by Abe Dashiell

Background: During its first few centuries, survival for the Tremere bloodline and later, Clan Tremere, was not easy. They were vigorously opposed by the Tzimisce and after the diablerie of Saulot, faced the wrath of the Inconnu as well. As a means of defending themselves, they created the Gargoyles, a bloodline synthesized from captured Nosferatu, Tzimisce and Gangrel. The Tremere used the Gargoyles as shock troops and cannon fodder, throwing the nearly mindless creatures against their enemies with wild abandon. The magi never feared exhausting the numbers of these servants, because it was simple to create more. They would release a Gargoyle or two in a peasant village with orders to Embrace everyone there. To insure that they would always be loyal servants, the Tremere added a special feature. Whenever a mortal was Embraced by one of these hideous creatures, she was exposed to the twistedness of her sire and her entire bloodline, leaving her mind twisted and weak -- and easy to exploit. This continued for centuries, long enough for the Tremere to take their slaves for granted. This was to be their undoing, for the Gargoyles were slowly regaining their minds and developing wills of their own. Finally, they openly rebelled, warring against their creators and taking their own freedom. Not strong or numerous enough to defeat the Tremere, the Gargoyles fled, hiding in the remotest regions of Europe and occasionally hiring themselves as mercenaries or guards for other supernatural beings.

Their future as a bloodline was not guaranteed, however. The days of the Inquisition were drawing near, making it more difficult for vampires to appear openly. For the Gargoyles, the Masquerade simply was not an option. Unlike the Nosferatu and Samedi, both of whom were masters of Obfuscation, Gargoyles were unable to hide in plain sight. This made them extremely vulnerable to hunters, who were becoming increasingly prevalent and dangerous. An even more serious problem was the debilitating effect the Embrace had upon the childer of Gargoyles. Not only were their bodies twisted, but so were their minds. Young Gargoyles would often go insane, literally throwing themselves upon the agents of the Inquisition.

Concerned that extinction would prevent them from ever obtaining vengeance against the Tremere, a few of the bloodline's elders conceived a plan to save themselves. They had learned if they fed their own blood to a prospective progeny, and maintained her as a ghoul for a time, the mind rending effects of the Embrace were not as severe. Taking cues from the Tzimisce, perhaps half- remembered in their blood, they decided to create a family of revenants. They hoped that if they concentrated their blood over several generations, that the curse of their line would be completely alleviated. They realized that they would have to perform their experiment in an extremely isolated locale, and for half a century, they looked for an ideal place to begin. Ideally, they were searching for an area that was both geographically remote and also relatively untouched by supernatural influences. They finally discovered what they needed in the Swiss Alps. They had found a small valley, entirely surrounded by mountains, and home to a small population of peasant farmers. The community had formed only a few generations earlier, and had been isolated when a rock slide had cut off the only pass leading to the outside world. This, of course, was no hindrance for the Gargoyles, but it would keep others out.

The subjugation of the town began slowly, with only one gargoyle arriving at first. This first, a vampire known as Marie, had some mastery of Obfuscation, enabling her to pass as human. Posing as one of the peasants, she began to Dominate and blood bind large portions of the population. Within twenty years, she had the entire settlement, some fifty people, subjected to her will. It was then that the Gargoyles sprang their trap. Under the cover of darkness, the rest of the Gargoyles arrived, bringing with them plague infested rats. One by one, the peasants became infected. Marie began spreading panic throughout the community, saying those who died of the plague were damned, doomed to suffer eternity in flames. Susceptible to her will as they were, the peasants were stricken with fear. That is when the Gargoyles revealed themselves. So desperate were the peasants, they eagerly accepted the Gargoyles' offer to cure them, not even minding the hideous visages of their saviors. The vampires began to blood bind them on a larger scale, ghouling each and every member of the community, and insuring they received a steady supply of Vitae. The peasants believed that without the blood they received from their saviors, that the plague would return again. Their masters did not argue.

The Gargoyles' next action was to institute an aggressive breeding campaign. They took careful measure of the new births in the community, looking for signs of vampiric traits. Those who exhibited them were favored, given more blood and more opportunities to mate. Individuals who did not "respond to the therapy" were quietly eliminated, spurring on fears of the now non-existent plague. Some members were Embraced, to see the effect, and they were pleased to learn that the mental derangements were steadily diminishing. Within several generations, the Gargoyles began noticing physical differences in the some of the children born to the peasants. Gnarled skin, tiny wings and demonic features were becoming increasingly common. These individuals were mated exclusively with each other and given enough blood to keep them "full" at all times. They were also let on to the truth of their existence, and indeed were convinced of their superiority over their fellows.

A few hundred years later, the once peasant farmers were no longer human. The vampiric blood coursing through their veins had warped their features so much that they were indistinguishable from their kindred masters. They even called themselves the "Gargouilles," the word for Gargoyle in their native tongue. They had become full-fledged revenants, developing Viceritika at a very early age and learning Potence and Fortitude soon after. Even more bizarre is the method they reproduced. Their women no longer bore their offspring alive, but instead would lay several eggs. These they would incubate in a collective nest, a large, brick structure built in the valley's center. There the eggs would remain for several months before hatching. Their early development was greatly increased, with a new born gargouille being the size of a two year old. Amazingly, the life style of the colony had not changed greatly from the days before their encounter with the Gargoyles. They remained farmers, dutifully tending their animals and fields. However, they had also become hunters. No longer hemmed in by the mountains that surrounded them, they would fly over the peaks, searching for prey. These parties were always led by a Gargoyle, and their victims were typically hapless mortals who had ventured too close to their home. Occasionally, they would make longer trips, especially if they had discovered the location of a Tremere chantry or knew that agents of the Inquisition were in the area.

Unfortunately for the Gargouilles and their vampiric allies, their peace was broken last century. A tribe of Shadowlords discovered their location and attacked. The werewolves were repulsed, but not without a great cost in Gargouille lives. Fearful that the garou would return, the Gargoyles decided it would best to scatter their colony. As quickly as possible, they evacuated their Alpine haven, spreading out over Europe and North America. While they were as discreet as possible, at least one group was captured by Tremere, who were concerned to find eggs among them. Not understanding that their captives were actually revenants, they immediately reported to the Vienna chantry that a group of Gargoyles had apparently found a way to reproduce via egg laying. It is rumored that Etrius was so alarmed that he woke Tremere himself to tell him the news.

Now the Gargouilles are spread out all over the planet, but especially in remote regions of Europe and North America. Despite the fact that many no longer speak French, they still refer to themselves as "Gargouilles." A few have settled in the Nevada desert, in regions left highly radioactive from H-bomb testing in 1950s. The few humans that have come across them often think they are mutants, resulting in not a few tabloid articles. Some have left their colonies and offered their services to other supernaturals, posing as Gargoyles. Their ability to work in both daylight and darkness has made them particularly valuable, but few have admitted this capability to their employers.

Perhaps the greatest problem facing the Gargouilles is the fact that for centuries they have been breeding almost exclusively within their own community. The result is that they have become severely inbred. Few individuals are born without some kind of defect. Madness, feeblemindedness and even greater physical deformity are common. Reluctantly, they have been making overtures to other ghoul families, most notably the Obertuses, but without much success. Much to their dismay, they have been forced to introduce human blood into their pool, almost always by force. They dislike the prospect of weakening their line, but realize that without new blood, they will soon perish anyway.

Appearance: Gargouilles closely resemble their Gargoyle kin. From birth, they have small wings, and these grow throughout their long lives. Many of the oldest Gargouilles have larger, more effective wings than even the Gargoyles. Older Gargouilles have rocky, gnarled flesh that becomes more and more indistinguishable from stone. When a Gargouille dies of old age, his corpse completely solidifies, becoming a stone statue. Often, when a Gargouille is about to die, he flies up to a high rocky outcropping and partially melds with the stone. There, he watches the vista and patiently waits for death to come. When it does, he has returned to his elements and truly becomes part of his surroundings. In the city, a Gargouille will often choose a concrete building for his final resting place. On more than one occasion, building owners have found that they have a statue that they hadn't had before.

Organization: There are at least twenty Gargouille settlements scattered across the planet, each with a dozen or so members. They are a tight knit people, so gatherings are common, even between members of widely separated settlements. They keep in touch as much as possible, flying under the cover of night between their colonies. Each colony typically has at least one Gargoyle and possibly more. They always welcome Gargoyles and other Gargouilles, but others are typically chased away.

Disciplines: Viceritika, Fortitude, Potence (Because they are born with their wings, they fly as if they had one level of viceritika higher).

Weaknesses: Like Gargoyles, the hideous visage of Gargouilles render them with an appearance of zero. In addition, because they are so inbred, each individual has some kind of defect or deformity. Hunched backs, feeblemindedness and madness are common.