Gargoyle

Gargoyle: The Burning Ladder - A storytelling game of sacred struggle

Gargoyles.

Those creepy, leering monsters of church spires and skyscraper ledges, watching you from above. You see them as you walk into work everyday or pass that old church. Mangled mashups of beasts and men perched as if waiting to pounce, their expressions just as twisted as their misshapen forms. In those grimaces of pain and anger lies an exaggerated reflection. A reflection of ourselves in our worst moments. Moments of irrational hatred or naked fear. Flashes of sorrow or angst, frozen forever.

So what would it feel like to be caged in that way? To be trapped as a monster and to have to fight your way out?

In Gargoyle: The Burning Ladder you will explore what it’s like to live with that burden. To be incarcerated in a body that feels at once alien and altogether yours. And to use it to liberate yourself into something greater.

Something worthy of the heavens.


A GAME OF DIVINE MONSTROSITY

Gargoyle deals with the struggle of body and of self, of flesh versus spirit, of fate versus choice.

In this modern age, beauty is everything. Industries rise and fall on the idea that the mark of time and mortality are conquerable things in life. Youth and beauty are held above all else.

Gargoyles exist as the funhouse mirror to that world. Their ugliness is both their curse and their vehicle to greatness. True to this strife, the Ausir (Hebrew for 'a prisoner' or 'bound individual') are not named lightly. They are tied, unmistakably, to their duty, a responsibility to their watch and to mankind. It is a clarion call that cannot be ignored.

Once a Gargoyle experiences the Horror fully, once his blood and body reveals his ancient past to him in a ghastly transformation, nothing remains except his destiny. Honor-bound, the Gargoyle must illuminate or envigorate the darkness — for the sake of their own being in as much as the world’s.


SOURCES AND INSPIRATION

Lore and stories about gargoyles are few and far between. But some gems do exist out there, to spark ideas in your own Gargoyle game.

Film and Television
-Disney’s Gargoyles television series serves as the most recognized treatment of gargoyles to date. A Scottish clan of warrior creatures, who are stone by day and flesh by night, it provides the best source you need for a viable Gargoyle watch.

-The X-Files episodes “Grotesque” and “All Souls” are both very apt for the mood of a Gargoyle chronicle, “Grotesques” for all its evocation of how creepy gargoyles are and “All Souls” in its apocalyptic portrayal of the Nephilim.

-Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven-The Director’s Edition is one of the few modern films that deal with the Crusades with incredible pathos, fair accuracy and strong characters.

-Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire is an excellent example of angelic love for mortals and the disparity between the two worlds. Also worth watching is the sequel, Faraway, So Close.

-Looking for an idea of the Empyrean, the core of Heaven, at its most revealed? Seek out the sci-fi movie Sunshine.

Books
Fiction
-Hellboy, Mike Mignola’s demonic Indiana Jones, is the perfect perspective on what it means to be born evil and to act instead for the greater good

Non-Fiction
-Fallen Angels, Watchers, and the Origins of Evil by Joseph B. Lumpkin. An extremely strong summary of the various apocryphal texts (Enoch 1, the Book of Jubilees and others) that deal with the Egrigoroi, the Nephilim and their damnation by God.

-Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings by Janetta Rebold Benton. A comprehensive catalog of architectural grotesques and the varieties thereof

-Strangely Wrought Creatures of Life & Death: Ancient Symbolism in European and American Architecture by Gary R. Varner. A rich investigation into the possible architectural origins of gargoyles. Were they co-opted pagan symbols? Representations of hell? Or something more?

Music
-Kingdom of Heaven: The Soundtrack. Perfect for its Crusade-steeped battle crescendos as well as its exotic choral pieces
-Gregorian chants, from a wealth of albums, can help to stir up the monastic atmosphere of the Bound
-Ennio Morricone’s The Mission soundtrack is ripe with the tone of religious struggle against the odds.


Horror
Your Horror is what defines your gargoyle’s physical curse as well as his soul. Choose from the following five Horrors.

  • Chimaera: The living bridges, the traditional patchwork beast-men types with the power of Mirari (illusion). These include Hellions (those of a demonic aspect, horns, bat wings, etc), Wildings (those with the heads of an animal), Green-folk (the foliage wreathed forms of legend) and the Mer (figures with sea creature aspects)
  • Grotesques: The haunted and ghastly with the power of Terror. Made up of Ghant (the spindly and the skeletal), Twisted (the malformed and misshapen), Nightmares (the surreal and alien and the Stricken (those with a petrified face of fear)
  • Adorned: Those touched by Heaven in some feature, with the power of Luster (hypnotic charm and inspiration). Sub groups include the Avian (the angel winged), the Anthropic (possessing limbs of human appearance) and the Unmasked (faces, whole or partial of heavenly beauty)
  • Ferine: The animal formed with the power of Torva (wild savagery). These include the Farrago (animals made up of parts of other animals) and the Plenary (the pure)
  • Hunkypunks: The short, squat gargoyles with the power of Celatus (concealment). These include Imps (the little goblin types), Sheela na Gigs (the hags, little succubi and crones), Mouth-pullers (malleable faced pranksters) and Enfants Terrible (devil babies)

Station
Most Gargoyles seek community in their common Crusade. From this community Stations, or political orders of the Ausir, were born. Choose which Station your Gargoyle finds solace in.

  • The Ardent Storm: Warriors and guardians
  • The Sojourners: Healers and explorers of the supernatural
  • The Attendants of Rhapsody: Communicators, diplomats and hedonists more comfortable with the modern world
  • The Dragonkept: Ascetics who battle the darkness within and without
  • The Sovereign Keys: Governors and judges of Gargoyle tradition and law