Tabletop Game: Gloom

Gloom is a darkly comic card game by Keith Baker for two to four players (increased to seven with the expansion packs).

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. Each player assumes control of a fate of an eccentric Victorian family of misfits and misanthropes, whose world-weary, thin-lined faces are caricatured from the pages of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley. Each seeks to magnify the tribulations of the members of their own ailing household and ultimately lead them to the well-deserved respite of an untimely death, while assuaging the sorrows of their deserving opponents. Storytelling is encouraged!

At the end of the game, the family with the most tragic past wins.

The Families

The expansion packs introduce:

Tropes that appear in this game include:

  • Evil Matriarch - The Old Dam, naturally.
  • Expansion Pack - Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests, and Unfortunate Expeditions. Each adds an additional family.
  • Femme Fatale - Angel Blackwater.
  • Happily Ever After - A welcome fate for other familes.
  • Horrible Judge of Character - Lord Wellington-Smythe, considering his staff.
  • Incompetence, Inc. - Dark's Den of Deformity isn't as terrifying as it is simply ill-maintained. Its financial straits are continually dire, mainly because Mr. Dark is tragically terrible at selecting and marketing his performers. He has a bearded man, a woman too shy to show off her supposed magnificent tattoos, an abhorrent clown, and a woman only a few inches tall ... whom Darius Dark advertises as an opera singer.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: "Consumed From Within".
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Killing your own family is the only way to win.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Low-Level Advantage - Characters do not give you points until they have passed beyond the mortal coil, at which point they are past the other families' best efforts to cheer them, but they also have no more lots left in life for you to worsen. In general, the better a player is doing, the harder it is to improve further.
  • Mad Scientist - Professor Helena Slogar prefers the title 'Eccentric Inventor'.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter - Melissa Slogar would have been, had she not been prevented from growing up...
  • Monster Clown - Mr. Giggles always has a smile for the children.
  • Peaceful in Death - The object of the game.
  • Poke the Poodle - It is evidentally quite traumatising for a character to be Pursued by Poodles.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: With certain cards, it's possible to revive dead characters. With absolutely no explanation whatsoever.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: All the Untimely Death have a matching death that rhymes. There's a card that gives a bonus for having two characters die in rhyming ways.
  • Scoring Points - Points are negative. You want as many negative points as possible, and a character who has positive Self-Worth can't die.
  • Spin-Off - Cthulhu Gloom, which applies the gameplay style to the Cthulhu Mythos. It's compatible with the original but not otherwise related.
  • This Index Has Had a Hard Life
  • Unwanted Revival: It's possible to resurrect your opponents' dead family members, in order to give them happy experiences and weaken their chances of winning.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Several of the available Tragic Death cards.
  • Your Cheating Heart - After his wife's (naturally, tragic) death, Lord Wellington-Smythe dotes extensively over their young twins... oblivious to the suspicious lack of family resemblance.