Once, the Gargoyles were the most powerful race to live amongst the sands of Augustgrad, the undisputed masters of the desert. Now, they are scattered across Fontraile, their once great nation shattered by the Rakshasa durring the Great Desert War.
Allegedly originally created from Elven stock as a servile race, the Gargoyles are, in every way, a living, breathing, reproducing race in and of themselves, though they only marginally resemble their allegedly-Elven origins. Their visages are often terrifying to behold (especially the more dragonic looking males of the species). Their bodies are notably hardier than those of the Elves they supposedly originate from, thicker, more muscular, and bulkier. Most possess wings, and are capable of flight, though due to their weight, it is often more of long bounds assisted by gliding. They generally have long tails, and clawed hands and (digitigrade) feet. Males are far more bestial in appearance than the females - thickly built, with humanoid torsos. Their faces are often draconic or demonic in appearance, showing virtually no sign of their professed Elven ancestry, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule, and several have decidedly handsome humanoid faces. Females are typically much more humanoid in appearance than males, with angular and even beautiful features, marred mainly by their monstrous traits.
Currently, two major species of Gargoyles exist in the world: Augustgradian Gargoyles, which look very similar to the traditonal idea of gargoyles, and Darmiri Gargoyles, whom hail from Daramir and are more commonly seen with traits built for aquatic life such as webbed feet/hands and tails, as well as the occational gills.
In addition, the gargoyles of the Augustgrad Speices are divided into ten primary subspeices, two of which are currently extinct. Each sub speices belonged to one of the ten clutches that ruled the desert before the Great Desert War.
The Gargoyles, perhaps due to their professed origins, have a natural affinity for earth magic. Females are often skilled spellcasters, and the arts of summoning and binding elemental spirits comes naturally to them - a practice that was later adopted by some of the younger races on Fontraile, such as the Beastmen. Gargoyles find "higher" forms of magic, such as the Evocation and Conjuration magicks of the Mirandian Task Mages, to be uncontrollable and destructive, seperate from the innate harmony their elementalist magicks historically bring to the table - but most Gargoyles cheerfully will learn any new form of magic they are able to. Male Gargoyles are traditionally less magically-adept, but make up for this with incredible physical strength and considerable size (roughly equal in proportion to a Beastman). The Gargoyles as a whole dislike and shun Necromancy, though De Midian has begun to turn some opinions on this around.
Perhaps their best-known trait is their sleeping habits - when a Gargoyle rests, its hide crystallizes and it turns to stone. In this statue form, it can pass for a statue, and it gradually heals its injuries, naturally absorbing lambent magical energy from the surrounding terrain. However, in this form, a Gargoyle is completely insensate, unable to perceive its surroundings and unable to see, act, or move until it awakes - and though a Gargoyle's petrified body is exceptionally durable in this stone form, it is far from invulnerable. The Rakshasa took advantage of this during the Great Desert War, ambushing clutches whilst they rested and smashed both petrified Gargoyles and eggs alike.
Gargoyles lay eggs; individually these eggs are large and beautiful in appearance, often appearing as nearly gemstone-like stone orbs of considerable beauty. The eggs will only hatch if carefully-tended; without this, the eggs will suffer and die. Traditionally, each clutch has an elder female that acts as a broodkeeper and has the experience and skill needed to tend to eggs (and their mothers) until they hatch. Eggs hatch in about 6 months if properly tended; poorly-attended eggs take considerably longer and have a much lower chance of survival. "Dead" eggs have been unknowingly used as decorations periodically; this practice has been looked upon with resentment by gargoyles in general, though it has long since fallen out of favor.
A hatched Gargoyle reaches adulthood in about 50 years - there is no record of a Gargoyle ever dying due to old age, and they are believed to have a lifespan of nearly 4000 years courtesy of their petrification abilities. Though the various subspecies of Gargoyle can interbreed (with the results being randomized gargoyles of both species), they are known to be able to interbreed with both humans and elves; the results appear to be more Gargoyles, though thus far, only interbreeding involving a female gargoyle has been successful.
Should a Gargoyle finally reach old enough age or suffer fatal wounds and die, their flesh will crystallize and petrify for one final time, turning them into permanent statues. It is because of this that Gargoyles are extremely ancestral; though loved ones have died, they still may watch over their families.
Their origins have almost been entirely lost to the sands of time, but the few remaining Gargoyles of Fontraile presented the theory that they are, in fact, an engineered race that came from High Elven stock - though little is known regarding the authenticity of this statement. According to one of the only Augustgradian Gargoyles left, their lore states that their race began in the ancestral home of Fontraile's Grey Elven population, which in ancient times was located in the mountains to the north of what is now Augustgrad, and that, seeking a means to protect the treasures and ancestral homes of their race, created the Gargoyles themselves. The story goes that the Grey Elves - now all but gone from Fontraile - and altered the bodies of several High Elven candidates - mostly elevated former slaves who were paid handsomely for it - infusing them with enormous amounts of earth magic power and enhanced their bodies through alchemy. The result of these procedures, or so it is claimed, were the first Gargoyle eggs, which upon hatching became an integral aspect of their civilization's defense - and one that actually outlasted the Grey Elves' decline.
Whilst there is evidence to support this creation theory - Gargoyles have pointed ears, angular features, and several other traits analogous to High Elves - the fact that a seperate subspecies has been found roughly half-a-world away does a bit to punch holes in this theory. Over time, the exposure to massive amounts of earth magic and their ability to breed true offspring resulted in them slowly evolving into their current form - or so their legends claim....
(TO BE RE-WRITTEN)
Gargoyles have, at their core, an intense need to protect and guard things - a side-effect of their professed origins. A Gargoyle will often set about attempting to protect something it deems important - a treasure, a place, or even a person, and many aspects of their culture are centered around this. A clear delineation exists between the sexes. Male Gargoyles are far larger and serve as soldiers and guardians. Females are more slender, are natural spellcasters and rely on magic and intelligent tactics to defeat their enemies. Males are more powerful physically, but as Gargoyles consider their women to be both magically and intellectually superior, their society is traditionally matriarchal.
According to Kalarisis, Augustgradian Gargoyle religion is heavily ancestral; both for the long dead Grey Elves and their own ancestors. Every year, a Clutch would gather in a ceremony of Celebration. Offerings were presented to the graves of the ancestors, and a ceremonial dance is preformed by the Clutch's Brood Queen, followed by what can be described as a wild party. The Celebration can last for a full day.
Prior to the Great Desert War, gargoyle civilization expanded across all of Augustgrad, divided into ten different clutches. Each had their own culture, architecture, and even differing biologies. The cultches were so diverse in their locales that each clutch evolved differently into one of the ten subspecies of Augustgradian Gargoyles.