Obviously, in The Last Gasp I tried to give it some legs by making it a recovery option. But Jason threw down an idea that occurred to me as well in passing when I was reading a thread on the Forums, though I don’t remember which one.
Evaluate using Feint Mechanics
I’ll give Jason the credit here, since he fleshed it out, but using the normal Quick Contest mechanics in place of the fixed-bonus Evaluate maneuver makes a ton of sense.
The attacker might roll Per-based weapon skill; the defender uses their DX-based roll. I’d add double the DB of any cloaks or shields to this, since it should obscure and deny angles of attack. If the defender took All-Out Defense, I’d probably go ahead and give double bonus to the QC as well (+4 in this case).
I see no reason why the Evaluator can’t use Committed and All-Out Evaluate, as well. I’m going to stare at you so hard I won’t defend myself makes little sense in a one-on-one combat in many situations, but it certainly does make sense for the assassin hiding in the shadows and waiting for the foe to expose something important.
As usual, you get the margin of victory on the Quick Contest as a penalty to the foe’s defenses, just like a Feint.
I’d give a +2 to each consecutive attempt to a normal maximum of +6.
Why do I like it? It explains a lot of the oddities about Feints that occasionally bug people – how a Feint with a two-handed weapon does not unready the weapon, but somehow makes the foe open themselves up enough to suffer a huge penalty to defend, potentially.
It also makes Evaluate skill-dependent in a useful way. A novice can look and look and he just won’t see the openings in his foe’s defenses. An expert can take a quick glance (Defensive Evaluate!) and see five openings in a novice.
It will, of course suffer the same “issues” as Feint has currently, though being Per-based, it gives a good way for stalking monsters with high Per to leverage their cunning. Combined with the purely physical Setup Attack, it makes a good IQ-based counter.
This actually gives me yet another idea, but I have to talk to +Peter V. Dell’Orto about it first.