When it’s your turn, you play or discard up to 2 cards, then draw your
hand back up, in the following order.
A “free play” means you may play a
card without counting it toward your 2
standard plays.
The Game of Inauspicious Incidents
& Grave Consequences
First Play
You may play or discard any 1 card
from your hand, or choose to pass.
Second Play
The world of Gloom is a sad and
benighted place. The sky is gray, the
tea is cold, and a new tragedy lies
around every corner. Debt, disease,
heartache, and packs of rabid flesheating mice — just when it seems like
things can’t get any worse, they do.
But some say that one’s reward in the
afterlife is based on the misery
endured in life. If so, there may yet be
hope — if not in this world, then in
the peace that lies beyond.
In the Gloom card game, you assume
control of the fate of an eccentric family of misfits and misanthropes. The
goal of the game is sad, but simple:
you want your characters to suffer the
greatest tragedies possible before
passing on to the well-deserved
respite of death. You’ll play horrible
mishaps like Pursued by Poodles or
Mocked by Midgets on your own
characters to lower their Self-Worth
scores, while trying to cheer your
opponents’ characters with marriages
and other happy occasions that pile on
positive points. When one of your
family members finally suffers an
Untimely Death, that character and all
of the tragic circumstances that led up
to his demise are set aside until the
end of the game.
The game ends the instant an entire
family is eliminated. Each player
then totals the visible Pathos points
on each of his own dead Character
cards to get their Self-Worth scores,
and then adds these scores together
to get his total Family Value. The
player with the lowest total Family
Value wins.
Gloom is a card game for 2 to 4 players,
ages 8 years and up. Game play takes
about 1 hour. In addition to this rules
sheet, Gloom includes 20 Character
cards, 58 Modifier cards, 12 Event
cards, and 20 Untimely Death cards.
Before play begins, you’ll need to
choose characters and draw hands.
Choose Characters
Sort out the Character cards from the
deck by looking for the ones with a
skull on the back. Each player chooses a family and takes the 5 Character
cards with the same symbol in the
lower middle area of the card: Castle
Slogar is represented by a disembodied brain, Hemlock Hall by a top hat,
Blackwater Watch by a scythe, and
Dark’s Den of Deformity by a circus
tent. Your Character cards are placed
face up in front of you on the table.
Families that aren’t chosen by a player are set to the side for the duration of
the game.
Dark’s Den
of Deformity
Draw a Hand
The rest of the cards in the deck are shuffled and placed face down in a stack at
the center of the table to form the draw
pile. Each player then draws 5 cards
from it to make up his starting hand. A
discard pile will form face up next to the
draw pile during the course of the game.
If the draw pile ever runs out, reshuffle
the discard pile to create a new one.
Now you’re ready to torment your
characters! The player who has had
the worst day goes first; if you’ve all
had equally miserable days, the owner
of the game takes the first turn. Play
continues in a clockwise direction.
Untimely Deaths can’t be played on
your second play. You may play an
Event card or Modifier card from your
hand, discard any 1 card from your
hand, or choose to pass.
Draw Phase
Draw until the number of cards in
your hand is equal to your current
draw limit. Unless it’s altered by card
effects, the draw limit is 5 cards. You
are not forced to discard cards; if you
end up with 7 cards in your hand and
your draw limit is 5, you simply don’t
draw until you have fewer than 5
cards. Once you’ve drawn, the player
to your left begins his turn.
Half the fun of Gloom is the stories
that unfold as the game progresses.
On your turn, it’s up to you to explain
the effects of your plays and how
these tragic events have come to
pass. For example, the previous
round, Lord Slogar was Wondrously
Well Wed. So, how is it that he now
finds himself Driven to Drink and
Chastised by the Church? What
effect will this have on his poor
daughter Melissa, herself still in
recovery from a childhood bout of
Storytelling isn’t a required part of the
game, but give it a try — you’ll have
more fun if you do!
Gloom uses four types of cards:
Characters, Modifiers, Events, and
Untimely Deaths. Cards are resolved
in the order in which they’re played.
Character Cards
A Character card can be identified by
the skull on the back, the cheerful
character portrait in the center, and
the family symbol below it. These
cards have no inherent Pathos points
— characters start with no SelfWorth — but are the foundation of
the game. Modifier cards are placed
on top of character cards to change
their Self-Worth scores, and
Untimely Deaths can be played on
characters with negative scores to
secure those points until they’re
counted at the end of the game. The
families in Gloom include:
Castle Slogar: This gloomy castle is
the perfect place to raise a family …
from the dead. Professor Helena
Slogar has used unorthodox science
to preserve the life of her daughter
Melissa and her husband, Lord
Slogar, though it might have been
kinder to let them go. Currently, she’s
building a groom for Melissa, with
the assistance of freelance gravedigger Elias E. Gorr.
Hemlock Hall: Lord WellingtonSmythe’s wife died giving birth to two
adorable twins … who are possessed
by evil! He dotes on his lovely children, little realizing the nanny is
preparing them for a dark destiny.
Meanwhile, older daughter Lola just
wants to have fun, and the butler,
Butterfield, is up to no good.
Blackwater Watch: There are many
more of the Blackwater clan than seen
here. The Old Dam and her hench- …
er, handyman Willem Stark keep them
all in line, murdering those who don’t
follow the matriarch’s lead. Angel is
her favorite niece, while Cousin
Mordecai has recently been foisted
onto her household and probably
won’t last long. As for Balthazar, this
meddling mutt has a knack for digging up things best left buried.
Dark’s Den of Deformity: Darius
Dark has formed an extremely unsuccessful circus full of failed freaks.
Darius wants to be a ringmaster, but
has terrible talent when it comes to
picking acts. His unremarkable
bearded man, painfully modest illustrated lady, minute but mediocre
opera singer, and creepy clown are
truly fatal attractions.
Mister Giggles
Creepy Clown
Family Symbol
Flavor Text
Mister Giggles always has
a smile for the children
Modifier Cards
Each Modifier card has a transparent
center, black text plate, and decorative
scrollwork in the corners. Modifiers
are played from a player’s hand during his turn onto a Character card to
contribute the Pathos points along the
left edge to its Self-Worth score, add a
story icon, or give it a special effect.
Multiple Modifiers can be played on
the same Character card; if a new
Modifier card covers up the Pathos,
story icon, or special effect of a prior
Modifier, that element is overridden.
You may play Modifier cards on your
own characters, or on characters controlled by other players. Generally,
you want to play Modifiers with negative values on characters you control,
and Modifiers with positive values on
your opponents — though there may
be reasons to break this rule.
Pathos: A Modifier card may have up
to three spaces for Pathos points; add
all visible points on a Character card
together to determine the character’s
current Self-Worth score.
Story Icons: The story icon in the
lower right corner of some Modifier
cards has no effect on its own, but
may interact with other cards.
Beast: This icon usually indicates the
presence of dangerous animals.
Blank: This opaque block covers up a
previous icon, nullifing its effect.
Death: Modifiers with this icon are
concerned with disease or supernatural horror — ghosts, curses, catching
consumption, and so on.
Duck: Sometimes jokes can hurt;
beware the morbid waterfowl.
Goblet: This Modifier deals with feasts,
poison, and other food-related events.
Lucre: This Modifier involves money.
Marriage: This icon deals with relationships, both good and bad.
None: A clear space that lets a previous icon show through means that
icon is still in effect.
Special Effects: Many Modifier cards
also have immediate special effects that
are triggered when the card is played
(such as forcing a player to draw or discard cards) or continuous special
effects that work as long as the card’s
effect text is visible (like increasing or
decreasing a player’s draw limit).
These effects always apply to the person who controls the character to
which the Modifier card is attached, not
the person who played the Modifier.
contracted consumption
Pathos Points
Special Effect
Flavor Text
Your draw limit is reduced
by one card.
Conspicuous consumption is
such a tragedy
Event Card
Event cards each have a transparent
center, red text plate, and angel and
devil icons in the corners. These single-use cards are played from a player’s hand and then discarded. They
each have an immediate special effect
that’s triggered when the card is played
(such as bringing a character back from
the dead), and are usually played on the
player’s turn. However, if an Event
card says “Cancel ____ as it is played,”
it may be used during another player’s
turn as a response to an action.
Certain Event cards move Modifiers
from one Character card to another.
This isn’t the same as playing a
Modifier card, and it doesn’t trigger
immediate special effects. However,
continuous effects do move with the
Modifier card on which they’re written.
Special Effect
Smoke and Mirrors
Cancel an Event
as it is played.
Untimely Death Cards
Every Untimely Death card has a
transparent center, white text plate,
and gravestone icons in the corners.
These cards turn worthless living
characters into valuable dead ones.
During the First Play step on your
turn, you may choose to play an
Untimely Death card from your hand
onto any Character card, regardless of
who the character’s owner is, as long
Our Dearly Departed
Darius Dark
fell from on high
contracted consumptio
Our Dearly Departe
slept without sorrow
died of despair
is -30
Flip the character beneath this card to
its deceased side. Worth an additional
-10 with the 3 icon.
Sometimes you have
to take a dive.
is -40 (final)
as it has a current Self-Worth score
less than zero; some sort of tragedy
must befall the character before he
can die. Some cards also have special
effects that can cause a death to occur
on another player’s turn.
When an Untimely Death is played on
a character, turn the Character card over
to the deceased side, so the skull on the
back shows through its Modifiers, and
place the Untimely Death card on top of
the pile. Then set aside that Character
card along with all the cards that have
been played on it. Players can’t play
additional Modifier cards on a dead
character, and only a few Event cards
affect dead characters. Only visible
Pathos points count toward a character’s Self-Worth score; those that have
been covered are ignored. You receive
Pathos points at the end of the game
just for your own dead characters; your
living characters, and the dead characters of your opponents, don’t contribute
to your total Family Value.
was burnt by a mob
was pestered by poltergeists
Your draw limit is
by one card.
n is
Conspicuous consumptio
such a tragedy.
Mister Giggles
beneath this card to
Flip the character
your entire
its deceased side. Discardis used.
hand when card
A person can only
so much heartbreak
Relax, let your worries
and try not to think slip away,
Mister Eyeball Plucker
in the closet.
is +5
is -20 (final)
The player to your right may
randomly select and discard
one card from your hand.
They’re ba-a-ack!
is +10
• Likewise, if you kill an opponent’s
character with a negligible SelfWorth (like a score of –5), he’ll be
unable to place more-valuable
Modifier cards on that character.
• Early in the game, it can be useful to
play positive Modifier cards on your
own characters to benefit from their
special effects. You never lose or gain
Pathos points for living characters,
and in the long run you’ll probably
get negative modifiers to cover them.
• Many cards can be used either
offensively or defensively. To Be or
Not To Be lets you remove an
Untimely Death from one character
and place it on another. This can
allow you to return an opponent’s
character to life while killing one of
your own — or it can let you remove
that Died Without Cares and turn it
back on an enemy!
• Discarding cards may help if you
don’t have the cards you need.
• For a shorter game, reduce the number of Character cards in each family.
For example, in a 4-player game you
may limit each family to 4 characters.
Special Effect
Flavor Text
Flip the character beneath this card
to its deceased side.
Fifty people with torches and
pitchforks can’t be wrong.
Much of the outcome of Gloom will
fall to the whim of cruel fate, but there
are a few things to bear in mind.
• Points in the 3 Pathos spaces vary in
rarity of appearance, from top (most
common) to bottom (rarest) along
the left edge of the Modifer cards. A
card that affects the bottom Pathos
space is therefore more valuable
than one that targets the top.
• The game ends when one family is
completely eliminated. However,
you don’t lose or gain Pathos points
for living characters. If you’re
ahead, it may be to your advantage
to kill an opponent’s character in
order to end the game.
Concept & Game Design: Keith Baker
Editing & Project Coordination:
Michelle Nephew
Art & Graphic Design: Scott Reeves
Publisher: John Nephew
Playtesting: Ellen Baker, Jared
Brynildson, Rob Bryan, Gina Davis,
Graeme Davis, Daniel Havey, Will
Hindmarch, Seth McGinnis, John
Nephew, Michelle Nephew, Scott
Reeves, Christopher Riggs, Sharon
Riggs, Daniel Russett, Charles
Ryan, Stan!, Trevor Stone, James
Wyatt, Sara Young
Special Thanks: Will Hindmarch, Jerry
Corrick, and the guys at the Source.
©2004 Trident, Inc., d/b/a
Atlas Games. All rights
reserved. Gloom is a trademark of Trident, Inc., d/b/a
Atlas Games. This work is
protected by international
copyright law and may not be
reproduced in whole or in part
without the written consent of
the publisher. Printed in India.
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