Acquisitions Incorporated is a an extremely entertaining Dungeons & Dragons game played live in front of thousands of PAX attendees. Starting in 2008 as podcasts, Acquisitions Incorporated is now one of the many highlights of PAX. The current band of adventurers includes the CEO of Acquisitions Incorporated, Omin Dran a cleric played by Jerry Holkins, and the various employees including Binwin Bronzebottom the hard-headed-tank dwarf played by Scott Kurtz, Jim Darkmagic the wizard of questionable morals played by Mike Krahulik, and Viari the recently-promoted-from-intern-to-“sub-employee” swashbuckling rogue played by Patrick Rothfuss.
Over the past few years the group has played from 1st level, starting with the playtest version of D&D 4th Edition, through the life-cycle of 4th edition, and then played some sessions with the 5th edition playtest rules, and are now playing with the D&D 5th edition final ruleset. While most of the players had played D&D in their past, the first podcast is Mike Krahulik’s first experience with the game. In this starting session, Chris Perkins says that their 1st level characters are a newly formed group of adventurers and do not yet have their group name. Jerry Holkins envisions them as more of a business and recommends, “Acquisitions Incorporated”, thus becoming the CEO, and forming the name of the podcast and streams that have been produced over the last few years.
Now, with live games streamed to the internet as video, the sessions include exquisite tabletop terrain created for the games, and Chris Perkins demonstrates dungeon mastering at its finest. I was fortunate to learn some of Chris Perkins’ dungeon master secrets on Sunday night in his “Ask a Dungeon Master” session at PAX; simple tricks such as running three story arcs, using a one-sheet summary of the session, and shockingly, asking the players what they want. Some of his game-enhancing advice can be found in his many blog posts on the Wizards of the Coast archive.
The terrain for this year’s session was created by Mat Smith. You can see pictures and more of his work on his Facebook page Czarofhappiness Props.
The hilarious and certainly NSFW game was historically one of my must see events at PAX Prime. However, given the long lines, the fact that I am PAXing with less patient family members who are a little too young for the language, and the availability of the high-quality recorded event online, I now watch it after the fact using my PAX time to instead play games, attend sessions, or just get some much needed rest. This year the recorded session was available just a couple days after PAX finished.
Embedded below is the complete live game as played at PAX Prime 2015. If you have an extra forty hours or so of time I highly recommend listening to and watching all the prior episodes, compiled on YouTube by user MaulMachine, or at least going through this recap. Or, if you just want to hop right into it, there is a brief episode recap at the beginning of the video. The episodic recap is another dungeon mastering trick recommended by Chris Perkins in his “Ask A Dungeon Master” panel as a way to quickly re-engage your players in the game and set the tone when starting a session.
In this session we delve deeper into the internal family squabbling of the Drans, raise havoc with a mechanized-beholder tank, and a famous D&D character is subjected to the antics of the members of Acquisitions Incorporated.
This is what D&D should be: characters with ongoing, interwoven backstory development, epic tasks with multiple, engaging story arcs, understanding the rules but remaining flexible, having a session plan but following the player’s choice, and most importantly a group of players having a ball. The huge crowd watching the play? That’s just an extra twist.