The introduction speaks of the common image of the fictional fantasy hero, capable of wielding both arcane might and a big sword in the course of his adventures, as opposed to the role-playing one who usually has to choose whether to be a magic-user or a fighter. The original Vangard - published before the Magus class was introduced in Ultimate Magic - is still a valuable addition to the options available, and has now been revised in the light of player feedback and ruleset developments over the nearly two years since it first emerged into the light of day.
The concept is simple. A vangard concentrates on but a single weapon, and hones his skill with it in harmony with the magic that he studies, his real strength being in his ability to use sword and spell together. They can hold their own in a pure physical brawl, and can hurl spells with the best, but neither of these modes of combat show them at their best. Part of his unique skillset is based on the development of an arcane bond between the vangard and his signature weapon. With high intelligence, battlefield awareness and mobility, the vangard is a useful asset.
Whilst the vangard is limited in the number of spell he can know, he has the advantage of not having to prepare them in advance, being able to cast any spell he knows until he has reached his daily limit. He's also able to cast when wearing light armour or carrying a shield without restrictions, although he does suffer penalties if in medium or heavy armour. Still, as they tend to specialise in fluid tactics, light armour is often preferred anyway. The vangard needs to have his bonded weapon in hand to cast a spell without need for a concentration check, but if he has it he has no need for material components and may make all the gestures he needs with the weapon itself, leaving his other hand free, and at higher levels may deliver a 'touch' spell to anything he can touch with the weapon rather than a hand. He also develops an energy strike attack, the vangard blast.
As well as providing the normal progression charts and a whole bunch of new special abilities to codify the particular combination of weapon and spell use that's the vangard's specialty, there is an array of new feats many of which can be used by anybody, not just vangards. There are also two new spells which allow the summoning of an arcane bonded item to the caster's hand - intended for a vangard and his weapon, other arcane casters may wish to experiment with other objects with which they have formed such a bond.
Overall this is a well thought out base class that is different enough from anything else to be an interesting option, whether you have a hero from fantasy fiction in mind or are ready to write your own legends in epic style as your vangard develops through play. Oh, and if you use HeroLab, the relevant material to administer a vangard character is included with your download. Neat!
Return to The Genius Guide to the Vanguard Revised page.
Reviewed: 17 April 2012