COM: Combat Expertise Envoy Skill Limitations


General Discussion


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Now, I do love my Envoys, and I'm glad they got some love in COM, but I'm puzzled about the Combat Expertise alternate class feature.

Though it does not get insight skill bonuses, at 1st level, 5th level, and every 4 levels after that, it gets to use a new skill with its signature attack move to potentially do extra damage equal to the expertise die, and this counts as Skill Expertise for the purposes of prerequisites such as Expertise Talents, chosen from the following list:

Bluff
Computers
Culture
Diplomacy
Intimidate
Sense Motive

Okay. I'm not sure how Diplomacy is that useful in doing more damage in combat, but, you know, it's funny and I like the idea of a "trick attack but for envoys with big guns or swords."

The problem is the list. Regular envoys can get expertise in the following list when choosing Skill Expertise:

Bluff
Computers
Culture
Diplomacy
Disguise
Engineering
Intimidate
Medicine
Sense Motive

Do you see? Disguise, Engineering, and Medicine all have Expertise Talents that a Combat Expertise Envoy simply can't get, and I'm wondering why. I tried to sit down last night to make a combat doctor, and I realized that taking Combat Expertise locked me out of Battlefield Medic and Surgeon.

I thought it might be because it was hard to justify making combat moves with the extra skills, but the really odd part is that Diplomacy is on the list while Engineering is not, despite being a Gadgeteer Operative Trick Attack candidate. Medicine should theoretically be easier to justify than Diplomacy (knowing biology sufficiently being more easily weaponized than just being really polite).

Anyway, thought that was weird. Any thoughts?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I agree that leaving medicine and engineering off the list was really weird. I hope they errata that.


I think it may have been intentional. Doing those optional choices for envoy mostly seem to be limiting your effectiveness as a generic skill monkey for improved focus on something. For the combat expertise you give up some options for expertise talents to become a more competent damage dealer.

If you have an engineer or a mystic/bio hacker in your group you can pretty safely skimp on engineering and medicine to gain extra combat punch.


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kaid wrote:

I think it may have been intentional. Doing those optional choices for envoy mostly seem to be limiting your effectiveness as a generic skill monkey for improved focus on something. For the combat expertise you give up some options for expertise talents to become a more competent damage dealer.

If you have an engineer or a mystic/bio hacker in your group you can pretty safely skimp on engineering and medicine to gain extra combat punch.

The thing is that you are ALREADY limiting skill monkey effectiveness, since the Combat Expertise alternate class feature doesn't get any Insight bonuses to skills from their class at all; the only thing they get is effectively talent prerequisites, since increasing the number of skills you can make your Combat Expertise attack action with is going to be of very limited use (aren't you always just going to pick your best, and probably first, skill?).

I see it as needlessly restrictive. One of my favorite character types in Starfinder is a combat medic, able to to throw down with foes, but also prevent them from bleeding out if we need to take them alive. There is even an important character in Starfinder Society who is a doctor-swordsman envoy.

Why limit our options further than taking the feature already limits our bonuses? Why do we get Computers but not Engineering? Diplomacy but not Medicine?


I see your point. But the choice seems like it was because of action characters like the ones Arnold Swartzinager has played in the sci fi movies. He can talk his way into things but does not know how to patch himself up. The medicine role is reserved for the resistance or love interest. He can hack systems, but he can't reroute power from one terminal to another. I am thinking total recall specifically but hose kind of actions roles.

More likely than not the choices were so that this class retains much of its flavor and does not step on the toes of other classes.


I think they probably were a bit afraid that people would see extra damage and just automatically go that route as the best path. The skill limitations with it are there to make sure you really have to want to go a more martial focused envoy or not. The other envoy options are pretty good as well and with double tap small arms fire is more effective than it used to be.

Engineering and medicine were excluded probably because they are two skills most likely to be covered by others in your group. You only get so many of the expertise feats so focusing them on what skills you do have does not seem unreasonable for the damage boost.


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Upon review, I'm actually a little underwhelmed by the Envoy options in total.

Combat Expertise loses insight bonuses and talents in several important skills for an attack ability that doesn't stack with Clever Attack or Improved Get 'Em! as a standard action attack.

Magical Expertise gets ridiculously weak spellcasting and very limited skill bonuses. The only way to buff your casting is to give up your talents, but at that point, why not play a Mystic or something? The Melophile mystic connection does bard stuff better than an Envoy, anyway.

Motivation Expertise is in a similar boat to Healer connection mystics: if you're in such dire need of stamina healing that you devote your class to it, you're forever going to be reacting to circumstances instead of taking arms against your sea of troubles. The Medic archetype also gives this option a thorough scoffing, since it is way more flexible.

And Polymorphic Disguise won't be allowed in Society, anyway, so I haven't bothered looking at it closely.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I like some of the improvisations they added very much.

But yes, I don't think that either combat or magical expertise is a good exchange for skill expertise.

Hmm


Dracomicron wrote:


And Polymorphic Disguise won't be allowed in Society, anyway, so I haven't bothered looking at it closely.

I love polymorphing, but if it isn't included it'll be because the general rules are such a mess, not because it's overpowered. And with the limited number of forms, maybe it's not that hard to adjudicate in SFS.


Dracomicron wrote:

Upon review, I'm actually a little underwhelmed by the Envoy options in total.

Combat Expertise loses insight bonuses and talents in several important skills for an attack ability that doesn't stack with Clever Attack or Improved Get 'Em! as a standard action attack.

Magical Expertise gets ridiculously weak spellcasting and very limited skill bonuses. The only way to buff your casting is to give up your talents, but at that point, why not play a Mystic or something? The Melophile mystic connection does bard stuff better than an Envoy, anyway.

Motivation Expertise is in a similar boat to Healer connection mystics: if you're in such dire need of stamina healing that you devote your class to it, you're forever going to be reacting to circumstances instead of taking arms against your sea of troubles. The Medic archetype also gives this option a thorough scoffing, since it is way more flexible.

And Polymorphic Disguise won't be allowed in Society, anyway, so I haven't bothered looking at it closely.

One thing to note for the healer build there is a new envoy option that lets them do a full attack to use their stamina heal on basically them and their entire group. So if everybody is banged up its a really efficient way to apply your healing to everybody which helps the action economy of using up 4+ attacks to do the same.

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