Valkyrie Bestiary

Doing Our Best to Care for the Fae

Golem vs. Gargoyle

November 25, 2080

No, we aren’t doing some kind of gladiator show where we pit golems against gargoyles. But I want to have a serious discussion about the distinction between the two. This is a topic close to my heart for many reasons, and something we should all be aware of. So here goes.

What is a gargoyle?

Gargoyles were first created in the Renaissance era by gifted alchemists. They were carved from stone and then given life through a complicated alchemical procedure. In a nutshell, the alchemist stole a fae spirit and stuck it in stone. For more about gargoyles, see the Archives. 

What is a golem?

Golem is actually a generic term for any automaton animated through magic. Usually, this magic involves exhaustive rituals and rune work, often carved into the golem itself. Though golems need a strong power source (like a ley-line battery) for continued animation, the spell caster may initially spark the golem to “life” with a bit of their own magic, which enables a link between the two. Through this link, the spell caster can control the golem.

Golems generally don’t have any capacity to think for themselves. They aren’t sentient. The magic that animates them is purely mechanical, while a gargoyle takes on a spirit of its own once animated. 

Breaking the spell will cause the golem to de-animate. Usually this can be done by destroying the activating rune that is tattooed onto the golem or destroying the fetch that acts as a magical link to the spell caster. Gargoyles are much harder to kill, and often outlive their makers by generations. 

Golems are neither good nor evil. They cannot be reasoned with. Their only purpose is to complete whatever task the spell caster set for them. If you get in their way, they will kill you. But in the end, they are simply tools of the spell caster that created them. Gargoyles are living beings, with hopes, dreams, and a spirit of their own. They can be good or they can be evil, just like the rest of us on this planet.

Golems tend to be faceless and haphazardly put together. I believe this is because of their limited use. They aren’t made for long-term life. A spell caster creates a golem for one purpose—whatever that may be. When done, the golem will be deactivated and returned to its natural elements. For this reason, they are often made of clay or other easily disposable material. The original gargoyles were works of art even before being animated. The care that went into their carving was part of the ritual of creating life. The gargoyles I’ve seen are all beautiful in their own way. 

So what is the point of this discussion? Well, recently I came across a creature that seemed to be a hybrid gargoyle-golem. It looked like a golem—large, humanoid in a vague way, like an impatient child had put it together with clay—and even had a rune cut into its forehead. In fact, I’ve seen several of these creatures. Most were docile and acted like you would expect a golem to act. But one was…alive. That’s the only way to describe it. It was sentient. And angry. It wore a rune on its head, but it was unclear to me if that rune was its animating force. I’m guessing that thaumagauge testing would prove there was an inner source of life-magic coming off it.

My biggest fear is that someone has found the lost knowledge to create gargoyles again. But then why do they need the rune work? 

I’m sending this to you, my loyal peeps. Has anyone heard of such a thing?

Comments (3)

Never seen one of these, but could the rune be a way to control the gargoyle? 

alkeminator2000 (November25, 2080)

     That’s a great theory. Yes, it’s quite possible that the spell caster was controlling the golem-gargoyle with the rune. The depravity of humankind never ceases to amaze me.

     Valkyrie 367 (November 25, 2080)

I am fascinated by gargoyles. I like your take on golems too. A hybrid would be really cool.

DaddysGirl (November 25, 2080)