Fight Scripts: Holmganga And Breakdown


Six spears or staffs, a couple of bags of money or a dog. Village or market.

Special Roles

  • Marshall (can be a non-com role)
  • 2 assistants (one from each group)
  • various claimants and accused (to be adapted to length of show)
  • 2 initiators of fight
  • friend of wounded initiator


The Holmganga should be set at a Ting or a market where many people are expected and easily split into two sides (villages, farms or two different returned parties of raiders). The marshall and his assistants march out and lay four staffs to form a square large enough for one-on-one combat. The Marshall tells all (esp. the public) that this is a Holmgang where those with disagreements may challenge the second party and demand fair settlement, if not then the matter to be decided by a fight to first blood. Any fighters must not leave the arena or else they lose (assistants will push the protagonists back with spears). No outside help to be given (again assistants duty to ensure this) to aid or hinder either fighter. All should sit around the arena in their two groups except marshall and assistants.

The marshall (or a gothi) may perform a short ceremony and declare the Holmgang open. He then asks if any have grievance and to state such. It is now up to the fighters to stand up and declare their grievance, some will be amongst their own village, but most against the other. The marshall calls forth the accused, asks if he accepts charges and will he pay a fine. Arguments will result, but some of the charges should be accepted and settled peacefully. Others will result in fights, once first blood is gained the loser must either drop the charge or pay the fine. Finally the two fight initiators come forth, each accusing the other of some heinous deed. Both are obviously keen to do the fight and sworn enemies. The marshall is pushed around whilst trying to talk to them and loses his temper telling them to get on with it. One is obviously wounded, but denies it saying it is blood from a friends earlier fight (friend backs him up). Marshall insists on his decision and all people get ready for melee as both fighters claim victory and are backed up by their village. Marshall gets forceful and wounded man kills him, assistants return to their own side, initiators go at each other and fall back to their own lines. A grand melee ensues in normal fashion.


Sample crimes are stealing sheep, raiding, molesting female kin, attacking dogs (or eating them!), taking more than fair share of plunder, booze etc. Killing friends or relatives is a good accusation and demanding weregild.

Any or all accusers and accused may pretend to be drunk. One may be so drunk as to be unable to fight, providing an opportunity for a comedy sketch.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.