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I only care about the chest piece, I need it to bend forward and sideways at the abdomen region, I don't care about being able to extend the spine backwards.

My characters are animated in a way that would deform completely rigid armors like this one, so I need to make them all bendable at the abdomen region, seeing hard plates made of steel/iron bending when someone moves, takes out a lot of realism and immersion.

There's catch, it must still remain protective against heavy close combat weaponry like halberds, maces and all that stuff. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ "Flexible" and "protection against blunt instruments" are kind of incompatible. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 27 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP worldbuilding.stachexchange.com is known for doing the impossible $\endgroup$
    – Drien RPG
    Jan 27 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @RPGlife would you like to add the magic tag to your question, then? ;-) $\endgroup$ Jan 27 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ Blunt maces deliver shockwave through armor, to disorient the target without penetrating. Pointed maces pierce through plates because they concentrate great momentum over a very small area. Halberds are meant for foot soldiers to grab and throw riders from their saddles. Plate armor protects against swords. The weapons you named were developed specifically to defeat this type of armor. It already offers very little protection against them. No matter what armor you invent, if you animate armor as character skin, it will always look wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Agent_L
    Jan 27 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ Can we change the material to anything? Because something like Diamene might work then. Flexible until hit with force, stack many layers with a seperating layer for better protection since each hit will destroy at least one layer. Fortunately you can stack ballpark of 7450 layers per centimeter of armor (takes ultratech but hey, I dont see no material limitations!). $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 27 at 16:51

3 Answers 3

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Overlapping plates; think of horizontal window blinds, for example.

The plates will be like 3" wide, with 1" of overlap. Standing, each plate provides 2" of coverage. At maximum compression, each provides 1.25" of coverage. At maximum extension, each provides about 2.75" of coverage.

Make the plates smooth and oiled so they can slide against each other as the warrior bends forward or sideways; with enough overlap so the maximum extent of bending still provides full coverage.

Since you don't need bending backwards, you can anchor these sliding plates to a rigid section of the back, but not welded, of course, use a movable attachment, like rigid post and slot (on the plate) or something, that lets the plates move.

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    $\begingroup$ this is genius, and I might be an idiot for not realizing that it already exists in the form of pauldrons $\endgroup$
    – Drien RPG
    Jan 27 at 16:13
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There are many examples

Medieval Armor and Shields

Armour suit made with riveted chainmail (for full body) as shown here.

enter image description here

Flexible Armor with steel plates

A flexible armor suit made of steel plates can be found in this video, where the knight can make all kinds of movements wearing this suit.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ The original video has more examples of its flexibility including leaning forward. $\endgroup$
    – gre_gor
    Jan 27 at 23:25
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You can't.

If it were practical to do this, someone, somewhere, would have done it. Instead you have to trade off between flexible armor, and nice solid protective plate that doesn't flex at all.

In the real world everyone seems to have been happy to make that compromise in favor of protection, but obviously you're operating under slightly different constraints. If you want to keep your armor vaguely realistic yet also flexible, then you'll have to dispatch with the idea of nice protective plate and use some other kind of material.

The classic would be chainmail, of course, which whilst it doesn't stretch is quite flexible. There are other options, including metal plates connected by chainmail, or attached to a fabric backing. Here's some nice Han-dynasty lamellar armor using small metal plates:

Han dynasty lamellar armor top

Or an Ottoman krug using much larger plates linked by chainmail:

Ottoman krug

You're not limited by material technology or cost, so you can make the non-flexing plates as large as you like.

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