Welcome to the Codex Martialis: Quick Start Guide!

This Quick Start Guide is an abridged version of the Codex Martilais: Core Rules sourcebook designed to introduce new players to the Codex Martialis combat system and to aid those who are playing adventures without owning a copy of the Core Rules.

This document contains everything you need to run the Codex Martialis combat system including rules, feats, weapons, armor, and a short combat scenario!

If you’re interested in more rules, more feats, more weapons, more armor, or more scenarios: be sure to check out the complete Codex Martialis: Core Rules.

What Is Codex Martialis?

Codex Martialis is a combat system designed between 2008-2010, by martial artists active in the emerging HEMA tournament scene. For us, combat in most RPG’s boils down to repetitive die rolling and a gradual whittling away of points, often relying on magic or special powers to make it interesting.

Real fighting with weapons isn’t like that. You don’t just whittle away chunks of your enemy like two carrots fighting with potato peelers, or stagger back and forth wielding swords like crowbars as in the movies. Your weapon is flexible and supple. You use it for defense as well as offense, to feint, to probe. You parry, twist and wind, and seek openings while displacing your enemy’s attacks, as you bar the deadly point and edge of their blade from slicing into your flesh. You move your own body in and out of range, to void their attacks, to grapple, to seize their weapon, and throw your opponent to the ground.

The purpose of the Codex is not to imitate history for the sake of being realistic or historical, it is the opposite: to borrow elements of real fighting, weapons, armor and historical martial arts in order to make combat in RPG’s more FUN. And in order to be fun, in order to feel like a fight, combat has to be fast. That means mapping out everything to do with hand combat and boiling it down to the key elements. The give and take of movement and momentum. The reach and speed of weapons. Their merit as tools of defense, so often neglected in game systems. The real-world physics of tools of war such as swords, axes, knives, armor, shields, guns and crossbows.

Layered on top of these key elements, we introduce the techniques of the fencing masters, the martial artists, the warriors of the ancient world. These can be groups of related competencies, or one at a time, and they enhance the luck of the fighter in certain situations, with certain weapons, or across the board. In our roll many / keep one system, learned abilities augment your fighting prowess and improve your odds of survival. This is what separates the experienced fencer from the neophyte. There is no certainty in a fight, but skill and training can really improve your odds.

With the Codex, you can specialize how you fight. A dagger is very effective close in, a spear is better at a distance, and a sword is the versatile middle ground. Axes cause devastating injuries, maces and hammers can harm people through armor. All of these weapons lend themselves more or less to different techniques that your character can learn, and gradually build as you develop them into a truly dangerous opponent. In this system, all of your decisions have real consequences.

So, what is Codex Martialis? It is a system which makes combat just a bit more like what you were hoping it would be like the first time you tried to play an RPG.

Codex Martialis is a combat system only, designed for use with the OGL system. New sourcebooks are now being introduced which expand the system into other realms. Stand by for more, and check in with us at find out the latest!

What is Codex Integrum?

Codex Integrum is a complete historical RPG system designed around the Codex Martilais combat design. Codex Martialis is intended to be a stand-alone combat system that can be adapted to fit your game, but if you are interested in taking your historical setting to the next level: the Codex Integrum series has everything you need.

The Codex Integrum series is organized as follows:

Codex Martialis: Core Rules is a stand-alone combat system and the heart and soul of the Codex Integrum series. If you want to dive all the way in to this series: this is the first book you should get.

The Codex Integrum: Player’s Guide contains all the nuts and bolts you need to run a complete game using the Codex Martialis combat system. This book includes character creation, character advancement, and a guide to running a game in a historical setting, and  a short adventure.

Codex Superno contains a complete magic system that complements Codex Martialis if you’re interested to see how magic would fit into a pseudo-historical setting.

And finally, Codex Adventum is a series of historical campaign modules where you can test your metal in different parts of the medieval world. These books contain pre-rolled characters, enemies, quests, regional weapons, and a great deal of real medieval history. These can be played with only this Quick Start Guide!