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So, in FATE 2.0, characters take a lot of hits to remove from combat. This presents a problem when lethal weapons are used in situations where failure doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

For example, when a character with "Long-Range Rifle Combat XXX" attempts to fire on a stationary generic mook from a concealed position after taking time to aim, their average MOS is going be 6 (three base +1 surprise +1 for taking time to aim +1 for specificity in skill). A MOS of 6 results in an 'Injury' outcome, one less than what's needed to actually take the target out of the fight. The generic mook takes a -1 to everything until receiving treatment for their injury, but isn't going to be surprised by additional fire in further exchanges, so the outcome is basically a wash when it comes to the expected result of futher combat. If the mook can't do anything to get themselves into cover or in some other way interfere with the sniper they will probably be taken out after two additional rounds of combat. If the mook can get into cover or otherwise garner a +1 on their next opposed roll the combat will drag on for another 4 exchanges (we assume taking the time to aim to get the +1 needed to keep the average MOS at 5 takes one's turn). This means that even with three points in a specialized combat skill a PC will routinely fail assassination attempts on completely vulnerable targets in ideal circumstances and that a Legendary result when attempting to effect "I shoot him right between the eyes" is either an abject failure or somehow consistently fails to remove targets from fights. That is not what I want.

This is additionally problematic when one is attempting to neutralize targets without being noticed, or when there are numerous opponents, or when the opponents have the capability to respond with potentially deadly force.

While changing a character's overall hp is appropriate in some cases, that is not something I've had success in doing here, as I don't want to have to figure out everyone's hp boxes for every fight (as doing so would take away a significant portion of player predictive ability) and I do want a more usual HP breakdown in situations where prolonged combat is more reasonable.

What can I do to adjudicate highly-lethal maneuver attempts in combat in a more satisfying way?

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Combat can be a slog in Fate 2.0. I use some suggested tweaks to help with this.

Changing Wound Boxes While the wound boxes as presented are the default for the system, there’s no reason that they cannot be changed to make combats more or less brutal.

p40.

Now, some fights you do want to be hard- you don't want a PC taken out by a single sniper round, or a major NPC. Most, you don't want to be hard. So, I make three categories.

Minions just get the clipped health box. They can be taken out pretty easily. While their bodies may be able to take more abuse, their lack of willpower and endurance means a glancing hit takes them out. Elite minions get the hurt box as well. They are able to take wounds and keep fighting better, and can endure in a fight a bit longer.

I make it explicit to players what they are going to encounter, so their predictive ability is the same.

Full nemesis get the full wound box, and are hard to take out.

Also, consider making use of static skill tests. See p9.

For a static test, the GM sets a fixed difficulty, then the player chooses an appropriate skill, rolls the dice, and compares the outcome to the difficulty (“Setting Difficulties” on page 14). For simple tasks, the player needs to meet or exceed the difficulty set by the GM.

For enemies who aren't well prepared it may make more sense to handle their execution with a static test. I wouldn't do this for major NPCs unless you want a very lethal game, but for generic mooks you can just have them roll a static skill test. If the NPC isn't resisting, they can just die quickly. It might be more appropriate to have an extended test if they are engaged in a sniper duel with another sniper than just killing a random mook.

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