Should Scent be so Frustrating?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I have a character with scent in my game.

His player kind of uses it as an excuse to say "Wait," anytime anything tries to ambush them, "Didn't I smell it? Scent specifically says "A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet.""

Theoretically, I could say this makes scent way too powerful as a PC ability, but frankly, every 1st level druid and 4th level ranger potentially gains scent as a bonus ability with a whole pet animal attached as a bonus.

What bugs me the most about this is that lots of animals hunt by stealth. It's what they do. Since all animals have scent, how do they even catch anything if everything worth catching knows they're there?

I suppose I should just remind him that lots of creatures instinctively stay downwind and intelligent hunters learn to do the same; but does anyone else have tips for keeping scent from overwhelming their games?

Also... what kinds of illusions and self-alteration spells does scent penetrate?


Well, a wolf can charge 80 ft. That is outside of the range of scent even if upwind.

Dark Archive

A tiger or a lion can make a partial charge within 40 feet, allowing them to make a full attack plus rake against their prey in the surprise round.

Sczarni

plus most non-animals wont be expecting humaniods to be smelling them. they wouldnt worry about having to deal with scent

Grand Lodge

If the habitat stinks like the creature that is ambushing, then there is effectively nothing to detect. They've detected it already, but written it off and then they get surprised. If you keep smelling wolf urine on the trees, and you've had that for 3 hours of hiking, you'll be unaware when the wolves charge in 3 hours after you first got the scent.

Also, if a prevailing scent masks the creatures, that can also help. For example, rotten matter like fruit or bodies in an area where a predator is hidden.

Eg: Graveyard. You smell rotting flesh from the open graves.
Forest. You smell decomposing lemons under a tree.
Mine. You smell the thick scent of sulphur.
Attacked city. You smell the bitter smoke of burnt buildings.

Of course, if something weird and smelly is in a place where it doesn't belong, you should definitely be alerting the scent user. For instance, brimstone in the palace is indicative of devilry about.


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Maybe the trick to handling this is to throw the guy a bone every now and then. Give him an instance in which the ability comes in handy. Then, as KestlerGunner mentioned, throw in circumstances where it is not so overpowering, or is distracted by something else.

Then, make sure to keep him happy by allowing him to detect some clue or other.

This way, he gets the sense it is useful without it dominating his thinking. Thing about many players is, they have a new or favorite toy they want to use, and until they get tired of it, or it is acknowledged, they will try to exploit any situation to use it and get noticed for it. So notice him, give him his moment in the sun, and hopefully he'll get over it himself.

The Exchange

It also only allows you to know something is there, not pinpoint it. By the time your animal companion reacts (which will likely be noticed by the predator) and let's you know, you will likely already be rolling initiative. So you companion might get the surprise round, but not likely the rest of the party.


I'm not sure what it was like in 3.5e, but in Pathfinder, Perception is used for all senses, including smell.

In fact, it specifically mentions DC modifiers for competing smells, and a +8 bonus to detecting smells if you have the Scent special ability.

To me, this would indicate that the Scent special ability would give you the option to detect an approaching enemy via smell using your Perception check (at +8), where normally a visual detection would have been required (at normal Perception).
So if an enemy was invisible (+20 to +40 for Stealth from the effect), you'd still get a chance to smell them with Perception (with no bonuses to their Stealth from the effect), etc.

This would be the "reaction"-based check, just like if someone was sneaking up and you used Perception for a visual notice before an ambush.
Alternatively, a PC could try and use Scent to actively look for enemies as a move action (as per the Perception skill).

Basically, the guy with the Scent special ability should have a second chance at noticing an ambush, and the smell chance should be fairly high (hard to get bonuses and an automatic +8).

It is not automatic though, and competing smells (or overpowering smells) can ruin this guy's day too.

*Edit*
There's no RAW on this part, but someone using Stealth who doesn't know his victim has the ability to smell him, and/or doesn't make an effort to mask his scent, could likely be ruled at having no bonuses from ranks/dex/etc to Stealth rolls against the smell Perception check (effectively a +0 with modifiers).
This might make it pretty easy, although it seems like the distance modifier of +1/10ft works against the Scenter too.

As for illusions, unless the illusion creates smells too (not all do), he'd have a chance to notice something was up. I might even allow it as an "interaction" to allow a save, where others might not... but that's just me thinking about it, I'm not positive on the RAW for that one.


How 'bout that:
"Your animal companion begins to growl - you get a +5 circumstance bonus on your perception check" - stylish, effective but not to overpowered
(I mean, you have some speed when walking, there are only some brief moments between your companion detecting and the ambusher attacking)

As for scent PCs, yeah, that's what you get. You burned the use of a shapeshift or even a feat (as for half-orcs) and now you have the legendary insticts of a wild animal, sounds fair to me.


Animal Companions don't exactly give a free scent ability.

a) They can't talk so can't say "Hey I smell something"
b) They got an Int of 2, usually, so they can't really judge if you'd consider something dangerous or not, so there might be a alot of false positives.
c) even if you increase the Int to 3, that's still ony the mental equivalent of say a 2 year old, so that really doesn't help as much as people make it out to be.
d) Unless you train your AC to bark at every little rabbit or rat-poop they come across, or chase after it, it might mean he doesn't react to the real ambush either.

Granted if your half-orc has the scent feat, its a bit different. But he payed a feat for it, it should do something, if you come up with lame excuses as to why he can't smell something every single time, then you should have banned the scent feat from the start. If you totally don't like it, ban it now and give him the chance to replace it.

But, 30 ft are not much. Animals that hunt by scent will not ambush you downwind either, so it's just a 15 ft range to notice them, or at least not the 60 ft range.
Professional bandits probably don't attack that way either, since they know that the horses might smell them or something. And even if they don't care, there's only a 1/4 chance that they actually ambush downwind.
All the other time they're probably 30 ft away from you when their surprise round starts and they charge (which I don't need to remind you gives most people 40-60 ft speed for the round). Or use ranged attacks to nail you with arrows from the cover. Or cast spells on you. Or all of the above.

So yeah, Scent has it's moments, but it's hardly overpowered. It doesn't apply to every combat, but it should be allowed to affect some, or you'll make the player unhappy.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Drakli wrote:
Scent specifically says "A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet."

Lets consider real life for a second! Firstly a real life comparison...

using my natural 'sight' ability, I can 'visually' detect opponents within a far greater range than 30ft, on a nice bright day in the open I can detect even further using my natural 'sight' ability. Sadly however, this does not make me immune to ambush or as is more likely, someone sneaking up and shouting boo! Even with my might 'sight' and 'hearing' ability this is still possible. So the big question is, why would this be any different for 'scent'?? My cat has a much better 'scent' and 'hearing' ability than I do, and given the right situation, I can sneak up on her!

Secondly lets apply a little logic...

Scent, an ability given to almost all 'animals' in the game! Should it really be that powerful as to make you immune to ambush? I really think not. Besides, there would be a lot of 'ambush' hunting predators going hungry if that was the case, since most of the pray has the scent ability.

I would suggest you tell your player to get a grip and stop being a mook!

Liberty's Edge

In most situations I would give the PC a perception check with Scent which allows him to act in the surprise round - due to the range of it, likely you will pick up the scent just as things are starting so it gives that slight edge (This is not exactly overpowering - Diviner Wizards always get to act in a surprise round).
On occassion, if the Ambushers were waiting all around for the perfect moment to strike, I may allow a good perception Scent check to give him time enough to warn the party so all avoid a surprise round this is a bit more powerful but it is a nice 'reward' for the player to feel his Scent was cool (and the reality is, if someone in the party had made an awesome Perception check without Scent they likely would have been able to do the same)

Scarab Sages

Allia Thren wrote:

Animal Companions don't exactly give a free scent ability.

a) They can't talk so can't say "Hey I smell something"
b) They got an Int of 2, usually, so they can't really judge if you'd consider something dangerous or not, so there might be a alot of false positives.
c) even if you increase the Int to 3, that's still ony the mental equivalent of say a 2 year old, so that really doesn't help as much as people make it out to be.
d) Unless you train your AC to bark at every little rabbit or rat-poop they come across, or chase after it, it might mean he doesn't react to the real ambush either.

You've never with with a drug dog or hearing dog have you?

A dog can be trained to alert to a range of circumstances, in this context "danger." The alert can be any range of actions the dog would normally be capable of taking. Growling is probably a bad choice though.

Stating an intelligence of 2 or 3 is deceptive. While dogs may possess limited cognitive abilities, they are very capable predators. They understand hunting, they understand danger, and they already communicate this among themselves.

On the same grounds, any natural predator is going to approach from downwind. Failure to have this as an instinctive knowledge would have lead to predators dying of starvation long ago, after all, everything they hunt has the scent ability. Similar care would be, and still is, taken by any skilled hunter tracking prey that might smell him.


Drakli wrote:

I have a character with scent in my game.

His player kind of uses it as an excuse to say "Wait," anytime anything tries to ambush them, "Didn't I smell it? Scent specifically says "A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet.""

Is he taking move actions to actively check?

Otherwise I do believe that scent will only get him adjacent automatically, or has this changed?

-James


james maissen wrote:

Is he taking move actions to actively check?

Otherwise I do believe that scent will only get him adjacent automatically, or has this changed?

-James

The move action is to tell in which direction the scent is coming from. If you smell a bugbear within 30 feet (say), that should raise a red flag regardless of precisely where it's actually located.

To answer the OP: Yes, the Scent ability is annoying. And yes, I've had the PC with the Scent ability at one point, and I've been the one asking "Why didn't I smell anything?"


Artanthos wrote:


You've never with with a drug dog or hearing dog have you?

A dog can be trained to alert to a range of circumstances, in this context "danger." The alert can be any range of actions the dog would normally be capable of taking. Growling is probably a bad choice though.

Stating an intelligence of 2 or 3 is deceptive. While dogs may possess limited cognitive abilities, they are very capable predators. They understand hunting, they understand danger, and they already communicate this among themselves.

You're right about that. However something we might consider a danger, is just unusual or strange for a predator.

Also, scent allows you to identify familiar odors. If you never smelled what a bugbear smells like, you won't know that one is near. You might smell "something strange" though.

But unless you want your dog to completely freak out when you take him into any human settlement, then training it to react agressively to the presence of other humans might not be a very good idea.

Quote:
On the same grounds, any natural predator is going to approach from downwind. Failure to have this as an instinctive knowledge would have lead to predators dying of starvation long ago, after all, everything they hunt has the scent ability. Similar care would be, and still is, taken by any skilled hunter tracking prey that might smell him.

I might have mixed up down and upwind. I mean "against the wind", so the target gets the reduced smell range and the attacker gets the enhanced one.

Hunters that stalk deer or so sure do that as well, but bandits trying to ambush humans? Maybe not.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well then lets throw this one in..

Eidolons can get sent. They are both highly intelligent and can speak.
Most familiars also get sent. They have at least the ability to produce empathy if not talk and also smart.
Blessed Mounts also get sent, while they cannot talk they are still smart.

I'm currently playing a synthesis summoner who has sent. We have an oracle and a paladin with the blessed mounts that also have sent.

For us, we are asked to make a perception check, and we respond if sent can be involved or tell him X without sent, and X+8 with sent.

In my current game it has proved to be useful. In a game back in 4e, there was always.. and I mean alway, something that overpowered any ability to smell the enemy.


You need to remember the abilities of your player characters and give them the appropriate Perception check with bonus each time. I recommend collecting info on Perception checks and senses for all your players, so that you can make those checks in secret and reveal the ambush only if your roll for them indicates success.


Let's see:

Guard dogs to stop people from entering and taking your property.

Blood hounds to track missing people/ escapees.

Dogs sniffing out cancers.

The mythology of animals being able to sense the supernatural/ undead / fae-folk what have you.

Yup, Scent is supposed to be that frustrating. It can be foiled: anise oil and peppermint oil "bombs", breaking the trail by crossing water (not always guaranteed, especially if you have an article of clothing), etc. But if it wasn't good we wouldn't have cultivated dogs with animal husbandry to acquire a trait humans lack. It's super awesome when given to a PC/ eidolon and not an animal as they possess better communication abilities than most critters.


In 3.5 the designers believed that scent was extremely powerful. You seldom saw feats/abilities that gave you scent non-magically.

Calling scent a feat pushes the limit of how powerful a feat can be.

Quote:
Also... what kinds of illusions and self-alteration spells does scent penetrate?

Smell-based components are applied in major image-level spells and up. Creatures interacting with figments below major image (silent image, minor image) should get a bonus on their saving throws (probably a +2, but I could see +4 being fair for some illusions). Using an action to use scent on an illusion should be considered interacting with the illusion.

I don't believe scent should help you against polymorph-type spells because (I assume) they make you smell like whatever creature you're turning into. . . maybe a perception check versus disguise check to determine if the smell is accurate?


You know you don't have to wait for the PC's to get within 30 feet to spring an ambush. PC's at 40 feet your ambush party shoots/casts/charges etc...

Or you can immediately spring the ambush as the PC's walk into the 30 ft range. Since scent requires a move action to pinpoint, the PC will still be surprised.


Gignere wrote:

Or you can immediately spring the ambush as the PC's walk into the 30 ft range. Since scent requires a move action to pinpoint, the PC will still be surprised.

Not really as everybody is allowed the passive perception non move action check for surprise even the folks without scent. it only provides an additional factor to be accounted for during that process.

PFSRD wrote:
Action: Most Perception checks are reactive, made in response to observable stimulus. Intentionally searching for stimulus is a move action.

Once again using covering scents, spells that mask scent, trying to sniff out a person in a charnel house/abbatoir may in fact make scent a non issue. But springing the assault as soon as they cross the 30 ft mark doesn't.


Drakli wrote:


What bugs me the most about this is that lots of animals hunt by stealth. It's what they do. Since all animals have scent, how do they even catch anything if everything worth catching knows they're there?

By hunting from downwind. They figured this out already.

Ninetails Demon wrote:
Well, a wolf can charge 80 ft. That is outside of the range of scent even if upwind.

Wolves and other dogs are pack hunters. And I'm pretty sure bears don't sneak up on anything. Only cats are stealth hunters.


Dragonsong wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
And I'm pretty sure bears don't sneak up on anything.
As someone who had a bear sneak up on me and my dad while we were goofing around feeding squirrels trail mix they, in fact, can and it is a sphincter tightening experience. But apparently it does require a distraction for them to sneak.

I doubt they sneak up on PREY. I doubt a deer is going to miss a bear.


Cartigan wrote:
Dragonsong wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
And I'm pretty sure bears don't sneak up on anything.
As someone who had a bear sneak up on me and my dad while we were goofing around feeding squirrels trail mix they, in fact, can and it is a sphincter tightening experience. But apparently it does require a distraction for them to sneak.
I doubt they sneak up on PREY. I doubt a deer is going to miss a bear.

Quite true and as humans we don't have the scent quality.


Keep in mind the game is dungeons and dragons, not wild animal kingdom. The rules are meant for PC's and the monsters that kill them, not for modeling predator prey interactions in yellowstone.

-Yes, scent ruins ambushes if someone tries to get within 30 feet. Ambush from further out. A rogue can try to start the ambush at 35 feet, 5 foot step forward, and sneak attack.

-A move action is required to notice the DIRECTION of the hidden foe, not its mere presence. That's a non action, the same way seeing someone walking up the street is a non action.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.

BNW- Note the lack of any sort of action

When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source's location.


Even if scent alerts the PC of the presence of creatures, how does the PC know it is hostile?

Let's assume that the PC is paranoid and once they detect the presence of anything, the PC assumes it's an enemy. However, the PC with scent still have no idea where the enemy is. It takes a move action to determine that. The enemy could be attacking from the front, side, the back, above him, even below him .

So how can the PC not be surprised if he misses his perception check to see where the enemies are?

Unless you spring the ambush 5 feet from the PC with scent, which allows him to pinpoint the hidden enemy, all the PC with scent gets is a normal perception roll like every other PC gets.


Gignere wrote:
Even if scent alerts the PC of the presence of creatures, how does the PC know it is hostile?

Irrelevant. The PC only has to know there is a creature hidden from them. The creature's intent is irrelevant in foiling an ambush by knowing a creature is lying in wait.


Gignere wrote:
Even if scent alerts the PC of the presence of creatures, how does the PC know it is hostile?

Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

-So if the character smells Deer, he salivates. If he smells orcs He shouts a warning and prepares for battle.

Quote:
Let's assume that the PC is paranoid and once they detect the presence of anything, the PC assumes it's an enemy. However, the PC with scent still have no idea where the enemy is. It takes a move action to determine that. The enemy could be attacking from the front, side, the back, above him, even below him.

Correct, but the party can move behind cover, cast defensive spells etc.

Quote:
So how can the PC not be surprised if he misses his perception check to see where the enemies are?

Because the rules don't say you're surprised when you fail a perception roll. You're surprised when you're unaware of an enemy. A perception roll is the most common means of becoming aware, but if you're smelling orc, you're aware of them.

Shadow Lodge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source's location.

This is correct. You're not going to magically know you're being ambushed. You'll only know that there are people nearby. You can try to 'sniff out' more information, but that's the extent of it.

Further, if we are using animals as a guide, you don't really know whether the scent is due to the present or the recent past.

As other posts have suggested, if this is becoming a pain for you, make it commonplace throughout play. Have the player smell everyone and everything coming up and be prepared to answer any scent related questions along the way.

"You smell somebody," should be the opener every time there is an encounter along the road, for example. This way the player doesn't automatically know that every time the feat kicks in they need to fight.

Shadow Lodge

Gignere wrote:

Even if scent alerts the PC of the presence of creatures, how does the PC know it is hostile?

Because it exists, duh. Bags of XP don't like being harvested.

"How much XP for the squirrel?"


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Gignere wrote:
Even if scent alerts the PC of the presence of creatures, how does the PC know it is hostile?

Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

-So if the character smells Deer, he salivates. If he smells orcs He shouts a warning and prepares for battle.

Quote:
Let's assume that the PC is paranoid and once they detect the presence of anything, the PC assumes it's an enemy. However, the PC with scent still have no idea where the enemy is. It takes a move action to determine that. The enemy could be attacking from the front, side, the back, above him, even below him.

Correct, but the party can move behind cover, cast defensive spells etc.

Quote:
So how can the PC not be surprised if he misses his perception check to see where the enemies are?

Because the rules don't say you're surprised when you fail a perception roll. You're surprised when you're unaware of an enemy. A perception roll is the most common means of becoming aware, but if you're smelling orc, you're aware of them.

The rules also don't say that you become auto aware with scent. I read through the whole scent rules and nowhere does that say scent = auto aware.

Unless you are saying detecting the presence = aware. Which I disagree, because like I said above you still have no idea which way the ambush is coming from. If the character with scent spends a move action then I will agree that he is aware.


Quote:
The rules also don't say that you become auto aware with scent. I read through the whole scent rules and nowhere does that say scent = auto aware.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell

If you've detected it you are aware of it.

a·ware
   [uh-wair] Show IPA
adjective
1.
having knowledge; conscious; cognizant: aware of danger.

The character KNOWS that there is a (insert monster here) within 30 feet.

Quote:
Unless you are saying detecting the presence = aware. Which I disagree, because like I said above you still have no idea which way the ambush is coming from. If the character with scent spends a move action then I will agree that he is aware.

Can you point to something in the rules that would support this? The rules do not require total awareness, nor state that you have to know what square the creature is in. Its the same as a human making his perception roll to hear an intruder on a dark night. He doesn't know WHERE they are but he knows they're there.

Shadow Lodge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Quote:
The rules also don't say that you become auto aware with scent. I read through the whole scent rules and nowhere does that say scent = auto aware.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell

If you've detected it you are aware of it.

You seem to be crossing over into blindsense:

Quote:
The creature with blindsense usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice and locate creatures within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature.

Unless you're stating that scent always gives blindsense. Is that your statement?


Quote:
The creature with blindsense usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice and locate creatures within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature.

versus

Quote:
When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source's location.

The key difference between scent and blindsense is that blindsense automatically knows location within range. Both scent and blindsense automatically know when something is in the range.

Shadow Lodge

meabolex wrote:
Quote:
The creature with blindsense usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice and locate creatures within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature.

versus

Quote:
When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source's location.
The key difference between scent and blindsense is that blindsense automatically knows location within range. Both scent and blindsense automatically know when something is in the range.

The scent ability also uses the words can detect rather than detects. With all their caution about passive voice, do you think this is an oversight?

'Can' = die roll, usually.


mcbobbo wrote:

The scent ability also uses the words can detect rather than detects. With all their caution about passive voice, do you think this is an oversight?

'Can' = die roll, usually.

I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that the wording for the Scent ability is unchanged from the 3.5 version. In 3.5, there was no scent perception skill, so it was assumed that detection with scent was automatic. So is the intention in Pathfinder that the Scent ability should work differently, notwithstanding the identical wording? It's hard to say for sure.

Shadow Lodge

hogarth wrote:
mcbobbo wrote:

The scent ability also uses the words can detect rather than detects. With all their caution about passive voice, do you think this is an oversight?

'Can' = die roll, usually.

I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that the wording for the Scent ability is unchanged from the 3.5 version. In 3.5, there was no scent perception skill, so it was assumed that detection with scent was automatic. So is the intention in Pathfinder that the Scent ability should work differently, notwithstanding the identical wording? It's hard to say for sure.

And that makes sense. I guess I'm trying to point out how one would need to use dice when using their eyes AND when using their nose. All scent does is let you use your nose.

As other posters have said, this is still an amazing advantage, as few take precautions to cover their smells.


mcbobbo wrote:

The scent ability also uses the words can detect rather than detects. With all their caution about passive voice, do you think this is an oversight?

'Can' = die roll, usually.

Just because many abilities that do require an action use the word "can" doesn't mean that the word must be used in context with actions. I agree it's poor writing, but it's also incorrect to associate things to the word 'can' that are just coincidental.

For instance,

Quote:
Gaze attacks can affect ethereal opponents

You don't need to perform an additional action to make a gaze attack affect an ethereal opponent. It just does affect them.

The bottom line is that scent has *always* been a powerful ability. It's not as strong as blindsense from a purely tactical perspective, but in some ways it's about as strong.

Shadow Lodge

Forgive me, meabolex, but it seems you're actually arguing my point.

To recap my understanding thus far:

What I said - Scent, like sight, requires checks.

What you're saying - Scent, unlike sight, requires no checks.

meabolex wrote:


Quote:
Gaze attacks can affect ethereal opponents
You don't need to perform an additional action to make a gaze attack affect an ethereal opponent. It just does affect them.

Gaze attack against a material opponent:

Either the character looks at the creature (an action) or the creature willfully attacks with the gaze (also an action).

Gaze attack against an ethereal opponent:

Either the character looks at the creature (an action) or the creature willfully attacks with the gaze (also an action).

Note that while you're correct in that there isn't any additional action required, it does not obviate the original action requirement, just by the introduction of the ethereal nature.

Vis-a-vis scent.


Sometimes I lose track about my arguments (:

Scent does require actions to find a creature's location *unless* the creature is within 5 feet. That's not being debated.

The question is whether the scent requires an action to simply know that a creature is within the scent ability's covered area. That's not trying to find a creature's location but simply proximity. In that case, there's no action.

I quote from the Invisibility section of the glossary:

Quote:
A creature with the scent ability can detect an invisible creature as it would a visible one.

Clearly since there's no action to visibly *detect* a visible creature (you see them), there's no action to detect an invisible creature. The only thing you don't know with scent is where they are; that is, you don't pinpoint their exact location. You just know they're in your scent range. If you spend a move action, you can get a direction of where they are.


mcbobbo wrote:
hogarth wrote:
mcbobbo wrote:

The scent ability also uses the words can detect rather than detects. With all their caution about passive voice, do you think this is an oversight?

'Can' = die roll, usually.

If there was supposed to be a die roll there would be one. If all scent did was add +8 to perception checks within 30 feet then most of the scent description wouldn't be there.

It isn't blindsense. Scent lets me know "there's an orc around here" blind-sense lets me know " There's something standing 28 feet North north west of me. Both are aware of a creature there, although they both have different information.


Considering there's rules for interfering smells modifying the DC, I'm under the impression that even detecting the presence of an enemy within 30 feet would require a check (albeit a fairly low one without modifiers).

This is similar to how seeing someone standing there is a reactive (no-action) perception check that starts at +0 (increased by distance, and reduced by bright light, etc).

Noticing an enemy within 30' would be a DC 0 check that is modified by smells, etc.

If a person is aware that something might be trying to notice it by scent, and takes precautions, I'd allow a Stealth check vs the Perception check for Scent to work for even noticing the enemy within 30'.

*Edit*

Actually, scratch all that. My train of thought finally reached it's station.

You can't stealth (from sight) unless you have cover or concealment. So the same will likely apply to stealth with scent.

You just "smell" someone like you just "see" someone. The game doesn't really have rules for "cover or concealment" for smells, but if a person makes even minimal effort to try and mask their scent (not just downwind, that's in the scent rules already), then they can make a Stealth check vs Scent Perception.

Otherwise, just like with seeing, it would be automatic, since there's no "cover or concealment" for the smell, it's like walking out into the open.

Scarab Sages

Allia Thren wrote:


Hunters that stalk deer or so sure do that as well, but bandits trying to ambush humans? Maybe not.

Probably not, a preset ambush aimed at catching random travelers is a good place for scent to shine.

If your being tracked by an evil ranger on the other hand, he'll know that you have dogs and/or some kind of weird monster/demon (eidolon) and take precautions when he has his not-so-merry band ambush you. It all depends on the circumstances of the ambush.

Combined with the not-so-merry band having lots of longbows, I doubt that scent will help you much in that scenario.

Likewise, in a dungeon full of orcs, everything is going to smell like orc. Literally, everything! If they have not used it as a bed, they have probably urinated on it, used it to scratch themselves, and/or chewed on it.

Scent is a very nice ability that should be useful, within limits. The limits are just as important as the uses though.


I've noticed that those who think scent is auto-detect have more problems with this than anyone else.

Scent still requires a Perception check. Nothing anywhere even suggests otherwise. With Scent, you can use your sense of smell, with a +8 bonus, within the appropriate range. If you use this interpretation, you will still have a potent ability and be consistent with the rules.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:

I've noticed that those who think scent is auto-detect have more problems with this than anyone else.

Scent still requires a Perception check. Nothing anywhere even suggests otherwise. With Scent, you can use your sense of smell, with a +8 bonus, within the appropriate range. If you use this interpretation, you will still have a potent ability and be consistent with the rules.

It is suggested otherwise in the entire description of scent NEVER mentioning any rolls to use, at all. That line is tucked away in the perception rules.

It is suggested in the fact that there is a description to scent at all, and not simply one line that reads

Characters with scent gain a +8 bonus on perception rolls to targets with an odor within 30 feet.

It says

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell.

It does not say that they can do so with with a successful perception check. It just says they do it. The wording that would indicate your ruling is conspicuously absent.

The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent

Note again.. no roll required, asked for, or hinted at. Meanwhile there ARE DC's for following tracks.


BigNorseWolf, I think you need to check the Perception Skill
Perception

"SRD - Perception wrote:
Your senses allow you to notice fine details and alert you to danger. Perception covers all five senses, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

It even gives the DC for smelling smoke and garbage. It also states that competing smells raise the DC for scent. So based on that information, I would go with scent being a part of perception.


Wolf, "can" doesn't mean "automatically succeeds." Without scent, you cannot smell someone 30 feet away under normal circumstances. This is why people are having a hard time with the rule. The problem is reduced to almost nonexistent if you don't read "can" as "auto."

The reason there is a description of "scent" is because it is not a sense humans use as well as other senses. It needs more detail than vision or hearing. It is also something that is used mostly by monsters, but there are ways for PCs to get it. Scent also is affected by things that don't affect other senses. Singling that out doesn't mean that we should assume that it is an auto-detect.

The opening line says that it allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Note that it allows, not automatically does.

Look at the whole ability, you need to use Survival to track by scent. This "suggests" that the ability is not an "auto success."


Ion Raven wrote:

BigNorseWolf, I think you need to check the Perception Skill

Perception
"SRD - Perception wrote:
Your senses allow you to notice fine details and alert you to danger. Perception covers all five senses, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
It even gives the DC for smelling smoke and garbage. It also states that competing smells raise the DC for scent. So based on that information, I would go with scent being a part of perception.

And whats the DC to notice someone standing right in front of you? 0. Whats the DC to smell someone 30 feet away from you in calm air? If there's a roll, its 0

Smell is on a completely different rule system from perception. Perception has varying DC's for distances, smell does not. Perception pin points a creature automatically, scent does not.

The only purpose of the +8 in the perception rules is to tell you that if you've got scent you have a bonus on picking up that bitter almond scent in your wineglass as you drink, NOT to re write 3 paragraphs of the scent rules.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Wolf, "can" doesn't mean "automatically succeeds." Without scent, you cannot smell someone 30 feet away under normal circumstances. This is why people are having a hard time with the rule.

I would appreciate it if you made your case for your interpretation without the implication that people that disagree with you are struggling to reach your "correct" conclusion.

Quote:
The problem is reduced to almost nonexistent if you don't read "can" as "auto."

Since there's no explanatory text stating DC's it is auto.

Quote:
The reason there is a description of "scent" is because it is not a sense humans use as well as other senses. It needs more detail than vision or hearing. It is also something that is used mostly by monsters, but there are ways for PCs to get it. Scent also is affected by things that don't affect other senses. Singling that out doesn't mean that we should assume that it is an auto-detect.

meanwhile, the only thing that remotely suggests that it isn't autodetect is 200 pages away in a section that could easily be read to give scented creatures a +8 bonus to detect poison in their wine or a ham sandwhich hidden under a desk.

The opening line says that it allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Note that it allows, not automatically does.

Quote:
Look at the whole ability, you need to use Survival to track by scent. This "suggests" that the ability is not an "auto success."

Quite the opposite. They didn't bother to mention the DC for creatures standing there... at all. Even if they did the dc would be 10 for a fresh trail... you can't get any fresher than the critter standing right there. (and if the creature isn't fresh that just helps) with a +8 bonus you would need to roll a 2 to detect it without any other bonuses... what on earth would be the difference between auto detect and a roll that can't miss?

You are skilled at avoiding detection, allowing you to slip past foes or strike from an unseen position. This skill covers hiding and moving silently.

There's nothing in the stealth rules about covering your scent. Stealth covers hearing and sight.

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