Putting My Self-Occupation Skills to the Test!

The bizarre thing about being unemployed is that I have absolutely no boundaries on when I can do what I want to do. Last week, I called my aunt. She lives in Florida. I usually see her once or twice a year. I hardly ever get to speak with her. But I felt the urge to call her around 11 in the morning and I could. We chatted for about half an hour about my life, her life, my nephew’s life, and all manner of things. It was wonderful! I haven’t had the opportunity to make a phone call without having to do something else at the same time since, oh, maybe college? Wonderful!

The other bizarre thing about unemployment, or at least, my own particular brand of unemployment, is that I’m pretty certain I’m being more productive overall than I have been since I was in grad school. I have sent in job applications, I have researched and written for my volunteering position, I have cooked delicious and nutritious meals, I have read a book, I have knitted coasters, and I have taken small breaks throughout the course of a day to clean things. It’s crazy!

Want to know something else that is crazy? Facebook sending me emails to tell me that I have posted events on my timeline. Uh, yeah, I kind of have this thing called a blog which automatically marks moments of interest in my life. Silly Facebook.

I feel the need to educate the world on one of my favorite things: Gloom.

Gloom is a marvelous game for creative (terrible) people who like to tell stories. I learned about it a few months ago from the web show Tabletop (considered by some, myself included, to be the Best Thing, Period, of 2012). It’s a card game in which a player takes on the responsibility of leading a family of misfits to their doom. The best doom, of course, is one of gloom.

The point of the game is for each player to kill off the members of his or her family after making the characters really, really unhappy people. A character could be “abandoned on the moors” or “shunned by society” for negative self-worth points. The game ends when a player’s entire clan is deceased and the winner is the player whose family, collectively, has the lowest self-worth. Other players can combat the tragic events of a another player’s stories by playing positive self-worth points, making a character “wondrously well wed” or “diverted by drink.”

Gloom is a game for 2-4 people. Don’t let that stop you, though. If you’re a truly horrible person, like me, you might enjoy building up and destroying the social lives of two or more intertwined families all on your own!

[Hey, if nothing else, it’s an effective way to pass the time.]

To play Gloom all by your one-cy:

  • Pick your characters. You may decide to play just one family, two families, or mix and match characters from any or all of the four clans.
  • Draw two hands of five cards. Put one aside and look through the first for some fittingly terrible deeds.
    • If you’re feeling delightfully cruel, you may wish to look for happy events to raise your characters’ self-worth before really putting them through the mill. I happen to find it more satisfying for someone wondrously well wed to be abandoned on the moors and then shunned by society.
  • Play by the standard turn rules: play or discard two cards, then draw up to the hand limit. If there are other people in the room, you can downplay your evilness by keeping the stories you make up in your head rather than speaking them aloud. If you’re alone, though, go ahead and narrate to your demented heart’s desire!
  • Pick up the other hand and play by the standard turn rules: play or discard two cards, then draw up to the hand limit. Continue the tale!

It can get pretty challenging to keep the story consistent. It’s also sometimes difficult to figure out how to balance your glee at killing off a hapless character with the goal of obtaining the lowest self-worth possible. Some of the Untimely Death cards are just so funny that it almost seems worthwhile to play them right away!

The Tabletop episode about Gloom can be found here and is definitely worth watching. It will give you a good idea of how the game is played and how much fun it can be to be a terrible person. I probably should have made my family watch it before getting them all together to play a few rounds, since my sister is by nature disturbingly cheerful and almost incapable of being mean. She struggled to come up with some dastardly tales of misfortune and tragedy but she did quite well, her expressions of dismay not withstanding. I think she grew more comfortable with it as the game went on and I enjoyed her struggle immensely.

We have established that I’m a horrible person, right?

If you’re bored and looking for an interesting outlet for any pent-up frustration, dark humor and/or creativity, take a look at Gloom.


Come to the dark side!


3 thoughts on “Putting My Self-Occupation Skills to the Test!

  1. Oh Meg – I definitely find this hard to believe of you – but yet interesting!! I might give it a try myself. You have made it sound truly delectable!!

  2. Oh, believe it! I have a lot of latent evility in my soul. It’s like civility but for people who drink too much coffee and read a lot of pirate books. 🙂

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