This is the second of a few questions I plan to ask regarding the gargoyles of my setting, whom I briefly summarized here, but I'll quote the relevant parts here again:

In my setting, among various other magical creatures, gargoyles exist. They're winged, horned, tailed humanoids (if you picture the Disney show, you'll have an accurate enough mental image to work with) that only become flesh once a month, during the 24 hour period humans don't know about that happens when the moon reaches peak fullness, where time completely stops for all non-magical creatures and the world is flooded with magic. This special "Moontime" magic is the only type of magical energy that gargoyles can absorb to sustain themselves, and so at all other times they enter a state of hibernation where they turn to stone until the next full moon, resembling statues in the meantime.

When the full moon ends, gargoyles must be touching and concentrating on an object made out of a type of rock, be it a statue pedestal, a castle wall, or a cave, and their bodies will transform into whatever type of rock they were touching at the time, be that soapstone, basalt or marble.

The aim of these questions is to determine what sorts of things they'd have learned over the ages to best avoid getting smashed while they experience "the stone sleep". The first question was about what type of stone they'd want to turn into so as to be the most smash-resistant, and the answer seems to be Diabase/Dolerite, though there are some other viable options apparently. This second question is regarding the sorts of poses they'd want to be petrified in.

To be clear, later questions will discuss things like stealth and avoiding being targeted in the first place. This question, like the previous one, is focused on their last line of defense in the worst-case scenario: they've been found by someone who knows what they are and is preparing to destroy them, and they need to take as much punishment as they can before one of their non-gargoyle allies can save them.

One more aspect of gargoyle biology that I feel is important to mention here, as this governs the "fail state" they are trying to avoid: when gargoyles reanimate at Moontime, the magic that reanimates them and returns them to flesh spreads out from their heart to every part of them that is still attached to them. As long as the result can still live (I.E. as long as the heart remains intact and all the vital organs remain connected to it), the gargoyle will come to life, the broken parts will look as if they had successfully survived having them amputated (skin will cover the area and it won't be bleeding), and the broken off parts will come back when they re-petrify at Moontime's end.

So obviously the head is the part of them they most want to keep guarded in whatever pose they enter the stone sleep in. If that gets smashed, there's no coming back from that. Now, if we look at a few traditional gargoyle poses...

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...None of them seem all that concerned about protecting the head. And of course, it's hard to look cool or menacing, which was a real-life gargoyle statue's main purpose, if you're guarding your head. So let's assume for the purpose of this question that the gargoyle we are instructing on proper safety positions is not in fact posing on a castle wall or something, but is hidden deeper in the building and is assuming the position most likely to keep them alive if they get hit with a hammer, or an earthquake brings the roof down on them. Looking cool is not a concern here, these gargoyles just want to see the next Moontime alive.

What position would these gargoyles be instructed to assume in order to minimize the risk of sustaining damage they could not recover from?


3 Answers 3


Let's just write some facts here and before. The more you know about your enemy, the easier it is to take counter measures, so what are the most important threats?

First, I doubt any non-sentient being will find interesting to chew or attack a rock; It's hard and heavy so unusable as burrows or nests, and it also lacks nutriments. This leaves us with sentient or smart beings.

Humans and others equivalent beings are a big threat in that they do like vandalism, they do like mining and they do like sculpting rocks. The only threat-reducing factor is :

during the 24 hour period humans don't know about that happens when the moon reaches peak fullness, where time completely stops for all non-magical creatures

This means that during the period they are the most vulnerable, gargoyles can't be interacted by them directly. It also means that less people will have a real, natural incentive to do so. Like how people are blind to plants.

You don't tell much about potential sentient magic beings, notably if they are active outside full-moon. If they are however, they're your biggest threats as they know who you are, have been seen moving and know your potentials. This means that they can wait for you to go into slumber to do whatever they wish to you.

So to sum up, you should be most afraid by :

  • Being smashed or damaged by any sentient creature.
  • Being trapped by any sentient/smart, magical creature (if they're active outside full-moon).
  • Being chipped, corroded, melt, dropped and/or buried by environmental hazards (volcanos or/and landslides, typically). However it's rather a question of location, so it is outside the question's scope.

Then, what are our best options as to the shape you should take? I'd say, instead of protecting yourself, play a game of hide-and-seek1!

Take the most camouflaged stance

If harmful magical beings are active outside their awaken time, then it's your only solution out there. On top of choosing the good location (rocky area, deep cave...), you should take a posture which makes anyone think you are part of the environment.

Take example from mimetic animals, I'm thinking about how octopuses hide among rocks, floor and reefs. There are some videos out there showing how they hide and how effective it is.

Octopus hiding among rocks

Can you see the octopus2?

You know you are as hard as stone, therefore you shouldn't be worried about being trampled on by most things, so it's perfectly possible to just hide, head down in the dirt, body shut down on itself and wings spanning and recurved inside a little to give -without digging up- the look of a roundish rock. The goal is to hide anything that looks like animal, as those will trigger interest and leave you out of the blindness that occur to non-animal beings.

Take the place of existing stone gargoyles and act as actual statues

If there's no other magic evil beings living outside the full-moon, taking the same stance as gargoyles is in fact one of the best solution!

Churches and other temples are your best bets to hide, as those are sacred places that few will want to destroy its ornaments. Plus, gargoyle statues are generally high up in the air, meaning it is even harder -and therefore less interesting- to take you out. Smash an existing statue and takes its place, looking as closely as possible to how it looked. Nobody will know about it, so nobody will try to take you down.

If you don't have access to other statues, you can always appear near sacred places, taking a non-violent pose, possibly with some offering as to make you look like a boon from the spirits or the gods, reducing the chance of being broken for being a bad omen. This will in turn protect you from most threats as nearby residents will try to protect it. At worse you'll get stolen, but... People won't protect a stone from breaking free by itself, so it's not that hard to escape.

Once or twice you'll get the chance to be seen as art. If you find an old, abandoned place with many items, take place as one of these. As long as you can give yourself some value, nobody will dare breaking you out. They'd rather take you to their place or sell you out if you look expensive or interesting somehow.


All in all, hide whether traditionally or in plain sight. Protecting your head, while useful, is useless against a determined agressor, and not very efficient against natural disasters. So make instead the most out of your ability to take a shape to camouflage yourself in the environment!

1 : Or for gamers "prop-hunt"!

2 : Picture courtesy of wikimedia commons. Author : David Patras, CCA 3.0

  • $\begingroup$ "Smash an existing statue and takes its place, looking as closely as possible to how it looked." Hmm, that sounds familiar. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jun 29, 2021 at 15:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Matthew I'm not watching Dr. Who, so it's a funny coincidence :p. Must be a believable tactic then! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 29, 2021 at 16:27

Safest Pose

Probably some form of the foetal position with hands/arms/wings covering the head as that will provide the most amount of protection and the least amount of "leverage" spots to break the head clean off.

Scariest Pose

Probably a mix between the stance of your second photo with the wings and arms outstretched like your first. The main reason is that there's no "neck" visible so it would be hardest to decapitate the gargoyle. Although, obviously, it's a risk of brain damage.

The ideal pose would be somewhere in between, if you can figure out how to make "cowering in a ball" also intimidating.


You mentioned that the gargoyles get back to life once every full moon. This means that whoever has ill intentions will have about a full month to smash the lifeless rock into pieces.

With that much time available, even a hard rock like granite can be dealt with, so a pose alone won't help against a determined offender.

I see two options, which are nevertheless not completely failsafe:

  1. they wrap themselves into a substance behaving in the same way they do, so to have a rocky shell protecting their body. This will gain time.
  2. they make a gargoyle lump, holding together in a close group upon turning into stone. This will sacrifice those in the outer layers for the safety of those in the inside.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Or perhaps you could hide and use camouflage, so that the creatures that want you dead don't find you in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 29, 2021 at 7:14

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