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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Making Senses of Magic Powers -- Smell

   
Author Topic: Making Senses of Magic Powers -- Smell
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Sense of smell:

What kinds of magic powers would involve a sense of smell?

And what could go wrong if you were able to smell things that most humans can't smell (or don't notice)?

Example: what if you could smell emotions? How could that be a magic power and how could it cause problems for you if you had that power?

What other things could a magical smelling ability do for you and give you problems with?

[ December 15, 2012, 10:32 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Grumpy old guy
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I imagine, if you could smell emotions you'd be so overwhelmed that you'd curl up in a foetal position in a corner. Unless you could control when you smelt them and could differentiate between individuals.

What about the ability to smell magic?

Phil.

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extrinsic
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An ability to smell emotions might be equivalent to paranormal empathy. Off the top, as Grumpy old guy notes, initially, that could be overwhelming. An individual with the ability will learn to cope with it though. Subtler, a problem that will arise is trying to "fix" or adjust unpleasant emotions in others. That would require a superhuman effort to accommodate.

Paranormal smelling ability might give rise to uncontrollable attractions and reactions. An Achilles' heel, attraction to deadly ambrosias and nectars might be. I'm thinking of pigs' ability to scent truffles gone awry.

Smell gold deep in the earth. Smell fertility. I guess these are obvious choices. Surprising choices might start with preexisting conditions and take them to extremes yet be metaphors for the human condition. Smell moral corruption? Politicians, and that ilk, would be eager to kill or exploit that ability. Smell crime or other moral failures? And so on. An individual with the ability might be ever so exact and proper in behavior from a want to avoid foul smells and, consequently, suffer from loneliness and persecution for it.

What about something completely outside the box? Smell the future? Smell the past? Smell genuis? No sense of smell or taste in the usual sense but smell texture? Sounds? Visuals? Discernibility of gravity? Gasses' constituents? Liquids' constituents? Solids' constituents? Smell ley lines? Smell time-space continuum anomalies? Smell fellow travelers in the realm of magical smell? I imagine problems for each. Every blessing is a curse and vice versa.

[ December 16, 2012, 12:03 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
What about the ability to smell magic?

I sold a story to one of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthologies with that as the magic power.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Meant to mention, when I started this topic, that I have a first cousin once removed who can smell narcotics as well if not better than a drug-sniffing dog.

Came in pretty handy when he worked in law enforcement, but he's moved on to other work now, I believe.

Being able to detect by smell one kind of thing could be considered a magical power. (Better than just having a super sense of smell that detects or magnifies every scent.)

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MattLeo
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My father was a chef, and had an unusually acute sense of smell. If my older brother had a smoke with his friends he'd go right from the front door upstairs, but my father could still smell it from the next room.

Extrinsic as usual has the bases covered on this one, so I'll invent a new magical power of smell: the ability to smell how tall someone is. It would be useful in catching tall people masquerading as short ones. As far as shortcomings are concerned, I'd imagine having to debark and airplane after a basketball team boards. That, and not being one of the cool kids at Professor Xavier's school.

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Crystal Stevens
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About having all those smells from emotions overwhelming someone with that ability: So would a person with telepathy if they can't tune out all minds except for the mind being read. Makes me think a person who could smell emotions could do the same thing. Focus on one person at a time.
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LDWriter2
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Someone mentioned smelling magic. That one is being used a bit these days. I think I have books by three different writers who use that sense. One MC can smell what type of magic. One type might smell like roses and gunpowder. Another type could be an exotic flower and red mud.

I think the others don't explain what it smells like.

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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Meant to mention, when I started this topic, that I have a first cousin once removed who can smell narcotics as well if not better than a drug-sniffing dog.

As the possessor of a very good nose, I'm not surprised [Smile] And turns out most drug-sniffing dogs... aren't. About 70% of the time they're cuing off the handler's *expectations* (recent research from some uni, too lazy to look it up) -- which is actually SOP for dogs, tho not for other animals.

But you've reminded me that I need to specifically look at sense of smell in my SF Epic. <grumble>

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hoptoad
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hi KDW
perhaps, seeing that our sense of smell is linked with our primitive brain -- a certain smell can evoke in us a memory of childhood, or a specific time/place/person/ and all its accompanying emotions -- perhaps a smell could be used by a practitioner as a means of moving through time. Using specific smells to stimulate a sympathetic connection with a time and place. Kind of like 'bookmarking' time. They could carry key fragrances with them they know will stimulate this response... heh heh a smellbook...

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by Reziac:
quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Meant to mention, when I started this topic, that I have a first cousin once removed who can smell narcotics as well if not better than a drug-sniffing dog.

As the possessor of a very good nose, I'm not surprised [Smile] And turns out most drug-sniffing dogs... aren't. About 70% of the time they're cuing off the handler's *expectations* (recent research from some uni, too lazy to look it up) -- which is actually SOP for dogs, tho not for other animals.

Hmmm, that blows the idea of a magic sniffing dog story. Or since editors may not care if it's written well or the general public may not know what Reziac stated the idea could still work.

Hmmm again, this is one of my few ideas thought up on a forum, that I think I will do.

Now if I can remember it.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by hoptoad:
hi KDW
perhaps, seeing that our sense of smell is linked with our primitive brain -- a certain smell can evoke in us a memory of childhood, or a specific time/place/person/ and all its accompanying emotions -- perhaps a smell could be used by a practitioner as a means of moving through time. Using specific smells to stimulate a sympathetic connection with a time and place. Kind of like 'bookmarking' time. They could carry key fragrances with them they know will stimulate this response... heh heh a smellbook...

Hmm. Interesting magical application of that sense, hoptoad.
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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Hmmm, that blows the idea of a magic sniffing dog story. Or since editors may not care if it's written well or the general public may not know what Reziac stated the idea could still work.

Nah, the idea is still perfectly valid.. now you just know one more way to screw it up, er, I mean to put obstacles in the way of your protagonist. [Big Grin]
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