Conflict is an inevitable result of life. On every world that harbors complex living organisms, creatures battle one another for dominance, resources, territory, or ideals. Whether you’ve taken up arms to protect others, win glory, exact revenge, or simply earn a living, you are the perfect embodiment of this truth. You’re an expert at combat of all types but tend to prefer heavy armor and weapons—the bigger, the better. You may be a career soldier, a fresh mercenary recruit, or a lone wolf who rejects authority, but whether rushing in for hand-to-hand combat or firing tactical barrages, you’re a consummate warrior, never hesitating to put yourself in the line of fire to protect your friends.
Soldiers are masters of weapons and armor of all types, with a good base attack bonus progression (and good Fortitude and Will save progressions); proficiency in light armor, heavy armor, and grenades; and proficiency (and eventually specialization) in basic and advanced melee weapons, small arms, longarms, heavy weapons, and sniper weapons. Since small arms and many basic melee weapons gain only half the damage boost from specialization that longarms and heavy weapons do, soldiers often prefer to use the bulkier weapon options to maximize the damage they deal. Since specializing in heavy weapons first requires you to be proficient with heavy weapons, which in turn requires proficiency with longarms, it’s a much more significant investment for any other class to do the same.
But a soldier is not simply a killer or thug—she’s a trained professional combatant with access to thousands of years of military theory and modern education systems. That education tends to be pretty focused, but it’s still enough to get the solider 8 class skills and 4 skill points per level. The Athletics skill covers the need to climb, jump, and swim to get to advantageous positions in combat (though by 2nd or 3rd level, jump jets are a common armor upgrade that easily increases mobility, and by 5th or 6th level they’re likely to be replaced by a jetpack armor upgrade). That still leaves 3 skill points even for a soldier with a 10 Intelligence to spread around class skills such as Acrobatics (useful if you want to get the most out of that jetpack, but not necessary for basic flight), Engineering, Intimidate, Medicine, Piloting, Profession, and Survival.
Since the soldier class’s focus is clearly on combat, there’s much more to her offensive and defensive abilities than just base attack bonuses, proficiencies, and specializations. Every soldier begins play with a fighting style, which grants special combat options tied to a specific approach to combat as the soldier gains levels. There are 7 fighting styles to choose from—arcane assailant, armor storm, blitz, bombard, guard, hit-and-run, and sharpshoot. A soldier also picks up some of a second fighting style beginning at 9th level. In addition to fighting styles, a soldier gains gear boosts that enhance the soldier’s effectiveness with specific equipment (such as anchoring arcana, armored advantage, laser accuracy, and plasma immolation) at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, and a bonus combat feat at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter.
The bonus combat feats leave the soldier free to use the feats all characters gain at every odd level to expand beyond combat effectiveness. Other than proficiencies and specializations, feats generally have at most one other feat and a few base attack or ability score minimums as prerequisites, making even a few bonus feats able to cover a wide range of options. (For example, the Shot on the Run feat requires only Mobility, a +4 base attack bonus, and a 15 Dexterity—all easily achieved by a soldier.) Even at 1st level, any soldier could take Skill Synergy to gain 2 new skills as class skill. Or if a player preferred, by 2nd level a soldier can have selected Weapon Focus and then Versatile Focus to gain the benefit of Weapon Focus with every weapon with which the soldier is proficient.
Since fighting styles are going to be an important part of any soldier’s design, here’s a look at the 5th-level ability from the arcane assailant fighting style.
Secret of the Magi (SU)
When you imbue a weapon with the rune of the eldritch knight, in addition to its normal benefits, the rune grants the weapon one of the following weapon fusions of your choice: ethereal, flaming, frost, merciful, or shock. The weapon can’t gain a fusion it already has, and this bonus fusion doesn’t count toward the maximum total level of fusions the weapon can have at once. The bonus fusion ends when the weapon ceases to be imbued with the rune of the eldritch knight.