Munition Plate
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Basic Information

Munition plate is pieces of plate armour mass produced to a series of generic sizes for issue to a professional (or at least semi-professional) army. By the time it starts to appear, metallurgical techniques are generally good enough that the pieces are of decent quality, although they are likely to lack features such as fluting and much of the angling that are found in bespoke harnesses.1

A munition piece is also likely to be heavier and less comfortable that the equivalent bespoke piece as it is will not fit to the wearer as neatly and is liable to require additional padding and/or strapping to conform.

Without the benefit of an integrated harness, this sort of armour is generally worn layered on top of something else - initially a mail shirt and/or gambeson but later on a buff coat or other such clothing.

The most likely pieces to be produced in munition quality were the cuirass and helmet - although some producers only issued a breastplate rather than a full cuirass. Other fitments such as pauldrons, gorgets and faulds were reasonably common.

The concept of munition armour starts to appear in the 15th century in both Japan and Europe and in some places2 was still on issue at the start of the Great War. Interestingly the Japanese also developed Nanban dou gusoko - sets of custom made samurai armour built around imported pieces of European munition plate, something of a statement both of the quality of some mass produced plate and of what could be achieved if someone took the time and effort to retrofit it properly to a user.


Game and Story Use

  • The use of munition plate for the military is generally a hallmark of the end of the middle ages given that it requires things like nascent industrialisation and standing national armies. These things tend to be out of period for most RPGs.
  • For the usual fRPG settings where armour is sold retail as something close to a consumer good, this may have a whole new lease of life.
  • You can achieve a similar effect in earlier eras if a given power has armouries full of battlefield salvage - plate that was bespoke for someone rapidly becomes munition grade when it is stripped from a corpse, stored for a few years and then issued to a levy who is "about the right size".
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