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For the Diablo II creature, see Gargoyle (Diablo II).
For the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Greyhawk adventure, see Gargoyle (2e).

A gargoyle is a winged creature of elemental earth.



Gargoyles are winged humanoid creatures with grotesque features. A gargoyle resembles a fiend, and has horns, sharp teeth, claws, a tail, and a pair of bat-like wings.[1] Gargoyles stand about as tall as a human, or slightly larger. Their skin has the texture of stone, and can be marbled, porous, smooth, or striated. Typically their skin is a dark grey color, akin to basalt.[2] Gargoyles have red eyes.[3]

Gargoyles have genders, but it is difficult for non-gargoyles to distinguish between males and females. Males tend to have larger horns, while females tend to have longer tails.[2]

Personality and alignment[]

Gargoyles are incredibly patient, and can spend years on watch. However, they are also vicious creatures, eager to inflict pain; they prefer intelligent prey, but will settle for tormenting animals if bored. They enjoy activities that inflict great harm with minimal effort on their part.[1] They may switch between patience and violence unpredictably.[2]

Gargoyles are likely to attack any targets they detect, whether those targets are good or evil.[4] They have a poor grasp of tactics, instead preferring to ambush small numbers of unwary foes.[5]

Gargoyles typically take their time with their kills.[3] They prefer to injure rather than kill immediately; slow, painful deaths are best to them, and they enjoy torturing helpless prey to death.[4] Gargoyles particularly enjoy harassing prey weaker than themselves;[6] they will focus on a single physically weak foe, mocking them while moving in to strike. A gargoyle threatens their enemy with torture and pain, hoping to frighten them into running away.[3] The fear and pain of a victim may inspire greater aggression in a gargoyle.[2]

Gargoyles are selfish and highly territorial. Their need for territory can be used by other, more intelligent creatures to manipulate them. Most gargoyles are also not particularly intelligent. Male gargoyles tend to be better at guarding, while female gargoyles tend to be better at hunting.[2]

Gargoyles are usually chaotic evil.[7]

In Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, the common gargoyle had the evil alignment.[3]

Abilities and traits[]

As earth elemental creatures, gargoyles do not need to breathe, eat, or drink.[1]

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, gargoyles are immune to exhaustion and have no need for sleep.[1] Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition does not address sleep, only describing them as "tireless".[2] Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 does not address sleep either,[7] but creatures of the monstrous humanoid type, which includes gargoyles, normally need to sleep.[8] Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition only says they have no need to eat or drink, and addresses neither breathing nor sleep.[4]

Gargoyles survive on minerals, slowly extracted via physical contact with stone, but they can go without any nourishment for years. They have unusual internal organs and rock-like bones, and their equivalent of vital fluids has the consistency of wet sand.[2] Despite being heavy creatures composed of living stone, gargoyles are capable of flight.[1]

Gargoyles have natural armor, and are resistant to attacks from non-magical weapons.[1]

In 4th edition, gargoyles have no resistance to non-magical weapons.[3]
In 5th edition, gargoyles are additionally immune to poison. They can also be harmed by adamantine weapons.[1]
In most 4th edition and all 5th edition sources, gargoyles are immune to petrification. However, gargoyles in the 4th edition Monster Vault (2010) lack this immunity by default.

Gargoyles can pose and hold themselves incredibly still for lengthy periods: even years,[1] decades, or centuries. Theoretically, they can hold their position indefinitely.[2] While in this state, a gargoyle appears to be an inanimate statue. This ability makes them excellent sentries,[1] and they also use it to surprise enemies. They remain aware of their surroundings, and somewhat aware of the passage of time, in this state; they are also alert enough to choose between different victims when nearby.[2]

In 4th edition, gargoyles can actually turn into stone statues.[2] They gain tremorsense and resistance to all damage in this "stone form",[3] and their wounds heal more quickly.[2] Their "stone form" does not necessarily resemble their true appearance, and can be humanoid, reptilian, or demonic in shape; however, these altered features disappear when the gargoyle attacks.[3]
In 3rd edition and 4th edition, gargoyles were also skilled in stealth; in 3rd edition, they were particularly adept at concealing themselves against stony backgrounds.[7]

Gargoyles attack with their claws, and are also known to bite their enemies.[1] Gargoyles sometimes attack with their horns as well.[4]

In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, gargoyles' natural weapons were treated as magical weapons, and could injure creatures that had resistance to non-magical attacks.[7]

Gargoyles may swoop down at foes and strike with their claws.[3] A gargoyle faced with challenging foes will withdraw to safety and enter their statue state.[6]

In the 4th edition Monster Manual, gargoyles could strike foes with their claws while flying past them, but would eventually become impatient with such tactics and engage in close combat. This was changed in the 4th edition Monster Vault to only striking at the end of their flight.

Gargoyles have darkvision.[1]

In Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, gargoyles were magical beasts,[9] which meant they also had low-light vision.[10]



Gargoyles are found anywhere stone is common.[3] They may be found on rocky cliffs or mountains, or in underground caverns, or in ruins. In cities, they may be found on rooftops, atop great buildings such as cathedrals and castles. They may even hide among sculptured gargoyle statues, the better to ambush prey.[1]

Gargoyles are native to the Elemental Plane of Earth.[1] On their home plane, gargoyles generally do not hide as stone statues, but instead openly hunt their prey from the air. [3] They live a nomadic or skulking existence, generally preying on creatures weaker than themselves, and only attacking stronger creatures in large numbers.[2]

Gargoyles may also be found in other planes, such as the Shadowfell,[3] to include the city of Gloomwrought,[11] or Torremor, the 503rd layer of the Abyss.[12] Gargoyles and margoyles are known to target the aarakocra settlement of Precipice in Eronia, the second layer of Elysium, slaying children of the resident aarakocra, giant eagles, and avariel.[13]

Gargoyles are also found on the Isle of Dread.[14]

In the World Axis cosmology, gargoyles can be found in the domains of dead gods in the Astral Sea.[3]


Gargoyles favor lairs with open spaces (for flying) and high vantage points (to dive down at prey), located where they can spot potential targets.[2] Gargoyle lairs are often adorned with the corpses of fresh victims.[3]

Only a small number of gargoyles live in cities, such gargoyles being especially vicious and courageous.[2]

Life cycle[]

Mated pairs of gargoyles only remain together until eggs are produced. Once pregnant, the female of the pair selects a lair, then both assume a statue state. The female remains in that state for over a year, while the male emerges a few times each month to patrol the area. The female eventually emerges with a clutch of eggs that resemble smooth stones, then leaves the eggs with the male before departing. The male then takes the eggs to a different location, scatters them in the area, and also departs.[2]

The eggs gradually grow into a humanoid shape, and slowly become mobile, explore the area, and learn to fly and use their natural weapons. If these young gargoyles encounter one another, they will test their claws and bites on one another, often fighting to the death. Gargoyle maturity is marked by their ability to freeze in a statue state, and their seeking out a lair of their own; this occurs within five years.[2]

Rarely, gargoyle siblings may band together and search for other gargoyles. Such familial bonds fade quickly when the gargoyles join larger groups.[2]

Gargoyles have a lifespan of about 50 years. However, they do not age in their statue state, and thus can live for centuries. It is rare for a gargoyle to die of old age, as they are typically slain by adventurers, other monsters, or even other gargoyles; an elderly gargoyle may also choose to enter its statue state and never leave it, rather than die. A dead gargoyle turns to brittle stone, almost immediately; if intact, they are simply a statue, and more often their remains are indistinguishable from gravel or rubble.[2]

The article Why gargoyles don't have Wings but should, Polyhedron #21 (1984), by Gary Gygax, presents an alternative life cycle. In that article, female gargoyles lay two to eight eggs every two to five years, depending on feeding conditions. The eggs are laid in an inaccessible location such as a cave or grotto, and are left unattended. Initially the size of ostrich eggs, they grow about an inch a month over the subsequent twelve months, thanks to the absorption of minerals from nearby stone.
When the eggs finally hatch, the baby gargoyles are about a foot and a half in size. Only a few minutes of rest are needed before the young gargoyles are ready to fly and feed for the first time. They turn on any smaller, weaker members of the clutch and devour them, before flying away.
The young gargoyles feed on whatever they can find, be it fungus, rodent, insect, or nearly anything else animal or vegetable. They grow rapidly over the next week or two, and are large enough by the end of that time that they can interact with adult gargoyles without fear of being eaten themselves. Typically three or four gargoyles survive to join adult groups. Gargoyles reach maturity in one year, at which point they are five feet tall, and reach their full six to six and a half-foot size in 10 to 45 years. Gargoyles can live for at least 200 years.


While gargoyles do not need to eat, they are known to devour their victims once they've finished tormenting them. They may not even wait for their victims to die before biting into them.[3] Gargoyles also gain "sensory delight" from the iron in the blood and organs of fleshy humanoids.[2]

Society and culture[]


Gargoyles may serve as guardians for the homes of intelligent masters, such as spellcasters,[1] psions, and sages, who wish their work to remain undisturbed.[5] They are also known to serve demons[1] and demon cults.[6] Demon cults not only recruit and train gargoyles, but also breed them. Members of evil temples may also encourage gargoyles to roost on their roofs, in exchange for striking at their enemies.[2] Gargoyles may even work for criminal gangs, serving as scouts and lookouts.[5]

Most gargoyles are easily induced to serve, and may follow even a wicked master for years without complaint.[1] Other gargoyles must be kept in line through threats or bound to service by magic.[3] Rituals such as summon gargoyle can be used to summon and bind gargoyles as guardians,[2] and other rituals can summon them to hunt down people or objects.[6] Gargoyles may also serve evil masters as messengers. Gargoyles may be paid by evil masters with gold or a few gems, but they also enjoy the opportunity to attack trespassers.[4] Criminal gangs may reward gargoyles with trinkets and fresh meat.[5]

Gargoyles serving as guardians are typically more intelligent than other gargoyles, and may be provided passwords or keys to open barriers for visitors. They may also allow visitors to pass such barriers unharmed, provided they can answer a riddle or provide proper identification. However, such guardians still have the same cruel temperament as all gargoyles, and will seize on any mistake as an excuse to attack.[3]

The cult of the Elder Elemental Eye is known to recruit, train, and breed gargoyles. They use gargoyles to guard and keep watch.[5] The cult's knowledge of gargoyle physiology has advanced to the point that they can enslave the creatures. Gargoyles of the Eye are fearless and willing to sacrifice themselves, or even die, for their masters.[2]

In the Elemental Plane of Earth, gargoyles serve Ogrémoch, carving out motes of earth that he hurls at Aaqa, the realm of the Wind Dukes in the Elemental Plane of Air.[1] Gargoyles are also known to serve other elemental powers, such as the dao.[2] Some efreet lords train packs of gargoyles to hunt down humanoid prey for sport; these lords are entertained by the gargoyle tendency to toy with victims.[5] They are also used in gladiatorial arenas in the City of Brass and in other elemental civilizations. However, gargoyles are among the weaker beings among the elementals, and more intelligent elemental creatures think of them as dumb beasts.[2]


Although gargoyles are selfish creatures, they also wish to have territories to defend. To that end, gargoyles may organize into packs sometimes called "flights" or "wings", hunting and slaying victims together. However, the gargoyles in such a group still don't get along, and fights can break out if too many are active at the same time; larger groups can only be kept in line by a margoyle, or another powerful or charismatic being.[2] These groups of gargoyles typically have between five and 16 members. When not tormenting their foes or waiting silently for prey, the group's members may brag among themselves.[7]

Gargoyles may also be found individually, or in pairs.[7]


Gargoyles have a hatred for creatures of elemental air, and will seize any opportunity to destroy them. They have a special enmity for the aarakocra,[1] who likewise see gargoyles as their sworn enemies. The aarakocra word for gargoyle loosely translates as "flying rock".[15]

The "Al Karak Elam" or avariel reserve their greatest hatred for gargoyles, as they are one of the few types of creatures to present a serious threat to avariel communities.[16][17]

Allies and minions[]

Gargoyles in their native plane are known to hunt alongside other elemental creatures,[3] such as galeb duhr.[6][18]


Gargoyles speak Terran,[1] a dialect of Primordial.[19] Some gargoyles also speak Common.[7]



Gargoyles will collect treasure from human victims. Individual gargoyles will typically have a few gold coins among them, but most of gargoyles' treasure is hidden in their lair, often under a large stone or buried.[4]


The stone remains of a dead gargoyle can be ground into a powder, and used as an ingredient for magic items such as the cloak of the gargoyle. However, gargoyles are mystically attracted to such items, and hostile to those using them.[2]

A gargoyle's horn is one of the more common ingredients in a potion of invulnerability. The horn can also be used in a potion of flying.[4]



Gargoyles were originally spawned from primeval rock, before the mortal world was fully formed.[2] They are a physical manifestation of the evil of Ogrémoch, one of the Elemental Princes of Evil. As Ogrémoch travels through his realm, he leaves shards of broken stone in his wake, which gradually develop into gargoyles. Ogrémoch does not create gargoyles deliberately, but they are mockeries of the elemental air that he hates.[1]

There are other stories about gargoyles' origins.[2] One account suggests that gargoyles began as carved roof spouts depicting human and animal shapes, used to throw water away from walls and prevent stains and erosion. An unknown mage used powerful magic to animate these sculptures,[4] in a fashion similar to golems, but a fluke in the process made them into living creatures. The creatures propagated and eventually became the modern predatory gargoyles. Another claim about gargoyles' origins suggests they were created through a curse on clerics disfavored by their deities, resulting in the stones of their temples becoming the creatures.[2]

The animated sculpture origin was the default in 2nd edition.[4] (A similar origin for gargoyles was provided in Basic Dungeons & Dragons; see Variants below.[20]) However, the 4th edition article Ecology of the Gargoyle, Dragon #423 (May 2013), wrote this origin off as "mythology"; gargoyles were instead identified as creatures from the Elemental Chaos.[2] The 5th edition Monster Manual expanded on this elemental background, linking gargoyles to Ogrémoch.[1]

Elementalists, who know of gargoyles' elemental origins, think it likely that the primordials had some connection to their creation.[2]

Ancient history[]

Gargoyles came to the Material Plane long ago. Their territorial nature was frustrated in their home plane, as they were among the weaker elementals, but they were not ranked so lowly in the mortal world. They have since gained a reputation as "earthly fiends".[2]

Gargoyles inspired the stone statues of the same name that are found atop major buildings, used in the architecture of many cultures to frighten and ward off trespassers.[1] The use of a gargoyle's likeness as a sign of warning reflects the creature's vicious reputation.[3] Superstitions have also arisen suggesting that gargoyles ward off worse problems.[2]

Notable gargoyles[]

For a full list of gargoyles, see Category:Gargoyles.

  • Carralag, a gargoyle who participates in the Race of Eight Winds in Eberron
  • Fleshcutter, a half-fiend gargoyle barbarian
  • Golthor, a gargoyle chieftain
  • Rudy and Hubert, tor gargoyles seeking help in retrieving their stolen wings


Gargoyles are fairly malleable creatures, and can be shaped by outside forces. Many variants exist, which may originate in different elemental regions or are created by spellcasters.[2]


Main article: Margoyle

A margoyle is a paragon that often leads groups of other gargoyles.[2]


The kapoacinth is an aquatic gargoyle. They cannot fly,[7] but instead use their wings to swim, moving as fast as the common gargoyle flies through the air. Kapoacinths live within undersea caves in shallow waters.[4] They also dwell in shipwrecks and flooded ruins, relying on the appeal of shelter and treasure to lure in prey.[2] Kapoacinths target merfolk and sea elves as well as humans.[4]

Like gargoyles, kapoacinths entered the mortal world long ago. In the World Axis cosmology, they came from the Riverweb.[2]

Nabassu gargoyle[]

Nabassu gargoyles are found in the Abyss and elsewhere, and have demonic aspects.[2] They are known to work with demons. Nabassu gargoyles have a particularly powerful bite. They also have a "bloodfire" aura: when in their statue state, the aura inflicts fire and necrotic damage to nearby enemies, and the aura inflicts even more injury at the moment the gargoyle emerges from that state.[3]

Unlike other 4th edition gargoyles, a nabassu gargoyle only regains health in their "stone form" at the same time that its "bloodfire" aura harms those around it.[3]
In the 4th edition Monster Manual, their "bloodfire" aura was absent. Instead, nabassu gargoyles had a "bloodfire gaze" that weakened and inflicted fire damage on foes, and this gaze did not function while they were in their "stone form". Their bite also allowed them to regain health proportional to the damage inflicted.

According to some accounts, the demon lord Orcus was once a primordial,[2] and nabassu gargoyles served him. When Orcus became a demon prince, his nabassu gargoyles were transformed: some became the demons known as nabassu,[21] while others only took on demonic aspects, becoming the modern nabassu gargoyles.[2]

Giant four-armed gargoyle[]


The giant four-armed gargoyle as it appeared in Tomb of Annihilation (2017).

The giant four-armed gargoyle,[22] also known as the gargoyle mauler,[23] is a mutated[24] gargoyle created by the lich Acererak, using a method only known to him.[22]

The giant four-armed gargoyle is stronger and tougher than the common gargoyle, and more perceptive. They stand eight to nine feet tall, and weigh about 5,000 pounds. These gargoyles rend foes with their fangs and claws.[22]

Giant four-armed gargoyles are generally used to guard tombs.[22]

The gargoyle mauler in the 4th edition Tomb of Horrors (4e) (2010) and the giant four-armed gargoyle in the 5th edition Tomb of Annihilation (2017) are immune to petrification, but the original four-armed gargoyle in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e) (1978) listed no such immunity.
The 5th edition update of the original Tomb of Horrors in Tales from the Yawning Portal (2017) treated the original four-armed gargoyle as a normal-sized gargoyle with four arms. However, the original Tomb of Horrors described it as "huge".

Crystal gargoyles[]

There are two known varieties of crystal gargoyle.

One is much the same as the common gargoyle, but made from translucent crystal, giving it an advantage on stealth. Similar to obsidian gargoyles (see Other variants below), they injure enemies that try to move away from them during combat.[25]

This crystal gargoyle cannot take on a "stone form", unlike other 4th edition gargoyles.[25]

The other variety are crystalline gargoyles, smaller and weaker than the common gargoyle. They have psionic abilities that include charming people and inflicting pain, each once per day. These crystal gargoyles can also generate a burst of light once a day that can blind or stun foes, or even knock them unconscious. They are solitary creatures immune to cold, and prefer a cold climate, though they may also be found in temperate lands.[26]

There is also a marine variety of this crystal gargoyle, the crystal kapaocinth, that uses its wings to swim.[26]

Like other 3rd edition gargoyles,[9] the second type of crystal gargoyle was skilled at concealing itself against stony backgrounds, although they were not as adept as the common gargoyle. However, these crystal gargoyles were highly adept at hiding against icy backgrounds, or when concealed by water.[26]



The gargorian as it appeared in Dragon #101 (Sep 1985).

The gargorian is a stronger gargoyle variant, standing six feet tall and possessing four arms. Gargorians actively use their four limbs in combat, often to restrain enemies while rending with their natural weapons. However, they sometimes wield four longswords, or other weapons four feet or less in length, with one in each hand. They can take on multiple opponents at the same time. Gargorians heal from injuries at an accelerated rate, although this is inhibited by acid and fire; they can also survive being struck by an arrow of slaying gargoyles, although they will still be seriously injured.[27]

Gargorians are friendly towards other gargoyles, and often cooperate with them, although conflicts between gargoyles and gargorians are not unknown. However, they tend to dislike humans and usually attack them. Gargorians are nevertheless sometimes forced into service as guardians by powerful humans and monsters.[27]

Ice gargoyle[]


The ice gargoyle and ice gargoyle reaver, as they appeared in Dungeon #165 (Apr 2009).

The ice gargoyle originates in colder elemental realms, and can be found in other cold places.[28]

Instead of freezing as a statue, these gargoyles freeze themselves in ice. In this state, beneath the steaming ice, they only appear as vague shapes. Their preferred tactic is to emerge from the ice, then fly at nearby prey and grab them. Once they have seized their target, they encase themselves in ice again, trapping the victim as well. The ice gargoyle feeds on the trapped victim, gradually regaining any lost health while their victim freezes. One sign of an ice gargoyle lair is the presence of creatures trapped in ice, with surprised and horrified looks on their faces.[28]

Ice gargoyles are resistant to cold and immune to effects that slow. They are vulnerable to fire, and will focus their attacks on creatures that inflict fire-based damage.[28]

The ice gargoyle reaver is a larger, stronger ice gargoyle. Their claws inflict lingering cold damage. While encased in ice, ice gargoyle reavers can subject nearby enemies to a weakening, freezing gaze. Their freezing bite also makes its targets more vulnerable to cold. A favored tactic of an ice gargoyle reaver is to encase itself in ice, then use their bite on a foe weakened by their gaze.[28]

Runic gargoyle[]

The runic gargoyle was originally created to serve the cult of the Elder Elemental Eye. Some runic gargoyles broke free from the cult of the Eye and sought out other masters, such as evil cults or spellcasters.[5] They can also be summoned from elemental realms by the ritual summon gargoyle.[2]

A runic gargoyle has skin like white marble, and is covered with arcane runes that bind it to a master they defend in combat. They gain strength from this bond, especially when their master is injured, and can even teleport to their master's proximity at will. Typically, a wizard or priest master keeps their runic gargoyle out of sight when battle begins. Runic gargoyles are also occasionally sent to slay enemies or retrieve relics.[5]

The runic gargoyle cannot take on a "stone form", unlike other 4th edition gargoyles.[5]

Tor gargoyle[]


The tor gargoyle, as it appeared in WG9 Gargoyle (2e) (1989).

Tor gargoyles are found in the World of Greyhawk. They look like other gargoyles, but have detachable wings, attached to their body by a special joint. Several pairs of wings will grow during a tor gargoyle's lifetime, during which they are held in place by ligaments; once the wings are fully grown, the ligaments decay. The process of growing new wings requires years for an adult tor gargoyle, and they only do so to replace lost wings. Tor gargoyles detach their wings for increased mobility underground, and in locations such as ruins; detaching the wings also allows them to lie on their back, making sleeping and mating easier. They can fly without their wings, but lose most of their maneuverability; such flights tend to be chaotic and brief. Detached wings are of no use to non-gargoyles. [29]

Tor gargoyles are peaceful, and neutral in alignment. They will never intentionally attack humans unless provoked, although it can be difficult to predict what will provoke them. Tor gargoyles sometimes co-exist with humanoid communities.[29]

Tor gargoyles are vegetarians, favoring potatoes and turnips. They usually extort food from humanoid communities, but only in a polite, good-natured way. If denied, they will beg incessantly until they are finally given food. A very hungry tor gargoyle may eat small animals, but they are averse to attacking anything more dangerous than a sheep.[29]

Some sages have suggested, in light of the tor gargoyle, that detachable wings are the norm for all gargoyles.[29]

In WG9 Gargoyle (2e) (1989), the authors suggested that the tor gargoyle was likely the result of a mad wizard's experiment, or the result of a combination of recessive, mutant genes. The authors also thought it likely that the tor gargoyle was destined for extinction.



The wingwyrd, as it appeared in Five Nations (2005).

The wingwyrd of Eberron is descended from normal gargoyles touched by the Silver Flame. Lawful good by temperament, they serve the temples of the Silver Flame, as guardians and occasionally as messengers. Wingwyrds are communicative, social creatures, and they spend their time reflecting on the Silver Flame and speaking about philosophical matters. However, they also know when to put duty before pleasure. Wingwyrds are found in packs of between three and twelve members, though solitary wingwyrds and pairs are also known. They speak Common as well as Terran.[30]

A wingwyrd resembles the common gargoyle, save for its pale grey coloration. They have sharply pointed ears, broad noses, eyes of jet black, and horns that curve back from their brow.[30]

Wingwyrds only rarely engage in combat, and then only in defense of their temples. They attack with their claws and wings, which do greater harm to evil outsiders. Wingwyrds wisely target the weakest foes first, before attacking stronger opponents as a unit. They are less resistant to damage from non-magical weapons than the common gargoyle, but also have a resistance to magic spells. When a wingwyrd is slain, they burst into silvery flames which leave nothing of the creature behind, save powdered grey stone and any possessions; these flames also harm nearby evil creatures.[30]

Like the common gargoyle in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5,[7] wingwyrds' natural weapons are treated as magical weapons. They are also adept at hiding among stone architecture associated with the Silver Flame,[30] which replaces the common gargoyles' 3rd edition ability to hide against stony backgrounds.[7]

Other variants[]

Four-armed gargoyles are also found in the Doomvault in the Forgotten Realms, but while slightly tougher than normal, they are otherwise normal gargoyles.[31]

Gargoyles with resistance to petrification are found in Cazhaak Draal in Eberron.[32]

The gargoyle rock hurler throws stones at its enemies.[33]

The gargoyle rock hurler cannot take on a "stone form", unlike other 4th edition gargoyles. Instead, they have resistance to damage from ranged attacks.[33]

The earth element gargoyle is slightly stronger than the average gargoyle, can burrow through the ground, and possesses tremorsense. If the gargoyle and its opponents are both touching the ground, its attacks are strengthened, but their attacks are weaker otherwise. Earth element gargoyles are neutral evil.[34]

The hornstone gargoyle charges at enemies with their horns, hoping to impale their prey; this tactic has made them feared by even the strongest warriors. They attack in packs, and ignore counterattacks, instead returning to the air for new victims if a charge fails.[5]

The ironstone gargoyle is distinguished by the rusty streaks that cover their bodies. Active at night, they dwell in mountain passes and stone towers. Ironstone gargoyles raid caravans and travelers moving through remote, mountainous regions, and attack as a pack. They are known to drive victims towards the edges of cliffs, if they don't kill their victims outright.[5]

The obsidian gargoyle is found in elemental realms. Obsidian gargoyles are covered in weapon-like edges, which they use to hinder or injure enemies that try to escape them during combat. The cult of the Elder Elemental Eye bred these gargoyles to have a suicidal courage, and they happily form living barriers against the cult's foes.[5]

The hornstone, ironstone, and obsidian gargoyles cannot take on a "stone form", unlike other 4th edition gargoyles. Instead, they have a "lurking presence" that increases their stealth against an enemy's passive perception.[5]

The rocktempest gargoyle is a larger, more powerful gargoyle. Its claw attacks can inflict lingering damage, and it can also strike its foes more rapidly than other gargoyles.[35]

In the 4th edition Monster Vault, the rocktempest gargoyle is chaotic evil, rather than evil like other 4th edition gargoyles. Unlike the other gargoyles in Monster Vault, they have immunity to petrification.

The Malgothian gargoyle is created by the Malgoth, through the infusion of inanimate gargoyle statues with Abyssal energies, to serve as agents of its vengeance. Bigger and stronger than normal gargoyles, they can spew a torrent of foul water with enough force to push foes back. Those hit by the water also have a risk of contracting blinding sickness. Malgothian gargoyles speak Abyssal rather than Terran.[36]

Construct gargoyles[]

In some worlds such as Mystara, gargoyles are constructs created by wizards for various tasks, most often serving as guardians. Such gargoyles usually outlive or escape their masters, and form groups of their own. They typically remain territorial creatures, and will choose sites such as ruins, mountains, or caverns to guard against outsiders. Construct gargoyles share many of the traits of gargoyles in other worlds, including the same physical appearance, wings, and natural weapons; being mistaken for statues; the ability to patiently watch a site for long periods, even years; a chaotic temperament; no need for food or drink; and resistance to damage from non-magical weapons.[20]

The Basic D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991) does not specify if gargoyles need to breathe or sleep, but as constructs, it is unlikely.

As "greater" constructs, construct gargoyles are also immune to poisons and mental effects (such as charm and sleep spells). However, they do not heal naturally and have no ability to reproduce.[37] Construct gargoyles are also "enchanted" creatures, affected by spells such as protection from evil.[38]

Guardian gargoyles[]

Main article: Guardian gargoyles

In addition to the construct gargoyles, there are other varieties of guardian gargoyles, animated by wizards or priests to protect certain locations. These include the archer gargoyle, which uses magical arrow-like attacks; the spouter gargoyle, which spits acid; the benevolent stone lion; and the immobile grandfather plaque.[39]

Similar creatures[]

The iron gargoyle and gargoyle golem are golems rather than actual gargoyles.[40][41]

The grist, or "true gargoyle", is a creature created by Jason Krimeah, ruler of the Valley of the Mage in the World of Greyhawk, as his idea of what a gargoyle should be.[42]

The guardgoyle is a guardian construct created by the Zhentarim in the Forgotten Realms. They have been described as a type of gargoyle.[43] The kir-lanans of the Forgotten Realms have also been described as gargoyles.[44]

In other worlds[]


Tor gargoyles, as the name would suggest, are found in the Tors.[45]

Forgotten Realms[]

Several groups of gargoyles live in Yellow Snake Pass, in the Sunset Mountains of Faerûn.[46]

According to Elminster, a group of gargoyles is called a "nastiness", and the plural is "nastinesses".[46]


In Krynn, gargoyles' skin resembles granite, or sometimes marble. Their skin can crack and otherwise wear like stone, and they can have patches of moss or other vegetation on it. Some gargoyles resemble ugly versions of monkeys, hawks, lions, fish, and dragons. When gargoyles have tails, those tails look unnaturally lengthy, and they end in a sharp horn.[47]

One favored tactic of gargoyles in Krynn is to ram into their foes with their stone bodies. Another is to carry victims into the air, where the gargoyle can not only attack more easily, but can drop them to their death.[47]

The competing theories on gargoyles' origins in Krynn are that they are animated statues, or that the gargoyle sculptures were inspired by living gargoyles.[47]

Kapoacinths in Krynn sink like stones if they stop using their wings to swim. They are known to suffocate enemies. Kapoacinths are feared by Dimernesti, despite the Dimernesti's presence in deeper water than kapoacinths typically visit, as they are known to attack Dimernesti hunting parties and small, remote communities.[47]


Sigil's gargoyles have long gathered at the Screaming Tower. The current population of 99 gargoyles serves the annis hag Zaraga, but most also have part-time jobs guarding cathedrals and strongholds throughout the city.[48]


Gargoyles are found in the monster nation of Droaam,[49] and in Xen'drik.[50]

In Sharn, House Tharashk employs gargoyles as couriers, for letters or small packages.[51] House Vadalis also employs gargoyles in Sharn as couriers for hire, as well as bounty hunters; in exchange, they offer the gargoyles wider opportunities for hunting.[2]

The daelkyr Orlassk is said to have a gigantic gargoyle as his living citadel in Khyber.[52]

Publication history[]

Original D&D[]

The gargoyle first appeared in Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set, Monsters & Treasure (1974). Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975) introduces the kapoacinth.

Basic D&D[]


The gargoyle as it appeared in the Rules Cyclopedia (1991).

The gargoyle returned for the Basic Set (Holmes) (1977), Basic Set (B/X) (1981), and Basic Rules (BECMI) (1983). The BECMI version was updated for the Rules Cyclopedia (1991).

In the Rules Cyclopedia, they were assigned the construct monster type, and were specifically "greater" constructs. They were also designated as "enchanted" monsters. Previously, in the AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), gargoyles had been assigned to the conjuration type.

The Companion Rules (BECMI) (1984) detail a gargoyle gargantua, which is also included in the Rules Cyclopedia.

AD&D 1st edition[]


The gargoyle as it appeared in the Monster Manual (1e) (1977).

The gargoyle appeared in the Monster Manual (1e) (1977), along with the kapoacinth.

The "mutated 4-armed gargoyle" appeared in S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e) (1978).

The gargorian appeared in Creature Catalog III, Dragon #101 (Sep 1985). It was designed by Michael Persinger.

Gary Gygax detailed gargoyles further in the article Why gargoyles don't have Wings but should, Polyhedron #21 (1984). David Collins responded with the article Why Gargoyles Don't Have Wings (But Should) (An Alternate Viewpoint), Polyhedron #23 (Apr 1985).

AD&D 2nd edition[]


The gargoyle as it appeared in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

The gargoyle returned in Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), along with the kapoacinth, and both were reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

Gargoyles play a significant role in the Planescape adventure Umbra, Dungeon #55 (Sep/Oct 1995).

The gargoyle (of the Tors), or tor gargoyle, is introduced and features prominently in the World of Greyhawk adventure WG9 Gargoyle (2e) (1989).

The gargoyle was card #70 in the 1991 Trading Cards Factory Set (1991).

Dragonlance: Fifth Age[]

The gargoyles and kapoacinths of the Dragonlance setting were described in the The Bestiary (1998).

D&D 3rd edition[]


The gargoyle as it appeared in the Monster Manual (3.0) (2000).

The gargoyle and kapoacinth appeared in the Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), where they were assigned the magical beast creature type and the earth subtype. Both returned in the Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), which reassigned them to the monstrous humanoid type but retained the earth subtype; the kapoacinth was additionally assigned the aquatic subtype.

The 3.5 Monster Manual also provided rules for gargoyle player characters. Their favored class was fighter.

The crystal gargoyle appeared in the Psionic Bestiary article Crystal Gargoyle (2002), by Mark A. Jindra and Scott Brocius, on the Dungeons & Dragons web site.

The Malgothian gargoyle appeared in Dungeon #117 (Dec 2004).

The Eberron sourcebook Five Nations (2005) detailed the wingwyrd, both as a monster and as a player character option. Like the common gargoyle, their favored class was fighter.

D&D 4th edition[]


The gargoyle as it appeared in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008).

The gargoyle appeared in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008), which also described the nabassu gargoyle. Gargoyles were assigned to the elemental origin and the humanoid type, with the earth keyword. Gargoyles were further detailed in Ecology of the Gargoyle, Dragon #423 (May 2013), by Jeff LaSala; the article also described the kapoacinth.

The ironstone gargoyle, hornstone gargoyle, obsidian gargoyle, and runic gargoyle appeared in Monster Manual 3 (4e) (2010). Both the gargoyle and nabassu gargoyle were revised in Monster Vault (2010), appearing along with the gargoyle rake, gargoyle rock hurler, and rocktempest gargoyle.

The gargoyle harrier appeared in Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons (2009).

The four-armed gargoyle from the 1st edition Tomb of Horrors returned in the 4th edition Tomb of Horrors (4e) (2010), as the gargoyle mauler.

The ice gargoyle and ice gargoyle reaver appeared in Alliance at Nefelus, Dungeon #165 (Apr 2009). They have the cold keyword instead of the earth keyword.

A crystal gargoyle, different from the 3rd edition version, appeared in Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane, Dungeon #198 (Jan 2012).

D&D 5th edition[]

The gargoyle appeared in the online supplement for Hoard of the Dragon Queen (2014), before receiving a full entry in the Monster Manual (5e) (2014).

The giant four-armed gargoyle appeared in Tomb of Annihilation (2017).

D&D miniatures[]

Wizards of the Coast released the following miniatures products featuring the gargoyle:

  • D&D Miniatures: Dragoneye set #52 (2003)
  • D&D Miniatures: Blood War set #48 (2006) (earth element gargoyle)
  • D&D Miniatures: Dungeons of Dread set #10 (2008)

Creative origins[]

In Monsters & Treasure in the original Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set, gargoyles were "as depicted in medieval architecture".

Gary Gygax explained in 2007 that he envisioned gargoyles as creatures summoned from another plane, which escaped to the Material Plane and inspired architectural gargoyles. Gygax described their home plane as containing other grotesque creatures, including non-flying gargoyles and winged humanoids. Gygax also referenced a restaurant in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, called "The Gargoyle, Royal Steak House, Paul Junker", which had a gargoyle fountain; early Gen Con banquets were held there.[53] While Gygax did not explicitly state if the restaurant was a source for D&D's gargoyles, the connection was made by Shannon Appelcline.[54]

Gygax in 1984 expressed displeasure with the gargoyle's depiction without wings in the 1st edition Monster Manual.[55] David Collins wrote Why Gargoyles Don't Have Wings (But Should) (An Alternate Viewpoint), Polyhedron #23 (Apr 1985), as a response to Gygax, in which he suggested that gargoyles had detachable wings, and that while gargoyles could fly without them, they lost much of their maneuverability. This second article in turn inspired the tor gargoyles.[29]

Reception and influence[]


The D&D gargoyle has been described as a "horror monster", alongside creatures such as shadows, vampires, werewolves, and zombies.[56]

The gargoyle's 3.5 statblock was examined as an example of monster stats in Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies (2005).[57]

Appearances in other D&D media[]

Gargoyle miniatures were part of the Icons of the Realms: Tyranny of Dragons line produced by WizKids, as well as the fourth wave for the Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing game. A pack with two gargoyles was part of WizKids' Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures line.

A miniature of the giant four-armed gargoyle was produced for WizKids' Icons of the Realms: Tomb of Annihilation line.

Influence on unofficial works[]

The Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III (2001), a monster book for the parodic but licensed AD&D-based HackMaster role-playing game,[58] included the common gargoyle and the kapoacinth, along with an original creation, the gargoyle lord.[59]

Gargoyles and kapoacinths were included in the 3.5 System Reference Document, and appeared in the Pathfinder role-playing game, beginning with the Pathfinder Bestiary (2009). The gargoyle was also featured in the Pathfinder product Classic Horrors Revisited (2010). Total Party Kill Games also published the third-party Pathfinder supplement Scions of Stone (2013), which provided many new options for gargoyles.

External links[]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.140.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 Ecology of the Gargoyle, Dragon #423 (May 2013), p.8-12.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 Monster Vault (2010), p.122-125.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Monstrous Manual (1993), p.125.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 Monster Manual 3 (4e) (2010), p.92-93.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.115.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.113-114.
  8. Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.311.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.94.
  10. Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.5.
  11. Enemies and Allies: Gloomwrought's Movers and Shakers, Dungeon #190 (May 2011), p.1.
  12. Planes of Chaos, The Book of Chaos (1994), p.33.
  13. Planes of Conflict, Liber Benevolentiae (1995), p.60-61.
  14. X1 The Isle of Dread (1981), p.10.
  15. Elemental Evil Player's Companion (2015), p.3-5.
  16. The Winged Folk, Dragon #51 (Jul 1981), p.21.
  17. PHBR8 The Complete Book of Elves (1992), p.117.
  18. Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.114.
  19. Player's Handbook (5e) (2014), p.123.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.178.
  21. Demonomicon (2010), p.128.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Tomb of Annihilation (2017), p.221.
  23. Tomb of Horrors (4e) (2010), p.109.
  24. S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e) (1978), p.4.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane, Dungeon #198 (Jan 2012), p.24.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Crystal Gargoyle (archive.wizards.com). 2002-10-25. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Creature Catalog III, Dragon #101 (Sep 1985), p.45-46.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Alliance at Nefelus, Dungeon #165 (Apr 2009), p.46-47.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 WG9 Gargoyle (2e) (1989), p.30.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Five Nations (2005), p.156-157.
  31. Tales from the Yawning Portal (2017), p.129.
  32. Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), p.168.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Monster Vault (2010), p.123.
  34. Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game, Blood War set (2006), Earth Element Gargoyle (#48).
  35. Monster Vault (2010), p.125.
  36. Touch of the Abyss, Dungeon #117 (Dec 2004), p.59.
  37. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.155.
  38. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.153.
  39. The Dragon's Bestiary: Four Guardian Gargoyles, Dragon #223 (Nov 1995), p.20-23.
  40. Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix (1994), p.53.
  41. MC10 Monstrous Compendium: Ravenloft Appendix (1991).
  42. WG12 Vale of the Mage (1990), p.29.
  43. Ruins of Zhentil Keep, Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1995), p.5.
  44. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e) (2001), p.312.
  45. WG9 Gargoyle (2e) (1989), p.2.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1e), Cyclopedia of the Realms (1987), p.92.
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 47.3 The Bestiary (1998), p.86-87.
  48. Umbra, Dungeon #55 (Sep/Oct 1995), p.28-32,43.
  49. Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), p.164.
  50. Player's Guide to Eberron (2006), p.154.
  51. Eberron: Rising from the Last War (2019), p.153.
  52. Player's Guide to Eberron (2006), p.85.
  53. Q&A with Gary Gygax (ENWorld). 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  54. WG9 Gargoyle (1e/2e) (Dungeon Masters Guild). Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  55. Why gargoyles don't have Wings but should, Polyhedron #21 (1984), p.9.
  56. RA1 Feast of Goblyns (2e) (Dungeon Masters Guild). Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  57. ''Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies (2005), p.306-309.
  58. HackMaster: A History. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  59. HackMaster: Hacklopedia of Beasts Volume III (2001), p.46-48.