This site is designed to allow anyone to play Rumors with a standard deck of playing cards, so you can try it out before you buy the official game deck. Of course, using the official game deck makes the game a lot smoother to play. [View on ⤍]

Rumors: a storytelling card game of high school gossip

for 2–8 players
about 1 hour for 4 players

Rumors: A storytelling card game of high school gossip. Copyright ©2021 by Jack Beltane, inclusive of the characters, locations, rules, card design, and card backs. All rights reserved. Jack and Tobie illustrations ©2015 by Camron Lockeby.

How Rumors works

Rumors is a storytelling card game. You are dealt a character to play and draw prompts from the deck to help build a story.

Your responses are the rumors and gossip that help you decide if you think Tobie and Jack will be dating by the end of the week.

You respond to the prompts as you think your character would respond, and no one can tell you that your responses are wrong.

You are all at the mall comparing rumors and gossip, so you hear every-thing everyone at the table says, and you are free to act and react as you think your character would.

Setting up a game of Rumors

  1. You will need a full deck of cards with two Jokers, plus the A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ from a second deck.
  2. Put the A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ from the second deck aside. Those are the Location cards. [See: Locations ⤍]
  3. Separate the characters from the game deck (the four Kings and four Queens).
  4. Make sure Tobie and Jack (the Jokers ) are still in the game deck. They are special cards and are not played as characters by any-one.
  5. If you have six or fewer players, put Greg K♦ and Missy Q♦ back into the game deck.
  6. Shuffle the separated character cards and deal a random character to each player. [See: Characters ⤍]
  7. Put any leftover characters back into the game deck.
  8. Shuffle the game deck and place it face down in the center of the table.
  9. Place The Mall A♠ location card face up in the center of the table.
  10. Place the other location cards face down in a random order in a line beside The Mall A♠. This line represents the five days of the school week, or the five rounds of the game.
  11. Decide who goes first.
You will also need a coin to flip. If you have 2 or 3 players, you also need two turn counters (you can use pennies as turn counters).

Playing Rumors

A game of Rumors is made up of five rounds (or “days”), plus the voting round (or “Saturday afternoon”). Each player gets one or more turns in each round, depending on how many players there are:
2-3 players = 2 turns each round

4-8 players = 1 turn each round

If you feel your story needs a bit more juice, you can also play an additional round on day six, at The Mall A♠.

An average game takes about 15 minutes per player, so a game with four players takes about an hour to play.

On your turn

  1. If you are the player who goes first, flip over the next location card to start the round. The gossip and rumors you share this round were learned at that location. [See: Locations ⤍]
  2. Draw a card from the prompt deck and read the prompt out loud. [See: Clubs ⤍, Diamonds ⤍, Hearts ⤍, Spades ⤍]
  3. Respond to the prompt in the way you think your character would respond, using the [character ⤍] and [location ⤍] details, and the rumors shared so far, to help you form a response.
  4. Keep the prompt card so you can refer to it later.
  5. Suffer cross-examination by the other players, then it is the next player’s turn.

Responding to prompts

The most important rule is this: Your responses cannot be wrong.

When responding to a prompt, re-spond as you think your character would respond. However, if a prompt directs you to share a secret, which you think your character would keep, you should share it anyway—we’re all friends here… right?

While some of the cards are designed to shed light on your character, most of the talk should be about Tobie and Jack and if they’re going to start dating. Determining that is the point of the game, after all!

Each card in the game deck has a suit to help define a theme for responses:

Hearts: Love or concern for others

Diamonds: Self-interest

Clubs: Luck, karma, and fate

Spades: Key moments or secrets

Part of your turn is being “cross examined” about your response. If it’s not your turn and you want more in-formation from the character respond-ing, then you should ask questions and get the details you want.

If you are mentioned by name in the prompt that means you are telling us exactly what happened because you were there. Unless you are lying…

Characters as prompts

If you draw one of the leftover character cards (a King or Queen), use your turn to respond to any previously played prompt as the character you drew, not as the character you are. Think of it like that person butting into your conversation. If no prompts have been played yet, shuffle the character back into the deck and draw a new prompt to play.

If you draw Jack or Tobie (the Jokers ), you may use your turn to respond to any previously played prompt as the character you drew. You can hold a Joker instead of playing it and can play it on any future turn instead of drawing a prompt. You cannot play a Joker more than once.

Roleplaying your character

The descriptions on a character’s card give you an idea of their basic attitudes and relationships to the other char-acters. This helps you roleplay your character as you respond to the prompts. [See: Characters ⤍]

A character’s archetype (at the bottom of the card) is how other people see them, which can help you get into character and can also help the other players determine why you may have responded the way you did.

The location for the round can also help form your responses. When responding, assume you learned your gossip at the current location. The “character” of the location helps shape the type of rumor you share. [See: Locations ⤍]

The general mood of a character or location is depicted by the “comedy and tragedy” masks:

The archetype of the location describes the kind of information typically shared at that location.

Ending a game of Rumors

After you have played your last round there is a round of voting.

You are voting on if you think Tobie and Jack will be going on a date Saturday night, or if they will just be hanging out as friends. The majority rules—you decide as a group which way you think it is.

When voting, the game is over and you are no longer your character. You are a player again, and you’ve heard the story unfold around the table. What do you think is the most likely outcome of that story? Will Tobie and Jack start dating or not?

Before voting, you should discuss the rumors and gossip you’ve heard!

After voting, flip a coin to find out what actually happened on Saturday night:

If the flip doesn’t end up the way you voted: welcome to the world of Tobie and Jack, where they constantly frustrate their friends by not doing what everyone thinks they should do!

And if it does end up the way you voted…? Well, then you must know your friends really well, after all!