My friend and I were talking about some League designs and I had some thoughts I decided to share with the community here. These thoughts revolve around the (incorrectly) perceived impracticality of what is colloquially known as "boob plate".
I am not saying every armored female champion should wear "boob plate". I'm not even saying it's 100% the best look, every time. Personally, one of my favorite armored females aesthetically is Suikoden's Chris Lightfellow, who wears domed armor that barely shows her chest at all. This analysis looks purely at the practicality of "boob plate".
**First Analysis: Existence**
"Boob plate" is essentially the female equivalent of the articulated "muscle armor" of the ancient Greek hoplites. As you can see, almost as far back as humans learned to work metal into armor, this is one of the first things we see: They want armor that looks impressive at a glance.
So as to the question of whether or not boob plate _should_ exist? I say probably. It doesn't historically because not a lot of women fought. But in a fantasy world where women are just as likely to fight as men are, how big a stretch is it to think that a portion of fighting women would eventually want armor that goes for a distinct look? An aesthetic that's evident to be female just at a glance?
**Second Analysis: Design Plausibility**
Armor is not flat. Armor is not a bunch of straight pieces of metal slapped over the body. ... Well, brigandine is, but that's a technicality and even some pieces in a coat of plates are curved. No, plate armor has a curvature to it. It conforms to the body, but more importantly, it uses an engineering practice called "doming" to enhance its protective qualities.
This principle is still in use today in the form of angled armor on tanks and the like, and it goes a little something like this: Force is applied relative to how small an area of impact is delivered. Try cutting a piece of steel with a sword, and you'll have no luck. Try piercing it with a lance or an arrow and your odds improve substantially. Doming works to expand the area of impact by not giving the enemy a flat surface to punch into. Force is now transferred along a curve; rather than shooting straight inward, a pointed weapon has a tendency to glance off or "roll" along the curve, negating most of its force and preventing puncturing of the armor.
Ever wonder why maces had all those blocky corners? Or why morningstars had spikes? It wasn't ~~exclusively~~ to look imposing. It was to help them dig into domed armor so less force slid across the curve and more went into the point of impact.
All that said: _does boob plate do this?_
Yes. Breasts are obviously curved, and to articulate armor after their shape is going to deliver the exact same effect as domed armor at that location. Another form of "boob plate" simply shifts the doming on your run-of-the-mill medieval breastplate from the abdomen to the chest, and it still serves the exact same purpose.
**Third Analysis: Practicality**
But is it _practical_ to wear boob plate? Well, depending on your shape, yes. Sometimes it might be downright necessary, so you're not smashing yourself with your own armor, as it were. A common trope when complaining about boob plate online is to bring up modern fighting women, and the fact that they use the same armor as men. This is inaccurate.
Ballistic vests for female police officers are designed in what's called a "darted" shape, where the chest area curves outward to allow for a more conforming fit. To do otherwise would prove uncomfortable and unsafe, as your armor would find ways to shift around your chest, possibly leaving a gap at the waist.
Boob plate, if made correctly to the wearer's shape, would most certainly prove more comfortable to wear than standard plate. "But it's not always MADE for the specific person, Shingetsu." Ah, but it is. Plate armor was the purview of the wealthy, and was almost always tailor made to the specific lord, knight or monarch commissioning its forging. In point of fact, _men_ are uncomfortable in plate armor not made for their unique proportions.
**Fourth Analysis: Functionality**
But here's the big one. _Does boob plate make you less safe?_ The common argument against boob plate is that strikes are going to slide right to the sternum, transferring all the force of a blow to a weak point in the armor. An alternative version of this argument I see often is that one good strike to the weak point between the "cups" will break the sternum.
There's a very major flaw with both of these arguments in that **the point between the cups is not a weak one**. You see, steel armor is made from not only steel, but hardened steel. It's tempered to withstand things like, I dunno... _hard impacts from other steel objects_. That crevice between the cups? It's hardened steel. It's not going to cave because it was hit by the pommel of a sword.
As for transferal of force, also incorrect. When the blow connects, its force transfers across the surface it strikes. By the time it starts sliding across the armor, the weapon is barely transferring any kinetic energy at all. Take a pencil and slap it hard on your desk. Now place your fist on your desk, knuckles up, and hit your knuckle with the same force, then slide through the strike to hit the desk. Notice how much softer the desk impact is the second time.
Let's add to this the fact that the crevice doesn't need to sit directly against the body anyway. On top of that, you have an arming coat underneath that armor and probably a gambeson under that, both of which will absorb any kinetic force that happens to transfer through your plate.
Further, historical male armor has these points already. The breastplate meets the fauld in a crevice. A bevor likewise meets the top of the brestplate in a crevice. Neither of these places are particularly weak to impact damage. If they were, they wouldn't have designed armor that way for so long. No, the fact is, an opponent is still aiming for places such as the armpit where you're _not_ armored. They're not going to aim for the crevice between your steel breasts, and even if they did, they wouldn't find much success without a weapon designed to split armor (such as a bardiche or a halberd). And in such a case, crevice or no, you're in trouble.
There is nothing wrong with "boob plate" on a functional level. Leona is fine. Sejuani's sternum is not broken. Riot, please make more armored female champions.