Life gives us a nudge when we need to wake up to the wisdom of our experiences, and I can’t think of a better way to arrive at such a conclusion than through a reflection on my own experiences. While a certain defunct education system might recommend standardized testing to demonstrate mastery of a skill or piece of knowledge, a more enlightened one might suggest an original project.

I check my email periodically throughout the day, and I just happened to get a notice from my credit union about an upcoming Scout event. I started to go over some of my memories of being a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, and since I was already thinking on the subject of advancement, I thought about ranks and merit badges.

Which brought me to the Eagle Scout Service Project. Though I remember quite a few Eagle Projects from when I was a part of the organization, I never advanced that far, and consequently had to look up some of the details. Part of qualifying for the rank of Eagle involved organizing and leading an effort to help your community — not the Boy Scouts, and not an individual or business.

Part of the challenge of the Eagle Project is looking outside the organization, exploring your community and finding an aspect that could use improvement, then focusing the effort yourself, effectively demonstrating your mastery of planning and leadership. It’s outside-the-box thinking at a basic level, coupled with community service.

Now, I chose an arbitrary limit of “the end of the week” before a player was allowed to apply the experience points they’d gained toward their level advancement, because I wanted to buy myself some time to think about it. The concept of “advancement tests” already exist in Dungeons & Dragons, but this needs to be something different. There has to be a level of player involvement in the choice and execution of any test.

First, the test provides no experience itself. Next, I’m thinking that the test is “easier” the “more difficult” the player makes it for themselves. There’s no reason why they can’t include other players in the formulation of the testing event (it’s a cooperative game, after all), and it should undoubtedly be an event related to creating, or perhaps repairing or replacing something. Not about destroying.

I imagine it will probably resemble a dissertation or thesis for a college degree. I’m going to have to explore some of the options available, but incorporating many, varied skill checks and physical evidence will probably be involved. The candidate for level advancement may even need a certain minimum number of party members, or else the difficulty may be over their heads. Difficult, but not impossible.