When I look at fantasy armor they all seem to add one ornate pauldron while leaving the other plain. Was this an actual feature or are fantasy armorers having me on again?

I’m not sure. Asymmetrical armor was an actual thing, and I’ve seen that reflected in some fantasy armor.

The idea was, if you’re opponent is primarily striking with their right hand, they’ll be connecting with your left arm, so we’ll just slap a lot more armor on there for when a blow gets in.

This is why you’ll sometimes see massive left pauldrons, sometimes even including partial neck guards on that side. While the right pauldron is smaller, lighter, and designed to give the combatant more mobility in that arm.

You also see some implications for this in castle designs in Europe, where the person coming up the stairs would have their right arm against the wall, while the person coming down would have their right hand in open space, or the twist of a staircase would be designed so the central spire would get in the way of someone trying to fight their way up if they were right handed (which was a safe bet.)

You might see ornate elements specifically on the right pauldron because it would be somewhat safer from constant assault, and it wouldn’t be a terrible place to put some kind of status indicator or insignia. You might also be thinking of the heavier pauldron as being ornate, which in some cases I’m sure they were.

It could also just be fantasy armor messing with you. Sort of like how full plate that was designed to counter early firearms will sometimes show up in fantasy settings that don’t even have crossbows.