Tournament Rules

The Official Ruleset

Check back later for the official 2023 ruleset.

COVID-19 Policy

All staff and participants of Lord Baltimore’s Challenge must be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. Any who cannot show at registration that they have received one of the vaccinations and at least one booster will be denied entrance. Please contact with questions.

We also reserve the right to require masks inside the venue if the local context warrants it. We will announce the final policy before the event.

On Scadians Crossing Over to HEMA...

By Lisa Losito, Scadian who HEMAs

What? You want me to take my rapier game to a HEMA tournament? But those people, in the black, those videos are terrifying!

Relax, friends. We all love swords. And how we fence, is, for the most part, very similar. At Lord Baltimore’s Challenge we’re trying to make a hybrid experience where everyone bends a little, but it won’t be that much different from what you’re already great at!

For me, it helps that I attend SCA, HEMA, and WMA events. And even among HEMA events, the rule sets change. So I’m always, if not perfectly, attentive to where I am. This part I know has some of you nervous. It really will be ok. If you’re not certain we will review on the day of. Every match has a director and judges. They’ll help you if you’re confused. You can ask questions. Do so with open mind and we’ll all be fine! Be a jerk to others because you know best? You might have to come talk to me or David and you’ll get the look. The directors and judges have been invited from the very highest levels of historic fencing and have been fencing and teaching for decades. Nothing is ever perfect, but we’re bringing in internationally respected professional fencing instructors (as well as all being white scarves, so they get you) in order to help us all have a great experience.

You will need a little more gear. If you have a gear hiccup on tournament day, this is an environment where people are generous and helpful and literally will loan you the gear off their body. If you need help with adapting your gear, reach out, we’ll help you. Wear the clothes you’re comfortable fencing in. Yes, HEMA people sometimes aren’t sure what to make of SCA clothes and awards. Just like we’ve had people from sci-fi cons show up in elf ears and vampire teeth, sometimes the people who show up in garb to HEMA are….not the ambassadors we might wish for. Don’t worry, there will both period and modern clothes and probably a few of us muddling between. But..please don’t be naked.

Judges?! And self called? Both?! Ok, I’m not sure how that’s working yet myself. I have the option to indicate a hit was scored on me. But I do fence a lot under judged conditions where I can’t stop fencing until halt is called and then I’m told who scored what. There’s flaws to both approaches - judging is never perfect - don’t take it personally. As many calls go for me as against me. If you are sure your opponent scored, feel free to say so. For me, I can get confused about the action or since matches continue though several exchanges sometimes I’m in a zone. So if your opponent doesn’t call a point you scored, don’t get upset. They might be used to relying on the judges, not being unsportsmanlike. Your judges will be there. Many rulesets I fence under I am not ALLOWED to indicate I was hit and can be penalized for doing so. Before the tournament, at your home practice try continuing to fence after a blow is struck until a marshall calls hold. It’s not too difficult to get used to, once you remind yourself to do it. HEMA practice sparring is generally self called so we have to get used to fencing until the halt, too. Early indications from the ruleset look like it will be fine. It will be different. For everybody.

Many of you will have a lot more tournament and rapier/sword and buckler experience than people you’re facing. In our region, HEMA is very longsword heavy but there’s been increasing interest in the other weapons. Most of the people that will attend are at least very interested in the subject and trying to do some self study or in a small group. Some will have mostly historic fencing experience (1.33, Leküchner messer, Fabris, etc.). Some will come from German or Italian longsword and try to apply those principles to these weapons. Maybe this will feel like a really weird Pennsic.

But they hit so much harder! In general, no. I don’t really change my intensity for rapier or sword and buckler much between Atlantia in the SCA and HEMA. In the finals at tournaments, sometimes people dial it up. We have selected senior level directors and judges specifically willing to remind people if they feel things are getting unnecessarily intense. You always have the option to stop or decline a fight. I’ve never had to. I fence a lot of longsword. I’ve never done more than smash a thumbnail - and that was really my own fault for putting my thumb in the way. This is where youtube is not your friend, the reality will look much more like what you’re used to than you think. The words might be different (Fight! Halt! not Lay on! Hold!) Some people salute, some don’t. You may get hugged after. It’s a HEMA thing. If it freaks you out, stick your hand out to shake defensively.

Workshops. In workshops you’ll find most HEMA people are serious students. It might be a slightly less casual atmosphere than most SCA classes, often because they are paying to be there. Everyone will be just fine, you’ll have a great time! Get to know your drilling partners, and make new friends.

I love the SCA. I love HEMA. We all try to lift up our positive elements and tolerate the negative ones as best we can. But we all love fencing. Let’s fence!