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Magical Sensory Effect

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Jemmie: Venemon magic is gold. It loops out of you so thick sometimes that I can't see past it. It smells like...wood smoke. Honey. Yours is muskier than Alex's. Deeper. It hangs in the air around you like glitter sometimes. Even when you're not casting.
Crowe: No shit?
Jemmie: No shit. Hardy's invictus magic is orange and smells like cloves. Terra magic is pinkish. Cinnamon, flowers, grass, depending on the person and the charm. Do I need to go on?

When we say the word "magic", what does one think of? Witches and wizards on their broomsticks? Fantastical worlds of strange creatures and adventure? Maybe a Stage Magician or two? Some people in the world of fiction would answer that "magic" makes them think of a particular sensation.

That is, the supernatural may have a special effect on one's senses, as a natural side-effect of magic being present; a taste, a smell, a color or two, maybe even a particular feeling or sound. It can be pleasant, like the smell of chocolate. It can be awful, like the taste of blood. It may even be utterly indescribable, carrying qualities unlike anything experienced by mere Muggles. Whatever it is, however, it's distinctive and consistent, although specific supernatural branches may have their own unique qualities to set them apart. With enough familiarity, one could identify certain supernatural beings based solely on the fact that they may, say, have a distinctive blue aura unlike any ordinary human.


Note that this sensation should be distinctive and unique. An Ice Person may always feel cold to the touch, but this is expected; if being near this person evokes the feeling of pins and needles, however, and they always smell conspicuously like mint, that's this trope. The sensation should also be a consistent effect of the magic itself, to the point where the very presence of magic will evoke this in someone, much like how being near fire will always make someone warm, and how coffee will always taste and smell like coffee. It won't be because of the character themselves, it'll be because of the magic that surrounds said character, and this fact is made explicit within the work.

This is likely to make the magic-users stand out more compared to their muggle counterparts, or to set certain groups apart when nearly everyone in the story has some sort of magical abilities. This may even give away the moral standing of said magic-user, because after all, Evil Smells Bad, there are Good Colors, Evil Colors, and very rarely will a dark aura and the scent of death be anything related to goodness and light.


This has nothing to do with any sort of "sixth sense" or other Psychic Powers, although these powers may have a sensory effect. Has some overlap with Color-Coded Wizardry and Fictional Color. Compare Tastes Like Purple and Killing Intent. Picking up on this sensation may require Super Senses. It can also be a Group-Identifying Feature.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ni no Kuni: Yu can sense magic. He uses this to detect that Gnauss has the same black magic scent as the dagger that cursed Astrid.
  • Digimon Frontier: In the CD drama "A Train Called Hope", Zoe says that she was able to see the different winds' colors and hear their tunes when she was Kazemon, and that she still has a bit of that ability left.

  • The Belgariad: Sorcery produces a distinctive "noise" to people with Supernatural Sensitivity. Sorcerer characters often have to work around this, such as by avoiding "louder" spells like Teleportation to avoid alerting their enemies from miles away or by concentrating to release a spell slowly to muffle its sound.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel Blood And Fog reveals that a magic user can eventually gain a scent that accompanies their spells over time. The Big Bad Jack the Ripper, for example, smells like strawberries and cream.
  • Different aromas are given off when magic is used in the Chicagoland Vampires series. A vampire with the ability to Mind Rape people who appeared in the novel, Dark Debt smelt like Whisky as an example.
  • Devils & Thieves: Jemmie's extreme magical sensitivity allows her to both see and smell magic, even just as an aura surrounding other kindled. Each magical type has a different scent and color, and each user brings more variations; for example, Locant magic smells of mint, while Venemon magic smells like honey, but Crowe's venemon magic smells much muskier than his sister Alex's does.
  • In the Discworld series, magic has a unique color, octarine, that non-magical people can't see.
  • The Dresden Files: Magic, particularly powerful Ritual Magic, usually causes a glow from stray energy escaping the spell. In Battle Ground, Harry's especially concerned to intercept a necromantic ritual with absolutely no such effect, since it means the practitioners are Strong and Skilled.
  • The Locked Tomb: Unlike lesser Necromancers, the God-Emperor's magic flares with blinding white light.
  • The Monster Of Elendhaven: Magic literally flows through a sorcerer's blood when tapped, making their veins glow with an unnatural light. This is a physical effect as well; overused, it can scald and scar the sorcerer.
  • October Daye features the magic signature: a scent that is emitted after magic is used or performed by a Faerie or Changeling. Each individual has a scent that is as unique to them as a fingerprint. The Heroine October Daye produces the scent of copper and cut grass, while her main enemy, Evening Winterrose, has the scent of roses and snow.
  • Old Kingdom: Free Magic spells, effects, and creatures have a telltale acrid odor like hot metal. In high concentrations, like Kerrigor's Leaking Can of Evil, it's strong enough to cause nausea and weakness.
  • Rai Kirah: Demon magic registers to people with Supernatural Sensitivity as piercing, discordant music that feels like it's worming its way into the mind.
  • In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel magically awakened characters have auras that carry both distinct colors and scents. The twins' gold and silver auras smell like oranges and vanilla, respectively.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • The Gift, or the main type of magic in Tortall, manifests in a color fairly unique to the user.
      • Family members can have similar colors, like Alanna and her twin Thom (who both have a violet Gift), and Duke Baird and Neal of Queenscove (Baird has emerald green and Neal's is described as "very dark green").
      • Duke Roger has orange (until Thom resurrects him, at which point his magic turns dark to reflect the corruption of his soul and indicates that he Came Back Wrong. It actually becomes a mix of his natural orange and Thom's darker purple.
      • Numair, easily the most powerful magic user in the series, has an unusual Gift described as "black with white sparkles".
    • The Immortals: Wild magic, the far less common nature-specific variant of magic, is copper in color.
  • Zig-zagged in The Wheel of Time:
    • Women who are actively channeling the One Power appear to be glowing to other women with the ability. Male channelers get a general sense of awe and menace when another man is channeling nearby, and a vague chill when women are channeling, but can't pinpoint it to an individual.
    • Channelers perceive the One Power itself as threads of coloured light that are woven into the spell. Ordinarily they emanate from the person casting the spell, but they can be "tied off" to persist without the channeler's concentration.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Warehouse 13, artifact-related weirdness tends to be accompanied by the smell of fudge.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: When Juliet reveals herself to be a vampire, she admits she knew of Justin being a wizard due to his scent- brick and pine, which is apparently just how wizards smell.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Each mage has a personal "sigil" that manifests whenever they cast a spell, which can be a sensory effect like the scent of orange blossom or a sudden chill.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition: Many Psychic Powers cause synaesthetic side effects like an indescribable but familiar odour, a low droning sound, a telepathic chime, or something more exotic. A psion can concentrate to suppress these effects for subtlety's sake.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Each mage has a personal "nimbus" that manifests when they perform vulgar magic, such as a Holy Halo, a drum beat, or the sight of spectral animals. Normally this is only visible to beings with Supernatural Sensitivity, but they can also intentionally reveal it to Muggles with effort.



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