Doom Wiki

Heretic title screen

Alternate wiki: Heretic/Hexen Wiki

Raven Software teamed up with id Software for the second time in its creation of the hit fantasy action game Heretic, which was released on December 23, 1994. Based on a modified version of the Doom engine, Heretic pioneered a revolutionary new inventory system for character item use that has become commonplace in the FPS genre. id Software published the game under its flag and it was distributed by GT Interactive.

Players took the role of an unnamed Elven hero (given the name Corvus in Heretic II) whose race, the Sidhe, was nearly eliminated by a horde of evil monsters from another dimension. The first episode of Heretic was released as shareware as a precursor to the full version of the game.

Heretic won several awards for excellence, appeared in such notable publications as USA Today and Playboy, and opened many new doors in the computer gaming software industry for Raven Software and its team of developers. Heretic was Raven Software's most popular, highest acclaimed, and biggest selling game to that point.

After its big success, two additional episodes were released for free, upgrading the original Heretic to Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders (version 1.3). Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders was released on March 31, 1996. The original version of Heretic with three episodes was subsequently discontinued.

Some of the modifications Raven Software made to the Doom engine for Heretic were flight, sectors that can push the player, an inventory system, ambient sounds, translucency, pushable objects, and being able to look up and down.


The world of Parthoris was populated by many people who divided themselves into seven great nations, as well as the mystic Sidhe elves. It was these elves who kept the Tomes of Power and the sacred candle flames which eternally burned to represent the armies of the world.

The Sidhe believed in a prophecy of Armageddon, and their prophecy ultimately proved itself true when from the east came the three terrible Serpent Riders cloaked in black. They were great sorcerers, and they demonstrated their power by quelling the wars of the eastern provinces. Soon the men of the seven nations turned to their worship and built a great temple in their honor. Upon the temple was the Sign, a crossed trident, and the worshippers came to call themselves the Order of the Sign. The deeper into reverence of the Riders' dark ways they fell, the more they were sapped of their free will and spirit. Once all of the seven realms were theirs, the two eldest Riders departed, leaving D'Sparil alone to prepare the world for destruction.

Recognizing the fulfillment of prophecy, the Sidhe refused to follow in the worship of D'Sparil and thus they were set apart from the other people of the world. Once sacred guardians, they were now heretics, hunted and hated everywhere they went. D'Sparil's disciples turned the minds of the seven kings toward conquest of the Sidhe realm, and when the Seven Armies marched upon them, the Sidhe Elders extinguished the sacred flames, destroying them all.

D'Sparil was enraged and in the chamber of the Elders he stirred up a storm of white-hot flame, killing them all. The earth burst open beneath their charred bodies and from within poured legions of the undead as well as murderous beasts from worlds beyond. This new army overwhelmed the Sidhe and slaughtered them in untold numbers. In only one day, their civilization was destroyed and their survivors were scattered far and wide. The darkling creatures had carried off the Tomes of Power and the other artifacts of the Sidhe as spoils of war. Left defenseless, it was surely only a matter of time before all Sidhe perished under the Order of the Triad's unyielding fury.

Most of the few remaining Sidhe hid themselves away, but Corvus was determined to have revenge. Heading east into the wilderness he came upon the City of the Damned, where the very air reeked with rot and decay and the only sounds were the screams of foul creatures seeking his blood. Armed only with his staff and Elven Wand, he had little hope to survive. So began the downfall of D'Sparil and the salvation of Parthoris.

Heretic skill levels[]

1. Thou needeth a wet-nurse: Damage taken is halved; number of monsters is decreased; number of powerups and items is increased; ammo powerups give 50% more than normal. The game automatically uses quartz flasks and mystic urns to prevent the player from dying.

2. Yellowbellies-r-us: Number of monsters is decreased; number of powerups and items is increased. Otherwise similar to skill 3.

3. Bringest them oneth: This is the normal skill level.

4. Thou art a smite-meister: Similar to skill 3, but the number of monsters is greater; the number of items and powerups is decreased.

5. Black plague possesses thee: Similar to skill 4, but ammo powerups give 50% more than normal; monsters attack and move 300% faster; enemy missiles fly 300% faster; cheating is disabled.

Note: The skill names apparently parody the badly-understood Early Modern English common in fantasy RPG. 1, 3 and 5 are grammatically non-standard; they should be Thou needest a wet-nurse, Bring(eth) them on (with -eth appearing in the plural imperative, but not the singular), and Black plague possesseth thee.

Enemies, weapons, items[]


Attack of gargoyles in Heretic

Enemies Weapons Items

1Can only be found in the full version of the game.
2These items make a reappearance in Hexen. The Maulotaur reappears as a summonable creature called the Dark Servant.

Heretic levels[]

City of the Damned (Episode 1) (The only episode in the shareware version) Sky Color: Grey

Hell's Maw (Episode 2) Sky Color: Red

The Dome of D'Sparil (Episode 3) Sky Color: Blue beyond a dome

The Ossuary (Episode 4) (Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders only) Sky Color: Grey

The Stagnant Demesne (Episode 5) (Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders only) Sky Color: Blue beyond a dome

Fate's Path (Episode 6) Sky Color: Grey

These three levels, seemingly built for Deathmatch are untitled in the game itself and can only be accessed via the "engage##" cheat or the command line (they don't appear on the episode select screen). The first two names resulted from suggestions by designer Michael Raymond-Judy in an interview; whilst the name of the third map and the "episode name" were unofficially made up by fans and are widely accepted among the community.

Note that E6M1 appears as E4M1 in the original registered version of Heretic, hidden in the same way as the above details for Shadow of the Serpent Riders.

Source code release[]

On January 11, 1999, the source code for both Heretic and Hexen was released by Raven Software under a restrictive EULA [1] which prohibited many uses of the code, and was incompatible with the GNU GPL. This rendered it impossible to create a properly open source source port (under the Open Source Definition) for either game. On September 4, 2008, the source code for both games was rereleased under the GPL [2].


Heretic's E6M3 is based directly on American McGee's Doom II deathmatch level IDMAP01.WAD.

Heretic, like Doom, has a demo rotation; however, two of them go out of sync in Shadow of the Serpent Riders. The first demo makes it to the crossbow and begins shooting at a torch before being slashed to death by Sabreclaws. The third demo goes out of sync almost immediately, the player starts running into walls, shooting at the ceiling and never leaves the starting room.

See also[]

External links[]