View Full Version : Sword in the Gut: a logistical question

10-08-2008, 09:40 PM
Hey everyone, I have a quick question about injury.

One of my characters gets stabbed with a sword in his stomach, and then goes on to do all sorts of things any normal person would die doing in his condition. (Sadly enough, I only just now realized this.)

Can anyone tell me of a wound that would be ultimately fatal, but still allow a person to be alive and able to use their limbs for a few minutes?


10-08-2008, 10:01 PM
I'm not a medical expert but I had a friend who once was stabbed in the gut with a knife. It had a six inch blade and went all the way in. He punched the lights out of the guy who stabbed him, threw him into the back of his pickup truck, drove to a payphone, called the cops, waited and turned the guy over to the cops, then drove himself to the emergency room. All this with the knife still sticking out of his ample beer belly.

10-08-2008, 10:38 PM
As long as you don't pull the knife out you'd stand a good chance of being okay. 'Course a knife ain't a sword and I've never heard of anyone driving themselves to the ER witha sword in their stomach. A sword in the gut is pretty much lights out because once you make a large incision in the abdominal wall, you lose the ability to hold your body erect, among other problems.

Perhaps a severed femoral artery in the leg? It might take a while to bleed to death. Or a blow to the head. Before the swelling shuts you down you might have a little time to do something. A puncture wound in the abdomen could rupture the intestines while giving the receipient enough time to do something heroic. Of course death by infection, the typical end for an untreated belly wound, is rather gruesome. I think I'd go with bleeding to death.

Mike Martyn
10-09-2008, 01:20 AM
A friend of mine was swarmed a few years (ago multiple random attackers). He stayed on his feet knowing that if he went down they'd stomp him to death.

One of them stuck a bread knife through his chest. The entry scar was about an inch across and the exit was a little pucker of a scar. Despite being stabbed, he managed to beat the crap out of them. The knife went through his lung but didn't hit any serious arteries on the way. He was in hospital for a couple of weeks. Fortunately for him the scarring didn't mar the giant dragon tatoo he had on his chest :)

Admittedly, a foot long bread knife isn't a three foot long sword. However, stab him through the upper chest and maybe nick an artery on the way. He'll bleed to death and cough up blood in the process but If he's been in a fight the adreniline rush will keep him going for a while.

10-09-2008, 02:17 AM
The uncle of one of my friends once felt on the ground and got stabbed in the stomach by a piece of wood. It was pretty deep. He didn't take it out, of course. He simply kept it solid and walked to a hospital where they took care of him.

So under certain circumstances, which are not hard to accomplish, your story makes sense.

10-09-2008, 04:01 AM
Wow, I had no idea how many people knew people who'd been stabbed in the stomach. ;-)
Okay, so what about being stabbed in the upper chest? What kind of symptoms would show up and how long would the person have?

10-11-2008, 09:42 PM
Below the diaphragm:
depends on the sword--a rapier/epee like a pencil-width would give more 'dying' time, and the person might even live if by chance the passage missed the intestines, kidneys, descending aorta, etc. Anything much wider--a roman gladius, a broadsword, claybeg, shiavonna would cause oodles more damage and shorten the lifespan considerably. There is adrenaline which will keep a fighter going until blood loss drops them, giving a few more minutes depending on original health condition pre-stab.

Above the diaphragm:
organs to miss--heart & liver with their major arteries. Through and throughs or even ins n outs can puncture a lung or miss, or skewer a shoulder and be healed in time. Bone fragments from a strike can do secondary damage, and there's always infection.

10-12-2008, 10:27 PM
As someone who has treated such wounds, I can say that almost anything is possible. If there is an exit wound then it probably didn't matter if it was a bread knife or a bastard sword. The victim just got lucky. What doesn't kill you now will probably get around to it. the general rule of survival in stabbings was if you survived 1 hour, then your next "saving throw vs death" was at 24 hours, then at three days (which is when Alexander the Great failed his dice roll) and then a week. If you survive a week, then you'll probably make it failing unusual circumstances.

Assuming you don't die right away, you might bleed to death in under a day. The next thing to worry about is infection which will take 1-7 days to kill you. If you survive that far, you are probably going to make it.

The thing about not being able to stand afterward is very dependant upon the type of weapon and the type of wound. In most cases it simply isn't true because biologic systems have contingency plans for all manner of wounds. In order to say someone would be unable to stand after a stabbing they'd have to have bilateral transection of either all the abdominal muscles or all the back muscles which realistically never happens, and when it does, there is so much other associated injury that they'd simply die outright.