After taking two actions, the player whose turn
it is finishes by drawing back up to five cards.
Play continues clockwise around the table.
That’s it! Turns continue until one player’s
whole family has Unhappy Endings, and the
game comes to a close. See “Winning the
But That’s Not All!
The fairy tales with the most depressing endings teach the most valuable lessons.
In Fairytale Gloom, it’s your job to create the most miserable tale of all time.
In Fairytale Gloom, each player has a family
of four Characters. Players try to make
their own families the most miserable, while
cheering up the other players’ families.
Characters become sad or happy primarily
by having Modifier cards played on them.
Each Modifier affects the Self-Worth score
of the Character it’s played on. Players also
play and discard Event cards for various
immediate effects.
As the game continues, the Characters’
individual stories end, one by one, as Unhappy
Ending cards are played on them. When
one entire family has succumbed to Unhappy
Endings, the game ends. Self-Worth scores
are then tallied, and the most miserable player
wins the game.
1. Divide Into Families:
Spread the 20 Character
cards out on the table
where everyone can
see them. Each player
chooses four. All chosen
cards are laid face up on
the table in front of their
owners, where the other
players can also see and
reach them. Return any
unused Characters to the
box. They won’t be used.
3. Stories: Choose two
Story cards randomly
and lay them face up
where everyone can
easily see and reach
them, but where they
won’t be confused with
the discard pile. Return
the rest of the Story cards
to the box. They won’t
be used.
Story cards have
purple images.
4. Begin!: Each player briefly summarizes the
misery of their day so far. The player with the
most horrible story will take the first turn.
The game’s owner chooses which terrible tale
is most miserable, if there’s a disagreement.
The rules in this section will get you started
playing Fairytale Gloom right away. Refer to
the rest of the rules (starting at “The Cardinal
Rule”) as questions come up.
On your turn, you take two actions. An
action is almost always used to play a card
from your hand. How that works depends
on what kind of card you choose. Generally
speaking (and with some exceptions)…
Character cards
have full-color
2. Deal the Cards: Set aside the Story cards
and Reference cards. Shuffle the rest of
the cards into a deck. Deal each player five
face-down cards and put the rest of the deck
in the center of the table. A discard pile will
form next to it during play.
•Events have some immediate effect, and are
then discarded.
•Modifiers are stacked on top of a Character
and remain there. They alter that
Character’s Self-Worth score, may have
additional effects as described on the card,
and may bear story icons. You can play
Modifier cards on anyone’s Character, not
just yours, as long as that Character doesn’t
have an Unhappy Ending yet.
•Unhappy Endings are played on a
Character and bring that Character’s tale
to an end. You can only play an Unhappy
Ending on a Character with a negative SelfWorth score. An Unhappy Ending can’t be
played as the second action of your turn; it
has to come first.
Fairytale Gloom is the most fun when the
player taking an action tells or continues a
brief story with each action.
Think of it this way: You’re creating a
fairy tale with the cards you play. How is it
that Cinderella came to be Transformed Into
a Toad? (Did she find a magic lamp with
the cleaning supplies and rub it the wrong
way? Did she become the object of a mad
leprechaun’s ire?) Why was Pinocchio Pursued
by a Prince? (Blew his nose on his pocket
square? Bested him in a duel?) You decide,
and then tell the other players in an interesting
There are no formal rules for Fairytale
Gloom storytelling, and no right answers, but
that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Quite the
opposite: Many Gloom players think of telling
tales as very best part of the game!
Fairytale Gloom’s cards are transparent in
some areas and opaque in others. As the game
goes on, cards are often stacked squarely on
top of each other. For example, Modifier cards
are placed on top of Character cards. (As well
as on top of previous Modifiers, as the game
As Modifier cards stack up, different SelfWorth values, card effects, and story icons
will be covered up, sometimes replaced and
Character Card
sometimes simply concealed. The cardinal
rule of Fairytale Gloom is that you only
pay attention to what you can see.
If Self-Worth points are concealed, they
no longer affect that Character’s score. If a
story icon is covered, that Character no longer
has it. If an effect is hidden, it no longer does
anything. (Persistent effects are the single
exception to this list. See “Effect Categories”
for details.)
Each area on a card has a particular use.
Name: What the card is called.
Self-Worth Points: Up to three point values
in circles. Each Character’s Self-Worth score is
the sum of the point values currently showing
in its stack.
Story Icons: Up to three icons that have no
effect on their own, but which frequently trigger
or interact with the effects of other cards.
Deck Icon: The rose on every card indicates
it is from Fairytale Gloom, to help you sort it
out from your other Gloom games if you wish.
Effects: Special rules that do whatever
they say. There are four categories of effects:
immediate, ongoing, persistent, and response.
See “Effect Categories” for more information.
Flavor Text: Delightful or dreadful
bits of story and commentary that provide
entertaining ambiance. Flavor text is
distinguished from effect text with italics.
Portrait: A disturbing, entertaining, or
comic image, delightful to behold. Some
illustrations make it easy to tell cards apart
by type. For example, Modifiers almost never
have illustrations, so it’s easy to tell what they
are. (Modifiers with persistent effects are the
exception.) Other pictures make it easy to tell
finished Characters from unfinished Characters:
All Unhappy Endings bear the same image, so
any Character showing that signature picture at
the top of its stack must be finished.
Story Card
Modifier Card
Event Card
Unhappy Ending
Not every element of every card shown is labeled.
Character cards have flavor text, and Modifiers have
effects, for example.
Effects (regular text) and
Flavor Text (italics)
Unhappy Ending Cards
Event cards have names
and effects, and all share
a common portrait image
showing a pair of winged
boots. These single-use
cards are played from your
hand, do what they say, and
are discarded immediately.
Unhappy Ending cards have names, effects,
and flavor text, and
all share a common
portrait image showing
the final page of a book.
An Unhappy Ending
brings a Character’s tale
to a close, transitioning
that Character from
unfinished to finished.
You can play Unhappy
Endings on your own Characters or the
Characters of others. However, there are two
•You can’t play an Unhappy Ending as
your second turn action, and
•You can only play Unhappy Endings
on a Character with a negative SelfWorth score. (That is, the sum of all of
that Character’s visible Self-Worth scores
must be negative before the effects of the
Unhappy Ending are applied. This is
Gloom after all — you can’t finish a tale
unless its hero is miserable!)
Once a Character meets its Unhappy Ending,
set it aside in a way that makes it clear that it’s
finished. A few Event cards can affect finished
Characters, but not many.
Modifier Cards
Story Cards
Character Cards
Character cards have
names, portraits, and flavor
text. Character cards lack
innate Self-Worth points
or story icons. Rather,
they’re the basic foundations
of your stories, where
Modifiers stack up.
Choose Characters you think it would be
fun to tell stories about. You could assemble a
family that mirrors an existing tale, like Red
Riding Hood, Grandmother, The Woodsman,
and the Wolf. Or, you could decide that in
your story, Snow White, Cinderella, and
Rapunzel are all secret agents working for the
mysterious “Prince.” It’s up to you!
Event Cards
Modifier cards always have
names, and one to three
Self-Worth values. Most
Modifiers have one or more
story icons, an effect, and
some flavor text. But some
Modifiers omit story icons,
effects, and/or flavor text.
Playing Modifiers is
how you inflict misfortune on your own family
and bring cheer to your enemies. Generally
speaking, you’ll want to play Modifiers with
negative Self-Worth on your own Characters
and positive Self-Worth on other players’
Characters, but sometimes a card’s effect will
make you want to do something else.
When you play a Modifier on a Character,
stack it squarely on top of the Character you’ve
chosen, and on top of any Modifiers previously
played on that Character. You can only play
Modifiers on unfinished Characters (that is,
Characters without Unhappy Endings) unless a
card’s effect specifically says otherwise.
Modifiers with effects affect the player who
owns the Character that the Modifier was played
on, and not (necessarily) the player who played
the card. So if you play a card that says “Draw
two cards” on another player’s Character, that
player is the one who gets to draw.
Some unusual Modifiers — those with
persistent effects — have portraits. These
cards represent momentous changes in their
Character’s life. Their effects persist even when
their effect text is covered up, which is the only
exception to the cardinal rule of Fairytale Gloom.
See “Effect Categories” for more detailed
information about persistent effects.
Story cards have names
and effects, and each
one has a unique purple
portrait. A special portion
of each Story’s effect is its
requirement: a type and
quantity of story icons.
Story cards are never
shuffled into the deck, and
only two at a time are ever used in a single
A game’s Story cards begin the game
uncontrolled — on the loose in the center
of the table, not claimed by any player’s family.
In the course of play, though, any player
can claim an uncontrolled Story card by
spending an action to do so, as long as that
player’s family meets that Story’s requirements.
For example, Rumpelstiltskin’s requirement
is two Skull icons. If your family collectively
shows two or more Skulls, you meet the
Players can also claim controlled story cards
— cards that another player has previously
claimed — by spending an action, meeting the
requirements, and also exceeding the current
controller in icons of the relevant type.
When you claim a Story card, place it near
your family so everyone can see that it’s yours.
You enjoy its effects for as long as you control it.
You can only have one Story card at a time. If
you have one and claim another, return the first
one, uncontrolled, to the center of the table.
Story cards are optional: A less complicated
version of Fairytale Gloom can be played with
just one (instead of two), or by leaving them
out entirely. If you do play a game without
Stories, discard and replace any card you
might draw — like “Movie Rights” — whose
effect refers to them.
don’t count toward your two-action limit. If a
card allows you to play an Unhappy Ending as
a free play, you can do it whether the free play
came from your turn’s first or second action.
In addition to the typical card-play actions
(playing a Modifier, playing an Event, playing
an Unhappy Ending, or claiming a Story), two
special actions are available to players on their
Discarding Your Hand: If you don’t like your
cards, you can discard your entire hand. But
keep in mind that you don’t get new cards until
the end of your turn, so if you discard your
hand as your first action, you won’t have any
cards to play on your second action.
Passing: You can always do nothing.
There are four types of effects, which are
identified by icons. An effect’s category
determines when it’s resolved.
Immediate effects are conclusively
resolved right away when played.
Example: “Draw one card.”
Ongoing effects continue to affect
the game for as long as their effect text
is visible. When it’s covered by another card,
the effect ends. Example: “Your draw limit is
increased by one card.”
Persistent effects represent a longterm change to a Character, such as
being turned into a frog. All persistent effects
have new portraits that cover a Character’s
normal portrait. As long as the new picture
remains visible, the effect continues. Typically,
the only ways to end a persistent effect are
to play a different one above it, or play an
Unhappy Ending on that Character.
Responses can only be played during
another player’s turn in response to some
action that player has just taken. Response
cards are the only cards that can be played
during another player’s turn. Example:
“Cancel an Event card as it is played.”
Some effects change your draw limit. Your
draw limit is simply the number of cards you
draw up to at the end of your turn. If your
draw limit is five (which is the default), you
draw cards at the end of your turn until you
have five cards in your hand.
If you somehow have more cards than your
draw limit at the end of your turn, your turn
simply ends without any drawing of cards.
The game ends immediately when all of the
Characters in one family are finished — that is,
when they all have Unhappy Endings on them.
When the game ends, each player adds
up the Self-Worth scores of all their finished
Characters. (Each Character’s individual SelfWorth score is the sum of the point values
currently showing in its stack.) The player with
the lowest total — the one whose family is the
most miserable — wins!
Some Modifiers and Events let you play
additional cards as free plays. Free plays
Assigning Characters: If you’re having trouble figuring out which players can have which
Characters, you can either deal each player four random Characters, or go around the table
letting each player pick one at a time until everyone has four.
Choosing Stories: Rather than deciding randomly which Story cards to use, the players
can simply agree among themselves which pair of cards to use.
Very Simple Fairytale Gloom: To play an extremely simple version of Fairytale
Gloom, ignore every card’s effect text. This can be a good way to learn the game for the
first time, or to play with younger children.
Concept & Game Design: Keith Baker
Producers: Michelle Nephew, Jeff Tidball, and
Kyla McCorkle Tonding
Illustrations: Jaume Fabregat
Layout: Kyla McCorkle Tonding
Publisher: John Nephew
Playtesters: Veronica Berns, Curtis Chen, Kenna
Conklin, Jenn Ellis, Veronica Ewing, Richard
Malena, J. Ryan Potts, DeeAnn Sole, Tristan
Tarwater, and many more!
Special Thanks: Cam Banks, Jessica Banks,
Bob Brynildson, Jerry Corrick, Lisa Olson,
and Travis Winter.
©2015 Trident, Inc., d/b/a Atlas
Games. All rights reserved.
Fairytale Gloom and Gloom are
trademarks of Trident, Inc. 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 the USA.
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