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Morbid Curiosity – A Game About Death

September 12, 2016

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.

Morbid Curiosity – A Game About Death

Morbid Curiosity is a card game about death. It uses trivia and conversation to create a delightfully morbid evening with friends.

View full Kickstarter campaign here:

It all started with a group of children. Strange for a game about death, but, it did. I was working as a therapist at a grief center, facilitating a children’s group. I was struck with the remarkable difference with which the kids approached a subject most adults see as grim and taboo. They drew pictures, sang about decomposition, had mock funerals where they acted out the roles, from the priest to the deceased, and asked all sorts of questions that would make most adults squirm. They encouraged and supported each other with ease. The kids were simply… curious.

One night after work, I had a realization: Adults need something to help them to regain their wonder with death. And that’s when this all started.

The first thing I decided was that whatever “it” was needed to be fun and have a broad appeal. A game. And, though it could be a useful tool for facing grief and our mortality, it needed to be about ALL aspects of death: the strange, fascinating, and even the irreverent. Something for those who wanted to take a closer look at death… or at least had a morbid streak and wanted a fun party game.

I drew in James, a historian and holder of arcane knowledge, as my co-creator to this strange, dark, (and rather interesting) world.

We brainstormed numerous ideas: a board game where you moved round the Ouroboros answering questions, “Have You Ever” questions, competition vs. group play, a job interview to become Death. None of that worked

In the end, we created a card game of trivia and discussion. We designed the game to allow players to move between conversation and playfulness. We spent a year and a half trying out rules, refining questions, developing the look, and play testing until we felt we got it right. Numerous friends (game designers, game players, writers, scholars, therapists, artists, and business folk) became our sounding board and test players. Now, when people play, we see all the elements we envisioned: laughter, storytelling, wonder, maybe a tear or two, and yes, curiosity.


The game is played round-robin. Each player selects a black or white card in turn, while the others attempt to answer the question posed.

Cards are awarded to the first correct answer or, in the case of  conversation cards, the answer that was the most interesting to the reader. Play continues around the circle. Game ends when one person awarded seven cards.

Black Trivia Cards

It takes only a few minutes to learn and, depending on how talkative your group is, takes about 90 minutes to play. We think it plays best with four or more players, but we’ve done it with as few as three and it’s gone well.

White Discussion Cards

As you see, on the surface, it’s a fairly uncomplicated game yet, within that simplicity, much discovery and humor awaits. Morbid Curiosity is not a harsh look at your own mortality, or some delicate, awkward conversation about the end of life. Rather, it is a unique, well crafted game that lets people look at death while having a good time with friends.

When you set up a game play, pick people you really want to get to know better. Pick the intriguing ones, the funny ones, the mysterious ones, the ones who have something to say. Interesting people make for good game play. When we set up our test plays, we were always very cognizant of the people we picked. Sometimes they knew each other for years. Sometimes they had just met that evening. We’d set out some food, open a couple of bottles of wine, set out the cards, and let the go of the wheel. The results were pretty much always fantastic. Everyone walked away knowing the others, and themselves, a little better. Everyone spoke of the wonderful evening they spent with the game, and the others with whom they played.

View full Kickstarter campaign here: