Players in Shroud of the Avatar will have the option to explore the game, its world, and its story in both single-player and multiplayer contexts. As explained in the Shroud of the Avatar FAQ:
Shroud of the Avatar is a new form of multiplayer online role playing game we are calling a Selective Multiplayer Game. This will allow players to choose how they want to play. Play options will include solo offline, solo online, friends only online, or open multiplayer online. For players who play in the default open multiplayer, Shroud of the Avatar will feel very much like a traditional MMO.
In the world of Shroud of the Avatar, choices will have real and lasting impacts, and players may find that the denizens of New Britannia are not entirely friendly toward — or at ease with — the Strangers from Another World that have turned up en masse in their midst.