Leaked Classified Documents Also Include Roleplaying Game Character Stats

An early upload of the leaked Pentagon documents contained a character sheet, but what game was it from? And what can the stats tell us about the person who made it? Motherboard investigates.
Image included in leaked documents.

Over the past month, classified Pentagon documents have circulated on 4chan, Telegram, and various Discord servers. The documents contain daily intelligence briefings, sensitive information about Ukrainian military positions, and a handwritten character sheet for a table-top roleplaying game.


No one knows who leaked the Pentagon documents or how. They appeared online as photographs of printed pages, implying someone printed them out and removed them from a secure location, similar to how NSA translator Reality Winner leaked documents. The earliest documents Motherboard has seen are dated February 23, though the New York Times and Bellingcat reported that some are dated as early as January. According to Bellingcat, the earliest known instances of the leaks appearing online can be traced back to a Discord server.

At some point, a Discord user uploaded a zip file of 32 images from the leak onto a Minecraft Discord server. Included in this pack alongside highly sensitive, Top Secret and other classified documents about the Pentagon's strategy and assessment of the war in Ukraine, was a handwritten piece of paper that appeared to be a character sheet for a roleplaying game. It’s written on a standard piece of notebook paper, three holes punched out on the side, blue lines crisscrossing the page.


The character’s name is Doctor “Izmer Trotzky,” his character class is “Professor Scientist.” They’ve got a strength of 5, a charisma of 4, and 19 rubles to their name. Doctor Trotzky has 10 points in first aid and occult skills, and 24 in spot hidden. He’s carrying a magnifying glass, a fountain pen, a sword cane, and a deringer.

The RPG sheet is a curious artifact. We don't know whether the file was uploaded as a mistake, a joke, or some sort of Easter Egg, and there's no evidence that the person who made the character sheet had anything to do with leaking the files. It could have been mixed in at any time, but was included in one of the zip files that was most popularly being shared on Discord. At some point, someone included this character sheet alongside pictures of Ukrainian troop placements near the city of Bakhmut. 

All of the images reviewed by Motherboard have had their metadata stripped out, including the photograph of the character sheet. Social media sites, including Discord, commonly strip some portion of metadata from photos when they’re uploaded. The character sheet's filename is out of sequence with the other files in the zip drive. Classified documents in this dump are titled IMG_1328.jpg, IMG_1329.jpg, etc. The character sheet has the filename IMG_9695.jpg. It is also photographed against a white background. The other documents are photographed on a table where a package of Gorilla Glue and documentation about a "scope" can also be seen.


But what game is it from? Motherboard reached out to game designer Jacqueline Bryk to find out. Bryk is an award-winning designer of roleplaying games who has worked on Kult: Divinity Lost, Changeling: the Lost, Fading Suns: Pax Alexius, and Vampire: the Masquerade.

“I strongly suspect this is Call Of Cthulhu,” Bryk said when first looking at the sheet. Call of Cthulhu (COC) is an RPG based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft where players attempt to stave off madness while investigating eldritch horrors. “This is a pretty classic Professor build. The sword cane really clinches it for me. I notice he's currently carrying a derringer and a dagger but took no points in firearms or fighting. I'm not sure which edition this is but it seems like the most he could do with his weapons is throw them.”

However, further investigation of the character sheet revealed some inconsistencies with this initial theory. Luck and Sanity are two classic Call of Cthulhu stats and both are absent on Dr. Trotzyk’s sheet. “The skills, however, are far too low to be a COC character,” Bryk said. “Call of Cthulhu runs on a d100 percentile system and this character couldn't cross the street if that was the case.”

The attributes don’t seem to match either. “Sanity” is an iconic attribute of the COC universe, but it’s absent. After some research, Bryk concluded that the game is a homebrewed combination of COC and the Fallout tabletop game based on the popular video game franchise. “My best guest here is Fallout: Cthulhu the Homebrew,” Bryk said, giving the home designed game a name.

But mysteries remain. “I'm curious as to what the 'brewer was trying to achieve here,” Bryk said. “Did they want to play Call of Cthulhu without losing [sanity] and with the presence of a human-positive divinity? Did they really like Fallout's stats and wanted to try them for other settings? What drove them to swap Luck for Faith?”

Bryk said that player-made systems like this are common. “Homebrewing and hacking are great tools for the budding game designer,” she said. “Taking something you like and twisting it into new and unusual shapes allows you to really think about and engage with the meat of your favorite systems. Some of my favorite games are referred to as ‘heartbreakers’—small games that are hacks of or riffs on other, bigger TTRPGs. Usually they take one mechanic or theme from that game they're pulling from and amplify the shit out of it, which often makes for fascinating results.”

“I'm a big fan of hacking and homebrewing,” she said.