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.