If you use the Duskblade’s Arcane Channeling ability (I'm referring to the 3rd level version of this ability only) to cast the spell Chill Touch, does the spell stay on your weapon for one additional use per level as indicated in the spell’s description

You can use this melee touch attack up to one time per level.

or does "the effect of the spell is resolved“ in the description of the Arcane Channeling class feature mean, that the spell is fully expended after one successful attack? (Which would make Chill Touch a rather poor choice for Arcane Channeling.)

Arcane Channeling (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, you can use a standard action to cast any touch spell you know and deliver the spell through your weapon with a melee attack. Casting a spell in this manner does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The spell must have a casting time of 1 standard action or less. If the melee attack is successful, the attack deals damage normally; then the effect of the spell is resolved.
At 13th level, you can cast any touch spell you know as part of a full attack action, and the spell affects each target you hit in melee combat that round. Doing so discharges the spell at the end of the round, in the case of a touch spell that would otherwise last longer than 1 round.

In the Main FAQ is an entry with exactly this question saying that the spell only works on a single successful attack. But the answer totally confuses me. What are "multiple simultaneous touch attacks“? ...

How does the duskblade’s arcane channeling class feature (PH2 20) work with spells that allow multiple touch attacks, such as chill touch? For a spell that allows you to make multiple touch attacks against separate creatures (such as chill touch), you only channel one touch of the spell through your weapon attack, regardless of the number of touches allowed by the spell. If the spell’s duration is instantaneous (as chill touch), its effect is expended by a single weapon attack, even if the spell would normally allow multiple simultaneous touches. If the spell allowed you to make multiple simultaneous touch attacks against the same target, treat it as if you had targeted the enemy struck by your weapon with all the eligible attacks.


1 Answer 1


The FAQ is, as it often is, wildly incorrect.

Nothing in arcane channeling remotely suggests any of what they’re saying, at all. There is no basis in the official published rules for that ruling, and it amounts to an (atrocious) houserule.

Arcane channeling still says you “cast” the spell. The only thing it changes is that you deliver the attack that you’re entitled to as part of that casting with a weapon, instead of with a touch, and that you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity for the casting. When you “resolve” chill touch after the melee attack, that includes both applying the chilling effect to your target, and also the fact that you have more touch attacks available to make with it.

The full-attack version does do something like what the FAQ is saying, sort of, though if that’s what they were getting at, they badly needed to revise their answer—and possibly clarify what the question was, because I don’t think it was concerned with the full-attack version in the first place. Anyway, in the case of a full-attack arcane channeling, the spell definitely ends at the end of the round, because it explicitly says so.¹ The standard-action does not say so, and the very fact that the full-attack version does is clear evidence that if this is the intended effect, the rules text has to say so.

Arguably, though, one thing the standard-action arcane channeling does not allow you to do is make weapon attacks to deliver the remaining touch charges of chill touch. If the FAQ was going to opine beyond the scope of the rules for the sake of improving the game, that is the issue they should have addressed—it makes little sense that the duskblade would be able to deliver the first attack of chill touch with a weapon, but not the rest. And it certainly doesn’t improve the game’s balance, since chill touch and spells like it² are the duskblade’s bread and butter in the general consensus on how best to play the duskblade. Certainly, in the vast majority of games discussed online—and all of those in my experience—duskblades have been freely able to make weapon attacks for all the attacks in a chill touch. Duskblade is generally considered an OK-ish class, but nothing stellar, even under those conditions.

(Finally, note that you can do the “arcane channeling” thing effectively for free by just using unarmed strikes. The tentacle whip symbiont from Eberron Campaign Setting is harder to come by—Magic of Eberron gives it a “wealth” value of 8,000 gp—but that can also deliver touch attacks, and it’s got reach and a host of other benefits.)

  1. The antecedent of “Doing so” has to be the most recent action discussed—namely the full-round action version of arcane channeling described in the previous sentence. That’s why it’s in the paragraph about that version. If it applied to all versions of arcane channeling, it would be in a new paragraph—and it wouldn’t use “Doing so” without first establishing that we were talking about the entire ability, either version. So either something like “Arcane channeling focuses spell power into one blinding strike or flurry. [It has been established we’re talking about arcane channeling in general, not either specific version.] Doing so...” or something like “[Paragraph start:] Either version of arcane channeling... [Replacing ‘doing so’].” As it is, in that paragraph and with the previous sentence being all about the full-attack version, that is the only thing it can refer to. Applying it more broadly is simply wrong by the rules of English grammar. Still this what I assume the FAQ author did, because I can’t see how else they could have come to that conclusion.

  2. As is the norm for 3.5e supplements, Player’s Handbook II only includes core spells and its own new spells in the duskblade spell list, and other supplements don’t reference the duskblade. That means it’s up to the DM to adjudicate which spells from other supplements are on the duskblade spell list. Ask your DM if Sandstorm’s parching touch could be one of them—it’s very similar to chill touch, but desiccation damage is superior to cold damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook let us continue in chat, if you're interested. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2021 at 19:10

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