Eschalon: Book I is the first title in a planned series of independently developed RPG games. According to the developer, it is a faithful follower of classic RPG series like Wizardry, Might & Magic, or Ultima.
The game is turn-based, with the outcome of every action determined by the character's stats. Those are aided by different skills that involve combat proficiency with various weapons, thieving skills, magic abilities and non-combat skills like cartography (affects the quality of the automap feature), lore or mercantile. The world is open from the very beginning, with nothing but overpowering monsters and thugs preventing the player from going wherever he pleases.
The story finds the player in an abandoned building in the ransacked village of Elderhollow, suffering from a memory loss and with a short note instructing him what to do next. In time, he finds out that he is located in the eastern province of Eschalon, Thaermore, which is currently torn apart by war with a mysterious underworld race of creatures bearing a strong resemblance to dwarves. The passage to the west was closed by the Eschalon ruler, so all the people left in the province now have to care for themselves. A series of notes and instructions brings the player closer to the truth about his origin and his role in the current conflict.