ROTT Original Design Spec

As some of you may or may not know, Rise of the Triad began it's life as nothing more than an expansion pack for Wolfenstein 3D.  The original full title of the game was "Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D Part II".  It was to use the same game engine code as Wolfenstein 3D, and have new levels, art, and characters.   As time went on, the Wolfenstein 3D name was dropped, and the project became much much more than just an add-on for Wolf 3D.

Recently, in an old file here at 3D Realms, we found the original team design spec from Tom Hall in September of 1993, which contained episode descriptions, an outline of where the storyline was to go, and new features in the Wolfenstein game engine.  We now bring you this document, along with some graphics from the game back then.   You can see how Rise of the Triad's early design spec carried through in several aeas to the final product.

Some remarks about the game are scattered through the document.  These remarks are in bold and italics, and are new remarks, they are not original design remarks.




After the fall of Hitler, the true powers behind him have drawn into seclusion, planning their next strategy for world domination.  Three large corporations guided Hitler as a puppet, and now plan the subjugation of the planet to their organization, the Triad.

Their new plan: having developed nuclear weapons and new V-3 rockets to carry them, they plan to get a stranglehold on the world with the threat of Armageddon.




Note: Each episode will have a name, but advertising will only include "Rise of the Triad", and say "Get Episode One" and "Get all four episodes in the epic Rise of the Triad Adventure".  This will avoid confusion upon the buying customer, but keep the name for gamer's talk.

Episode One: Serpent on the Mount

B.J. Blazkowicz, the Allies' one man Strike team, is called to assault the Triad's fortress.  Atop a titanic mountain near Gotha, the Triad has set up their operations in a legendary old monastery.  The way to the monastery is a difficult one, with a horrible labyrinth of paths, caves, and tunnels.  B.J.  must battle his way to the entrance.

Episode Two: The Secret Warring

Once inside, B.J. discovers massive doors leading to the Triad's headquarters far below ground, built in the necropolis below the monastery.  He must search the castle for the key to these forbidding crypts.  The key is very well guarded.

Episode Three: The Desecrated Tomb

Much of the tomb remains, but the Triad have women their operations facilities into the dark catacombs.  On his journey to the nexus of the Triad, he encounters the three members of the Triad.  After his final battle, the final members reveals their plan of global annihilation upon the fall of the Triad.  A dead man's switch had started their mechanical radio-computer, the Sendenkener, on a countdown to word holocaust.

Episode Four: The Final Solution

B.J. enters the depths of the Triad's bunker, made of cement, steel, and deep natural caverns.  His journey to fine the Sendenkener ends either in his destruction of the timing unit of the computer, or in the Triad's Final Solution.

A lot of this changed during the game's development, but some of it survived.




  • Add special pushwalls that you must flip a switch or do touchplace to move.
  • Reserve 7 colors just before 255 for special effects (glowing, cycling)
  • Some walls can be blown up
  • Grenade launcher
  • Automap (sort of already programmed, but a little messed up)
  • Shootable items.
  • Bonus items may animate (shine or glow)
  • If memory permits, a scrolling horizon for outside levels.
  • If possible, setting of general darkness of level.  Would require transition from 16 tables.

Some of these features ended up in the two Blake Stone games, both used the Wolfenstein 3D codebase. 





  • Gray
  • Gray. older, cracked
  • Brown, heavy brick
  • Brown, heavy brick with pipes
  • Stone with exhaust tube (fireballs will fly out of it)
  • Stone with burnt impact mark of fireballs
  • Bunker (fire anim shown in front of it)
  • Destroyed bunker (hole blackened and chipped by gunfire)


  • Water tanke (Wasser) - Metal wall with the word Wasser on it.  Can blow away, leaves water.
  • Oil Tank
  • Battleship bolts with slide switches and counters (lights of this time are still big)
  • Wall switch (up/down)


  • Stained glass of Triad symbol
  • Stained glass of monastery images (cross, saint, etc)

Part Four Added Walls

  • Sendenkener (thought-sender) panels
  • Sendenkener Time Unit



  • Add tables with items on them, bump into them and changes to empty table
  • Creates (or container barrels), shoot open for bonus stuff
  • Add fiery barrel explosion, only for green and red barrels.  Green barrels blow up one square red blow up nine.
  • Touch plate.  Walking over it activates stuff.
  • Heat/steam grate.  Damages all who walk over it.
  • Fireball (4) fired from fire chutes.
  • Stool.
  • Rollie Chair? (to set off bad touchplates)
  • Lots of water on floor (or round grating, since water won't rotate well)
  • Metal shards from blown up tanks.
  • Water explosion.
  • V-3 Rockets you can blow up.
  • Add iron key.
  • Perhaps keyholders under keys, and empty keyholder?  (Short wood or stone pedestal w/red pad for key)
  • Triad-shaped Shuriken that Enforcers throw.



  • Guards - I think we've seen these.  Now they have purple uniforms, if we have palette room.
  • SS - Green uniforms
  • Officers - Red uniforms
  • Dogs - same
  • Mutants (now necropolis denizens) - Make 'em bony.
  • Demon dogs - Add red eyes, make 'em twice as fast, twice as much damage, twice as many hit points.
  • Smart officers - Redden their faces, red uniforms with dark flak vests.  One and a half times as fast, more hit points, will seek out healing (even secret healing)
  • Blitzguard - Fast guards, more damage.  Appears in 1.  Could use same graphics, or add armband or helmet change.
  • Triad Enforcers - Big as Hans, with dark gray uniforms, helmets, but a little less hit points, so they can be used constantly.  Appears in Episode 2.  A cross between ninjas and Hans.
  • Death Monks - Only have a four stage floating animation.  Like ghosts, drain if the touch you.  Colorize, and later Death monks shoot red bolts out of their eyes (maybe with rotations!) The former appear in 2&3, the latter in 3&4.  Could have alternate version that fall dormant after searching for a while, resting in a sort of a pile until someone comes near.
  • Triad Bosses - each has his own style and way of being defeated.

As you can see, at this stage, most of the actors were just the old Wolfenstein actors with new graphics - although some of the final ROTT character ideas and names are here.


  • Esau Guderian - Keeps shooting at you over stuff.  You must find out how to get into his little cage.  It requires touchplates or switches.
  • Heinrich Krist - Guards himself with a thrown out circle of bombs.  Push rollie charis over bombs to get at him.
  • Schwarzenmonch (Dark Monk) - Only vulnerable when you make it cross over heat grate -- shot it then.  It changes color a bit when it crosses one.
  • Oberroboter (Head Robot) - Shoot, arms fall off, shoot, legs fall off, shoot head comes after you.  Big badass final boss before you destroy the Time unit.
  • Sendenkener Robot Guards - Clunky robots, with big arms, others with guns.

Important:  For sprites and actors, you cannot draw in the leftmost or rightmost columsn of the 64 x 64 area.  They won't grab correctly.

As you can see here, most of the bosses survived intact in concept from the original spec to the released game.  Some of the characteristics are mixed up for a few of them, but overall, the bosses are largely unchanged throughout the entire game's development history.




  • Title screen
  • Menu screen (background
  • Read this / help pix
  • Cinematic
  • Title plaques / bars for menus


  • Big font for menus (could just keep it)


  • Edit screen
  • Error screen
  • Memory screen


  • These are the important parts, but numbers will change
  • 0-DF: normal palette
  • E0-E4: shadows for objects
  • E5-7: red (3 shades) always pulsing
  • E8-A: green (3) always pulsing
  • EB: floor
  • EC: ceiling
  • ED: Lightning
  • EE: Treasure Item Halo
  • EF: Healing Item Halo
  • F0: Gold Key Halo
  • F1: Silver Key Halo
  • F2: Iron Key Halo
  • F3: Red Flashing
  • F4: Green Flashing
  • F5-FE: Menu bar colors (flesh, number color, green marble)
  • FF: Mask color


  • Have level's light fade up and down, or flash.
  • Torch object?
  • Light switch on level.

As you can see, all of these "ideas" ended up in the final game, although not completely in the form described here.

[ End of Document ]


Development Artwork

That ends the document - it's an interesting look into the genesis of Rise of the Triad. Some of the things from this document survived, most did not.  However, for ROTT fans, it's a fascinating look as to how the game started life.  Below we will show you some of the development art - check it out!

Wall Art

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Character Development Art

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Weapon Development Art

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Other Stuff

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origin18.gif (7489 bytes) origin21.gif (5669 bytes) origin26.gif (8272 bytes)

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Heinrich Krist - Original artwork, and finished form


The NME - Original artwork, and finished form