Allies are one of the most valuable assets to have on any battlefield. While most would-be adventurers and gallant heroes must seek out comrades, the few choose instead to make one. Sometimes accidentally, sometimes with intent, a person may find within themselves the spark of creation, animating their constructed companions almost instinctively. These creators, known as vanguards, form a close bond with their companion, their magical essence fueling and empowering the construct. This bond is not one of master and servant, however; vanguards and companions fight as equals, supporting each other and their allies against all odds.

Role: Vanguards provide both magical power and physical strength, standing alongside their allies in the thick of battle. The magic they cast is best served to support and enhance the strength of the group, using both traditional spell and mystical resonances of power from their companions to achieve victory.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d8.

Starting Age: Self-taught

Starting Wealth: 5d6 × 10 gp (average 175 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The vanguard’s class skills are Appraise (Int), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disable Device (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: Nightblade
Level BAB Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Cantrips, Construct Companion, Augmentation, Resonance
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Imbue, Intuitive Construction
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Bonus Feat, Vanguard Tactics
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 Augmentation 3 1
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Vanguard Arcana
4 2
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Bonus Feat 4 3
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 Augmentation 4 3 1
8th +6/+1 +6 +2 +6 Repurpose
4 4 2
9th +6/+1 +6 +3 +6 Bonus Feat 5 4 3
10th +7/+2 +7 +3 +7 Augmentation 5 4 3 1
11th +8/+3 +7 +3 +7 Improved Imbue
5 4 4 2
12th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 Bonus Feat 5 5 4 3
13th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 Augmentation 5 5 4 3 1
14th +10/+5 +9 +4 +9 Rapid Construction
5 5 4 4 2
15th +11/+6/+1 +9 +5 +9 Bonus Feat 5 5 5 4 3
16th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Augmentation 5 5 5 4 3 1
17th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Greater Imbue
5 5 5 4 4 2
18th +13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +11 Bonus Feat 5 5 5 5 4 3
19th +14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11 Augmentation 5 5 5 5 5 4
20th +15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Perfect Resonance
5 5 5 5 5 5
Table: Vanguard Spells Known
Level 0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 4 2
2nd 5 3
3rd 6 4
4th 6 4 2
5th 6 4 3
6th 6 4 4
7th 6 5 4 2
8th 6 5 4 3
9th 6 5 4 4
10th 6 5 5 4 2
11th 6 6 5 4 3
12th 6 6 5 4 4
13th 6 6 5 5 4 2
14th 6 6 6 5 4 3
15th 6 6 6 5 4 4
16th 6 6 6 5 5 4 2
17th 6 6 6 6 5 4 3
18th 6 6 6 6 5 4 4
19th 6 6 6 6 5 5 4
20th 6 6 6 6 6 5 5

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the vanguard.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

A vanguard is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with all firearms. Vanguards are also proficient with light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields). A vanguard can cast vanguard spells while wearing light armor or medium armor and using a shield without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spellcaster, a vanguard wearing heavy armor incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass vanguard still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.


A vanguard casts arcane spells drawn from the vanguard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a vanguard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a vanguard’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the vanguard’s Charisma modifier.

A vanguard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level each day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Vanguard. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score (see the Ability Scores section in Chapter 1 of this game Core Rulebook).

A vanguard’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A vanguard begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of the vanguard’s choice. At each new vanguard level, he gains one or more new spells as indicated on Table: Vanguard Spells Known (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a vanguard knows is not affected by his Charisma score. The numbers on Table: Vanguard Spells Known are fixed.). These new spells can be common spells chosen from the vanguard spell list, or they can be unusual spells that the vanguard has gained some understanding of through study. Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third vanguard level thereafter (8th, 11th, and so on), a vanguard can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the vanguard “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least one level lower than the highest-level vanguard spell he can cast. A vanguard may swap out only a single spell at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

A vanguard need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level.


Vanguards learn a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Vanguard Spells Known under “Spells Known.” These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Construct Companion

Class Specific Feats

The following class specific feats are available to a character who meets the prerequisites.

A vanguard begins play with the ability to craft a powerful, magically-animated construct companion. A construct companion has the same alignment as the vanguard that creates it and can speak and understand all of his languages. Construct companions are treated as constructs under the vanguard’s control, though unlike most constructs, the companion is intelligent and capable of independent thought and action.

The construct companion’s general appearance is up to the vanguard, though it is always in the form of a medium humanoid shape. The construct companion’s Hit Dice, saving throws, skills, feats, and abilities are tied to the vanguard’s class level and increase as the vanguard gains levels.

A vanguard begins play with his construct companion already constructed. The construct companion does not heal naturally. If it is ever reduced to 0 hit points, the construct companion breaks and stops functioning (though it isn’t completely destroyed). The vanguard must spend 24 hours repairing a broken construct companion to fix it, after which it is restored to its full function and hit points. If the construct companion is ever completely annihilated (such as by a disintegrate spell) or is irretrievably lost, the vanguard can spend 1 week crafting a new construct companion to replace his old one. The new construct companion must have the same augmentation abilities as the old one (see below). A vanguard cannot have more than one construct companion at a time.


As a vanguard grows in skill, he gains new ways to improve the abilities of his construct companion. Referred to as augmentations, these abilities allow the vanguard to bind additional magical and physical power to his companion, customizing its capabilities to his liking. At 1st level, the vanguard grants his companion the mending touch augmentation and one other augmentation of his choice. At 4th level, and every three vanguard levels thereafter, the vanguard selects another augmentation to apply to his companion. A vanguard cannot select an augmentation more than once, unless otherwise stated.

  • A complete list of augmentations, and their resonance effects (see below), can be found here: Augmentations

Resonance (Su)

The vanguard’s augmentations do not only serve to enhance the strengths of his companion. The vanguard has the ability to create a secondary, more powerful effect by causing a resonance between the construct’s augmentations and the vanguard’s innate magical power. Causing a resonance is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The types of resonance the vanguard can create are based on the augmentations he has bestowed upon his construct companion; each resonance effect is listed under its corresponding augmentation. He may only cause one resonance at a time, regardless of how many resonance effects he can use. If he wishes to use a different resonance, he must dismiss the current resonance (a free action) before creating a new one. The vanguard can create resonances a number of times each day equal to 1/2 his vanguard level + his Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

At 7th level, creating a resonance can be done as a move action, instead of a standard action. At 13th level, it can be done as a swift action.

Resonances rely on the construct companion to function; if the construct companion is shut down or destroyed, the vanguard can still use a resonance, but it takes two of his daily uses. In this case, the resonance originates from himself (as if he were the construct companion). If the resonance uses both the construct and the vanguard in tandem (as with the resonance effects for energy discharge or tactical repositioning), he can’t use that resonance at all until the construct is functional again.

Imbue (Sp)

At 2nd level, a vanguard learns how to imbue his spells onto himself or his construct companion, binding the magic into a piece of equipment, a weapon, or even the construct’s body to be triggered later under a specific condition. This functions similarly to using a contingency spell, though the forms of spells that can be used and how they trigger are more flexible. There are two ways a vanguard can imbue a spell:

Weapon Imbue: The vanguard can imbue a spell on to a melee weapon, a thrown weapon, or a piece of ammunition. The imbued spell triggers when the weapon or ammunition hits a creature or object. A more specific trigger can be made, such as only discharging when striking an outsider or when striking an object as part of a sunder attempt, subject to GM discretion. If the spell requires an attack roll or has a specific target, it discharges onto the target struck with no further attack roll needed. The discharged spell cannot critically hit, even if it normally could. If the spell targets an area or creatures in an area (such as a fireball spell or a slow spell), the spell’s area is centered on the target, even if the spell could normally be centered only on the caster. If a spell is imbued onto a piece of ammunition and the attack misses, the spell is lost. Spells imbued onto melee and thrown weapons last until they are triggered. An imbued spell only functions on weapons that are wielded by the vanguard or his construct companion. A spell can only be imbued into a weapon if it has a casting time of 1 full-round action or less.

Personal Imbue: The vanguard can imbue a spell onto either himself or his construct companion. This functions more as a typical contingency effect, where the spell comes into effect on the vanguard or his companion under a specified condition. However, it is not limited to spells that only affect the recipient of the imbued spell. If the spell is normally delivered by touch or targets a creature, it comes into effect upon the recipient of the imbued spell. If the spell targets an area or creatures in an area (such as haste or mass bull’s strength), it comes into effect centered on the recipient of the imbued spell, with the recipient of the imbued spell being one of its targets (if any).

A spell can only be imbued if it targets one or more creatures or objects or affects an area. Imbuing a spell takes at least 10 minutes, though it may take longer if the imbued spell has a longer casting time, as described in contingency. A vanguard can only have one spell imbued at a time, and it must be a spell of 2nd level or lower from the vanguard spell list. Imbuing a spell uses up a vanguard spell slot as if the imbued spell had been cast normally. If the imbued spell is not triggered within 24 hours or before the vanguard regains his spells each day, the imbue discharges harmlessly.

Intuitive Construction (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, a vanguard’s intuition gives him a bonus on Craft, Disable Device, and Knowledge (Engineering) checks equal to 1/2 his vanguard level. He also receives this bonus on Spellcraft checks made to create or identify a magic item.

Bonus Feat

At 3rd level, and every three vanguard levels thereafter, a vanguard receives a bonus feat. This feat must be chosen from those listed as either teamwork feats or item creation feats. He must meet the prerequisites of these feats as normal.

Vanguard Tactics (Ex)

At 3rd level, the vanguard automatically grants his teamwork feats to his construct companion. The companion doesn’t need to meet the prerequisites of these teamwork feats.

Vanguard Arcana (Ex)

At 5th level, the vanguard gains access to a limited selection of spells to use with his imbue ability. The vanguard can select a single spell from the sorcerer/wizard or vanguard spell list and add it to his list of spells known. This must be a spell that he is capable of casting. He may only cast this spell in conjunction with his imbue ability; he may not cast the spell otherwise. At 11th and 17th levels, he learns an additional spell to use with his imbue ability.

Repurpose (Ex)

At 8th level, the vanguard learns how to reconfigure the magical powers bestowed upon his construct companion. By spending 8 hours altering the magic used to animate his companion, he can exchange one of his augmentations for his companion with a different one. The new augmentation must be one he could have qualified for when he gained the exchanged augmentation; for example, if he removes the augmentation he gained at 7th level, he can replace it with any augmentation with a level requirement of 7th level or lower.

Improved Imbue (Sp)

At 11th level, the vanguard can imbue more powerful magic. The vanguard can now maintain up to two imbued spells at once. One of these imbues can be of a spell up to 4th level, the other can only be of a spell up to 2nd level. The spells can be divided between different weapons, between the vanguard and his companion, or any combination therein. However, a single action or attack can only trigger one imbued spell at a time, even if both imbued spells have the same triggering condition. If multiple imbued spells would trigger simultaneously, the vanguard determines which of the two imbued spells trigger.

Rapid Reconstruction (Ex)

At 14th level, a vanguard learns how to craft items with rapid speed. He uses the 1/10 gp value of mundane items to determine how much time it takes to craft them, and he requires only half the normal amount of time to create magical items. In addition, it now takes him only 4 hours to restore a construct companion reduced to 0 hit points, or 24 hours to create a replacement for a completely destroyed or lost companion.

Greater Imbue (Sp)

At 17th level, the vanguard’s imbue becomes even more powerful. The vanguard can now maintain up to three imbued spells at once. One of these imbues can be of a spell up to 6th level, one can be up to 4th level, and the third can only be of a spell up to 2nd level. The spells can be divided between different weapons, between the vanguard and his companion, or any combination therein. A single action or attack can still only trigger one imbued spell at a time, even if multiple imbued spells have the same triggering condition.

Perfect Resonance (Su)

At 20th level, a vanguard’s magical resonance with his construct companion reaches new heights of power. Each day when the vanguard regains spells, he can choose a single augmentation his companion has. The vanguard gains the benefit of that augmentation for the entire day. Whenever he uses the resonance ability for that augmentation, he and his companion gain the benefit of a battlemind link spell for a number of rounds equal to the vanguard’s Charisma modifier.

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have vanguard as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.

Table: Alternate Favored Class Bonuses
Race Bonus Source
Core Races
Dwarves Select one item creation feat known by the vanguard. Whenever crafting an item using that feat, the amount of progress made in an 8-hour period increases by 200 gp (50 gp if crafting while adventuring). This does not reduce the cost of the item; it just increases the rate at which the item is crafted.
Elves Add one spell known from the vanguard spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the vanguard can cast.
Gnomes Add +1 hit point or +1 skill point to the vanguard’s construct companion.
Half-Elves Add +5 feet to the range of the construct companion’s link and greater link abilities.
Half-orcs Add a +1 bonus on concentration checks to cast vanguard spells.
Halflings Add +1 hit point or +1 skill point to the vanguard’s construct companion.
Humans Add one spell known from the vanguard spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the vanguard can cast. PI
Other Races
Aasimar Add +1/2 to the vanguard’s level for the purpose of the determining the effects of one resonance.
Tiefling The vanguard’s construct companion gains resistance 1 against either cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the vanguard selects this reward, he increases his companion’s resistance to one of those energy types by 1 (maximum 10 for any one energy type).

Archetypes & Alternate Class Features

When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.

Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.

Vanguards apply their metal magics in a variety of ways. Some choose to focus on morphing the physical structure of objects, while others forgo their construct companion to strengthen their own combat ability.

Table: Archetypes / Alternate Class Features
Archetype / Alternate Class Feature Class Features Changed or Replaced
Class Skills Weapon & Armor Spells
Cantrips Construct Companion Augmentation Resonance Imbue Intuitive Construction Bonus Feat Vanguard Tactics Vanguard Arcana Repurpose Improved Imbue Rapid Construction Greater Imbue Perfect Resonance
1 4 7 10 13 16 19 3 6 9 12 15 18
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Path of Iron, © 2015, Ascension Games, LLC; Author Christopher Moore

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