I was looking at the spells available to my Rolemaster ranger, and thinking about all the cool things I could do with them. Mind you, “cool” in this case is more about entertainment than effectiveness.
Arcane Pouch let’s her create an extradimensional space where she can put things and retrieve them at will. Balance Weapon let’s her “balance anything to increase its suitability for becoming a thrown weapon. For example…a chair….” Combined, she can pull bar stools out of nowhere and chuck them at her enemies. [ok, not really–the space is limited to small objects and shortish durations. Oh well.]
Pack Typing: This enables her sled dogs to form a typing pool, working together to type more than any one of them could manage on their own. [Actually, identifies the contents of a package.]
Synchronize Movements: “Caster is able to perform repetitive rhythmic movements without thought … [while doing] other things.” So my character can dance her way down the street and through combat, like West Side Story meets D&D–or Legion of Extraordinary Dancers? Cool! I’m totally gonna play a krumping elf–maybe her unusual “fighting style” will give her an advantage! [The spell is actually meant for, say, marching all day without having to think about it.]
In all seriousness, it’s actually really cool having all these non-combat–even non-adventuring–spells available. It makes sense, and some of them are really nifty. And with how spells are cast in Rolemaster, the opportunity costs of using such spells are very low, so I suspect they actually get used.
I love the fact that my elven ranger, rather than flinging around blasts of eldritch energy, has spells to load a wagon, silence her armor, prevent weapon breakage, magically seal a letter (like a wax seal–it doesnt stop access, just detects it), mentally see whoever has been on a path, and run easily on tree limbs. It gives the character some great abilities to be magical, while not feeling like a “spellcaster”–I feel like I’m playing a ranger in a magical world, not a wizard’s apprentice with green tights and a bow.
More importantly, I love the challenge of making use of these “useless” spells, trying to figure out ways to make them relevant to the game. It makes my character feel more magical, rather than just like an artillery piece. When my character’s only magical abilities are combat related, combat starts to look like the preferred activity, and my character starts to feel like my proxy in a first-person shooter.