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Mundane Utility / Tabletop Games

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  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution
    • You can use the Remote Manipulation ability to use keypads, pick locks, and basically do anything else that could be accomplished with hands. Enormously powerful, heat-proof, intangible hands, but still.
    • Temper, Temper, Temperature can be used to melt locks and metal doors, pop car tires, boil water, and the like.
    • Ignite can be used to light cigarettes and build campfires.
    • One piece of the book’s artwork depicts an esper levitating a beer to herself.
  • BattleTech
    • The BattleMechs. Mechs equipped with hands can be used in combat engineering and light construction duties, a high-power 6 ton military laser can be toned down for welding, and long ranged missiles can be used for clearing areas for civilian use.
    • Since IndustrialMechs exist in the universe, with civilian standard equipment, using the military grade stuff in this way is probably a bit overkill. Typically, it only occurs when a planet's local military unit is helping clean up a city after a battle or the like. That being said, a recent rule book has stats for turning a short range missile launcher into a harpoon launcher. For Space Whaling. There are also planets, such as Hunter's Paradise, where Battlemechs are used for big game hunting expeditions to take down the local dinosaur equivalents.
  • In the Classic and New World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Awakening has a vast range of minor spells for this purpose, from instant housekeeping and making phone calls without needing the recipient's number, all the way up to imbuing your car with the platonic ideal of automobiles to make sure it works perfectly without an oil change. However, doing so is a minor act of hubris on the Karma Meter (on par with "selfish thoughts"), and it invites the chance of a Magic Misfire unless it's performed in a Demesne.
    • Mage: The Ascension encourages players to grab the universe by the reins and make it do tricks for them — doubly so with Sancta, small personal areas where a mage could perform any of their own magic without risk of Paradox.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters' Bonepickers are a group who use their powers to make money. The good ones simply charge for their "drive ghosts out of your life" services; the bad ones will bind a ghost to a Ferrari and then offer to take away the "haunted car".
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    • Several magical Contracts in Changeling: The Lost work for this, especially using the Contract of Artifice to fix minor broken things and using the lesser clauses of the Contract of Elements to make the weather suit you, but nearly every Contract has one or two clauses with mundane utility. One particular goblin contract basically guarantees that any guess you make will be right. And you can use it without cost if you're using it to win at gambling.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade provides quite a few mundane uses for the vampiric disciplines:
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Eberron campaign setting is based on this: there's the Magewright, a special NPC spellcasting class designed to handle stuff ranging from city light poles to the Lightning Rail.
    • The zeroth-level spell "Prestidigitation" is a handy-dandy Swiss Army knife of a spell, allowing you to perform minor tricks that can accomplish things like cleaning and mending your clothes, warming and flavoring food, and sweeping the floor with tiny dust devils.
    • The long gone Imaskari civilization in the Forgotten Realms were rather fond of dimensional magic, to the point that one-way portals to the Elemental Planes of Water and Air for the sake of easy access to fresh water and air were common. In other words, they punched holes in space and time to other dimensions for tap-water and ventilation.
    • A surprising number of adventurers use any weapon "of Flaming" as torches.
    • Many low-level 4th Edition rituals are like this, with a clutch of some useless in combat found in Dragon Magazines. Purify Water is one from the core rules. Repel Vermin is great for keeping away bedbugs (also handy if there's an outbreak of flea-borne disease), Fluid Funds (which breaks up change for you), etc.
    • The fairly mundane item Murlynd's spoon fills any bowl into which it is placed with a magically nourishing gruel, with no limitation on number of uses. Useless to a party of adventurers; priceless to a king or general.
    • The Book of Marvelous Inventions is a collection of "inventions" bent on exploiting magical items and spells. These range from magical helicopters and cruise missiles ... to self-cleaning nurseries, enchanted bowling balls, and automated scrap metal dealers.
    • Many players who have gone out of their way to find possible exploits to the numerous magic spells of the game have come up with all kinds of schemes to use relatively simple and straightforward spells to create infinite amounts of money. The wall of iron spell creates a permanent wall of iron to serve as cover, block a corridor, or create fast fortification. It can however be broken up to be a much cheaper and less work intensive source of iron for making steel than to mine tonnes of iron ore underground.
    • Some 2nd Edition books went out of their way to describe mundane uses for magic items, such as how many merchants desired to get their hands on Bag of Holding-style boxes, or the bureaucratic utility of self-writing quills.
    • One of the better-regarded third-party books for 3rd Edition, A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, was all about building a proper medieval tone and background into a fantasy setting, including extended discussions on how magic can integrate into all layers of society for greater utility.
    • Summoning Rituals let a knowledgeable player recruit creatures with all sorts of special abilities that lend themselves to this. A notably bizarre scenario is calling down a Lantern Archon — an immortal heavenly spirit of Good incarnate — into your service; forcing it to spam its Continual Flame power endlessly; and selling the inexhaustible, unquenchable, 100% safe torches for a zero-effort Money Grinding scheme.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 spinoff Dark Heresy, the Psyker's abilities allow them to do mundane things such as excel at basic tasks, cheat in card games, and plenty of other things you'd associate with telepathy, divination, pyrokinetics, telekinetics, and so on. Of course, this being 40k, it's risky enough that they usually don't bother...
    • Speaking of psykers, the mightiest psyker in the galaxy is arguably Mr. Eldrad Ulthran of Craftworld Ulthwe. Canon has him using his powers of foresight to help guide Craftworld Ulthwe and preserve the Eldar species, such as manipulating the rise of an Ork warlord so he ends up killing millions of humans in a series of bloody wars in the place of a handful of Eldar a couple of centuries down the line. Fanon on the other hand has him using his powers of foresight to plan out relatively harmless but still humiliating pranks on both his enemies and his underlings, such as causing a huge convoy pile-up so that a Commissar's Nice Hat falls neatly on his head, or manipulating shrapnel so it non-lethally knocks a Howling Banshee's Breast Plate off, or causing that domino effect that not only leaves Ursakar Creed's army utterly destroyed but does so in such a way that the burning wreckage spells out "CREED SUCKS" and can be seen from space.
    • Depending on whether the GM allows it, it's apparently possible to do more damage than the many, many, many WMDs the setting is famous for with a tanker ship filled with promethium. Half a billion liters -> Fireball with more than 10 times the sun's diameter.
  • In the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game, there are a number of arcane and divine spells designed for mundane usage, from spotless cleaning, animal taming and locking/unlocking doors through to perfect cooking, infallible contraception and fertility treatments and gardening. And those are the spells specifically designed for such usage- the Lore of Fire spell 'Diadem of Flame' which creates a flaming crown above the wizard's head is described (in the spell's entry in the rulebook, no less) as being occasionally used for lighting cooking fires, although that requires the wizard to go through "extremely undignified contortions".
    • This despite the fact that the setting and rules enforce the idea that magic is really dangerous, with all but the weakest spells having at least 1/10 chance of Bad Things happening. This gets particularly nasty and amusing when the optional (and fan made) house rules for high-end Chaos Manifestations are used. It is possible to destroy the entire world with an unlucky minor spell to (for example) lock your door when you can't find your keys...
    • The High Elves are said to be much more capable of harvesting the Winds of Magic without the risk of things-go-boom, and as such, they teach their students by starting with spells to be used in domestic environments. Their book states that farmers who live around the schools of magic never have to plow their own fields, because every year's group of students wants something to test their skills on.
  • In GURPS: Magic, knowing really powerful magic almost always requires the knowledge of a bunch of simpler spells with more mundane uses (eg, to learn Volcano, you need to know things like Create Fire and Shape Earth).
  • In Blue Rose, this is explicitly stated to be the norm, at least in Aldis. Telepathy, in particular, sees a lot of use for things like ensuring honest testimony in trials, sending messages across the kingdom, and aiding in the rehabilitation of criminals.
  • In Eclipse Phase, humanity has reached a state where everyone carries a cortical stack, a form of Brain Uploading allowing them to be resurrected in a new body after they die. Some people use this to participate in extreme sports. Others have full-on pistol duels at ten paces just because they can.
  • Exalted: in "Shards of the Exalted Dream", Modern Age Dragon-Bloods have a Charm that allows them to control electrical devices at a distance - and one of the suggested uses is getting someone's digits by making their phone call yours. In the core setting, Solars have been known to use epic mind-whammying Charms like Husband-Seducing Demon Dance for casual sex. Hell, virtually everyone has at least one power that can be used for very mundane, creepy, or pathetic ends, be it wiring yourself into a vehicle to win a drag race or tracking down the bully from your schooldays and ruining his love life with Shun the Smiling Lady just to be a dick.
    • The Solar Charm "Wyld-Shaping Technique", which allows you to create virtually anything out of the chaos at the edge of the world, proved to have so much mundane utility that for anything significant it rendered the entire Craft skill tree obsolete.
  • This trope is usually the case for Nobilis, since a Noble's abilities are basically Swiss Army Superpowers. When you manage an entire aspect of reality, stretching meanings and being imaginative can increase your power and versatility in incredible ways.
    • In the spinoff Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, this is all over the place since characters are usually between 10 and 15 years old. Using just the Glass-Maker's Dragon characters, Chuubo tries and usually fails to use his cosmic wishing powers to get ice cream, Seizhi can use his identity powers to make inconvenient photos no longer depict him, Rinley uses her power over the wishes of the heart to play pranks, and Leonardo de Montreal has applied the incomparable power of Nightmare Science to build lie detectors, floss, air conditioning, clothes dryers, umbrellas, pine-scented airspray and devices that squeak when you say the wrong thing - all available in bizarre semi-biological form and constructed from fragments of dreams.
  • The Ninja Burger series has the deliverymen use their elite ninja skills to...deliver food. However, they need every bit of it.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Inverted in the case of several equipment cards from Innistrad block, which are everyday tools and farming implements used by the otherwise helpless peasantry to defend themselves from the setting's zombies, werewolves, and vampires. As an added bonus, these equipment cards become stronger when wielded by humans.
    • Occasionally referred to in the flavor text of Magic cards. For example:
    • The Sultai Brood of Tarkir uses zombies for almost everything: there is, for example, a card depicting a zombie with a scroll case rammed through its skull to serve as a messenger, and another showing zombies being used to hold up bowls of fruit.
    • Bo Levar, a minor Planeswalker from the Invasion era, used his nigh-godlike Planeswalker abilities to smuggle goods.
  • In Polish RPG "Crystals of Time" most magic items are protected against tampering by unauthorized entities. The protection makes the device explode with equivalent of 1kg of TNT per magic point when used by a person it's not attuned to. Since the price of magic items rises exponentially with their power, the bottom tier ones are very cheap. Obvious abuse: a cartload of cheapest magic talismans used as a nuke (although you need to find a sucker to detonate it).
  • Ars Magica's magic system allows a nigh-unlimited variety of helpful mundane effects, like magical umbrellas, self-pulling ploughs, indoor air conditioning, and books that hover at a convenient height. Pride of place goes to the Parma Magica, a personal Anti-Magic field that is the quintessential talent of the Order of Hermes: an immensely valuable defensive ability... and it blocks the innate discomfort that people and animals feel in a Mage's presence. It's acknowledged as making the foundation of the Order possible, simply because they were free from irritating each other just by being nearby.
  • Pathfinder has many of the ones found in its parent game, Dungeons & Dragons, and adds a few more in its campaign materials. For example, one adventure path (Giantslayer) reveals that Mithril can be used to make naturally non-stick cookware.