Basics: Armor

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So… You want to be a siege engineer?

By: THL Sean O’Neill


  1. Armor

  2. Rules!

  3. What Engine Type do I want?

  4. Plans

  5. AMMO!

  6. Transportation


The only armor required is minimum legal SCA Heavy armor. That’s it.

This entails:



Rigid Elbow Protection

Rigid Wrist Protection

Kidney Belt

Cup (duh…)

Rigid Knee Protection

The armor need not be flashy OR expensive. Most contact sports have rigid elbow and knee protection and a wide padded weight lifting belt will suffice usually for a kidney belt. The most expensive will be a helm, but if you’re patient and spend some time looking one can be found at a reasonable price.


Below are the rules for Meridies.


Meridian Siege Engine Rules

as of September A.S. XLI, 2006 Gregorian

by Master Seamus Corrigan, DEM of Siege Engines

A- General Siege Engine Regulations

  1. Engines and their projectiles shall be inspected by a warranted marshal before being used at that event and after any modifications are made to the engine during the course of an event.

  2. Direct fire engines shall not be discharged against personnel within a range of 30 feet.

  3. No engine will be discharged while any non-crew person is within the range of moving parts (e.g. a trebuchet will not be discharged while a fighter is standing anywhere in the path of the arm, front or back). Markers will be set up to identify areas of potential injury if the range of the moving parts is not easily identifiable (e.g., an area in front of a trebuchet with a very long arm should be clearly marked as dangerous to avoid injury caused by the arm or sling as it pivots forward of vertical.)

  4. Engines must be equipped with a safety device sufficient to prevent accidental firing if they are to be relocated while braced. Any engine without such a device shall only be relocated while unbraced.

  5. Except for manpowered trebuchets, all siege engines will be fitted with an appropriate mechanical trigger mechanism that shall be used for every shot.

  6. Cannons or any replica of cannons are not allowed in SCA combat. Engines may not use compressed or ignited gasses, or liquids, or combusting materials of any kind to power projectiles.

  7. Builders should attempt to visually and functionally recreate period siege engines. Engines shall be powered in a manner functionally consistent with their period counterparts. When period power methods are unsafe, or not feasible (such as gunpowder) alternative sources of power shall be used.

  8. Any material approved for use in devices on the battlefield may be used in the construction of engines, provided the materials are sufficient to assure the safety of the engine. For safety the following materials have special requirements;

    1. Turnbuckles and eye bolts. When used in or attached to the source of power for an engine, these items shall be rated to withstand 150% of the forces produced (e.g., if the cable attached to a turnbuckle will support 100 pounds of tension, the turnbuckle will be rated at 150 pounds static load). Hardware store and home center hardware is often of low quality and rating.

    2. Steel cable. While steel cable is useful for such functions as safe tying a throwing arm, it will not be used as a bowstring for any type of siege engine.

    3. All softwoods and nonlaminated hardwoods. When used as the throwing arm for a catapult, trebuchet, or the bow arms of a torsion ballista they shall be secured against breakage with a minimum of glue-soaked sisal or jute cord wrapping (2-inch wraps every 6 inches) over a section of rope glued along the full length of the arm. This will keep the arm from leaving the engine should it break.. It is strongly recommended that all arms be wrapped in this manner regardless of the material used.

Type-A Engines will:

  1. Have a minimum footprint of 18 square feet.

  2. Be able to deliver a large siege missile at least 40 yards.

  3. Have a mechanical cocking device, such as a winch or windlass. These engines may not be cocked by hand.

  4. Have a minimum crew of three people. Should crew size fall below minimum the engine will be non-operational.

  5. Be able to fire one large siege projectile, or up to five small siege projectiles, or from two to twenty small arms projectiles per shot.

Type-B Engines will:

  1. Have a minimum footprint of 12 square feet.

  2. Be able to deliver a small siege missile at least 40 yards.

  3. Have a mechanical cocking device, such as a winch or windlass. These engines may not be cocked by hand.

  4. Have a minimum crew of two people. Should crew size fall below minimum, the engine will be non-operational.

  5. Be able to fire one small siege projectile, or from two to four small arms projectiles per shot.

Manpowered engines will be considered Type-B engines and must meet the requirements stated, with the exception that they shall not be required to have a mechanical release or cocking device. These engines may fire up to two small siege projectiles, or from two to eight small arms projectiles per shot.

Siege structures will:

  1. Be able to support 300 pounds for every 4 square feet of platform area

  2. Be equipped with railings or walls at least 36 inches tall and able to support 100 pounds per foot of railing length if the platform is more than 3 feet from the ground.

  3. Be structurally stable (e.g., a wheeled siege tower should have a base big enough and wheels large enough to safely carry the crew over the terrain of the field.)

Battering rams and battering structures are permitted, but should be build strong enough to withstand repeated impacts and light enough to be safe when carried or if dropped.

B – Siege Ammunition Standards

  1. No siege ammunition may exceed 1 pound in weight.

  2. All siege-class munitions must have at least 50% of their surface covered with yellow tape to denote them as siege-class munitions. These munitions may not be fired from small arms or be thrown by hand.

  3. Ammunition shall be constructed of the following materials:

    1. Open-cell foam

    2. Closed-cell foam

    3. Tennis balls (may be punctured)

    4. Golf tube or similar semi-rigid, shatter resistant tubing such as Siloflex (PVC is not included in this definition)

    5. Siloflex meeting the following standards; for pipe that is black in color it must be manufactured to ASTM D2239 or D2737, made from PE3408, be sized 1” inside diameter if D2239 or 1-1/4” outside diameter if D2737, have a SIDR rating of 15 or lower or have a SODR rating of 17 or lower. For pipe that is Yellow in color it must be: Manufactured to ASTM D2513, made from PE2406, be 1” IPS and have a SDR of 11.

    6. Cordially

    7. Duct and filament tape

    8. Film canisters

    9. PVC reinforcement rings

    10. Leather

    11. Light weight fabric

Siege Ammunition Specifications

  1. Large siege ammunition is intended to simulate large, heavy projectiles normally used as anti-structure missiles (e.g. 250-pound sandstone rocks used in the largest of engines).

    1. One-pound rocks. These will be constructed of fabric spheres filled with light-density foam, taped with filament and duct tape for protection. These shall not exceed 1 pound and they shall be a minimum of 6-1/2” in diameter.

      • Update – this was written prior to nerf stuff. As long as they are soft, under a pound, greater than 6-1/2” in dia, and have yellow duct tape covering them, we’re good.

  1. Small siege ammunition is intended to simulate smaller, lighter projectiles used as light anti-structure and antipersonnel missiles (3.g. ballista javelins and 10-pound stones as used in Perriers). No small siege ammunition may weigh more than 1 pound.

    1. Four-tennis-ball clusters secured with filament tape and duct tape (punctured and tied with cord also acceptable)

    2. Spliced golf tube javelins. Splices must be secured with cord and/or filament tape. Striking tips may be either a single (unpunctured) tennis ball tied on and taped with filament and duct tape, or a thrusting tip with a minimum of 3 inches of foam between the striking surface and the end of the javelin, and a minimum diameter of 2-1/2”. It must have at least 1 inch of progressive give and cannot bottom out on the tube. Additionally, the end of the tube must be capped with a minimum of 1/8 inch heavy leather, a 35-mm film canister securely held in place with filament tape. The tubes may be reinforced with medium-density foam, such as pipe insulation, in order to prevent crush damage. Film canisters, PVC rings (may not be more than 2 inches long), and similar nonbrittle, nonmetallic lightweight reinforcements (securely attached) may be used at the butt end of the javelin. Nonrigid fletching may be used. Javelins will be at least 48 inches and clearly marked with yellow tape for the length of the shaft.

    3. Other javelins. Materials such as Siloflex or similar semi-rigid, shatter-resistant tubing can be used, as long as the minimum diameter is equivalent to a golf tube and the rest of the construction meets the standards for spliced tube construction. Avoid excessive weight. PVC is not shatter resistant and is not considered legal for ballista javelins. If Yellow Siloflex is used the shaft must not be covered with yellow tape and the material specifications must be visible and legible.

Siege Ammunition Damage

Siege-class ammunition (1-pound rocks, 4-tennis-ball clusters, and 48-inch long ballista javelins) will be capable of killing upon striking any legal target area and will be capable of killing through shields, provided that the scenario rules permit this. Hand weapons hit by siege-class munitions will be destroyed (anyone intentionally blocking or deflecting siege-class munitions will be considered killed). Small arms munitions fired from a siege engine will be treated as combat archery projectiles. Siege munitions are considered spent upon striking a target, the ground, or a battlefield structure. Siege-class munitions that hit a tree will not be considered spent until they hit a target, the ground, or another battlefield structure.

Small siege ammunitions will also be capable (in addition to the above) of damaging or destroying light structures such as other siege engines, pavices, siege towers, etc., provided scenario rules permit this. Large siege ammunition will also be capable (in addition to all of the above) of damaging or destroying any type of structure such as castle walls, towers, redoubts, etc., providing scenario rules permit this.

Engine Inspections

  1. Any event allowing siege engines must have an equipment inspection station. This inspection station shall at minimum consist of a field with a firing line and range markers at 40 and 80 yards from the firing line.

  2. Preliminary inspection of the engine shall be made before any shots are fired. The marshal will check for structural integrity of the components of the engine.

  3. The operational demonstration phase of the inspection shall, at minimum, consist of 5 good shots from the engine configured for the maximum power it will use on the field at that event. These 5 shots shall deliver the ammunition between 40 and 80 yards at a firing angle of between 40 to 45 degrees of elevation, without mechanical failure and consistently deliver the ammunition downrange. During this demonstration if the engine has 3 failed shots, the engine will not be approved for usage on the field this day. The Engineer may take his engine back for repairs and attempt to pass the demonstration later during the time allotted for the demonstrations. After 2 failed attempts to pass the demonstration, the engine will be failed for the day.

  4. Static inspection for stability of the engine and mechanical observation of the frame work and the mechanism shall be made after the firing.

Structure Inspections

Siege structures should be inspected before being allowed to participate in an event. Inspection should include at a minimum structural integrity, stability, condition of hardware, and condition of any safety devices (barriers, walls, etc.). Ideally a maximum load of armored combatants should be on board the siege structure during inspection. Inspection will include a demonstration of mobility fi the structure is designed to be mobile.

Crew Requirements

For Type-A Engines there will be a requirement of three Siege Engineers. For a Type-B Engine there will be a requirement of two Siege Engineers. All Crew Members must be authorized Siege Engineers. If the Engine has less than its minimum crew allotment the engine is declared dead.

Siege Engineer Authorization

A Siege Engineer’s authorization will be considered an authorization for all types of siege engines. Once you are authorized you may run any type of siege engine. Below are the basic requirements for a Siege Engineer Authorization process;

  1. You must meet the minimum armor requirements for all heavy combatants.

  2. You shall demonstrate knowledge of the Rules of the List and Conventions of Combat.

  3. You shall have a signed waiver, and a valid membership card or send $25 to the Kingdom with your paperwork in lieu of a valid membership card.

  4. Demonstration of understanding of the rules for siege combat.

  5. Demonstration of being able to safely operate a siege engine.

  6. Demonstration of being able to inspect their siege engine for safety.

  7. Demonstration on how to render their siege engine safe, should the need arise.

  8. Understand how engines and Engineers are killed by opponents.

What Engine Type do I want?

There are type types:

Type A and Type B

Type A – The Big Boys!

Type B – Sniping with an RPG…


There are many, many, many resources for plans.

One of my favorites for ballista is the plans detailed by Docmo Kincain ( This one uses a steel prod and is easy to construct. There are also lots of good designs for torsion ballista as well if you really want a good looking period machine.

As for trebuchets? Fixed weight and swinging counter weight designs are all over the net. Don’t go too small (won’t have enough throwing power) and don’t go too big (overkill for SCA combat and difficult to transport). Mine for example has about a 12 foot throwing arm.

Whatever you decide to build, please do your research and don’t be sloppy when building. Take your time and do a good job, you won’t be sorry. The dynamic stress on these machines when in operation should not be under estimated.


Ammo can be of multiple types. For direct fire engines the most successful by far in my experience are bolts made from yellow siloflex with the new required foam heads.

(photo from

The specifications for these are from:

Master Jean Paul Pierrepont, OL -- Great Household of the Dark Horde (GDH)

1.  Tape a thick leather disk slightly larger than the outside diameter of the end of the shaft. Use good strapping tape for these steps.

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