Libris Monstrum #39: Gargoyle Revisited
Welcome to another entry of the Libris Monstrum! Today we will be revisiting gargoyles to explore some of the ways they have shown up over the years. Last time we explored real-world examples of gargoyles, where the name comes from, and similar architectural structures. We also took a moment to mention the wonderful Disney channel series. Now, let’s dive into the manuals and look at some of the gargoyles you might see at the table.
Generally speaking, gargoyles are pretty standard fare. These monstrous creatures are humanoid with some demonic features. Horns, fangs, wings, and claws are all the usual suspects that a gargoyle comes with. There’s not much going on in terms of variety, especially when we are comparing them to the wide array of gargoyles carved into real-world structures. Need for food and water has changed over the years and may or may not be a thing for gargoyles at your table. Personally, I would go with needs it but not nearly as often as anything else, especially given their abilities.
Gargoyles have a couple major, obvious abilities. They can fly thanks to wings, but are still quite strong and tough due to their affinity / closeness to stone. Often viewed as vicious creatures who take pleasure in causing their prey harm, gargoyles make dark use of their natural weapons. It should be noted you can also find these creatures under water, capable of quick swimming speeds but not being able to fly. Finally, the ability that makes them stand out and get plenty of use: freezing. Gargoyles are able to sit as a still as a statue, in some cases becoming a statue, which is indistinguishable from other stone structures and easily mistaken as inanimate.
Okay, where would I be without delving back into 4th Edition? I love 4E gargoyles. They made them official elementals but otherwise kept them to their basic origins. That being said, their freeze ability becomes a stone form ability that makes them resistant to damage and able to regenerate. In a guerrilla tactic situation, this could be quite mean. Especially if the gargoyle(s) live somewhere with lots of similar inanimate statues!
Beyond that 4E also gives us an alternate gargoyle that isn’t just an aquatic version. The nabassu gargoyle is a more demonic than normal monster and that includes its attacks. It can bite opponents to heal and a its gaze can make wounds burst into flame causing further damage! I cannot find the entry I am thinking of, but I am pretty sure that somewhere their origin was explained as shards of the primordial elemental Ogremoch that fell from the massive being’s body. Let me know where that is if my memory is correct, because I love the idea of a giant entity that leaves smaller monsters in its wake!
Okay so before we go, I want to discuss the possibility that gargoyles are getting the short end of the D&D stick. These are based on real-world things, but highly focused on the evil and demonic-adjacent versions. What about their protective purpose? The kind of gargoyles that we see in the Disney show or in the Hollows book series are like this. That’s the type of thing I am going to try and tackle come the rework of this series. Maybe it will even be the second entry after pixies. I’ll take a look at a good aligned race of protective elementals. I mean not all archomental entities are evil, right?
Any gargoyles I missed out on? Any ghosts you want to see in the next entry? How about creatures to tackle in the creative revamp?? Let me know about your stories and ideas in the comments below!