This paper presents Heracles, an open-source, functional, parameterized, synthesizable multicore system toolkit. Such a multi/many-core design platform is a powerful and versatile research and teaching tool for architectural exploration and hardware-software co-design. The Heracles toolkit comprises the soft hardware (HDL) modules, application compiler, and graphical user interface. It is designed with a high degree of modularity to support fast exploration of future multicore processors of different topologies, routing schemes, processing elements (cores), and memory system organizations. It is a component-based framework with parameterized interfaces and strong emphasis on module reusability. The compiler toolchain is used to map C or C++ based applications onto the processing units. The GUI allows the user to quickly configure and launch a system instance for easy factorial development and evaluation. Hardware modules are implemented in synthesizable Verilog and are FPGA platform independent. The Heracles tool is freely available under the open-source MIT license at: http://projects.csail.mit.edu/heracles.