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 the fate of an eccentric, Victorian family of misfits and misanthropes, whose world-weary, thin-lined faces are caricatured from the works of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Edward Gorey. 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.
- Castle Slogar, whose icon is the brain.
- Hemlock Hall, represented by the top hat.
- Blackwater Watch, symbolised by the scythe.
- Dark's Den of Deformity, which presents beneath the circus tent.
The expansion packs introduce:
- Le Canard Noir, personified by the duck.
- The Broken Arms, depicted by the moneybag.
- The Baoba, embodied by the Pith Helmet
Tropes that appear in this game include:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Many of the modifier cards manifest this mannerism.They were startled by snakes, not to mention being vexed by vipers and angered by asps.
- Affectionate Parody - Of Victorian literature, especially Gothic Horror, and especially Charles Dickens.
- Aristocrats Are Evil - Lord Wellington-Smythe is oblivious to what goes on under his roof, and Cousin Mordecai is ill-treated by the rest of his family. The rest of Castle Slogar, Hemlock Hall, and Blackwater Watch all count.
- Arranged Marriage - Professor Helena Slogar intends her daughter Melissa to be wedded to Grogar... never mind that Melissa is barely undead and Grogar is home-made. They'll be certain to get along splendidly, since Grogar is partially Melissa's teddy bear.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family - Four of them, and more in expansions.
- Black Comedy - What can you expect when the goal is to give your own family the harshest backstory?
- Brain in a Jar - Lord Slogar has a rather sedentary life these days.
- Break the Cutie - Life is not fair to poor Cousin Mordecai.
- The Butler Did It - Butterfield, head servant at Hemlock Hall. Whatever it was, he did it.
- Character Death - These can happen in the game.
- Crapsack World - Given that the name of the game is "Gloom" and the point of the game is to make tragedies happen to your own character's family, you're actually making it a crapsack world! ...For yourself, at least...
- Creepy Twins - The Wellington-Smythe twins, the most adorable little sadists you'll ever meet.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Dozens of them, courtesy of the death cards (Baked into a Pie, Consumed from Within, Torn Limb from Limb, etc.)
- Dark and Troubled Past - The path to victory.
- Demonic Possession - Apparently the reason the Wellington-Smythe twins are so evil.
- Death by Despair - Died of Despair.
- Department of Redundancy Department: It's entirely possible for Belladonna, the Consumptive Courtesan, to contract consumption, and then be consumed from within.
- Evil Matriarch - The Old Dam, naturally.
- Expansion Pack - Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests, and Unfortunate Expeditions. Each adds an additional family.
- Extrinsic Go-First Rule: The player who has had the most miserable day gets to go first. If all players are equally miserable, the owner of the game goes first.
- Femme Fatale - Angel Blackwater.
- Happily Ever After - A welcome fate for other families.
- 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.
- 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 evidently 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. There's also a crossover with Munchkin.
- Undead Child: Melissa Slogar originally died as a child, but was reanimated by her mother.
- Unwanted Assistance - Keith Baker's inspiration was to create a game he could play with his wife Ellen - most card games are based on the principle of kicking your opponents around the block until you're the last one standing, and Ellen was too nice to hurt a friend that way. Solution: A game where you win by helping your opponents' character and traumatise your own, faster than they can do the reverse!
- Unwanted Revival: It's possible to resurrect your opponent's 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.
- Widowed at the Wedding: One of the game's many ghoulish possiblities.
- 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.