Fallout co-creator unearths his 20-year-old pitch for Baldur's Gate 3: a first-person action RPG with PvPvE multiplayer

Giant crowned woman with glowing eyes kneeling down to inspect normal sized woman with back facing to camera
(Image credit: Larian)

Tim Cain, one of the creators of the original Fallout and a co-founder of cult RPG studio Troika, has released a vlog revealing Troika's 2003 pitch to Wizards of the Coast for Baldur's Gate 3. This version sounds like an even wilder departure for the series than Larian's highly anticipated upcoming sequel.

Cain discovered the pitch document in his personal collection of files related to development of The Temple of Elemental Evil, Troika's 2003 adaptation of the Gary Gygax tabletop module of the same name. "Making a computer game and trying to make it as true as possible to the paper and pencil game, we did that, it's done," Cain said of ToEE, which we previously described as the "most D&D" of all D&D games. "Now I wanted to make what I called 'adapted D&D.'"

Cain describes Troika's proposed Baldur's Gate 3 as a real time, first-person RPG with a third person view for melee combat, similar to the Jedi Knight games or Troika's own Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines. Overall, it sounds like a real tactile, immersive experience, way more Outer Worlds than Infinity Engine.

Troika's adapted D&D system would have removed Intelligence and Wisdom entirely, and you wouldn't have been able to directly set your attributes, instead having them generated based on starting race and class and improved automatically on level up. Instead of memorizing spells per day, all advanced abilities, physical or magical, would have drawn on a "fatigue" meter that sounds sort of like the mana points from Diablo or Force meter in Knights of the Old Republic. 

This BG3 would have offered eight classes: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Mage, Monk, Ranger, and Rogue. Cain explained that Paladins were excluded because Troika wanted to start all characters at True Neutral alignment and have their choices dictate where they end up, similar to Planescape: Torment.

This Baldur's Gate 3's take on skills and feats almost sounds more like Fallout, with skills encompassing any active abilities, including weapon proficiency, while feats would have offered purely passive bonuses like Fallout's perks. You would have only controlled one character directly, but Cain described picking up helper companions, possibly based on your Charisma score.

Cain also says Troika's Baldur's Gate 3 would have had a strong multiplayer element, including direct PvP arenas, cooperative play, and what sounds like a very early take on a PvPvE-style mode where players would race to complete quests as quickly as possible. Troika also wanted to ship its Baldur's Gate 3 with user level design tools, allowing them to make custom PvPvE quests, or even full-on story campaigns a la Neverwinter Nights.

"I'm not sure we even heard back on this," Cain put bluntly in the video.

Troika's first choice for continuing to work with Wizards of the Coast seems to have been more direct follow ups to Temple, potentially as expansion packs or full on sequels. Cain describes wanting to adapt other Gygax Greyhawk modules like Against the Giants or Queen of the Demonweb Pits, with bizarro BG3 having been a backup option. Ultimately, Wizards did not greenlight any new projects from Troika after ToEE.

Work would dry up for Troika after its herculean, grueling labor of love on Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, and the studio shut down in early 2005, leaving RPG fans like myself to daydream about its projects that never came to fruition, such as Journey to the Centre of Arcanum, The Lord of the Rings, Not-Fallout 3, and now bizarro universe Baldur's Gate 3.

This wasn't the only version of Baldur's Gate 3 to get axed before Larian picked up the torch either. Cain's former employer, Interplay (via its RPG division, Black Isle), was deep in planning its own Baldur's Gate 3, codenamed "The Black Hound." It would have been set in the faraway Dalelands in the Forgotten Realms, and have very little to do with the plot of the original two games. Interestingly, The Black Hound was meant to be a lower-stakes adventure, with a more Baldur's Gate 1-style level cap of eight contrasting sharply with the high-flying level 30 antics of Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal.

It's interesting to me that all the potential Baldur's Gate 3s are such vast departures from the originals, but it makes sense with Throne of Bhaal having been such a bombastic, definitive conclusion. Larian's Baldur's Gate 3 at least, looks stunning, and has more than a little bit of that Troika spirit. In addition to Baldur's Gate 3 being a highly reactive game generally, Larian also seems to have cribbed Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura's dope newspaper system and taken it to the next level.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.