Starfox's Empathy Guide




This is a repost from the main board - per the tip in the Guide to Guides. It has been edited based on the initial comments.

This is based on my experience with Paragon Angel, am Empathy/Blast defender, along with plenty of experience from alts. Angel is very group-oriented and defensive, but so should you be if you play an Empath. I wrote it because I don't fully agree with the other Empathy guides out there.


As an Empath, your focus is always more on your own team than on the enemy. Your target should stay on team members – either to buff or to heal. If one team member (often a blaster) consistently takes more damage, it can be worth it to keep him constantly targeted. The half-second or so you save by not having to pick them as targets them can save lives.

If you pick Leadership as I recommend, the entire team will suffer if you get mezzed. Ask anyone with status protects in the group to keep you covered. If you are a pure Empath, mezzes are no big deal – there is not a single toggle in the entire set. Still, Acrobatics, though not a good defense, can be worthwhile.

The safest place for you to be is generally next to the tanker. Actually, the safest place for everyone to be is generally next to the tanker- especially if you are standing there. (What, you have no tank? Just stay together and pray, then). Remind the group to stay together so you can cover them, and don’t be afraid to berate those who run off and get killed – preferably just after you raise them.

The hardest time to protect teammates is during travel. People spread out, and there is no way to protect everyone. If you see someone get hurt, don’t be afraid to teleport them to safety – if they mind, they can always say no.

Empathy Power Set

All the Empathy powers are good with the possible exception of the last one. Get them all as early as you can. Recovery Aura is probably the best, followed by Fortitude. But get them all.

Healing Aura is your signature power. Use it constantly as your team takes attrition. Teach everyone to be near enough to benefit. Early on, the Stamina cost is significant, so End reduction might be required – it is better to have sustained healing than shock healing at early levels.

Heal Other is adequate but expensive for the benefit. I’d save it for later and rely on Absorb Pain at low levels. If someone requires this on a steady basis, they are running on the edge – try to think up some new tactics.

Absorb Pain is VERY GOOD at lower levels, because it costs so little End to use. Just remember to quit attacking after you use it, and if you currently hold aggro, duck and cover. However, past level 25 or so, it becomes much less useful because of the high frequency of area attacks and smarter mobs that go after healers. By this time, you'll want both Heal Other and Absorb Pain anyway.

When you Resurrect (or Recall Friend), start with team members who have these powers themselves - they can aid you and get the whole team up and running faster. And combat resurrection is not just viable – it can often be required. People can say no now, and keeping party strength up is your main objective. Actually, from your point of view, Resurrection can be a good cure – targets are raised free of conditions and at full life. For real obnoxious people who won’t cooperate as you try to save them, using Recall Friend and Resurrection as the remedy can be a useful lesson.

Clear Mind is mainly a preventive. Using it as a dispel rarely works, as most mezzes wear off before you can catch the target - and sleep can be dispelled with healing. It has a very long and bothersome animation, so use it sparingly on people with useful toggles - like Leadership. Rad, Storm and Dark Defenders also have toggles highly useful to the team and lack status protection. Tankers love Clear Mind, especially fire tankers. Scrappers can usually do without it, but if one is getting into a position where they are chain-mezzed, Clear Mind will break that chain. Most blasters are better off with Fortitude – the exception is those with Targeting Drone. Now that Clear Mind is getting a better duration, one trick is to use Clear Mind right after Fortitude fires - that way, you'll cycle over your protégées at a reasonable rate and keep both buffs on most of the time.

Fortitude can be tricky to use. There are two ways to use it - to buff the damage dealers, and to protect those who can't take the aggro. This makes blasters and scrappers the obvious targets, but sometimes a Storm/Rad/Dark defender or non-illusion Controller makes sense. The damage bonus is always good, but even better on lethal attacks, so AR blasters and weapon scrappers are preferred targets. I put Fortitude on Auto, then set up a cycling schedule - first blaster A, then controller B, and so on. While Fortitude is cycling, I use my next Fortitude target as forward observer to direct my blasts. After Fortitude fires, I switch to the next target in the chain. When things get hectic and I have to use my targeted heals, this breaks down - but whoever needed targeted healing probably also needs Fortitude. You can cover two targets with fortitude with no recycle enhancements, each added enhancement adds about one more person. Fortitude also benefits greatly from Accuracy Buff enhancers. Fortitude is probably wasted on any tank of level 10 or more, except when fighting psionic opponents.

Recovery Aura is probably your best power when you get it. In the teens, almost every toon has Endurance problems. It will remain good, but not so overwhelming as it was back then – since people build their characters to survive without buffing, most go for some Endurance economy when they can. However, you can always rely on Endurance buffing, so your need for an endurance economy is much less than that of most other builds.

Regeneration Aura is great for those times when Healing Aura just won’t cut it. When your healing is getting overwhelmed, click this to get some relief. It is also a good preparation for a tough fight, freeing you up to blast more and freeing up people so that you can spread out to avoid area attacks. The duration isn’t bad, but it won’t last through a long fight. Since you are the one minding the teams life levels, you’ll probably be the first to notice when Regeneration Aura drops – send a warning to the team to reassemble around you.

Adrenaline Boost is the one power I have not taken. While it looks good, I am dubious of the real utility. If you do as I recommend and get Leadership, using this will actually reduce the team’s offense as your toggles drop. I think the best way to use it would be on a tank or scrapper when facing archvillains - few other occasions merit this level of healing.

Secondary - Blast

The goal here is to keep up a constant barrage of fire while distracting yourself as little as possible from your other duties. As explained in my Fortitude notes, I recommend that you use a forward observer at all times. Your blast powers should be set up to work well even when you are only absentmindedly clicking on them because there’s nothing better to do. You’ll always want a ready power, good damage, good range, short animation, and uniformity among your blasts – no powers with odd range or other characteristics that forces you to give them attention.

To this end, pick the first two attacks in the path – if you have Rad, you can actually survive on only one. Few attacks allow you to pick that much more Empathy powers. Early on, you'll be waiting for attacks to recharge - a good time to look over the situation and see if someone needs help. Later, with Hasten, attacks should recharge adequately. If you are in a tough mission, there will simply not be time and attention left for things like Snipe and Aim. And if the situation isn't tough, why bother?

Stick to the first two basic attacks. They have the same (long) range and reasonable damage and End cost. You will mostly be using others for targeting, and there's nothing more annoying than having an attack that is slow and interruptible like Sniper or short-ranged like Power Burst. Don’t pick any area attacks - you can't and shouldn’t take the aggro. The possible exception is damage mitigation binds/debuffs/knockback, but even these should be saved for the Dark and Rad defenders who'll be taking aggro anyway. Aggro is bad, aggro kills, and your duty is to stay alive to keep the team alive. No-one will resent you for avoiding aggro.

I have a slight preference for Energy and Rad blasts. Energy because knockdown is good damage mitigation - but melee characters hate it. Radiation Blast because of the speed of the first attack - it's crappy but fast, and allows you to keep up a constant barrage with only one power. Electricity holds the middle ground - damage is nice. Psi is nice because of the slow, while dark is defensive. Which one you pick is mostly a style thing.

I was under the impression that Psi had extra-long recharge times, but I find that documentation does not support this. If this is indeed so, avoid Psi blast .

If you like, get the nova for the groups that have one. There’s nothing wrong with an emergency break and fight finisher.

Group Powers

Besides Empathy, Leadership is the main reason Angel is popular in teams. Take Maneuvers and Tactics early, Assault never and Vengeance only if you feel like it.

For movement I recommend Teleport or Speed, but all the travel powers are nice. You'll want both Recall Friend and Hasten anyway, so the two groups are a given. Leaping is nice because of the defense and status protection. Flight is nice because slotted hover is actually the best form of tactical movement. For indoor movement, you'll want one of (sorted by my grading of usefulness, from worst to best) Super Jump, Hurdle, Super Speed, Swift or a slotted Hover. So, these are your best options (in no particular order):

Hasten + Recall Friend + Swift/Hurdle + Teleport

Hasten + Recall Friend + Super Speed + Teleport

Hasten + Recall Friend + Super Speed

Hasten + Recall Friend + Hover (slotted) + Teleport (or Flight or Super Speed if you really like those)

Hasten + Recall Friend + Combat Jump + Super Jump + Acrobatics

A tip is not to pick Hasten before you can afford to 6-slot it with SOs - you don't NEED Hasten, it is just icing on the cake. You can avoid the speed group altogether at no particular penalty to your empathy powers. However, without Hasten, you’ll need more attacks in order to keep up any semblance of an offense. And since we all like to six-slot our attacks, Hasten still pays for itself very quickly. Take it unless you absolutely have to have some other group power due to your concept.

If you take Swift or Hurdle, you'll probably end up with both, as you don't want Health and you do want Stamina if you take Fitness at all. However, with Recovery Aura, you don't really need Stamina - just don't blast so much when Recovery Aura is down. You'll be safer that way too.

Depending on what travel combo you picked, you have one or two group powers left. Some swear by Concealment (though you should get very little aggro anyway, it will help avoid the smart mobs at higher levels and adds some defense), and Fitness is never a drawback (just stay away from Health as it is redundant). The rest seem fairly pointless. One guide I read swore by Medicine, but that is too over-specialized in my book. And if you need Fighting, you are taking way too much aggro.


Slotting is pretty obvious. Healing Aura should be the first to six-slot - and put in some End reducers early on – these can be replaced later. Hasten, Radiant Aura, and Regeneration Aura should be 6-slotted with recharge as soon as possible. With few attacks, you can probably max these out too and actually do some damage - though adequate accuracy (generally 1 SO) is always more important than damage (this goes for every toon). Do not rely on your Tactics alone. Do not slot the secondary effects of your attacks - they are nice, but there are other that are better at this. If you want to be a debuffer, pick some other type of defender. Flight and Hover needs slotting to be useful - with Recovery Aura, no other travel power needs slotting, not even Teleport.

End notes

Playing Empathy is not for soloers, and you'll need a team all the way through. With a build like this, you'll be an asset to a team, even if you are five levels below the rest of the group - which can give you great xp.

Lastly, because you draw so little aggro you will often be the last man standing when the [censored] hits the proverbial Fan. Do not be afraid to run. Your team will appreciate being recalled and raised instead of having to go to the hospital. This is one of the main reasons to get Recall Friend - the other is that part of your job as a healer is to rescue those who foolishly got themselves into trouble. People expect healers to have Recall Friend - do not disappoint.



Great guide! I don't necessarily agree that you should six-slot Regen Aura with recharges, or anything at all. Regen isn't all that great at higher levels when your team gets hit for 400-500 pts damage each hit.
Thanks for the guide, Star



I must admit I'm only 35, so my perception might be flawed here. But isn't Regen proportional to your hits? So if you take 20% of your hits at level 20, 30 or 40, it takes just as much time to regenerate? You mean damage is consistently worse (in %) at levels beyond 40? Not from my experience - as I outlined above, with a build like this I can usually play with characters in the low forties without sideckicking and still contribute a lot.

Anyway, I never saw guides as a bible, the ONLY AND ABSOLUTE TRUTH - it is my view and my ideas, nothing more. Since I don't agree with other guides, I thought I'd post my own.



This is the repeced build I did for the character on whose experiences the guide is used. It shows how my ideas can be implemented for one particular case – incorporating role-playing elements and other side effects that prevent a “perfect” build.

Archetype: Defender
Primary Powers - Buff/Debuff: Empathy
Secondary Powers - Ranged: Energy Blast

Level 1 (Starting Primary): Healing Aura
Level 1 (Starting Secondary): Power Bolt
Level 2: Power Blast
Level 4: Absorb Pain
Level 6: Maneuvers
Level 8: Recall Friend
Level 10: Hover
Level 12: Fortitude
Level 14: Teleport
Level 16: Tactics
Level 18: Recovery Aura
Level 20: Hasten
Level 22: Heal Other
Level 24: Resurrect
Level 26: Regeneration Aura
Level 28: Power Push
Level 30: Clear Mind
Level 32: Adrenalin Boost
Level 35: Aim
Level 38: Nova
Level 41: Vengeance

I have Hover for role-playing reasons; Paragon Angel is after all an Angel. I didn't want to let go of Recall Friend, so I embraced Teleport as my travel power. Teleport + Recovery Aura + Hover is very, very nice. I slotted both Hover (for speed) and Teleport (for range), so I have an indoors travel mode that is very fast and flexible combined with amazing outdoor speed. Now I am first at most doors instead of last. I am still not entirely happy with this part the build (I used to have Flight). Flight is so comfortable, and I miss the comfort. Flight is also great for recon – one problem with this build is that is rather slow at finding hunting targets. I also decided I wanted to keep Leadership, so I had a choice between Fitness and Speed for my fourth power group. In the end, Hasten won out – I tried three different builds on the test server before I settled on this one.

One reason I didn’t take Fitness was because I ran low on powers. Taking the whole Empathy set really gobbles up those power slots. Of course, had my endurance felt too weak, I would have taken Stamina anyway, but it seems to work like this.

I followed my own advice on having only two blasts all the way to level 28 - then I got a third blast with similar range characteristics. Power Push is no real blast, as it does almost no damage – but it suppresses the enemy for a bit, and it is real fun to use. After some trial-and-error, I found Aim works pretty well with the way I play; it doesn't take all that much attention. Since I blast so rarely, I almost always have Aim going when I do, so I seem much more impressive than I really am. Aim is also a great combo with Nova, my last blast and also rather much fire-and-forget.

Since I don’t have Stamina, Recovery Aura is a must-have. But I am also very happy with my 6-SO Regeneration Aura – when things get tough this really makes my job easier.

Adrenalin Boost is great on test – where it doesn’t disorient. It can be used Live with good effect if you have a defender pal who counter-mezzes you or if you pop a discipline inspiration – which is always a smart move before a major fight. The effect seems roughly equivalent to Recovery Aura + Regeneration Aura (perhaps a little weaker regeneration), but it stacks with these auras for a truly impressive regeneration. Great thing to toss at the tank when facing an arch villain! The description says it quickens recharge – I don’t know if it does so in a significant way. Still, every bonus counts.



A post from another thread that reflects my more recent empathy experiences - mostly on the receiving end, as my Empath retired soon after the final version of this gude.

It was long since I laast played my Empath, but here are my impressions of the usefulness of the set:

Early on, you rock. Basically, nothing beats an Emapth at level 6. With Heal Other and Healing Aura, you can help your team face almost anything. Sure, Dark and Kinetics heal more for less End cost - when they manage to hit. Which is a very unreliable thing with only trainers for accuracy. You can heal on demand and pin-pojnt heal in a crisi - just what is needed at this point.

The teens and twenties are good. Healing slowly loses much of its luster, but you get more slots which lets it stay competitive, and you get exellent buffs. As long as you take the effort to use it as soon as it comes up, Fortitude is one of the best buffs in the game. Especially if cast at someone who can hold Aggro. Basically, that toon functions at two levels higher when buffed - which is awesome. However, it is also a pain to maintain. I hated it after a while, and it was the main reason my empath is now in a home for retired heroes. Clear Mind is also a great buff, but with a short duration and long animation, it is also a pain to keep up. The easiest way is to get an aggro-hungry tank and buff him, tending the rest of the team only as needed. Of course, if you choose to play an empath, you might not want to go the easiest way but instead do your job RIGHT - which will consume almost all your time and give you very little time over for blasting.

The period 30-40 is the low point of the Empathy defender. After level 30-something, heals are no longer the universal band-aid they used to be as damage comes in too fast, and the empath can no longer safely hang at the front to use Healing Aura. Recovery Aura is no longer in high demand as most people can now manage their own Endurance. Your prime powers become Heal Other, Fortitude, Clear Mind, Regeneration Aura, and Adrenaline Boost. There are two paths to go; focus even more on team buffs, for example with the Leadership pool. Or develop your attacks, and become a second-line blaster with buffs and heals.

After level 40, empathy strangely recovers. In map-clearing portal missions, Fortitude is in high demand, and fights are short enough that a single Healing Aura once they are over takes care of most healing needs.



As I read my guide again, I realize it is now VERY dated - it feels like half the powers and all of the solottigis now obsolete. Be aware of this of you try to use it.