The breastplate is a piece of plate armour which covers the front (and often the sides) of the torso and abdomen. A "breastplate" that also protects the back is more properly known as a cuirass. Virtually any metal can be used in construction (some of the earliest examples are made of copper) and actual shape can vary from something carefully crafted to a specific user to a simple disk or oblong of metal. Technically wood, leather-armour and other materials could also be shaped into a breastplate, but these are covered elsewhere.
Typically, the breastplate will be worn over some other kind of armour as a base layer - what exactly will depend on the source culture and the exact design. They are a normal feature of plate mail, but appear in all manner of mixed sets as well and are often found as munition plate.
Some examples would include disc breastplates, as worn in the ancient middle east and classical spain, the rectangular pieces of pre-Marian Rome and the shaped bronze of Hellensitic Greece. Equally, they (and cuirasses) were some of the last pieces of traditional armour to appear on the battlefield, serving - mostly on pikemen and heavy cavalry throughout the early modern periods into the beginning of the twentieth century.
Game and Story Use
- These should be fairly common wherever metal armour is used - normally in a fairly generic size that is then fitted to the user with straps and padding. This does not necessarily mean they will be cheap - a copper disc breastplate may be more valuable as scrap metal in a medieval setting, but in ancient Mesopotania it's standard armour for a well to do fighting man.
- As implied, there should be plenty of scope for variation.