Arcane Deck Channeler (3.5e Class)

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Arcane Deck Channeler
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(Special thanks to the Arcane Card Master class for the idea and Mrwest13's Card class for some mechanical inspiration.)

Arcane Deck Channeler[edit]

"Ha! Wasn't expecting that, but it was just the card I needed!"

Magic is by its very nature versatile. It allows a wielder to call forth a wide variety of astounding effects to serve the caster's will in overcoming any and all obstacles. But the manner of channeling magic is widely varied, and each method comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Arcane Deck Channeler (ADC) attempts to nullify these weaknesses by binding their magic into an external source; namely, a deck of cards. While this does allow the ADC to cast Sorcerer/Wizard, Bard, and Druid spells, it comes with its own set of hurdles. But for those willing to put in the effort to build your deck, this class can provide a challenging but rewarding experience.

Making an ADC[edit]

The Arcane Deck Channeler is a bit of a non-standard caster. While he still has spell slots in a sense, the more important regulating functions are the number of cards in the deck and the total spell level of all the cards. This class puts a large focus on one's ability to make their deck of abilities each day, so it is not suggested for those who do not like complicated spell preparation.

Abilities: Intelligence will be a core ability for this class. Charisma and Wisdom are good secondary abilities.

Races: Humans are eager to become ADCes as it speaks to their own racial versatility. Gnomes, Halflings, and Half-Elves are also known to be ADCes. While not common, ADCes are present amongst Dwarves and Elves as well.

Alignment: While any alignment is allowed, the character's choice of Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic will determine how the deck functions.

Starting Gold: [6d12 x 2], Average 78gp

Starting Age: Complex

Table: The Arcane Deck Channeler

Hit Die: d4

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Maximum Number of Spell Level in Deck Deck's Maximum Total Spell Level
Fort Ref Will 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +1 +1 Arcane Deck, Deck Format 1, Write Spell Card Sor/Wiz 3 - - - - - - - -
2nd +0 +0 +1 +1 Write Mundane Item Card, Item Card 4 - - - - - - - -
3rd +1 +1 +1 +2 - 5 1 - - - - - - -
4th +1 +1 +2 +2 Write Spell Card Bard 6 2 - - - - - - -
5th +1 +1 +2 +3 Prophetic Draw 7 3 - - - - - - -
6th +2 +1 +2 +3 Deck Format 2, Bonus Feat: Jack of All Trades 8 4 1 - - - - - -
7th +2 +2 +3 +4 Recycled Draw 1 8 5 2 - - - - - -
8th +2 +2 +3 +4 - 8 6 3 1 - - - - -
9th +3 +2 +3 +5 Two Down 8 6 4 2 - - - - -
10th +3 +2 +4 +5 - 8 6 4 3 1 - - - -
11th +3 +3 +4 +6 Write Magical Item Card 8 6 4 4 2 - - - -
12th +4 +3 +4 +6 Deck Format 3, Bonus Feat: Open Minded 8 6 4 4 3 - - - -
13th +4 +3 +5 +7 - 8 6 4 4 4 1 - - -
14th +4 +3 +5 +7 Write Spell Card Druid 8 6 4 4 4 2 - - -
15th +5 +4 +5 +8 - 8 6 4 4 4 3 1 - -
16th +5 +4 +6 +8 Destiny Draw 8 6 4 4 4 4 2 - -
17th +5 +4 +6 +9 Recycled Draw 2 8 6 4 4 4 4 3 1 -
18th +6/+1 +4 +6 +9 Deck Format 4, Bonus Feat: Craft 8 6 4 4 4 4 4 2 -
19th +6/+1 +5 +7 +10 - 8 6 4 4 4 4 4 3 -
20th +6/+1 +5 +7 +10 - 9 7 5 5 5 5 5 4 1

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Knowledge (The Planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (Cha), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Arcane Deck Channelers are proficient with the club, dagger, quarterstaff, shortspear, spear, light crossbow, and sling, but not with any type of armor or shield. While a ADC has no armor proficiencies, armor does not incur the arcane spell failure chance if the ADC is proficient with it. If the ADC wears armor he is not proficient with, the arcane spell failure chance applies as normal.

Arcane Deck: The focal point of any Arcane Deck Channeler's magic, the Arcane Deck is a deck of cards that hold your assorted abilities. Their appearance is entirely up to the ADC, but they should always be single sided and have uniform backs. While the Arcane Deck is magically bound to you so only you can use the cards, it can be lost or stolen. Buying blank Arcane Deck cards costs 10 x ADC Level gp per card; it is impossible to buy cards with spells already written on them. The Arcane Deck initially comes with 20 blank cards at level 1, though as many cards as the ADC wishes may be added to or removed from the Arcane Deck. You can own any number of Arcane Deck cards, but you may only have one Arcane Deck at any given time. Cards can only be added to or removed (save using a card) from the Arcane Deck after an extended rest.

While a deck is not limited by the total number of cards in it, it is limited by three things: the number of spells of each level, the number of each specific card, and the deck's maximum total spell level. First, the Arcane Deck is limited to the maximum number of spell cards from each spell level, as listed in the table above. Cards that are over this maximum may be added to the deck by counting them as a higher level spell (and therefore taking up that higher slot) for this purpose only. Second, a deck can have no more than two of the same exact card in it, though this limit does not apply to cantrips. Third, after adding cards to the deck, sum up the levels of all the spell cards (cantrips count as level .5). This sum may not exceed the Deck's Maximum Total Spell Level, listed in the table above. Blank Arcane Deck cards may not be added to your Arcane Deck.

To use a card from the Arcane Deck, the ADC must have at least one hand free. As a Standard Action the ADC may take the Draw action. The Draw action allows the ADC to draw a number of cards from his Arcane Deck equal to his Charisma modifier. Then, the ADC must use one of the cards as part of the same Standard Action. The card that is used is removed from the Arcane Deck; it cannot be used for the rest of the day but may be added back into the Arcane Deck after an extended rest. The remaining cards in the channeler's hand are either shuffled back into the Arcane Deck or placed at the bottom of it, his choice. A few clarifications:

  • Using a card does provoke opportunity attacks, and if you are hit you must make a Concentration check. Should the concentration check fail, the used card is removed from your Arcane Deck without using its effect.
  • Spells that normally wouldn't provoke opportunity attacks do not make you provoke when using its card.
  • Item cards always provoke opportunity attacks. If you are hit and fail the concentration check, the card is removed from your deck and the item stays in the card.
  • You may choose to engage in defensive casting as normal.
  • You may ignore any verbal, somatic, component, or foci requirements of a spell card, but any range or targeting specifications of the spell card must still be followed.

Deck Format: The Arcane Deck Channeler's Arcane Deck functions differently depending upon the caster's alignment.

If the ADC is Lawful, once per day when the ADC would use the Draw Action he may instead search through his deck for one card and only draw that one card instead (shuffle the deck afterward). This is still a standard action, the ADC must still have at least one hand free, and the card must still be immediately used in the same action. At 6th level the Lawful ADC may do this twice a day, at 12th level three times a day, and at 18th four times a day.

If the ADC is Neutral, twice per day when taking the Draw action the ADC may send all the cards he had just drawn to the bottom of his deck to draw a new hand of cards. At 6th level the Neutral ADC may do this four times a day, at 12th level six times a day, and at 18th eight times a day.

If the ADC is Chaotic, whenever he takes the Draw action he may decide to draw one extra card. If he does so, he must remove from his Arcane Deck one of the cards that he had drawn but did not use. At 6th level the Chaotic ADC may draw 2 extra cards, at 12th level he may draw 3 extra cards, and at 18th he may draw 4 extra cards.

Write Spell Card: An Arcane Deck Channeler may add new spells to his deck by 'writing' a spell on a blank Arcane Deck card. Spells that the ADC wishes to write must be from the Sorcerer / Wizard spell list, and can only be written by copying the spell from a spellbook (spellcrafting check necessary) or expending a scroll (after being deciphered, no check). A few clarifying pieces of information:

  • Written spell cards may not have an experience or one time monetary component, but they can have a focus (assuming the focus was present at the time of writing and would not be expended by casting the spell).
  • You may only write spells with a casting time of one standard action or less. Any spell with a casting time less than one standard action is still cast as a standard action.
  • You may not write a metamagic version of a spell.
  • When writing a spell card, you are assumed to have the Eschew Materials Feat.

At 4th level, the ADC may write spells from the Bard spell list. At 14th level, the ADC may write spells from the Druid spell list. Note, however, that since these two classes do not normally use spellbooks writing spell cards from these classes' lists may be difficult. Also, when adding Bard or Druid spell cards to your deck, their spell level counts as double for the purpose of determining the Arcane Deck's Maximum Total Spell Level.

To write or cast a spell card, the Arcane Deck Channeler must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level (even if it is a non-sorcerer/wizard spell). Your caster level for any spell you cast through your Arcane Deck is always your ADC level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an ADC’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the ADC’s Intelligence modifier. Note that you do not substitute your Intelligence mod for anything else, so if a spell calls upon a non-Int ability for any other reason (attacking, duration, effect, etc.) you must use the normal ability.

Write Item Card (2nd Level): Using this ability, you may store mundane (non-magical) items in your blank Arcane Deck cards. As a Standard Action, you may use a blank card on a small or smaller unattended nonliving object or collection of objects (50 pounds, 1 cubic foot) to absorb the target item(s) into the card. While in the card, the item(s) is indestructible (but the card is not), can't be targeted, is weightless, and doesn't age or wear. At 11th level, you may store magical items as well, though they still must meet the conditions.

Item Card (2nd Level): As noted above, item cards are Arcane Deck cards with items stored instead of spells. To retrieve an item from an item card, the item card must be added to your deck and then drawn and used as any other card. When the card is used, you may do one of the following:

  • Have the item gently drop on a surface directly adjacent to you.
  • Grab or immediately equip the item. To do so you must have a hand free / not have anything equipped in and be able to equip it in the respective slot. Ignore any non-magical time restrictions on equipping an item this way.
  • Throw the item. Make an improvised ranged attack (ignoring the -4 improvised penalty) but use your Intelligence mod instead of your Dexterity or Strength mods.

Using the item card renders the card blank again. The blank card is then removed from your deck.

Prophetic Draw (5th Level): When taking the Draw action, if your deck has ten or more cards left then you may name a specific card in your Arcane Deck before drawing. If the named card is drawn in the Draw action, you must immediately pick it as the card to use. After using it, it is sent to the bottom of your Arcane Deck (not removed from the deck). Then remove all the other drawn cards from your deck. If the named card was not drawn, then after using one of the cards remove all of the drawn cards from your Arcane Deck. You may not combine Prophetic Draw with any of the Deck Format bonuses.

Bonus Feat: Jack of All Trades (6th Level): Your impressive versatility in magic has allowed you gain a basic understanding of a wide variety of topics. You gain Jack of All Trades as a bonus feat.

Recycled Draw (7th Level): After using a card and removing it from the deck, you may chose to recycle the remainder of your hand. To do this, remove the the top card of your deck from your Arcane Deck. Then, place your hand on top of your Arcane Deck. At 17th level, you may place only part of your hand on top of your Arcane Deck and send the rest of your hand to the bottom of your Arcane Deck.

Two Down (9th Level): Once per day, you may attempt to use two cards in your hand in the same standard action. Make a Concentration check, DC 10 + half your ADC level. If you pass, you use both cards in the same standard action and afterward remove both from your Arcane Deck. If you fail, destroy both cards and don't use either (and send the rest of your hand to the bottom of your Arcane Deck).

Bonus Feat: Open Minded (12th Level): You've explored many of the mysteries of the world, and as such you find yourself wanting to learn more. You gain Open Minded as a bonus feat.

Destiny Draw (16th Level): Once per day, when your Arcane Deck has 20 or more cards in it, you may declare that you will be engaging Destiny Draw before taking the Draw action. While using Destiny Draw, you may not use your Deck Format ability or Prophetic Draw. Instead of taking a normal Draw action, draw one card. Use that card up to five times (if possible) in the same standard action. Then, destroy your Arcane Deck (including the card you just used).

Bonus Feat: Craft Feat (18th Level): After writing so many magical cards you have learned the secrets to making a certain kind of magical item. You gain one of the following as a bonus feat: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Staff, Craft Wand, or Craft Wondrous Item.

Special Note: If taking a level in a prestige class that would normally allow for +1 level in an existing class for spells per day / known, you may choose to apply this bonus to your ADC level. If you do so, you gain the new Maximum Number of Spell Level in Deck and Deck's Maximum Total Spell Level as well as increasing your caster level by 1, but you gain no other benefits.


While the Arcane Deck Channeler is free to multiclass or take a prestige class at will, changing one's alignment can be detrimental. Should the ADC change it's ethical alignment (lawful, neutral, chaotic), he may not take another level in Arcane Deck Channeler until the respective ethical alignment is restored. All previous levels of ADC continue to function as normal using the character's original ethical alignment. Alternatively, the character may chose to erase all the cards in his Arcane Deck; if he does so, he may continue to take levels in ADC using his new ethical alignment.

Playing an ADC[edit]

Religion: Arcane Deck Channelers are usually drawn to a god of the Luck domain for obvious reasons, though they need not necessarily pledge themselves to any god in keeping with their versatility.

Combat: ADCes can fill a wide variety of roles in combat. If a wizard, bard, or druid can do it, an ADC can do it. However, usually the ADC is either pure support or pure offense, as mixing the two can lead to unfortunate consequences since the ADC must always use a card after taking the Draw action.

Advancement: ADCes are a heavy casting class, and as such they benefit from the synergy of having other casting classes. Since their base attack bonus is abysmal, any class that focuses on attacking is not suggested for multiclassing.

ADCes in the World[edit]

I'm sorry, you're going to do what with a card?
—Tholoma the Dastardly

Daily Life: ADCes pay for their versatility with a high price; casting a specific spell is extremely difficult for them. While the deck can be made small enough to guarantee casting a certain spell, it would mean having limited casting potential for the day. As such, most ADCes tend to avoid frivolously casting as doing so can lead to disastrous ends. This means that many an Arcane Deck Channeler can be mistaken for a non-magical individual simply because no one has ever seen them cast a spell.

NPC Reactions: While most people of the world have nothing against ADCes in particular, their method of casting tends to lead to disbelief amongst the uninitiated. As such, ADCes can expect to be met with wonderment, amazement, scorn, and / or ridicule when making an acquaintance for the first time.

ADC Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge: Arcana can research Arcane Deck Channelers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge: Arcana
DC Result
5 There are a multitude of ways to channel magical energies, many non-standard.
10 Arcane Deck Channelers cast spells through a deck of cards, called an Arcane Deck.
15 Arcane Deck Channelers have a wide versatility allowing them to cast spells from the Sor/Wiz spell list, the Bard spell list, and eventually the Druid spell list.
20 Arcane Deck Channelers have ultimate control over what spells they can cast, but little control over when those spells will be cast. As a result, they tend to have many similar spells in their Arcane Deck.

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