Dealing with a Stinky Situation

Posted on 19 Apr 2021

My first experience with Pathfinder 2E was the Extinction Curse Adventure Path, a story where a travelling circus inadvertantly gets involved with a series of very important events. One thing that’s not apparent until you get near the end of the first book is that the primary enemy of the entire adventure path is the Xulgath, lizard people that live deep underground that are known for smelling very bad.

Xulgath are the proper name for what Dungeons & Dragons calls troglodytes. Like their counterparts in D&D (and other games), the Xulgath of Pathfinder have a distinctive, harmful olfactory based ability: Stench. Basically, they stink SO BAD that it makes it harder to do things. Stench is an aura that requires the character entering the aura to make a Fortitude save, becoming Sickened 1 on a failure. In an Adventure Path featuring Xulgath in some 50% of the content, it got me thinking about what the PCs could do to help mitigate this problem. I started thinking, “wait, if I know I’m going to be fighting really stinky lizard people, maybe I’d do something so I don’t have to deal with the stink so much?”

Alchemical Options

There are quite a few different ways to get bonuses to saving throws in Pathfinder 2E. With normal item advancement, characters should get an Armor Resiliency Rune that gives them a bonus to all saving throws (from +1 at level 8 to +3 at level 20). However, I wanted something specific to the scenario. It made sense to me that this is the kind of thing that brave adventurers would prepare for, just like they might prepare for a dragon’s fiery breath or a scorpions poison. I thought about comparable situations. What would the characters do if they were facing enemies that they knew could poison them? Use an Antidote. Similarly, if you know you will be facing monsters that use fear, you bring along Bravo’s Brew. I wanted something specific that player characters could choose to prepare for if they wanted to, so alchemical items seemed like the right idea.

With that in mind, I wanted to use the Antidote as a model but give it a bonus that applied to this particular threat. The Stench ability has the olfactory trait, so it made sense to apply it to that. I also imagined it would be useful against other breathable threats, so I looked through the list of traits to find things that sounded like smells. The only thing that stood out was the fact that poisons can have the inhaled trait, so I added that to my list.

The resulting item is pretty basic. It’s really just the Antidote elixir but with the target effects being things with the olfactory or inhaled trait. As far as “homebrew” goes, it doesn’t get any simpler than this. But, with stinky Xulgath around every corner, it’s not a bad thing to have around.

New Alchemical Elixir

Charcoal Philter

Item 1+

  • alchemical
  • consumable
  • elixir

Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L

Activate 1 Interact

A charcoal philter protects your lungs from deleterious effect. Upon consuming a charcoal philter, you gain an item bonus to Fortitude saving throws against any effects with the olfactory or inhaled trait for 6 hours.

Type Lesser; Level 1; Price

You gain a +2 item bonus.

Type Moderate; Level 6; Price

You gain a +3 item bonus.

Type Greater; Level 10; Price

You gain a +4 item bonus.