The Gargoyles are a Bloodline of vampire which appear in White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness setting. Not a numerous bloodline, as their name might suggest Gargoyles are generally hideous in appearance.
All Gargoyles are unpleasant to look at as a result of their mixed lineage, with most sporting stony skin, expansive wings and jutting spines. As a result, they tend to make their havens in out-of-the-way places, with disused highrises being a particular favourite of many. The majority of the Gargoyle population are completely incapable of remembering their lives as mortals.
When the Omen War erupted during the Dark Ages between Clan Tremere and Clans Tzimisce, Gangrel and Nosferatu, the Tremere quickly found themselves on the losing side. In desperate need of unthinkingly loyal front-line troops, they began to experiment with captured enemies using their unique blood magic, Thaumaturgy. These ventures soon produced the bloodline known as the Gargoyles, and the introduction of the Gargoyles on the front lines helped stabilise the war for the Tremere, their presence on the battlefield proving invaluable in holding Tremere possessions whilst the Clan worked towards other means of defending itself.
After many long years of conflict the Tremere, along with six of the other Great Clans, succeeded in forming the undead political entity known as the Camarilla, and this ensured that the war slowly petered out. The final act which signalled the end of the war was the signing of the Montmartre Pact, which stated that the Tremere would no longer hold claim to the Gargoyles as slaves. This was welcomed by the Gargoyles, who had already launched their own rebellion which, whilst ultimately unsuccessful, had hurt the Tremere and caused them some consternation.
The newly-freed Gargoyles, finding themselves with no purpose in unlife, for the most part chose to throw in their lot with the nascent Camarilla, and over the centuries slowly established themselves as a small yet distinct bloodline in their own right. To this day, most Gargoyles count themselves as members of the Camarilla, and they have evolved their own signature Discipline of Visceratika which focuses on the abilities traditionally associated with gargoyles (impenetrable skin, flight, etc.).
Whilst Gargoyles are largely independent from the other Clans as a whole, they were initially developed to fulfill specific roles by the Tremere, and in modern nights there remain three distinct “sub-species” of Gargoyle.
- Scouts: Created from Gangrel and Nosferatu stock, the scouts‘ task was primarily that of information gathering, and so their talents lean towards the arts of stealth and speed.
- Sentinels: Bred as household guardians from captured Nosferatu and Tzimisce, the sentinels are tough, durable individuals whose natural awareness allows them to monitor any intrusions into their own and their masters’ domains.
- Warriors: The warriors are the shock troops amongst the Gargoyles, these Tzimisce-Gangrel hybrids are brutal fighting machines whose prowess in physical combat is legendary.
Organisation and Structure
In the modern nights, Gargoyles typically have little organisation outside of the Brood, a group consisting of all of the members in a city or region. These broods tend to be very tightly knit, and within a brood a Gargoyle is a surprisingly social creature, fiercely protective of its mates yet capable of surprising tenderness to those whom it calls friend. This is possibly a result of their lack of mortal memories.
Outside of broods, Gargoyles are usually found singly in the employ of other Kindred, acting as bodyguards, enforcers or simply as a show of strength, wherever their services are required. Indeed, having a Gargoyle in ones’ retinue is often seen as a mark of prestige amongst the Kindred.
(See main article: Vampire (World of Darkness))
As they were initially created through Thaumaturgical rituals, at first Gargoyles were incapable of creating progeny. In modern nights, however, the bloodline has evolved to the stage where its members may themselves create offspring.
The Embrace is particularly difficult for a new Gargoyle, as the act of becoming a vampire typically erases all memories of a human existence from a Gargoyle’s mind, potentially causing severe psychological trauma. However, the brood mentality prevalent amongst Gargoyles helps alleviate this to some degree, as the childe usually has a new “family” already in place to comfort and teach him.
How Gargoyles select candidates for the Embrace is something of a mystery; when pressed on how they made their choice, most will simply shrug and say something along the lines of “Just because.”
Gargoyles are all horrific abominations to look at. In addition, they are all highly susceptible to mind control, a safeguard left over from their time under the yoke of the Tremere, but which puts them at a considerable disadvantage amongst the creatures of the World of Darkness, many of whom are capable of mental manipulation to some degree or other.