Powered by FreeFind
PennsicWar.OrgPennsicWar.Org PennsicWar.Org
PennsicWar.OrgPennsicWar.Org PennsicWar.Org
PennsicWar.OrgPennsicWar.Org PennsicWar.Org

Pennsic 43 Rapier Conventions

These rules establish standards and conventions for rapier combat at Pennsic for all rapier war points. Kingdoms sponsoring other rapier events at Pennsic may also employ these rules, but are not required to do so. These rules are designed to promote safe rapier combat at Pennsic and all participants in events governed by these rules are responsible for knowing, understanding and applying them. However, no matter how clear or accurate, rules cannot replace common sense, good judgment, and concern for the participants. If a question arises when applying these standards, choose the response that promotes the greatest degree of safety for all participants.


  1. Rapier Combat shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of the Lists of the SCA, Inc., the Corporate Rules for Rapier Combat in the SCA, and these rules.
  2. The Kingdom Rapier Marshal of that year's hosting kingdom is the Marshal in Charge at Pennsic. He or she may assign a "marshal on duty" to oversee the day's events, but serious problems should be handled by the Marshal in Charge.
  3. In order to participate in any rapier war point events, a fencer must have authorized in at least one rapier weapons form prior to arrival at War. Fencers are free to authorize in additional weapons forms at War, and use those forms in war point events.
  4. A fencer must comply with the standards for protective gear of his or her home kingdom, but shall comply with the weapons standards of the kingdom hosting the rapier event in which the fencer is participating.
  5. Per the Corporate Rules for Rapier Combat in the SCA (the "Society Rules"), all fencers, prior to every combat or practice, shall ensure their equipment is safe, in good working order and has been inspected by a marshal authorized to inspect rapier gear. At Pennsic, such inspection must be performed (a minimum of once per day) by either a marshal from a fencer's home kingdom to that kingdom's standards or, if a marshal from that kingdom is not available, by any marshal, to the Society Rules.
  6. Marshals have the power and the duty to remove from the field any person who is violating the rules of the list and suspend their fighting activity at Pennsic. This includes but is not limited to non-acceptance of blows, ignoring the rules of engagement and behavior that is dangerous to combatants. Marshals should keep in mind that all fencers are honorable people and treat them with courtesy and patience. Remember that honest mistakes do happen. Fencers should remember that the marshals are attempting to ensure the safety of all fencers present and treat them with courtesy. Marshals shall always be obeyed by combatants on the field.
  7. A Marshal's Court will be in place after each war point melee, and will be prepared to address any serious problems that are brought before it. A Marshal's Court may also be convened at any other time, if needed, but only in the event of a serious or intractable problem arising on the list. Marshals or fighters can bring issues before a Marshal's Court. A Marshal's Court shall be presided over by the Pennsic Rapier MIC, and shall include both the KRM of the kingdom hosting the rapier event in which the problem at issue occurred, and, if possible, the KRM of the fencer who is subject to the Court. The MIC for the tournament/melee and any pertinent witnesses may attend if required by the MIC. The Marshal's Court will review infractions of the rules and combat conventions.


  1. Valid blows are performed by:
    • Thrusting with the point of the blade (thrust)
    • Sliding the edge of the blade by pulling (draw cut) a minimum of 6" across the target,
    • Placing the tip of the blade upon, and then drawing it (tip cut) a minimum of 6" across the target.
  2. Though the gloved hand may be used to parry, it shall not be used to push, grasp or strike an opponent. Blade grasping is not permitted in any war point event. The use of blade grasping in other rapier activities shall be at the discretion of the marshal in charge of a particular melee or tournament.
  3. Parries may be performed with weapons, parrying devices, the gloved hand or any other part of the body. Striking an opponent with any part of a weapon or parrying device not approved for that purpose is prohibited. Though the gloved hand may be used to parry, it shall not be used to grasp or strike an opponent. Fleeting contact between opponents is allowed, as long as no grappling, deliberate striking or other unsafe behavior occurs. Conduct in violation of this rule which creates a significant safety hazard on the field will be grounds for immediate removal from the field and suspension from participation in Pennsic 43 rapier activities.


  1. In rapier combat, blows will be counted as though they were struck with a real blade, extremely sharp on point and edge. Any blow that would have penetrated the skin shall be counted a good blow. Any blow that strikes a mask, helm or gorget shall be counted as though it struck flesh.
  2. A valid blow to the
    • head,
    • neck,
    • torso,
    • inner groin (to the fighter's hand width down the inner limb), or
    • armpit (to the fighter's hand width down the inner limb)

    shall be judged incapacitating, rendering the fighter incapable of further combat.

  3. A valid blow to the arm will disable the arm. A valid blow to the hand shall render the hand useless; the arm above the incapacitated hand may be used to parry.
  4. A valid blow to the foot or leg will disable the leg. The fighter must then fight kneeling, sitting, or standing on one leg. A "legged" fencer may rise from a sitting to a kneeling position. A disabled fencer may "knee walk" in order to gain engagement, but must remain stationary once engaged with an opponent.


  1. There are three classes of rapiers in the SCA: light rapiers (e.g. epees and foils), heavy rapiers and Cut and Thrust Blades. The use of epees and foils are prohibited in any war point battle. Any blade in a given rapier class may be used against any other blade in that same class, but NOT against blades of the other class. An exception to this are those blades that have been specifically deemed by Society to be legal for "BOTH" Heavy Rapier as well as C&T. These blades may be used in both "styles" of combat, ie. Heavy Rapier and C&T. Check with the MIC if there is any question as to the legality of a blade for a particular event.

    Daggers may be used against either class of rapier blade.

  2. Two-handed Swords
    • Swords with a handle, including the pommel, greater than 12 inches, as measured from the crosspiece to the end of the pommel, will be considered a Two-Handed Sword. The handle of a weapon may not exceed 1/3 of the length of the blade. Please direct any questions about whether a specific weapon is acceptable to the Pennsic RMIC or Deputy RMIC.
    • No secondary weapon or parrying device can be used along with a Two-Handed Sword.
    • Two-Handed Sword users must keep both hands on the handle at all times while in engagement with an active opponent. Letting go with either hand will result in the in loss of that hand. A fencer may use a Two-Handed Sword with only one hand, ONLY when they have had one of their hands disabled.
    • Throwing shots with a two-handed sword that start with both hands on the sword, and end with the combatant only having one hand on the blade are forbidden, and will result in immediate disqualification of that fencer for the duration of the given scenario. Further disciplinary sanctions are left to discretion of the Pennsic RMIC, or Deputy RMIC.
    • As stated before, any discussion on whether a Two-Handed Sword does, or does not meet the criteria above, is left to the discretion of the Pennsic RMIC, or Deputy RMIC.

  3. The kingdom hosting a particular rapier event may specify the types of blades to be used at that event. If a tournament specifies allowed blades only by general type, i.e. light or heavy, then all blades allowed at Society level in this category will be allowed. Information regarding which blades are permitted in the Society and within each kingdom is available in the Marshals' Tent. The use of epees and foils are prohibited in any war point battle.


  1. There are no restrictions on parrying device size so long as the wielder employs it safely.


  1. AUTHORIZATIONS: Authorizations must be done by marshals of a fencer's home kingdom. It is against Society Law and Policy to authorize across kingdom boundaries. Only fencers from Calontir may hold authorizations from neighboring kingdoms.
  2. EXCESSIVE IMPACT: Combat at Pennsic poses risks to the participant. This recognition, however, does not excuse fighters from exercising control of their techniques. If a fighter throws blows which force their opponent to retire from the field, from a real injury (even one which only causes brief incapacitation), the marshal responsible for the field shall take such steps as are appropriate to stop the problem from recurring. At a minimum, the thrower of the blow should be removed from the field for the remainder of that tourney/melee.
  3. MELEE: Melee combats present special challenges to all involved. Society norms are repeated here for emphasis:
    1. In melees, fighters are engaged with all opponents immediately upon the call to lay-on.
    2. Fighters may strike any opponent with any legal blow if they are within the 180-degree arc of the opponent's front, as measured from the plane of the opponent's shoulders. A fighter who approaches an opponent from behind shall not deliver a blow until he is within that frontal arc. A fighter may never strike an opponent from behind. In addition, fencers should make a reasonable attempt to get an opponent's attention before throwing a blow.
    3. Killing from behind is allowed if it has been announced beforehand. The Society norm for "death from behind" in melees shall be: If a melee scenario allows killing from behind, a fighter does so by laying the rapier blade over and on the opponent's shoulder, to at least a third of the blade, while calling "Dead, my lord" (or any other short, courteous phrases) in a loud, clear voice. Reaching around the neck is forbidden. The opponent will be deemed "killed" from the instant the blade touches the opponent's shoulder who shall not attempt to spin, duck or dodge away.

      Note: If death from behind is not allowed in a given melee, a fighter who deliberately ignores an attacker behind them, or repeatedly maneuvers to keep their back to an attacker (thereby preventing any attack on them) may be considered misuse of the rules and obstructive behavior.

      In addition, the thrower of the DFB must come to a complete stop. Hyper-DFBs or machine gunning (Deadmylorddeadmylorddeadmylorddeadmylord) will not be tolerated. The marshals are allowed to have the DFB disregarded and to remove the thrower of the inappropriate DFB form the tourney/melee.

  4. In any tournament or melee, additional restrictions may be imposed by the marshals as needed.
  5. UNFORESEEN SITUATIONS: Should a situation arise not explicitly covered by Society or kingdom rapier combat rules, the marshals should NOT assume that the situation is forbidden or inappropriate. However, no matter how clear or accurate, rules cannot replace common sense, good judgment, and concern for the participants.


▲      to Top of Page      ▲

Pennsic War is an annual event between the East and Middle Kingdoms of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., and takes place within the Kingdom of Æthelmearc at Coopers' Lake Campground. Webhosting services are generously donated by Panix.com (Public Access Networks Corporation). The Pennsic War event staff thank Panix for their continued support of the SCA and the Pennsic War.

This is the recognized web site for the Pennsic War of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. Pennsicwar.org was designed by and is maintained by Mistress Jessa d'Avondale (Marla Lecin). This site may contain electronic versions of the group's governing documents. Any discrepancies between the electronic version of any information on this site and the printed version that is available from the originating office will be decided in favor of the printed version. For information on using photographs, articles, or artwork from this web site, please contact the Webminister, who will assist you in contacting the original creator of the piece. Please respect the legal rights of our contributors. Copyright ©2014 Pennsic War. The original contributors retain the copyright of certain portions of this site.

The photo on this page is used by permission of Thorolfr inn smithr. Most of the illuminations used on this site are from the Manesse Codex.