Prime requisites: Strength and Charisma
Maximum level: 14
You hear a lot about the Vikings raiding Britain and France, but you hear less about their exploits in Eastern Europe, where they controlled the Volga trade route between Northern Europe and the heartland of the Byzantine Empire. They traded, raided, served as mercenaries, and settled as far afield as Constantinople and Azerbaijan. In this country they were known as the Varyags, Varangians, and Rus', and famous among their number is Rurik Rurikid, who settled in Holmgarthr (later Novgorod) and whose descendants would go on to become the tsars of Russia. Many Norsemen also served in the Varangian Guard, a group of elite mercenaries in the direct service of the Byzantine Emperor. This class serves to portray these opportunistic soldiers of fortune.
Varangians are fierce fighters, advancing in attack throws by 2 points every 3 levels of experience and gaining a bonus to damage with all weapons. They are proficient with all weapons and armor, and can fight with a weapon in two hands or a weapon and shield. They save as fighters of their level, may make one cleave per round per level of experience, and may use magic items useable by fighters.
Varangians travel extensively, and have mastered the arts of Navigation, providing parties they lead with a +4 bonus to avoid getting lost in the wilderness. They are able sailors, skilled at both Seafaring and river travel.
The Vikings were a consummate gifting culture, and so the Varangians are talented both at giving gifts without insult and receiving gifts graciously (as the Bribery proficiency but with somewhat different cultural implications). Additionally, when they bestow irrevocable favors on their vassals, these favors are remembered for three months rather than the usual one month, so skilled is the Varangian at choosing gifts. Their reputation for open-handedness helps them to cultivate a network of contacts, which allows them to treat a market to which they return as one market class larger than it actually is.
At fifth level, the Varangian is a man of renown, known to bring death to his enemies and wealth to his friends. Followers whom he leads in battle and on trading expeditions gain a +1 bonus to their morale.
At ninth level, the Varangian may establish or capture a trading post, typically on a navigable waterway. When he does so, (1d4+1)x10 0th level mercenaries and 1d6 Varagians of 1st-3rd level will arrive, hoping to profit in his service. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for mercenaries. A Varangian's trading post is otherwise identical to a fighter's castle.
Class proficiencies (28): Alertness, Ambushing, Bargaining, Berserkergang, Blind Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (Force Back, Overrun, Sunder), Command, Diplomacy, Dungeon Bashing, Endurance, Fighting Style, Gambling, Intimidation, Language, Leadership, Manual of Arms, Military Strategy, Prophecy, Riding, Running, Seafaring, Skirmishing, Survival, Swashbuckling, Weapon Focus
Design notes: Yet another stab at a fun venturer variant, this time by taking venturer abilities and putting them on a fighter chassis. As my players have remarked, the +market class ability is so good as to be nearly mandatory; the other proficiencies are useful but not killer, except Seafaring which is probably a dud most of the time but hey sometimes these things come in handy. I considered a "portage" ability to boost carrying capacity, but that doesn't come up much and we don't really want guys running at full speed in heavy armor anyway. One tradeoff, two-weapon fighting for an extra proficiency. The armor selection gave me some trouble; the Varangian guard is often portrayed in lamellar, which is available with unrestricted armor but not with broad armor. I figure if plate had been available, the Varangians probably would've used it, so went with unrestricted armor. Likewise the limits of their weapon selection are not well-documented (though historical accounts make clear that they favored shields and heavy axes), but having access to the crossroads of East and West in Byzantium, I figured it was probably wiser to give the benefit of the doubt here.