We meet the first person protagonist, Peter, in a school for Gamesmen. Vaguely similar to chess, these games are played with psi powers and end in death. The Gamesmen use pawns (no talent) and other gamesmen with lesser talents like fodder. Peter has been violating a rule by sleeping with a teacher/Prince (for rewards) and that teacher throws him away on a game. When he heals, Peter finds some odd small gamesmen that give him powers and he learns to use some of them at need. There is much evil in the world and Peter goes to find it. He also meets his mother, Mavin Manyshaped (a Shifter), and his father, a wizard. Eventually, they work through the immediate evil to save the world.
There's two more trilogies: The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped and The End of the Game that fill in more, but The True Game is the basic story. I first read it and the other trilogies in the mid-80s when they originally came out and rereading this now made me notice how bad the writing is. I blame rasfc for teaching me more about the mechanics of writing. I think I'll still re-read the other two trilogies, but first I'm going to read We Band of Angels recommended by Rivka Wald.