Petty Magic for Petty Matters—Part #1: Arcane

With On the Edge of Exile in full swing (I'm still trying to figure out how to write it up and present it, so watch this space!) I've been thinking not just about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition a lot, but also the lives of the common folk—much of the campaign revolves around the humble backwater of Dunkeldorf in the Border Princes, and the lives of the people there.

This ruminating has resulted in me figuring out what A Day in the Life of a Dunkeldorfer would look like. But more recently, I've been thinking about how magic could influence that life. Whilst magic is anything but mundane in WFRP, we do have a Magister in the party (Apprentice Astromancer Glory Bramblewish), and she is of the more humble sort, caring about the lives of the peasants…

Below, I've written up a short description of each spell from the Petty Magic Lores from the core rule book, as well as potentially unconventional and interesting ways how these spells could influence the lives of ordinary folk…for better or for worse.

I've broken it into 3 parts. For now, here's Part #1: Petty Magic (Arcane).

Petty Magic (Arcane)

Petty Magic (Arcane) is the one Glory has, as she's a Magister of Azyr, the Celestial Wind. These spells are your standard "Cantrips" from Dungeons & Dragons, though filled as well with the usual terror of WFRP magic…

Glowing Light

The Magister causes an item to glow with light for an hour, whilst held.

I don't think, in the modern day, we give as much credit to non-burning light sources as we should. Consider, truly, how dangerous it is to be carrying a fire in a thatched-roof house, or in a mine shaft, or on a sailing ship!

Whilst the item has to be in the hands of the Magister, I daresay there would be many in a village who would find this non-burning-torch-wielding person to be VERY useful, late at night…


The Magister makes a phantom noise, from a whisper to a roar. Any type of noise, excepting speech.

This one is riddled with uses. From sound effects in a play put on for the local children, to calls used to lure out animals on a hunt, all the way to a rallying signal when no one has a bell to hand.

Sounds is an incredibly useful spell that, whilst likely disconcerting, could be used to liven up and aid in the day-to-day minutia of village life.


The Magister compels someone to instantly drop what they're holding.

A thief is taking off at a run with stolen goods? A young child has picked up something dangerous—a snake perhaps?!—and their parents are out of reach? A careless worker is about to imbibe a waterskin filled with befouled wine? Sounds like you could use the Drop spell!

This spell might seem like it's intended to cause all manner of nuisance, but there are plenty of times when people would rather not be holding onto something.

(A modern-world situation may be if the target is holding onto a live electric wire, and being electrocuted…but that's outside the scope of WFRP.)

Marsh Lights

The Magister summons a bunch of distant bobbing lights that follow their commands.

Usually lights like these are surrounded by superstition, with folks fearing to tread into a bog when they see them…and that's, honestly, a good use for them as well. Marsh Lights work as a simple deterrent—keeping the peasant's mind ignorant of the perhaps terrifying horrors outside the village, whilst also keeping them hemmed in and safe.

Marsh Lights may also be used to help search for a missing child in the woods—more ground is covered by the bobbing lights, so the child might see them better. Or they may look like torches in the forest, making the village seem better defended than it really is, acting as a deterrent for bandits and beastmen from coming closer…

Whilst Marsh Lights mightn't win the Magister any favours (or love) from the peasants, they are certainly useful in a multitude of circumstances.

Magic Dart

The Magister summons a small magic missile to attack.

This one is straight forward—whenever the villagers would need to shoot something, like on a hunt, or to kill vermin (because magic missiles rarely miss!), this would come in handy. Not much else to say, really.


The Magister puts someone to sleep.

Now, this one might require a bit more GM fiat, but I'd rule it that, whilst the spell puts them to sleep for 1d10 minutes, it doesn't necessarily mean they wake up after that point. If the person is already prone to sleep (such as lying in bed), or tired, they may not wake up again afterwards…

Anyone with children will immediately see where this is going: a perfect spell to get a sick child to sleep, or just one that's having trouble getting down for the night. Whilst this is, perhaps, ethically questionable, I think most parents would agree that sometimes their kids just need to go to bed. Besides, imagine how much more you could do with your day if the kids went to bed when they were supposed to!

This would be a favourite spell among parents and healers, with the ability to control one's sleep being miraculous and celebrated.

Next up, I'll explore Petty Magic (Divine)! Until then, give some thought to how the spells use din your game could, and would, change the everyday lives of the people!