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GMing descriptiveness: Smell and taste?


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I'd like to give credit to Dragon for raising an interesting topic;  smell and taste in GM'ing descriptions. 

I can't recall ever including smell or taste in my description of a scene, and since I'd like to improve i will try to remember to do so.

15 hours ago, Dragon said:

".....But you could lick a dryad while it is manifest. I recommend gaining consent in such a case. Licking an apple tree dryad could taste like either licking generic bark or licking the skin of an apple, depending on where you lick the dryad.

Since the cacao is not processed, I expect the lick to taste like unsweetened chocolate if you licked the bean part."

 

This deserves its own thread, since it has gone away from potions and alchemy.  Relevant to GM's description of a scene or event -

What is the smell of an apple tree dryad like?

What is the taste of an apple tree dryad like?  Does this differ by body part?  Is this "adult" content?

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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4 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I'd like to give credit to Dragon for raising an interesting topic;  smell and taste in GM'ing descriptions. 

 

Actually as part of my edits, I give Austin instructions to not forget those critically important elements so if these matter to you Austin strives to include these. 

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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52 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I'd like to give credit to Dragon for raising an interesting topic;  smell and taste in GM'ing descriptions. 

".....But you could lick a dryad while it is manifest. I recommend gaining consent in such a case. Licking an apple tree dryad could taste like either licking generic bark or licking the skin of an apple, depending on where you lick the dryad.

Since the cacao is not processed, I expect the lick to taste like unsweetened chocolate if you licked the bean part."

 

Dryads are nymphs, so sampling a kiss might be the most common way of getting a taste of dryad. Closely followed by the whole number below 70.

 

If the person taking the sample is of a darkness persuasion, there surely are other ways to sample the taste of a dryad.

A troll probably would take a bite out of a dryad, without necessarily killing her before.

Gorakiki Mosquito uses a sting to drink plant sap directly, but there are other methods to gain sap or resin from a living tree.

 

Assuming that the humanoid presence of a dryad is similar to that of elves, there would be some fruity meat over wooden bones, and possibly peach- or plum-like skin.

 

52 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

This deserves its own thread, since it has gone away from potions and alchemy.  Relevant to GM's description of a scene or event -

What is the smell of an apple tree dryad like?

Depends on the season. Spring will be like blossoms, late autumn might be of ripe apples.

A blossoming aldryami will reek of flowery perfume, possibly enough to cause severe allergic reactions to non-aldryami.

A wounded aldryami may smell of sweet sap or resin.

There may very well be an earthy or mulchy component to the aroma, too.

 

52 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

What is the taste of an apple tree dryad like? 

Assuming we are talking about the humanoid part, I tend to think of aldryami meat as a fruity or nutty flavor, aldryami bones wooden, but - possibly depending on the season again - with a bast skin which might be rather sweet.

I think that the dryad can choose how much like a human female and how much like a female ent (treant for D&D players) her body will be, and the taste will vary accordingly.

Her tree body will taste of apple tree - barch, bast, leaves, fruits, wood...

52 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Does this differ by body part? 

Aldryami eyes don't have pupils - which may mean they don't even have eye balls.

The foliage may taste like leaves, possibly like salad or sprouts, possibly like moss.

The taste of meat may vary with the amount of sap inside. Some bones might be hollow and have a fluffy marrow similar to elder or willow, and the outside of the bones will have bast layers.

52 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Is this "adult" content?

The birds and the bees...

The mouth may have nectar glands, and the nether region might have something like nectar next to the stamen, too.

Nymphs are able to sample the procreative juices of just about any possible partner and to shape some offspring thereof. Dryads might, too. Unless we are talking green elves, who cannot (or must not) procreate with dryads.

Dryad offspring may be born as trees or other such plants, possibly undergoing a metamorphosis or requiring a finishing touch to become something else. Durev may very well be the offspring of Orstan the Elder and a dryad, and then liberated by his father's carving knife.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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4 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I can't recall ever including smell or taste in my description of a scene, and since I'd like to improve i will try to remember to do so.

It's pretty common to do that (at least the smell part) when you play horror games like Call of Cthulhu. In fact, it's even recommended in the Keeper Guidebook IIRC, along with other details.

Quote

What is the smell of an apple tree dryad like?

What is the taste of an apple tree dryad like?  Does this differ by body part?  Is this "adult" content?

I like @Joerg's idea of different smells per seasons, and of course they would smell slightly different based on the type of apple (but that may be somewhat irrelevant at the table). I think they would also smell different based on strong emotions -- there's some research showing that plants can emit airborne signals and secrete different compounds based on what's happening to them and around them. A dryad in a tense situation might start smelling slightly acrid, while one in good company might smell sweet. This would only be communicated to the players on a successful "Insight (Aldryami)" roll, however, or if it's obvious -- basically at the same level as reading another human's emotions.

As for the taste... well... trolls would say it tastes "very, very good". But that's because they like strong tastes. When the dryad gets smashed repeatedly, and gets eaten only minutes or hours later (sometimes alive, sometimes dead), it has secreted a lot of acid substances that trolls love. For humans, however, that tastes horrible. The few humans who eat dryads and live long enough to talk about it will say that they have to put the dryad at ease before chopping them in two by surprise. If they know something's up, they won't taste as good... although I guess there might be a market for sour dryads -- possibly with a well timed stress level increase in the dryad before execution. "I like my dryads warned exactly 7 seconds before the cut, that creates a wonderfully sweet-and-sour taste". Talk to your local Thanatar priest for what's on the menu today.

As for the adult content... well, it follows that the more, ahem, "attentive and considerate" lover you are, the sweeter it tastes. If you taste a bit of sour, you might suspect that dryad's faking it. 😄

Edited by lordabdul
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I have been thinking more about the Bestiary saying "An entirely female race that breeds with elves for continuance." For a race that could dematerialize in previous versions.

But RQ:G does not mention that they are nymphs. In RQ2 and RQ3 they were a subtype of nymph. Nymphs (Bestiary p171) "At will, a nymph can form (or dissipate) a human-like body from the substance of her home." RQ:G Bestiary has a completely different entry for dryads. Different than naiads or oreads. It does state (p171 again) there are many types of nymphs. And dryads fit with the "various places of nature such as a hill, lake, meadow, or river" if the example had just added "forest". Bestiary clearly states they are in the 'Plant Spirit' category as an Aldryami. 

They also have very similar powers. And Blackthorn trees have a "malignant, tortured dryad trapped inside, who can manifest to protect her home". So again, it implies normal dryads can dissolve and manifest at will.

But the Dryad entry does not have a 'Bodiless' entry that nymphs do. In my Glorantha, dryads can dissolve and manifest at will...like nymphs and those tortured ones in Blackthorn Trees. Unlike other Aldryami. Indeed, p176 says "However, some spirits (such as elementals, dryads, nymphs and other genius loci) can incorporate in the Material World, taking physical substance from their chosen matter." So I think I am on firm RAW footing. But the dryad entry is still missing that 'Bodiless' ability. Or the "Special Note: A nymph may initiate spirit combat when discorporate." So I believe dryads are both a type of nymph and an Aldryami, and has both of those powers. I do wonder why Chaosium did not specify those two powers for dryads.

But my real question was going to be what effect that may have on a developing fetus. If a Brown Elf and a Dryad attempt to procreate, does the dryad need to remain manifest for about nine months? Does the attempt always produce a dryad, or if the fetus would be male is it a Brown Elf?

Presumably, an attempt to procreate with a Satyr (page 35) produces male satyrs. I doubt it would mention "They are disliked by dryads (who the satyrs consider their natural mates) and most elves will avoid them" if satyr+dryad were completely unable to produce offspring. Hence I suspect brown elf+dryad could produce either a dryad or a male brown elf.

Of course, whatever makes the maximum fun in your tale.

 

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2 minutes ago, Dragon said:

I have been thinking more about the Bestiary saying "An entirely female race that breeds with elves for continuance." For a race that could dematerialize in previous versions.

But RQ:G does not mention that they are nymphs. ,,,,

While the explicit mention is absent, the general purpose of a female fertility spirit tied to a feature able to take on a physical form, able to bear children from a broad range of fathers, and possibly without any father fertilizing her, is met by dryads.

I think that their humanoid bodies (for varying degrees of resemblance to Treebeard) are emanations from their tree, which is their real body, and which is where the growth of any offspring happens.

Green elf and brown elf females give birth to a sizable nut through a birth canal. It is possible that a dryad about to give birth takes on humanoid form to give birth to the equivalent fruit when fertilized by a male brown or yellow elf. No idea whether the dryad can simply disembody leaving the ripe fruit behind, which then would be planted next to the tree for its final development before entering the mobile stage.

A non-aldryami father (e.g. a minotaur, satyr, or human) may result in offspring receiving a live birth, or ripening in a special kind of fruit or outgrowth of the tree..

2 minutes ago, Dragon said:

But my real question was going to be what effect that may have on a developing fetus. If a Brown Elf and a Dryad attempt to procreate, does the dryad need to remain manifest for about nine months? Does the attempt always produce a dryad, or if the fetus would be male is it a Brown Elf?

I think that a dryad would be born from either parthenogenesis or possibly pollination (of her tree?) by a Great Tree.

IMO the tree would create an organ serving as the womb, resembling a gallnut but inside the barch. Whenever the dryad manifests, she will show signs of pregnancy.

2 minutes ago, Dragon said:

Presumably, an attempt to procreate with a Satyr (page 35) produces male satyrs. I doubt it would mention "They are disliked by dryads (who the satyrs consider their natural mates) and most elves will avoid them" if satyr+dryad were completely unable to produce offspring. Hence I suspect brown elf+dryad could produce either a dryad or a male brown elf.

Brown elf offspring could be either male or female, IMO. I am not sure that a brown elf pregnancy would be exclusive for a dryad, either - she might have several children fruits in the making.

If a mortal father wanted to sire a dryad, I am not sure whether he would survive the mating. That would go for aldryami sires, too.

 

Satyrs mating with dryads would need to use magic to prevent the dryad from discorporating. But then, a satyr's advances may be magical in nature already.

 

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Satyrs mating with dryads would need to use magic to prevent the dryad from discorporating. But then, a satyr's advances may be magical in nature already.

While Bestiary states dryads don't like satyrs, it also states "and do not force themselves on the unwilling." (Page 35). I would expect using magic to prevent the dryad from escaping (in any manner) would be forcing. The magics they mention are Fanaticism, Demoralize, Sleep, Dance, and Madness. None of them would magically cause consent. While madness causes them to "not react to any outside stimuli", we should all agree any mating attempt would be unwilling. Thus satyrs would avoid even that attempt.

Yes, something must be off in that dryads don't like satyrs, satyrs do not force themselves, yet satyrs think dryads are their natural mates. The best way to resolve that is that some odd dryads may actually like a satyr every so often, just not most of them.

 

I do love the idea that the fetus develops in a pod in the tree and that while they manifest in female humanoid form they show as pregnant. It also allows that the pod is vulnerable to certain attacks.

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On 6/20/2021 at 6:02 AM, Dragon said:

Yes, something must be off in that dryads don't like satyrs, satyrs do not force themselves, yet satyrs think dryads are their natural mates. The best way to resolve that is that some odd dryads may actually like a satyr every so often, just not most of them

There could just be a myth that Dryads and satyrs were once each other's natural mates, but then something happened where the states got turned off the satyrs, and so it's remained ever since.

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On 6/20/2021 at 12:02 AM, Dragon said:

Yes, something must be off in that dryads don't like satyrs, satyrs do not force themselves, yet satyrs think dryads are their natural mates. The best way to resolve that is that some odd dryads may actually like a satyr every so often, just not most of them.

an idea I have reading this

maybe dryads following Aldrya (plant way) don't like satyrs because even earth, satyrs are not plant

maybe there are dryads who don't follow Aldrya and accept satyrs

By the way I would say that when a dryad (from Aldrya) try to "meet" some no-plant being, some curse on her domain should happen, dryad 's baby could be an abomination, except if she has done some specific and hard rituals, with the help of a lot of followers to gain the blessing of Aldrya.

 

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2 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

maybe there are dryads who don't follow Aldrya

I think it is a bit hard to be the embodiment of a tree and not claiming that ancestral tie to the mother of tree plant life. Maybe a sorcerous dryad? But that would be about as rare as a dwarf shaman or a triolini fire priest.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Seing as this is becoming a topic that needs to be spun off yet again, I will bring it back to the OPs intent. 

On 6/18/2021 at 6:41 AM, Squaredeal Sten said:

I can't recall ever including smell or taste in my description of a scene, and since I'd like to improve i will try to remember to do so.

 

When walking through Badside (outside of Pavis), I would imagine the smell of open sewage, rotting meats, body odours of people and animals pressed too closely. Apple Lane in Sea Season should be redolent in the smell of apple blossoms, possibly something sublime. And arriving in Autumn to scent the freshly baked apple pies in windows and pouring forth from the Tin Inn! Entering this fine establishment might cause the weaker to swoon. Dagori Inkarth, the mind boggles at the possible smells here... I can not even imagine the smells never mind describing them,

Spoiler

Think of the scene in the Flying Trollkin

 and the dissonance that would cause in a mixed party of Uz (that name truly works in this discussion) and human. I will leave that to folk with better imaginations and vocabularies than I. Hmm, I am thinking a thesaurus might be the GMs best friend here. 

Edited by Bill the barbarian

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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What a great way to improve one's GMing craft and to make scenes really memorable to players! And so easily done (with just a little thought.) Throwing in descriptions of smell especially could also be a fun way to notify players that danger lies ahead or as a means of misdirection. Imagine telling players that their characters catch an especially strong scent of honey (or roses or whatever smells nice) emanating from a ruin they're about to enter - only for them to find out it's coming from a broo with some sort of funky chaos feature (e.g., sores that ooze a sweet, syrupy secretion.)

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13 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

When walking through Badside (outside of Pavis), I would imagine the smell of open sewage, rotting meats, body odours of people and animals pressed too closely. Applelane in Sea Season should be redolent in the smell of apple blossoms, possibly something sublime. And arriving in Autumn to scent the freshly baked apple pies in windows and pouring forth from the Tin Inn! Entering this fine establishment might cause the weaker to swoon. Dagori Inkarth, the mind boggles at the possible smells here... I can not even imagine the smells never mind describing them,

Imagine the Stinking Forest!

With some of those, I'd expect CON rolls to be regular, or suffer some sort of penalty (such as reduction in perception skills).

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On 6/21/2021 at 11:43 AM, Bill the barbarian said:

the dissonance that would cause in a mixed party of Uz (that name truly works in this discussion) and human.

Indeed. The Uz would not be bothered and may even be enticed by fusty, malodorous, or fetid. Uz probably enjoy what a human would call putrid, as it involves decaying organic matter. To Uz, that only improves the flavors of the food. Would Uz enjoy musty? Musty implies water seepage, and that may undermine their caverns. They may actually dislike musty as much as humans. Uz likely care little for the smells of flowers.

There could also be a discussion about how mostali or aldryami handle smells. Mostali may even depend on the caste. Some castes simply do not view smells as part of their job. Others would become experts in smells, e.g. quicksilver mostali. It makes sense that expertise in alchemical reactions would improve with better olfactory discrimination. But an iron mostali may ignore it. The perils of battlefields.

 

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