Transforms from insect to robot and back!


"Control electricity and you control the world."

The noise of war and the scream of his foes are music to this loathsome Insecticon's audio-modules...has piercing battle cry...can be heard 8 miles away. In insect mode, can use antennae to control almost any electrical device. In robot mode, can attract lightning bolts to antennae and shoot them out hands. Grenade launcher shoots 30-pound steel balls that splinter into razor-sharp spikes. Insulation can stop his electrical blasts.

  • Strength: 4
  • Intelligence: 6
  • Speed: 4
  • Endurance: 7
  • Rank: 6
  • Courage: 6
  • Firepower: 8
  • Skill: 9
Transformers Tech Specs

I recall one episode of the cartoon where they took up the last line of Shrapnel's tech spec and had him shooting lightning bolts at all the Autobots, until someone figured out that driving on rubber tires insulated them and turned this "deadly" Insecticon into a big purple bull's-eye. He usually stood as the unofficial leader of the Insecticon trio, although perhaps he simply talked the most. He was supposed to be a stag beetle in insect mode, although no one expected the kids to know that (even though they could pronounce "Tyrannosaurus Rex" flawlessly whenever the Dinobots came on-screen).

Shrapnel is also a slang term for worthless coinage which comes into your possesion in the form of change from purchases, but is too small to buy or do anything with. For example, 5 and 10 cent coins easily fall into the shrapnel category, whereas higher coins are borderline since you only need four or five of them to buy something (like a can of drink, bus fare, etc).

Different people tend to manage their shrapnel in different ways. Some spend a lot of time actually keeping it, then counting and using it when the opportunity arises. Some just dump it all into a container at home and never do anything with it.

In some places, there are machines that accept coins for tickets, road tolls, food, etc. Many people love to use these machines to jettison their shrapnel by using the most number of coins they can (that is, using the smallest coins). This can be effective, depending on the machine, some don't take the really low denominations, some have a hard limit on the number of coins that they will accept.

While many people prefer to use the machines, some are a little more daring and will dump a few kilos of coins on an innocent human cashier, who will then spend a few minutes counting it afer giving you a look.

Whatever you do with your shrapnel, it can prove a frustrating part of modern, western life.

The question on r-g-i-f1 is, is Adam Cadre a genius or a madman. I’m settling for genius, but as Andrew Plotkin said "If he snaps and starts barbecuing the neighbors, of course, we'll have to pencil in some corrections."
- Christine Baker, reviewing Shrapnel2

Shrapnel is an unsettling piece of interactive fiction from Adam Cadre. To even begin to describe the plot would be a spoiler - this is a game which must be experienced. As no small part of its impact depends on breaking the existing conventions of text adventures, however, it is not a game I would recommend as an introduction to IF. Specifically, one should probably have at least passing familiarity with the Zork universe before playing this game.

Shrapnel won "Best Use of Medium" in the 2000 Xyzzy Awards.

Related Sites:

  • Shrapnel can be found at the IF Archive at
  • Cadre's own website - found at - includes an essay on the "making of" Shrapnel.

1.) i.e. the newsgroup
2.) The review is available at It contains several spoilers, however, so I'd highly recommend that you play the game before reading it.

Just another ingenious way in the long list that the human race has devised over the ages when it comes to raining death and destruction upon itself.

These days, all too unfortunately, you hear the term “shrapnel wound” attributed more often than not due to shell fragments that are blown into bits and dispersed over a wide area when a bomb detonates and those tiny pieces of metal flying at blinding speed find their way into some poor unfortunate souls flesh.

Strictly speaking, that term is incorrect and has infiltrated the language much like the terms Kleenex and Q-Tip. According to our friends over at Wikipedia, the correct terms for injuries that result from a bomb exploding are “bomb fragments”, “bomb shards” or my personal favorite, “shell splinters”.

What's in a name?

We have to travel all the way back to 1794 when a gentleman by the name of Lieutenant Henry Shrapnel was busting his ass in the services of King George III in the Royal Artillery. Back in those primitive times, the use of a cannonball was the main weapon that was used in defense from infantry attacks but even though they traveled at great speed and could wreak havoc upon advancing troops (especially those who attacked in formation), their killing range was relatively small. As the years went on, that range got even smaller as formations began to spread out and the battlefield began to widen.

What was an Army to do?

Well, leave to Mr. Shrapnel to devise a thin canister made from a mixture of tin and cast iron that was filled with small iron or lead pellets. Unlike its predecessor, the cannonball which was filled with black powder and designed to explode on impact, the canister would detonate based upon a timing fuse inside it and spread its lethal cargo over a wider area. This also had the added benefit of speed since the projectiles encased in the canister would be traveling at the same velocity as the canister itself.

Its effectiveness was immediate. With some early modifications, by 1804, the killing fields were extended from three hundred meters in the days of the cannonball to over eleven hundred meters.

For his efforts, Shrapnel was promoted to Major…

You call this progress?

As the years went by and the design of the cannonball gave way to the invention of the cylinder shell, certain modifications were in order. First of all, the fuse had to moved to the nose of the projectile and ignited so that powder charge would detonate just enough to shear the cylinder and the balls would fly out at the missiles maximum speed.

This was all well and good against advancing or unprotected troops since the missile was fired at a low altitude but had little effect on those troops that were “dug in” or entrenched. The reason was that the “shrapnel” balls maintained the same altitude as the shell itself when they were ejected.

In the early stages of World War I shrapnel was being used by all sides as a favorite weapon of choice when it came to attacking large bodies of troops spread out over wide patches of terrain. As the war raged on and troops were dug in, more and more area’s known as no man’s lands were established and the shrapnel shell gave way to high explosives and primitive mortar rounds that would explode on impact.

Shrapnel, we hardly knew ye…

In subsequent wars such as World War II and the Korean War the use of shrapnel declined. In its never ending quest to kill as many people as quickly as possible without killing many of your own, mankind developed much more accurate and sophisticated weapons for just that purpose. This, along with the strategic importance over who controlled the skies rather than who occupied the ground almost made shrapnel extinct.

Shrapnel, it’s not just for breakfast anymore…

Enter the Vietnam War. The brilliant minds at the Pentagon probably figured that it was time to take an old idea and give it a new spin. They resurrected the shrapnel principle from the scrap heap and decided to give it a facelift.

Welcome to the Beehive shell.

First employed in Vietnam in 1966 the Beehive shell took the use of shrapnel to a new level. Instead of round balls or pellets, the shell contained about eight thousand individual tiny fuckin’ darts that would disperse in an ever widening cone shaped pattern when detonated. Although mainly considered an anti-personnel device, the Beehive also had some demoralizing effects upon the enemy. Not only could it kill you or maim you in a heartbeat, the sound of thousands upon thousands of tiny darts whizzing through the air at incredible speed also had added benefit of sounding like a swarm of angry bees, hence the name.

Modern Times

In modern conflicts such as the Gulf War and the War in Iraq, the use of shrapnel has fallen out of favor. Not only has the face of war changed but along with it, the face of the warrior. I think it’d be a cold day in hell if you ever saw two massive armies face off against each other over open terrain again. The face of the enemy has gotten smaller and harder to detect and things such as smart bombs (probably a misnomer) and other specialized equipment has all but made the use of shrapnel a thing of the past.

If you ask me, good riddance…


Shrap"nel (?), a.

Applied as an appellation to a kind of shell invented by Gen. H. Shrapnel of the British army.



A shrapnel shell; shrapnel shells, collectively.

Shrapnel shell Gunnery, a projectile for a cannon, consisting of a shell filled with bullets and a small bursting charge to scatter them at any given point while in flight. See the Note under Case shot.


© Webster 1913.

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