Have you ever dreamt of climbing up the corporate ladder just like your favorite Dungeons & Dragons heroes from the longest-running live play game, Acquisitions Incorporated?
Then the official source book, due out June 18, is just for you. Even for the table-top curious who couldn’t tell the difference between a Sorcerer or a Warlock, this new book published in collaboration between Wizards of the Coast and Penny Arcade offers the perfect framework to introduce anyone to the wonders of Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop fantasy game that sometimes feels impossible to break into.
Acquisitions Incorporated does this by giving you a job, combining “deeply ordinary clerical toil with multiverse-spanning stakes” in the funniest D&D book ever published. Build your company, expand your market, and grow your new Acq Inc franchise. Most people know how to hold down a job. Not everyone knows the best way to handle fighting a monstrous, tentacle-faced Illithid with psychic powers. Get a source book that teaches you to do both.
“The job metaphor is very helpful for new players,” Penny Arcade President Jerry Holkins tells Inverse. “Now they have a responsibility, an entry point into what can be an intimidating game for some people.”
The new book adapts from the series of tabletop adventures Holkins has played since 2008 with fellow Penny Arcade founder Mike Krahulik and a wide cast of other personalities. It began as a means to promote the then-new 4th Edition of D&D, but the series has since evolved into improvised comedic satire with each member role-playing an employee of a treasure-hunting business obsessed with corporate structure. The series’ dry wit is unlike anything else in all of Faerun, and often feels more like Office Space than Lord of the Rings.
“I’ve always gravitated towards the idea of the adventuring group as a kind of company,” Holkins said. “Companies have rules associated with them and specific roles.” Acq Inc simplifies the D&D experience while infusing it with satire.
“On top of ‘onboarding’ for new players too I think that there are a lot of options for veterans as well,” Penny Arcade Product Manager Elyssa Grant says, sticking to corporate lingo. “People playing a long time can add more complexity to their game by growing a franchise.” She refers to the project as “dark comedy humor” fused with traditional D&D “high fantasy.” Truly, it offers something for every player.
Veteran players can find the resources to infuse their own campaign with Acquisitions Incorporated jobs, and the second half of the book has a starting adventure for level 1 characters.
“The metaphor is that the book begins with ingredients, and then ends with the recipe,” Holkins explains. “Everything at the beginning of the book is information about Acquisitions Incorporated as an organization.”
These resources allow an adventure group to found their own franchise, with each player getting a specific job within the corporate structure. As the franchise increases in renown, that power trickles down the corporate ladder to players in unique ways, offering unique benefits and more than a few laughs.
“You’re Corey,” Holkins says. “If you were to take another job, you would remain Corey (I assume). You might have new responsibilities, and even capabilities, but those jobs are things that existing characters can assume and benefit from.” The level of responsibility does, in fact, go both ways. Players get perks when they assume a role from the head office, but expectations come with it. You have to do your job.
Player jobs grant proficiencies or other benefits that overlap with their more traditional D&D race, class, and background (but this book does have unique backgrounds too). A high-ranking Documancer, for instance, gets advantage on Intelligence checks related to code-breaking, the ability to cast the Augury spell, and what’s ostensibly a free Bag of Holding. You can even request a spell scroll of any spell up to the 3rd level at will. You just have to trade your soul (metaphorically) to become a total corporate shill. There are even unique artifacts that players won’t find anywhere else.
Will you be a Documancer? A Decisionist? Cartographer? Hoardsperson? Loremonger?
The back-half of the book presents a more traditional adventure path where you encounter characters from the Acquisitions Incorporated universe.
The story involves the rival faction of Dran Enterprises competing to track down the fractured pieces of a powerful, magical artifact, taking the party to Waterdeep (the setting of Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage) and beyond. It’s an easy to follow, streamlined adventure that’s bound to charm just about anyone.
The book includes an appendix with “statted-out” versions of the various Acq Inc characters, from the A, B, and C teams. So we’ll soon have stat blocks for Omin Dran, Jim Darkmagic, Môrgæn, and Viari that are 100 percent D&D canon.
“It’s a really interesting adventure designed to be helpful to the dungeon master with a voice that’s more friendly,” Holkins said. “That congenial, inviting tone is something we try to maintain throughout the book.” The comedic tone helps make the book more accessible to new players, but it will feel like a treasure to long-time fans of the Acquisitions Incorporated podcast, comics, and live shows.
Some pages of the book are dedicated to the usual high-fantasy art style that’s common in official adventure books, but in equal measure, Acquisitions Incorporated includes Penny Arcade’s unique art style.
“D&D is really fun because it is so free wheeling and can really jump off what individual players are doing.” Holkins said. “The D&D I play is spent laughing around a table with my friends.” Soon, that might be you as well.
Other than the core rule books for players and dungeon masters, players won’t need anything more than the Acquisitions Incorporated adventure book to start their own business and begin working towards maximizing their revenue. Or, at least, fighting some monsters with your friends.
Acquisitions Incorporated will be available for purchase anywhere D&D products are sold on June 18, 2019.