Rules of Engagement – Combat

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
-Edmund Burke

      Realms of Adventure, like any good movie or book, often deals with the concept of conflict resolution. Many times these conflicts can be solved through role-playing and discussion, but inevitably there will be situations where combat cannot be avoided. Combat offers an exciting opportunity to pit your skills against another person whether they are representing a monster, an evildoer or someone you offended in the tavern. The only physical contact allowed during combat at RoA is through the use of boffer weapons and/or spell packets. Weapons should be constructed following our rules of construction, and made so they are safe and durable. All weapons will be examined at check in and if they are deemed not safe they are not permitted to be used. A player knowingly using a weapon that is unsafe will be subject to disciplinary action. The best thing to do is if your weapon fails inspection or becomes unsafe during use, and cannot be fixed on the spot, it should be returned to your car so that it will not accidentally be used during the game.

      Realms of Adventure has taken every precaution against injury to its participants, but participating in any LARP does present some risk of injury. Because of this, Realms of Adventure has additional rules and commonsense suggestions to guide you to minimize any possible risk that exists. In truth when the rules are followed there is less risk of injury at RoA than there is in many sports. In order to have an enjoyable time for yourself and others during combat use common sense, courtesy, and the rules in this section.

 – Stopping Combat. During a weekend at RoA, we try not to stop the action any more than is absolutely necessary. Despite this, certain situations will arise where we need to be able to have a means to stop the action and tend to whatever has come up. Please MEMORIZE the following words/phrases so that you will know how to react if you should hear them. Try not to use these words during the game for any other purpose (i.e. don’t tell the person on the road to “Hold!” if you mean stop. Although this is a very in-period thing to say it can easily be misinterpreted. Try not to use similar sounding words either, like “HALT!” which can easily be misheard.)


This is probably the most important word in combat. When a hold is called the ENTIRE GAME STOPS. This is only used in serious or possibly serious situations or emergencies. When HOLD is called stop what you are doing, drop to one knee so that anyone about to enter the area doesn’t because he sees a HOLD is on and stay quiet! This is so staff can assess the situation with a clear line of sight and be able to communicate easily without background noise. While we naturally understand you would want to see what is going on and possibly assist, we ask that you stay where you are. Since the game is off when a HOLD is called you do not know in game anything that happens during this out of game time. The lich that was hiding in the bushes might be our EMT who is responding to a possible emergency. If it turns out to be a false alarm (it usually is) or easily rectified and the EMT goes back into lich mode in the bushes your character should not know he is there when the game resumes. To make this easier we recommend that when a hold is on you look down at the ground and consider anything learned during this time to be out of game knowledge. EVERY PLAYER AT RoA HAS THE RIGHT TO CALL A HOLD IF NECESSARY! If you see someone get truly injured, or has any serious condition occurred do not be afraid to do this! We care about everyone’s safety and it is every player and cast member’s responsibility to look out for one another. We only ask that you use HOLDs only when the situation calls for it and it is appropriate. If someone trips and says they are all right it is not necessary to call a hold. If someone falls over a rock and is screaming in pain it is. Play does not resume until a call of “PLAY ON” or “LAY ON” is heard.


This word is not as serious as a HOLD and is used to warn others of possible danger or injury. If for example you are fighting someone and they are backing up to the point they may step on one of their comrades who is unconscious on the ground, you may call “CAUTION! You are about to step on Bob on the ground behind you.” This allows you to adjust yourselves to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Maybe Bob will roll off to the side or you will adjust your positioning so Bob is out of the way. When a CAUTION is called it puts the person calling it, the individual he is calling it in response to, and anyone directing interacting with them in a personal form of HOLD. Everyone else in the area need not stop what they are doing, but may not attack you or interact with you until the caution is over. If someone does attack you in this time you may simply say “In a HOLD” and not take the effect of the strike. Likewise the person striking will not expend mana/piety/favor or use up the skill used in the attempt. It is as though it never happened.


This is a word used if someone needs an explanation of how a rule or spell works, or did not hear a skill call or spell incant. If someone hits you with a skill or spell and you do not know what to do, or did not hear the damage or couldn’t hear what they said underneath that latex mask, call CLARIFY. During a CLARIFY those involved with it go into a personal HOLD as described above in the CAUTION description. If a CLARIFY is called it is up to the caster of the spell or user of the skill to be able to explain what should be done.


This phrase is used when someone is swinging too hard in combat. Most times this is unintentional and just a result of adrenaline or excitement. If someone is striking you too hard simply call “CHECK YOUR SWINGS,” and they are required to pull back their swings so they are not hurting you. Likewise if someone calls this while you are striking them you are bound to honor their request. If RoA receives multiple complaints about an individual hitting too hard that person will be spoken to and may lose their privilege to use weapons and/or asked to leave or be suspended. Since this is a safety issue it is taken very seriously.

This phrase is used to resume game play after a HOLD, CAUTION or CLARIFY is called. Typically the person who first made the call of HOLD etc., will make sure the danger has passed and that everyone is ready to resume. Once everyone is ready the person will call “3-2-1- Play-on!” (or 3-2-1-Lay-on!) to resume the game.

– Checking Your Weapons. From time to time, especially after combat, it is important to check your weapons over and make sure they are still safe. Check the tip and blade and make sure they have not become dislodged and that no pipe can be felt. If you notice someone’s weapon (or your own for that matter) becomes unsafe during combat immediately call a “CAUTION” so the situation can be addressed.

– Using Your Weapons and Pulling Back. Weapon combat is pretty simple. When using handheld weapons either thrust or swing the weapon in an arc of around 90 degrees while trying to hit your target. You should always pull back slightly before your weapon makes contact, so that the target feels the hit but does not feel pain or get injured. Every weapon strike, regardless of how hard you swing, does 1 point of damage. If you hit someone and they say “No Effect” it does not mean to swing harder, it means you need to find another way to hurt them. It is against the safety rules to strike excessively hard. A weapon should never be swung at greater than 90 degrees; this is often called “Baseball bat swinging” or “Conan Swinging,” and is a violation of the rules. If you hit your target in a legal area they will take one point of damage.

– Illegal Hits. Whenever a person is struck by a weapon in a legal area they take one point of damage. The illegal areasare as follows: the head, face, neck, groin, hands, and feet. If any of these areas are struck the target takes no damage (and if a skill was used it is not wasted). If you are struck in one of these areas state so and continue play (i.e. “Hand!”). This way your opponent knows they didn’t damage you. Since the game is on the honor system, the target always has the final say on where he was struck, unless a staff member was assigned to observe that individual due to prior complaints. If you are struck in the face or other area that causes undue pain or makes you feel you need to stop call “CAUTION;” this will inform the person you are fighting that you were hurt during their attack and you need a minute (or more) to ready yourself for resuming combat. All rules of a CAUTION are followed in this instance. Please bear in mind that in all likelihood your opponent did not mean to hit an illegal area, and refrain from getting angry if you can. Accidents happen! Also cast members sometimes have difficulty seeing out of latex masks. Note that spell packets and missile weapons may strike ANYWHERE and still have the desired effect. In essence there are no illegal areas for spells or missiles. HOWEVER, if someone is constantly intentionally targeting otherwise illegal areas with spells or missiles he may have his combat privilege revoked.

– Machine Gunning and Drum Rolling. This refers to rapidly striking your opponent numerous times in an unrealistic fashion. If your sword were really a 12 pound piece of steel you would never be able to wield it with such speed. This is not only unrealistic but it is against the rules. If you are being “machine-gunned” inform the attacker that you will not be taking the rapid hits. The best way to avoid doing this yourself is to change the location of your strike each time you swing. This will ensure approximately a 90 degree angle and will appear more realistic. Additionally you can take a one second pause between strikes to help with this.

– Trapping and Pinning. You may never use your weapon, shield, hands, feet or body to trap an opponent’s weapon so it cannot be moved. You may not pin his weapon to ground, against a tree, or against a wall. These behaviors present a safety hazard and should be avoided.

– Charging. You should never rush someone at high speed or physically push into them with the intent of forcing them to back up. Forcing your opponent to constantly back up to avoid you pushing into them is also considered charging. You also should not close distance with your opponent so much so that you are practically on top of them so they are unable to use their weapon (i.e. you rush with your sword so he cannot use his two-handed sword against you safely). A good rule of thumb is that combat should take place at about the length of your weapon.

– Shield Bashing. You may never use your shield as a weapon! Shields may only be used to block weapons or missiles. Likewise you may not use your shield to enable you to charge by pushing your shield up against your opponent and swinging over the top of it.

– Turtling. You may not use a shield in such a manner as only your head and/or feet are showing. This includes crouching down in combat and striking over the top of your shield. Shields can be very effective to block oncoming attacks, but the above situation presents an opponent with his only recourse to strike you in an illegal area or charge into you, both of which are against the rules.

– Non Combatants. Mentioned previously in the “Things EVERY Player Must Know section under “Yellow Arm Bands,”sometimes people have extenuating circumstances that make participation in combat inconvenient or impossible (A broken limb, pregnancy, sprained ankle etc.). These individuals have the option of becoming a noncombatant by wearing a yellow arm band. If you see someone wearing a yellow arm band YOU MAY NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES STRIKE THEM WITH A WEAPON, A SPELL PACKET, OR IN ANY OTHER MANNER! DOING SO COULD RESULT IN EXPULSION FROM THE GAME! This is done to provide the safest possible environment for all our players. For all intents and purposes these individuals function as any other character would, and may be killed. In order to kill a noncombatant you must simply get next to them, point your weapon at their torso and say “I kill you.” The individual must then drop to the ground (so long as doing so is safe in their condition) and begin their death count. They can still be administered a killing blow and are bound to all the rules of death etc. In fairness, non-combatants may not strike any other individual with a weapon, spell packet or any other way. You may only wear a yellow armband and be a non-combatant with approval from RoA. If you feel you need to be a noncombatant, please contact staff here.

– Resisting and Defending. Sometimes when struck with a particular attack, the target will respond with “Resist” or some other response. For example you may strike someone with a “SLAY” and they will call “PARRY,” effectively using both skills with no effect to the target. Bear in mind that there are many hidden skills and abilities in RoA and if struck by some form of attack the target may simply respond “Resist.” This means that through some special skill, magic, or other means your attack was nullified and despite using your skill, you did not affect the target. If you were to attack that individual again with the same form of attack, you might be able to injure him.

– No Effect. Sometimes when struck with a particular attack, the target will respond with “No Effect.” This means that through some special skill, magic or other means your attack was nullified and despite using your skill, you did not affect the target. This is different from “Resist” however, in that “No Effect” indicates that type of attack is unlikely to ever harm that individual. If you were to attack that individual again with the same form of attack, you will most likely be unable to injure him. An example of this would be attacking a spirit. If struck with a weapon it would pass right through, not harming the spirit. No matter how many times you hit that same spirit with your weapon he will not be harmed. You must find some other way that can possibly affect him. Maybe magic will work? Maybe fire? A little experimentation will probably be needed. Under no circumstances will the solution be to strike your target harder!

– Damage Progression. At the beginning of an event with Realms of Adventure, you will begin with as much health as you have purchased for your character, and as many armor points as cast has assigned to you based on any armor you are wearing. There are many ways in game during an event that you can gain additional resistance to damage through magical armor spells, magical health spells, and other means. The Rules of Magic details the different types of spells you can have on your person as well as the rules regarding stacking spells. All melee weapons do 1 point of damage unless otherwise stated by the attacker (as in the case of Backstab where the attacker will call “Backstab Damage, 5!” or something similar). Bows do 3 points of damage if real phys-rep arrows are used, and do 1 point of damage if packet archery or NERF bows are used. Crossbows do 3 points if real phys-rep or NERF weapons are used, and do 1 point of damage if packet archery is used. This is representative of the fact of realism in loading and usage times. Anytime a weapon strikes a legal combat area (area other than the head, face, neck, groin, hands, and feet) subtract the appropriate amount of damage from your armor or health. The points are removed according to this damage progression.

1. Magical Armor Points  (i.e. Barkskin, Ice Armor, Arcane Armor.)
2. Regular Armor Points  (Any points given to you at check in for armor you are wearing.)
3. Natural Armor Points  (i.e. Natural Armor Gel)
4. Magical Health Points  (i.e. Arcane Vigor, Empowerment.)
5. Regular Health Points  (The points you purchased when making your character. If you didn’t purchase any points and have no racial bonuses, this number will be equal to 1.)

If you are struck by a PIERCE or other skill that bypasses armor, your armor is not damaged and it damages Magical Health first before going through to Regular Health. If you are targeted by a spell where the incant specifically mentions “HEALTH” damage (i.e. “I rot your body, HEALTH damage 5”) your armor is not damaged and it damages Magical Health first before going through to Regular Health.

Magical Health Points cannot be healed, and magical Armor Points cannot be repaired.

If you are reduced to 0 or less health, you fall to the floor unconscious and bleeding to death. This is continued in “Death & Dying.”

– Role-playing Damage. One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of role-playing is role-playing the damage received in combat. It is easy to get caught up in the heat of a battle and forget to role-play damage dealt to you but it is a very impressive sight when all parties are doing this. Think about movies you have seen. Even the hero when punched or stabbed will grimace in pain or let out a groan. This helps to make the combat more believable. A simple grunt or “ooof!” is usually all it takes to let your opponent know he hit you. Holding your disabled arm in pain, taking a step back or crying out in pain are even more impressive. If struck with a heavy combat skill such as SLAY a yell will let everyone know you were very hurt by the attack. Even if you are an inexperienced role-player or shy, you should try this! No reasonable attempt will be looked down upon. If you want tips on role-playing feel free to ask another player or cast member and most people are happy to help!

– No Playing Possum. If Realms of Adventure were real you would be able to see, quite graphically, what damage you caused to an opponent and he would be able to see what damaged he caused to you. Since RoA is a game, mechanics are required to show what happened. For this reason, if you drop to the ground unconscious you may not be faking it! In other words if you are in battle and seriously wounded, you cannot drop to the floor and pretend to be dying in order to launch a surprise attack or get away when the coast is clear. This is considered cheating. When people start doing this it can get out of hand quickly and for that reason it is against the rules. There may be special skills or spells you can learn in game that allow you to do this however.

– Administering a Killing Blow. At Realms of Adventure, administering a killing blow requires the purchase of a skill simply called “Killing Blow.” Normally when someone is reduced to zero or less health, they begin a 5 minute death count. Use of this skill ends their life immediately. You may use killing blow once per period for each purchase of the skill. Without this skill you may not administer a killing blow. For more information see “Death & Dying.”

– No Combat Areas. Occasionally, RoA may need to designate certain areas or buildings as a “No Combat Area.” Usually this is done for safety reasons or to protect valuable and fragile props. Listen at the pre-game meeting for announcements as to where these areas are. We will also make every effort to clearly mark these areas. Additionally bathrooms and the kitchen are considered no combat areas.

– Fire Circle Areas. In the colder months, many people enjoy having a fire in one of the fire pits available at our camp site. Most times this is fine, unless prohibited by the camp ranger (this is rarely done, but might happen if there is a drought etc.). If prohibited we ask you to please abide by this rule or we may lose the privilege at all times. In the meantime when fires are allowed, no combat should occur in close proximity of the fire. Use common sense. Also fires should never be left unattended and when a fire is lit someone MUST volunteer to be the fire marshal. The fire marshal must monitor the fire and ensure it is tended safely. When everyone is prepared to leave the fire should be properly put out. It is also a good idea to have a bucket of water handy while the fire is going in case it needs to be put out in a hurry. The volunteer fire marshal may not leave while the fire is burning and if attacked he still must stay by the fire. If killed he must wait there for someone to relieve him before proceeding to death. If these rules are not followed fire privilege may be revoked for everyone!

– No Admittance Areas. While this does not pertain directly to combat we felt it should be mentioned here. Certain areas of the camp will be regarded as OOG, no admittance areas. These will be mentioned at the pre-game meeting and clearly marked. Please do not go into these areas under any circumstances!