As we begin the play-by-post over at gameplayers of titan, I started thinking about what makes Abstract Dungeon such a great game for me. Sure, the quick combat resolution is appreciated, but I think ultimately it is the narrative control afforded to the players.
As a GM, the greatest joy I get is when the players value the world enough to try explain something about it, even if it doesn’t fit with what I had planned. I find myself as a player doing the same thing. I enjoy being given small pieces of the story, or narrative, that I have control over. D&D struggles to allow that sort of play, but it is inherent in Abstract Dungeon. That is because the players decide what each die represents each time they use it to defeat an obstacle or enemy. I could use a strength die to state that I bash an enemy in, or a spirit die to state that I weakened the enemies resolve and they have surrendered. The player has narrative control for that instant and decides how the play continues.
As the GM, I then get to react to this choice in how the player resolved the conflict. If they bashed the enemy’s head in, they now have a bleeding enemy that is unconscious. I can either consider that encounter resolved, or raise the stakes by adding additional complications to what they have done.
This is the itch that I’ve needed scratched. I needed control again in the stories I tell as a player, and I needed a way to engage the players in helping to tell the story as a GM.