Type: Monstrous Humanoid (Earth)
Attack: Claw, bite
Special Qualities: Damage reduction, freeze
Organization: Solitary, pair, or wing (5-10)
From the personal journal of Azalai Korias, Elven Wizard
10 Lharvion, 998:
Adventurers must always be on guard when investigating ancient ruins. The architects of old seem to have taken sinister glee in devising cruel traps, collapsing walls or floors, and other mechanisms to punish trespassers. Our group relies on Kleija to be our main defense against these inanimate menaces.
Once in a while, however, things are not what they seem.
The cathedral had been abandoned for countless years, but remained heavily trapped, slowing our progress. At first glance the frescoes and crude idols seemed to be dedicated to the Mockery, but subtle clues (and insults to the Mockery) hidden within the cruel depictions led me to believe that this was actually a shrine to the Traveler, the trickster of the Dark Six. The numerous traps, secret passages, and hidden levers supported my belief, and brought a small amount of peace to my mind - the Traveler may be mad and uncaring, but he wasn’t intentionally murderous (usually).
In the central fane, steps led down to a grotesque altar to the Mockery in the shape of a giant flayed skull. A number of hideous statues of winged humans in various poses of debauchery and violence stood guard around the sunken altar. Kleija discovered that the jaw of the altar was hinged, and believed there were stairs hidden beneath it. She traced the mechanism of the secret door to one of the pedestals upon which a granite statue stood, and tugged on its arm.
I expected the statue to either topple over or refuse to budge, or perhaps for the arm to shift and open the secret door. I was not expecting it to come alive and slash our halfling with vicious claws, leaving a bleeding wound. The other dozen statues leapt from their perches and closed in as well.
The patience of gargoyles astonishes me at times. It is likely that we were the only travelers to enter the cathedral in perhaps hundreds of years, yet they stood frozen around the altar, waiting to ambush whoever might come by. They do not eat, drink, or breathe, and their stony hides deflect most blows dealt by weapons.
The gargoyles opposing us are a sub-race called granite gargoyles. They are stronger and tougher than normal gargoyles, requiring magical adamantine weapons to completely bypass their damage reduction, and with sharper, more dangerous claws. Unfortunately for the gargoyles, we have Zarn and his greataxe.
With a great cry, the warforged laid into the first gargoyle, cleaving through it into another. Kleija rolled behind the injured creature, slipping her daggers into weak points in her opponent’s stony hide. Senna stood at my side, keeping the monsters away from us as I cast a Fireball into the wing of opponents and Khovis chanted the lengthy incantation required for a Summon Monster V spell.
Reality rippled slightly as an earth elemental phased into existence beside the dwarf and grabbed hold of one of the gargoyles. Kleija flipped away from the attacks of the gargoyle she injured, and struck at the one held in place by the elemental. The raging warforged was obscured by stony wings and flashing claws as our enemies concentrated their attacks on the one with a weapon capable of fully affecting them, but their shouts and roars quickly faded to cries and whimpers under Zarn’s onslaught.
I moved to the side to get a better angle for a Cone of Cold as one managed to maneuver around Senna’s guard. The gargoyle lashed a claw out at me, tearing my robes and disrupting my concentration. I was left with a bleeding gash across my torso. Angered at the loss of my spell, I sent a flurry of Quickened Magic Missiles at my attacker, and Khovis dropped a Holy Smite upon our foes rather than healing my wound.
One of the gargoyles crouched down in a defensive stance, the wounds on it visibly healing - another surprise. Despite this new tactic, they were outmatched at this point and soon the fane was once again still.
Strong, tough opponents. After I've had to face hundreds of ogres and thousands of goblins, I can tell you that most adventuring heroes I've traveled with would rather face either one than face off against a gargoyle. That's especially true for the typical would-be bumpkin hero that brings along only a polished sword or heavy club. For them, even wounding these beasts of stone is nigh onto impossible. For many, the stone body of the gargoyle may represent the first encounter that demands an enchanted blade to penetrate. (If you fit that sad description, be sure to leave me a note at the Adept's Rest. I can set you up with some merchants in town, for a small fee). Sure, it's possible, with a perfectly placed weapon and an overly exercised body, to wound a gargoyle with a farmer's axe, but I don't recommend it.
Two things to be aware of as you approach the hunting grounds of a gargoyle. Send a clever rogue ahead - it's what they are for, after all, to scout ahead and spot the hiding foes. Elves are best for this suit of duty, as you'd expect. Keen eyes and all that. Once the foe is engaged, the second factor comes to bear: a wounded gargoyle is likely to freeze into an entirely stonelike form. If you can, put the creature down fast as it becomes hurt. Save your especially damaging spells or maneuvers for this time. If it freezes into place, weapons become even more useless than before. And the creature actually regenerates much of the damage you've done to it! Fortunately for you, the creature can't attack while it's bent over in this defensive stance. So unless you have heavy firepower on your side, just handle your other foes before returning to dispatch the gargoyle.
All that said, gargoyles get a pretty unfair reputation. They're not really all that evil a foe, compared to some of other hideous creatures of our continent. Indeed, as long as you have a talented and intelligent wizard about, gargoyles don't even pose that great a threat. They remain excellent targets for charm spells thanks to their merely average resistances and Wisdom. Their agility and ability to dodge fireballs and lighting bolts is somewhat greater, yet still nothing impossible to overcome for a puissant wizard such as Leke Ireb, or even the ones you know.