The Rules

Gothic Doctor

1850’s London is a good place to be a doctor, especially if you cater to the, shall we say, least savory members of society.  While your colleagues are running round day in and day out tending to every butler with glass in his hand or hysterical socialite, you’ve found your niche: the patients whom literally no one else will touch – and who thus pay the best.  What’s even better, if you play your cards right, you could even become a partner in the practice.


After an unfortunate event involving a few werewolves, a disgruntled mad scientist, and a former partner, well, let’s just say that there’s a vacancy. They’ve decided that All Hallow’s Eve is as good a night as any to choose a new partner, so you have eleven hours of darkness to earn more money than any of your colleagues and make partner. So, tonight, the moon is full, the fog is thick, and London’s most dangerous denizens can sneak, with full pockets, into your offices to be cured once and for all.

Basic Setup

The game is designed for 2 to 4 players. The layout of the game consists of 3 face-down decks (Action, Patient, and Treatment), with 3 face-up Treatment cards (the “Medical Library”) in front of the Treatment deck and 7 face-up Patient cards (the “Waiting Room”) in front of the Patient deck. Any selection of Action cards go into the Action deck.

The first 2 Patient cards placed in the Waiting Room determine the Specialist Bonuses for the game. Doctor is dealt 1 face-down card from the Action deck, as well as 6 face-down cards from the Treatment deck. Additionally, there is an 11-hour clock that counts down each time play reaches the doctor who went first. You will need to use a coin to indicate the time remaining on the clock.

Detailed Setup

Action Cards:

If you’d like to remove any Action cards, feel free to do so. Otherwise, just shuffle the Action deck and place it within reach of all players.


Shuffle the Treatment cards and place 3 face-up Treatment cards in front of the Treatment deck. These 3 face-up Treatment cards are the Medical Library. If at any point there are two or more of the same non-Panacea Treatment cards in the Medical Library, discard the most recently added one.

Then deal 6 Treatment cards to each doctor, face-down. Place the rest face down; these are the Treatment deck.


Shuffle the Patient cards. Then, draw and place 2 on the table, face-up. The category of these patients (Bestial, Insane, Reanimated, Sanguinolent, Scientific, and Spectral) determines which categories of patients will give Specialist Bonuses for the game. (If the 2 drawn Patient cards are in the same category, draw an additional card and make that Patient’s category the second Specialist Bonus. If either of them is Demonic, draw an additional Patient card face-up to determine the Specialist Bonus, as there is no Specialist Bonus for Demonic.) If you still do not have a second Specialist Bonus after drawing a third Patient, continue adding Patients to the Waiting Room until you do.

If there are ever 3 or more identical Patients in the Waiting Room, discard the most recently added one.

Draw and place Patient cards face-up until you have 7 cards face-up in front of the Patient deck. They are the Waiting Room. Place the rest face down; these are the Patient deck.

Mulluigan Rule

If, in your starting hand, you have 2 doubles (e.g., 2 Bandage Removals and 2 Holy Waters) or one triple (e.g., 3 Laudanums), you may discard your 6 treatment cards and draw 6 new ones. You must discard all of your Treatment cards to do this. If you’re happy with your hand, though, you can always keep it!

Turn Order for First 10 Turns

The person who most recently went to see a doctor (for a medical reason) plays first, starting the game.  If no one has been to the doctor recently, choose randomly who goes first.

  1. Play an Action card if you have one and if you want to. (Note: Some Action cards are not played at this point. Those Action cards will indicate when to play them.)

  2. Do only one of the following:

    1. Treat a single Patient and then draw to replace the cards you used to treat. You may only treat 1 Patient per turn. See “Rules of Drawing” for additional information.

    2. Do not treat a Patient and take additional draws. See “Rules of Drawing” for additional information.

  3. Discard as necessary and end your turn. (If you do not need to discard, your turn ends when you finish drawing.)

Treating a Patient

On your turn, you may treat a Patient. Each Patient’s card has icons indicating the Treatments needed to cure his or her particular ailment. Some require 2 Treatments, some require 3, and Legends require 4. To treat a Patient, discard the necessary Treatment cards from your hand and take the Patient out of the Waiting Room and into your personal “Cured” pile. (Your Cured Patients must be visible to all other doctors.) You earn the amount of money indicated on the card – unless Action cards have altered that Patient’s value.

If there are ever fewer than 7 Patients in the waiting room, immediately draw a new card from the Patient Deck and place it face-up in the Waiting Room.

Panacea Treatment Card

The Panacea Treatment is a powerful tool in any doctor’s bag, especially in Gothic Doctor. It can be used in two ways. The first is as a direct Treatment necessary for all of the Legends.  The second is in place of any Treatment for any Patient (having it act as a “wild card”).

For example, Ornias could be treated with Exorcism, a Panacea (as Facial Reconstruction), Fang Removal, and another Panacea.

Rules for Drawing

You determine how many draws you have by subtracting the number of cards in your hand from the “target number”. The target number is 7 if you treated a Patient this turn, 10 if you did not.

For example, a doctor who treats a patient and has 4 cards remaining in his hand has 3 draws. A doctor who did not treat a patient this turn and has 7 cards in his hand has 2 draws.

Taking a card costs 1 or 2 draws:

  • Cards costing 1 draw:

    • A face-up, non-Panacea Treatment card

    • Any face-down Treatment card

    • An Action card (always drawn face down and only once per turn)
  • The only card that costs two to draw is a face-up Panacea card. Because it is such a powerful card, taking one face-up costs an additional draw. If you draw one face down, however, consider yourself lucky; it only costs you one draw.

As soon as a doctor has drawn a face-up card, it is immediately replaced from the appropriate deck.

Once you have drawn at the end of his turn, you must discard until you have seven cards in your hand. If you have seven or fewer cards, then do not discard.

Discarding Cards

When you use Treatment cards to cure a Patient or discard any kind of card for another reason, put those cards in the corresponding discard pile. Discard piles remain face-up. When you need to draw from a deck and there aren’t enough cards, reshuffle the appropriate discard pile into the appropriate deck.

Specialist Bonuses

The current partners in the practice are always looking for doctors who are particularly adept at treating specific kinds of Patients.  To this end, they have decided that they’ll be awarding two “Specialist Bonuses” tonight.

The first 2 patients drawn from the Patient Deck and placed into the Waiting Room at the start of the game determine the two Specialist Bonuses for the game. To earn the £75 Specialist bonus for a particular category of patients, a doctor must meet both of the following conditions:

  • Have treated at least three patients of that group.

  • Have treated the most patients of that group.

Important caveats:

The Specialist Bonus is lost if the doctor no longer meets either of the necessary conditions (i.e., if two or more doctors have treated an equal number of the Patients in that category or if the Doctor no longer has at least 3 such Patients).

Generalist Bonuses

While being particularly skilled at treating one kind of Patient has its benefits, the current partners see the value of having doctors who can treat any kind of Patient who walks through the door.  To this end, they have decided that they’ll also be offering a “Generalist Bonus” tonight.

Any doctor who has treated all six classes of Patient excluding Demonic (Bestial, Insane, Reanimated, Sanguinolent, Scientific, and Spectral) in his or her “Cured” pile at the end of the game earns an additional £50. Unlike a Specialist Bonus, which can only be awarded to one doctor, multiple doctors can earn Generalist Bonuses.

End of the Game

After ten turns have ended, the final round begins.

In this final round, no more Action cards can be played, and any Action cards whose effects are still in play are discarded. During this final, 11th round, doctors may only treat a patient. There is no need to draw to replace these cards.

After this final round, the doctor with the most profit (including Specialist and Generalist Bonuses) wins.

If two or more doctors have the same amount of money, the doctor who has treated the most Patients, wins. If that, too, is a tie, the doctor who has treated the most Legends wins. If that, too, is a tie, congratulations! You’ve both made partner!

A Quick Word on Images

Many of the images in the test deck are not owned by us, including all of the backgrounds, the image on all of the Action cards, and most of the Patient and Treatment art.  We have carefully looked at permissions to use these images, drawing most of them from Wikimedia Commons and from sources that are out of copyright.  If, however, in the process of playing the game, you note any images that you believe we do not have permission to use, please let us know and we will examine the issue further and replace any images as necessary.

By the time we print this game, all images used in the game will be work owned by Meltdown Games and created specifically for Gothic Doctor by Jeff Drylewicz.

Creative Commons Information

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

If you are interested in creating a derivative of this game or any artwork from this game, please contact Meltdown Games at  We will consider any reasonable request – but you may not assume that permission is granted until we respond to you and tell you that such permission has been explicitly granted.

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