Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

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Gargoyles made their 4e debut in the first Monster Manual. I wrote about them here. Though that article includes a whole bunch of gargoyles, most of them are from the Monster Vault. When the MM3 was published, we still only had the two originals from the MM1.

This entry adds a lot more variety, and it doesn’t actually overlap with the later MV gargoyles, so we’re going to be looking at all of them.

The Lore

Gargoyle lore remains basically the same, and you can read it here. We get two new bits in this entry:

The first is that efreets love to train packs of gargoyles to hunt sapients for sport. The elemental lords are endlessly amused by their pets’ penchant for sadism when hunting. In the world, cultists of the Elder Elemental Eye frequently recruit and train gargoyles to guard their temples.

The second is that while gargoyles have a fearsome reputation in the world, they tend to be viewed as weak in their native Elemental Chaos. There, they are more often the prey than the hunter. Gargoyle packs skulk in caves and other secluded locations, and only attack when they greatly outnumber their target.

The Numbers

All gargoyles in this entry are Medium Elemental Humanoids with the Earth keyword. They have Darkvision, a ground speed of 6, and a flight speed of 8. They’re immune to petrification, and all but one of them have a passive trait called Lurking Presence, which gives them a +10 bonus to Stealth against enemies’ passive Perception.

It’s also interesting to note that none of the gargoyles in this entry have the Lurker role - with these and the ones from the MV, you can build varied all-gargoyle encounters.

Ironstone Gargoyle

Identified by the rust-red streaks covering their bodies, Ironstone Gargoyles behave like their “default” cousins, hanging out in mountain passes and ruins waiting to raid unsuspecting passers-by. They wait in ambush but fight in a more aggressive and mobile way than usual once combat starts.

Ironstone Gargoyles are Level 7 Skirmishers with 80 HP and the traits outlined above. They use claws to fight, and have a special attack named Crashing Stride (recharge 5+). This allows them to shift 4 squares and make claw attacks against two targets at any point along the shift. If they hit, they also slide the target 1 square and knock it prone.

When surrounded, a Leaping Glide (at-will move action) allows them to fly 4 squares without provoking opportunity attacks.

Hornstone Gargoyle

This robust specimen is distinguished by its large horns, which it uses to gore, impale and drag victims in combat. It’s a Level 8 Brute with 107 HP and all standard traits.

Those horns can be used in an Impaling Charge, an attack which must be used as part of a charge. It does heavy damage and grabs the target by impaling them in the gargoyle’s horns. The target takes 5 ongoing damage while the grab lasts. Escaping uses the standard rules (Athletics DC 22 or Acrobatics DC 19).

The gargoyle can use Skewering Drag as a move action to move half its speed and automatically pull the grabbed victim along with it. Neither provokes opportunity attacks from the other during this movement.

I left the basic Claw attack for last because it interacts with the above abilities: aside from doing the usual heavy damage of a Brute, it allows the monster to use Skewering Drag as a free action. Attacking the grabbed victim is a perfectly valid choice, mind you.

In combat they’ll do their best to impale and drag an enemy away. If the charge fails they prefer to fly away and try again rather than stand and fight with basic attacks.

Obsidian Gargoyle

Obsidian gargoyles are kinda brittle, but also covered in sharp edges. Massive flocks of these things darken the skies of the Elemental Chaos, and they’re the preferred variant of Elemental Eye cultists. They’re Level 8 Minion Soldiers.

Their claw attacks are nothing special, but they also have a Cruel Claws passive that deals 4 damage to an enemy who leaves a square adjacent to the gargoyle. That’s not a lot, but it triggers on a shift and stacks. Surround a PC with these beasts. Leave only one way out. Dare them to take it.

Runic Gargoyle

This is an artificial gargoyle variant, originally created to serve the Elder Elemental Eye. Their skin looks like white marble covered in arcane runes, and they are a lot smarter than your average gargoyle. Some of them have since broken out of their servitude and found jobs with different groups.

Runic Gargoyles are Level 8 Soldiers with 87 HP and all standard traits except for Lurking Presence, since they don’t really have natural camouflage. They were made to be bodyguards, and their runes can be configured to bind them to a designated “master”. I guess “client” might be a better word for free runic gargoyles.

Their claw attack marks the target for a turn. They can also use an Avenging Claws maneuver that dazes instead of marking. This recharges when they’re first bloodied.

As a move action, they can teleport To the Master, appearing in a space within 2 squares of the client. There is no range limit on this, and it allows you to have a cool scene where the boss snaps his fingers and a gang of gargoyle guards teleports in.

If the gargoyle is adjacent to its client and the client takes damage, it can use Shielding Wings as an interrupt to take the damage instead.


The same encounter building tips for MM1/MV gargoyles also apply here. The efreet and Elder Eye angles are new and just as valid.

Inter-gargoyle synergy is highest between the gargoyles from this entry. You have a couple of variants who are excellent at inflicting forced movement, and a minion who deals damage to enemies who move away from it. And since all of them fly, they also pair well with pits and other floor-based hazards.

Final Impressions

The stat blocks in this entry don’t really change my general opinion of gargoyles. They might be too iconic, as the exceptional case in a D&D adventure is meeting an inanimate gargoyle statue who won’t come to life and try to kill you. For this reason, you don’t want to use them too much in your actual game. Still, by combining the MM3 and the MV you have enough variants to make that one gargoyle encounter truly memorable.