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I got into a conversation with some people a few days ago about lyrium -- does it have a scent? What do lyrium potions taste like? Is there a smell to magic?

I thought the creative minds here could have a field day with this. What do you think?

Personally, I imagine a cold sort of smell, like wind over snow, or pine, or mint (the plant not a sweet flavoring). But lyrium is an ore, right? And usually ores have some bitter tang to them.

(semi-tangentially, if lyrium has a smell, when Fenris' markings glow would they produce the same scent as a mage doing magic?)

2/19/2012 #1

For my writing I've always worked with the notion that Templars can taste magic. The schools of magic will taste different to each other, and each Templar's flavour experience is also different (like colour in mediumship, where one of my teachers always asked the training medium 'what does green mean to you, if you were bathing in it how would it feel?').

2/19/2012 #2

I definitely think magic (and lyrium) has a taste - I imagine it as metallic/electric. It's hard to describe really, but there you go...

2/19/2012 #3

I don't recall ever reading or seeing anything in-game that says what lyrium or magic specifically smells or tastes like, so I don't really know canon-wise. A quick search on the Dragon Age Wiki site doesn't seem to bring up much in that regard either.

For me, I imagine lyrium has a sharply bittersweet taste; not quite good and not quite bad, but too much at once makes you feel sick inside and out. Scent, probably something a bit icy, with a somewhat gritty, tingling burn that makes you want to sneeze or cough. But that's just my take; I've seen other writers describe it as metallic, cold, tangy, and so forth.

As for magic, I would imagine each ability is different, depending on its source (fire, spirit, earth, etc.), form, and intensity. Fenris' markings and abilities, I'm not so sure on. Since the lyrium is branded into his skin, I don't know that would emit much of a scent on its own unless it is coming out in the form of perspiration. His magical abilities, though, might emit some sort of smell depending on their range and such. Once again, those are just my guesses; every writer seems do their own thing with this, too.

Sorry for the rather lengthy reply. I'll shut up now.

2/20/2012 #4

Please don't shut up! I wanted to hear people's thoughts about this. I thought it was really an interesting area for discussion, especially *because* there doesn't seem to be any canon data.

I agree that the smell of lyrium wouldn't be entirely pleasant - intense, maybe. Metallic makes sense. I think of there being a smoke note in there too, not because of fire magic, but because perhaps there is some sort of chemical process involved in turning lyrium into magical energy.

I really like Scarylady's concept about different forms of magic tasting different (and I've read some of those stories, too!). But I was primarily thinking of lyrium potions (and the applications to Fenris, because I am often thinking about Fenris).

2/20/2012 #5

Ok, this may sound odd... but I think lyrium has to taste Blue. Y'know, kinda like Blue Curacao or something. Very, very blue.

It also has to taste nothing at all like you would imagine magic to taste. Lyrium is a kind of anti-magic (even though mages use it to refresh their power). Breeding on top of a lyrium mountain has made dwarves immune to magic. Drinking it increases (we think) a Templar's ability to disrupt magic. Sticking Andraste's ashes on top of a lyrium mountain made them able to interrupt Eamon's Fade sojourn.

I have no doubt I'm about to get buried under refutations based on incidents that suggest lyrium is NOT anti-magic, but we recognise Bioware games are not internally consistent, right? Even when the game writers have done their very best to be consistent, the developers then come along, nick stuff for potions and effects they require, and consequently bugger up the metaphysical consistency. :)

2/20/2012 #6
R2s Muse

I love this discussion as there does seem to be no canon answer to this. I like Scarylady1's idea of it tasting "blue." That's exactly what I would imagine (which fits into my personal headcanon from childhood where yucky vegetables always tasted "green," regardless of actual color). In my mind I was sort of imagine some kind of minty taste, but I like the metallic/minerally ideas as well.

For grins, this reminds me of a rather freewheeling convo once on the BSN Cullen forums, where people suggested everything from mint to strawberries, and then how someone who regularly ingests lyrium might, um, let's just say... smell. :))

re: the anti-magic idea... um, no idea. still collating....

2/20/2012 #7

'Blue' and 'minerally' are not inconsistent notions, but unfortunately when you put them together my taste-buds scream 'Bath salts!' or worse 'Ajax!' It's making my nostrils tickle just thinking about it.

2/20/2012 #8

"Blue" is definitely a flavor. Blue Freez-E-Pops and Skylite snocones both taste Blue. :)

2/20/2012 #9

Ack, Ajax! That brings back memories of elementary school, when they used it to clean our desks. We always said it smelled like dead fish. I definitely reject dead fish for the smell of lyrium in my head canon. ;P

Also, R2s Muse, why do I get a funny feeling you were going to talk about some sense other than smell? ;) Hmmmmmm...

2/20/2012 . Edited 2/20/2012 #10

Oh god, yes, blue ice-lollies! When I was a kid, back in the early 70's, blue ice-lollies were a very new thing. I think they had not long since developed blue food colouring. My mental lyrium flavour definitely has a lot of that tangled up in it. Tricky to convey in a fantasy fic locale, tho'...

2/20/2012 #11

Hmm, not sure we're referring to the same Ajax product, GG. I'm thinking of the scouring powder that used to be used on kitchen surfaces... not even sure if it's still sold now. Don't remember any dead fishes, just a kinda nose-hair burn if you're in the vicinity when it's being used.

2/20/2012 #12

I'm pretty sure that's what it was... though this was a long time ago (early 80s?), and maybe the formula has changed since then. Also, you know how kids are -- one person says "eww, it smells like dead fish!" and then everyone is convinced that's the case. I agree that cleansing powder in general does not smell fishy. :)

2/20/2012 #13
R2s Muse

LOL, gingergen, 'fraid so... brings up interesting notions, though, since templars must be coursing with it. :) not that i think about these things... ahem. what? is that a dragon over there? :hides:

2/22/2012 #14

You know the taste that you get sometimes off of a silver fork or spoon that's either tarnished or has the plating coming off. Kind of sharp, definitely metallic and not really pleasant. That's the taste I imagine. And though it's not really a taste, the feeling you get when you bite down on tin foil and it hits a filling.

2/22/2012 #15
R2s Muse

Argh, Ryalla - you just conjured such a vivid picture of that taste/feeling that I'm shuddering to think of it. Eeek!

2/22/2012 #16

Ack! Ryalla! That totally made me cringe.

Tarnished silver is an interesting idea though.

... I am ashamed to admit, I have some silver goblets downstairs, and I seriously just considered going down there and licking one.

Edit to add: Though if tarnished metal is really what lyrium is like, I don't think I'll be lining up to... smell... any Templars anytime soon. *ahem*

2/22/2012 . Edited 2/22/2012 #17

Well, I was thinking that most stuff that you mine really doesn't have a very pleasant flavour. Except salt, and even then, drinking a bottle of it... Ack!

The tinfoil thing was my take on having your power unnaturally restored.

2/22/2012 #18

I'm imagining an ozone sort of smell...basically storm-smell, but you can also get that smell when you fire up a laser printer, especially an older one.

Also, I don't think that Fenris would smell the same as a mage doing magic, because mages don't *need* lyrium to do magic. It replenishes their mana faster, but it isn't necessary. But that does make me think that he would smell the same as a Templar using Templar talents, if lyrium had a smell, that is.

2/24/2012 #19

Re: templars vs. mages, that's an excellent point Deagh.

I hadn't really thought about the Fenris/templar connection -- I guess he is more like one of them, in at least a technical way, then like a mage. Though of course his abilities are different. (I imagine being more templar-like than mage-like would make him happy though. Insofar as anything surrounding his markings can make him happy.)

2/24/2012 #20

Y'know, if Fenris wasn't an elf, the Templars would probably try to recruit him. He has the right attitudes to magic, huge experience with mages and the right skills.

2/24/2012 #21

I've always imagined lyrium having an ozone scent, like the smell of a model train set running. Mmmm, electricity and lightning!

2/24/2012 #22

MsBarrows, get out of my head, woman! Ah well, at least I know we're different in *some* respects ;)

As for Fenris, I think Fenris would make a good Templar, probably good enough that they'd be willing to overlook the elf thing, but I think he'd chafe at the bonds. Plus he may not be able to have the normal lyrium dosages due to his tattoos, so they probably wouldn't have that hold over him, which would make him less desirable.

2/24/2012 #23

Yes, it's a pity that templars seem to buy in to the race bias. (The chantry too -- you don't see any elf Chantry staff either.) They missed out but good with Fenris, at least from the ideology standpoint.

Though that's an interesting point about the lyrium dosing... I wonder if he could be taught basic Templar skills (smiting and so forth) using the lyrium he already has in his system? Or if it's not accessible in the right way, since it's tied to his skin.

... I wonder if he could use something akin to his phasing ability to specifically target mages? (But as much as I love to speculate about Fenris, I fear I'm getting off topic.)

2/24/2012 #24

I like the idea of ozone for lyrium - maybe a combination of ozone and mint, to get all weird and fantasy about the whole thing. Although I wouldn't necessarily think that the Templars would smell of it, maybe taste of it if they were recently and heavily dosed and you decided to lick them or kiss them or something. (Eww). I could see Fenris have a slightly more distinct pong or taste of lyrium due to the tattoos being so close to the surface - it would definitely be an interesting thing to explore. As for Fenris-the-Templar; I think while the mage-hunting thing would appeal to him, he's too careful of his freedom now to ever consider becoming a Templar for good - he'd probably see it as a good way to put himself back in slavery.

2/25/2012 #25
The Original Frizzi
Lyrium having a taste? There's a thought... what if there's not really a taste to it at all? Like a flavorless soda, or carbonated water: a nonexistant taste of a liquid that bubbles up in your mouth. With the effects of downing your second energy drink on Black Friday. xD They should have really described it like they did with the Chasind ale gift(I think that's the right one), where it's reminiscent of a lazy summer afternoon, with apple blossoms in the air, with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste of Father going off to war, never to return. That was such an epic description, I still can't get over it. It does make sense to give it a metallic taste since it does come from an ore... ir it *is* an ore... and it would also make sense to say that it's gritty, since it's mined from the earth... however, being a magical thing in and of itself, given the effects on the dwarven trader in Orzammar, I'd like to think that it wouldn't be of the norm. And something just occured to me: what if it tastes different to everybody? Irving says it tastes metallic, Wynne insists it tastes like mint, etc.?
2/26/2012 #26

Actually, carbonated water does have that sort of tang to it... it's a small thing, but I could totally see lyrium tasting something like that! Hmm, I wonder if the potions especially might have some bit of effervescence to them as well? Not a lot, I'm thinking more like... flat soda water. Just a hint of something on the tongue.

Your idea about lyrium tasting different to everyone is a bit like scarylady's theory at the top about magic itself having a different flavor to each Templar. It's an interesting idea!

Thanks to everybody that jumped in on this -- I knew you guys would have interesting ideas! Writers are win. (And keep going, by all means if you have any new thoughts!)

2/27/2012 #27

I think of lyrium as like a dragon age version of a drug. Though I don't do drugs or anything, I think that the addictive quality isn't because of it's taste or smell. I think that, also, because they need it to cut off the fade from other mages that in a matter it brings more of a strength of the Fade to the templars. I think that the taste would change to how it is carried and the mood of the person who drinks it. The Fade is the dream realm, which changes every minute, so shouldn't lyrium have that same type of temperament? I think that maybe at first it would taste sort of metallic, but when they become addicted to it, it becomes almost like water or maybe their favorite things to eat. When they go through the withdrawal of it, they become crazy, like a drug, and they want to drink it so bad that they edge towards insanity just to get it.

I think mainly that the first couple drinks to get them addicted would be metallic, maybe even like blood (I mean you never really know), but mainly depends on the person. When they get used to it, I think the taste changes to what they want it to taste like, sort of like how the Fade can change to whatever a dreamer wants.

2/28/2012 #28

I always thought lyrium might smell - as lame as this is - like metal. You know, a kind of sharp tin-like smell, and when it's being worked with it would smell like welding.

3/1/2012 #29

Oo wow, never thought about the actual taste/scent of the stuff... I dunno, if I had to take a guess I'd probably assume metal too, but... you know how blood has a slightly metallic smell? Sort of like iron that's been out in the rain? Something like that. Sort of Metal and Ozone, I suppose, not really unpleasant but not delicious either. Another guess of mine is it smells like fresh paint, don't know exactly why other than that's what it reminds me of when shown in-game. Oo I'm odd, I know.

Question regarding Fenris and his tattoos: are we sure his would even have a taste/scent? Presumably the lyrium is under a layer of skin, so if you were to try to taste his tattoos (for... whatever reason. Ahem.) wouldn't they just taste of Fenris?

10/8/2012 #30
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