:
“Have you ever noticed that when you smell a familiar smell it brings back all these memories? Just curious if any of you have tried to set the mood by burning incense or doing something else that brings out the imagination/memories of scent.
I was thinking of trying to find an incense that smelled a bit like camp fire smoke. Not only would it remind all of my players about their times camping and cooking around the fire, but when we actually go camping it would remind them about the game. Just a random thought.”
Here was my response:
Scent is powerful. Use it for key moments.
Avoid filling the room with scent. Not only might you affect allergies, but the scent lingers beyond its moment of use.
Instead, use props with scent, and pass them around:
- A strip of leather
- A strip of leather treated with a certain oil
- A piece of firewood or coal
- Oils and candles (no need to light, just smell the candle wax)
- Moist dirt
Put stuff in plastic containers or baby jars or whatever you can find so you can seal your prop up and reveal it at the perfect moment.
Others in the group responded as well, with tips about using essential oils, man candles, incense, Chinese pharmacy items, and cooking.