More Than One Way To Skin A Cat


I've always encouraged odd uses for spells and magic/alchemical items. I love the creativity some players will excercise when all they have left are two 0 level spells for the day. I can't remember where I read it, but the example of using Spider Climb to help a small handed character carry extra mugs of ale back to table always stuck with me and since then I have been striving to get as much use out of minor magical effects as possible.

What are everyones favorite irregular uses of popular and "common" magical effect/ items and their alchemical counterparts?

The first ones that come to mind for me are:

1) A character who was a skald (like a storyteller/newsie rolled into one) using ghost sounds, prestidigitation, and dancing lights to provide their own light and smoke show while they told tales in the tavern (in fact, I think that's all she ever used her magic for). Essentially provides a situational modifier to Perform checks.

2) The tanglefoot bag grappling hook. Tie the tanglefoot bag to the end of a rope, and throw it at the target. Great in situations where there's nothing reliable to catch a hook on (like when the bridge drops out from under you and the top of the cliff is already too far away for your rope to reach).

3) The thunderstone door stopper. I have thunderstones come in irregular shapes in my setting...they aren't perfectly round as it's dangerous to shape them. They form like cheese curds when created. Wedge one of these under the door when you want to get some undisturbed sleep and still need a warning of someone entering the room. Better than an alarm clock, and stuns the person forceing the door giving you time to grab your sword.

4) Entangle as a childcare device. I play a character who is a Druid that has become the foster father of a strange young lad. He ages too fast, and seems to know more than a boy of his age to be normal, but I haven't figured that part out yet. He is overenthusiastic when combat begins though and begins yelling "TOUGH!" at the top of his lungs and waving about the walking stick I fashioned for him when he was big enough to stop clinging to my beard. Now, when a fight breaks out I cast Entanlge around him to keep him out from under foot and hopefully keep people a respectable distance away from the little tyke. He may look 4 or so...but he's only about 6 or 7 monthes old.

Those are all really interesting.

I never came up with anything so creative as the Spider Climb spell use or Tanglefoot Bag grappling hook examples but provided opponent NPC parties with utility-items to improve their performance. Examples like the Alarm spell enchanted into a stone making it portable and reusable by anyone, or a Rope Trick enchanted length of rope. The party got these as part of their loot, subtracted from the treasure allocations so they could "use it or lose it". I think the Mage Hand glove was the least appreciated.

We had a bard in our group who would cast "magic mouth" on daggers and sell them as magical (they were). The trigger was when they were being used in a backstab, they yelled "Lookout! Treachery!"

I had a player once who attempted to convince me that he should be allowed to start his first-level character with as much money as he wanted. Why? Because he knew Magic Weapon, quarterstaves are free and a +1 weapon sells for 1000gp.
I pointed out to him that Magic Weapon as a first level spell has a remarkably short duration (one minute, I think) and most shopkeepers wouldn't want to pay 1000gp for what was essentially a stick. He responded that he would merely make his sales quickly and never go to the same person twice. My counter-argument was that word would spread and pretty soon he'd have all of Menzoberranzan (he was a drow) up in arms against him. I'm not sure what he said to that. It didn't really matter, though, since even if he'd talked me into it from an IC perspective, there's the obvious issue of game balance.

Regardless, while it shouldn't be allowed as part of pre-campaign preparation, it might be worth trying during an adventure when the party's hard on cash.


Party gets attacked by 30+ orcs while traveling. My character, a half elf illusionist thief who was passing himself off as a dangerous combat mage/swordsman cast perfect illusion and created a 20' tall dwarf the appeared to climb up out of hell. He swung his ax at a group of charging orcs and I cast mass sleep. 15 or so orcs passed out and the others ran.

While the rest of the part members chased them or tended to the wounded, I went around slitting throats.

The rest of the party gave me tons of respect afterwards. I never stood watch again ;-)


My pissed of merc swordsman rushed the length of the tavern towards a lizardman shaman. The shaman cast two spells, entangle and roundabout.

Entangle causes roots to grow up through the floorboards and entangle your feet and legs. Up to about mid calf. Roundabout flips you 180 degrees. I had to roll health rolls to see if my ankles snapped, Dex roll to see if I kept my balance, and when it was over my back was to the 7' tall lizardman!

GURPS: Has a spell called eviscerate. If you land a hit on someone with a hand then you can pull out an organ leaving a large gaping wound.

PCs went up against Drow. The Head Priestess was a martial artist. A merc swordsman PC charged her. He swung and missed, she tore out his left lung and dropped it on the ground.

That was some cold sh*t!

"...she tore out his left lung and dropped it on the ground."

Not to be a stickler here, but wouldn't ribs get in the way? Or does/did this priestess have unnaturally skinny hands?