Jul 272011

My Favorite Monsters is a showcase of some of the beautiful artwork Turbine has provided so that we have interesting things to kill.

Before DDO I didn’t care much for gargoyles. I don’t dislike them, but then, what’s to like, really, in every CRPG and even in tabletop D&D they are the most predictable monsters ever.

First edition AD&D gargoyle
The legs should be a dead giveaway

DM: As you peer into the room, you see what appears to be several stone statues.
: Do they look like gargoyles?
They appear to be stone statues.
do they have wings and horns?
They appear to be stone statues. There might be the odd wing or horn here and there.

Yet somehow, no matter what elaborate preparations the party makes, somehow, some way, the stupid stone statues always seem to get a surprise attack when they reveal themselves to be – Surprise! – gargoyles.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike gargoyles either, they are simply too unremarkable to generate much opinion one way or the other. They have no particular special attacks (except of course Surprise!). They are made of stone but that is not as effective a defense as one might suppose.

They are never bosses, never casters, never anything but a pack of melee minions placed only to provide a fight, generally by a DM too tired or unimaginitive to come up with something more interesting.

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Anne Trent has written a Monster Minute article about Gargoyles. It is informative and well-written, as always, and much more scholarly. You should read it now.

According to Anne, there in fact is a gargoyle boss: some daelkyr or another so large that it is an entire mobile city yet somehow still a gargoyle. I’m not completely buying this, I would think that being a mobile city disqualifies one from remaining in Specie Gargoyle but then hey, what do I know?

We meet this Daelkyr in DDO update 10 – Orlassk the Lord of Stone. Doesn’t look very gargoyley to me.

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Most non-RPG players probably think of gargoyles either as grotesque rain gutters or as a Disney cartoon. Or both.

It would be easy to include a googled picture of Notre Dame here – a whole division of minion gargoyles are built into that gothic horror show – but like I said, too easy. So I went and took the picture myself.

My kids were a little old for Disney by 1995; I missed out on the cartoon. Judging from the images, I am surprised that Disney put out a cartoon with such a dark tone. I am no longer surprised that Disney sexified all the female characters, in the ensuing decade we’ve all learned that Disney is able to make a ton of money convincing seven to twelve year old girls to dress/act/aspire to be drunken college girls gone wild.*

* Not that I have anything against drunken college girls gone wild. Yum!! But it is not something that I would want an eight-year-old daughter mimicing.

The Disney gargoyles live on in comic book and cosplay form. There must be some substance to it that escapes me. But then I doubt I’ve seen a single episode all the way through so am hardly in a place to judge.

Goliath the Gargoyle

Gargoyle Gone Wild!

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And then along came the DDO gargoyle, still predictable, still a minion. But wait, there’s more!

Look at the little guy. Note the way he just exhudes cheekiness. What a face. Whichever Turbine artist created the gargoyle should be proud, she/he has realized the monster in way I couldn’t have imagined: with personality!

Cheeky gargoyle!

There is even a boss gargoyle, of a sort. If one enters the Cerulean Hills wilderness area and wanders about a bit, one may find a gargoyle named Lotigath. Once you are done being smacked in the face by the anagram nature of creature’s name you may engage it in conversation, and eventually in battle. Except this gargoyle is different from other DDO monsters in one other important way: it is smart enough to surrender!

Smart and cheeky gargoyle!

Seeing the original D&D gargoyle rendered in such an interestingly expressive manner has caused me to completely rework the way I think about the monster. No longer a minion, gargoyles are now one of my favorite monsters.

DM: You see a group of what appear to be stone statues
Player: Do they seem unusually cheeky?

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  6 Responses to “My Favorite Monsters: Gargoyles”

Comments (6)
  1. The Disney Gargoyles show was great. I always felt it was more of a grab for the older kids that gave up cartoons.But still watchable by younger kids.

    Remember it was the age of Ren and Stimpy, South Park and a few others. Gargoyles is tame by those standards.

  2. Yeah, kind of hard to have the gargoyles truly surprise you when the DM says stuff like “You see a group of what appears to be statues…”. Maybe the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would work…

    DM: Gargoyles attack you.
    PCs: Where did they come from?
    DM: They were here the whole time.
    PCs: You never said anything about ‘statues’ when describing the location.
    DM: You didn’t ask.

    …maybe not. πŸ˜‰

  3. I remember that cartoon! Oh my goodness! I loved it to death! then it was no longer on tv and I was depressed. Until I found a new favorite tv show… a week later.

  4. @Mizzaroo: It took you a whole week???

  5. I do love one room in the quest … hmmm do not remember quest name. Has icy skeletons in it and mindflayers and various humanoids halfway to becoming some form of undead … anyway, it also has this really large room that is packed with sarcophagi and a whole layer of gargoyles. Dozens of them.

    Except they only appear to be gargoyles, they are really statues, and they do not come to life and attack the party at all.

    Gotta keep ’em guessing πŸ™‚

  6. @geoffhanna Oh thats tricky tricky.
    @comic yep. a WHOLE week.

What do you think?

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