The game includes 16 pre-designed characters. When playing the game, each player selects a character to play -- that character then becomes unavailable to the other players. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses, and different strategies must be employed by the player, based on the character selected, in order to be successful. The characters are: Witch, Amazon, Woodsgirl, Witch King, Sorcerer, Wizard, Magician, Black Knight, White Knight, Berserker, Captain, Swordsman, Pilgrim, Druid, Elf and Dwarf.
The Black Knight is probably the most playable, right out of the box, as he is strong enough to kill several of the medium monsters, until he collects enough treasure to upgrade to a more effective weapon, and is well-armored so that he can last for many combat rounds without being defeated.
Each character has different abilities for moving, fighting, and casting magic. For example, the Black Knight is relatively quick and strong, but has no magic abilities. Conversely, you have the Witch, who can cast powerful magic, but is weak. And then there is the Amazon, who is fast, but not terribly strong and has no magic.
The 16 characters are archetypes from fantasy literature, which was the intention of the game designer. Of course, those archetypes may seem hackneyed now, but in 1978, many people wanted to role-play archetypes from fantasy literature. If one was updating this game in 2009, i'm sure you would see characters named pyromancer this, and vampire that.