A Brahvaasch peeks cautiously over the stack of crates concealing her. Lines along her skin begin to glow, etching their way across her body as she grips her maul and charges the enemy with a roar.
A Kyrrov man reaches out to touch the AI core of a rogue space station. His nanomachines bridge the gap between man and machine as he touches the cold metal and whispers a greeting.
Wind tears at the Eezonite’s flames as they lean out of the hovercraft, glowing with active nanites. They leap to the ground fifty feet below and release the built-up force from their fall to send their foes flying.
Though the vanguard is similar to the barbarian at its core, it is in many ways its own class. Vanguards are warriors who prefer melee combat in a world of guns. Their extraordinary physical prowess comes from nanomachines fused with their very bodies. The vanguard most differs from the barbarian in its focus on technology, particularly in ways that are peaceful rather than destructive.
The Vanguard Project
As a giant of innovation on Kygor, Morenkain Industries has had a number of successful weapons and military programs. The most lucrative, however, was Vanguard. The project centered around biologically-powered nanomachines that could bond with the cellular DNA of a living individual. Affected individuals essentially became super soldiers after early trials revealed that the nanomachines granted subjects a number of abilities beyond the norm. Though Morenkain was initially under an exclusive contract with Kygoran organizations, the Vanguard project eventually went public and became available throughout the galaxy.
To say that the program changed the face of military strategy would be an understatement. Though not everyone was compatible with the process, those who were became resilient warriors who could forcibly break through enemy lines. Even more dangerous, the nanomachines allowed these warriors to interact with and sometimes even control enemy technology simply by touching it, no computer required.
With the patent restriction period ended, a multitude of companies specialize in the creation of unique nanomachines. Being considered for the process and is a matter of money, prestige, and connections.
Sibling to Machines
Every vanguard comes to accept that they become part machine after undergoing the procedure. In the early stages of the Vanguard program, this fact was not widely advertised, but when the patent restriction ended, the truth came to light. Nanomachines became as much a part of the individual as their own cells. Machines around the vanguards responded to them almost as a person might. But the truly shocking revelation that brought the union with machinery to light was the birth of the first Wireborn.
Morenkain and the Kygoran government had set prerequisite sterilization as part of the terms of joining the Vanguard program. Outside a few specific occurrences, vanguards rarely reproduced under their watch. However, they didn’t release the facts of the singular study they did on vanguard parents and their children until after similar programs (minus the forced sterilization that was viewed as inhumane) had already created generations of vanguards. Across the galaxy, a new species of half machine-half mortal creature was being born. The existence of the Wireborn and the complete fusion of biology and machinery within their system were proof more than anything that becoming a vanguard meant becoming more than partly machine.
Creating a Vanguard
Like many of the classes that use technology to enhance their innate abilities, it’s important to determine when your character became a vanguard and how that process was facilitated. In modern Nacora, there are a multitude of places and organizations that generate vanguards for all manner of reasons, but unlike psion implants, the vanguard has a much more specific purpose: combat. Most vanguards are connected to military, security, or mercenary organizations. Some Wireborn inherit all of their parents’ vanguard abilities and are thus vanguards from birth (though this is not common).
When you determine when and how your character got their nanomachines, you can focus on the other aspects of their background. Nanomachines are not a shortcut to combat prowess, so it is important to consider where your character may have received formal martial training.
You can make a vanguard quickly by following these suggestions. First, Strength should by your highest ability score, followed by Constitution and Charisma. Second, choose the test subject background. Third, choose skills that use your best ability scores and select the following starting equipment: a plasma pistol, a greatsword, an energy shield, a carbon fiber vacsuit, and a personal energy barrier mark I.
The vanguard is a recreation of the barbarian for a science fiction setting. Outside of the normal brute strength powers that a barbarian has, the vanguard is also skilled in gunfights and can interact with machines in strange ways. This allows the vanguard to act as a party’s tech-focused skill character in the same way a barbarian was often a party’s athletic and survivalist skill character in standard 5th edition games. You gain the following features as a vanguard.
Hit Dice: 1d12 per vanguard level
Armor Proficiencies: Light and medium armor, shields
Weapons Proficiencies: All simple and martial weapons
Tools Proficiencies: None
Saving Throws Proficiencies: Strength, Constitution
Skill Proficiencies: Choose two from Athletics, Computers, Intimidation, Mechanics, Medicine, Perception, Piloting, and Survival
Equipment: You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background.
- A melee weapon of your choice.
- A simple ranged weapon costing 500 cc or less.
- A suit of armor costing 2000 cc or less.
- A credstick with 1500 cc.
- Cyberware purchased and installed at character creation is half price for you.
At 3rd level, you choose a path that reflects the type of combat background you have. Choose the one of the paths listed below, detailed at the end of the class description, or any primal path associated with the 5th edition barbarian class. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th levels. The three paths presented in the Core Sourcebook are the Dreadnaught, the Opportunist, and the Viral Savant.
The Full Vanguard suite of flavor and abilities will be found in the Spaceships and Starwyrms: Core Sourcebook.