Combat Guide

updated 1-28-2017

Rule “Zero”
Dagorhir is a game of honor. In all aspects of Dagorhir, common sense supersedes loopholes. In applying the rules, safety comes first, followed by playability, then "realism." 

Please read the rules thoroughly (several times is recommended). The rules are written to be self-explanatory, clear, and detailed, but not every angle of every situation can been covered. Loopholes will not even be considered by the Heralds (referees), check-in personnel, officials, or other players.

Table of Contents

  1. Participation

  2. Hit Zones

  3. Melee Weapons

  4. Projectile Weapons

  5. Weapon Classification

  6. Wounds and Death

  7. Healing

  8. Shields

  9. Grappling

  10. Armor

  11. Archery

All Dagorhir Rules are intended for the enjoyment and safety of our participants. Dagorhir attributes our nationwide success to our sense of priorities behind our rules: safety, playability, and realism. All weapon safety guidelines and combat rules are stringently enforced at all times. This keeps the injuries to a minimum and keeps the fun fun. Rules are kept as simple as possible, to keep battles exciting and fast-paced, and to keep the system easy to learn. Though realism plays a role, safety and playability are far more essential. Dagorhir's system is a proven success after more than 40 years of play-testing.

  1. Participation

    1. All participants must sign a release form before they will be allowed to participate.

      • Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

      • Minors may participate with the consent of a legal guardian in the form of a signed and notarized release form.

    2. Garb (period clothing): All participants are required to wear a costume ("garb"). Inspiration for garb can come from many cultures and ages, but must pertain to a period in which firearms and gunpowder are not a viable combat option. (apx. before 1600 A.D.)

      • Characters can be historical or fantasy, 
        e.g. a 12th Century Knight or Lord of the Rings.

      • This rule is in effect to create an Anachronistic Environment; any obtrusive items which dissolve this atmosphere will not be allowed on the battlefield, unless unapparent from a distance of 10 feet.

  2. Hit Zones

    1. Torso: Shoulders (including arm sockets), chest, stomach, crotch, back, and buttocks.

    2. Leg: From the top of the foot (including ankle) to the torso (below the buttocks)

    3. Arm: From the point where the hand joins the wrist to the shoulder socket.

    4. Head/Neck: Off limit to melee/shield strikes, legal zone for projectile weapons.

    5. Hands and Feet: A strike to an “open” hand will count as a hit to that arm. A strike to a foot off the ground will count as a hit to that leg.

      • A hand holding a weapon or shield does not take damage.

        • An arrow hit will damage a hand regardless of the above.

      • Gripping the blade or point of an opponent's weapon with your hand will result in the loss of that arm.

      • A foot on the ground does not take damage.

  3. Melee Weapons

    A safe Dagorhir weapon is one which when used as intended will NOT result in bruises, break bones, or knock out teeth if an unarmored person is struck with a full-strength swing.
    1. Melee weapons may not strike the head or neck.

    2. Sufficient Force: Hits from a melee weapon count when the weapon's striking surface hits with ample force to cause damage.
      Clarification: taps, grazing, and glancing shots do not count as sufficient force.

      • Melee weapons may still cause damage when intercepted by an opponent's weapon, shield, or armor; 
        These strikes must still carry sufficient force.

      • A weapon must be in a fighter's hand to intercept an attack.
        Strikes ignore sheathed weapons (i.e. one that is attached/hanging from one's belt or over one's back) or any other worn object, including baggy clothing such as cloaks. If an attack would have made legal contact with a fighter had the object been absent, then it should be counted as a hit.

      • The haft, pommel, or flat of a weapon cannot deal damage.

  4. Projectile Weapons

    1. Projectile weapons may strike any hit zone, including the head and neck.

    2. A missile must travel its own length through the air after it is released to count as a legal hit.

    3. Hits from projectile weapons count when the head of the missile merely strikes the target: stopping or being slightly deflected.

    4. Missiles must be thrown(shot) at “half force(draw)” at ranges close than 20 feet.

  1. Weapon Classification

    1. Blue: Single Hand Weapons
      e.g. club, mace, sword, flail

      • Blue weapons must be less than 48” in length and weigh 12oz+

      • Flails and quarterstaffs are always considered blue weapons.

    2. Red: Two-Hand Weapons
      e.g. claymore, glaive, halberd, great axe

      • Red weapons must be held with two hands to count as a red weapon.

      • Red weapons must be at least 48” in length and weigh 24oz+

    3. Green: Stabbing Weapons
      e.g. spear, sword point, dagger, javelin

      • No stabbing point may easily pass more than 0.5” through a 2.5” diameter hole in the striking direction.

    4. Yellow: Projectile Weapons
      e.g. arrows, crossbow bolts, javelins

      • The striking surface (“head”) of a yellow missile must be open cell foam is subject to stringent construction requirements.

    5. White: Rocks 
      i.e. blunt-force projectiles

      • Rocks must be constructed of primarily open cell foam, have a diameter of at least 4”, and weigh less than 24oz.

    6. Whenever you strike an opponent from behind with a non-blue weapon, simultaneously call out the color of your weapon so that your opponent will know how to react.

  1. Wounds and Death

    1. When killed, scream and fall to a prone position on the ground.

    2. A strike to the torso from a melee weapon or yellow projectile results in death.

    3. A strike to the head/neck from a yellow or white projectile results in death.

      • White weapons have no effect on the neck.

    4. A strike to an arm or leg from a melee weapon or yellow projectile results in the loss of that limb

    5. When you lose an arm, drop anything that is in that hand and put the arm behind your back.

      • You may not use your “lost” arm to aid in shield checking, shield bashing, or grappling.

      • If the arm was hit by a blue or red weapon, any other strike to the same arm carries through as if the arm were not there.

    6. When you lose a leg, you must immediately kneel on that knee. To move from place to place you must either crawl, dragging the injured leg, or have comrades carry you.

      • Hits to a leg already lost do not count.

      • If both knees are on the ground, then a hit to either leg is considered a hit to the good leg.

      • If the target is rolling/lunging, then a hit to either leg is considered a hit to the good leg.

    7. If you have lost two limbs to blue and/or red weapon strikes, the result is death.

      • Wounds from green and yellow weapons do not count towards this rule, even if they are inflicted by the green stabbing point of a blue or red weapon.

  1. Healing

    1. To heal a person, the Healer must be in direct physical contact with the injured person and recite a Poem of Healing.

      • The minimum length of a poem of healing is 180 syllables and must be approved at event check-in.  

    2. If the healer or injured person are attacked, distracted, or contact is broken for any reason, the entire Poem of Healing must be recited again.

    3. When the Poem of Healing is complete, all wounds and any items held by the wounded fighter are healed or repaired (i.e. armor, bow, shield, etc.)

    4. A Healer cannot heal himself or his equipment

  2. Shields

    1. A shield may be used or worn in any manner and it will still remain a shield.
      e.g., a shield may be carried on the arm, held in one or two hands, worn on the back, or propped against a fighter's side.

      • A fighter may wear or carry only one shield at a time in combat.

    2. Shield Breaking: Two solid red strikes to a shield will break the shield

      • The fighter wielding the shield judges if the blows are solid “shield breaking” red hits; however, the physical size of the fighter delivering the blows must always be considered.

      • When a shield is destroyed, the wielder of that shield must immediately drop the shield. Any additional damage taken to a broken shield will count as though the shield was not there. (Generally counting first against the shield-wielder’s arm, then their torso)

    3. Anvilling: laying a weapon on a shield to avoid taking damage to the shield, is not permitted. 
      Thus, a weapon must intercept the red weapon before it strikes the shield.

      • If the blocking weapon is driven back against the shield, it does not constitute anvilling.

      • If the red weapon continues past the attempted block with significant force, the blow will still deal damage.

      • Laying a weapon over a body part to avoid taking damage is not permitted.

    4. Shield Kicking: players are allowed to kick shields provided that the kicker keeps one foot on the ground. 
      (No flying kicks!) Shield kicking must be done with regard for the safety of other fighters and will be monitored carefully by Heralds.

    5. Shield Checking: using a shield to strike an opponent starting at a distance two steps away or closer, is allowed.

      • Players may shield check an opponent from any direction.

      • Players may shield check an opponent who has lost a leg.

    6. Shield Bashing: using a shield to strike an opponent starting at a distance more than two steps away, is allowed on the opponent’s front or side.

      • Players may not bash an opponent from behind or who has lost a leg.

    7. It is never permissible to strike a fighter in the head or neck with a shield.

  3. Grappling

    Grapping is defined as wrestling in a safe and reasonable manner; attempting to subdue or unbalance your opponent without strikes, throws, or joint/nerve holds.
    1. A person in armor or rigid plastic safety equipment or carrying a bow and/or arrows may never initiate a grapple.

    2. Players are not allowed to initiate a grapple starting more than two steps away from the opponent.

    3. Grappling from behind should be done with great caution and will be closely monitored by Heralds for safety.

    4. Body Checks: blocking your opponent’s movement using one’s body, is allowed.

    5. Punching and kicking are never allowed, except in the case of shield kicks as outlined.

    6. An unarmored fighter may choose to initiate a grapple with any opponent, including those who are armored or carrying bows or arrows.

  4. Armor

    1. Only items specifically constructed as armor and recognizable as armor shall be counted as armor. 
      Armor shall be counted as such only when worn as intended. 

    2. All types of armor provide the same level of protection

    3. Armor protects only the area it covers.
      e.g., one hit from a blue weapon to an unarmored elbow results in the loss of that arm, even if the rest of the arm is armored.

      • Hits to areas that are both armored and unarmored must be taken to the unarmored area. Gaps in armor coverage of ¾” or less shall be ignored.

    4. The front, back, and sides of any part of the body are considered a single strike zone for armor coverage.

      • e.g. hits to a fighter's armored chest, sides, and back are considered hits to the "torso armor" even if the hits land on different pieces of armor such as a breastplate and backplate.

    5. All armor within a strike zone counts as a single piece of armor no matter how many separate pieces of armor are actually present.

    6. The first hit from a blue weapon to an armored strike zone has no effect.

    7. The second hit from a blue weapon will pass through as if the armor was not there.

    8. A one-handed green thrust has no effect on armor, even if previously struck by a blue weapon.

    9. Armor does not offer protection against red weapons swung with two hands, two-handed green thrusts, or yellow missiles except as shown below.

      • Head and neck armor (e.g. helmet or coif) protect from projectile damage.

    10. Armor protection against blue weapon strikes is not eliminated due to a previous yellow or two-handed green weapon hit.

  5. Archery

    1. To be an archer at an event, a player must bring at least 2 passing arrows to the field.

    2. If an arrow is deflected, even minutely, it is considered to have hit.

    3. Once an arrow has hit an object (changed its path) it is harmless. An arrow cannot strike multiple targets.

    4. To better simulate the speed and power of real arrows in flight, the only way to stop arrows is with shields or Dagorhir-legal head armor.

      • Arrows cannot be caught, blocked, deflected, or knocked out of the air by anything else, including hands, feet, weapons, or other equipment.

      • If an arrow is blocked intentionally with anything other than a body part, shield, or head armor, the fighter doing the blocking is dead automatically.

    5. If a weapon accidentally blocks an arrow from hitting a target, the arrow is considered to have hit the target anyway.

    6. Archers are allowed to call shots for clarity.
      i.e., they may call out to let their target know where a hit landed or if the hit was "good," as in the case of a glancing or ricocheting arrow.

    7. Bows may be used to turn aside thrusts without suffering any damage. However, if a bow is hacked or smashed by a red or blue weapon, the bow is considered broken.

In all cases, these rules are superseded by the Dagorhir Manual of Arms. 
The official rules of Dagorhir can be found at

~General Weapon Construction Requirements~

  • All weapons must have cloth covering over all striking surfaces
  • Two-and-a-half-inch rule: No part of a weapon's striking surface, whether the tip, the edge, the face or any other part, may pass easily more than 0.5" through a 2.5" diameter hole when tested in the direction of the strike.
  • Two-inch rule: No non-striking component of a weapon, such as a cross guard, a non-striking tip, or a pommel, may pass easily more than 0.5" through a 2" diameter hole when tested perpendicular to the striking surface or shaft of the weapon.
  • The flat, haft, or any other non-striking portion of a weapon must be safely padded to prevent injury from incidental hits.
  • No swung weapon may have more than 1/3 of its overall length unpadded, nor have more than 30" unpadded.
  • No thrusting-only weapon (e.g. spear) may have more than 2/3 of its overall length unpadded.
  • The shaft or blade of a red or blue weapon may not flex greater than 45 degrees when the weapon is swung in the plane/direction of the striking surface.
  • The shaft of a spear or javelin may not flex greater than 90 degrees under reasonable testing stress.

Additional construction requirements can be found at:

All weapons must be checked and marked by weapons checkers appointed by the event organizer before they may be used in combat. 

Myrmidon Dagorhir,
Jan 4, 2018, 8:18 AM