Rules of the list and conventions of combat

5 minute read

At the first Society event, the backyard garden party, there was a tournament.

Tournaments remain an important part of our game, as do the ceremonies around them.

At the invocation, when all the couples who want to enter a coronet tourney are presented to the prince and princess, the couples must promise:

  • that they qualify to enter, as defined in our laws
  • that they know the ‘rules of the lists’ and swear to abide by them

The relevant laws include things like being over 18, holding a paid membership, and having attended events recently, be acceptable to the coronet.

The rules of the lists are also in writing: they’re in Corpora, the governing documents of the Society and in the Society marshal’s handbook and the Drachenwald marshal handbook.

If you’re not an armoured fighter, though, you might not have read them before. And they matter, because both entrants to Coronet are promising to abide by them.

Accompanying the rules of the lists in the marshals’ handbooks are the conventions of combat. Armoured combatants learn these when they first authorise to fight.

These matter too: they define our ideas of chivalric combat, and we use chivalric combat to decide who leads us as royals. You might have heard them in bits and pieces but not seen them in one place before.

So here’s the text of the Rules of the Lists, and the first two sections of the conventions of combat (the ones relevant to tournaments - the ones for combat archery don’t apply to tourney lists), from the kingdom marshal’s handbook. When you read them, you’ll see why our coronet entrants should know them.

The Rules of the Lists

  1. Each fighter, recognizing the possibilities of physical injury to himself or herself in such combat, shall assume unto himself or herself all risk and liability for harm suffered by means of such combat. Other participants shall likewise recognize the risks involved in their presence on or near the field of combat, and shall assume unto themselves the liabilities thereof.

  2. No person shall participate in Combat-Related Activities (including armored combat, fencing, combat archery, marshalling, scouting, and banner-bearing in combat) outside of formal training sessions unless and until he or she shall have been properly authorized under Society and kingdom procedures.

  3. All combatants must be presented to, and be acceptable to, the Sovereign or his or her representative.

  4. All combatants shall adhere to the appropriate Armor and Weapons Standards of the Society, and to any additional standards of the kingdom in which the event takes place. The Sovereign may waive the additional kingdom standards.

  5. The Sovereign or the Marshallate may bar any weapon or armor from use upon the field of combat. Should a warranted Marshal bar any weapon or armor, an appeal may be made to the Sovereign to allow the weapon or armor.

  6. Combatants shall behave in a knightly and chivalrous manner, and shall fight according to the appropriate Society and Kingdom Conventions of Combat.

  7. No one may be required to participate in Combat-Related Activities. Any combatant may, without dishonor or penalty, reject any challenge without specifying a reason. A fight in a tournament lists is not to be considered a challenge, and therefore may not be declined or rejected without forfeiting the bout.

  8. Fighting with real weapons, whether fast or slow, is strictly forbidden at any Society event. This rule does not consider approved weaponry that meets the Society and kingdom standards for traditional Society combat and/or Society rapier combat, used in the context of mutual sport, to be real weaponry.

  9. No projectile weapons shall be allowed and no weapons shall be thrown within the Lists of a tournament. The use of approved projectile weapons for melee, war, or Combat Archery shall conform to the appropriate Society and Kingdom Conventions of Combat.

Conventions of combat

A. General Information

  1. All traditional SCA armored combat at SCA tourneys, wars, and other events shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of the Lists of the SCA, Inc., these Conventions of Combat, and such weapon and equipment standards and event rules as are established by the marshallate of the SCA, Inc., and individual kingdom marshallates.

  2. All kingdoms shall have as their minimum armor and weapons standards those criteria established by the Society minimum armor and weapons standards. Each kingdom may require additional, more extensive, and/or stricter standards.

    • All fighters, prior to combat at each and every SCA-sponsored event or fighting practice, shall ensure that their armor and weapons are inspected by a warranted member of the kingdom marshallate.

    • Even though a warranted member of the kingdom marshallate has inspected the armor and weapons used by a fighter, each fighter shall accept full responsibility for the condition of his or her own equipment. Each fighter has the obligation to his- or herself, the marshals, and all opponents, to see that his or her equipment meets all Society and kingdom requirements.

    • Combat archery ammunition each must be inspected individually before every use. (snip of subset of combat archery rules, for brevity)

  3. When not otherwise directed by the sovereign, the sovereign’s representative upon the field and in all matters dealing with Society combat is the Earl Marshal, and, by delegation, warranted members of the kingdom marshallate.

B. Behavior on the Field

  1. Striking an opponent with excessive force is forbidden.

  2. All fighters shall obey the commands of the marshals on the field or shall be removed from the field and subject to disciplinary action. Disagreements with the marshals on the field shall be resolved through the established mechanisms outlined in the Procedures for Grievances and Sanctions of the Marshallate Procedures of the SCA, Inc.

  3. Each fighter shall maintain control over his or her temper at all times.

  4. Upon hearing the call of “HOLD” all fighting shall IMMEDIATELY stop.

  5. A fighter shall not enter the lists or participate in any form of SCA combat activity while impaired by alcohol or drugs (including, but not limited to: drugs prescribed by a licensed health care provider, over- the-counter medications, and illegal controlled substances.)

  6. Any behavior that takes deliberate advantage of an opponent’s chivalry or safety consciousness, or that takes deliberate unfair advantage of an opponent, is prohibited.

  7. A fighter shall not deliberately strike a helpless opponent.

  8. Any fighter who obtains an unfair advantage by repeatedly becoming “helpless” (for example, by falling down or losing their weapon) may, after being duly warned by the marshals on the field, be forced to yield the fight at the next occurrence of such behavior. The onus of this is on the marshals, not on the opponent. However, the opponent may ask the marshals to let the fight continue.

  9. Grappling, tripping, throwing, punching, kicking, and wrestling are prohibited. Contact between combatants’ bodies, shields, and weapons is expected in corps-a-corps or mêlée situations, as such controlled contact is allowed during these engagements.

  10. Deliberately striking an opponent’s head, limbs, or body with a shield, weapon haft, or any part of the body is forbidden.

  11. Grasping an opponent’s person, shield, weapon’s striking surface, or bow/crossbow is prohibited.

  12. Intentionally striking an opponent outside the legal target areas is forbidden.