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Making a thrift of the throats of hell,
Our gargoyles gather the roaring rain,
Whose yawn is more than a frozen yell
And their very vomiting not in vain.

(from) For Four Guilds: III, The Stone Masons G. K. Chesterton

Basic Information

Strictly, a gargoyle is an architectural grotesque which also serves as a drainage spout for the roof gutters of the building to which it is attached, although in common usage it extends to all grotesques, especially those forming part of European gothic styling.

In fantasy settings (and some horror), such grotesques are often animate - roaming the roofs of their host building and those around in search of prey. As such, they might retain their original, protective function and serve as guardians of the building, or might be entirely more malicious as befits their appearance. Obviously the straightforwardly demonic looking gargoyle edges out the one with an integral downspout in this role.

Some settings go further and have the "monster" gargoyle as a living creature that only resembles and architectural grotesque.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Animate gargoyles may be deliberate or accidental, depending on setting.
  • Likewise, their nature may vary from case to case.
    • Even different types of gargoyles might have their own natures in the same setting.
      • A church gargoyle might protect its community.
      • A graveyard gargoyle might hunt tomb robbers, but graveyards are a classic candidate for becoming a Bad Place.
      • The less said about a Sheela na Gig, the better.
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