Recreation of medieval combat is a tricky undertaking for the
modern enthusiast. How is one to balance the modern need for
safety with the confused, brutality that characterized much of
medieval combat? In its past, the Mercenaries Medieval Combat
Guild has developed many answers to this question before settling on
the current set of rules.
General Rules of Combat
Combat in the Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild shall take
place under one of two agreed-upon sets of rules. These are:
the combat “of peace” and the all-out combat. The
combat “of peace” is the default set of rules followed unless
otherwise specified beforehand.
A Combat Marshal is an official of the Mercenaries Medieval Combat
Guild whose job is to ascertain the competence and safety of a
fighter. Nobody may fight at an official MMCG event without having
been “authorized” by a Combat Marshal. Special consideration shall be
made for new members “working up” to their authorization at weekly
The Combat Marshal shall authorize members to fight in three
different levels. Only the first level of authorization is required
in order to participate in all MMCG events. The other two levels may
be pursued by members if desired.
- General Combat Proficiency (Reflects knowledge of rules for
combat “Of Peace” and the adherence to safety standards and common
sense necessary to fight in the MMCG).
- All-Out Combat Proficiency (Reflects knowledge of rules for All-Out
combat and the adherence to the extra precautions necessary for
fighting in the All-Out system).
- Grappling and Disarm Proficiency (Reflects adherence to the strict
safety standards required for grappling and disarm authorization).
If a member of the MMCG is observed to be regularly out of
control, the Combat Marshal may (and should) require that the member
in question refrain from combat activities within the MMCG until such
time as they have re-authorized as a fighter.
The following locations shall be areas in which is it legal to
strike an opponent in any combat, whether it be the combat of peace
or all out combat.
This is defined as the area of your body from below your neck to
just above your hipbone (in the soft area). The tops of
your shoulders (the area between your neck and the ball-joint of
either arm) are considered to be part of your torso.
This is defined as the area of your body from the ball-joint of
your arm (the point of your shoulder) to your wrist. Hands
are not considered to be legal striking targets unless armored.
This is defined as the area of your body from your hipbones to
the soles of your feet. Strikes to the groin are highly
Good Strikes & Hit Points
A good strike is one in which the padded “striking” surface of
one’s weapon has solidly (not painfully) connected with his or her
opponent. A good strike may deflect off an opponent’s weapon or
shield before hitting, providing that it still connects with enough
force to be a solid blow and not a skidding or bouncing scrape.
A “good strike” from an arrow or crossbow bolt is one in
which the projectile hits the target with the full face of its
striking surface and bounces back. A graze from an arrow or a crossbow
bolt - even if the path of the projectile is interrupted or deflected
- shall not be counted as a “good strike.”
Weapons that have flats (swords, axes, daggers, and most
other bladed weapons) must strike with the padded “blade” and not
with the “unsharpened” flat edge in order to register a good strike.
During combat, each combatant is assumed to have three “hit
points.” Each time a combatant receives a “good strike” from
any weapon, their number of hit points is decreased by one.
When a combatant has been reduced to zero hits points, he or she is
dead, and must collapse to the ground in an inglorious, boneless
Once in a while, a fighter will score a spectacularly lucky
strike. A good, solid stab to the chest right in the location
of the heart, or a nice, solid strike to the muscles just below the
neck would almost certainly kill an assailant.
Therefore, if a combatant takes a sufficiently “killing”
blow - within the bounds of common sense - then he or she should
acknowledge instant death. This is a special situation, and
should be observed when appropriate.
Archers were an important part of any medieval army, though
some nations favored their use more than others. As such,
combat archery plays an important part in the battles of Mercenaries
Medieval Combat Guild.
As much as any other part of medieval combat re-creation,
archery can be dangerous if not handled properly. Therefore,
special arrows must be built for combat, so that their impact is no
more than a sword-strike or a blow from a mace. For this reason
also, no bows with a draw-weight of over 35 pounds may be used in
combat in the Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild.
For information about combat arrow construction, see the
weapons construction page.
Armor in the medieval era was what often separated the common
conscripts and reserves from the landed knights and nobility going to
war. It was, in its construction, a constant trade-off between
protection and mobility and comfort.
Armor in the Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild can be
classified as either light or heavy: “soft,” or “hard.”
Each type of armor provides protection to a specific part of the
body. A strike to an unarmored part of the body even on an
otherwise armored opponent shall be counted normally.
Because we intend to recreate as close an approximation to actual
armor as possible, armor must be made of similar materials as would have been used
in our time scope. Because of this, all armors must be made in a fashion similar
to that of actual Medieval peices and with comparable materials; i.e. thin leather,
plastic and aluminum and the like will not count as armor during combat. Suggested
materials include: steel, brass, heavy leather, boiled leather and heavily quilted fabric.
If in doubt as to whether a material is acceptable, ask.
“Soft” or “light” armor is defined as any type of body defense
which flexes under pressure. This includes, but is not limited
to mail (commonly called chain-mail), jacks, brigandines, splinted
armor and heavy or boiled leather. Soft armor makes up the bulk
of armor worn by all but the richest soldiers during the Middle
Ages. It is also cheaper and easier to make.
Light armor shall negate the first “good strike” received on
that area of the body. For this reason, a lightly armored
combatant must remember where he or she has been hit. A strike
to an arm covered with boiled leather shall be ignored the first
time, but shall be acknowledged the second time that the same arm
“Hard” or “heavy” armor is defined as any type of body defense
which does not flex under pressure. This includes, but is not
limited to plate armor, splinted armor over boiled leather, and some
types of lamellar defenses.
Heavy armor shall negate the first two “good strikes” received
on that area of the body. For this reason, a heavily armored
combatant must take great care to remember where he or she has been
hit. A strike to an arm covered in plate steel shall be ignored
the first two times, but shall be acknowledged the third time the
same arm is stricken.
“All-out” combat is a more intense, more realistic version of
the combat “of peace” rules. To participate in all out combat,
one is required to wear the following pieces of equipment as a
padded fencing mask, probably modified by the addition of extra
padding on the top of the head inside.
gloves. These can be broomball gloves, light hockey gloves
or some other type of glove which provides padded protection to
the back of the hand and all the fingers.
Elbow and knee pads are recommended gear, as well as a sp
cup. These last items, however, are a matter of personal
preference rather than a requirement.
All-out combat allows strikes to any area of the body,
and counts each strike as a single “good strike” as long as it
adheres to the “good strike” requirements listed above in the combat “of
Mighty Strikes vs. Good Strikes
In addition to good strikes, “all-out” combat allows for
the use of “mighty strikes.” A mighty strike shall be defined
as any blow to a legal striking area that is sufficiently hard to “remove”
a limb (or, if taken to the torso or head, of similar power).
Such strikes shall be counted as instant death to the receiver.
Mighty strikes should be utilized with extreme caution,
as the possibility exists for real injury to occur. Both
combatants should agree beforehand on whether they wish to accept
mighty strikes during the duel, and it should generally be done when
both combatants are wearing some sort of armor.
As of this revision of the rules, bows and crossbows
shall not be capable of delivering “mighty strikes.”
A “mighty strike” differs from an “instant kill” listed in the
Combat of Peace rules in that it need not be to a vital area as a
normal “instant kill” shot must.
Grappling and Disarms
Grappling and disarms are a huge part of medieval combat,
and many examples can be seen in contemporary sources that medieval
fencing masters considered it to be a staple of their craft.
In all-out combat, combatants may agree to make use of
grappling and disarms. While neither of these actions deals any
damage to either combatant as far as “hit points” are concerned, they
can certainly turn the course of a battle or a duel.
Because of the potential for true injury, grappling and disarms
must be separately authorized by the Combat Marshal. No grappling or
disarms will be allowed even in all-out combat unless the Combat
Marshal has authorized the fighters as safe.
Both grappling and disarms should be pursued in the
safest manner possible. Use as much or more caution in
grappling and disarming as for utilization of mighty strikes, as the
potential for true injury exists.
Armor in All-Out Combat
When fighting in “all-out” combat, light armor stricken
by a mighty blow shall be “destroyed” for all intents and
purposes. The mighty blow shall deal one point damage to the
receiver, but not be acknowledged as instant death. By this
reckoning, it would take no more than three mighty blows to “kill” a
lightly armored opponent.
When fighting in “all-out” combat, heavy armor stricken
by a mighty blow shall be “destroyed” for intents and purposes.
The mighty blow shall, however, deal no damage to the actual
combatant. The next strike on that same area, however, shall
deal normal damage, and if that strike is a mighty strike, then the
receiver shall acknowledge instant death.
The re-creation of medieval combat, whether it be one-on-one
dueling or larger-scale melees, is an inherently dangerous
business. Although the rules provided have been devised while
keeping both safety and the energy and intensity of medieval combat
in mind, accidents do happen. Therefore, it is paramount that
all combatants use control and common sense while engaging in combat
in the Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild.
The rules are meant to be sensible guidelines to
encourage safety and realism. When the rules interfere with
common sense, safety and the illusion that we strive to create when
participating in mock-combat, then it is time to use your best
judgment rather than the rules.
And, as always, when anybody at all shouts “hold!” every
combatant upon the field shall stop their fight instantly.