Talisman is an adventure board game set in a high fantasy medieval world. Players have 14 characters to choose from all based on role playing archetypes, such as heroes, wizards, villains, thieves, monsters, etc. The game makes players feel they are traveling the world to find equipment, weapons, ancient relics, and companions that will help them on their quest to acquire the Crown of Command. Along the way they visit various locales in the worlds, battle each other and fantastic creatures to make their way to the top.
Each player is trying to move from the outer world and ultimately to the inner world. Players wander the outer, middle, and inner worlds trying to acquire equipment, weapons, and companions. They will also improve statistics with equipment, companions, and encounters and battles with fantasy creatures and each other. Once they complete a Talisman quest, players will enter the inner world and face its challenges to finally reach the Portal of Power to claim the Crown of Command. Then the other players must race to stop this player before he eventually kills them all with the Command spell.
To begin, players select a character card from among the 14 provided. Characters have basic statistics to start. These are Life [hit points], Strength [physical prowess], and Craft [Magic and Intelligence]. Some characters are naturally more gifted in combat and others in magic, while others are mix of the two. Additionally characters are often differentiated with unique abilities, starting equipment, and starting spells. This all makes the players actually feel different during play. In addition items and companions players acquire during play also add to statistics, increasing Strength, Craft, Life or adding new abilities, etc.
Actual game play is relatively simple, making the game easy to pick up with novices. On a player's turn they throw a die for movement. Player then chooses which direction, left or right, or if meeting qualifications may be able to move from outer to middle world, or middle to inner world. Once on space, player follows instructions on space, or encounters face up cards already in space, or other player if in space. Most spaces have a player draw a number of cards to encounter. These can be creatures, companions, weapons, equipment, treasure, or relics. Players must fight creatures and win before acquiring any other items or companions. If another player is in the space, players may attack with either Craft or Strength but are not required to do so. The defender defends with same statistic attacked with. If the defender loses, he loses a life and an item or companion of attackers choice. If the attacker loses, he loses a life.