Why The FBI Investigated ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Players in the 1990s


This story is over 5 years old.


Why The FBI Investigated ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Players in the 1990s

An FBI memo written during the Unabomber investigation describes roleplayers as 'armed and dangerous,' 'extremely intelligent individuals' and 'overweight and not neat in appearance.'

This story was originally published on MuckRock and has been re-syndicated with permission.

FBI files released to CJ Ciaramella reveal that the Bureau investigated a group of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) players as potential leads in the Unabomber case. A 1995 memo from the San Francisco office notes that the loosely-knit group of gamers were "armed and dangerous."

As background, the memo goes on to summarize an earlier interview with an employee of DnD's former publisher TSR, which gave an extremely abbreviated introduction to role-playing and war gaming…


an even briefer description of DnD's history…

and a rather harsh description of role-players and war gamers as "exceptionally intelligent individuals" who were often "overweight and not neat in appearance."

The memo ends with a list, not included in the file, of "known members of the Dungeons and Dragons."

As for why the FBI might have thought that twenty-sided die had anything to do with the Unabomber, a heavily redacted section of the file offers some context - prior to the memo, the Bureau had interviewed a member of the group, who indicated there had been a spat of paranoid accusations regarding the bombings. One of those accusations had apparently made it to the Bureau, possibly through contacts established during an earlier investigation.

The case doesn't go any further in the file, and though there's no formal closing memo, the release letter mentioned certain portions were missing. Read the file embedded below, or on the request page.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter .