It doesn’t really work like that.
Damage as a value is something you see in games because it’s an easy to
articulate abstraction. “You have a knife it does five points of damage. You
have a character, they have fifteen hit points.” That’s very easy to calculate,
and you’re looking at 3 attacks before the character expires.
What knives, and most weapons, actually do is tear apart tissue. It’s not
that your liver takes X amount of damage, it’s “did the knife pierce it? Is it
For games, that’s a bit daunting. It’s a lot easier to say a character can
take a fixed amount of damage before they expire, then tell the players to work
within that limit. At that point, it’s a natural fit to say that weapons have
fixed damage values. You can then modify these two elements to create a sense
of verisimilitude. It’s not how the world actually
works, but it feels good and creates a legitimate tensions for the
The closest you get to a hit point style calculation in the real world is, “how
fast are you loosing blood?” Usually, that’s what will kill you. At that point,
the only real distinguishing element is how big a hole did your weapon make. It
doesn’t have to be very big to get the job done. Bigger holes, or more holes
will get the job done faster.
The size and shape of a knife isn’t about how much damage it does, but how
you can use it. Anything over three inches is long enough to kill you. Larger
knives allow for different strike patterns. At a slightly abstract level, with
larger knives you’re trading speed and agility for mass. So, you use them in
different ways, prioritize different targets, and fight at different ranges.
Small knives are usable at zero range, while large knives (like machetes or bayonets)
actually have a minimum effective range, like swords and other “full sized”
There is a purpose to the hitpoint abstraction, even in your writing, so
long as you keep in mind that it’s an artificial system. As we’ve said, many
times before, combat takes a toll on its participants. HP can be a legitimate
way of pacing your fight scenes, so long as it’s not information you’re putting
directly in front of your audience.
You never want to say, my character took X damage from that attack, but if
you’re actually writing about how your character narrowly avoided a blow that
caught and tore their jacket, or how they skinned a knuckle.
If you honestly have a hard time pacing fight scenes, giving your characters
a fixed value representing their health, stamina, and general good luck keeping
them out of harm, and then chipping away at it isn’t the worst possible exercise.
So long as you don’t turn around and then simply relate a turn by turn
breakdown of who slapped whom around, you may find it helpful in gauging how
fast your fight scenes should play out.
But if you’re close enough to use them, knives will absolutely ruin somebody’s