The RPG Series
Illustrations by the inimitable Julie Dillon.
“You all meet at an inn.…”
Pen and paper role-playing games have been a tremendous influence in my life since my formative years. My parents bought me the magenta D&D boxed set back in 1982, along with the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. My lifelong passion for fantasy, science fiction, war games, and mythology was well-channeled through RPGs, and I credit playing D&D with helping me sustain my imagination and sense of wonder through adulthood.
I played with one particular group through the bulk of my late teens and early 20s, and this series — along with the atmosphere tools that Black Phoenix Trading Post has introduced — was inspired, specifically, by the time that we spent campaigning together. Our group was somewhat prop-driven in our gaming: we felt that setting a mood was conducive to our style of gameplay. Little things like changes in lighting, minor sound effects, and music made a world of difference, and we found that utilizing miniatures, model railroad scenery, and other tools in order to physically illustrate strategies and provide visual cues was tremendously useful. How much more immersive would it have been if we’d been able to smell the crypt we were crawling through? Or the stench of steel and blood that permeates a warrior’s cloak? What do the wizard’s spell components smell like? What does winter in the desert smell like? Or spring in a druid’s sanctuary?
Pen and paper role playing games are, to me, dynamic stories that are propelled by the active participation of many individuals. You can’t have a strong storyline without creating characters of some depth. When you create a character, you generally have their personalities, priorities, and history in mind, along with a clear vision of what your character looks and sounds like. But how does she smell? What does the world around her smell like?
In most pen and paper fantasy RPGs, three of the primary attributes that you must choose for your character are race, class, and alignment. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s RPG scent series was designed to emulate the character creation process, and are meant to be layered in order to create a character concept. In short: you layer your class, race, and the two fragrances that compose your alignment to construct your character scent. RPGs in all their myriad forms — CRPGs, MMOs, and old school pen and paper — have brought me immeasurable joy. This is my homage. This series is dedicated to my first DMs — my parents — for laughing off the nutter-perpetuated AD&D Satan Scare of the 80’s. Thanks for taking the time to play with your little girl. I miss you, and I love you.
PERFUME OIL BLENDS
Presented in an amber apothecary vial.
Alignment refers to your character’s ethics: which way does his or her moral compass point? There are two aspects to alignment: law vs. chaos, and good vs. evil. Does your character respect authority and venerate tradition? She’s likely Lawful. Does she value personal freedom above all else? Chaotic. Does your character give alms to the poor and protect the innocent? He’s Good. Is your character of a mercenary bend, willing and eager to step on others to get ahead? Evil. A character that is Neutral (or any combination of Neutral) either finds perfect balance in their worldview, or is apathetic towards the constraints of either good and evil or law and chaos. A lawful neutral character values the letter of the law above any concern for good or evil, and the chaotic neutral character is, generally, driven completely by a desire for absolute freedom. Sometimes they’re just nuts.