Miniature Monsters Attack America


Credit: Reason Magazine

In July the Department of Homeland Security acted swiftly to protect America's cities from Martians, giant dinosaurs, and Lovecraftian horrors from another dimension. The DHS intercepted the first shipment of a strategy guide for the role-playing game Monsterpocalypse—in which players attempt to conquer the planet using "collectible miniatures portraying the most fearsome giant monsters on Earth!"—when it arrived in the United States.

"There was a lot of head shaking," says William Shick, a marketer at the guide's publisher, Privateer Press. "We thought it was ridiculous." Shick had a hard time convincing his loyal customers that the episode wasn't an elaborate, publicity-seeking hoax. The company remains unsure why the government flagged the guide and held up its release for a week, though Shick speculates that "certain words like base caused red flags."

This isn't the first time gamers have had trouble with the law. In a 1990 raid on the offices of Steve Jackson Games, Secret Service agents seized copies of a guide to GURPS Cyberpunk, claiming the game's rules were a "handbook of computer crime."

Jeff Winkler is a copy editor at the Northwest Arkansas Times.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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    1. In 1964, Fonzi was a freedom rider,
      He met Maude on the bus,
      hit it off, screwed her in the bathroom of an interstate rest stop on the way to Jackson, Mississippi. That fluid exchange convinced him that in no way, shape or form did he have any desire for pussy left in him.

      While scrubbing his dick in the restroom sink, a kindly muscular and mustachioed gentleman saddled up to the nearby latrine and threw the Fonz a smile, and the Fonz said to himself, ‘heyyy, how bad can it be, I just fucked Maude.’

      Several years later, Summer of ’69 to be more precise, the Fonz shived a couple of no good cops who came into the gay bar he happened to be hanging out to bust some heads. That got him 13 years on Ryker’s Island where he was sent due to his coolness factor being determined to be a superpower by the courts.

      In 1987, he was pardoned by Ronald Reagan after it was determined the leadership of a homophobic police union was responsible for coordinated extortion and violence against the gay community. The Fonz has been a model citizen and an active member of the Log Cabin republicans ever since.

  1. DHS Agents get a class bonus of +2 to all Spot Terrorist checks.

    1. But they suffer a staggering -4 to wisdom penalty.

  2. Bunny, you know way too much about D&D for a chick. Do you have a very, very large clitoris?

    1. Episiarch and his -2 snark fails takes a hit. briareus rolls a d12 and comes up with 9 points of damage to Episiarch, +2 for strength bonus, for a total of 11 hit points of damage.

    2. I can’t tell. My penis is always in the way.

      1. I admire your spunk, Bunny. Unfortunately, the Adam’s apple is a real problem for me.

        1. Don’t be a jerk. You obviously can’t see the Adam’s apple through the beard.

          1. Damn, I was so distracted by the unibrow that I didn’t even notice your beard. Is it okay if I call you Bert?

      2. You two, get a room!

  3. Shall we play a game?

    1. Based on true story! Not really, but that was the urban myth at the time. When I was at Johns Hopkins we had the same myth about the steam tunnels.

      1. In my hometown, the legend was a D&D freak who got stuck in character and murdered a medieval-weapons museum worker.

        One town over, of course.

        1. In Shelbyville, then.

    2. There was a pre-Nintendo world?

      1. I don’t want to live in *that* world…

        1. Shut up you stupid monkey. When I get up there I’m shoving those barrels up your ass.

          Not to mention you did live in that world you banana munching fur ball. You were in an arcade game in the early 80s. You were the precursor to the NES you you chest thumping moron.

          1. Dude. The Donkey Kong arcade machine was made by Nintendo. It was their first big hit.


  4. I say give up our short people, minature cities, and Detroit – maybe our sacrificies will assuage the minature, but terrifying, monsters.

  5. I miss the pre-Nintendo world sometimes.

    It was a good thing I saw that after-school special. In middle school, I was a D&D playing dweeb. Then I saw Mazes & Monsters, which showed me the dangers of D&D. Within a year, I was drinking, smoking pot and skipping school. Thanks guys!

    1. Before I clicked on it, I thought is was going to be a link to Tron….

    2. Well, it was my D&D buddies who taught me how to drink, smoke pot, and skip school.

      It can’t be stressed enough what a horrible societal influence Revenge of the Nerds was on America. Before that movie, a dork would find a cool guy, and a cool guy would find a dork to be his best buddy and compliment the strengths and weaknesses of the other, like in the movie Stripes. After Revenge of the Nerds, cool guys and nerds went there separate ways and formed inclusive cliques of like minded souls. It was probably the worst movie since Birth of the Nation in regard to it’s influence on the culture.

      1. Worse than Song of Russia and Jew Suss?

        1. Oh, Communism and authoratariansim ultimately die from internal contradiction, ethnicities die out by merging into newer ones with radically different cultural mores, but buddy movies are an eternal v?rit?*.

          * A will-destroying narcotic from Ecaz that “renders a person incapable of falsehood.”, so I’m probably thinking of another word.

          1. This is what happens when you drink and post.

            1. Might as well record the PSA now.

              1. Have you ever seen a DUCK on SPEED?

                  1. I’d say…well…wow.

    3. I can’t believe there hasn’t been a link to this yet.

      I stopped playing D&D with my nerd friends when my ability to engage in real violence in football got me invites to the jock parties (with girls!) in high school. I still feel bad that I gave it up.

      The crazy thing is that my daughter is now getting into it and her group is composed entirely of girls.

      If girls had played D&D back in the day, who knows how my life would have turned out.

      1. They did. You just had to find the nerdy chicks. Then came NES and the nerdy chicks pool grew with mario bros.

        1. I’m now thinking of the song “Nrrrd Grrrl” by MC Chris.

  6. Why are public officials so retarded?

    1. Because they’re LARPers.

      1. Pssh. We LARPers have enough brain cells to know the difference between a miniatures game and a threat to state security. It’s the ones who wouldn’t know a d20 from a butt plug that do shit like this.

    2. It’s known as “justifying your existence”.

      My guess is that this guy’s department is overstaffed, facing budget cuts, and he feels the need to make it look like his job serves an actual purpose.

      Ergo, find something *anything* to bust. The American people demand unceasing vigilance, etc., etc.

      1. plus, they’re larpers

  7. Why are public officials so retarded?

    Because they have no motivation not to be. Why bother making the effort to do a good job? It’s not like they’ll face any consequences for screwing up.

    1. The only person who fires government employees is Osama.

        1. Think of this post as being below the larpers comment and not here.

          This is not the post you are looking for. *waves hand*

          1. I thought you meant something about Obama smiting people with his mighty lightning bolts, for taking his name in vain.

            In other news, I wonder what LARPing would be like on acid.

            1. Like LARPing sober, only slightly less desperate.

            2. a waste of acid. trust me. sigh.

        2. Dude, some of the comments on that video are classic.

          “I wonder if any of them have seen a vagina in person?”

          1. Usually, I say that if you’re having a good time, looking cool is overrated. But I think with that video, I might have seen the limits of that philosophy.

            1. Eat Meat Missile!

              Meat Missile!
              Meat Missile!
              Meat Missile!

  8. Government is stupid.

  9. As a US Customs inspector, I was expected to go over all packages with some thoroughness; and for that purpose moved the entire set of files and boxes to my cubicle in Boston. Much of the material which I correlated will be later published by the American Role-Playing Society, but there was one box which I found exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much averse from showing to other eyes. It had been locked, and I did not find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal ring which had been confiscated from the shipper. Then, indeed, I succeeded in opening it, but when I did so seemed only to be confronted by a greater and more closely locked barrier. For what could be the meaning of the queer plastic action figure and the disjointed jottings, ramblings and cuttings which I found? Had the shipper, in his latter years, become credulous of the most superficial impostures? I resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for this apparent disturbance of an old man’s peace of mind.

    The action figure was less than an inch thick and about five by six inches in height; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modern in atmosphere and suggestion; for, although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many and wild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much familiarity with the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular species, or even hint at its remotest affiliations.

    Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evidently pictorial intent, though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a cardboard cutout with the vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background.

    1. More bigger words doesn’t make it more bigger interesting. Or more better reading.

      1. It’s a Lovecraft joke. Read one of his stories, then it’s…well…it’s…it’s at least recognizable as a joke. I give him a B+ for effort.

        1. Especially the crappy incredulous tone of the first person.

    2. That which is dead can never die, ICE.

    3. I’m really, really going to have to read Lovecraft some time.

      1. you’re not missing much, bruh.

        the proper literary framing for this particular story is, of course, the crying of lot 49.

        1. I thought Legrasse’s passage was pretty funny. I didn’t get the Lovecraft reference until the third paragraph, and for some reason that worked for me.

  10. Lagrasse, it sounds like you need to go visit your old professor at Miskatonic University.

  11. Shick speculates that “certain words like base caused red flags.”

    “The boys are on their way to grandma’s house.”

    Is this a completely innocuous statement of fact, confirming a family holiday gathering, or a secret code phrase indicating the initiation of a wave of terrorist mayhem and destruction?

    You can’t be too careful.

  12. The Deep Ones are NOT pleased by DHS’s actions.

    1. Naga Shadow LIVES!

      The other day I confused you with Xeones.

  13. Paul, I believe it’s a H. P. Lovecraft parody.

      1. Why, thank you. Thank you very much.

        1. You’re becoming a regular, Old One.

          1. More regular than you can possibly imagine.

            I need no “Twitter” to gather legions of followers.

  14. While more disconcerting that humorous, detailed here is another feather in DHS’s cap.

  15. I don’t know J sub D, I found that rather humorous.

    The Secret Service is investigating how a couple aspiring to be reality-show celebrities managed to appear at President Obama’s first state dinner without being on the guest list…

    It would have been really great if they’d brought balloon boy along.

    1. I give my full support to DHS in their efforts to root out all persons “aspiring to be reality-show celebrities” and herd them into remote camps, where they can all be the subjects of a show that no one else will have to watch.

      1. I’m afraid I agree with you, Umbriel.

  16. Dan the DHS agent has spent years raising his Intel-Analysis skill to IQ+3 above his base IQ of 9. Alas, he rolls 18 and critically fails his skill check. Henceforth, he shall have a -1 reputation as the dumbass who can’t tell fact from fiction.

    1. Dan the DHS agent has Tenure, Independent Income, and Patron: DHS (appears on 15 or less) why should he waste points on skills? He and his buddies are rolling at default.

  17. Wow, mini monsters are way cool.


  18. sage – well played, sir.

    1. Yeah, good one.

    2. I gave up apologizing and correcting double posts, silly track pad likes to send out two sometimes. You’d think a forum with such advanced threading and awesome spam filter would have a filter to stop spam posts.

      Nicely done, I was glad to play the lacky on that one.

      1. Reminds me of the issue of Deadpool where he befriended a homeless guy who constantly muttered gibberish. When Deadpool needed advice he would listen to the mutterings and act on them no matter what the dude said.

        Many wacky adventures were had.

        Lesson to be had, kids. Befriend the bots, they may become emergent someday, and give you great stock tips because you were right there with them and believed in them when they were wee little bits of code.

        1. Clearly, Anonymity Guy will be king of that strange new world.

        2. I’m hoping to free the neural-networked lobsters and forever gain their gratitude, for which I will be bizarrely rewarded.

  19. I guess maybe threaded comments do have their place.

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  23. Along the same lines of keeping government employees dumber I give you the Coast Guard scrapping part of its notorious strictly merit based selection and Congress helping to select recruits. Because not enough black people want to be in the Coast guard.

    WTF, why is the Coast Guard making pacts with the NAACP?

    Damnit now I’m racist, again.

    1. I remember in sixth grade in the last month of the school year it was warm enough for all the guys in our class to go after school to the rich kid’s home and swim in his humongous pool.

      We would tease one of the black guys who looked like a total spaz splashing around trying to gain surface momentum in the pool with,

      ‘Ha, ha, ha. You are not buoyant!’

      Dude is now a senior Naval intelligence officer stationed in Pearl Harbor.

      If that isn’t the ultimate, ‘suck on this!’, I don’t know what is.

      1. Informed over the weekend when I brought it up, I have the wrong black guy in mind. Same first name, but the Navy guy was an excellent swimmer and dreamed of being in the Navy since the third grade.

        Other dude probably dreamed of going in the Coast Guard only to have those dreams crushed by insensitive white and semi-white guys.

    2. The City of Austin continually tries to renegotiate contracts that allow them to choose recruits for the fire department instead of hiring based on civil law (which is basically who does best on the tests and interviews). It’s shady–one year the proctors did all the interview scores in pencil and the entire class was disqualified.

    3. Stories like this make me want to smash cinder blocks with my head.

      I thought we were in a “post-racial” age. I have been told over and over again that race does not matter. Except for when I does, as appears to be the case here.

      1. Yeah, I wanted to facepalm after reading this story.

    4. Yeah, I can’t imagine why African-Americans, who have gotten way the hell the pointy end of the stick in the WoD, would balk at serving in the branch of the military most frequently tasked with enforcing said WoD.


      1. Course, I also can’t imagine why African-Americans living in the inner city would also keeping on reelecting liberal Democrats who support the WoD and disarming law-abiding citizens in high crime areas.

        1. Both true. Of course, the many ‘Law ‘n Order’ type Republicans don’t help the situation.

  24. Merit is undemocratic.

    1. A month ago I remember seeing an article on the front page of the New York Times about how merit-based scholarships are becoming less popular. My Google-fu is failing me though.

  25. Because not enough black people want to be in the Coast guard.

    Sorry, just appreciating the awesomeness of this sentence.

    1. The thing that gets me is for a while the complaint was that there were too many poor people and black people in the military.

      In fairness I believe more than one study showed a disparity among ranks, MOS, and other things during Vietnam.

      1. I read awhile back that blacks disproportionately choose support MOSs, which leads in part to a disproportionate amount of whites in combat arms. The military (I think the Army in this case) viewed it as a mixed blessing, because a lot of young black people were attracted to the job and technical training, but conversely, the lack of blacks in the combat arms branch was another factor in the lower amount of blacks in the very highest ranks (General and Sergeant Major of the Army), because the very highest ranks/positions (i.e. Divisional CG) draw almost entirely from the combat arms branches.

        1. Rank-wise, the Army has no dearth of black senior enlisted or Warrant Officers, but since black men are less likely than black women (or any other demographic, I think) to attend/finish 4 years of college, that also contributes to a lower percentage of black commissioned officers than black enlisted men.

  26. I was peripherally involved in the events of the famous raid on Steve Jackson’s games back in the 80’s and I knew many of the people involved. The story that has become accepted history in many venues, including Reason, of clueless feds confused over a harmless game is a complete fabrication invented by (as near as I can tell) Jackson’s lawyers. In fact, the authorities did have a valid reason to believe that individuals associated with the company were engaged in computer crime. The fact that they were at the time writing a game about computer crime was largely incidental.

    After watching those events and the disparity between what happened and how they were reported, I have always wondered what was really going on in similar circumstances. I would be willing to be the same dynamic is at play in this case. The content of the game mostly likely has nothing to do with its seizure but it makes a more interesting story if it does.

    1. True. Bruce Stirling’s book “The Hacker Crackdown” gives the background. It wasn’t that the Secret Service busted SJ Games for publishing GURPS Cyberpunk, it was that they thought a copy of a document which they claimed was illegally acquired by hackers from BellSouth might be stored on SJGames computers.

      Of course, it turned out the “stolen” document could be purchased from BellSouth by anyone who asked, for a nominal fee, which kind of blew up the whole “grand larceny” and “secrets which could CRIPPLE the 911 call system” arguments.

    2. So, by comparison, you’re suggesting Privateer Press actually employs city stomping monsters, on which they based their game?

  27. DHS will have their hands full with the soon to come illegal appliance trade from Canada and Mexico. Not the mention of the mass shortage of Ozark lawn ornaments.…

    Maybe they can get a SWAT (Special Washers Appliances and Toasters)team going.

    1. Not the mention of the mass shortage of Ozark lawn ornaments.

      Should be, “Not to mention the mass shortage…”

      The tard got out again.

  28. “certain words like base caused red flags.”

    “What you say!”

    1. Good choice! Prime example of accidental genius.

    2. certain words like base caused red flags.

      Better stay on plate, no telling what the geniuses at DHS are thinking when I steal third.

  29. [Revenge of the Nerds] was probably the worst movie since Birth of the Nation in regard to it’s influence on the culture.

    Mad Max|11.27.09 @ 8:07PM|#

    Worse than Song of Russia and Jew Suss?

    I don’t think Jew Suss had much impact on American culture.

    1. Of course, I’m sure Underzoggy would disagree.

  30. This is precisely the kind of fear-induced tactic that totalitarian governments have been infamous for. Ridiculous.

  31. Hi

    Good post and there was a lot of head shaking,” says William Shick, a marketer at the guide’s publisher, Privateer Press.

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  33. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  34. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight.

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