New Members’ Handbook
A large part of Regia's membership is primarily involved in military displays. Whilst striving to ensure our displays are both authentic and entertaining for ourselves and the public, we never forget that safety is of paramount importance. Therefore we use a simple system to represent combat, using specially constructed, blunt weapons. Mass combat was not common during our period; in fact most men would never pick up a weapon in such a context in their lives. Warriors were both highly trained and equipped, and drawn from the upper echelons of society. However, to allow new members to take part in this aspect of our activities, we allow them to take the field with the bare minimum of equipment, a spear and shield, as one defending his own community. We have stringent training and weapon-safety regulations.
New members of the society fight with a spear and shield. Some groups may be able to provide these initially but you are expected to acquire or make your own at the earliest opportunity. These must conform to the current Master at Arms' regulations. Weapons taken onto the battlefield must firstly be blunt, clean and in good order, before any consideration of their visual appearance. All weapons are checked by the MaA or his deputy before combat. If a weapon is failed it must not go onto the field until it is passed. You will be told what (if anything) can be done to remedy this failure. Until this action is taken the weapon must be stored safely away from the public.
As time goes by, you may be permitted to use other weapons.
Training occurs at local, regional and national levels. Training sessions take place in the morning of most public events. While you are learning to use a weapon you are expected to attend all sessions that you are able to. You will receive training in the use of weapons, and battlefield drill and awareness
Before your first combat display you will pass a ' battlefield safe' test run by the Military Training Officer or his deputy. For your first combat display you will have a yellow tag on the end of your spear as a mark of your inexperience. This will be removed after the display once you have demonstrated that you can carry yourself on the battlefield responsibly. At this point you can also use a short knife (the ' hadseax') in addition to your spear. After each training session and combat display you will present yourself to a nominated training officer who will stamp your membership document to certify your successful completion of that session. Once you have six stamps for your weapon, two of which must be for combat displays and two for training at national level, you may request a final competency test (the ' red tag' test). This lasts all day and you will have a red tag on your weapon. You will attend and take part in training and the combat display and then be further tested after the display. You must successfully complete all elements to pass the test. If you act irresponsibly at any time during that day, you will fail the test.
Once you pass the test you may move on to other weapons as detailed in the National Battlefield and Training Policy.
Regia combat displays simulate combat in our period within the constraints of safety. They tend to follow a set pattern, a number of scripted phases followed by an unscripted, competitive finale. Regia does not generally use choreographed combat - all combat is free-form under the combat system. This normally uses a principle of one touch, one kill.
Battlefields are areas protected from public access by a barrier ('the ropes'), consisting of two elements nine feet apart. If you find yourself 'on the ropes', stop fighting unless and until your opponents allow you space to move away.
Our combat system is explained in the National Battlefield and Training Policy (NBTP), but in general, striking at more fragile areas of the body is prohibited and the correct weight of a blow is defined as one that is felt without causing damage. Remember that warriors with armour have a smaller target area and may not feel the lightest of taps. This does not mean that they may be impaled on your spear.
As a new member (or ' squishy') you are at the bottom of the military hierarchy. Obey your commanders' orders at all times.
Remember that during combat displays you are in view of the public, and as such you must guard your language. Do not engage in disputes - these can always be sorted out later.
You are responsible for your weapons and the way you use them on the battlefield. If you are found using a weapon you are not trained to use you will be permanently banned from fighting. You must not take sharp objects onto the battlefield. You shall ensure that your weapons are free from rust, cracks, burrs and rot. You must not deliberately thrust a weapon into the ground.
You shall not fight or train while under the influence of intoxicating substances or medicines, or if you have a condition where it would be unsafe for you to be on the battlefield. You should be aware that the battlefield is a dangerous place and you should be prepared for this - bruises and occasional cuts do occur.
If for any reason you cannot see the end of a spear that you are holding, but after consideration of your own safety and that of others you still wish to take part in Regia's combat displays, speak to the MTO or his deputy as it may be possible for you to start training with a shorter weapon.
Combatants under 18 must have their legal guardian's permission to fight, and must always carry a black shield when on the battlefield. This is for their protection.
Female combatants are to convincingly disguise themselves as men. Advice on this is available from the officers. Note that women did not participate in combat in our period, thus in your dress, appearance, actions and behaviour you must be as male as possible. You should avoid drawing attention to yourself on the battlefield, particularly if your voice is more highly-pitched than most men's.
When you start out you represent a member of the 'emergency levy' a simple peasant dragged (unwillingly?) from the field to defend his community from immediate danger.
You look up to your superiors - those with better equipment and higher rank - you will obey their orders but have no responsibility or desire to die on their behalf. While the Regia combat system is designed to allow all members to fight on an equal footing, an unarmoured, lightly armed peasant would not attack a trained, armoured opponent as he would surely die. In large numbers and supported, it might be possible to overwhelm a smaller number of armoured men. You are more valuable to your lord alive - and there is no shame for you in running away - however, once you have left the roped area you may not return until after the battle.
If you are killed you do not have to simply lie down dead, you may act out the injury as long as you do not interfere with combat. See the NBTP for details.
Missiles and Cavalry
As a rule, missiles, cavalry etc. are not normally part of Regia combat displays, and you are unlikely to be subject to them at first.
If you are an archer or a horseman, then contact the appropriate officer, who will advise you.
The MaA regulations and NBTP cover all aspects of your initial involvement in Regia combat displays, and you should make it your business to be familiar with their provisions.