Rise of the Triad

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Rise of the Triad: Dark War
Rise of the Triad box cover
Developer(s) Apogee
Publisher(s) Apogee
Engine Modified Wolfenstein 3D
Release date(s) December 21, 1994
Genre First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single player, 2-11 player Multiplayer (LAN or Modem)
Rating(s) RSAC: 4 for Violence
BBFC: 15
Platform(s) DOS, Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Dreamcast, Xbox
Media Floppy disk or CD-ROM
System requirements 40MHz 386 DX CPU, 4MB RAM, 20MB hard disk, VGA graphics card
Input Keyboard, Mouse or Joystick

Rise of the Triad: Dark War (shortened to RotT) is a first person shooter computer game, first released on December 21, 1994 by Apogee Software (later known as 3D Realms). The particular team involved referred to themselves as the "Developers of Incredible Power". The shareware version, which contained separate levels from the full version, was called Rise of the Triad: The HUNT begins.



The plot involves a team of specialists, part of a top secret group called HUNT (High-risk United Nations Task-force), sent to an island to investigate cult activity. Their boat is destroyed by a patrol, and the team soon learns that the cult is systematically destroying nearby Los Angeles. The team then has to fight their way into the monastery on the island, and eventually put a stop to the cult.



The game featured vertical dimensions, enhanced weaponry, trampolines and more. The level design was characterized by very high, straight walls, outdoor areas, and digitized sprite-based enemies. Some enemies in some levels were randomised, randomly picked from the other types of 'actors' used in the levels.

Although Rise of the Triad was based on (a highly enhanced version of) the Wolfenstein 3D engine, it was supposed to compete with Doom. It did its best, but Doom went down in history for non-orthagonal, height-difference maps. Rise of the Triad was originally intended to be a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D (initially with the formal title of "Wolfenstein 3D Part II: Rise of the Triad (which can be seen here), but this idea was dropped early on. Some influences from this part of the development can still be seen, though.


The weapon system was ahead of its time in complexity, brutality, and realism. Players could carry one or two pistols, and a machine gun (each of which had infinite ammunition). Players could also carry only one of several different missile weapons, considered a realistic limitation. If players picked up another missile weapon, they dropped the first. The players could also drop the missile weapons manually. Like the earlier game System Shock, these dropped weapons retained the exact amount of ammunition they had left in them.

  • The Bazooka fires a single missile straight ahead.
  • The Heatseeker fires a single heat-seeking rocket.
  • The Drunk Missile fires five missiles simultaneously in five different directions; the missiles heat-seek individually.
  • The Flamewall is nearly impossible to escape from. When the missile fired from it hits the ground, it sends a wall of flame in one direction, and any player whom it catches not wearing an Asbestos Vest is instantly incinerated. If the missile hits the wall or a player, it just makes a weak explosion. This is how one of the numerous end-of-level bonuses in single-player is obtained.
  • The Firebomb's rocket explodes on impact, sending a twenty-foot-wide explosion outward in four directions. If a player has an asbestos suit to protect them, they can use it to rocket jump.
  • The Split Missile sends out two rockets locked together, until the player releases the fire button, at which point they split up and heat-seek individually.

In addition, players could wield a magic baseball bat (the "Excalibat"), enter a literal God mode for a short time (complete with invulnerability and the Godfire homing instant-kill weapon), or in a dyslexic gag, enter Dog Mode, in which they were shorter (although the player also gained invulnerablity in this mode), and bit enemies. Dog Mode also allowed the use of the devastating BarkBlast.


A few other features were noteworthy, such as bullet weapons that left marks on walls, digitally-captured Apogee employees serving as the enemies, and player-character height, health, speed and accuracy differences — there were five different player characters in the registered version, ranging from the slow and steady Doug Wendt to the lightweight and deadly Lorelei Ni. (The fifth player character, in quite possibly the oldest joke ever was named "Ian Paul Freeley.") Some of the character names come directly (or with some small change) from the original design document for Doom. The game also introduced jump pads in the form of the aforementioned trampolines to the genre, an idea later used in the Unreal Tournament and Quake series.

Another unusual feature, and one that probably harkens back to Apogee's first two Duke Nukem games, are the end of level bonuses. Depending on player actions, they could receive various bonuses at the end of each level. These were awarded for various achievements, such as picking up all the missile weapons, using all the healing items, or ending the level with only a shred of health. At the end of the game there were two special bonuses. The DIP bonus was awarded for finding all three hidden DIP balls in the game. The genocide bonus was awarded for killing/destroying every one of a particular type of enemy in the game. The bonus is received once for each enemy type which had been completely annihilated.

Rise of the Triad is somewhat well known for its one of its most unrealistic features, Gibs. Gibs, short for giblets, rained down from the sky whenever an enemy exploded. These included chunks of charred flesh, and eyeballs. A "Ludicrous Gibs" mode could be activated via a cheat, propelling the carnage to new heights. This was a gamer favorite, and was later featured in 3D Realms' next first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D. The Quake series cemented the use of gibs as the remains of exploded characters, as opposed to characters merely shot to death. (Doom introduced the idea, with separate "explosion death" corpses for the zombies and the imp; Rise of the Triad brought it to fruition.)


The multiplayer mode was notable for the time, allowing up to eleven players simultaneously. Each could have separate uniform colours, but team members shared colours. There were nine multiplayer modes, some of which did not necessarily involve players shooting each other. These modes were:

Name Description
Normal Standard deathmatch. Players compete for the most kills.
Score More The same as normal, but rewarding more difficult kills. Killing with bullet weapons scores more than killing with missile weapons. Killing an airborne player scores more killing than one on the ground. Landing on another player and crushing them scores the most.
Collector Players compete to collect as many triad symbols as possible. No weapons.
Scavenger The same as Collector, but with weapons.
Hunter One random player is chosen as "prey", and has no weapons. The other players (the hunters) must kill them for points. After a certain time, another player becomes prey, the previous prey becoming a hunter.
Tag A random player is "it". They must tag another player by running up to them and pressing their use key to score a point. This player then becomes "it".
Eluder Players must tag Eluders, which are moving triad symbols.
Deluder Similar to Eluder, but the Eluders must be destroyed for points.
Capture the Triad Essentially the same rules as Capture the Flag (for FPS games), with triad symbols in place of flags. It was probably the first computer or video game incarnation of CTF, well before Quake was released, let alone the popular Threewave CTF mod for Quake.

There were many options that could be set for a multiplayer game, allowing a level of customisation similar to many later games. These included player attributes, and whether or not things like health, missile weapons or traps were spawned in levels.

Other releases

On July 25, 1995, Apogee released a 'Reject Level Pack' as freeware online. During production of the game, many levels were rejected for one reason or another. This pack was a collection of multiplayer maps deemed unsuitable for the original release. Some of these were serious attempts at levels (one even attempted to recreate a popular deathmatch level (1-5) from the videogame Doom), and some were not (like one where you played inside the popular videogame character Dopefish). Additionally, the final level of the pack causes the game to crash intentionally, showing the sense of humour of the developers.

There was an official retail addon level pack released by Apogee for ROTT entitled "Extreme Rise of the Triad" also released in 1995. The addon was produced by only two developers from the original team, that being Tom Hall & Joe Siegler. Generally the maps produced in this addon were considerably harder than the original game's maps due to to tricks that Tom & Joe had learned in the editor since the release of the original. The Extreme ROTT CD also had several other goodies on it. There were some user made level editors, a random level generator from Apogee, maps, sound files, etc. It didn't sell very well, and had rather short shelf life. However, after the game came off of retail shelves, most of these materials were rendered unavailable. The levels ended up being released as freeware on September 1, 2000. The remaining materials on the Extreme ROTT CD were released as freeware online as part of a "ROTT Goodies Pack" on February 15, 2005.

There were a few other level packs released from Apogee. One was the 'Lasersoft Deluxe Shareware Maps'. They were identical to the released shareware packs, except that a shareware company back then named Lasersoft paid Apogee to design 6 exclusive levels for their shareware release of the game. After this company went out of business, Apogee released these levels in October of 1999.

Another was a level called "Wolf3D", which was done by Joe as an exercise to see if he could replicate the level geography from Wolfenstein 3D in Rise of the Triad. As ROTT used the same basic game engine, Joe theorized that it should be possible to do this. The Wolf3D level for ROTT copied the complete level geography from Episode 1 Level 1 of Wolfenstein 3D, down to the exact placement of characters, doors, secret areas, and artwork. Some of the adjoining levels to this were added, but not completely.

The final release from Tom & Joe was the 'Ohio RTC' pack. This was a four level multiplayer pack which was designed for a group in Ohio that was holding a game tournament called 'BloodFest 96'. It took place in February of 1996. After the tournament was over, the pack was released online for everyone.

The final level to be released by anyone from the original team was one level done by Joe Siegler entitled 'You & Spray'. Spray was an internal nickname given to the NME boss character by the developers. This was done by Joe as a gag in 1998, mostly as a personal exercise to see if he could remember how to still use the level editor. Joe has said that he initially didn't plan on releasing that, but after mentioning it's existance online, he was cajoled into releasing it in November of 2000.

All of the levels in this section can be downloaded at the ROTT page on the Apogee website.

Source release

The source code to Rise of the Triad was released under the GPL on 20th of December 2002 and the first port to Linux was done on the 22nd of December, making it one of the quickest source ports ever.

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