What's the exact difference between damage types?

I know there are the three damage types: Bash, Cut and Pierce. I can get a general idea of what they do, but I don’t know the details. Which one is better exactly for example.
I imagine piercing damage works like it does many other games: it ignores some armor.
Cut might be bigger on open wounds and slashing cloths, Maybe cutting off limbs and similar things like that.
Just because you get bashed really hard, doesn’t strictly mean it’ll kill you. I massive kick to the rib might crack a rip, but the same thing with some sort of blade is far more likely to cut through your flesh.

Cutting generally has higher DPS than other types against unarmored or lightly armored enemies. It has little built-in armor piercing, however endgame cutting damage is so high it doesn’t really matter against anything short of a tank drone.

Piercing is, of course, better at piercing armor. At low skill levels piercing weapons can get stuck, wasting turns in combat. At higher skill levels, piercing performs well against both unarmored amd armored enemies.

Bashing fills a niche similar to piercing, bypassing armor with blunt force trauma. Armored enemies also tend to have lower bashing defence than cutting/piercing defense. However, bashing damage is capped by your skill and strength, noticably so with high damage bashing weapons. It relies on critical hits, which multiply bashing damage to a greater degree than piercing or cutting.

Piercing also affects stab damage, but it isn’t “better against armor” unless it also has a penetration stat, like bullets. None of the melee weapons do as far as I can tell going through the item browser.

I forget the exact value, but piercing damage is matched against cutting armor and ignores a certain fraction of that armor value (e.g. 20 armor is treated as 16). Critical hits with piercing weapons ignore an even larger fraction. It’s all hardcoded, not in the jsons or available in the item browser.

If you have good strength pulling it back out is not a problem, though.

A good trait of piercing weapons are that a lot of the weapons are spears, which allow reach attacks (press F to attack a enemy 2 or 3 tiles away). Depending on the length of the weapon of course. Fencing and a good sword with high skill allows you to stop-thrust and kill pretty much anything. However that’s pretty much a given with any martial art once you hit around 4-6 in the skill you pretty much become unstoppable.

Cutting weapons also have reach weapons, halberds, glaives, and to a lesser extent, whips. These are also decent weapons if you have a high skill in cutting and don’t want to train piercing for spears.

Looking at this you might ask “Well, if cutting has weapons that can do reach attacks too, what’s the point of piercing weapons?” Well, spears are much easier to obtain. A knife spear can be made really early in your game (Literally in about 5 minutes irl time) and can seriously boost your chances of survival early game.

Example: I was playing the hosiptal abandoned challenge. Permanent frail trait, about 50-75% less health. With spears and careful kiting, I was able to survive and pass well into late game where despite my health being extremely low, I was unkillable. Frequently went into melee range too.

Late game you can make a steel spear which is much easier to make and uses less resources and tools than forging a halberd. Awl pike is end-game stuff, really good weapon.

I think piercing weapons can potentially hit enemies behind the one your aiming at. So say you attack one enemy infront of you and it damages the one behind it, over penetration and such.
Don’t quote me on it though, it’s been a while since I played around with piercing weapons.

Bashing weapons are something I haven’t really played with. Though I do remember using a mace against a power armor zombie when bullets and swords didn’t cut it. It worked really well, so there’s that. Strong characters definitely have an advantage with it too.

All in all it comes down to preference. You may be kitted out with a knife spear but just happen to find a zweihander or katana or mace and you just prefer using a certain weapon and switching, roleplay purposes or otherwise.

For actual play purposes:

Piercing and cutting damage are both resisted by Cutting armor, and are done by bullets, bites, and sharp things. These can cause bleeding. For the player (or NPCs), piercing and cutting damage both scale well with high melee skill.

Bashing damage is resisted by Bashing armor and is done by dull things. It can cause knockback and stun. Bashing is what matters when smashing objects in your environment. For the player (or NPCs), bashing damage doesn’t scale well with high melee skill.

For that matter with a relatively low fabrication so can the improved forked spear.

So I guess bashing is usually based off strength? I tend to use weapons that use cut and bash together simply because of chance. Since my characters almost always have high strength and lower other stats (I use stats from skills so my int sometimes raises higher than strength anyway) since early on in the game it seems more useful overall. In many ways, early game is the most important part of the game; If you can’t survive the start, you can’t survive anything else.
I ‘sometimes’ save scum, but that usually only has to do with when I’m doing something obviously dumb and has a 90% chance to fail, but it’s simply for fun.

Bashing benefits from high strength to the same degree as other melee damage, but suffers from low strength when the base damage of the weapon is high. So, for instance, most characters will find a pipe (12b) and a pointy stick (12p) to have similar damage at low skill levels, even if their strength is low, but a low strength character would be much better off with a machete (20c, 6b) than a barbed-wire bat (6p, 20b).