Question about Scent Ability


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

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I recently made a Tiefling Barbarian/Ranger for PFS play, and his first rage power is Scent. The Scent ability reads:

"A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet."... "A creature with the Survival skill and the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Survival check to find or follow a track. A creature with the scent ability can attempt to follow tracks using Survival untrained."

So my question is, what benefits am I getting from Scent, assuming that I have a good Survival skill to begin with? How I am interpreting it is that if I wanted to try and see enemies nearby, I could roll a Perception check, and if I failed it, I could also roll a Survival check to see if I could find the enemy by scent. What about Track? Can I roll for a basic survival Track roll, then if it fails, attempt to roll the same check again, but this time using Scent to track rather than my eyes? Or does Scent add something to my Survival (track) roll?

Dark Archive

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Scent has 3 main benefits and is actually pretty easy to handle though you'll need to remind your GM a bit about them for awhile.

A. Scent grants a simple +8 to all perception checks made inside the range of your scent ability (Usually 30 feet but sometimes more or less depending on environment) that could benefit from it. I routinely make use of it for looking for traps (sniffing the oiled gears) & picking out hidden invisible targets.

B. Tracking, scent allows you to track any target without needing to invest in the survival skill. Normally you must be trained to follow tracks with a DC over 10, scent bypasses that restriction. The mechanical benefits of having scent and survival together allow you to ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility the two biggest modifiers to tracking. You still only make 1 check but the DC is much MUCH easier.

B. Finally the biggest advantage is dealing with invisible/hidden enemies. Remember it's a move action to actively sniff around to determine if something is in range and no action at all anytime you come within 5 feet of a target you automatically pinpoint them no matter what.

If you have an invisible or hidden target somewhere out there you simply roll Perception +8 vs their stealth (ignore the +20 bonus for invisibility since you aren't using your eyes) to determine what direction and move that way. As soon as you come within 5 feet you auto notice them and pinpoint the square.
IF you fail that Perception check then you roll survival instead (DC 10 +size modifier) to find their tracks and follow that to their square and THEN you auto determine the square. Invisibility and Stealth mean NOTHING to you, no one can hide from you now.


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Mathwei covered most of it, but Scent is actually even better than Mathwei indicated.

It is true that Scent gives a +8 to Perception checks (within its range) that can be used to pinpoint the location of an invisible or Stealthed person (assuming they have any smell; ghosts and similar creatures arguably don't), but--and this is just amazingly good--it AUTODETECTS within its range for free. For FREE, no action required. To determine the direction of the source of the smell is a move action that AUTOMATICALLY succeeds (again, within its relatively limited range). It is only even necessary to roll a Perception check (at +8) if you are trying to pinpoint the location of the hidden source of the smell, and not even then if that source is within 5'.

Sovereign Court

Thanks guys! This is exactly what I was looking for.


the way i play it, against invisible opponents the player automatically knows the correct position that the invisible character is (if he is in adjustant squares ofc) BUT it doesn't negate the 50% concealment bonus right?

it doesn't make sense to negate the 50% penalty, since imo this comes from the invisible opponent being able to dodge correctly and you not being able to follow his moveements. i doubt that you can "smell" when an opponent lifts his arm to avoid you stabbing that particular spot.


Correct; you still have to deal with 50% miss chance because you can't see him, but you are still able to say with 100% certainty that there is an invisible thing adjacent to you.


Keep in mind it only functions while raging and that orcs have a racial feat to get scent full time.

Edit: Except I just realized a tiefling isn't an orc...


By the way, dogs are as great as they are as guard animals in the game for precisely this reason. They get a +8 Perception bonus on normal checks (+1 for 1 skill point, +3 for "class skill", +1 for Wisdom mod, +3 for Skill Focus: Perception) that doesn't even count in their Scent bonus to Perception checks, meaning that they get a total of +16 to detect the location of anything within scent range (15'-60', depending on wind conditions) that has any odor at all. And, of course, they autodetect the nearby presence of an enemy even when they cannot pinpoint its exact location.

If they are trained to aid another on Survival rolls to track, the average mutt will succeed 80% of the time on a fresh trail (with their +4 racial bonus to scent tracking Survival rolls), and a dog animal companion will soon advance to the point at which it cannot fail to aid another.

Dark Archive

Also don't forget that Scent + Blindfight = Never get sneak attacked again (against blindness or invisibility at least)
Not a big deal on a Barbarian but it's an awesome extra on every other class.

The number of times deeper darkness and a nasty rogue-type has been sprung on me makes this an ALWAYS worth it combo.

Dang dark Stalkers, grrr....


Where does the +8 come from?


Under perception skill: "Creatures with the scent special quality have a +8 bonus on Perception checks made to detect a scent."


Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Where does the +8 come from?

They spread the rules on Scent ability around. The most complete description of it is in the Glossary of the CRB. However, that particular snippet is a notation in the Perception skill.

Quote:
Special: Elves, half-elves, gnomes, and halflings receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks. Creatures with the scent special quality have a +8 bonus on Perception checks made to detect a scent. Creatures with the tremorsense special quality have a +8 bonus on Perception checks against creatures touching the ground and automatically make any such checks within their range. For more on special qualities, see Special Abilities.

Took too long writing the para below. Ninja'd!

Regardless, there is one sorta grey area in the rules on Scent, and that is what happens when a detectable enemy comes within Scent range of a sleeping creature who has the Scent ability. RAW, it seems as if they autodetect, but there are no rules as to whether they automatically awaken. I houserule a Perception check (including the +8 modifier for Scent and the -10 for being asleep) for that in my game.


Zog of Deadwood wrote:
Regardless, there is one sorta grey area in the rules on Scent, and that is what happens when a detectable enemy comes within Scent range of a sleeping creature who has the Scent ability. RAW, it seems as if they autodetect, but there are no rules as to whether they automatically awaken. I houserule a Perception check (including the +8 modifier for Scent and the -10 for being asleep) for that in my game.

Yes, they detect, but there is no rules for waking up. Then again, if you have seen a dog sleeping and then something new walks by (say, a new cat you just got) you can bet the dog is jumping awake.

There are methods to avoid being smelled by scent, so I just give it that scent is really beneficial for those worried about being snuck up on in the middle of the night.

Now, if its the party rogue turned assassin, you might smell him, but you probably aren't going to jump awake. even if he is about to slit your throat.

Sovereign Court

@MrSin, can you get the continuous scent trait that you talked about by picking Adopted as one of your traits, and selecting Orc as the race that adopted you?

Also, if not, can you do the same with Ferocity? Is Orc a selectable race for the Adopted trait in PFS?


Tellis wrote:
@MrSin, can you get the continuous scent trait that you talked about by picking Adopted as one of your traits, and selecting Orc as the race that adopted you?

Only with racial heritage feat, which the tiefling does not qualify for.

Adopted doesn't give feats nor access to them nor racial traits like the humans bonus feat. It gives a race trait like warrior of old.

Sovereign Court

What about Ferocity? Could I be eligible for that?


Tellis wrote:
What about Ferocity? Could I be eligible for that?

Edit: removed the incorrect part.

Adopted doesn't give feats nor access to them nor racial traits like the humans bonus feat. It gives a race trait like warrior of old.


Tellis wrote:
What about Ferocity? Could I be eligible for that?

No, Orc Ferocity is a racial trait. I just said those were the ones you can't take. If you get 2 traits, and spend one on a combat trait, and spend the other on adopted, you the get a free race trait as part of the adopted trait. If you were adopted by half orcs, you could then take the brute or outcast trait, but you wouldn't gain access to the orc racial traits such as weapon familiarity, nor racial feats such as Keen Scent. Does that make more sense?

There is a human only feat called Racial Heritage, if you take that you can then take racial traits/feats/archetypes, but it doesn't give you any for free and it does eat up a feat slot.

Ansel Krulwich wrote:
Tellis wrote:
What about Ferocity? Could I be eligible for that?
Only with racial heritage feat, which the tiefling does not qualify for.

Ferocity is a racial trait, not a feat or trait. Thought there are similarly named orc feats.


Right you are... Fixed

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tellis Verani wrote:

I recently made a Tiefling Barbarian/Ranger for PFS play, and his first rage power is Scent. The Scent ability reads:

"A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet."... "A creature with the Survival skill and the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Survival check to find or follow a track. A creature with the scent ability can attempt to follow tracks using Survival untrained."

So my question is, what benefits am I getting from Scent, assuming that I have a good Survival skill to begin with? How I am interpreting it is that if I wanted to try and see enemies nearby, I could roll a Perception check, and if I failed it, I could also roll a Survival check to see if I could find the enemy by scent. What about Track? Can I roll for a basic survival Track roll, then if it fails, attempt to roll the same check again, but this time using Scent to track rather than my eyes? Or does Scent add something to my Survival (track) roll?

It comes into play when your eyes are rendered useless, either from darkness or being blinded.


However, if you really want a lot of stuff only half-orcs easily get (Keen Scent feat granting scent, inborn racial ferocity, darkvision, etc.), but you don't want to be a half-orc, there is an easy workaround.

BE a half-orc (yes, yes, I know), BUT also take the Pass for Human feat from the Advanced Player's Guide or, even better if the GM allows it, the Veiled Vileness feat from the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting book. That way you get all the half-orc goodness, but not the half-orc looks and stigma.

There might also be another way, but it would involve a certain amount of GM fiat. A ranger who selects the natural weapon combat style can take the feat Aspect of the Beast without having to meet the normal feat prerequisites (even if he does not select Aspect of the Beast as a bonus feat). As a GM, I would definitely allow any ranger who did this to qualify for Keen Scent regardless of race. RAW? No. However, except in PFS play, I'd bet most GMs would allow it.


Mathwei ap Niall wrote:


... simply roll Perception +8 vs their stealth (ignore the +20 bonus for invisibility since you aren't using your eyes) to determine what direction...

Not calling this wrong but lacking access to rules a.t.m., given the abstraction skills are, is it take +8 and also the -20, or is ignoring the -20 written somewhere*?

*I'm assuming it is, but I'm using a Wolf companion in a game, first time with access to scent in a long while, and want to know where to point if it comes up.


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Under the glossary section for invisible:
"A creature with the scent ability can detect an invisible creature as it would a visible one."


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This article proved helpful for my group!


Experiment 626 thanks for the article!!!
One thing I didn't agree with was the base DC for noticing a person in range was 15...why not 0? Like hearing a conversation is 0...

I would say if you have scent ability the base should be 0+mods
Maybe have a higher base for characters without the scent ability?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Just a note, 'generally' within 30 feet means that it's not exact. That's the Dev's way of handling the fact that wind affects scent. For the most part the system leaves that up to the GM. But if you're in a strong wind, it's not unreasonable to reduce the range on your downwind side (the side the wind is blowing away from you) and increase the range on your upwind side (the side that wind is blowing toward you). These should, for fairness, be about an equal amount. And within 5 ft should always be detectable. But again, the Devs leave it up to the GM.

The Exchange

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

Also don't forget that Scent + Blindfight = Never get sneak attacked again (against blindness or invisibility at least)

Not a big deal on a Barbarian but it's an awesome extra on every other class.

The number of times deeper darkness and a nasty rogue-type has been sprung on me makes this an ALWAYS worth it combo.

Dang dark Stalkers, grrr....

Page 68 of the CRB (last sentence of the Sneak Attack section) A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment. Darkness grants a miss chance due to concealment. Darkness (the spell) states that creatures get a miss chance due to concealment. Deeper Darkness states that you cannot see even with Darkvision. Therefore you cant be sneak attacked in Darkness unless the person doing the sneak attacking has darkvision and cannot sneak attack at all in Deeper Darkness regardless of darkvision.

And yes, I agree, Damn Dark Stalkers lol. They bypass this rule.


There are a couple of abilities which grant the ability to see through magical darkness such as deeper darkness.


My scent ability detects what square the summer of 2013 is in.

Grand Lodge

Tarantula wrote:
There are a couple of abilities which grant the ability to see through magical darkness such as deeper darkness.

Yep, there is a feat chain for either Tieflings or Aasimar, maybe both, that gives the ability to "see in darkness", so no affect from Deeper Darkness to their ability to sneak attack.

Deep Sight, taken twice, IIRC. First time it makes the darkvision range go to 120' instead of the normal 60', second time it grants see in darkness.

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