For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

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thomas9059
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For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by thomas9059 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:18 pm

I don't know if this has ever been discussed before, but there's one thing in both the book and movie that puzzles me. Gandalf says that "the scent of a Hobbit is completely unknown to (Smaug), which gives us an advantage." How exactly is that an advantage? I would think an unfamiliar scent would actually make Bilbo easier to find, whereas Dwarves probably just smell like Dwarves, which Erebor is filled with.
I don't know if this is a boo boo on Tolkien's part, or if there really is some logic at work here. What does anyone else think?

Macilion
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Re: For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by Macilion » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:48 pm

Could it be an advantage in approaching Smaug, rather than in trying to flee from him?

I guess you could argue that the dragon would be less careful, or less on his guard, smelling an unknown scent, rather than one he would know for sure is hostile (a dwarven, or an elvish smell). If you want to phrase it with game mechanics, if I remember it correctly from Tales from Wilderland, a Hobbit would bring a +1 to the Tolerance limit during an Encounter with a Dragon, whereas an Elf or a Dwarf would lower this limit (-1/PC).

That being said, given what we seem to know of Dragons, it seems unlikely that Smaug would simply smell an unknown scent and fall asleep again as if nothing had happened. And it also seems unlikely that Gandalf would ignore this. Yet, could this mean that Gandalf somehow expected Smaug not to be fully asleep, and this would be the main (if not only) reason he pushed Thorin to recruit a burglar?

(Apologies, I read the Hobbit long ago, and most of what I think are mere suppositions could very well be either completely wrong or confirmed by the text.)

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Wbweather
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Re: For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by Wbweather » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:05 pm

Or perhaps it was the unknown scent that piqued Smaug's curiosity. Had he smelled a dwarf or man he would have roasted first and asked questions later. This was something entirely new to him. I doubt he felt intimidated, but instead was curious enough to take pause before belching fire upon the intruder. Lying alone on a pile of gold for two centuries probably gets tedious. A dragon needs some stimulation and if this were a new enemy, perhaps it would be good for Smaug to know more about it lest more come later.

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Re: For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:18 pm

The advantage does not come in concealing Bilbo's scent among dwarf-scent. The very first thing Smaug says to Bilbo is "Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air." The advantage comes in keeping Smaug off-balance. Smaug knows how to deal with dwarves ("no one better"), but he knows nothing about hobbits. "But he did not tell Bilbo that there was one smell he could not make out at all, hobbit-smell; it was quite outside his experience and puzzled him mightily."

A puzzled dragon is a dragon that is not going to eat you just yet, until it has had a chance to work out the riddle. "I don't know your smell, but if you are not one of those men of the Lake, you had their help."

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Re: For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:20 pm

Wbweather wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:05 pm
Lying alone on a pile of gold for two centuries probably gets tedious.
Not for a dragon!

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Rich H
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Re: For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?

Post by Rich H » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:40 am

For a moment I thought this was a follow up to the old Al Pacino film...
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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