The World Map shows “Girdlegard”, a conglomeration of kingdoms surrounded by mountains, where “The Dwarves” takes place. There are many important locations and more than 200 waypoints on it, which you can travel to.
Waypoints are connected by lines. The journey from one point to another takes a day. During each journey injured party members regenerate one injury, so long as there are enough provisions (see “Battle”). Your own party, as well as enemy hordes, allied armies, merchants, etc. are represented by small figurines.
If there is something interesting at the destination (e.g. an inn), a popup window appears, describing the environment and presenting the player with different options (e.g. „enter the inn“, „sneak up to a window and peer inside“, „observe the inn from the distance“, or „continue travelling“). In the inn you might obtain useful information, but you could also be drawn into a bar fight.
Even during the journey between two points you frequently have to make decisions. For example you could be informed that there‘s a toppled cart on the road ahead of you. Drag marks lead to a grove to your left. What do you do? These events can be small, self-contained stories, but they can also evolve into a whole adventure with far-reaching consequences.
Many of these events are placed randomly in each playthrough, so the game plays differently each time.
On the daily journeys our heroes will of course get into conversation with each other occasionally. You will learn more about them and their respective story. Once in a while companions quarrel with each other and as a leader of the group you have to settle the dispute or side with one of the squabblers. All of that needs to be carefully considered, because your companions will remember it!
If you reach important locations the game will switch from the world map to a detailed view. In this example from the beginning of the game we are in Lot-Ionan’s Vaults, an underground mage school that our protagonist Tungdil grew up in.
In these locations you can make Tungdil walk around, examine and use objects, talk to other characters, etc. For example, at one point in the game Tungdil has to find out details about an abandoned dwarven fortress. You have to find a way to enter the fortress, make light, and find clues about the whereabouts of a person.
Some locations in the game, e.g. the two inhabited dwarven fortresses we visit, are a „safe haven“. Other locations can turn into battlefields unexpectedly…
Prior to each battle you choose up to four heroes that will fight in the battle. Each hero has individual strengths and weaknesses, and a certain combat style. Some heroes might be able to deal lots of damage to many lightly armored enemies, while others can take a lot of damage or are experts on ranged combat.
Each character also has skills that can be learned or improved during “Level-Ups”. They can be obvious skills, like an especially powerful attack or a new spell for the team’s mage. Some are unusual talents though. Rodario for example, a highly gifted actor, can camouflage himself and walk through enemy lines undetected. Later in the game he can even disguise as enemy units and cause lots of confusion In battle you can switch between the different heroes anytime and give them orders. You can for instance improve their position on the battlefield, let them use an item or tell them to use a special move.
The latter uses up action points, which the different characters can replenish in different ways. Some receive action points for each enemy they kill, while others might receive points for each blow that hits them. Our goal is to have 15 unique playable characters and make sure that each of them plays differently.
You have to use the environment to your advantage to withstand the masses of enemies. A skillfully executed assault could send some enemies tumbling into an abyss, or a vessel knocked over at the right moment to douse enemies with molten metal…
For a victory in battle you receive experience points. The heroes that actively participated receive more than their inactive comrades.
Now and then there is loot, like e.g. food and gold, or there’s items that can improve the stats of a hero or can be consumed during one of the next battles.
For each 20% of health that a hero loses in battle, a wound is dealt. During each day of journey one wound heals (provided the party has enough provisions). If you fight very often, you have to decide whether you want to take injured heroes into battle or rather take one or more inexperienced fighters who have full health instead.