Gameplay in TK is controlled by two types of players:
The narrator who is responsible for controlling all of the non-player characters (including villains and other creatures), as well as describing the scene and environment to the other players.
The players, each of whom plays a single player character, and describes what their character is doing in the scene to the narrator and the other players.
At all times, gameplay is either consider calm or dire. When gameplay is calm, characters and the narrator should "freestyle" their gameplay - there are no turns, and all players should collectively describe what happens in the most natural way for the group. When gameplay is dire, all play converts to a strict turn ordered sequence, where each character (PCs and NPCs) take a single turn each round to make their actions.
In addition to the above division between calm and dire play, another division exists: when the characters are in an encounter, and when they are not. An encounter is a discrete chunk of the story - it may be an important meeting with the king that turns into a heated argument before the characters are "escorted" from the castle; or it may be a tense fight to the death (absolutely a dire situation), between the characters and one of the villain's main lieutenants. It is up to the narrator what constitutes an encounter, although guidelines are provided. At the end of each encounter, PCs are awarded story points, virtues, reputation, and possibly other rewards.