Review: Wizards of the Coast – Acquisitions Incorporated (Dungeons & Dragons)

Acquisitions Incorporated – The Homebrew DM’s Perspective
Acquisitions Incorporated is a supplement for the epic fantasy Dungeons & Dragons in conjunction with Penny Arcade, written by Shawn Merwin, Teos Abadia, Jerry Holkins, and Scott Fitzgerald Gray and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Dave Pierson

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Disclaimer: Acquisitions Incorporated has made every legal, moral, and arcane attempt to ensure the safety of the information contained herein. That being said, should an employee meet their end in the service of Acquisitions Incorporated, we do reserve the right to reanimate your to perform light office tasks. Maybe you should read these contracts more carefully, eh?

Wizards of the Coast and Penny Arcade, Acquisitions Incorporated, 2019

Since the release of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in August of 2014, the popularity of the tabletop role playing game has increased immensely. The number of live play streams and podcasts have grown and more and more celebrities are professing their love for the game. I have to admit, I’m a Critical Role fan and a proud pseudo employee of Acquisitions Incorporated. And now with the recent release of the Acquisitions Incorporated “handbook,” you can be too.

So what is Acquisitions Incorporated? AI, as is sometimes lovingly referred to, is a collaboration between Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast, originally created to showcase the then-new 4th Edition of D&D in 2009. It soon evolved into something of an improvisational Comic Fantasy, with the plot centering on the (mis)adventures of Acquisitions Inc., a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits banded together in a pseudo-corporate formation on a quest for fame and wealth. Originally consisting of Omin Dran (Jerry Holkins),  Binwin Bronzebottom (Scott Kurtz), and Jim Darkmagic (Mike Krahulik), they were later joined by a rotating cast of corporate “interns”, and even opened up new franchises, notably The “C” Team.

Now AI is looking to expand their franchise opportunities to masses with the release of the Acquisitions Incorporated “handbook.” The book is broken out into 4 main chapters, each with the goal of bringing you closer to running your own fantasy business endeavors. The first chapter provides your orientation as a new franchisee, detailing how to start up a game in the AI way. Chapter 2 introduces the many various positions that are available within the franchise. You could play as a Cartographer, a Loremonger, a Secretarian, or any of the other positions described. Each position within the franchise has special perks and quirks to give your character a little flavor. It also provides some additional downtime activities that a franchise would be interested in. Maybe you need to undergo a restructuring, or enter into some shady business practices.

Chapter 3 is all about player options, specifically new backgrounds and how to incorporate the many classes of D&D into the world of AI. Are you a failed merchant? A gambler? What about a celebrity’s scion? These new backgrounds are all about providing your character an opportunity to better your life by becoming an employee of the franchise. In addition to bettering your character’s life, the chapter also provides advice on how to fold your worrisome class into the cut throat mercantile environment. Corporate barbarians who are muscle behind the civil face of the franchise. New corporate insults for your bard such as “You’re as helpful as a Halfling!” Or what about a Paladin being the “Fixer of Problems.” There is also a new race, the Verdan. Created through chaos, the Verdan are descendants of the Underdark goblins and hobgoblins whose physical forms change as they age; signifying the mutative power of “That-Which-Endures” is not done with them.

The last chapter brings all this together in an adventure set to take characters from level 1 to 6, establishing their AI franchise and giving them a taste of the AI influence on the world. It is well written and provides the DM plenty of context to fold the adventure in to any homebrew setting.

I can totally see incorporating the concept of AI into my own homebrew setting if my players decide to look towards starting their own adventuring business. There are plenty of ideas in the book to help guide a DM into the world of franchising and there are enough little surprises that I can throw in their way. Rival enterprises, new monsters, new toys. All very exciting. Fans of the AI setting will quickly recognize the PCs and NPCs present both in the adventure and appendixes. I also think fans will really enjoy the adventure. They will be able to recognize and pick up on the AI flavor, which is probably why I wouldn’t fully incorporate the adventure into my homebrew setting, recognizing that my players are not big into that flavor type. Instead, I think I’ll just run it as a one shot. Something to do when my players need a break, or if someone can’t make it to our regularly scheduled adventure night.

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