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Belegarth Medieval Combat Society

Updated on May 13, 2013

What is Belegarth?

Belegarth, also known as Belegarth MCS or Belegarth Medieval Combat Society, is a group which focuses on recreating medieval and medieval fantasy combat. Swords, shields, spears, armor...all the cool stuff you saw in Lord of the Rings - these guys have it all.

And they really fight, too - true, their weapons are padded for safety, but Belegarth is still a full-contact sport, and it takes a certain amount of guts to face a guy holding a shield the size of a refrigerator door and a sword as tall as he is.

Do you have what it takes?

Image Credit: Stonehouse Park

An Overview of Belegarth

Belegarth, also known as Belegarth MCS or Belegarth Medieval Combat Society, is a group which focuses on recreating medieval and medieval fantasy combat. Swords, shields, spears, armor...all the cool stuff you saw in Lord of the Rings - these guys have it all.

And they really fight, too - true, their weapons are padded for safety, but Belegarth is still a full-contact sport, and it takes a certain amount of guts to face a guy holding a shield the size of a refrigerator door and a sword as tall as he is.

Do you have what it takes? Watch the video and see.

Belegarth Foghters in Full Garb
Belegarth Foghters in Full Garb

A Brief History

Belegarth was created in 2002, after disputes over rights of leadership and rules of play caused a split within the older (1977) organization known as Dagorhir. Belegarth, the branch which took on a new name but retained the original democratic methods of leadership, is a non-profit group officially incorporated in Illinois. Despite the split, the basic rules of play have remained the same for the last 30 years.

Belegarth is distantly related to the Amtgard LARP's Fighting Company, but it allows the individual realms to choose their own methods of rank and promotion and doesn't differentiate between different types of armor when counting hits. Though there is crossover between membership in Belegarth and the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms), there is no common origin between the two.

Image Credit: Stonehouse Park

Belegarth Realms Map
Belegarth Realms Map

How to Join

"This is all nice info, but how do I play?" Well, your best bet is to search for a group located near your hometown. If you're in the United States, there's a decent chance that there's a group playing near you. Many of them have their practice locations and contact information listed on the Realms page of the Belegarth Wiki. If you're really lucky, you might spot a group playing in a park or a random parking lot (it does happen!), and you can ask directly how to join their Realm. Otherwise, it's best to just show up and start asking questions. Most groups are really enthusiastic about recruiting, and some will even lend weapons to beginners until they get the hang of things.

Once you've found a main group, you may have yet another decision to make. Many Realms are split into smaller groups called Kingdoms or Units, or something else depending on the area. Membership in these units might be as simple as what city you live in, or it might involve more complicated details like what weapons they prefer to train with, or mandatory attendance at special practices.

Belegarth Players Charging
Belegarth Players Charging

Rules of Play

Once you've found a group, you'll want to know how to play. The basic rules for players are pretty simple.

First, all fighters must have properly built weapons, which are usually inspected weekly by the kingdom leaders to ensure that they are still safe and intact.

Many fights are adjudicated by the players themselves, but more important matches (or conflicts which cannot be resolved by the players) are conducted by referees called Heralds.

A normal, unarmored fighter who takes two hits to their limbs or one hit to the body is considered 'dead', and must stop fighting and sit down out of the way until the next round.

A limb which is hit must not be used again in that same combat round. An arm must be tucked behind the body to indicate that it has been injured, and a fighter who has been hit in the leg must drop to his knees.

Armor counts as an extra hit, and must be 'damaged' before a player can be wounded in that part of the body.

All parts of the body are legal combat targets except the neck, head, hands and feet (unless the foot has left the ground - then it is counted as a hit to the leg). Only missile weapons (arrows, javelins, rocks) may legally target these parts of the body.

Sometimes, special rules are instituted for different kinds of combats. A bridge battle, for example, may have lines drawn on the ground which indicate the boundary of play - if you step outside of the boundary, you 'fall' and are considered dead, even if you have taken no other damage. Mounted combat is usually simulated by granting every player an extra 'point' to their legs, which 'kills' their horse. Special events can also include special rules such as healing or combat magic. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the coordinators.

Usually, players keep track of their own hits, and an honor system is in place for all but the most important matches. If a player is believed to not be counting his hits properly (known as Rhino-Hideing), or is found to be using damaged weapons or otherwise cheating, he may be reprimanded or even expelled from his unit. Some units (known as Kingdoms within most realms) have their own code of conduct and rules in addition to the international rules set.

For the complete combat rulebook, see the Belegarth Rules page.

Image Credit: Stonehouse Park

So What's Your Take?

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    • Lironah LM profile image
      Author

      Lironah 6 years ago

      @ToTheBrimm LM: Yes, yes it is. :)

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      I don't participate in these events but I know someone that does. This seems like more fun than throwing bags of magic at other LARPers.

    • MedievalCostumeA profile image

      MedievalCostumeA 6 years ago

      Thanks for the friendly information, I always wanted to learn more about these role play/reenactment groups such as LARP and SCA. Nice Lens Please feel free to take a look at some of my Lenses too! ;)

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Interesting information on belegarth

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      Great lens! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!