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Rapier Combat

Fighting and Marshalling Conventions for Rapier Combat at

Estrella War 2018

Estrella Rapier Marshals and Rapier Marshaling Team

  1. The Estrella War Rapier Marshal in Charge (RMIC) and their designated Deputy will serve as the primary marshals for armor/weapon inspections and marshaling of rapier scenarios.
  2. The RMIC shall form a Rapier Marshaling Team (RMT) that works together to administer and manage all rapier activities.
  3. The RMT holds primary responsibility for:
    • Coordinating setup for all rapier scenarios and marshaling of the combat fields for those scenarios.
    • Ensuring the safety of spectators, unarmored participants, marshals and rapier combatants. In this capacity they are responsible for defining boundaries and guidelines to minimize the risk to spectators, participants, and bystanders within the constraints of the site.
    • Holding a Marshals’ Court at the end of each day of fighting to address any issues of the combat field.


  1. At least one member of the RMT must marshal the field during all melee scenarios.
  2. There shall be at least 1 marshal for each 25 fighters on any melee field.
  3. There shall be at least 1 marshal for each 2 active arenas during tournament combat.
  4. A marshals-and-commanders meeting will be held at Estrella, location to be determined, prior to the first day of combat.
  5. All field marshals will have notepads available to record incidents that arise during the Rapier Scenarios. The RMT may choose to address incidents immediately and/or at the Marshals’ Court.
  6. Marshals shall use the phrase “edge of the world” or other similar phrasing to warn combatants when melees approach the edge of the field. “Edge of the world” in no way implies a hold. Any fighter(s) that continue to retreat and touch the edge of the field are “killed” and will be informed of such by the marshal.
  7. Unless otherwise published, the “Kingdom of Atenveldt Rapier Marshal’s Handbook, October 2015” and the “SCA Rapier Marshal’s Handbook,” November 2015, along with subsequent addendum and rulings, will be the default for all tournaments and melees.
  8. If the condition of the melee field is found to be a safety concern for either melee or tournaments, an alternative combat venue will be used.  This decision must be made by the RMIC in consultation with Estrella War Staff and/or the Crown.

Armor & Weapons Guidelines/Inspections

  1. Atenveldt and Outlands allowable blade conventions will be observed; Light Rapier blades/flexi-daggers will not be permitted.
  2. Parrying devices and rubber band guns need to be inspected only once during the War.
  3. Armor and Weapons must be inspected daily. Fighters will observe the armor requirements of their respective Kingdoms. Fighters must have their fighter authorization card or paperwork with them at the time of inspection.
  4. Inspections must be from a member of the RMT or a marshal designated by them.
  5. Inspections will be available at Rapier Marshals’ Point, Principal Kingdom Musters, and any official tournament.
  6. Any Rapier Fighter from any Kingdom under the age of 18 years:
    • May only be inspected at Marshals’ Point by a Youth Marshal, one of the Principal Kingdom KRMs, or the RMIC.
    • Must have a parent or legal guardian on site and with them at daily inspection to sign paperwork.
    • Must display a yellow diamond “Youth Fighter” mark on the glove of their dominant hand; another yellow diamond MAY be displayed on their mask.
  7. Rubber Band Guns (RBGs):
    • RBGs are allowed in some scenarios.
    • Each side will have ammo equal to 10% of the opposing force, rounded down.
    • Spent ammo may not be re-used in the same scenario or gleaned.
    • Dead fighters may not pass off guns or ammunition.
    • RBG ammunition may not be filled with material or otherwise artificially weighted.
    • RBGs and simulacra may not be modified to falsely appear loaded.
    • Non-standard RBGs will be considered on a case by case basis with final say belonging to the RMIC. Non-standard includes but is not limited to RBGs modified to serve as a dagger, sword, or spear in addition to its RBG function.
    • RBG rounds DO NOT ricochet and are not considered valid hits after they have hit the first target.
    • Menacing with unloaded RBGs is permitted; see Conventions and Rules of Engagement.  
  8. Thrown Weapons are not in use.
  9. Combat Archery. Combat Archery will use the following guidelines:
    • Generally, each side will have ammo equal to 10-20% of the opposing force, rounded down
    • Combat Archery will conform to Atenveldt Rapier Combat Archery rules, available upon request from the Atenveldt Kingdom Rapier Marshal. The following is a summary of those rules:
    • Hand-bows will have a draw weight between 20-30lb as measured at a 28in draw length. Crossbows are NOT allowed.
    • Arrows will be fiberglass or carbon shafts with broad, padded foam arrowheads with ¾” flat surfaces interior to the foam to prevent penetration by the shafts consistent with Junze or GPP® foam screw-in arrowheads for LARP/Archery Combat.  They will NOT contain sharp points. Combat archers must purchase commercially available arrow heads; they will not construct their own arrow heads.
    • Bows will be inspected at the beginning of each day of combat by the RMIC or designated representative.
    • Combat Archery arrows will be inspected at the beginning of each day of combat by the RMIC or designated representative, and between each scenario in which they are used.
    • There will be two categories of Combat Archers; Armed and Unarmed. Armed Archers are an individual with a secondary offensive weapon on the field such as a rapier, dagger, etc.  Unarmed Archers are an individual with no secondary weapon.
    • Combat Archers may not fire at anyone within a minimum range of 10 feet.  Unarmed Archers must call themselves as dead when an armed opponent approaches them at engagement distance.  Armed Combat Archers may choose to join the fray at any time if they are made ineffective due to range or depletion of their arrows.
    • Arrows may not be gleaned during the scenario.  All arrows will be inspected at the end of the scenario in which they are used to determine their suitability for continued use.
    • Any MOSTLY unimpeded hit by an arrow should be considered a valid blow and the fighter should react appropriately. Archers may target only the front 180 degrees of fighters. However, as melees are dynamic, a hit anywhere on the body shall be considered a valid blow.
    • Glancing hits on secondary targets as a result of impeding an arrow or an arrow rebounding are considered non-injurious.
    • Arrows may be blocked, parried, and caught in a fighter’s hands.
    • For Estrella 2018 melee scenarios, the only acceptable attack by an arrow is firing from a bow.
  10. Spears / Pikes / Polearms. These weapons are allowed in some scenarios. In order to use spear, fighters must be authorized for spear by their respective Kingdom. Spears will use the following guidelines:
    • Each side will have spears equal to 10% of the opposing force, rounded down.
    • Only fighters approved by the RMIC and participating Kingdom KRMs will use spears.
    • All weapons will meet Society standards and will be employed as described in Society rules.
  11. Two-Handed Swords. The 2015 Society Rapier Handbook provides guidelines to define dagger, single-handed swords, and 2-handed swords with greater clarity at inter-Kingdom events. Two-handed swords will use the following guidelines:
    • All weapons meeting the Society standard for 2-handed weapons will be noted and approved for use by the RMIC and/or the KRMs of Atenveldt and Outlands prior to use on the field.
    • Questionable weapons (e.g., those with handles longer than 1/3 the length of their blade) will be considered on a case by case basis by the RMIC and/or the KRMs of Atenveldt and Outlands.

Conventions and Rules of Engagement

  1. Rules cannot replace common sense, good judgment, and concern for the safety of all participants. “Rules Lawyering” is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Anyone trying to bend or break rules to gain unfair advantage will politely be asked to stop. If the questionable action persists or constitutes a safety violation, any Marshal from the RMT may remove the offender from the field and they may be subject to further sanction by the RMIC or their respective KRM.
  2. Target Areas and Valid Blows:
    • As with any event with multi-Kingdom participants, there will be differences in blow calling, what is considered a “valid” blow, and other conventions. Communication—both between fighters, and fighters and Marshals—is key to reducing misunderstandings and frustration.
    • The entire body is a legal target.
    • There is no “armor as worn” during melee combat and all combatants are assumed to be unarmored when judging the validity of blows. Combatants need only make their blows felt through their opponent’s clothing.
      • Valid blows are thrusts, draw cuts (See below), and tip cuts. A slap, flat, or skipping blow does not constitute a valid blow. As is the accepted norm, fighters will honorably determine the validity of and accept blows dealt to them.
      • A valid draw cut is any cut delivered by placing the edge of the offensive weapon against the opponent and drawing (pulling AND/OR pushing) the blade. No contact should be made with either the quillions or guard during the execution of a cut.
      • A valid tip cut is delivered by placing or laying on an edge in the last 2 inches of the blade against the opponent and drawing it across their body/limb.
      • In all cuts, continuous pressure and a draw length of at least 4 inches are required for the completion of the cut; merely laying the tip or edge of the blade against an opponent is not sufficient to be considered a valid cut.
      • If the blade is drawn all the way across a limb or the throat and this distance is less than 4”, this shall also be considered a valid draw cut.)
    • Society rules will be utilized for determining the validity and result of blows.
    • Some attack may be reasonably considered to be capable of penetrate through an obstacle (for instance a thrust into a hand placed near to the body would continue through the hand and into the body behind). This is called “stapling” and fighters may consider them valid blows.  
    • Unless a scenario specifically forbids it, a combatant that loses the use of both arms/hands may step off the line of combat and remain active. If any armed opponent then enters engagement distance, the “disarmed” fighter must immediately yield and quit the field.
  3. “Death from Behind” and “180º Engagement” shall be used in all melee scenarios.
    • “180º Engagement” is a safety convention that defines the “front” versus “rear” of an opponent for determination of delivering Death from Behind attacks. An attacker will be considered in a “front” attack zone if he/she is at least even with and parallel to the opponent’s shoulders and torso. Attacks, from start to finish, should be delivered only if the attacker is within this zone. If an attacker is outside the “180º Engagement” zone, “Death from Behind” attacks must be used.
    • Additionally, attackers should consider the area of their opponent’s attention. If they are within the “180º Engagement” but the fighter’s attention is elsewhere, they are encouraged to either wait until their opponent notices their presence or use caution to gently place their blade on their opponent. Fighters should consider that as a courteous and valid attack by the attacking fighter.
    • “Death from Behind” is safely performed by approaching an opponent from behind and laying a sword blade (NOT a dagger blade) upon their shoulder. A minimum of 1/3 of the blade should be visible to the opponent. The attacker must then give a verbal cue of “You are dead from behind m’lord/m’lady.” or other equivalent before continuing on.
    • The attacked fighter is considered dead upon seeing a blade over their shoulder, feeling the touch of the blade, or hearing their opponent call them dead. Fighters may not spin, dodge or otherwise evade a properly executed “Death from Behind”.
    • Fighters are encouraged to use good judgment in accepting blows if they turn towards an opponent either in the midst of executing “Death from Behind” or when close enough to have actually struck them from behind.
    • A fighter may only perform “Death from Behind” on one opponent at a time.
  4. “Killing” Touches and Exiting the Melee Field:
    • Upon receiving a “killing” touch, fighters must clearly identify themselves as “dead”. Preferably, this is done by carrying their weapons crossed over their head or held in front of them by the blade, point down. Any fighter seen carrying their sword reversed by the blade will be considered dead by the RMT and will be expected to exit the field or Res, as the case may be.
    • A fighter may utter a single word or short phrase when they are killed. Any subsequent communication with “living” fighters is prohibited, except for marshaling and safety concerns.
    • A dead fighter must attempt to exit the melee field in a timely manner. When exiting the field, they should do so in a direction that is away from active combat. During a press, dead fighters should signal their status, make themselves as small a target as possible, and exit in the most expeditious direction that limits the disruption of either side’s movement (this maybe through the opposing side’s line or your own).  If there are no feasible exits from the current combat, the fighter should signal their status and remain stationary until a hold is called or opportunity presents.  Stalling to block or obstruct opponents, or using a “Dead” fighter as a barrier, is expressly forbidden and may result in marshal sanction.
    • Legged fighters will remain stationary except to change direction on the field. Legged fighters may be moved by being “carried” by 2 other fighters. Carrying fighters must have a free hand to hold the arms of the legged fighter.
    • During a battle, legged fighters may not take themselves off the field (i.e. go resurrect) unless they have a medical or equipment issue prohibiting them from sitting on the ground. Fighters unable to take leg shots must communicate that to their opponent at the time of the received blow. A fighter from the friendly army within engagement distance of a legged fighter may send them to the resurrection point. The RMT may send legged fighters to resurrect at their discretion.
    • Legged fighters MAY be engaged from behind/outside the 180º arc of engagement. Fighters will execute Death from Behind on legged fighters using the same procedures cited above, remembering that a legged fighter may potentially lay backwards abruptly.
    • Any fighter who removes their mask or other safety equipment before fully exiting a live field can be removed from the next scenario at the discretion of the marshal.
  5. RBGs on the Melee Field
    • Safety with gun simulators is of utmost importance. Loaded RBGs will not be pointed at anyone except during active melees; nor will they be pointed at any individual not on the melee field and engaged in the melee. This includes the RMT, field support, and spectators.
    • Gunners may menace other fighters with both unloaded and loaded RBGs without firing.
    • Fighters hit by RBG rounds will treat them as they would any other blow. Fighters may take hands, arms, legs, suffer a stapling attack, and be “killed” as a result of RBG attacks.
    • Once discharged, RBG rounds may NOT be dodged, ducked, parried, or blocked. Bullets are considered to pass through bucklers/shields and weapons to strike the body behind. Fighters will treat such hits as though they would have continued and struck the body part in its path. Fighters MAY throw themselves in front of incoming RBG rounds, sacrificing themselves to spare the intended target.
    • RBG rounds DO NOT ricochet. Only the first fighter struck by the RBG round is required to accept the attack.
  6. Resolving Conflicts: Fighters who have a conflict should accompany each other to a marshal. The name of each combatant and the nature of the dispute will be heard and recorded. The issue can be resolved either immediately or at the Marshals’ Court. Any fighters leaving the field without pursuing this process may forfeit their right to make a legitimate complaint at a later time.
  7. Sealing the field: The fighting field will be closed at the beginning of each scenario. In a normal scenario, fighters not on the field will not be allowed enter the field until the beginning of the next scenario. In the case of a resurrection battle, latecomers may enter the field at their resurrection point.
  8. Holds:
    • A hold will be called whenever there is a clear safety hazard due to conduct or equipment.
    • When a hold is called, all combatants should assume a non-threatening posture, point their weapons vertically, and await direction by the marshals. If possible, fighters are encouraged to kneel or sit during a hold.
    • Combat shall not resume until the cause of the hold is resolved and reported to the RMT.
    • There is no convention for “local Holds”; fighters are encouraged to pause in a localized area in a chivalrous and honorable manner if a situation warrants it but a “Hold” for the entire field is unnecessary. Fighters should not be chastised for calling “Hold” in any situation.
  9. Lay on:
    • Fighters may engage in melee combat only after the primary marshal has received acknowledgement of readiness from both Allied Realms and has instructed them to begin.
    • At “lay on” of a melee, or anytime thereafter, any fighter on the field who is not fully armored may be called dead by a marshal and must immediately exit the field of combat.