After Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Tim Cain worked up a proposal for a Troika RPG based on Conan

Cain on Games is back with another dive into the lost history of Troika. This time, Tim Cain has been digging through the proposals Troika sent out to various publishers as work on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was winding down, and he's come up with a doozy. 

It turns out that in June, 2004, Cain pitched a third-person action RPG based on Conan the Barbarian. As he explains in the video, the Dungeons & Dragons campaign he ran in high school was set in Conan's Hyborian age because "it was one of the few fantasy series with a map that my friends hadn't read," which meant he had "extensive notes on all the countries, on languages, on cultures, on how magic worked" he'd written up as a 14-year-old. Thank goodness for the obsessive teenage nerd brain.

The proposal features an example of what it would be like to play Conan as he infiltrates a temple of Set to steal the Heart of Ahriman. In the classic Tim Cain-style seen in Fallout and Troika's RPGs there would be multiple ways in, whether by brute force or subterfuge, with one example being the use of a strangulation attack on a lone priest before stealing his robe as a disguise. Inside the temple, Conan would find a fight has broken out between priests and assassins and again would have multiple options for dealing with the situation.

All this would be seen via an over-the-shoulder camera, using the Source Engine as Bloodlines did and promising "realistic facial animations" as well as physics-based attacks. The proposal also highlights the idea that, instead of the standard zero-to-hero format of RPG progression, players would be playing Conan as a badass from the start—earning even more abilities like a "cyclone strike" or more stealth options as they choose.

Of course, Troika's Conan RPG never got any further than this proposal and Cain says, "I have no idea who we sent this to." It was just one of a flood of ideas that included proposals for a Lord of the Rings game, another Fallout, a Might & Magic sequel, and The Temple of Elemental Evil 2. The latter would have followed Troika's adaptation of the classic D&D module with more of the same, working through the "GDQ" series—the Giants campaign, the Drow campaign, and their culmination in Queen of the Demonweb Pits, in which the player-characters travel to the Abyss and fight the spider goddess Lolth. 

Another proposal in the pile was Troika's pitch for Baldur's Gate 3, as Cain has discussed in a previous video. Really, it seems like a bottomless pit of games industry lore over there at Castle Cain, and I hope he continues digging through it.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.