In general a very difficult to produce and thus expensive kind of armour, Plate Mail is well worth its price. Plate Mail therefore is usually only worn as a full suit by the upper parts of society and then mostly where militarism is essential part of the education like it was the case since millenia in Erpheronian territories. Mostly Plate Armour is used in combination with other kinds of protection, the single metal plates being responsible for the most vital parts like chest, abdomen and groin, others use it for joints and shins, worn over mail haubergeon. Plate Armour is a heavy kind of armour, but commonly only slightly heavier than banded or chain mail, with the advantage that due to its custom fitting and sturdy straps it wears easier and has improved flexibility and protection compared to other types of armour.
|Image description. A knight wearing the coat of arms of the Eyelians protecting a citizen from an unexpected assault. Picture from the game Mystical Empire™, used with friendly permission. Illustration drawn by Quellion.
Description. A full Plate Mail Armour is perhaps the most protective type of armour available, though they are rather rare. This is because all the pieces of Plate Armour need to be custom made and thus are exceptionally expensive. Giving a complete steelmade armour to another person will require further reworks by armourers as well. At Plate Mail the plates of the armour are interlocking and perfectly fitted, specially angled in order to deflect missile weapons and blows. Often parts of the suits are further enhanced by trusted armourers, not only regarding functionality, some also are true masterpieces in aesthetic design. A full suit consists of several plates of metal worn on the body. A standard suit of plate armour consists of a helmet, breastplate, greaves, bracers, gauntlets, boots, pauldrons, a groget (neck protection), couters (elbow plates), poleyns (knee protection) and a cullet (which protects the small of the back/buttocks). These parts are all worn over a chain shirt and possibly skirt (for men and women).
Mostly Plate Mail however is used in reduced form and combined with other mail on the battlefield - warriors wear for example breastplates, a steel helmet and gauntlets or protect their joints and shins with steel. This saves costs, but still brings a tremendous advantage in battle against opponents with lighter protection, as steel cannot be penetrated by sword cuts or blows, and not even most kinds of arrows or bolts fired at these plates manage to deliver hits. The better suits of Plate Mail have many grooves. These grooves do not reduce protection, but instead lighten the suit and help keep the cost of production relatively low (in comparison to past years). - Plate Mail is most commonly made of steel, but on rare occasions is also fabricated of other materials, either using poorer metals (like bronze) to cheapen the cost while sacrificing quality, or better metals (like the legendary mithril) for the opposite effect.
There are many ceremonial/parade suits of Plate Mail. These are generally decorated with heraldic and religious motifs. E.g. for the Armerenda, the legendary bi-annually Erpheronian feast organized as a Tribute to Armeros, there are also whole competitions for armourers to deliver the most prized suits and thus earn the Thane's appretiation and gain more lucrative commissions. For the jousting tournaments taking place during the Armerenda Plate Mail suits are built with extra strength in the areas where the lance most often hits. This type of suit is too cumbersome for battle, but serves its purpose in the jousting ring.
Usage. Plate Mail is used by elite troops and people with special privileges or tasks like knights, royal guards, captains of army divisions and the like, but you'll hardly find wealthy adventurers with that kind of armour. The average cost of Plate Mail makes it too pricey for the average infantry man, but its heightened protection is perfect for indispensable troops, thus Plate Mail is a clear indicator of a soldier's status. Actually, another very visible status indicator is that knights wearing Plate Mail often have a squire assisting the fighter in dressing - quite an important decision as it can be a matter of life and death to get properly into gear. The best armour only helps if worn in time.
Picture description. Portrait of Karthach of Ishmarin, Warlord during SW II, in full Erpheronian armour. Picture drawn by Quellion.
Plate Mail serves well against all types of weapons though weak spots are located at the neck and the insides of joints. Maces and other metallic blunt weapons are quite effective at bashing or denting Plate Mail, while swords, arrows and bolts remain ineffective. Attacking a person wearing Plate Mail therefore requires a different approach - combatents mainly will try to target the weak spots not covered properly in order to bring an opponent down.
Contrary to popular belief, Plate Mail can actually be quite light and flexible. A warrior dressed in full Plate Armour (if the armour is crafted properly) will "only" have up to extra 4 hebs and a few muts to deal with. Warriors in said armour can still swim, run and jump, almost normally - though participating in swiming contests is not recommendable.
Fighting Style. The forging process for each plate begins with a sheet of metal or "blank". The blank is heated in the forge until it begins to yellow and scale. When it is hot enough it is brought to a ball-scale or anvil for shaping. Parts of the blank can be raised/lowered/curved at the scale. The armour piece is then allowed to cool, and is soon ready to be used! - Each piece needs to be individually crafted in order to fit to the person it is meant to fit to. Individual design is crucial, and it requires a good armourer, money and time.
Origin/History. Plate Mail, as we know it in Southern Sarvonia, was not in use before the Age of the Blood (around 800 b.S.), and was initially constructed by dwarven armourers. The best suits of Plate however didn't come along until fairly recently (in the 1600s). At the forefront of the engineering operation in long times passed was an aged dwarf by the name of Thurmigin Tenemith. The brains behind the operation, he developed the best smithing procedures to make steel as tough and light as possible. The Gnomish mettalurgist Maximillian invented the armour grooves.
Plate Mail has long been in use by various human and dwarven tribes, but previous versions have been much heavier and less effective. During the Southern Sarvonia wars this kind of armour has been adopted by humans after the advent of more powerful crossbows and compound bow designs. Elves are still loath to accept the idea seeing it as contradicting to their nature and fighting style, but gnomes seem to accept it quite readily. Practically non-existent is the orc clothed in full plate, but if he can warp and smith the metal to suit his frame somewhat, he may have at least a solid breastplate for future battles. Psyrpents are known to prefer lighter armour, or even no armour at all, as are the halflings. Plate Mail therefore is mainly in use by humans and dwarves.