The FBI Kept A List Of Dungeons & Dragons Players As They Hunted The Unabomber

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I used to think religious zealots and talk show hosts trying to make a name for themselves were the only people who thought Dungeons & Dragons was a threat to America, but back in 1983 the FBI believed D&D was bad news too.

But their reason didn't involve Satan or the corruption of souls- it involved cocaine trafficking, and they even had the game's creator Gary Gygax on their list as a possible suspect:

The first, dated 1983, has to do with “significant cocaine traffickers in the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area.” The birthplace of D&D was, and still is, a sleepy lakeside town just over the Illinois border. An FBI agent rooting around there for drug traffickers seems pretty far fetched, but the report appears to be genuine.

D&D co-creator Gary Gygax is named in the document, but whatever the FBI’s interest in him was has been redacted. It ended with a note that the FBI would proceed to “review corporate records for TSR, Inc. in effort to identify corporate officers and attorney of record.” A second document, dated March 1984, seems to show the FBI doing its due diligence to make sure that TSR was a publishing company and not a front for cocaine trafficking.

Twelve years later TSR, the makers of D&D, were the focus of another FBI investigation, but this time Dungeons & Dragons players were investigated in connection with The Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski:

The document also mentions an FBI visit with a gaming group in Fresno, California. Members of the group were shown pictures of one of the Unabomber’s explosive devices and asked if they recognized an individual from a “composite drawing.” This is likely the iconic image of the man in a hood circulated for more than a decade prior to Kaczynski’s arrest.

The final document, the most heavily redacted of the bunch, is dated April 1995. It seems to focus on an interview with a single individual at TSR, and centers around that person’s relationship with another individual in their gaming group.

“Many of the members of the group became paranoid,” the agent writes, “and began pointing fingers at one another. [The interview subject] indicated that he believes this is based on the suspicious nature of the individuals that were in the gaming group [and] indicated that he is quite sure that some of the members of the group fantasized about the possibility that maybe one of their members was responsible for the bombings.”

Read The FBI Kept A List Of D&D Players As Part Of Its Hunt For The Unabomber at Polygon

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