"Put down the deck? That wouldn't be playing the odds."
- The Dealer, the first recorded Card Shark
Card Sharks are people who live life on the edge, influenced by the raw chance that comes from wielding a deck of battle in combat They love to take risks, challenge fate, and generally spit in the face of caution. More importantly, they're people who have come across a Deck of Battle, a deck of enchanted cards that allows the bearer to draw from it to gain a variety of helpful or harmful effects.
BECOMING A CARD SHARK
Card Sharks are often rogues, swashbucklers, or bards before their encounter with a Deck. Any person with a penchant for taking risks and improvising their lives makes an excellent candidate for a Card Shark, but it is impossible to even gain the demeanor of one without owning a Deck of Battle. A deck, when used, manipulates and nudges its user toward ever-greater feats of chance and defiance of probability, eventually granting them the means to control the deck itself. Anyone thus chosen by a Deck to control its eldritch powers may become a Card Shark.
Sleight of Hand 4 ranks, Knowledge (Arcana) 4 ranks, Profession (Gambler) 8 ranks
Must have used a Deck of Battle to kill or contribute to the death of a foe with a CR greater than their ECL.
The Card Shark's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are...
Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis)
Skills Points at Each Level:
6 + Int modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|Deal 'Em, Cash It In +2|
|Ace in the Hole (one card)|
|Cash It In +3|
|Double Down (2 cards), Ace in the Hole (two cards)|
|Cash It In +4|
|Ace in the Hole (3 cards)|
|Double Down (3 cards), Stacked Deck|
: A Card Shark gains no additional weapon proficiencies.
Deal 'Em (Ex):
Normally, a Deck of Battle must be wielded to draw cards from it. You may instead draw cards from the deck regardless of whether your hands are full as long as it is somewhere in arm's reach.
Cash It In (Su):
Every turn a Card Shark activates a card in combat, he builds up a little more luck from the cards themselves, manifesting as a faint white glow around the Card Shark's fingers. Each card activated gives the Card Shark 2 points of Luck, which can stack up to twice their Card Shark level. As long as they maintain their Luck, which persists for up to 1 hour per Card Shark level after the most recent gain of Luck, they receive a bonus to Profession(Gambler) checks equal to their stored Luck. As a free action, they can expend their Luck, giving them a luck bonus to the attack and damage rolls for their next attack equal to their current Luck and resetting their Luck to 0. Alternatively, this bonus may be applied to a single skill check (other than Profession(Gambler) skill checks). This attack or check must be made in the same turn as the bonus is expended or the bonus is lost.
At level 4, the Card Shark instead gains 3 Luck per activated card.
At level 7, they gain 4 per activation.
Draw Two (Ex):
You can draw two cards from a Deck of Battle with a single draw. You may still only activate one of the cards. The other is returned to the deck and the deck is shuffled.
At level 5, you can instead draw three, but still only activate one.
At level 8, you may draw four.
Ace in the Hole (Ex):
If you are about to burn or reshuffle a card, you may instead keep it readied as a free action, activating it later as if it had just been drawn. Unlike a usual draw, the card retains its potency for 1 minute before needing to be reshuffled to regain its power. You may only ready one card at a time, and may reshuffle a readied card as a free action.
At level 6, you may ready two cards at once.
At level 9, you may ready three.
Double Down (Ex):
When drawing multiple cards, you may activate two cards with a single standard action, including cards readied with Ace in the Hole. Their effects take place as discrete events in an order of your choosing (meaning, for example, you can't use Flame and Paladin to make an exploding attack that also heals you, but you can use them to make two separate attacks). The unactivated cards are reshuffled as normal. You may do this a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier (minimum three).
At level 10, you may instead use this ability to activate up to three cards at once.
Stacked Deck (Su):
Activating this ability allows you to scan through your deck, drawing five cards of your choice from it. You may freely swap these cards with your readied cards, but unless using Double Down, you may not activate more than one. In addition, activating Stacked Deck fills your Luck to its maximum value. You may use this only once per day.
PLAYING A CARD SHARK
Card Sharks are marked by intense versatility between attacks and the utility, damaging, and support powers provided by the cards within the Deck of Battle. They are played best improvisationally, and should never have a set plan for overcoming an obstacle, as they can never depend on drawing a specific card.
Card Sharks should constantly be drawing out new cards as they play, activating them whenever beneficial and using their Cash It In feature liberally to maintain solid attacks and damage output in the rounds when the odds aren't in their favor. Card Sharks can fill any role in a pinch due to the versatility of the effects in a Deck of Battle, but should never be depended upon to keep to a single role.
Card Sharks are most often rogues or other quick, mobile classes, but advance equally well as fighters or even spellcasters, both of whom benefit from the improvements to their versatility and accuracy that the class provides.
Card Sharks don't have any kind of organization of which they're a member, but always have a knack for scrounging up a useful object anywhere they go, whether it's through connections, a keen eye for deals, or simply through pure luck.
CARD SHARKS IN THE WORLD
"I'll never forget the keen glint in that wanderer's eye as he came into the saloon. Took damn near everything we had at the poker table, threw down this mad blue card and the world went dark. 'E was gone by the time we came to again. So was our wallets." - Ol' Jimmy, patron of Gimlet's Saloon about a visit from a Card Shark
Card Sharks are seen as dangerous, reckless, or even mysterious by most in society. Their attachment to their Deck is a source of endless rumor when they wander through a town, and wherever they go, they leave stories of their incredible luck and daring behind them.
Many Card Sharks make their trade in gambling, as their name suggests, using their Deck only in emergencies or when a hand turns ugly. Many are mercenaries, selling their services to the highest bidder (or the winner of a coin toss), and still others are vigilantes, using their Deck to aid the weak and oppose evil. Stunningly common, however, are those who have been corrupted by the deadly power of the Deck, and wander the world terrorizing villages and robbing others of their possessions with the magic at their disposal.
The Dealer, the first discoverer of one of the enigmatic Decks of Battle, was a high-ranking member of a local thieves' guild who nabbed a deck from the collection of a powerful adventurer and was quickly tempted by its power, beginning a career of mixed vigilante justice and criminal mischief, ranging from vandalizing or even partially destroying buildings to delivering dead criminals to the door of the watch house. Despite the fact that he would now be over 120 years old, his death was never confirmed, and he is still the most wanted criminal in his home city.
The versatility and utility of a Deck of Battle attracts Card Sharks to resourceful organizations such as the Harpers or thieves' guilds. They have no official organization of their own, however.
Card Sharks typically have a distinctive appearance that suggests unpredictability, and it can put them off at first glance, but the typical charisma and silver-tongued wordtwisting that the class is known for often wins over suspicious folk.
CARD SHARKS IN THE GAME
Card Sharks make a group's strategy very flexible because of the array of options available to them, and it only gets easier to tailor a strategy as they level up. Card Sharks make an excellent fifth wheel for a balanced party, but if expected to fill a specific role such as damage-dealer or healer, they may suffer due to the fact that their abilities are not nearly as powerful as those of a focused character such as a cleric or barbarian, and until later levels a given type of ability cannot be called upon reliably.
A Card Shark can just as easily be flavored as a divine caster begging boons from a god of tricks or chaos, or a fatalistic oracle wielding the power of tarot cards. Their abilities are fairly generic, and the assigned flavor is far from the only possible one.
Card Sharks are rare, since only a few dozen Decks of Battle have ever been found and many don't take to their ways, but those the players do find will typically be loners, spreading either chaos or peace depending on their leanings. Their reaction to the players will depend entirely on the player's reaction to them, but Card Sharks are often quick to judge others and react accordingly.
Deck of Battle
A Deck of Battle is a set of vellum cards typically found in a small wooden box. Each card is covered with eldritch sigils and complex glyphs, glowing a bright blue. When a card is activated, it produces some beneficial effect for the wielder, though it often harms as well as helping. All effects of the Deck of Battle are considered Supernatural.
The character with a Deck of Battle may draw a single card as a swift action. Afterward, the card may be activated as a standard action (expending its power until reshuffled) or reshuffled as a free action. Either way, if the card is not activated in the same turn that it is drawn, it loses its magical potency until reshuffled. Cards cannot be drawn from a Deck of Battle unless it is being held in one of the wielder's hands.
A Deck of Battle contains the 22 cards listed below. Any others, even cards from other decks of battle, will be ejected from the deck instantly and without effect if an attempt is made to insert them into the deck. These may be simulated with either playing cards or tarot cards, as in the table below.
|Plaque||Tarot Card||Playing Card||Summary of Effect|
|Archmage||Four of staves||King of hearts||A nearby caster of your choice does not expend the next spell they use.|
|Assassin||XIII. Death||Jack of clubs||Turn invisible, next attack while invisible does 3d6 additional damage|
|Baator||Two of pentacles||Two of clubs||Explosion of fire harms all nearby creatures|
|Betrayal||Five of swords||Jack of spades||Make an attack that deals 5d6 additional negative energy damage but 1d6 to you and an ally|
|Blessing||Three of cups||Ace of hearts||Restores 2d8+3 hp to all nearby creatures|
|Boon||V. The Hierophant||Queen of Hearts||Restores 4d8+7 hit points to a single target and restores ailments|
|Construct||Seven of cups||Two of hearts||Give nearby creatures temporary hit points|
|The Coward||IX. The Hermit||Ace of diamonds||Teleport yourself and up to four others with a dimension door spell.|
|The Dancer||XVII. The Star||Jack of diamonds||Make an attack that turns you invisible briefly|
|Escape||XVIII. The Moon||Queen of diamonds||Creates a passageway through nonmagical material|
|Flame||Two of swords||Two of diamonds||Make an attack that explodes to harm nearby creatures|
|Ghoul||XV. The Devil||Queen of clubs||Ray of energy drains life from target|
|Hammer||XI. Justice||Two of Spades||Stun nearby enemy|
|Knight||Ten of swords||Queen of spades||Give all nearby creatures +3 to next attack roll|
|The March||XII. The Hanged Man||Joker (no trademark)||Exhausts three targets of your choice|
|The Oracle||XIX. The Sun||King of diamonds||All nearby creatures see invisible temporarily.|
|The Pact||Four of swords||Ace of spades||Split damage of next attack with willing ally|
|Paladin||Page of swords||Jack of hearts||Make an attack that heals you but does half damage|
|Sadism||Eight of Swords||King of Clubs||Make an attack that bleeds for ongoing damage|
|Trick||0. The Fool||Joker (trademark)||Dazes all nearby creatures|
|The Wall||XVI. The Tower||King of spades||Nearby creatures gain damage reduction|
|Wrath||Queen of pentacles||Ace of clubs||You are struck with lightning but temporarily add lightning damage to your attacks.|
Upon activating this card, you choose a nearby spellcaster who uses spell slots. The next time they cast a spell within the next minute, they do not expend a spell slot. If they do not use a spell within this time, the ability is wasted. This ability cannot affect the same caster more than once a day, regardless of whether it is used.
Upon activating this card, you instantly turn invisible for 3 rounds. This invisibility will break under any condition that would break the invisibility
spell, but if you attack a foe while invisible, it does an additional 3d6 damage.
Upon activating this card, it explodes in an enormous 30-foot-radius spread of hellish flames, burning everyone in the radius (including you!) for 5d6 fire damage (Reflex DC 17 half).
Upon activating this card, you swing your weapon or fire off a round from a ranged weapon. Dark tendrils connect the weapon and yourself, as well as a willing ally of your choice within 10 feet, dealing 1d6 untyped damage to both of you. This damage cannot be reduced or negated in any way. The attack is thus empowered by your energies, dealing 5d6 additional negative energy damage on hit.
Upon activating this card, a golden nimbus envelops the battlefield in a 30-foot spread, healing all creatures within for 2d8+3 hp as if they had a cure moderate wounds
spell cast on them. This does not discriminate between allies and enemies; everyone is healed.
Upon activating this card, you choose a target within 30 feet. This target gains 4d8+7 hp as if they had been targeted by a cure critical wounds
spell and receives the effects of a lesser restoration
Upon activating this card, all creatures in a 30-foot spread gain a faintly glowing barrier that persists for 1d4 rounds, providing them with 10 temporary hit points. This does not discriminate between allies and enemies; everyone is protected.
Upon activating this card, you and up to four willing allies within 20 feet of you are teleported as if by a dimension door
spell (CL 9).
Upon activating this card, you make an attack with a wielded weapon. If it hits, you turn invisible as the greater invisibility
spell for 3 rounds.
You may create a 10-foot-long passageway wide enough to comfortably fit you in any nearby nonmagical material. This passageway can be in any direction or location, but must start and end within 30 feet of you. Enemies receive a DC 17 Reflex save to avoid falling into the passageway if it is made below them.
Upon activating this card, you make an attack with a wielded weapon. If it hits, it explodes, dealing half the total damage it dealt to its primary target as fire damage to all creatures adjacent to the target as well as the target (including you, if you're adjacent).
Upon activating this card, a ray of pure blackness bursts from the card. Make a ranged touch attack against a foe within 60 feet. If it hits, the target takes 3d6 negative energy damage. You gain half of the damage dealt as temporary hit points lasting 10 minutes.
Upon activating this card, a golden hammer manifests and strikes a target of your choice, stunning them for 1d4 rounds (fortitude DC 17 negates).
A green radiance emanates from this card upon activation, inspiring creatures within 20 feet to greater feats. All creatures in range (allies or enemies) gain a +3 morale bonus to their next attack roll. This attack must be made in the next round or the bonus is lost.
A red haze engulfs three foes of your choice, subjecting them to memories of days of endless marching and exertion. They are exhausted for 1d6 rounds. On a successful DC 17 will save, they are only fatigued.
Silvery mist fills the air in a 30 foot radius, revealing all invisible creatures in the area. The mist persists for 1d6 minutes.
A golden tendril links you to a nearby ally. The next time an attack hits either one of you, the damage is split evenly between the pair and the tendril is severed.
Upon activating this card, you make an attack with a wielded weapon. The weapon or projectile is wreathed in golden light, dealing only half the total damage it would otherwise deal, but, if the attack hits, healing you for the total damage dealt.
Upon activating this card, you make an attack with a wielded weapon. If it hits, the attack deals its normal damage and opens a wound that bleeds for 1d6+2 damage each round until the victim is healed for at least 5 hp or until an ally succeeds on a DC 15 Heal check to close the wound. This ability wounds even those without a bloodstream, as its effects are magical.
A massive sonic boom echoes from the card, dazing all creatures in a 30-foot spread for 1d4 rounds and deafening them for twice as many rounds (fort DC 17 negates both).
All creatures within 20 feet of the card gain a thin iron skin when it is activated, giving them DR 3/- for 1 minute. This does not discriminate between allies and enemies; everyone is protected.
A bolt of lightning strikes you for 3d6 lightning damage when you activate this card, but it empowers your attacks, causing them to deal an extra 2d6 lightning damage for the next 1d8 rounds.