The object of the game is to progress through a series of regions and reach the Crown of Command. The game contains three regions: the Outer Region, the Middle Region and the Inner Region. Players start in the Outer Region and try to progress inward. The Inner Region contains the Crown of Command, the central board position. To reach the Crown of Command, players must pass through the Valley of Fire. Only characters possessing a talisman may enter the Valley of Fire, hence the name of the game.
Each player selects a character, or hero, at random at the beginning of the game. Each character has different special abilities and a set location in which to begin. Each character has several attributes: Life, Gold, Strength and Craft. Each character begins with 4 lives and one bag of gold. Strength and Craft are used for two different kinds of combat: physical combat and psychic combat. One of the main goals of the game is to build up a character so it is strong enough to venture inward, eventually to the Crown of Command. Once at the Crown, a character can cast the Command Spell causing opponents to lose one life each time it is successfully cast.
Game play consists of players rolling a die and moving about the regions. At each location in the regions, the board indicates what takes place. Some locations have set events or encounters, some are random. Many locations indicate to draw a number of Adventure cards. These cards contain numerous events. Some indicate the character has met an enemy who must be fought, some indicate that the character has found an object or magic object or received a bag of gold, etc. All these events help build up the character. One of the features of the game is that many of the cards remain on the square after being drawn.
Building up the character is one of the game's main activities. This can involve gaining followers, increasing in Strength and Craft, gaining and casting spells, gaining lives, obtaining gold and acquiring objects and magic objects. One magic object a character must eventually possess is a talisman, which allows the character to pass through the Valley of Fire.