The Vanguard

This is a Basic Class for a game that Sister Acacia is potentially going to run later. Like all Basic Classes, it is taken from levels 1 to 10, after which you have to take a Prestige Class.

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In the world of Artimoi, it takes more than just skill with a blade to really be considered an elite warrior. The Vanguard are those who dedicate themselves to the Way of the Sword, swearing a pledge of honour and vowing to lead their allies into battle. Their skills allow them to cut lesser foes down with barely a thought, and to unleash the deadliest attacks against stronger enemies. Vanguard are often known for aggressive attitudes, and for needing the support of others to keep them alive when they overdo it, however they make very loyal and outgoing friends who will drag their more quiet comrades out into fun.

Class Attributes

Hit Points: 4 + Con Bonus per level (x4 at first level)
Skill Points: 4 + Int Bonus per level (x4 at first level)
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Str), Athletics (Dex), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Lore (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex)
Weapon and Armour Proficiencies: the Vanguard is proficient with Light and Medium Armour, but not with Shields. She is Proficient with all Simple and Martial weapons, as well as the Katana.

The Katana

This is a One-Handed Exotic melee Weapon that deals 1d10 damage in the hands of a Medium creature.
Its Critical Rating is 20/x3, and it deals Slashing damage. It is not a Reach weapon or anything fancy.
Also they aren't typically made from superior steel or folded a thousand times or whatever.
On the other hand, the Vanguard can make Critical Hits happen a lot, so the x3 is welcome.

Playing a Vanguard: the Vanguard value Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence, but all to varying degrees. They are close combat fighters who typically do not wear heavy armour, and often need to keep reasonably mobile, but by the same token it is important to maintain the ability to hit enemies and deal damage. Intelligence is used to establish the Save DC for various secondary abilities. A Vanguard should be careful not to overextend herself, as although she can run through a lot of enemies very quickly, she does not have the longevity of a Crusader.

The Vanguard

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Class Features
1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Bonded Weapon, Pledge of Honour
2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Blade Storm
3 +3 +3 +1 +1 Kiai!
4 +4 +4 +1 +1 Whirlwind Attack
5 +5 +4 +1 +1 Spiritual Guidance
6 +6 +5 +2 +2 Blindfighting, Blade of Destruction
7 +7 +5 +2 +2 Deathstrike
8 +8 +6 +2 +2 Parry Magic
9 +9 +6 +3 +3 Hamstring
10 +10 +3 +3 +7 Blade of Devastation

In addition to this, the Vanguard gains access to Vanguard Talents when selecting their Bonus Talent each level.

Class Features

Paragon Weapon

The Vanguard begins play with her Paragon Weapon, which is typically the Katana but could be any Melee weapon with which she is Proficient. If she needs to bond with a different weapon later on to make it her Paragon weapon, it requires a 24 hour ritual that uses 100 GP of incense and offerings. Only one weapon can be bound at a time - if she bonds with a new weapon, the old one ceases to be the Paragon weapon.

The Paragon Weapon has the Ghost Touch property, and an Enhancement Bonus equal to her level divided by three (round up). It also has twice as many Hit Points as normal and +10 Hardness, and can be used for a number of other class features.

Pledge of Honour (Ex)

All Vanguard make a special Pledge of Honour when they begin their careers, with the specifics depending on the individual. Generally, they swear to fight against some force, or to serve some ideal or society. As long as they do not betray this pledge, they gain a +4 Bonus to save against [Mind-Affecting] effects.

Blade Storm (Ex)

At second level, the Vanguard gains Cleave and Great Cleave as Bonus Feats, however she may make a 5' step before making a Cleave attack. Unlike the normal feats, each Cleave attack uses an Attack of Opportunity.
The Vanguard may make a number of Attacks of Opportunity per round equal to the number of base attacks afforded by her Base Attack Bonus, plus either her Intelligence Bonus or Dexterity Bonus, whichever is higher.

Kiai! (Ex)

Starting at third level, the Vanguard may channel inner strength such that she converts successful strikes into confirmed critical hits. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to half her level (round down), plus two. This is a Free Action that is declared after the attack is confirmed as a hit, but before damage is rolled. It cannot be used on Attacks of Opportunity or Cleave attempts.

Whirlwind Attack (Ex)

At level four, the Vanguard gets Whirlwind Attack as a Bonus Feat. Instead of making one attack roll against each foe, she makes one attack roll and applies it against all foes. If she has at least ten ranks in Athletics or Acrobatics, she may move up to her regular Movement Speed during a Whirlwind Attack, applying her attack against any enemy she threatens at any point of the movement.

Spiritual Guidance (Sp)

At level five, the Vanguard gains the ability to communicate with spirits. She gains Spirit Sense as a Bonus Feat (Heroes of Horror), and once each per day may cast Speak With Dead and Commune.

Blindfighting (Ex)

The sixth-level Vanguard can re-roll any Miss Chance caused by Blindness or Concealment, and has Blindsense out to a number of 5' squares equal to her Intelligence Bonus (minimum 1).

Blade of Destruction (Su)

The Paragon Weapon of the sixth-level Vanguard ignores all Damage Reduction and Hardness.

Sudden Strike (Ex)

Starting at seventh level, the Vanguard can lash out and slice people with no notice. Against any foe who is not higher-level than her, she may use an Immediate Action to make an Attack of Opportunity against them without them needing to provoke. If her opponent is higher-level, but has a lower Dexterity than her own, she may use this ability regardless.

Parry Magic (Su)

The eighth-level Vanguard gains the ability to parry magic targeted at her when using her Paragon Weapon. Spells and Spell-Like Abilities that directly target her provoke Attacks of Opportunity from her - the effects themselves, not the casters. If she can succeed at an attack roll against an Armour Class equal to the effect's Save DC (or the Save DC it would have based on the caster's level and ability scores), the effect is automatically Dispelled.

Hamstring (Ex)

The Vanguard learns how best to hamper foes at level nine. With a Standard Action, she may make a melee attack against a foe, and if it hits, they suffer 2d4 points of Dexterity damage, with a Fortitude Save (DC 10 + half her level + her Intelligence Bonus) for half. If they fail the saving throw, their Movement Speed is also reduced by 5' per point of Ability Damage for one minute (to a minimum of 5').

Blade of Devastation (Su)

At tenth level, the Vanguard may attack enemies within reach even through objects and walls with her Paragon Weapon, automatically destroying unattended objects and wall sections between them if they have a Hardness less than 20. As a result, enemies do not gain Cover bonuses from anything with a Hardness less than 20 against her Paragon Weapon. This can even pierce [Force] effects.

With a Standard Action at will, she may use her Paragon Weapon to destroy any unattended object of any Hardness or Dispel up to a 10 by 10 foot section of a [Force] effect.

Prestige Classes

A Vanguard who advances to a Prestige Class is always going to end up being able to kill people even better, but by necessity will expand her powers beyond "being great at close combat". Some of the possibilities are as follows:

Blade Paragon

Also known as Sword Saints, Dervishes and Iaijutsu Masters, these people master the art of maiming people with their sword and devote themselves to the perfect strike. They can make melee attacks against the planes, against distant foes, and against the morale of enemy forces, and can also sharpen their minds so as to slice through deception.

Demon Samurai

If the Vanguard chooses to follow a fiendish patron for easy access to power, then she pays a price for it - but only until the inevitable moment where she kills the patron and usurps all of its hellish power. Clad in spooky armour and commanding demonic servants, she gets to slaughter people with her now-demonic chosen weapon, and also with magical powers.

Mystic Marauder

Vanguards that have almost transcended physical form, wielding weapons of spiritual energy and moving like ghosts to strike at the minds and souls of their foes, these use fear just as much as their blade. It is very hard to avoid or defend against the multitude of attack options available to the Mystic Marauder, as you can neither run nor hide.

Sword Wraith

Not even death can stop these Vanguards, as their art drives their bodies to continue moving. They gain eerie powers as a side-effect of this, but are still legendary with their combat skills. They also draw crowds of undead servants into battle alongside them and can summon powerful nightmarish steeds. They don't have to be evil, but they typically seem that way.

War Elemental

Some Vanguards get utterly consumed by their art, becoming like angels of warfare and bringing clearly supernatural attacks to the battlefield. They are good at making war happen, at provoking hostility in people and firing them up, as well as breaking the morale of enemy forces, but they are also good at dropping tower-sized swords from the heavens or making allies fly simply by ordering them to do so.

Vanguard Talents

The following Talents are only available to the Vanguard (including Vanguard who have advanced beyond 10th level and entered a Prestige Class) and the Adventurer.

Alchemical Strike (Ex)

With a Standard Action, the Vanguard may make a one-handed attack with a melee weapon and use an alchemical flask against a target at the same time. She makes one attack with each, both at her highest Attack Bonus, and if they both hit, not only does the target take damage from both, but the weapon is coated and gains the relevant bonus energy damage until the end of the Vanguard's next turn.

Battle Aura (Su) [Minimum Level 4]

The Vanguard's battle aura can actually manifest in a way that is useful to her and her allies. At any time, providing she is conscious, she may have one of the following effects "active", needing a Swift Action to change it:

  • Courage: a regal purple aura makes her Immune to [Fear] effects, and gives allies within 60' a +4 Bonus against them
  • Defiance: an angry red aura makes her Immune to [Charm] effects, and gives allies within 60' a +4 Bonus against them
  • Despair: a wispy black aura saps the will of her enemies, providing a -2 Penalty to the Saving Throws of all foes within 10'
  • Health: a golden yellow aura makes her Immune to [Poison], and gives allies within 60' a +4 Bonus against them
  • Resolve: a calming blue aura provides clarity, making her Immune to [Compulsion] effects, and gives allies within 60' a +4 Bonus against them

Blitz Charge (Ex) [Minimum Level 2]

Whenever the Vanguard Charges, she gains a Bonus to the damage roll equal to the penalty she receives to Armour Class. She may choose to take a larger penalty to Armour Class than the usual -2 in order to deal more damage, with a maximum equal to her level. If she elects to provoke an Attack of Opportunity as part of the charge, resolved before her own attack, the force of her attack renders the opponent Prone.

Bloody Awakening (Su)

Whenever the Vanguard's Paragon Weapon delivers the killing blow to a living creature, its inner potential briefly awakens. It gains her choice of one of the following properties: Flaming, Icy, Shocking, Holy, Unholy, Vicious. The effect lasts for one round per level of the creature slain, or until a new ability is chosen by killing another creature, whichever comes first.

Combat Focus (Ex) [Minimum Level 4]

The Vanguard gains all six Combat Form Feats from PHB 2, along with Dodge from the PHB.

Combat Insight (Su) [Minimum Level 6]

Whenever the Vanguard takes a Total Defence action, she gains Spell Resistance of her level + 8 for one round per level. This is ended prematurely if any of the other abilities of this Talent are used.
Whenever she makes a Full Attack, she gains True Seeing (overcome by Nondetection) for one round per level, starting at the end of her turn. This is ended prematurely if any of the other abilities of this Talent are used.
Whenever she Charges an opponent, they are denied their Dexterity Bonus to Armour Class against the attack.

Combat School (Ex) [Variable Minimum Level]

Select an entire combat style/school from Pathfinder, like all of the Hamatula feats or Scorpion Strike + Gorgon Strike or whatever. The Vanguard gains all of those, with the bare minimum changes necessary to work for the class and be relevant while still obviously achieving the same goals that those feats are supposed to do.
This can be taken multiple times, granting a different style each time. Only one style can be "active" at a time. The minimum level depends on what the style does.

Crisis Style (Su) [Minimum Level 7]

Whenever the Vanguard is completely unarmoured and not using a shield - and does not have a Shield or Armour Bonus from any other source either - her body adapts to the iminent danger, allowing her to move supernaturally fast in reaction. Doing this suppresses any Damage Reduction she might have, but in return she is perpetually Hasted until she sleeps, is knocked out (or slain), or gains an Armour or Shield Bonus in some way.

Deadly Strike (Su) [Minimum Level 3]

The Vanguard gains the Psychic Strike of a Soulknife of equal level, though it isn't really psychic energy, it's just channelling her inner strength for a particularly deadly attack, and works with her Paragon Weapon. Her level determines the amount of extra damage dealt as normal, and at level 13 she gains the Knife to the Soul ability as well.

Dervish Dance (Ex)

The Vanguard can perform the Dervish Dance, exactly like a Dervish (Complete Warrior) of equal level. Her level determines the Bonus size and the number of uses per day, as well as whether or not she becomes Fatigued when it ends, but does not grant any of the other class features.

Frenzied Attack (Ex)

The Vanguard may enter a Rage (as per the spell) at will, however doing so renders her Fatigued when it ends. She cannot do so when already Fatigued or Exhausted. When she reaches level 10, it no longer causes her to become Fatigued.

Karmic Strike (Ex) [Minimum Level 7]

At the end of the Vanguard's turn, she may take a -4 Penalty to Armour Class as a Free Action, lasting until the start of her next turn. Until then, any time an enemy successfully hits her with a melee attack, they provoke an Attack of Opportunity from her.

Mind Killer (Su) [Minimum Level 7]

The Vanguard may cut people's minds, even without targeting them specifically. With a Standard Action, she may make a melee attack against a living creature that is not [Mindless]. If it hits, then in addition to dealing damage, the target must make a Will Save (DC 10 + half her level + her Intelligence Bonus) or be Stunned for one round. If the attack kills the target, or the target is later slain before the effect ends, psychic recoil lashes out to everyone within 10' of them except for the Vanguard, forcing them to save against being Stunned. They will not in turn create bursts of recoil if slain.

Mind of Combat (Su)

The Vanguard gains the following [Psionic] Feats as Bonus Feats: Ghost Attack, Psionic Dodge, Psionic Leap, Psionic Weapon, Psionic Meditation, Speed of Thought, Up the Walls. She is not considered to be a Psionic character, but can nonetheless gain Psionic Focus for the purpose of using these feats, in this case calling it Mental Readiness or Combat Focus or whatever.

Path of the Desert Wind (Su) [Minimum Level 5]

The Vanguard gains access to the following Martial Stances: Flame's Blessing, Holocaust Cloak
She gains access to the following Martial Manoeuvres: Wind Stride, Fire Riposte, Death Mark, Searing Charge
She may perform each of the Manoeuvres once before needing to rest for a minute and re-focus her mind. Her Initiator level equals her full level and any Save DC is 10 + half her level + her Intelligence Bonus.
At level 9, this Talent may be taken a second time, granting access to the following Manoeuvres: Leaping Flame, Ring of Fire, Inferno Blade

Path of the Iron Heart (Su) [Minimum Level 5]

The Vanguard gains access to the following Martial Stances: Punishing Stance, Absolute Steel Stance
She gains access to the following Martial Manoeuvres: Steel Wind, Wall of Blades, Iron Heart Surge, Lightning Recovery
She may perform each of the Manoeuvres once before needing to rest for a minute and re-focus her mind. Her Initiator level equals her full level and any Save DC is 10 + half her level + her Intelligence Bonus.
At level 9, this Talent may be taken a second time, granting access to the following Manoeuvres: Dazing Strike, Manticore Parry, Finishing Move

Path of the Tiger Claw (Su) [Minimum Level 5]

The Vanguard gains access to the following Martial Stances: Blood in the Water, Wolverine Stance
She gains access to the following Martial Manoeuvres: Sudden Leap, Rabid Wolf Strike, Soaring Raptor Strike, Fountain of Blood
She may perform each of the Manoeuvres once before needing to rest for a minute and re-focus her mind. Her Initiator level equals her full level and any Save DC is 10 + half her level + her Intelligence Bonus.
At level 9, this Talent may be taken a second time, granting access to the following Manoeuvres: Pouncing Charge, Wolf Climbs the Mountain, Swooping Dragon Strike

Piercing Vision (Su) [Minimum Level 6]

The Vanguard can see as though wearing a Ring of X-Ray Vision as often as she likes. Additionally, this will see through any Illusion effects with a Spell Level of 2 or lower. She does not suffer Constitution damage no matter how long she uses this vision, and it isn't actual X-Ray radiation so it won't give people cancer. When did we have to start spelling this stuff out?

Silver Sword Meditation (Su) [Minimum Level 9]

With a Standard Action, the Vanguard may focus and briefly see all creatures that are on other planes, such as Ethereal or Incorporeal or Astrally Projecting ones. This lasts until the start of her next turn. As part of activating this, once this vision is established she may make one melee attack, and it suffers no Miss Chance against creatures on other planes. If it deals any damage, the target is dragged (possibly kicking and screaming) into the Plane on which the Vanguard is standing, and they cannot leave it (again, such as turning Incorporeal) for 2d4 rounds.

Spring Attack (Ex)

The Vanguard does not provoke Attacks of Opportunity for moving, and when she charges a foe, she may withdraw after the attack - she may use any unused movement (after subtracting the Charge distance from double her Movement Speed).

Terrifying Giant (Sp) [Minimum Level 3]

With a Standard Action, the Vanguard may grow in size, empowered by her fighting spirit. She increases one Size larger, improving her Reach and Movement Speed, and granting a +2 Bonus to Strength, but no other changes to Ability Scores or Natural Armour. It also has the standard effects of adjusting Attack Bonus, Armour Class, Stealth, Grapple/Trip attempts, and Weapon damage. This lasts for three rounds, plus one round per level, then leaves the Vanguard Fatigued. It cannot be used when she is Fatigued or Exhausted.

Test the Waters (Ex)

With a Standard Action, the Vanguard may feel out her opponent by making a melee attack. If the attack hits, it deals the minimum possible damage, however regardless of whether it hits or not, she gains Damage Reduction X/- until the start of her next turn, with X equal to her level plus her Intelligence Bonus.

Vampiric Blade (Ex) [Minimum Level 6]

The Vanguard's Paragon Weapon thirsts for blood. Whenever it hits and damages a living creature, it is sated and part of the sustenance is transferred to her, restoring 1 lost Hit Point per ten full points of damage dealt. Damage in excess of the victim's actual remaining Hit Points does not count for this.

Vengeful Blade (Ex) [Minimum Level 3]

Whenever an enemy deals damage to the Vanguard, her Paragon Weapon glows with fury. Until either the enemy or the Vanguard is defeated (including fleeing or surrender), the weapon ignores all Miss Chances against that enemy and treats itself as being a Bane weapon (+2 to the Enhancement Bonus, +2d6 Damage) against specifically that foe. The extra 2d6+2 damage from the Bane property is also vampiric in nature, healing the Vanguard an equal amount. Only one foe can be marked for revenge at a time.

Violent Impulse (Sp) [Minimum Level 9]

The Vanguard may cast Telekinesis at will, but only the Violent Thrust option, and only able to throw one object per 3 levels (round up). If she directs all of the force into throwing a living creature, rather than throwing multiple creatures, or throwing things at someone, then the target also suffers 1d12 Force damage per 3 levels (round up) on top of any damage from colliding with things.

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