OBJECT OF GLOOM: The object of Gloom is to have the family with the most negative self-worth at the end of the game.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 5 players

MATERIALS: A rule book, 20 characters split into 4 families, 2 rule cards, 57 card modifiers, 11 card events, and 20 death cards.

TYPE OF GAME: Storytelling Card Game



Gloom is a game of strife for 2 to 5 players. The goal of the game is to have the most miserable family by the end of the game. This is accomplished by playing cards to affect the characters’ scores and spinning tells of woe until finally laying your characters to rest.


The first ordeal is to choose your family. Each player will take a family deck. In a 4-player game, one family member is discarded to make the game time shorter, and in a 5-player game, this band of misfits becomes the final family.

All other cards, besides the family and rule cards, are shuffled into one pile and placed centrally to all players. Each player will draw a hand of 5 cards to start the game.

A discard pile will eventually be made next to the draw pile and if the draw pile ever empties, this may be reshuffled to start a new draw pile.

Card Types and Elements

In Gloom, there are 4 card types and 4 types of card elements. The card types card character cards, modifier cards, event cards, and death cards. The elements include self-worth points, story icons, flavor text, and effects. The card elements are found on all different types of card types so we will go over those first.


Self-worth points are the values that will determine your score at the end of the game. they are found on the left side of cards in one to three places on the card. When determining a character’s value at the end of the game the visible self-worth values are totaled to give them a score. Remember though, only dead characters count towards your family value at the end of the game.

Story icons are little symbols found on a card in the top right. They do not affect but can trigger certain abilities on cards played to the character if the symbol is visible. The matching part of this symbol called a character requirement will be found on card text and will usually require a matching symbol to be visible to trigger the ability on the card.

Flavor text has no effect on the game but should be read out loud and used to influence your storytelling in gameplay.

Effects are the main card element and are split into 4 types. There are immediate, response, continuous, and persistent card effects.

Immediate card effects are shown by a right-facing arrow and only triggers once when its played.

Response effects allow cards to be played on other players’ turns and triggers when played in response to a certain clarified event or effect. They are marked by a left-facing U-turn arrow.

Continuous effects trigger once played and continue to be relevant until the effect text is covered by another card. These effects also continue if moved to another character card, but for the new character. These are marked by a circle with a left-facing arrow going through its center.

Persistent effects are much like continuous effects except they remain active even if the text is covered. They have a little symbol in the story icon section and have a text reminder in the center of the card. only when these are covered does the effect of the card stop. These are marked by two arrows making a circle.


Character cards are the family member you will be torturing. They have a portrait in the center of the card and a nameplate at the bottom along with their family symbol. They are the starting point and have zero self-worth. Most cards you play will affect them in some way.

Modifier cards are used to affect the points of character cards. the usually also hold events and various symbols. They can hold negative or positive self-worth values and can be played on any living (unless stated otherwise) character, even those of other players.

Event cards have a grey text box and red writing. These are single-use cards that are played to affect gameplay and then discarded.

Death cards have skulls in the center and a gray text box with black text. These are how you kill your family members and remember only dead characters count at the end of the game. Usually, death cards can only be played as your first card per turn. You can also only play death cards on characters with negative self-worth.


The game starts with the player who had the worst day or the player who owns the game. on a player’s turn, they have two actions, and then they must draw back up to hand size. On a player’s turn, they can play a card, discard from their hand, or pass.

If playing a card, you may play a modifier or an event card following the above requirements, for either action. You will simply play it then resolve any needed effects. If playing a death card, however, these can typically only be played as your first action.

If discarding, you will need to discard your whole hand. You may do this as either your first or second action. You will not draw up until the end of your turn, however.

After you have played your turn you will draw back up to hand size. This should be 5 cards unless altered by a card in play.

There are certain cards they allow you to have a free play. This just means you may play any card, including death cards for free without using one of your actions.

A big part of this game is the storytelling whenever you play a card onto a character make sure to add something to the story usually by using the effects and name of the card to influence you.


The game ends once a player has killed off all their family members. Players will total the visible self-worth of their dead family members the player with the lowest score wins.

Amber Crook
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