The player begins the game as Frodo Baggins, and progressively acquires the remaining members of the Fellowship; Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf (Boromir strangely only makes a single brief appearance). With the addition of extra controllers and the SNES Multitap, the game supported up to four players (provided there were currently four characters in the party). Any characters not controlled by the player(s) are controlled by the computer A.I..
The game progresses through a series of "fetch quests" in which the player must explore vast environments to retrieve items relevant to the game's story. These items are often simple trinkets that have been misplaced by the game's non-player characters (NPCs). Much like the book, the game begins in the Shire, the land of the Hobbits. The game's plot takes the player to various locations from the book, such as the village of Bree, the elven city of Rivendell, and the Mines of Moria. Unlike the book, however, the finale of the game is the fight between the Fellowship and the Balrog creature in the Mines of Moria (the first volume of the book ends significantly later).
Although the game is entitled Lord of the Rings, Vol. I, no sequel was ever released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.