Smell Like Your RPG Character With BPAL’s New Scents [Review]


It’s been far too long since I’ve played a tabletop roleplaying game. I miss Saturday nights spent with friends around a crowded table overflowing with caffeinated drinks, Chipotle burritos, and some noxious smelling but delicious chips. The food and drinks were stuffed in between dice, character sheets, pencils, graph paper, and the single calculator that everyone shared. Games would last until the early hours of the next morning, and occasionally I’d let my character suffer an injury so I could crawl into the corner and go to sleep. It was a singular yet familiar environment.

Our friends at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have developed a RPG series devoted to gaming night. They are known for blending perfume oils with exacting precision. They take their time and experiment. The end result is bigger than perfume oil—it’s experiences. It’s places. It’s RPG characters. Each person who rubs a BPAL oil into his or her skin will smell something different. That’s partially because of body chemistry and mostly because perfume oils shouldn’t be like a McDonald’s hamburger. They shouldn’t be the same to everyone, and the team at BPAL utilize their skills to customize the experience.

The new RPG series is a shining example of that versatility. Inspired by games like Dungeons and Dragons that engaged imagination and creativity, BPAL created scents to add depth and richness to the gaming experience. When you create a character for several RPGs – tabletop or MMOs – you choose race, class, and alignment. You roll and configure strengths and abilities from there. Those three basic choices set the tone and traits for the character that you could end up playing for a very long time. In other words, they’re important choices.

BPAL has a variety of options for each category. You pick the scents that go with your character, and then you layer them on your person. You could wear each scent alone outside the game, but it’s best to blend to maximize them. You can get to know and embody your character through smell. If you run a game, you should embrace this line of scents. Especially if you are the type of GM that dims the lights or purchases sounds of Dungeons and Dragons audio tracks. The oils are another outlet for players to use to immerse themselves into the game. It makes the game special and sets it apart from the mundane reality. “I’m wearing my character, I’m ready to play now.”

It gets cooler. BPAL also has an accompanying line of atmospheric room sprays. These aren’t meant to replace your verbal description or the players’ imaginations. They are enhancements or tools – just like dice and character sheets. You have to admit that it’s tempting to make your game space smell like an Unspeakably Evil Temple or a Fae Forest. Even if it’s not game night. And no – thankfully, the scents do not include “bowl of Fritos.” You can bring that to the table.

Here are the available perfume oil options:

  • Race: Dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, halfling, orc
  • Class: Cleric, fighter, mage, paladin, ranger, rogue
  • Alignment: Neutral, lawful, chaotic, good, evil

I usually roll up one of a few character types when I play a game like Dungeons and Dragons. One of these is a chaotic good half-elf mage. That’s four perfume oils; I tried them individually first and then layered them. I wrote down my reactions before reviewing the descriptions from the Lab.

Chaotic
BPAL’s description: a whirling melange of multicolored musks with wasabi, rooibos, heliotrope, and mastic.

I picked up on something sharp that grabbed my nose and kept it busy. It smelled like eucalyptus with a floral undertone and cleanliness.

Good
BPAL’s description: shimmering celestial musk with vanilla, white honey, acacia, and sugar cane.

This one smelled sweet to me. It was soft and subtle but dripped with sugar. I wanted to lick my arm.

Half-elf
BPAL’s description: white sandalwood, beeswax, white tea leaf, oud, and a hint of sophisticated urban musk.

I noticed musky tones that reminded me of a mossy forest. It also smelled a little of Pine-Sol (which happens to be a smell I really like).

Mage
BPAL’s description: gurjum balsam, Sumatran dragon’s blood resin, olibanum, galangal, oleo gum resin, and frankincense.

This scent was light to me instead of dark and brooding. Something on my skin made me smell fruit, oaky red wine, musky honey, and Big League Chew gum.

The four oils blended together (on my arm not in the bottle) made for an interesting combination. Vanilla stood out, but musty undertones cut in. After I gave the blend a little time to mellow, spicy notes pushed through. I couldn’t place the exact scent, but then I saw that the Chaotic blend included wasabi. Floral and leafy scents edged in, too.

Remember, those scents will all be different on you.

It was fun to try the RPG perfume oils out, and as a player I would love for my GM to encourage this added dimension. I’ll definitely be bringing them to the table next time I play or run a game. In fact, I’ll be packing them to take to Gen Con (gaming convention in Indianapolis) if the TSA will let me get away with it. And I will make someone play an orc just so I can tell them they’re smelly all night.

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