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I'm in the process of re-evaluating what weapons my superhuman characters would find useful when fighting each other, and something recently occurred to me regarding blunt weapons like hammers, maces, slings, etc. See, in my story, certain parts of the superhuman body, specifically the head, neck, hands and feet, are completely indestructible so long as the body is alive.

Now the head being indestructible is important, because in real life that's pretty much the absolute worst location on the human body to be struck with a blunt object. But here if you're struck in the head your opponent might as well have missed you entirely for all the damage it'll do. And my understanding is that blunt weapons are more particular than bladed weapons or firearms in terms of where you need to hit someone to inflict a wound that will kill. But obviously the head isn't the only spot a blunt weapon can do serious damage to, or else they would never have been used. So the question arises: after the head, what becomes the new ideal target? Obviously it's going to be somewhere on the torso, but the torso is a pretty large and varied target.

Assuming the head/neck area is an invalid target, and someone's striking to kill, where's the next best place for them to strike with a blunt object?

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  • $\begingroup$ For male targets, go for the balls. You can die from the pain. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 7 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ Spine seems the obvious choice. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 7 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ Some parts of the head, for example the zygomatic arch, are quite vulnerable to blunt force trauma; but the really important parts are very well protected. You may have noticed that the brain is encased into a box of solid bone. The heart and the lungs also have decent protection. The liver and the kidneys are much more vulnerable. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 7 at 11:30
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    $\begingroup$ What level of medical technology is available, many injuries are far more devastating without modern medicine. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 7 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ How strong are your supers hitting? Given a sufficient amount of force anything becomes sharp. $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Apr 16 at 23:08
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A couple locations to consider, none of which are really very good kill zones:

  1. Thoracic spine --- a strong blow to the C7-T1 joint (technically not in the neck, which you've declared out of bounds); severing the spinal cord here will cause partial arm & hand paralysis as well as paralysis of everything lower down. Unable to stand or move the torso & legs, your foe will pretty much be at your mercy for other killing blows.
  2. Chest, midline --- the heart lies immediately under the sternum; a strong enough strike might crush the heart or break some bones which might perforate the pericardium or a great vessel. Death by massive bleed. This is your best option for a relatively immediate kill.
  3. Chest, lateral --- the lungs lie under the rib cage on either side of the heart; a strong enough strike might crush & break some ribs, potentially puncturing the lungs. Pneumothorax can indeed be fatal without quick treatment.
  4. Pancreatic trauma --- difficult to diagnose, but fairly common as a result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen, a really strong blow to the upper abdomen can result in severe injury which may result in death if untreated.
  5. Scrotum --- Sorry Renan, death from scrotal crushing is not a thing. The pain can indeed be debilitating which may allow you some time to beat the crap out of your opponent while he's squealing like a pig.
  6. Humerus & femur (x2 each) --- blunt force with severe bone fracturing to the upper arms a/o upper legs will debilitate your foe. You'll still have to kill him somehow else.
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  • $\begingroup$ When you say "none of which are really very good kill zones", are you saying that making the head invincible makes blunt weapons significantly worse than bladed ones? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Apr 7 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde thats almost a subject for another question, but suffice to say: blunt weapons are useful against armoured opponents against whom cutting and stabbing is not very effective. Against unarmoured opponents, cutting and especially stabbing will do much more damage with much less effort. Even if the heads of your superpeeps were vulnerable, bladed weapons are still preferable to blunt. IMHO. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 7 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Its worth noting that the first three of elemtilas' options basically involve creating a bladed weapon out of a broken bone and then doing damage with that. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Apr 7 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ Cort Ammon is correct about how I turned a blunt force weapon into an edged weapon. Unless you can deliver an overwhelmingly powerful blow to your superhuman foe, blunt force will be a very difficult way of killing. Even among ordinary humans, hitting each other with fists and maces upon the body or limbs rarely causes instant death. Precordial thump (smashing directly into the sternum) is the best bet. Breaking the ribs and using those to stab a great vessel or the heart will do the trick. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 7 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde --- By that I mean indeed that an invincible head & neck significantly reduce the killing capacity of a blunt weapon. That's why I say break the spine or legs and arms so you can incapacitate and bash away on a more deadly part of the body. The reason why blunt weapons are so effective against the head is that they cause all sorts of direct trauma (crushed skull) and indirect trauma (coup/counter coup injuries, intracranial hemorage); atlanto-occipital dislocation is pretty much a death blow. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 7 at 19:32
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I was debating whether to just comment on elemtilas' fine answer, but I think I have enough to be worth an answer on its own.

TL;DR: super-tough blood vessels would be very useful, and just cos you didn't die immediately doesn't mean you're going to live til next week.


Once you've excluded the head, immediately fatal or disabling injuries from blunt force trauma are difficult to inflict, unless you use a lot of force (like, driving a truck into someone). You might break the spine (which is awkard, in combat, unless your opponent is distracted, disabled, or unaware of you) but that's been covered well enough in other answers so I won't repeat it.

That leaves you with "rapidly fatal injuries" which will kill you or render you helpless in a couple of minutes and "eventually fatal injuries" which won't stop the fight but will probably stop you getting a rematch tomorrow. There are also "crippling injuries" that will take you out of the fight, letting your opponent finish you off. I won't consider those right now, though.

So I'm gonna cheat a little bit and say that the next most vulnerable thing you need to worry about is "the circulatory system" (or at least, the major arteries) as the big one, followed by either "the lungs" (which I guess means the bits of your chest which cover them) or "the long bones" (eg upper arms and legs) but they kinda tie into the circulatory system with regards to how quickly you can die from an injury to them.


Here are some important observations, which may seem obvious but should be born in mind anyway:

  1. Blunt trauma isn't just caused by weapons. I pick you up and slam you on the floor, that's blunt force trauma. Indeed, if you've got indestructable hands, feet and head, wrestling or jiujitsu isn't a bad means of disabling or killing you...
  2. Just because it is blunt trauma doesn't mean that there isn't going to be holes and external bleeding. Open fractures can have jagged ends of bones sticking out through the flesh (or just jagged holes, if the bone is pulled back inside).
  3. Just because your hands and head are indestructible, doesn't mean that hitting them is pointless. The head is still a nice lever; a strong blow to the side can knock you over, a strong impact to the top can damage the thoracic spine. A strong enough impact to your hands and feet can still break the bones that attach the to the rest of your body

Death by haemorrhage. Even without an open fracture letting all your juices ooze out, internal bleeding can arise simply from blood vessels being crushed open against bones, or the jagged ends of closed fractures severing them. You can lose a litre of blood internally to broken upper arm bones, and two litres to broken upper leg bones. Serious trauma to the chest, abdomen or pelvis can easily cause enough internal blood loss to kill you. Hypovolemic shock can put you out of the fight in minutes (though be fair, breaking a big bone will probably render you pretty helpless immediately), and potentially kill you in minutes to hours.

Finally, there's the big one: aortic rupture. This is what will happen to you following one of those super-strength wrestling slams. You might not die instantly if your aorta become unhitched, but you'll be gone within a minute.

Death by asphyxiation. Break enough ribs, and you'll have a problem filling your lungs, and you won't be fighting at your best if you can't breathe. If one of those rubs punctures a lung, your chest cavity can end up filling with air, causing pneumothorax (which is disabling) and eventually fatal tension pneumothorax. Maybe you didn't puncture a lung, but merely tore a blood vessel or two? Haemothorax. Maybe you get both! Haemopneumothorax!

Oh, and if you survived one of those long bone breaks, maybe you'll get a fat embolism. I'm not sure if "indestructable head" means you're immune to strokes, but that won't save you from a pulmonary embolism which may or may not kill you, but you certainly won't be at your best if big regions of your lungs have become non-functional.

There's also lots of other fun to be had with regards to disabling (nerves aren't very crush proof) and eventually fatal injuries (organs go pop, peritonitis is a nasty way to go, and then there's rhabdomyolysis...), but I think this should be enough to keep you going for now.

PS: I'd be looking at entangling, blinding, burning or electrical weapons meself, if I weren't allowed projectiles, but that sounds like a topic for another day.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Excellent extension to my answer! Blunt trauma to the aorta (one of the great vessels) is indeed an excellent way to kill an opponent, given the constraints we've got. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 7 at 19:38
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The spine.

Your superhuman have super heads and neck. There is presumably a place where the spine transitions from super to nonsuper. Cutting or crushing the spine at this place will effectively cut off the head.

A hard blow to a normal head can damage or sever the spinal cord - and this might be more problematic for your supers. Normally the head takes some damage and absorbs some of the force of the blow. If the head and neck are effectively an impervious piece of steel, much of the force delivered to this imperviosity will wreak havoc on the junction between pervious and impervious - somewhere along the thoracic spine, I imagine.

If your impervious neck extends thru the cervical spine and the cord is crushed or cut at T1 that would leave your supers as low quadriplegics - able to move their faces, breathe, (diaphragm is innervated from c-Spine) and move arms somewhat.

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  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. The C7-T1 joint is, as I mentioned, the place where the spine goes from "super" to "nonsuper". $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 7 at 19:34

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