Fighters are arguably the most common adventuring class on Golarion. One does not need piety, nor esoteric knowledge, nor birthright to become a fighter. It requires only a weapon and a need to fight, and while some seek out battle, many more find the fight comes to them. A fighter is more than a mindless combatant, though, and constantly strives to improve his abilities.
Martial training is common throughout Golarion. While warriors are more numerous, it is fighters who form the backbone of most skilled armies,militias, and mercenary companies. Fighters often hold positions of command, inspiring their troops by leading from the front lines. Against particularly dangerous foes, fighters are called upon to act as champions.
Every nation and city-state trains an army for defense and sometimes conquest. Military service is considered an honorable profession for all social classes. Indeed, in many stratified cultures it is one of the few ways someone of low birth can advance in society. This is not to say that inequality does not exist, as military rank is not always relative to skill-at-arms. Military training typically emphasizes the group over the individual – a crops of soldiers is greater than the sum of its parts.
Not all fighters belong to a standing army. Numerous mercenary companies operate across Golarion, offering their martial skills to the highest bidder. Some mercenary groups are organized like private armies, with ranks, uniforms, and codes of conduct. Others are little more than roving gangs likely to attack a potential employer if not paid to fight someone else. Many mercenary companies contain a mixture of races and cultures. Mercenaries are, for the most part, tolerant of differences. A fighter who does not wish to join the military can gain training at a private fighting school. These schools appear all over Golarion and teach the style of their founders.
Fighters become adventurers to test their mettle. Many are ex-soldiers who, in absence of war, seek out new ways to use their training. Others learn swordplay in order to become monster slayers, following the footsteps of legendary heroes.
Every nation needs soldiers and constabulary, so fighters can hail from any part of Golarion. On the edges of civilization, this role is often shared with barbarians and rangers, yet even the “savage” cultures produce elite fighters, wielding unconventional weapons and armor.
In addition to the various national armies and local militia, a number of paramilitary groups exist. The Hellknights are an extremely lawful order that operates out of Cheliax and southern Varisia. In Rahadoum, the Pure Legion keeps the Kingdom of Man free of religious speech and paraphernalia.
Arguably the most famoous fighting schools are found in southern Brevoy, birthplace of the Aldori swordpact.
Some fighters hone their skills in combat alone, yet others join prestigious military schools who teach skill, tactics, and diplomacy as tools for war. These fighters might have less combat tricks up their sleeve, but know a lot more about the skill of war.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting