Conventions of Combat

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General information

  1. All armoured combat activities in Lochac must be conducted according to the Rules of the Lists, these conventions of combat, the weapon and equipment standards set out in these rules, and any event rules established by the Marshal-in-Charge of the event.
  2. All combatants, before taking part in armoured combat at each and every SCA sponsored event or fighting practice (including pick-up fights) must 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 or their deputy, the Kingdom Armoured Combat 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. You need to obey the commands of the marshals on the field, or be removed from the field subject to disciplinary action. Resolve disagreements with the marshals off the field through Lochac's grievance and appeal procedures.
  3. Striking at your 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. If you are using two-handed weapons, you must make sure you use appropriate restraint to avoid striking with excessive force, as the nature of these weapons makes the use of excessive power more likely.
  5. You need to maintain control over your temper at all times. If you lose control of your temper, you will be removed from the field and may be subject to disciplinary action.
  6. You must not participate in any form of armoured combat 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 healthcare 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. If you have an injury involving free flowing blood, you must leave the field immediately and may not return until the flow of blood has stopped.
  8. Any behaviour that takes deliberate advantage of your opponent's chivalry or safety-consciousness, or that takes deliberate unfair advantage of your opponent is prohibited.
  9. You must not deliberately strike a helpless opponent. Helpless opponents may only be killed according to the procedures set out in section 4.4.6.
  10. If you obtain an unfair advantage by repeatedly becoming "helpless" (eg. by falling down, or losing your weapon), you may, after being 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 your opponent. However, your opponent may ask the marshals to let the fight continue.
  11. Intentional contact of your body (hands/feet/limbs/body/head) to your opponent's is prohibited. Brief incidental contact is expected and acceptable during engagement.
  12. Deliberately striking your opponent with a shield, weapon haft, bow, or any part of the body is forbidden.
  13. Intentionally tripping your opponent is prohibited.
  14. Grasping your opponent's person, shield, weapon's blade or striking surface, or bow is prohibited.
  15. You must not 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 your hands or limbs as a means of impeding a blow. If you intentionally place an illegal target area such as an empty hand or lower leg in the path of a blow, you forfeit that attached limb as if it had been struck in a legal target area.
  17. Inadvertently bringing your hands in contact with the striking surface of a weapon in motion, as when attempting to block a blow with another weapon, is not a violation of this convention.
  18. Intentionally striking your opponent outside the legal target areas is forbidden. If you repeatedly throw such blows, you will be warned by the marshals. If you continue to throw blows at illegal targets, you can be required to forfeit the bout, and may be subject to further disciplinary action.
  19. It is 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. If your helmet or chinstrap fails in combat, you will be considered dead and must immediately leave the field.
  23. Do not deliberately target the groin. However, take a good blow to the groin as a kill.
  24. Charges are allowed, but with reference to, remember 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 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, 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, you engage your opponent by moving into the line of sight of the opponent you wish to engage and stating loudly, "Fighter - I am engaging you," or words to that effect.
  2. In war combat, you engage your opponent by moving into range in clear sight of the opponent you wish to engage and adopting an attacking posture. If you have reason to believe that your opponent may not have seen you approach, you 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. If you turn your back on an opponent with whom you are engaged while remaining within weapons range, you may be struck by that opponent until you 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 your 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

Armoured combatants killing armoured combatants

  1. You kill other armoured combatants that you are engaged with by delivering a "good" blow with your weapon to a killing target area on your opponent. Target areas are detailed in section 6.
  2. If you note that your own blow strikes with anything other than the striking surface, you should call "Haft!" or "Flat!" as appropriate to your opponent.
  3. In war scenarios, you may kill armoured combatants you are not engaged with by using the "killing from behind" manoeuvre as detailed in section 4.4.5.

Missile combatants killing plumed or armoured combatants

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

Armoured combatants killing plumed participants

  1. Do not strike a plumed participant with any melee weapon.
  2. Plumed participants are subject to missile fire from all missile weapons, including hand-thrown and siege weapons.
  3. You kill plumed participants by closing to within 5 metres of your opponent, presenting (not pointing) your weapon and loudly calling "Archer, you are slain!", or equivalent phrase. This may not be done while running past the plumed participant, and you must exhibit control over your weapon and have an unimpeded path to the plumed participant without intervening walls or other obstructions.
  4. You must repeat this action for every opponent to be killed.
  5. Plumed participants killed in this manner should acknowledge kills by armoured 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 armoured combatant is within 5 metres range, the plumed participant should consider giving the armoured combatant the benefit of the doubt.

Engines of war and their crews

  1. Siege engines may be crewed by plumed combatants or armoured 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 don't need to strike with force equivalent to a melee weapon to be considered a good blow.
  5. Do not discharge missiles from a direct fire siege engine when closer than 10 metres to your target.
  6. 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, call a hold and declare the engine destroyed, make it safe and remove it 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 renders all of the crew dead.

Killing from behind

  1. Armoured combatants kill other armoured combatants from behind by placing a weapon (not an arrow) across the faceplate or on the shoulder of your opponent and loudly calling "You are slain from behind" or an equivalent phrase. Use this technique for other armoured combatants you are not engaged with. You need to repeat this action for every opponent to be killed in this manner, and you may not do thiswhile running past your opponent.
  2. As with killing from the front, it is up to your opponent as to whether your 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 you believe your attacker could have struck you, but instead declared you dead, you should accept the kill.

Helpless opponents

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


  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.
    1. Bows may be nocked, but not drawn, at a call of "all rise".
    2. 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 responsible marshal that the battle has ended and a call of "Helms off".


  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 something clearly identifiable.
  2. If you leave the battlefield by going outside of the designated boundary during a scenario, either purposely or inadvertently, you 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.
  5. 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.
  6. It is the responsibility of the responsible marshal to ensure that safe boundaries and buffer zones are set to ensure the safety of spectators.