A sabreclaw horde in Heretic E4M1: Catafalque

The sabreclaw is an enemy in Heretic that first appears in the second episode, Hell's Maw. Sabreclaws seem to be metallic, have no blood and explode when killed, but no information is given about their origins. They have no ranged attacks, but use their bladed tails and axe-bladed hands to slice into enemies; combined with their speed and the fact they are often encountered in groups, they can be dangerous to careless players.

Description from the manual: These hideous abominations of the dark world move bloody fast and possess deadly sharp blades for appendages. They can't fly and they can't shoot, but in close combat they'll tear you to ribbons.

Tactical analysis[edit]

Sabreclaws are harmless if you can keep some distance between you and them, or a barrier. They also have a very low mass meaning most weapon fire will knock them back, however they are quick to recover.

Sabreclaws' strength is their very low pain chance, which means that you can't reliably use the gauntlets without getting slashed. They can also be hard to stop if they corner you, so it's best to avoid it.

When killed, they have a ~33% chance to drop lesser runes.


Slashes needed to kill1 Mean Standard
Min Max
Player (100%
health, no armor)
? ? ? ?
Player (100%
health, silver shield)
? ? ? ?
Player (200%
health, enchanted shield)
? ? ? ?
Player chicken ? ? ? ?
Bad guy chicken ? ? ? ?
Gargoyle ? ? ? ?
Fire gargoyle ? ? ? ?
Golem (normal and ghost) ? ? ? ?
Nitrogolem (normal and ghost) ? ? ? ?
Undead warrior (normal and ghost) ? ? ? ?
Disciple of D'Sparil ? ? ? ?
Weredragon ? ? ? ?
Ophidian ? ? ?
Iron lich ? ? ? ?
Maulotaur ? ? ? ?
D'Sparil's green chaos serpent ? ? ? ?
D'Sparil ? ? ? ?

  1. These tables assume that all calls to P_Random for damage, pain chance, impact animations, backfire checks, and smoke trails are consecutive. In real play, this is never the case: counterattacks and AI pathfinding must be handled, and of course the map may contain additional moving monsters and other randomized phenomena (such as flickering lights). Any resulting errors are probably toward the single-shot average, as they introduce noise into the correlation between the indices of "consecutive" calls.
  2. Hardcoded exception to infighting negates damage (excepting indirect damage caused by exploding puff pods).

Appearance statistics[edit]

In the IWADs the sabreclaw is first encountered on these maps per skill level:

The IWADs contain the following numbers of sabreclaws per skill level: