Gloom: The Game of Inauspicious Accidents and Grave Consequences
Goth-themed card games are a genuine rarity. I was delighted to have Gloom brought to my attention by my brother, who is very 'ungoth' but knows a good game when he sees one.
Gloom was released in 2004 by Atlas Games and was created by RPG author and game designer Keith Baker. Before even playing the game, I was dazzled by the elaborately spooky artwork on the cards.
Each plastic transparent card has either a character or action on it. The character cards depict a range of eccentric characters with clever names that make up a family of troublesome outcasts. For example, there is Balthazar, the unfaithful hound who "knows where all the bones are buried." Each separate family has a "family crest" and their own private residence. Up to four players can play, and each player is assigned a family of five. There is Castle Slogar, where a family of mad scientists dwell; Hemlock Hall, which is a haven of depraved rebellion and evil; Blackwater Watch, which houses a family with murderous intent; and lastly, Dark's Den of Deformity, a carnival of rejected circus folk. The main object of the game is to have your characters "suffer the greatest tragedies possible" before their untimely death. The more negative point action cards and deaths in your family, the better. Possible catastrophes to befall your characters: being mocked by little people, getting taunted by tigers. And one can die from being mauled by a manatee. How gruesome!
What makes the game so interesting is the storytelling aspect. Players are encouraged to flex their creative muscles and create a narrative that involves weaving the misfortunes and deaths into a grim story. There are three different expansion packs, appropriately called Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests and Unfortunate Expeditions. The game is as fun as it sounds, and a real treat for those who savor the dark side of the imagination. atlas-games.com