Players control a sovereign and belong to a faction, each with characteristics affecting gameplay; they may pick from ten prebuilt sovereigns, or create their own. They gain influence over land and resources by founding cities, opening up the ability to train characters and research spells and technologies. Cities may be enhanced through improvements, providing additional space, and generating money, resources or prestige (one of the factors determining population growth).
Quests and useful items are scattered randomly across the land,[ as are wandering monsters and neutral characters; the latter may be hired with gildar, the game's currency. Both may be fought for experience and treasure, although attacking civilians decreases the sovereign's reputation.
Each character in the game is individually named and outfitted through a character editor, with statistics that increase as they gain experience. Characters may be combined into armies to fight more dangerous or numerous opponents. Combat takes place on a separate tactical map, although battles may normally be auto-resolved.
Players may negotiate with each other to exchange money, material goods, or diplomatic capital (but not technology), and to enter into treaties and alliances; however, the ability to do so must first be researched. Factors affecting negotiation include race, relative military strength, current relations, trade routes, treaties, character, traits, and family connections.
In general, gameplay varies depending on the chosen faction. Human kingdoms tend to focus on government and civilization, while the empires of the Fallen are more about individual champions.
Source: Wikipedia, "Elemental: War of Magic," available under the CC-BY-SA License.