This question on the history of the use of 'plate' terminology in D&D has created some concern about what is being asked and if it's on topic.

I'm still unclear as to what OP actually is asking about and therefore can't even make a judgement on topicality.

A discussion to help clarify and then determine if it's in scope for the site should happen here rather than in comments or in a close-reopen war.

I'm not saying that it's either on topic or not, my goal here is to first understand what is being asked and then determine topicality.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure about the down votes here. seems like with the current answers with only one that is actually supported several deleted for lack of support and one up and currently with a flag for more support seems like this is a good question to ask. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure would be nice if someone posted an opposing answer for all these downvoters to upvote. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 23:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's to discuss? The original question has far more upvotes than downvotes. It's closevote count has stabilized under the threshold, so a close-reopen war seems unlikely. There is an accepted answer which also has far more upvotes than downvotes. This meta discussion has generated a level of engagement best described as "desultory." Unless you're actively campaigning to close it, the topic seems moot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 8:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe the close vote count has stabilized because of the meta. Saying that there is a discussion should stop the votes. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak You may think it's desultory because I'm not advocating for a certain position. But that's the goal here. I didn't want to advocate, I wanted to get a discussion going on the question itself and halt any opens/closes. Between the multiple questions, unclear question, and potential request for off-topic things, it felt like this was the better thing to do than argue in comments. It doesn't seem like others agree, and that's fine. But this wasn't pointless. I had a concern on the question that was supported by the bad answers that came in. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 15:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Desultory" refers to the general level of engagement this question has generated, not your efforts. This thread is just not a hotbed of enthusiasm; and thus far the activity generated in favor of doing something about the original question is not that warmly received. (In fact, one of the two answers is soundly rejected.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


There are different questions intermingled

There are at least four different questions asked throughout the post, having varying broadness and topicality.

  1. The broad issue of plate armor names in 5e and how they came about.
  2. The question whether the term half-plate is an invention of D&D, a modern invention (the term, not the thing) in general, or a real historical thing.
  3. The question whether the term breastplate is used to mean the same thing as is does in the real world / if the D&D breastplate is the same as real world one
  4. A comparison of plate armor names throughout the editions of D&D.

There are different issues with the different questions

  1. The fact that you can read at least four questions from the post - of vastly different scope, no less - means that there is a problem of clarity.
  2. The first question indicated above is potentially too broad to answer. Additionally, asking how these names came about is (most likely) asking about designer intent which would make it off-topic. The exception to both of these would be if we consider question four to be the actual question, i.e. "How did the 5e names come about from the previous editions."
  3. Questions two to four look answerable individually, but putting them together into one question poses a problem of focus.

The actual issue and how to resolve it

The OP states in their question that the

question came to mind when [...] searching for historical examples of "half-plate" and found the term conspicuously missing from reliable sources

This indicates that they are actually interested in the term half-plate. They further state they have a similar concern with the term breastplate except in my opinion (feel free to disagree) the concern is not similar at all because the origin and historic use of the term is evident and the question is whether or not the D&D variant is historically accurate.

It seems then that (normally) the question should be narrowed down to one of the question here named two to four, probably number two. The other questions - if relevant to the querent - should be asked separately. In the meantime it seems to be reasonable to put the question on hold. However, there is already an answer answering questions two and three, therefore those should potentially be left together. This, however is a separate issue beyond the scope of the present inquiry and one that has been - as far as I'm aware - discussed before.


As written, it is off topic.

Asking the origin of these terms as they relate to D&D is unavoidably a question of designer's intent.

We can list all of the objective historical information about breast plates, but the moment we say, "And this is where Gygax/Crawford/Mearls/Perkins got their inspiration from", we are making an assertion that these people intended to represent those particular historical facts in the world of D&D. Asking if the game's designers were influenced by some historical truth is a question of designer's intent, which is off topic.

The history of breast plates in general is also off topic.

If we divorce the terminology from the game, and just ask, "what is the history of breast plates?", we are no longer asking an RPG question, we're asking a history question, which is better asked at history.se.

What is on topic?

The question as answered by Quadratic Wizard is on topic. Quadratic Wizard answers the question, "What is the development of these terms through the various editions of D&D?" This is on topic. But it is not what the question is asking. The question as written asks only about 5th Edition, and asks how the designers have related the 5th edition material to historical material - a question of designer intent.

The question needs to be reworded so as to ask about the development of the terminology through editions, otherwise it is off topic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer here contradicts the existing guidance and policy on the subject of history-of-gaming questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Link it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here and here. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Policy? Both of those answers are just your answers, guidance you suggest, which I disagree with. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then you are, quite simply, wrong. Because the policy is that history-of-gaming questions are on-topic, while designer-reasons are off-topic—and these two questions are the guidance we have on differentiating between the two. They are both well-regarded and well-received, and if you disagree with them, the place to do so is there. I do not think that “we should close these great questions because something something designer reasons” will go well. Here, you are simply advocating for a position that contradicts existing guidance and policy, which is an unfair standard to hold a question to. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Excluding the argument, the question should be reworded anyway. It is at best two seperate questions, one which already has a great answer, so we should adjust the question and encourage the querent to ask another question if that doesn't already cover what they want to know. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 18:32

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