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In a game where the entire system is based on the honor system, good sportsmanship is essential. Everybody needs to take all the blows that hit them, archers need to call their shots appropriately, and heralds need to be fair and impartial. The biggest area of concern when talking about good sportsmanship in Belegarth is in people taking their hits. This refers to people being honest and losing a limb or dying when they are struck instead of ignoring the hit. There are several reasons why people do not take their hits and there are steps to take if you find yourself doing this or notice it in others.

Taking Hits

The primary reason why people do not take their hits is because they simply do not feel them. This can be for several reasons- some of them more easily fixed than others. During a fight sometimes a person’s adrenaline level rises to the point where their hit tolerance also rises and they do not feel lighter blows. If this is the problem the person just needs to calm down and be more level headed when they fight. They should try not to get too excited by what is going on around them and be calm, cool, and in control. Many people find this improves their fighting ability, so it is generally a good idea anyway.

Many times a fighter becomes too concerned with what is happening around him and does not pay enough attention to what his body is doing. He is focusing outward too much and not focusing his attention on what his body is doing and what is happening to him. People that do not notice when they are hit are often paying too much attention to where their hits are landing and not enough attention to where hits are landing on them. Because the only people that are allowed to call hits on others are the person being hit and the herald, it does you more good to pay attention to what is happening to yourself and let your opponent worry about what is happening to him.

Another reason why people may not feel their hits is because they can not due to a physical inability. This is a major problem. In this game if people start to think you are cheating by not taking your hits they will not take it easy on you. There are only a few solutions to this kind of problem. The best way is to simply take everything that you think might have hit you. You will end up taking a lot of shots that may not have landed, but at least you will be able to play the game without everyone getting angry at you. There are only a few other options and most of them involve not fighting at all.

A third reason why people do not accept blows that hit them is because they feel they were too light to count. It is almost impossible to write a rule stating how hard a blow has to be to count so here is a good guideline: If it was a clean, even strike that lost power due to a partial block by a shield or a weapon, you should take it. An example of a light hit that you might consider not taking would be if your weapon got tangled with your opponent and one of the weapons brushed you- that would be a hit too light to count. It is often suggested though that until you get a very good feeling for the game that you take every shot you feel. This ensures that you do not develop any bad hit taking habits.

A situation similar to, but distinct from, a light hit is called a glancing hit. If a swing just barely touches you as it swings by but does not alter the path of the weapon, many people will call “glancing!” and not take the shot. This is a situation similar to calling “light!” where you should be very careful what shots you call glancing. The safest bet is to not call any glancing shots until you are absolutely certain what should count and what a glance is.

Non-Legal Hits

According to the Book of War (BoW) there are certain areas on your body where you should not count strikes. The first is the head. The head is only a legal strike zone for arrows, javelins (when thrown), and rocks. If anything else hits you in the head you should say, “head!” to let your opponent know they hit you where they were not supposed to. Usually it is customary to give someone a second to recover from a head shot if you accidentally strike them there. If you have a problem with someone continuously hitting you in the head politely tell them they have been giving a lot of head shots and see if that helps. If they continue giving a lot of head shots point them out to a herald. Other areas where you frequently get struck but do not count are the hands (when holding a weapon) and feet (when on the ground). If you are struck in the hand or foot say, “hand!” or “foot!” to let your opponent know they struck you but not in a place where you will accept a shot. It is important to know that the hand hit zone is only the hand and not the wrist. If you are struck in the wrist, it counts as an arm shot. The same goes for feet and ankles.

There are some situations where a shot will land where your opponent can not see it and the strike does not hit a legal zone. Examples of this are if he swings and his weapon only drags through your garb, if he hits your hand or foot, or if he hits the inside of your shield. In situations like this it is a good idea to let your opponent know where his shot landed so he knows he did not hit you. A simple call of, “garb!,” “hand!,” or “shield!,” is fine.

Flails, maces, javelins, and other weapons all have a large portion of their length dominated by non-striking surface. Similarly, the flats of swords are non-striking surfaces. It is illegal to strike someone with a non-striking surface, but if it happens by accident, you should call “haft!” or “flat!” to let the other person know that they hit you, but it was not with a legal striking surface. The same goes for the wielder of the weapon. If you see that you hafted or flatted someone but they could not tell it was a non-legal hit, you should inform them not to take the hit by calling “haft!” or “shaft!”

Belegarth is fast paced combat and sometimes reflexes work faster than thought. This is usually a good thing but it can get you into trouble sometimes. A common problem with new fighters is that they swing once or twice after they have sustained a killing blow. Whether they are slow to realize that they have just been killed or they reflexively throw another shot or two immediately after dying, you can ask them if they thought they swung after they were dead. Most of the time they will agree with you if they thought their shot was late, but if they do not agree you should take the hit. If you accidentally swing after dying, you should yell “late!” to inform your opponent that your shot should not be taken. If a shot was already in progress when a person died, it counts as a legal blow. In the heat of battle friend and foe often get confused. If this happens and you strike an ally, it counts. Friendly fire counts so make sure you are certain someone is an enemy before killing them! The same goes for hitting yourself. If you over swing and hit your own body, you must take the hit.

Calling Weapon Types

While Belegarth strives to keep the rules as simple as possible, there are a number of different classes of weapons on the field that do different things if they strike you. Because of this it is very important to let your opponent know what he was struck with if he had his back turned, did not see the shot, or the shot was not obviously from a certain class of weapon. When you strike an armored person from behind you should always call the color or class of the weapon you use. This is because armour protects different amounts from different kinds of strikes, but they mostly feel the same. Archers should also clarify their shots if there is some question as to where the arrow hit. Many times arrows are difficult to judge where they hit and the person best qualified to tell where the strike landed is the archer or herald. Archers are the only fighters on the field allowed to tell you that you were hit and must take a limb or death.

==Actions to Avoid on the Field==

There are several things that fighters should specifically not do while on the field. The first is that dead fighters cannot communicate with living fighters in any way. It is unfair for a dead team mate to warn a living one of danger so if you have problems keeping your mouth shut while dead, you should exit the field after being killed. Another action that fighters should not do is fake an injury. Faking injuries is specifically disallowed by the Book of War and if someone asks you what damage you have taken you must quickly and accurately tell them what your status is. To help prevent confusion between who is alive on the field and who is dead, dead fighters should do their best to look dead by lying on the ground or sitting and not touching their weapons or shields. Living fighters that have lost a leg should keep the good leg up and their weapon at the ready so they do not look like they are already dead. Living fighters should also avoid hiding behind heralds to sneak attack the enemy. Most heralds disapprove of this and will kill fighters who do so.

Realism is very important in Belegarth but in many situations, playability takes precedence. This is the case when considering whether to immediately drop a weapon when the wielding arm is destroyed or to allow fighters to hand off the weapon to their other arm. Currently the rules allow fighters to very quickly hand off their weapon to their good arm. This should be done as quickly as possible and if you are not able to do it quickly you should just drop the weapon.

==Keeping Your Cool==

In a full contact sport like Belegarth tempers can often run high. We are all out there to have fun but sometimes people have a bad day, think they have been cheated, or lose their cool for whatever reason. If you feel yourself getting angry on the field, STOP FIGHTING! Take a time out, get water, and watch a few battles. Give yourself time to cool down before picking up your weapon again. If you do lose your cool and yell, throw things, etc., take an even longer break or stop fighting for the day. It is a very bad idea to continue fighting while angry. If you are a herald and you notice someone getting upset you should find out what the problem is and suggest that they sit a few out.

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