Libris Monstrum #2: Good Gargoyles
We are back with another entry into the new Libris Monstrum. This time I want to consider something that has always bothered me about D&D: gargoyles. These guys are a staple of Gothic architecture, but their intention has often been seen as protective, warding building from spirits. Let’s get this kind of gargoyle floating around our fantasy worlds too!
Evil Primordial Shards
Okay, before we get into things let’s quickly talk about gargoyles. I have gone over them a couple times now in the old Libris Monstrum, but let’s focus on the 5th Edition version. Gargoyles have always been pretty simple monsters in D&D: elemental, can virtually be a statue, wings. This has all been codified into the D&D mythos as something an evil Elemental Prince, Ogremoch, accidentally creates. These are shards of his form and embodiments of his evil. More than that, these things are meant to be mockeries of elemental air, hence the wings.
I like this take on gargoyles. It explains the handful of characteristics that make them what they are while also giving them a part in a much larger universe. But what about those which have found their way to hallowed grounds, that have been created with higher intelligences, have lived long enough to gain some insight, or been thrown into some plane bathed in the light of a good god??
I want to run with this concept but we need to define some things. First I am not going to define the historic creation of these gargoyles. I will work them into my world in some way but that’s not what this article is for. Below are some of the origins you might want to use. Take whatever works for you world.
- shards of a good Princess of Elemental Earth like Sunnis
- an earth mote tossed into the elemental Plane of Air but cleansed by Chan, a good Princess of Elemental Air
- survivors of a genie raid into good-aligned divine lands
- individuals bound to celestial temples
- statues on paladin temples given life
- decedents of ancient evil gargoyles who have forsaken their heritage
- an ancient race of naturally born gargoyles from before the wars between gods and primordials
The key for these gargoyles will be to give them a look that feels less evil. I imagine being smooth-carved stone like marble or white granite. Something that is a bit more pristine than the stone forms of your usual gargoyles. Their eyes would be a golden or bronze-colored pupiless orb. These should be frightening but beautiful.
We don’t need to go crazy changing the stats of your normal gargoyle. They are too basic of a creature. Changing the skinning and the concept around them is plenty. Combine that with the right roleplaying of these groups and we have something all-new for our table. That being said, we can do more. Normal gargoyles don’t currently have additional versions, but they have. So while we are at it let’s go ahead and come up with something.
I picture these things sitting on the corners of temples and churches. I especially see them on those which would have more peaceful followers. Temples with paladins and clerics of a martial training would be less likely to need them. Since these generally are seen as protectors that guard against evil spirits I want to give them some divine sense straight from the paladin class abilities. Let’s also give them the ability to see invisible creatures, but to balance it out it might only be something they can see while sitting like a statue.
This works for the basics but I definitely see myself making a couple more versions of these creature. I’m thinking gold sword wielding, extra powerful paladin-like versions and maybe even some radiant energy throwing archers. Don’t worry I will share what I make when it makes it out of my head. Eventually!
Let me know what you think of having some non-evil gargoyles and how you might use them to challenge your players.