Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Staph in it's cute, plush form.
It’s a hearty little bacterial infection that can cause anything from a small, yellow crusted sore to an all out antibiotic resistant infection i.e. MRSA. And, approximately 25% of folks carry it, regardless of cleanliness, without showing any symptoms. Thankfully, with proper hygiene, contracting Staph is generally avoidable. And, most of the time, a round of antibiotics or antibiotic ointment will do the trick. 

If you have characters involved in melee warfare (hand to hand), living in unsanitary conditions or with a group in close quarters, Staph could easily be written in as its own character. In one of its thirty forms it lives as boils, cellulitis, impetigo and general wound infection as well as pneumonia, food poisoning, endocarditis (inflammation of heart tissue) and toxic shock. It is transmitted through both skin to skin contact and contact with contaminated surfaces on which it can live up to 24 hours. 

For a setting that pre-dates field medics or modern knowledge of hygiene and wound care, Staph is a veritable gold mine. It can slow down even the most spirited of warriors and leave entire camps dehydrated, weak and altogether ill. But, don't assume there weren't treatments. Texts as early as the 10th century show a salve recipe that modern medicine is finding to be a valid anti-Staphylococcal.(Medieval Anglo Saxon recipe to cure MRSA) So, if historical accuracy is your "jam," you can go ahead and Staph it up!

Staph Symptoms:

- Inflammation: redness, warmth on infected area, swelling, rash, pain 
- May or may not present with open sore
- Possible abscesses, blisters or sores with pus formation which may run or appear as dry, honey colored crust 
- Can also appear as a burn-like mark (aka Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome) 
- Untreated it can lead to fever, chills, sweats, dehydration (in the case of food poisoning), low blood pressure, sepsis and death

It generally take four to ten days after contact or injury for Staph to present. Healing time depends upon severity of wound and infection. It may take an abscess (boil) 10 - 20 days to heal. In some cases abscesses may require draining. And, if an open wound is created, scarring may occur.

Here are some examples of Staph. I'm sorry and you're welcome. And how 'bout I bid you farewell before you take a gander at these just in case you don't make it through. Until, the next time at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages. (Then immediately go wash your hands. Ew.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Behold, the Hunga Munga

If you’re a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Angel,” you may remember this strange looking hunk of metal. It looks like something a Klingon would carry and they might…if they are African. Yes, the Hunga Munga is a “thing.” It was employed as a tool of war in African tribes south of Lake Tchad. It is also known a “danisco” by the Marghi, “goleyo” by the Musgu, and “njiga” by the Bagirmi.

The spikes are used as a melee weapon (hand to hand) but it is more intended for throwing. That beautiful crescent blade is intended to be thrown in a rotary motion, end over end, much like a boomerang, a terrifying, decapitating boomerang. I would imagine if you saw this coming at you, the next thing you would see is Jesus. 

Here is what the Hunga Munga can do from one of my favorite shows, Forged in Fire. Note that when thrown, the crescent blade is away from the target, not facing. The video is small because in order to get it full sized, it had to be rented. But, you can still see the different uses. Skip forward to 28:00.

This is closer look of the weapon itself. Notice that the addition of a spike at the bottom isn't the best idea. Think about that as you create weaponry. Imagine holding it and how it would rest against your body.

If your character carries a Hunga Munga, get ready to be descriptive. This tool is hard to describe even when you are looking directly at it. And, remember, when thrown, the crescent should be opposite the target. If used as a melee weapon, be sure your character doesn’t push their body into the tool. It has to be used away from the wielder or they will be pushing into a blade.

Until the next round at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages.

(I love saying, Hunga Munga!) 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Featured FighWriter - Janeen Ippolito, Bleeding Out.

Our featured FightWriter this month is the wonderful Janeen Ippolito. She asks:  How much blood does someone have to lose before it affects
Janeen Ippolito
their ability to fight? Does how fast or slow you're bleeding out affect fighting ability significantly? Is making someone bleed an effective way of killing them? In movies you see people bleeding for three scenes and surviving and other times it knocks them out for the count.

Good question, Janeen. First, blood volume depends upon body size. So, injuries being equal, it would take a larger person longer to bleed to death than a smaller person for the simple fact that they have more blood. Because of that, they might be able to fight a bit longer. However, the amount of time they can stay on their feet depends not only on how much blood is lost but also how quickly.

There are classifications of blood loss and each relates to percentage of loss rather than actual volume. With these descriptions, you can show symptomatically how much blood is lost without having to tell the blood volume. You can also see how fighting is affected.

Class I Hemorrhage - < 15% This is about how much we lose when we give blood. It can have few symptoms, though some people may feel faint. (I get faint.)

Class II - 15 - 30% The body will try to make up for the loss with a faster heartbeat. The person will feel weak, and the skin will pale, feel cool and mottle. Loss of consciousness can occur if from nothing else than the person seeing himself bleed so much. This isn’t a sign of wimpiness. The brain is telling the body, “you are in trouble, shut down!” The person may get a headache, feel nauseated, sweat profusely and become irritable, confused and combative.  

Class III - 30- 40% The heart will race, blood pressure will drop (which will make you faint), smaller blood vessels will constrict to keep the body’s core circulation going. The victim will be very weak as the muscles will not have sufficient blood. They will have increased confusion, headache, and nausea. They will also pass out as the body tries to protect itself. Lips and fingernails will likely turn blue. On the plus side, the pain response will diminish.

Class IV -  > 40% The body will go into a coma and then cease to function. The body will turn bluish gray.

Is it an effective way to kill somebody? Um, yes. Super yes. Body function aside, one bleeding wound can open the body up for another. In Sayoc we learn strike patterns that work together to further exploit other vulnerable points. If I cut the left side of your neck, you will cover that wound with the left hand which opens the left side of the body, or you will cover the wound and lean your head to the left which opens the right side of your neck. If I then cut the right side you will have both hands up which will leave your gut vulnerable. If I cut your gut, you will put your hands down to catch your entrails which opens up your chest... It's diabolical.  

Bleeding wounds can also change a person's fight strategy. You will see fighters who have blood running on their face feel around for the wound to see if it's their own blood. If it is, they know they need to protect something and that their vision may be impeded depending on the location of the wound. They may change their game to compensate for this which may not play to their strengths thereby making them weaker.

It also can have a huge psychological impact. It can scare people and some people get faint at the sight of it. And, as I mentioned earlier, that's not a sign of weakness. Their body simply goes into protection mode quicker.

So, now, how long does it take to bleed out? It depends on the wound and, as I noted early, the size of the person. A knick to an artery can take as much thirty minutes, maybe a little more, provided the flow isn't staunched. In Sayoc, we call this a "timer" strike meaning it's only a matter of time before the person is out. If an artery is cut through, death can occur in under a minute. Even with modern medicine, it is difficult to compensate for that amount of blood lost that quickly. We call this type a strike a "switch" because the body "switches off" in under a minute.

However, it can also take days to bleed out. If your character’s ability to clot is compromised, they can slowly bleed out over time. Without the benefit of modern medicine and if the fluids can’t be compensated for (think medieval times), death taking days is plausible.

Does bleeding out hurt? The actual bleeding, no. The wound that caused the bleeding and the internal pressure caused by internal bleeding, yes. You may get a headache but not necessarily. One of my dear friends nearly bled to death internally. She was lying in the hospital bed, completely gray, cracking jokes. At no point did she have a headache or feel pain. Your character may feel pain but only until they reach a level III hemorrhage. Then, the body's pain receptors start shutting down.

I hope this answered your question, Janeen. Oh, also, a little blood can look like a whole lot of blood! Spill a tablespoon of water on your counter. It looks like far more than you’d imagine!  

Until the next time at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages!

  Janeen's book, Thicker Than Water, is available now on Amazon. Choose the picture for a link. She is also the president of Uncommon Universes Press, a spec fic publishing house that focuses on world-building, complex characters, and stories of good and evil.