Conventions of Combat

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General Information

  1. All SCA combat-related activities in the Kingdom of Lochac shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of the Lists, these conventions of combat, the weapon and equipment standards set out in these rules, and such event rules as are established by the marshal in charge of the event.
  2. All combatants, prior to taking part in combat at each and every SCA sponsored event or fighting practice in the kingdom, shall ensure that their armour and weapons are inspected by a rostered marshal.
  3. Even though a rostered marshal has inspected their armour and weapons, all combatants must accept full responsibility for the condition of their own equipment. All combatants have the obligation to themselves, their opponents, and the marshals to ensure that their equipment meets all kingdom requirements.
  4. When not otherwise directed by the Crown, the Crown's representative upon the field and in all matters dealing with Society armoured combat is the Kingdom Earl Marshal, and by delegation, any rostered marshal.

Behaviour on the Field

Figure 4.1 Moving around a kneeling fighter. Standing fighter "S" moving around kneeling fighter "K". The dashed line indicates the initial line of engagement between the fighters. Fighter "S" may take up any position relative to fighter "K" provided they do not step past line "f" with their rear foot or past line "c" with their front foot.
(a) Correct. Neither of the indicated foot positions cross the lines.
(b) Correct. Neither of the indicated foot positions cross the lines.
(c) Incorrect. In both positions S1 and S2, one or both of the standing fighter's feet cross the lines.
(a) Correct.
Neither of the indicated foot positions cross the lines.
(b) Correct.
Neither of the indicated foot positions cross the lines.
(c) Incorrect.
In both positions S1 and S2, one or both of the standing fighter's feet cross the lines.
  1. Extend the utmost courtesy to your opponent. You do each other honour by meeting on the field. If there is a question regarding a point of honour (such as blow strength), give your opponent the benefit of the doubt as far as is reasonable.
  2. All combatants shall obey the commands of the marshals on the field, or shall be removed from the field subject to disciplinary action. Disagreements with the marshals shall be resolved off the field through Lochac grievance and appeal procedures.
  3. Striking at an opponent with excessive force is forbidden and may result in disciplinary action. This rule applies both to hand-held melee weapons and thrown weapons.
  4. Combatants using two-handed weapons must exercise additional vigilance that they use appropriate restraint to avoid striking with excessive force as the nature of these weapons makes the inadvertent generation of excessive power more likely.
  5. All participants shall maintain control over their temper at all times. Participants losing control of their tempers will be removed from the field and may be subject to disciplinary action.
  6. No person shall enter the lists or participate in any form of SCA combat-related activity while in a mentally impaired state, including impairment by injury such as concussion or impairment by alcohol, or drugs including but not limited to:
    1. Drugs prescribed by a licensed health care provider.
    2. Over the counter medications.
    3. Illegal or controlled substances.
    If you are not legally fit to drive, you are not fit to fight!
  7. Any combatant who has an injury involving free flowing blood must leave the field immediately and may not return until the flow of blood has ceased.
  8. Any behaviour that takes deliberate advantage of an opponent's chivalry or safety-consciousness, or that takes deliberate unfair advantage of an opponent is prohibited.
  9. It is forbidden to deliberately strike a helpless opponent. Helpless opponents may only be killed according to the procedures set out in section 4.4.6.
  10. Any combatant who obtains an unfair advantage by repeatedly becoming "helpless" (eg. by falling down, or losing their weapon) may, after being duly warned by the marshal on the field, be forced to yield the fight at the next occurrence of such behaviour. The onus of this is on the marshals, not on the opponent. However the opponent may ask the marshals to let the fight continue.
  11. Intentional contact of a fighter's person (hands/feet/limbs/body/head) to an opponent's person is prohibited. Brief incidental contact is expected and acceptable during engagement.
  12. Deliberately striking an opponent with a shield, weapon haft, bow, or any part of the body is forbidden.
  13. Intentionally tripping an opponent is prohibited.
  14. Grasping an opponent's person, shield, weapon's blade or striking surface, or bow is prohibited.
  15. It is forbidden to trap the blade of your opponent's weapon in contact with your limbs or body as a means of preventing their use of the weapon. However it is acceptable to grasp or trap the haft of an opponent's weapon.
  16. The striking surface of a weapon in motion may not be grasped or blocked by the hands or limbs as a means of impeding a blow. If a combatant intentionally places an illegal target area such as an empty hand or lower leg in the path of a blow, the combatant forfeits that attached limb as if it had been struck in a legal target area.
  17. Inadvertently bringing the hands in contact with the striking surface of a weapon in motion, as when attempting to block a blow with another weapon, shall not be considered to be in violation of this convention.
  18. Intentionally striking an opponent outside the legal target areas is forbidden. Combatants who repeatedly throw such blows shall be duly warned by the marshals. If such blows continue to be thrown, the combatant can be caused to forfeit the bout, and may be subject to further disciplinary action.
  19. It is considered courteous to turn a kneeling combatant so that they are not facing into the sun.
  20. When one combatant is kneeling and the other is standing, it is forbidden for the standing combatant to circle, turn or "corkscrew" the kneeling combatant.
    1. The standing combatant may not move any part of their front foot past the kneeling combatant's centre, perpendicular to their line of approach (the passing line). This may be explained by imagining a line passing through the centre of the two combatants and then one at right angles to this line, centred on the kneeling combatant, see line "c" in figure 4.1.
    2. The standing combatant may not place any part of their rear foot any further past the forward-most part of the kneeling combatant that is in contact with the ground, shown by line "f" in figure 4.1.
    3. If, during a bout, the kneeling combatant voluntarily turns so that their passing line moves behind the front foot of the standing combatant, the passing line is deemed to remain in its original position.
  21. It is forbidden for a standing combatant to run over or press (with body, weapon or shield) a kneeling combatant to the point that the kneeling combatant cannot straighten their upper body perpendicular to the ground. This rule is meant to allow the kneeling combatant to straighten if they desire and is not intended to keep the standing combatant from leaning forward to stay in range if the kneeling combatant leans back.
  22. Any combatant whose helmet or chinstrap fails in combat will be considered dead and must immediately leave the field.
  23. The groin is not to be deliberately targeted. However, a good blow to the groin is to be taken as a kill.
  24. Charges are allowed, but with reference to 5.1.1.2, combatants are reminded that thrusting with any weapon while running is prohibited, even in a charge.

Rules of Engagement

Unit engagement

  1. Unit engagement happens when two or more coherent units of opposing heavy combatants meet in combat.
  2. In unit engagement, all combatants who are part of each unit are considered to be engaged with all combatants who are part of of the other unit(s).
  3. In unit engagement, combatants who are part of a unit may strike at members of opposing units, who are to their front or side, without being considered to be "behind" or on their "blind side".
  4. If a unit loses coherency, combatants from that unit are considered to have left the unit engagement and must be engaged as an individual, as per the "Individual engagement" rules below.
  5. In any circumstance other than that outlined in 4.3.2.4, striking an opponent from behind is cause for ejection from the field, and may be cause for further disciplinary action.

Individual engagement

  1. In tournament melee combat, a combatant shall engage their opponent by moving into the line of sight of the opponent they wish to engage and stating loudly "Fighter - I am engaging you" or words to that effect.
  2. In war combat, a combatant shall engage their opponent by moving into range in clear sight of the opponent they wish to engage and adopting an attacking posture. If a combatant has reason to believe that their opponent may not have seen them approach, they should verbally engage them as per the procedure above.
  3. It is forbidden to strike at an opponent with whom you are not engaged.
  4. A combatant who turns their back on an opponent with whom they are engaged while remaining within weapons range is subject to being struck by that opponent until they leave weapons range.

Missile weapon and siege engine engagement

  1. All missile combatants and siege engine operators are considered to be engaged with all other combatants. Missile blows may be struck from any angle and regardless of the opponent's awareness of the missile combatant or siege engine.
  2. While missile and siege combatants are considered engaged with all other combatants, they themselves must be explicitly engaged as individual combatants.


Killing Conventions

Heavy combatants killing heavy combatants

  1. Heavy combatants will kill other heavy combatants with whom they are engaged by delivering a "good" blow with their weapon to a killing target area on their opponent. Target areas are detailed in section 6.
  2. Combatants who note that their own blows strike with anything other than the striking surface should call "Haft!" or "Flat!" as appropriate to their opponent.
  3. In war scenarios, heavy combatants may kill heavy combatants with whom they are not engaged by using the "killing from behind" manoeuver as detailed in section 4.4.5.

Missile combatants killing plumed or heavy combatants

  1. Missile combatants will kill heavy combatants or plumed participants by delivering a "good" blow with their missile weapon to a killing target area on their opponent. Target areas are detailed in section 6.
  2. Missile combatants must not discharge or throw their missiles when they are closer than 5 metres to their target.
  3. A blow from any missile that strikes properly oriented i.e. with the point, blade or striking surface, shall be considered good and need not strike with equivalent force to a melee weapon.
  4. Combatants should be aware that missiles thrown with little force or missiles launched against especially heavy armour may not be noticed by their target. In such cases, the target should be given the benefit of doubt.
  5. Missile combatants who note that their own blows strike with anything other than the striking surface should call "Haft!" to their opponent.

Heavy combatants killing plumed participants.

  1. Plumed participants are not to be struck with any melee weapon.
  2. Plumed participants are subject to missile fire from all missile weapons, including hand-thrown and siege weapons.
  3. Heavy combatants will kill plumed participants by closing to within 5 metres of their opponent, presenting (not pointing) their weapon and loudly calling "Archer, you are slain!", or equivalent phrase. This may not be done while running past the plumed participant, and the heavy combatant must exhibit control over their weapon and have an unimpeded path to the plumed participant without intervening walls or other obstructions.
  4. This action must be repeated for every opponent to be killed.
  5. Plumed participants killed in this manner should acknowledge kills by heavy combatants by immediately falling to the ground, or dropping to one knee and holding their weapon over their heads, and loudly calling "good".
  6. If in doubt about whether the heavy combatant is within 5 metres range, the plumed participant should consider giving the heavy combatant the benefit of the doubt.

Engines of war and their crews

  1. Siege engines may be crewed by plumed combatants or heavy combatants. Siege engine crew must be individually engaged as per the procedures set out in 4.3.
  2. Engines of war will kill any combatant in any scenario or battle by delivering a "good" blow with their projectiles to any legal target area.
  3. With the exception of small arms munitions launched from siege engines, siege projectiles striking a combatant's shield will kill that combatant. Small arms munitions are defined in 10.5.
  4. Projectiles fired from siege weapons must strike appropriately oriented and unimpeded, but need not strike with force equivalent to a melee weapon to be considered a good blow.
  5. Direct fire siege engines will not discharge their missiles when they are closer than 10 metres to their target.
  6. Fighters shall stay clear of moving parts and, when possible, approach siege engines from the side.
  7. Striking siege engines or siege structures (e.g., towers) with hand-held weapons is strictly prohibited.
  8. Siege engines may be destroyed by placing a weapon on the engine or structure and declaring "this weapon is destroyed," or by being struck by siege-class munitions from another siege engine.
  9. If fighting occurs within 2 metres of an engine that is cocked or loaded, a hold shall be called and the engine shall be declared destroyed, made safe and removed from the combat area.
  10. Once the crew of a siege engine is killed, the engine is considered destroyed for the remainder of the battle and must be made safe and removed from the combat area.
  11. A misfire from a cannon will render all of the crew dead.

Killing from behind

  1. Heavy combatants will kill other heavy combatants from behind by placing a weapon across the faceplate or on the shoulder of the opponent and loudly calling "You are slain from behind" or an equivalent phrase. This technique will also be used for other heavy combatants with which they are not engaged. This action must be repeated for every opponent to be killed in this manner and may not be done while running past the opponent.
  2. As with killing from the front, it is up to the defendant as to whether a kill from behind was good or not, but the overriding rule for killing from behind, killing helpless opponents and killing plumed opponents is that if the defender believes the attacker could have struck them but instead declared them dead, they should accept the kill.

Helpless Opponents

  1. It is forbidden to strike a helpless opponent, such as a combatant who has fallen down or a heavy combatant who is unable to defend themself, but it is not required to allow the opponent to regain their footing or weapon.
  2. Helpless opponents shall be killed by placing your weapon on the opponent and saying in a loud voice, "Fighter - you are slain" or an equivalent phrase.
  3. A combatant is considered to have fallen down if any part of their torso is in contact with the ground or they need to use an arm or hand in contact with the ground to hold themselves up. In a war situation, a fallen combatant may only try to escape, and may not fight from the ground. In a tournament bout, a hold shall be called for a fallen combatant.
  4. It is acceptable for an opponent to try to escape from a helpless situation only in war situations. They will be considered dead if, at any time during their attempt to regain their footing or their melee weapon, they are killed in the above manner.
  5. Unarmed fighters in war scenarios may not necessarily be helpless, for example gauntleted spear grabbers, though if in doubt they should be treated as helpless.

Holds

  1. A call of "hold!" is a call for an immediate cessation of all activity on the field.
  2. Holds may be called by anyone, including spectators, for any of the following reasons:
    1. Broken weapons. It may not be necessary to call a hold if this can be dealt with safely without a hold.
    2. Broken armour. It may not be necessary to call a hold if this can be dealt with safely without a hold.
    3. Broken people (i.e., injuries)
    4. Broken tempers
    5. Broken ground (i.e., hazardous terrain)
    6. Broken boundaries (i.e., someone/thing coming onto the field that should not be there or combatants leaving the bounds of combat)
  3. Upon hearing the call of "hold" all participants must immediately:
    1. Stop all activity; and
    2. Repeat the call of "hold!"; and
    3. Check whether they are in danger, or causing the danger; and
    4. Continue to call "hold!" until all action ceases after which remain silent so the directions of marshals can be heard; and
    5. Remain in place, unless a marshal gives explicit directions to the contrary.
    6. All combatants must drop to one knee, if it is safe to do so, holding their weapons unthreateningly overhead.
    7. Missile combatants and siege engineers must unload and make safe their weapons.
  4. Until "helms off" is called all non-marshals on the field must remain silent and listen for the commands of the marshals. The scenario in progress may not be discussed during holds.
  5. Helms must remain on and all visors must remain closed unless the marshals have instructed that it is safe to remove them with a call of "helms off".
  6. A hold, once called, can only be lifted by a marshal. The marshal will warn the combatants to prepare to continue by commanding "all rise", at which time all who are able to do so will stand back up and take up the positions that they held prior to the hold being called. Bows may be nocked, but not drawn, at a call of "all rise". All other missile weapons and siege engines must remain unloaded until "lay on!" is called.
  7. If a "helms off" has been called after the hold, "helms on" must be called, and at the call of "ready?", all combatants must raise their weapon above their head to signify their readiness to continue. This must be visually checked by the marshals, and combatants, before "lay on!" can be called. At this point bows may be nocked, but NOT drawn. Any combatant who is not ready at this call should yell "Hold!".
  8. Combat may only resume with the cry of "lay on!".
  9. The end of battle will be signalled by a call of "hold!" followed by a a verbal signal from the marshal in charge that the battle has ended and a call of "Helms off".

Boundaries

  1. Battlefield boundaries and terrain will be described to all participants before each battle or set of battles. Ideally they will be marked by physical boundaries made of natural terrain or of some clearly identifiable substance.
  2. Individual combatants leaving the battlefield by going outside of the designated boundary during a scenario, either purposely or inadvertently, will be considered routed and may not re-enter the field.
  3. Groups of combatants who have inadvertently "fought" their way outside a designated boundary, may be moved back onto the field of combat at the marshal's discretion.
  4. In scenarios where no missile weapons are used, there must be at least 2 metres between the boundaries of the field and the spectators. In scenarios where missile weapons are used, the spectators should be placed far enough from the boundaries of combat that they will not be struck by errant missile fire, including deflected shots. Spectator safety is more important than their ability to see the action. It is the responsibility of the marshal in charge to ensure that safe boundaries and buffer zones are set to ensure the safety of spectators.