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Basic Information

Also spelt pteryges1, pteruges were the strips of material - usually leather found hanging down like a skirt from some pieces of armour. In some cases these were (more or less) ornamental, but in others they had a solidly protective function.

Roman and Hellenistic armour is probably most famous for this - generally as a skirt hanging from a cuirass of some kind (not necessarily a plate cuirass2), but sometimes as a sort of pauldron. Pteruges can also be found on some (usually central Asian) helmets, protecting the neck from the back and sides.

As protection goes, they were probably a slight improvement over nothing, but are unlikely to have counted for much against a serious hit and may even have been something of a nuisance when moving about.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Hard to pronounce, but less disturbing than the idea of your character wearing a leather skirt. In some cases.
  • More useful for color or flavor narration than being worthy of a distinction in armor class or the like.
    • Only the crunchiest, fiddliest of systems would be likely to model the benefits of having pteruges on your armor. Basically, the defensive benefits of flexible strips dangling from your light armor are probably smaller than the benefit of just wearing the next heaviest armor type on your equipment list.
    • This may also depend on whether your system uses hit location or not - if your character is a homogenous blob for combat purposes then pteruges almost certainly won't have any mechanical effect, but if they have in-universe body parts then the difference between some armour and no armour may be (literally) vital.
  • Enchanted pteruges may interesting. They would be a colorful place to have a totem, charm, ward or other protective magic. Effectively this is an extra magic item "slot", an add-on to your armor that is only compatible with certain armor styles. Like wearing an amulet, but exclusively for warriors.
    • A clever player might spend an action severing a single pteruge via a called shot instead of making a normal attack, and doing so may deprive the villain of a vital magic.
    • Pteruges means feather, so flight, levitation, or enhanced movement rate may be thematic choices for enchantment.
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