The Genius Guide to the Vanguard
One of the greatest challenges for any fantasy roleplaying game is finding a way to translate the essence of legends, folktales, and fiction into a set of balanced and playable rules. Perhaps the trickiest area for this effort is that intersection of mundane melee combat and magical abilities. The classic tales we all know abound with heroes who mix swordplay and spellcasting, excelling at both but yet remaining believable, appropriately powered members of their worlds, but game rules often have a difficult time allowing a single character access to both martial and arcane traits without having them become overpowered.
The Vanguard is a new base class designed for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The class blends martial and arcane power, focusing the characters skill and effort into mastering a single weapon with which he has a strong arcane bond. Spellcasting and martial combat become merged for the vanguard in a way that presents balanced game mechanics in a satisfying conceptual package. You can see in both his powers and their limitations echoes of the magical warriors whose exploits first fired our fascination with fantasy fiction and brought us to the gaming hobby in hopes of forging such adventures for ourselves.
Now updated with feedback from more than a year of comments, as well as expanded options to make the class even more flexible and customizable.