I.A.S. Concord supplemental rules for

multi-opponent deeds of arms

The following are the supplemental rules regarding multi-opponent combat. As such,they do not replace the IAS (International Armizare Society) rules for deed of arms in its entirety but rather should be viewed as a variant set of rules for multi-opponent combat. We hope this will provide a safe (as safe as combat arts can be) and realistic multi-opponent fighting experience that is in tune with the historical martial arts of the late 14th to early 15th century Europe. It is also our hope that this will serve as a learning tool, for ourselves and the public.

Here is an overview of our goals in regard to multi-opponent combat:

  1. Additional Armizare experiences: Broadening the scope of the art (in our case, armizare) in its application to give us a better understanding of how its techniques can or could be applied in a warfare situation. What works, what doesn't, and most importantly why. This should give us a better understanding of the art as a whole and as it was presumably used at the time.
  2. Additional learning tools by combining Armizare and reenacting: By using one aspect to inform the other and vice versa, and putting it all into a historical context, we hope to better our understanding of the art, the material culture surrounding it, and the time period in which it flourished. With time, we’d also like to be able to conduct valid experiments on historical weapons and tactics used.
  3. Fighting misconceptions on medieval battles and the like: By offering an alternative way for the historic martial arts community to approach this sort of activity which is often misrepresented to the public. We would like to demonstrate that proper historical technique, combined with the military tactics of the time, can be performed in a safe manner and is actually much more interesting than the widely popular image of group combat we see in the cinema.

How this works:

We will approach the multi-opponent deed of arms, or deed of war, like a scenario with its objectives and restraints. The scenario can be played many times over to see how different tactics can affect the outcome or just once like a story. The scenarios can have one or multiple goals that have to be reached in order to declare a winner. The goals may be different from camp to camp, and scenario to scenario. As an example, this could be to simply hold a position for 30 minutes against an opposing force. The scenario can be fictitious but grounded in history, or an actual reenactment of a specific battle or event in history we’d like to explore. Once the sound off has been given, the scenario unfolds in a continuous fashion similarly to the continuous combat rules for deeds of arms (as described in the IAS concord), until one side wins or one of the marshals calls a halt for safety reasons. Since we are attempting to recreate something resembling warfare and/or a multi opponent deed of arms such as “La bataille des trente”, some amendments to the current IAS rules for one on one deeds of arms are required.

How to defeat an opponent:

Let's start by defining 4 soldier types. The fully armoured knights or men at arms are defined by being fully armoured ''de cap à pied'' they are wearing mostly plate armour accompanied by mail. The half-armour infantrymen, archer or crossbowmen wears either plate armour without the mail shirt or mail with some plate armour. The lightly armoured infantrymen, archer or crossbowmen wears mostly cloth armour ei. a gambeson. Finally the unarmoured archer, crossbowmen, pioneer, pavisier, etc.  is wearing no armour aside from possibly head protection. He is only in civilian clothing.  To defeat an opponent, a certain number of fair blows must be struck using both thrusts and cuts. Soldier types require a different number of fair blows to be deemed defeated. This is meant to represent the ability of different soldier types, to take combat damage before being disabled and unable to continue and depends on the kind of armour being worn. Knights and fully armoured men at arms must receive 3 fair blows to be defeated. Half-armoured infantrymen must receive 2 fair blows.  Lightly armoured soldiers must receive a single fair blow to be defeated.  Finally unarmoured soldiers are automatically defeated when coming within 10 feet of any armoured combatant or they may run! Also note that their presence on the field may be very limited or not permitted, this will depend on each scenario.

A ‘fair blow’ is one which scores against the armour category that it has targeted. Example: Striking plate armor with a sword is not considered ‘fair blow’. A cut or trust to a fencing masks or perf-plate counts as 3 fair blows and the opponent is considered killed instantly.   Please refer to the weapon efficacy vs. armour category chart for more details. No one is counting or checking on you. We are relying on honor, and fair play that everyone will acknowledge a ‘fair blow’ struck against themselves. When the required number of fair blows have struck the combatant, he must take a knee, and remove himself from the battle when the opportunity presents.

Weapon efficacy vs. armor category

weapon efficacy.png
  • Yielding and Holding knights for ransom. Yielding to your opponents when losing is imminent or when facing terrible odds is the most sensible thing to do and should be the norm rather than the exception. Holding an opponent for ransom mostly applies to the knightly class and is a variation on yielding with potential scenario consequences. Obviously it should occur before three fair blows have been struck against you. A yielding combatant should voice it loud and clear and disarmed himself before removing himself from the battle.
  • On using wrestling. It is at the host’s discretion whether or not wrestling will be allowed and if it is, what limitations are imposed on it. Wrestling can be limited to throws or a wider range of techniques can be allowed like binds and locks. If wrestling is permitted by the host, a throw to the ground or an arm lock is not considered a ‘fair blow’. The situation requires a blow to the grounded or bound opponent, or better yet, the threat of a blow to encourage him to yield.
  • One combatant is disarmed of his last weapon. This does not count as a ‘fair blow’ in and of itself.  However it can be followed by one one more ‘fair blow’ or wrestling,  if permitted by the host, or yielding to the opponent.
  • Exiting the field. There is no field to be driven off of,  unless specified in a specific scenario.
  • Slipping or tripping is not considered a ‘fair blow’
  • You cannot strike a blow to an opponent from behind. Instead simply placing your weapon on his shoulder or in front of his face and shouting YIELD or DEAD will substitute for three (3) ‘fair blows’
  • You cannot strike a blow to a opponent who is unarmored i.e. who doesn’t have the minimum armor requirement. Once within 10 feet of such an opponent, the opponent is considered vanquished without any blows
  • You cannot fight over the pavisier. 
  • Arrows and bolts: Archers and crossbowmen can only target people with head protection which is everyone except possibly other archers. The target must be at least 8 paces away, ie. 8 yards.  A ‘fair blow’ from an arrow is a hit you feel or notice, no matter where it has stuck. A direct hit to the face, whether opened face or visored bascinet, counts as 3 fair blows.  In some cases you may be called out by a marshal due to volume of fire without actually being hit.  (Example: Imagine five archers shooting at one spearman. The spearman has decent armor but is alone with nowhere to run. Rather than make the archers expend many shafts, the Marshal declares the spearman hit after one volley.)

Casualties will be recycled back in the scenario, so getting hit isn't the end of your fun.

The limits of interaction between the various players on the field

In any given scenario, we can expect a wide range of differently armoured soldiers on the field. For safety reasons, we are setting limits on the interaction between those various armour types. The limits are as follows:

  • Fully armoured, half-armoured, and lightly armoured soldier may engage each other, using swords, daggers and spears.
  • Soldier using poleaxes can only engage the fully armoured knight and men at arms.
  • Archers and crossbowmen can only target armoured combatants wearing face protection, which should be everyone, except other archers, or pioneers behind pavises.
  • Unarmoured combatants are automatically defeated when coming within 10 feet of any armored combatant.

Regarding the role of marshalls

  • A Group of marshals (3 to 5) will be responsible for safety before and during the scenario.
  • Marshalls will inspect all the participants equipement to make sure everything is in good repair and that everyone meets the minimum armor requirement.
  • The group of marshals will look out for dangerous situations, injured persons, etc. and will halt the fight immediately at the first sign of trouble, using a rally horn (one per marshal). If this happens, the fighting stops at once and everyone takes a knee. Once the situation is under control, and if the marshalls and host allow it, a marshall will sound their horn and the scenario can resume.
  • Marshalls have the right to remove any participant that they deem unfit to continue whether them being deemed dangerous to themselves or to others, or is too inexperienced, or exhausted, or for whatever reason. This can be done while the scenario is running and doesn’t require a halt.
  • Marshals may also call casualties against one side or another based on tactical considerations.  For example: three (3) crossbowmen shooting from cover 40 paces away would be a real threat in the 14th century, but we all know they might never hit anyone in our games. Marshals can remedy this with careful calls, either of casualties or simply ordering a group to fall back. Rule of thumb: one hit per 8 arrows at 25 yards, one per 12 or 15 arrows at 50 yards.

Regarding Equipment

From a fully-armoured knight, to a spearmen or archer wearing light armour, all armour and weapons must meet the specification as per the IAS concord rules. Furthermore, all participants involved in melee combat must meet the minimum armor requirement listed below. All equipment must be inspected and accepted by the Marshals and/or host.

Minimum armour requirement

  • Steel helmet of appropriate design with a perf-visor to simulate an open face is preferred. Fencing mask can substitute if allowed by the host
  • Riveted mail standard or hidden plate gorget. Or other protection that is impact resistant and made of modern materials and must be concealed.
  • Heavy padded gambeson that covers the torso, arms and legs to the groin and/or riveted mail shirt. This can be accompanied by a plastic chest protection under the gambeson (men or women)
  • Cup
  • Hourglass or Wisby-style gauntlets for infantrymen, archers may wear a demi gauntlet over a leather glove on the drawing hand.

As previously stated, all armour component must meet the IAS concord rules.


  • Any Unarmoured folks, including marshalls, that are on the field MUST wear a fencing mask or helmet with face protection, gloves. A padded gambeson is recommended.
  • Unarmoured folks cannot engage in melee combat.
  • If archers and/or crossbowmen are to be present on both fronts, they must wear at least a fencing mask, but a more historical head and face protection is preferred.

Weapons requirements

The IAS equipment requirements for deeds of arms apply to all melee weapons on the field. Weapons permitted on the field may be limited depending on the scenario.

  • Blunt steel arming swords, longswords and daggers
  • Spears with blunt steel head or rubber heads
  • Pole-axe with rubber head and butt
  • Bows and crossbows with 40 lb max draw weight
  • Arrows must be made with a carbon-fibber shaft and have an rubber and foam blunts (see Rules for making arrows and bolts)
  • Shields must be of period shape and size ( Rules for shields)

All equipment must be inspected and accepted by the Marshals and/or host before being permitted in a melee.

Rules for Shields

  • All shields must resemble Medieval shields in size, shape, and decoration.  Shields should have 3 dimensional shape, not two dimensional shape. Aesthetics and/or authenticity are legitimate reasons for a Marshal to disqualify a shield.
  • All shields should have a bound edge.  This is not an absolute requirement; the Marshals may use their discretion.  However, a rawhide bound edge will be deemed safer than an unbound edge.  The shield should have no corner or point that is in any way sharp or capable of delivering a dangerous blow.  Shields should not mass more than 5 kilos; 3 kilos or less is better.  Shields should not be made of metal.  Shields should not have parts or flanges that can be separated in combat.  Shield decoration should be fixed and not attached; for example, a gesso’d device is allowed, but a wooden device attached with tacks is not allowed.  Again, the Marshal’s should use discretion, being aware that anything attached to a shield can, under impact pressure, become a missile.
  • Shields should be made of a material that will not collapse or allow penetrations under pressure. A Marshal should be able to stand on a shield and not collapse it.  Marshal’s are not required to do this; it’s just a guide.

Rules for shield use

  • Combatants using a shield must also protect the shield hand.
  • A combatant with a shield can use the shield aggressively against the opponent’s weapon, but not against the opponent (unless both combatants are fully armoured). In fully armoured or ‘knightly’ combat, combatants ARE allowed to strike with the shield.
  • Combatants may push with the shield, but ‘bashing’ especially at a run is not allowed.
  • No deliberate attack on the shield arm for the purpose of locking or breaking the shield arm is permitted.

Rules for making arrows and bolts

  • The wooden shaft has to be lined with electrical tape in case of splintering, or a carbon fibre shafts can be used.
  • A wine cork is used as the tip with 1.5" dense rubber disk glued on top (The rubber can be cut  out of a yoga mat) Drill a hole in wine cork to fit over the  shaft and bind it on with tape.