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Heretic video game - Corvus - Box art detail

Corvus the Heretic


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

I’m gonna fight ’em all
A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back.

Context

Heretic was a 1994 video game, using the same technology and gameplay as the landmark Doom. Thus “Doom, but as heroic fantasy” was a common description.

Heretic would have three sequels (with two using the title Hexen). Plus spiritual successors such as Ziggurat, Project Warlock  or Amid Evil .

Corvus is the playable character in two of these four games. However, this article only covers the original Heretic.


Background

  • Real Name: Corvus.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: The Sidhe people.
  • Base of Operations: Formerly the hideout of the Elders of the Sidhe.
  • Height: 5’6″ Weight: 130 lbs.
  • Eyes: Grey Hair: Brown.


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Powers & Abilities

Corvus is a determined, experienced, rugged warrior. He seems to be more of an irregular fighter and skirmisher than a well-armoured frontline soldier.

He has an unclear level of magical training. That allows him to wield enchanted Sidhe ranged weaponry. It is possible that only Sidhe persons can wield such weapons.

Said magical ordnance hits hard. It allows Corvus to destroy numerous enemies as long as he controls the terms of the battle. They perform much like firearms, in a world that is mostly about melee combat and archery.

Armour

Corvus is unarmoured on the box art. But the in-game sprite *might* be wearing a breastplate. It’s impossible to tell since games were so low-res back then.

We observe that Corvus can :

  1. Take a fair bit of punishment.
  2. Restore his health by running over vials and flasks.
  3. Have a secondary health bar called “armour”. Which is also refilled by running over objects – this time, shields.

So let’s make something up that represents the video game logic  in less abstract terms. Say, Corvus has an item (like his belt) enchanted to “eat” armoured objects (shields, breastplates, helms, sabatons…). It uses their essence to power an ablative force field protecting and healing the wearer.

Corvus also moves as fast as Doomguy does. So let’s *assume* magical boots of speed.


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Have you ever seen a crow going ape-Sidhe ?

Corvus wields a DooM-like arsenal of Sidhe weaponry. Early weapons include :

  • A stout oak staff. This is purely a fallback weapon when otherwise disarmed.
  • Elven wand. It shoots shards of magical energy that are about as fast and powerful as an arrow from a small hunting bow. Not a terrifying weapon, but it holds a large charge and it shoots way faster than a bow.
  • Lightning gauntlets. These emit multiple electrical arcs. Their maximal range is about a foot, but they tend to tetanise the target as they fry it. And they can keep the arc up for as long as needed. If every fight were against a non-massive single melee opponent, these would be perfect.
  • Ethereal bolts. These shimmering green crossbow bolts triplicate once shot, like our friend Luornu. Touching a crossbow with an ethereal bolt also makes it fuse with it, which makes the crossbow recock itself as the bolt reappears in the flight groove.
  • Dragon claws are clawed cups worn over the hands. These can project streams of small lightning balls. Nine out of ten dentists agree that these are a close equivalent to a submachinegun .
  • The Hellstaff shoots burst of fireballs. These have more heft and power than the bursts from Dragon Claws.
  • The Phoenix Rod is actually a staff, with a winged statuette on top. It fire a fiery projectile that explodes into a burning phoenix-like shape when it hits something.
  • The Firemace is another staff. It shoots/summons barrages of cannonball-like metallic spheres, which roll on the floor and explode.

Bazaar of the bizarre

Beyond weapons, Corvus also uses a number of artefacts. These tend to be one-use magical items. Or in me case zero-use, since I’m the sort of player who always thinks they should save their potions for later.

Early artefacts include :

  • Quartz flasks are healing potions.
  • There are torches. Since Corvus can benefit from their light whilst keeping both hands free, they likely aren’t standard fire-on-a-stick. Maybe something like an amulet emitting an aura of soft light when activated ?
  • Shadowspheres can apparently turn Corvus into an indistinct shadow, which is both hard to spot and hard to damage with non-magical attacks.
  • Torpol’s Morph Ovum. These enchanted eggs will turn people and monsters into an ordinary chicken if they land close enough. This lasts for a good while, and chickens aren’t known for fearsomeness.
  • Valador’s Ring of Invulnerability. What it says on the tin, but the effects only lasts for 30 seconds.
  • Delmintalitar’s Time Bomb of the Ancients. In-game, you drop these magical hourglasses behind you and they explode after a short delay. Here, we’re going to assume it’s more like a land mine that explodes when something gets close.
  • Inhilicon’s Wings of Wrath. These allow for fairly slow flight for up to a minute before they burn out.
  • Tyketto’s Tome of Power. This book is used to cast a spell that temporarily turns a weapon into a more powerful version, with additional effects.

Soundtrack

The backstory in the Heretic manual involves a seven-nation army. So it’s not like I have a *choice* here, folks.

However, Seven Nation Army was all the way back in 2003. So just in case – low-fi, almost-punk garage rock with remarkable compositions and a “guts-and-feels-before-technique” performance style with trashy sound.

Available for download on Amazon .


History

The Sidhe (presumably pronounced “sheey”) are a secretive but magically adept, Elf-like people. One gets the impression that they’re a small community. The entire population of Sidhe might amount to but a village.

They know of, and seemingly oppose, many mystical dangers. Their greatest enemy would prove to be the Serpent Riders, three brothers who sneaked in from another reality. The Serpent Riders intended to conquer, enslave and destroy many worlds in their new dimension .

(The nature of the Serpent Riders isn’t clear. They could easily be related to other transdimensional  menaces, such as Chthon in Quake or Baphomet in DooM. Or heh, they could be Sheeda).

Fate’s path

The youngest Serpent Rider came to the Sidhes’ world. Using spells against which only the Sidhe had protections, D’Sparil enslaved this worlds’ realms.

A seven-nation army was thus assembled, to come destroy the Sidhes’ land. The seven kings of the earth and their people now were devoid of will and soul, only serving D’Sparil.

The Sidhe were now called Heretics. Since they were the only ones not following the Serpent Riders.

The Elders of the Sidhe wove powerful enchantments over seven candles, making them symbolic of the seven armies arrayed against them. Then they snuffed the candles, obliterating the armies.

But this created magical pathways between them and their targets. D’Sparil and his Order of the Sign wizards had been ready for this. Riding the pathways, a horde of evil things manifested within the very sanctum of the Elders.

Knee-deep in the dead

Most Sidhes were slain that day. Survivors, their spirit broken, fled to hide. However, there was little doubt that they would eventually be hunted down by the near-dead and undead.

But one Sidhe instead made his way East, over extinction-shrouded land. Corvus was determined to face and destroy D’Sparil himself.

(“Corvus” is Latin for “raven”, incidentally).

The Serpent Rider’s headquarters, the City of the Damned, had once been the Sidhe city of Silversprings. Thus, there might still be weapons there for Corvus to use against the invader.


Video

Here’s the game’s first level, available in 4K because why not.

 

This footage was done using the Doomsday Engine  with the neural network texture pack pack  as of its May, 2019 release. Obviously, this means a much stronger image quality and modernised gameplay.

The settings are near defaut, but with the hud-fov-shift variable adjusted for an UWD screen  (if only to lessen motion sickness).

There’s another textures pack, the JHRP, which is easily found on the Doomsday Engine site. I prefer it, but the AI upscale textures are closer to the originals. And since the goal here is to show what Heretic looks like…

(Also, i’ve just realised that you can hear me mumbling accessibility voice commands. Oh, well. It’s discreet.)


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Grim avenger type, I suppose.


Other Universes History

The Serpent Riders could be tied to practically any mystical threat, such as Mordru or Dormammu.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Corvus the Heretic

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Avenger
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Wealth: 002
Init: 016 HP: 070

Skills:
Evasion (Ranged): 05, Occultism (Identify artefact, Occult knowledge): 04, Weaponry (Melee): 04, Weaponry (Sidhe): 06

Advantages:
Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
Exile (Involuntary), MIA toward Avenging the Sidhe.

Equipment:

  • BOOTS OF SPEED [BODY 02, Running: 05, Bonus: Running also works when strafing or backpedaling.]
  • Oak staff [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 06), Descriptor: Bludgeoning].
  • Elven wand [BODY 02, Projectile weapons (Scattershot): 03, R#5].
  • On the cover, Corvus also has some sort of sword. It’s not featured in the game, but you can always assume a generic broadsword.
  • BELT OF PROTECTION [BODY 02, Damage capacity: 10, Regeneration: 03, Vampirism: 08. B&L:
    • Vampirism can only attack the BODY/BODY of inanimate protective equipment such as shields and body armour. Using it requires all Actions for that Phase.
    • Damage capacity can only be regained through RAPs from Vampirism.
    • Regeneration can only engage 1 AP per 3 full APs that Damage Capacity currently has.]

Good old arsenal

For this modelisation I’ve decided to drop Ammo scores, in favour of high-ish R#. It’s easier to keep track of, and we can just assume that the Heretic resupplies by grabbing new weapons rather than by finding ammunition randomly laying about.

It also better matches the notion that these are ancient weapons that have been around unmaintained for ages.

The above only represents Corvus’ early weapons. The more advanced weapons follow. I’m treating the “power up” version as a different weapon.

Subsequent weapons

  • Lightning gauntlets [BODY 03, Claws: 06, Force shield: 02, R#2, Limitations: Force shield only against melee attacks from the front]. Almost exactly as the chainsaw in DooM, yeah.
  • Crossbow with ethereal bolts [BODY 01, Projectile weapons (area of effect 0 APs): 04, R#05].
  • Dragon claws [BODY 03, Lightning: 05, R#06, Bonus: Lightning has Autofire]. It is meant to be the equivalent of the DooM chaingun , but as discussed in our DooM weapons locker article said chaingun is… weird.
    I’m using Lightning purely because the projectiles are blue and white, which usually signifies electricity.
  • Hellstaff [BODY 02, Enhance (Physical OV): 01 (cap is 07), Flame project: 06, R#06, Bonus: Flame project has Autofire, Limitation: the Range is limited to 04 APs]. The Enhance is there to represent the hellstaff’s projectiles having good stunning power. Used competently, that considerably enhances Corvus’ staying power by diminishing return fire.
    It *is* abstract gameplay emulation though. So feel free to drop it if you don’t like it. But if you really like it, you can use that for DooM’s plasma rifle as well.
  • Phoenix rod [BODY 02, Flame project (Area of Effect 1 AP): 08, R#05, Limitation: A target using the Dodge Combat Manoeuvre against the Phoenix Rod receives an extra +1 CS OV bonus due to the slow projectile. OV derived from Flight also received a +1CS.]
  • Firemace [BODY 03, Mental blast (Area of Effect 2 APs): 06, Ammo: 04]. This assumes that the firemace is used for area saturation blasts.

Artefacts

In the game they are instantly picked up and added to the inventory. Then the selected item is used with just one keystroke.

In a slower-paced RPG environments, Occultist (Identity artefact) rolls might be necessary.

  • Quartz flasks [BODY 01, Damage Transference (No Delay, No Damage Taken): 02, Grenade Drawback].
  • “Torches” [BODY 01, Flash (steady illumination only): 03, Limitation: lasts for about two minutes].
  • Shadowspheres [BODY 01, Skin armour: 07, Thief (Stealth): 06, Ammo: 01. A shadowsphere only work for 10 Phases.]
  • Morph ovum [BODY 01, Neutralize: 07, Shrink: 02, Grenade Drawback. Neutralize and Shrink are Combined (and can only be Combined). Neutralize affects all Physical and Mystical Powers, Skills and Attributes with just one roll, which I guess leaves the possibility of genius psionicist  chicken. Limitation: the effects of an ovum can never last for more than 8 Phases.]
  • Ring of invulnerability [BODY 02, Force field: 09, B&L: Force Field is Can Attack Thru and Self Only, Ammo: 01. A ring works for but 5 Phases.]
  • Wings of Wrath [BODY 02, Flight: 03, Ammo: 01. One Ammo lasts for a minute (so 10 Phases, or 4 APs of time).]

Design notes

The third-line Attributes have been highballed since, as Nightshade would put it, “he’s a magic dude”.

The standard weapon is less powerful than the Doom pistol. It takes markedly more shots to down a low-level enemy with the baseline elven wand than to down a zombie with the pistol.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: The first Heretic video game.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 20th of July, 2019.

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