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And my choice of system for my solo campaign is...

...going to surprise some of you.

As I have already declared, I'm going to play a solo RPG campaign that will last until the end of December 2013 unless something redirects my trajectory. I've been giving this a lot of consideration for weeks now, and I'm ready to commit publicly to the project.

First, let me admit that I've known from the very beginning that I would choose something in the fantasy genre. In fact, I've actually made several choices for this endeavor already and I'll share many of them with you in the near future.

Right now, though, it's all about the game system. Before the reveal, let me briefly explain why some systems got rejected.

Labyrinth Lord & the Advanced Edition Companion are OSR masterpieces that I love, but limited character creation choices and early mortality possibilities made it unlikely I'd be able to develop unique characters that had the potential to last to the end. Similarly, I wanted characters that could be defined by other abilities beyond just those related to combat.

Pathfinder was just too intimidating. Even though I've been a player in a Pathfinder campaign for over a year now, I still haven't embraced the supposed joys of number-crunching and min-maxing. Character creation options are wondrously diverse, but the accounting that occurs as levels increase just doesn't seem fun.

The One Ring has an intriguing combat system with "stances" and other cool mechanics that I really look forward to trying one day, but the grimness of the setting's tone and the sameness of characters wouldn't sustain me beyond one or two solo games. I want my campaign to be humorous, and the "Edge of the Wild" is anything but that.

BASH! Ultimate Edition hit my radar when Ryan S. (The Original Nerd) told me about it. He totally sold me on the system for good reason: even though it's billed as a superhero game, Bash UE is a terrific toolkit for any action genre. I've already drafted a Bash Wuxia game for myself which is looking pretty good, but I didn't want to have to DIY-it all through this year-long fantasy campaign, and I wanted a system whose language could be spoken by anyone, not just me.

So, now on to my final selection.

It's D&D Next. Yep...a system that's still in playtest.

Let me explain:
I've been in a playtest group for D&D Next with some wonderful people since the rules in their first iteration were released. We've met for gaming seven or eight times, but, unfortunately, this has been altogether the WORST playtesting experience I've ever had. I can't offer particulars about the sessions for fear that the leader of the group (who is, in fact, the root cause of the problem) might stumble across this post even though he doesn't know a thing about my blogging. Suffice to say, I believe there are elements within D&D Next that have merit and deserve a fair shake, but I won't be able to experience them unless I strike out on my own.

So, I am.

Further reasons for my choice
  • Even at this early stage of development, character creation is varied and offers much customization (and differentiation even within the same class) without emphasis on numerical optimization.
  • Cool new mechanics make for a more fluid gaming experience.
  • There are many game elements that are only useful outside of combat, inviting social encounters and intrigue, both of which I really want.
  • Beyond the whole "desire for adventure" thing, there's no overt tone to the game, so I can make it as serious or as humorous as I'd like.
  • Solo uncertainty is almost guaranteed as further iterations of the rules documents potentially confound my expectations while adding new elements - both of which are good for the solo player.
  • It's D&D.
I won't be breaking any NDA clauses as I share my campaign on Solo Nexus, so there won't be any posted discussions of secret rules. However, those secret rules ARE freely available from Wizards of the Coast themselves, so go get them HERE if you're interested.

Sure, D&D Next is far from perfect, but that's why there's a playtest process in place - and it's one that should be used to help the game's designers get things right, not ridicule them because they haven't done so yet. I very much respect the playtest process and want to be a constructive part of it. I hope my solo campaign will enable me to accomplish that.

I also thoroughly believe it's going to be a lot of fun!

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