Knights in shining armour, Lorica Segmentata, Agincourt. These are all examples of plate mail worn and in action. Platemail is the ultimate in protection for a soldier. It is also the most expensive to make and the heaviest to wear.
Plate as it is also known has actually been around for quite some time. It was used by the ancient Greeks, most recognisable as the partial plate armour known as the “muscle cuirass”. This tended to be made of heavy bronze plate, whilst the Romans adapted their own version of plate armour. Known as Lorica Segmentata, banded plates of iron were tied together giving a “lobster” style look to it.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, plate armour fell out of favour. It was expensive and difficult to make. Other options such as chainmail were preferred but the history of plate armour can be found here. In the 13th Century platemail started to come back into use. Gradually, plates of iron were worked into a chainmail shirt, offering more protection. This eventually ended up with the full plate suit that the combatants of the mediveal period would have used.
(Hans – Pixabay)
Platemail offered amazing protection against a whole range of weaponry of the time. Swords bounced off it and it reduced damage from heavy spears and lances (although a couched lance strike was often deadly). The wearer was still vulnerable to crossbow bolts and the argument over Longbow vs Plate rages!
So, with all this in mind, would you attempt to kit out your player character in platemail armour? I guess that depends on your play style. You’d have to relinquish any thoughts of magic. Most roleplaying games won’t allow the wearing of metal armour whilst casting spells (upsetting the force, blocking the elements etc etc!). Plate armour offers the ultimate protection for a player character, AC 18 in Dungeons and Dragons for example. However it is worth bearing in mind that as well as being very expensive it will also incur penalties for those not trained in its use. Its not much use for sneaking either. All that heavy metal clanking is not what you need on a covert scouting operation.
However, if you plan on having a warrior type at the forefront of every melee, ready to deal out and soak up the damage, then perhaps platemail is the armour for you!
And finally Agincourt? Well since I mentioned it, this here is an excellent description!