+Douglas Cole tossed down a gauntlet (as he usually does) while I was ill (I hurt my back about 2 weeks ago and it's just now that I've been able to type or write for extended periods of time). While I was laid up I got to thinking, Evaluate is kind of a "special maneuver" - special as in "What the heck is going on?" Deceptive Attack is based on skill, Aiming is more or less based on skill (which is the ranged analogue of Evaluate) so why isn't Evaluate based on skill? What's it really do anyways? Give a bonus to effective skill by watching your opponent for a number of rounds. So why can't that be folded into a skill roll? My answer: it can.
So what does Evaluate give you and what does it take to perform:
- What You Get: +1 to skill when you Attack, Feint, All-Out Attack, or Move and Attack made against a single opponent, on your next turn only.
- What It Takes: You get to give up a precious round during combat.
- Conclusion: You're better off just attacking or doing a Feint/Deceptive Attack.
Now, in my experience my players DO use Evaluate maneuvers, but usually before surprise attacks or ambushes so they can get the maximal bonus to hit. Rarely I've seen it used in actual combat and almost always in conjunction with a strategy to draw out the fight for some reason. Again, they aren't useless - just a little underpowered for what you get.
Evaluate As a Skill Roll
Since Feint and Deceptive Attack rely on skill rolls, why not allow Evaluate to do the same? First, Evaluate skill rolls are always based on Perception - even the skill is normally not based on Perception. Second, whatever Sense the character is using to "lock" onto his target is used if better than his standard Perception. He may only use this maneuver against targets that are within (Perception - 10) yards. Third, each Evaluate maneuver takes its normal second to perform, but now requires a skill roll against a appropriate melee or unarmed attack skill or Tactics . A roll against skill-0 provides a +1 bonus on the next attack roll. To get this bonus requires a extra second if you know the underlying skill at Attribute-1 or two extra seconds if you know it at Attribute-2. If you know the underlying skill at Attribute+2 this bonus becomes +2, if you know it at Attribute+4 it becomes a +3 bonus, at Attribute+7 it becomes a +4 bonus, at Attribute+10 it becomes a +5 bonus, each +3 to skill beyond Attribute+10 gives a further +1 bonus. Additional Evaluate maneuvers may be taken after the first with each one granting a further +1 bonus. Optionally, the character may either decrease his bonus by one to affect another target (Getting the Evaluate bonus against all targets, minimum of +1 bonus) or take a -5 to his skill. He may also affect a target further away by accepting a -1 penalty to his skill roll per additional yard away his target is. Finally, Evaluate ceases to become its own maneuver and becomes a part of the Attack maneuver (just like Feint, Deceptive Attack, etc.)
So, to sum up:
- Roll a Per-Based unarmed or melee weapon skill or Tactics to get a +1 against one target. Higher skill level (see the chart below) gives a higher bonus. If your targeting sense (typically Vision for humans) is higher than your Perception, use that instead. This takes 1 second if you know your skill at Attribute+0 or higher, two seconds for Attribute-1, or three seconds for Attribute-2.
- Your target must be within your Perception -10 yards. If your targeting sense (typically Vision for humans) is higher than your Perception, use that instead. You may take a -1 penalty to your skill per additional yard your target is away from your location.
- Additional Evaluate maneuvers can be taken to increase the bonus gained by +1, up to a additional +2 over the normal bonus for skill you'd get.
- You may optionally reduce the bonus by one for your Evaluate to affect a additional target or take a -5 penalty to your skill to do the same thing.
- Evaluate effectively becomes a Attack maneuver (with all that that entails).
Picking Over the Bones
GMs who want to make Tactics a even more attractive skill can give a faster progression giving a +1 bonus at Attribute-1, +2 at Attribute+0, +3 at Attribute+2, and so on. Since Evaluate is now part of the Attack maneuver this means that a character with Extra Attack or additional maneuvers can Evaluate their target and instantly get the bonus to attack on their next roll... or they could get a higher bonus and attack next round. It also makes it so that sinking points into a skill is worth more than just a higher skill. Having it rely on Perception might seem a little unfair, but fighters who retain situational awareness are the ones who typically come out ahead.