Envoys can be beefier than you might think


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tl;dr: Envoys are probably the best class in the game at hitting things with a giant axe. If they build in this direction, they can do very respectable damage while benefitting the whole party. Starfinder is not Pathfinder, and losing your full attack is less of a big deal.

Lots of people are saying the envoy is underpowered. Maybe, but Starfinder is new to us and its parts sometimes fit together differently than they do in Pathfinder, sometimes in subtle ways. I wouldn't be too quick to jump to conclusions.

In particular, the envoy's reliance on standard action attacks makes him a prime candidate for unwieldy weapons. Consider three 10th-level characters, each specialized in melee. Each has 24 in their relevant stat (the operative also has 18 Str) and Weapon Focus in their chosen weapon, but no other damage-increasing feats (note that the Starfinder Power-Attack-equivalent is a trap option):

  • A soldier with an ultrathin curve blade (3d10 damage, level 10) and the melee striker class ability (adds half Str again).
  • An operative with an ultrathin dagger (4d4 damage, level 12) and the Multi-Weapon Fighting feat (along with a cheap off-hand weapon to take advantage of it).
  • An envoy with an ultrathin doshko (4d12 damage, level 11).

Each is attacking a target with KAC 25 (which I'm guessing from the First Contact monsters is about the baseline for CR 10). The soldier full attacks, the operative uses trick attack to apply bleed 10, and the envoy uses the get 'em and clever attack improvisations in order. (Since both the envoy and operative can spend Resolve to guarantee or virtually guarantee that their Bluff checks will succeed, we can assume they will. I will also assume that all bleed damage lasts for one round.)

Here's how much damage they can expect:

  • The soldier has a +14 attack bonus and does 36.5 average damage on a hit. That's 1 expected hit and 0.1 expected crits, for a total expected damage of 40.15 (plus a tiny bit of expected bleed damage, smh).
  • The operative has a +17 attack bonus against AC 23 and does 18 damage on a hit, plus 22.5 trick attack damage and 10 bleed damage not multiplied on a critical. That's 0.75 expected hits and 0.05 expected crits for a total expected damage of 38.775.
  • The envoy has a +18 attack bonus against AC 23 and does 43 damage on a hit. That's 0.8 expected hits and 0.05 expected crits, for a total expected damage of 36.55.

Pretty close!

Note that these calculations actually favor the soldier and the operative over the envoy. If the envoy attacks first, and the soldier and the operative attack with the benefit of his morale bonus (and in the soldier's case, the target's flat-footed condition), the envoy's effective total contribution is significantly bigger--it jumps to about 50.

Admittedly, this is a pretty specialized build for the envoy and--unless you're a dwarf (!)--it costs three feats to get off the ground (two to use the doshko, plus one for the heavy armor you'll need from not pumping Dex). But I think it makes a pretty good case for not writing off the envoy too early.


I am curious can an envoy take the skills needed to be decent with a sniper weapon? If they are mostly standard attacking and not full attacking they may be one of the people able to to make effective use out of the sniper rifles in starfinder without sacrificing a lot of power by not just using some other long gun.


kaid wrote:
I am curious can an envoy take the skills needed to be decent with a sniper weapon? If they are mostly standard attacking and not full attacking they may be one of the people able to to make effective use out of the sniper rifles in starfinder without sacrificing a lot of power by not just using some other long gun.

They won't be, you need to spend a move action to benefit from a sniper rifle's range, so they're better off with a heavy weapon instead if you want to give them an unwieldy ranged weapon.


That would be pretty hilarious envoys being the designated heavy weapon holders in the group. I am smart/sexy and I carry a big honking rocket launcher!

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Yep, well math-ed out Ludovicus. In fact, this is actually (a more detailed version of) one of the sample builds in the CRB; a vesk envoy diplomat who speaks softly and carries a big doshko.


I'm missing, well... a lot of the math. Possibly all of it. How does 4d12 become 43 damage on average?

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Voss wrote:
I'm missing, well... a lot of the math. Possibly all of it. How does 4d12 become 43 damage on average?

Specialization and the Strength bonus he listed have you covered for 17. That +26 is 43.


kaid wrote:
I am curious can an envoy take the skills needed to be decent with a sniper weapon? If they are mostly standard attacking and not full attacking they may be one of the people able to to make effective use out of the sniper rifles in starfinder without sacrificing a lot of power by not just using some other long gun.

They can, but unfortunately regular rifles tend to do more damage.

What you can do is use a crossbolter to fire grenade arrows. This does a ton of damage, but is comically expensive especially at high levels. It is also feat intensive, since crossbolters start out as longarms but inexplicably become heavy weapons after the 8th-level version, and you can't be a dwarf to get proficiency and specialization for free. On the other hand you do get to keep your high Dex, which is especially nice since a high Initiative is an even bigger deal for envoys than other classes.


Interesting I am looking forward to getting my book next week at gen con *fingers crossed* and taking a look at envoy's. Always was a fan of bards and it looks like envoy are one of those classes people may need to look at differently to get the most out of them.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Voss wrote:
I'm missing, well... a lot of the math. Possibly all of it. How does 4d12 become 43 damage on average?
Specialization and the Strength bonus he listed have you covered for 17. That +26 is 43.

Ah. I took '24 in relevant stat' to be the relevant stat for the class (charisma or whatever the envoy uses for abilities), not that this envoy was a bodybuilder.

Quote:
="Ludovicus"]Admittedly, this is a pretty specialized build for the envoy and--unless you're a dwarf (!)--it costs three feats to get off the ground (two to use the doshko, plus one for the heavy armor you'll need from not pumping Dex). But I think it makes a pretty good case for not writing off the envoy too early.

How does it look with guns? I assume a feat cost to take (and then specialize in) long arms, but feat costs don't concern me much.

Are the numbers comparable or does the action cost of envoy abilities pretty much make this non-viable?


Voss wrote:
Ah. I took '24 in relevant stat' to be the relevant stat for the class (charisma or whatever the envoy uses for abilities), not that this envoy was a bodybuilder.

Yeah, the envoy can actually get by pretty well without maxing Charisma. Unlike the solaria, none of their abilities use Cha for save DC's, and envoys can always use expertise for skill checks. The main thing Cha does for them in combat is to give them more Resolve Points to work with.

Voss wrote:

How does it look with guns? I assume a feat cost to take (and then specialize in) long arms, but feat costs don't concern me much.

Are the numbers comparable or does the action cost of envoy abilities pretty much make this non-viable?

Sort of comparable. The unwieldy weapon is still more damaging than the alternatives (4d10 for an advanced crossbolter, versus 3d8 or 3d10 for the soldier's rifle and 4d4 for the operative's laser pistol), but the differences aren't as dramatic. Plus, the soldier and operative have advantages that don't carry over to melee: the soldier can take the sharpshooter style for extra accuracy, while the operative gets to target EAC.

Rather, with ranged weapons unwieldy seems to be mainly about control. You can use the crossbolter to shoot smoke grenade arrows, which give concealment, or use big energy weapons for limited AoE. It's still significant, but makes for a different kind of combat envoy.


Ludovicus wrote:
Voss wrote:
Ah. I took '24 in relevant stat' to be the relevant stat for the class (charisma or whatever the envoy uses for abilities), not that this envoy was a bodybuilder.

Yeah, the envoy can actually get by pretty well without maxing Charisma. Unlike the solaria, none of their abilities use Cha for save DC's, and envoys can always use expertise for skill checks. The main thing Cha does for them in combat is to give them more Resolve Points to work with.

Ah. That's potentially a fairly good advantage to the class. Not needing to build MAD makes for a larger variety of directions to a take a character.


Voss wrote:
Ludovicus wrote:
Voss wrote:
Ah. I took '24 in relevant stat' to be the relevant stat for the class (charisma or whatever the envoy uses for abilities), not that this envoy was a bodybuilder.

Yeah, the envoy can actually get by pretty well without maxing Charisma. Unlike the solaria, none of their abilities use Cha for save DC's, and envoys can always use expertise for skill checks. The main thing Cha does for them in combat is to give them more Resolve Points to work with.

Ah. That's potentially a fairly good advantage to the class. Not needing to build MAD makes for a larger variety of directions to a take a character.

Right. I mean, an envoy should have a good Charisma, but totally it doesn't have to be their best stat or anything.


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Voss wrote:
Ah. I took '24 in relevant stat' to be the relevant stat for the class (charisma or whatever the envoy uses for abilities), not that this envoy was a bodybuilder.

Ha! Funny you said bodybuilder as I was thinking of an Intergalactic Bodybuilder for a character.

High str, envoy with the icon theme.

Ur...guess it would be intra-stellar but Intergalactic sounds better! ;)


Power attack equivalent is a trap? Care to elaborate?


TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Power attack equivalent is a trap? Care to elaborate?

Not sure why people keep saying that. -2 attack, + 1/2 BAB to dmg.

I suppose if you're taking it at level 1 it sucks. But a level 4 soldier would be -2 attack, +2 damage.

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Power attack equivalent is a trap? Care to elaborate?

You generally want to use it when you have an accuracy advantage or a damage disadvantage (such as DR you aren't penetrating) but not all the time. For instance, consider the soldier in the example: 36.5 damage per hit, 50% chance to hit. Deadly Aim could make that 41.5 damage per hit 40% chance to hit, but that's not quite as much expected damage (you lose ~1.5 points of damage). However, in the example where the envoy buffs the soldier for effective +4 to hit, that gets closer, particularly with DR in the picture it can flip the other way. This is also with kinetic weapons which tend to do more damage and be less likely to hit, making Deadly Aim a worse option for them; Deadly Aim gains even more with an energy weapon because it adds a greater percentage of damage while also dealing with a higher starting accuracy, and it likewise gains ground against a mook of lower level.

One of the ideas for Starfinder was to give you a lot of options that allow choices, both in what feats to take and in how to use them, rather than as many must have all-the-time damage boosts like PF Power Attack was.


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In other words, you need to be much more careful with it than with Pathfinder's Power Attack.

My experience in Pathfinder with Power Attack on martial characters is that they always have it on. This occasionally works against them, but by far it is likely a win.

In Starfinder, you need to be more careful since the base accuracy likely isn't quite as high. It is still good if you almost always hit or can not get past DR.

It doesn't sound like a trap option, but I suspect it will take a while for people to learn when to use it properly. Until then, the patterns from Pathfinder will carry over.


It also sounds handy to use if you would normally do a full round to attack but can't for whatever reason. Only a -2 vs a -4. Cool

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
It also sounds handy to use if you would normally do a full round to attack but can't for whatever reason. Only a -2 vs a -4. Cool

This is certainly true; the soldier in the example above was full attacking too. Without that -4 and with the envoy buffs, the numbers on Deadly Aim are better than not Deadly Aim even without any DR involved.

In any case, Deadly Aim is a bit of a derail if we go too deeply into it. Maybe could be a new thread.


Well the reason I was asking was because the envoy at level 7 will likely want it all they can do get em with their move and use Deadly Aim on their standard,mahjong the envoy even tougher.

I'm loving the class and want to give it a try with a ysoki, mane a wise cracking rodent. Glad to see the envoy is tougher than some people had advertised

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:

Well the reason I was asking was because the envoy at level 7 will likely want it all they can do get em with their move and use Deadly Aim on their standard,mahjong the envoy even tougher.

I'm loving the class and want to give it a try with a ysoki, mane a wise cracking rodent. Glad to see the envoy is tougher than some people had advertised

The envoy in this example is also using a more damaging weapon, though, and has a lower BAB, so it's not going to add expected damage per round and is more likely to be worth it for a soldier or an energy weapon character.

However, and this is a pretty advanced tactic that goes beyond the expected damage that most people use for analysis on the boards (including me most times), there are some cases where you want the result that has the lower expected damage but has better burst damage, or that deals the perfect amount of damage to have a higher chance of finishing the foe in one hit, rather than leaving the foe badly injured.


I think at least initially there is going to be issues of people trying to pidgeon hole starfinder classes to a pathfinder class and in some cases that may kinda work but I expect in a lot of cases it won't so it is going to take some time for people to get used to the new ones.

Also it looks like bonuses in general seem lower in starfinder than in pathfinder so some bonuses that may look lackluster may actually be really good in a system built for them.


Pax Rafkin wrote:
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Power attack equivalent is a trap? Care to elaborate?

Not sure why people keep saying that. -2 attack, + 1/2 BAB to dmg.

I suppose if you're taking it at level 1 it sucks. But a level 4 soldier would be -2 attack, +2 damage.

That's still pretty poor, especially with the number of dice and flat bonus from specialization. At level 10+ its an OK damage bonus, but still pretty overwhelmed by specialization and the sheer number of damage dice that are clattering around.

Without the usual attack buffs floating around and stacking up, it seems a hard feat to justify taking, especially for the first 7-9 levels or so (the meat of the game).

I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a trap, but it certainly isn't a good trade off for a long time.


Yeah, the soldier in the example only breaks even on Deadly Aim when he only misses on a 4 or less (i.e. when he's buffed by the envoy but only making a standard attack). Even if he somehow only misses on a 1, though, Deadly Aim's actual impact is minuscule--it adds all of 0.85 expected damage per hit.

Running some numbers suggests that apart from rare edge cases, the only characters in the SCB who reliably stand to benefit from Deadly Aim are high-level operatives who make full attacks with energy weapons. Since they spread their damage out over a whole bunch of pretty accurate but relatively weak attacks, Deadly Aim is okay for them--and becomes pretty good if they have to punch through energy resistance. (In that case, though, they should just use a trick attack to concentrate their damage in one hit!) For everyone else, though, I'm pretty sure it just does too little too rarely to be worth spending a feat on.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm overall happy about the change; it's great to cut down on must have all-the-time damage boosts, especially when it comes to feats.


Holy cow, looking over the actual improvisations and talents, Im beginning to understand why there arent abilities for higher than 8th level-and it would be because there are. There are plenty of level one options that become amazing at level 12 to the point where they essentially are level 12 abilities. And powerful ones at that.


TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Holy cow, looking over the actual improvisations and talents, Im beginning to understand why there arent abilities for higher than 8th level-and it would be because there are. There are plenty of level one options that become amazing at level 12 to the point where they essentially are level 12 abilities. And powerful ones at that.

Such as?

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Holy cow, looking over the actual improvisations and talents, Im beginning to understand why there arent abilities for higher than 8th level-and it would be because there are. There are plenty of level one options that become amazing at level 12 to the point where they essentially are level 12 abilities. And powerful ones at that.

If I recall correctly from discussions, this was generally the idea. It actually makes an envoy more powerful at 12th than if the ability was only available at 12th with all the powerups (which was another alternative discussed at one point) because you can buy both of them using a lower-level slot and then they upgrade at 12th. 12th is a nice level for envoys with those builds.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Holy cow, looking over the actual improvisations and talents, Im beginning to understand why there arent abilities for higher than 8th level-and it would be because there are. There are plenty of level one options that become amazing at level 12 to the point where they essentially are level 12 abilities. And powerful ones at that.
If I recall correctly from discussions, this was generally the idea. It actually makes an envoy more powerful at 12th than if the ability was only available at 12th with all the powerups (which was another alternative discussed at one point) because you can buy both of them using a lower-level slot and then they upgrade at 12th. 12th is a nice level for envoys with those builds.

The only "Improves at 12th level" abilities I can spot (searching the PDF for the string "12th level") are Don't Quit and Improved Hurry. Have I missed something, as two abilities are great, but I wouldn't call them plenty.

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I think it's two as well, as far as I can see. It's why I said "both" instead of "all."


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

:) Glad I'm not missing anything.

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It's just not possible that the immediate reaction of a handful of people on the internet was wrong.

I haven't gotten through the book yet, but based on others commenting on the scarcity of bonuses I count at least 2 different abilities the envoy has that give a bonus of 4, which seems pretty potent now. I'm alos liking the flavor of the abilities a mix of bard and cavalier.


Inspiring Boost was the one I was thinking of at the time in addition to the others, but that is actually at level 15, not 12.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thrice level + Cha mod Stamina recovered (or 4x level + Cha mod with a Resolve Point) is pretty damn good, IMO.


I must admit to thinking of myself as a Get 'em envoy. Isn't the point of a commander letting everybody know what their target is?

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Get 'em just reminds of Stand By Me. "Chopper, sick balls!"


Has anyone else had any more experience with the Envoy?


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IonutRO wrote:
Has anyone else had any more experience with the Envoy?

The NPC that I had running with my group unfortunately left them, though they parted friends.

The over-all feel of my group in the end was, at 6th level, she was well worth dealing with her personality. The buffs were loved... in a game where a +1 makes a big difference... well she made a big difference.

The thing that really won my group over was her ability to restore Stamina Points. During a particularly dangerous encounter people were down to hit points and really feeling pained and she began restoring SP... 16 or 22 (depending on Resolve availability). Any time a villain cracks through my players HP they FEEL it. The influx of SP when they needed it was well received : )

Just to add insult to injury she was really good at Antagonizing (the Feat) the enemy (since it lasted multiple rounds she usually opened with it) then laying on the buffs or debuffs that were round to round. If she needed to she could lay down covering fire (through the feat Suppressive Fire).

Majestra (the Envoy) was stripped of anything but the spare weapon the group had on them when they found her. When they finally made it out she had on some Tier 1 Light Armor and I wouldn't hesitate to say that although she only fired that gun 3 or 4 times in all the combats she partook in... she WAS DEFINITELY an active and respected contributor to the group.

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Yrtalien wrote:


Just to add insult to injury she was really good at Antagonizing (the Feat) the enemy (since it lasted multiple rounds she usually opened with it) then laying on the buffs or debuffs that were round to round. If she needed to she could lay down covering fire (through the feat Suppressive Fire).

Antagonize is a 'get aggro' feat, but it only works until the enemy attacks you. So it loses the debuffs even if it misses. Of course, that's still good - but unless you stand behind a full wall so you can't be shot at all...


Sorry for the thread necro but I had a question for doing an envoy build like this. What about doing a soldier 1/envoy X build? It delayed your envoy talents by 1 level but you get your armor and weapon proficiencies as well as a 10 movement boost if you go blitz. Then your only needed feat is versatile specialization. You can also get STR to be your key stat for your resolve points.

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Texas Snyper wrote:
Sorry for the thread necro but I had a question for doing an envoy build like this. What about doing a soldier 1/envoy X build? It delayed your envoy talents by 1 level but you get your armor and weapon proficiencies as well as a 10 movement boost if you go blitz. Then your only needed feat is versatile specialization. You can also get STR to be your key stat for your resolve points.

Or Dex.


I have a guy in one group running a blitz/envoy and was considering a guard/envoy. There are quite a few improvisations that don't require you to have a high charisma to use effectively and the extra proficiencies make the multiclass version of an envoy very effective in my opinion.


baggageboy wrote:
I have a guy in one group running a blitz/envoy and was considering a guard/envoy. There are quite a few improvisations that don't require you to have a high charisma to use effectively and the extra proficiencies make the multiclass version of an envoy very effective in my opinion.

Yes, one of the things I really dislike about envoys is their shocking lack of reliance on charisma for so many things. At a quick glance, Don't Quit, Get 'Em, Look Alive, Watch Your Step, Expanded Attunement (so 50% of the L1 improvisations), Duck Under, Focus, Hurry, Long-Range Improvisation, Watch Out (so 62.5% of the L4 improvisations), Clever Improvisations, Draw Fire, Heads Up, Improved Get'em (100% of the L6 improvisations!), Desperate Defense, Expert Attack, Improved Hurry, Situational Awareness, and Sustained Determination (83.33% of the L8 improvisations) only interact with your Charisma in that the class manually forces you to use Charisma as your Resolve Points stat, which of course multiclassing immediately addresses. If you have Skill Expertise apply to Computers, Culture, Engineering, or Medicine, you can make a completely charisma-free Envoy.

This wouldn't be a problem if you could select your primary stat, like a Soldier; instead, the forced reliance feels like a straitjacket, like with Solarians.


quindraco wrote:
baggageboy wrote:
I have a guy in one group running a blitz/envoy and was considering a guard/envoy. There are quite a few improvisations that don't require you to have a high charisma to use effectively and the extra proficiencies make the multiclass version of an envoy very effective in my opinion.

Yes, one of the things I really dislike about envoys is their shocking lack of reliance on charisma for so many things. At a quick glance, Don't Quit, Get 'Em, Look Alive, Watch Your Step, Expanded Attunement (so 50% of the L1 improvisations), Duck Under, Focus, Hurry, Long-Range Improvisation, Watch Out (so 62.5% of the L4 improvisations), Clever Improvisations, Draw Fire, Heads Up, Improved Get'em (100% of the L6 improvisations!), Desperate Defense, Expert Attack, Improved Hurry, Situational Awareness, and Sustained Determination (83.33% of the L8 improvisations) only interact with your Charisma in that the class manually forces you to use Charisma as your Resolve Points stat, which of course multiclassing immediately addresses. If you have Skill Expertise apply to Computers, Culture, Engineering, or Medicine, you can make a completely charisma-free Envoy.

This wouldn't be a problem if you could select your primary stat, like a Soldier; instead, the forced reliance feels like a straitjacket, like with Solarians.

And even then improves like clever feint and clever attack only indirectly benefit from CHA via bluff which is a skill check so the envoy gets their special dice towards it if they pick it up for their skill expertise.

For the one I'm thinking of building right now as the soldier 1/envoy X Vesk and would still be a party face by getting diplomacy at lvl 1 and bluff at level 5 is plenty soon enough to get the proper get 'em + clever attack combo with the bluff dice and I can be the party face without being super heavy invested in CHA. Meanwhile I can get feats like step up and spellbane to be a real big meatshield.


If you're playing an Envoy that acts like a Soldier in battle (planning to attack every round & invest heavily in weapons & defense), you usually should dip Soldier 1 and only take Charisma if trying to be a great face since an Envoy can be a good face w/ average Cha.
You'd be a good leader, aiding all your allies attacks, plus you'd have a great selection of skills.

But if you're going to focus on support, don't do this, especially if you want to be a great face anyway. It'd be like losing a level as a spellcaster, not horrible, but it'll delay your access to the next cool tool.
For example, Inspiring Boost has proven key in our group and it depends on both level and Cha. And last level, if I'd been a level behind, my Envoy wouldn't have been able to alleviate some bad conditions that would've broken our ranks. If you're planning to spend some standard actions helping out, that combat investment loses value and sometimes so does your help. Just grab a longarm & some Dex and you're good to go. Or grab up those grenades you found, maybe throw an Intimidate at the enemy.


would it be better for a combat envoy to use unwieldy ranged or melee weapons?

Im leaning towards ranged because it allows them to be a bit less MAD

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