How do you kill someone with a knife?

How do you kill someone with a knife? I’m not talking about versus test, but in a bloody versus or in the Fight mechanics. If someone with Mi B7 PTGS suffers four B6 wounds, the fourth counts as B7? Four B7 wounds = three B7 wounds and one B8 (traumatic) wound? Can I kill someone with just one stab with my knife?

I guess it sort of depends on the knife-users Power and skill (and defenders Mortal Wound Tolerance).

Remember too that the knife has an add of 1.

Power 4 = 5M (EDIT: 4M for knife oops!), plus extra successes [add of 1] put towards damage. Looks possible to me if unlikely to happen often.

With Power B4, the maximum damage you can do is B6, right? Just B6 with two extra success.

Ha! My bad. For some reason I was thinking one could go past Superb. Blarg.

I presume you’re looking at the bubbles on the character sheet, which are just for tracking. Four B6 hits would be four B6 hits, wherever that falls on the PTGS (a light would for most stats). There really isn’t the one-stab-kill with a knife in Fight most of the time.

I always figured you killed someone with a knife by reducing one of their Stat totals to zero and then finishing them off while their unconscious.

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A Master Assassin with a B6 skill and Precision Training could deliver a Superb Wound that equals B10.

And requiring multiple stab wounds to kill someone isn’t unrealistic, I guess.

But yeah, sometimes I wish I could be easier to pull off the one stab-one kill. Oh, well.

It is very hard to kill someone with a single blow with a knife.

However, they’re still effective weapons.

B4 Power and knife does B3, B5, B7.
A B7 is a Midi wound to most humans.
Midi wound is -2D.
Two Midi’s will knock out must humans.

But, a mark hit on a sword usually delivers a B7. So it takes the same amount of successes to get a midi for a sword or a knife.

Where it really shines is that B5 mark result. You only need two successes to hit that. A B5 will usually cause a light wound. Which will cause a Steel test.
And a Steel test is usually the beginning of the end for your opponent.

Either way, multiple knife wounds are necessary to bring down your opponent. Once they’re incapacitated, keep stabbing.

At the risk of getting gruesome, when people get killed by knives there are often 10s of wounds. It is very, very unusual for a person to be fatally stabbed by a single knife wound. As completely apochryphal trivia people who kill those who they know stab a lot because they are attacking in a frenzy.

As a quote from the ever reliable Wikipedia " mortality rate associated with stabbing has ranged from 0-4%, as 85% of injuries sustained from stab wounds only affect subcutaneous tissue" from the entry for “Stab Wound”

Yep. It’s usually LOTS of stabs before someone dies - knife attackers are rarely trained in any way, knives are as often picked up kitchen knives or pocket knives, and victims are also trying their best not to get stabbed. In a single heart beat 3-5 stabs could be inflicted, so my assumption is always the wounds in BW are the result of several wounds.

Compare this to many battlefield daggers which are like a 12- 18 inches long. Such as the stiletto which ends up being a reinforced steel spike.

Anyway, game mechanics:

  1. Surprise

If they hesitate 2-3 volleys, or more, well, that’s time to stab away.

  1. Lock then Strike

Lock reduces the dice they have to Avoid or Block, and then you stab away. The first wound or two will cut out the last of the dice they had to resist and then you just stab a few more times and down they go.

  1. Lock, Lock, Draw Knife, Strike

A real world tactic is where an empty handed brawl gets bloody after you grapple, as you use a free hand to draw a knife they didn’t know you had, and you start stabbing after they already assume you are empty handed. People can get cut up quite bad before they even realize you’re cutting them, because the knife is used on their sides, or their back and they don’t even see what you’re doing. (Alternate version, charge, lock, lock, draw knife, stab)


This is a fantastic thread. In 4 hours I break in my new character, an ex butcher who dreams of being an adventurer. I was starting to worry that my choice of weapon “A cleaver” (poor quality knife) was a bad idea.

Hope I’m not disrupting the thread too badly by saying “Thanks” :3

Versus an unarmored opponent, knives are pretty badass. Add 1 is awesome. Strike, Strike, Strike to your heart’s content. Throw some Counterstrikes in there to cover your ass. If you lose advantage, Beat, Push, or Charge. Very straightforward.

Versus armored foes, almost any weapon without kickass VA sucks beans. Knives doubly so, because you can’t Great Strike. In this case, I would recommend Locks, or staying the fuck away.

Actually, a cleaver would probably be a run of the mill knife, and, if you’re a doing well as a butcher, Superior quality knife. Seriously, cooks and butchers pay a lot for good knives, which last decades if not a lifetime.

Over in Japan, there’s more knife makers making ridiculously awesome cooking knives than swords. Of course, with a lot of these, you have to ask is this really count as a sword or an axe?:

Anyway, against armor the options are:

  1. Grab & Throw at something hard. (Did you know stone walls have a VA? YEAH). Or, you know, throw people off balconies, stairs, docks and end that problem right there…

  2. Grab, Lock, Lock, Physical Action, Strike. “I lock him up, pull off the helmet. Stabbing time.”

  3. Grab & Throw heavy object. Hey, you’re a butcher, right? You’ve been lifting heavy ass carcasses, getting them off the hook and onto the butcher’s block for a living. What’s a chair or a table to you?


We’ve got a superior quality cleaver in our campaign. Used to belong to an NPC cook. Turned into an interesting plot device when the cook when batshit and lost it one day.

Also, our NPC armorer has a superior quality hammer. He’ll be losing that soon enough too, I think. PCs are always after the best-looking stuff.

Of course, you could just purchase a workshop and have it full of superior quality tools…

Jackie Chan’s preferred strategy is:

  1. Run into Workshop
  2. Assess using “Oh god that would hurt-wise”
  3. Grab object
  4. Brawling/Martial Arts FORKED with “Oh god that would hurt-wise”

Who needs superior quality weapons when you can find them?


The super high Speed elf in my campaign uses a dirk. He positions inside, then uses reflexes to hit a lot.

His knife takes work to deal a superficial wound, but reflexes and the positioning penalties the other side gets hurts. Then there’s bleeding… which sucks for them.

Basically, it’s the blood that gets them.

Sorry to nitpick, but isn’t Draw Weapon two actions?


We’ve done this one in play, pulling off the ridiculously tough armour of our foe and and cutting off his head in two gory swings of a sword. I like it a lot.

Also, a Spiked Pommel on a Dagger give it a VA1, slow as heck to use with WS1, but if it’s enough to get through, it’s useful. and well suited to the end of a script of Lock’s.

Yes, Draw Weapon is two actions, and I believe Physical Action is two actions as well - I’m referring to the order to do things not the number of volleys it necessarily takes up.

You want to Lock twice because you want to get a decent Lock in, and it keeps the person from effectively jacking you up when you’re drawing your weapon or peeling off their helmet.

Of course, this only works well if you aren’t fighting multiple opponents. (Of course, if multiple people are jumping you, with armor, and all you have is a knife, you brought the wrong tool to the wrong party…)

An alternative option is to do “Physical Action” and grab some object - like their cloak and wrap it around their head. They probably didn’t script “Physical Action” to get the damn thing off, so they’re operating with hefty Ob penalties, and you start shanking.


You can reduce your draw time to a single action if you make special preparations. Page 447.