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by Ben McSweeney
Related to Knights Radiant
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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Shardplate is an ancient and magical [1] type of full-body armor found on Roshar. Infused with the power of Stormlight, it enhances the strength, dexterity, and speed of the wearer.[2] The origin of Shardplates has been lost over time,[3] but it is believed that they were a gift from the Almighty. Though it is also theorized that Shardplate is granted to a knight radiant upon swearing the 4th ideal.[disputed][Citation needed] The power of Shardplate is provided by a continuous infusion of stormlight from gemstones attached to the armor's interior. This suggests that Shardplate may be some sort of fabrial.[3]


A set of Shardplate is constructed of individual pieces that, when assembled, protect the entire body. There are no gaps between sections of the armor, only increasingly small overlapping plates.[4] Shardplate helms have visors with eye slits that may be lifted up to expose the face. Although similar in appearance, each individual suit of Shardplate has a unique look[5][6] and, because it conforms to the shape of its wearer,[7][6] the same suit may appear unique on different individuals. The unfinished color of Shardplate is slate-grey,[2] similar to unfinished steel.[3] In current times it is a common practice to change the appearance of one's Shardplate by painting it, or adorning it with decorative details or even gemstones.[2]

Shardplate worn by Radiants of the past is said to have shone brightly with the glow of Stormlight and with glowing glyphs.[8][4][9] It also appears likely that Radiants were able to control their Shardplate with more precision -- for example, Dalinar notes several times with perplexion that both the male Windrunner's and female Stoneward's Plate in one of his visions abruptly change from being helmed to unhelmed.[8]

A suit of Shardplate weighs over 100 stones.[10]


by: Isaac Stewart
A section of scroll, collected by Nazh, depicts a Shardbearer successfully using Ironstance.

The augmented abilities of Shardplate are fueled by Stormlight from gemstones attached to the inside of the armor. After a time, the Stormlight can be depleted rendering the armor useless and the wearer immobile. In situations of extreme stress, the gemstones may crack.[11] Ten gemstones, larger than broams, power every set of Plate.[11] Five are beneath the breastplate[1], and one is in each sabaton.[4] If worn by a Surgebinder, the plate will automatically feed off their Stormlight to power itself.[12]

Shardplate provides protection from impact caused by a weapon or from a fall.[2] The individual wearing the plate is able to feel impacts from within the armor, but their force is greatly reduced. The sensation of touch, however, is transferred through the fingers of the gauntlets allowing the wearer to feel fine detail.[13]

Shardplate differs from ordinary armor in that it can stop blows from Shardblades. This capacity is not unlimited, as shardweapons can still crack and even break the plate with repeated blows. But Shardplate armor is one of the few materials that can block or resist a Shardblade strike to any degree, apart from another Shardblade or a Half-shard.

Shardplate does not dent or bend. Instead, sections of the armor can crack after heavy or repeated impact and will eventually fail.[1] When a section of the armor fails, it will explode into bits of molten metal. Damaged sections will leak stormlight. While enough leaks will deplete the gemstones and cause the armor to lock up, individual leaks, even large ones, will eventually "seal over" on their own, preventing further loss of stormlight, even if the damage hasn't fully healed yet.[14]

Strength and speed are also greatly increased by Shardplate. It provides the ability to jump great distances,[4] heave objects of great weight, and run at high speeds. The strength that is granted by Shardplate is such that Dalinar Kholin was able to catch a chasmfiend's swinging foreclaw, and hold the creature at bay long enough for Adolin to further weaken it.[15] The extra support of Shardplate can assist the wearer in overcoming physical injuries that might otherwise leave him or her incapacitated.[16] Wearing Shardplate requires extensive training to control this strength without damaging everyday objects.[2][17]

Agility and dexterity are increased by Shardplate. A person armored in Shard acquires faster reflexes and is more responsive in battle.[10]

The Shardplate helmet has a face shield with a horizontal eye slit for visibility. When lowered, the shield becomes translucent to the wearer. Visibility through the eye slit is clear but peripheral vision is likened to looking through dirty glass.[15] In some instances, the face shield can adapt to protect the wearer's vision from the brightness of a lightning strike.[18] It is implied that when closed, the edges of the visor meld into a single, unbroken surface with the rest of the helm in a small puff of mist.

Shardplate has the ability to use Stormlight to regenerate itself when damaged.[14] If sections of a suit of armor are destroyed or abandoned, they can be regenerated later by using Stormlight from the suit's gemstones. Once the Shardplate regenerates an abandoned piece, the previous piece will crumble to dust.[7] Repairing a heavily-damaged set of Shardplate can be costly as it commonly cracks the gemstones used during the process.[19] Through some unknown method, common spheres can also be used to repair Plate.

Shardplate protects the user from Surgebinding. It is not possible to use any lashings against someone armored in Shardplate. It is also not possible for a wielder of an Honorblade to Surgebind while wearing plate, due to interference from the gemstones.[1] At least some of the original Knights Radiant were able to Surgebind while wearing their armor.[8]

Acquiring and Donning[edit]

As the technology used to create Shardplate has been lost, a limited number of suits exist. The only way to acquire a set of Shardplate is from another person. This can be done through battlefield combat, by dueling,[20] by borrowing it from the owner or by inheritance.[2] It is common for Shardbearers to loan their Plate to others. Even the King's own shardplate can be borrowed at a heavy price.[10]

Because of its weight, assistance is required to don Shardplate. The Shardbearer often has a team of armorers to assist with putting the armor on.[21] The armor must be applied from the ground up starting with the sabatons or the wearer would be unable to support its weight.[4] Regular clothing, boots, and additional padding are worn underneath the Plate. When applied, each individual piece of Shardplate tightens to fit itself to the contours of the wearer.[4][21]

Removal of Shardplate is done in pieces as the wearer mentally commands each section to release and fall away. Damaged sections can be shed during battle. In order to eliminate the need to remove one's entire set of Shardplate during extended battle, other soldiers provide assistance with the toileting needs of the warrior in Plate.[22]

Although most suits of Shardplate known to exist are possessed by the human inhabitants of Roshar, Parshendi used to own Shards, though they have lost most of them in battle with the Alethi.[16]

The old Knights Radiant associated acquiring a Shardplate with swearing the Fourth Ideal.[23]


Although incredibly strong, Shardplate is not invincible. Repeated impacts to the same areas can cause that piece of the armor to crack and leak Stormlight,[24] depleting it at a higher rate.[7] Once the Stormlight is exhausted, the armor will "freeze up" and be rendered immobile.[19]

Individual sections of Plate can be cracked to the point of failure. Upon failure, the piece of armor explodes into bits of molten metal leaving that area of the warrior exposed. The Shardbearer can remain in combat with some pieces of armor missing. Destroying a greave can incapacitate a Shardbearer by rendering him or her unable to support the armor's weight.[10][7]

The breastplate is a central support structure. Destroying the breastplate alone will disable a Shardbearer.[13]

The armor is also incredibly heavy. Though it will protect the wearer from a fall, the fall can still damage the Plate. One tactic used against Shardbearers is to put them in a position where their great weight will cause whatever they're walking on to fall apart, dropping the Shardbearer.

Another common tactic is to bind the Shardbearer with ropes. Though a Shardbearer's strength is enhanced, enough people holding him back with ropes can slow him down enough for blows to be struck.

In conjunction with the above, the one vulnerable spot on Plate is the eye slit. With luck, skill, or by somehow restraining the Shardbearer, a knife or arrow can be stabbed through this slot; at that specific spot, many wounds will be instantly fatal.

Effective tactics used against Shardplate include massive, blunt projectiles. At the Battle of the Tower, listeners used two-handed slings to hurl head-sized rocks. A single blow was enough to make cracks in an unharmed section of Plate.

Bladed or pointed weapons (arrows, spears, swords) typically don't carry enough force to damage Plate, but if Plate is already cracked and an edge catches it, the blow can widen the crack. It's conceivable that a Shardbearer, used to ignoring spear strikes that would normally barely scratch his paint, might be unprepared to respond to an effective use of this weakness.


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