The game is played in a sequence of days until one player wins the game by accumulating at least three of each kind of aura. Each day begins with the player waking up, rather shaken from the experience of dream combat. The player spends the day going to different characters and engaging them in conversation. These conversations serve multiple purposes. Highest priority goes to gaining information about the aura counts of other characters. However, the player does more than merely horse trade for aura counts. He can develop relationships in these conversations, altering the love, trust, and fear that the other characters feel for him. He can also make a number of promises as an incentive. He can promise not to attack another; he can promise not to give away any information about him; and he can promise to attempt to gain a particular piece of information. Obviously, such promises are intended to be part of deals, although they could conceivably be used unilaterally. The player can also obtain information about who has attacked whom in dream combat, and perhaps the outcome. This usually requires the player to reveal his own information about the dream combats he has fought.
During the course of play, the player will also experience interstitial stories. These can arise at almost any time, but they tend to occur while the player is in search of another character. As mentioned earlier, interstitial stories will give the player a one-shot experience involving one of the main characters or perhaps a secondary character. Each interstitial story will offer the player some custom choices; the choice made by the player will affect the development of the game.
At night, the player goes to sleep and enters dream combat. Each character is permitted to attack one other character. When this happens, the player uses the information he has gained during the course of the day to make a good guess as to the likely aura that the other character will play. Dream combat is played out in non-commutative combat relationships: tanaga beats katsin, katsin beats shial, and shial beats tanaga. The winning character takes the aura played by the losing character.
Characters begin the game with six auras, but they are not necessarily evenly distributed. Thus, a player must have at least three net victories in order to win the game. When one character obtains at least three auras of each type, that character is proclaimed the new Shepherd and the game ends.