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efreysson
10-06-2013, 11:29 PM
My protagonist is going to sneak into a ruined castle inhabited by a group of vampires. He has several fresh cuts on his body and the vamps have a sharp nose for blood. I thought he could smear mud into the wounds to cover up the smell at least somewhat and help him move unnoticed.
If one compares the vampires to animals with a good sense of smell, would this help?

kaitie
10-06-2013, 11:45 PM
What about garlic? If your vampires are averse to it, perhaps if he rubs some on himself or carries some with him it would throw them off? I think smearing mud into wounds would be a bad idea.

T Robinson
10-07-2013, 12:07 AM
When one is going to a crime scene, with long dead bodies, one trick that has been reported is to rub ordinary Vaseline/petroleum jelly into each nostril to deaden the smell. Applying the same principle, rubbing the jelly over the cuts might work, as long as the bleeding has stopped and clotted. If it also smells like something your vampires are repelled by, that would be a bonus.

An alternative is to seal up completely in a suit designed for the purpose of not leaving trace evidence. That gets very hot in a hurry and restricts vision and mobility. Actually it restricts all the senses.

Shakesbear
10-07-2013, 12:18 AM
My protagonist is going to sneak into a ruined castle inhabited by a group of vampires. He has several fresh cuts on his body and the vamps have a sharp nose for blood. I thought he could smear mud into the wounds to cover up the smell at least somewhat and help him move unnoticed.
If one compares the vampires to animals with a good sense of smell, would this help?

If the vampires have a good sense of smell then surely they would smell anything used to cover the scent of blood? They would smell garlic, and mud also has, depending on its' composition, a scent. I think that some of the ways round this would be to have the vampires catch colds, or some other illness that would ruin their sense of smell, or for a 'decoy' smell, eg burning, to distract the vampires.

mirandashell
10-07-2013, 12:20 AM
If a vampire has the same sense of smell as a dog, say, they will smell the blood and whatever you try and cover it with. So as a reader, I wouldn't believe that scene.

wendymarlowe
10-07-2013, 12:38 AM
The only thing I can think of is cigarette smoke or car exhaust, which will dull a search dog's sense of smell for half an hour or so (enough to make the dogs unusable for search and rescue until they get some fresh air). That's more about the environment than anything he could do on his body, though.

efreysson
10-07-2013, 02:21 AM
What about garlic? If your vampires are averse to it, perhaps if he rubs some on himself or carries some with him it would throw them off?

I'm not going with the old garlic weakness, and besides the protagonist has nothing on hand.



An alternative is to seal up completely in a suit designed for the purpose of not leaving trace evidence. That gets very hot in a hurry and restricts vision and mobility. Actually it restricts all the senses.

The setting is a medieval-ish fantasy. So I don't think the readers would let that one fly. :)


If the vampires have a good sense of smell then surely they would smell anything used to cover the scent of blood? They would smell garlic, and mud also has, depending on its' composition, a scent.

Well, the idea is they have a sharp nose for blood specifically, not just general super-noses like dogs.



I think that some of the ways round this would be to have the vampires catch colds, or some other illness that would ruin their sense of smell, or for a 'decoy' smell, eg burning, to distract the vampires.I don't believe corpses get sick. :)

Christabelle
10-07-2013, 02:47 AM
I'm not going with the old garlic weakness, and besides the protagonist has nothing on hand.


He might could find wild garlic. Not that the vampires would have to be sensitive to it, but he could rub that on his wounds to conceal the scent of blood. It would be cleaner than mud so as not to cause potential infection, and it also has some medicinal properties. Since it's pungent, it might overwhelm the vampire's sense of smell and allow your MC to go along unnoticed.

jaksen
10-07-2013, 04:55 AM
I don't know if it applies to blood, but during WWII babies were smuggled out of Denmark (into Sweden) on fishing boats. They were concealed in baskets underneath blankets or cloths coated with cocaine. The dogs at checkpoints couldn't smell the hidden children because the cocaine supposedly acted like a novocaine on the dogs' sense of smell. (I assume the baskets also contained food for the fishermen or fishing supplies.)

So perhaps, in your story, something is used to blunt the vampires' sense of smell. Though they can normally smell blood, even in minute quantities, perhaps their sense of smell is blunted by a chemical which doesn't so much 'cover up' the odor of blood - but temporarily inhibits the vampires' ability to smell.

Please, anyone, correct me if I got the details about WWII and smuggling babies wrong.

nkbailey
10-07-2013, 07:51 AM
I don't know how available it would be in a medieval-type fantasy world (or how well it might work against blood), but I know some hunters and fishers who use anise seed oil to mask their scent.

Canotila
10-07-2013, 11:27 AM
He might could find wild garlic. Not that the vampires would have to be sensitive to it, but he could rub that on his wounds to conceal the scent of blood. It would be cleaner than mud so as not to cause potential infection, and it also has some medicinal properties. Since it's pungent, it might overwhelm the vampire's sense of smell and allow your MC to go along unnoticed.

If I was a vampire and something smelling strongly of garlic was moving through my castle, I'd probably notice. :p

Probably the best thing he could do is stop the bleeding, clean the wounds up extremely well, make sure there isn't any blood on his clothing, and seal the wounds with something airtight like a thick layer of lanolin with bandages/gauze on top.

stumblebum
10-07-2013, 08:28 PM
My concern with using garlic is this:
Vampires hate garlic, right? So why the deuce does my castle suddenly reek of it?
Igor! Go find the source of that garlic!

On a constructive note, what about coffee grounds?
If I were you, I'd find a forum of blood hound aficionados and ask them how to mask a scent from one of their hounds.

Torgo
10-07-2013, 08:42 PM
If I were you, I'd find a forum of blood hound aficionados and ask them how to mask a scent from one of their hounds.

If Mythbusters can be believed, you can't. They're too good.

waylander
10-07-2013, 09:07 PM
You're screwed as regards having them not notice him. Have then notice him and make him deal with it.

Paramite Pie
10-07-2013, 11:45 PM
Hmmm.... since it's fantasy could he use some herbs that grow in the woods nearby?

Maybe the Vampires know he's entered the castle so he lights some sage (herb also used as incense/has occult properties too) which creates an odour strong enough to mask the smell of blood.

Or maybe he lights it nearby and the wind blows it in the direction of the castle masking his approach.

Is it the iron in the blood that they smell or any other chemical compound? Alkaline/Metallic smells can be neutralized by white vinegar. Vinegar would've been used a lot in medieval times so it should be widely available. Baking soda and lemon juice helps too...

Best of all since it neutralizes the smell (they cancel each other out, there will be no odour of vinegar either. The bad part is that it would sting like hell... only a brave/stupid man would place alot of vinegar on fresh wounds.

Alternatively, vampires senses could be weakened during certain religious festivals, such as All Saints Day etc....

quickWit
10-08-2013, 12:38 AM
If the vampires are aware of your MC's presence (they can smell him) but unaware of his exact whereabouts (can't pinpoint his location) that just ramps up the tension, to me. It's almost like a ticking clock counting down the seconds until he's discovered. Why would you want to defuse a situation like that? Use it to your advantage and figure out a way to make it work for you instead.

Good luck

Nivarion
10-08-2013, 06:55 AM
strips down, jumps in the creek soaps up and charges through the castled naked. If it's not a particularly strong soap he might just smell like water and if he's done bleeding and moves quick he might be able to avoid them.

GeorgeK
10-12-2013, 11:49 AM
skunk spray

BlackMirror
10-12-2013, 12:24 PM
Maybe you should do something like if the vampires are asleep, their sensory abilities are dead. If so, your MC shouldn't have any trouble unless they awaken.

OR

Have your MC stitch the wounds close, dab away any blood, and wrap them tightly in thick cloth. If the wounds are tightly stitched and cleaned, there might not be that much blood. And the vampires wouldnt be able to smell it if bound.

If there's no other way around it 1: get rid of her wound. 2. if there's magic in your book have her heal by some means. 3. work with it into your plot. if your MC doesn't know about their heightened sense of smell for blood, she gets caught.

Putputt
10-12-2013, 01:01 PM
Instead of using a different smell to cover up, which might attract attention in itself, what about having the character use the blood to his advantage? He could bring a bag of animal blood or whatever with him and smear it here and there to confuse them. He could also do this with his injuries.

blacbird
10-13-2013, 11:42 AM
1. Vampires don't really exist. Really. They don't.

2. You're writing fiction. That means you get to invent stuff.

3. Mesuspects that a real live dead fictional vampire could smell a hemoglobin molecule from a hell of a long way off.

4. Fictional vampires in fictional stories are reputed to be repelled by garlic, and visual representations of the True Cross.

5. In a fictional story, involving fictional representations of fictional realities, you could block the fictional vampire's fictional olfactory sensitivity with:

peppermint
burning car tires
cat pee
roses
incense
gasoline
hydrogen sulfide
halitosis
boiled cabbage

caw

Cath
10-13-2013, 03:08 PM
I'm wavering on sending this thread to SFF. The basic question is "what smell can cover the smell of blood?" (factual) But it could also be "what can prevent a vampire from smelling blood? (speculative).

Efreysson, which of these are you asking?

Also, check out how Terry Pratchett handles hiding a scent from a werewolf in Going Postal.