Review by C.J. Bunce
This summer Wizards of the Coast has come at its Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition adventures from a strange vantage point with its latest addition, Acquisitions Incorporated. What if you viewed your next adventure into the Forgotten Realms as a business? Overlay your Dungeon Master’s next adventure with the components of an enterprising CEO, rival marketeers, and your mundane workplace and what do you get? Actual slobbering Barbarians at the Gate? Office Space plays out not in those cold, grey cubicles but in any of your chosen D&D realms, as branding, marketing, team building, product placement, and even making your corporate headquarters takes on new meaning, as players step into familiar gameplay with an oddly familiar backdrop.
Grab your 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and DM’s Guide for fuller adventures, but in a single volume Acquisitions Incorporated really includes all you need for your first entrepreneurial effort, a six-level adventure, The Orrery of the Wanderer. Select a corporate logo. Locate your headquarters–how about a tavern, a battle-worn castle (will cost you more in overhead), a chapel, a private library, an abandoned lighthouse, a blacksmith’s shop, a turnip wagon (that is bigger on the inside), or a waterproof canvas (where it’s always spring inside)? Maybe your right hand man is a retired captain, a druid with an open door policy (all animals welcome), a chef, or the ghost of the previous owner (Jacob Marley as mentor, anyone?). Plus you’ll have several insiders you may encounter, including a customs official and a knitter who can also wield a sword. Upward advancement means your franchise can get an exclusive license to a region. Staff members include a majordomo, untrained and trained hirelings, and task-specific crew. If you’ve ever worked at a restaurant and had to clean a grease trap, you’ll appreciate the grease compartment as a weapon. And who hasn’t made it to 3 p.m. and wished they had an escape pod?
Take your chances as one of a number of familiar corporate types, like a famous person’s kid, a failed merchant, a gambler, a plaintiff, or a rival intern. Play your character like a barbarian, a bard, a cleric, a druid, a fighter, a monk, a paladin, a rogue, a sorcerer, a warlock, or a wizard. Who needs to hire Deloitte when you can (wisely) enlist a cartographer, a decisionist, a documancer, a hoardsperson, a loremonger, an obviator, an occultant, or a secretarian to build your strategy. It’s not all fun and games–this is a corporation, after all, so money needs to be made and tasks need to be completed. You’ll be faced with Complications, like learning your company is accused of stealing someone else’s idea, staff members go missing, an audit finds a spy, or an angry staff member decides to sabotage your business. Nothing is easy, whether it’s marketeering, misplaced philanthropy, a bad sales month, or simply rival competitors. You’ll need to watch out for shady business practices as you schmooze and team build. It’s all familiar, right? So do you have what it takes to succeed in business in a fantasy realm?
Acquisitions Incorporated is the kind of entry point for those interested in D&D but who’ve never jumped in before. Perhaps a group of co-workers willing to stay late every Thursday after work to take over the board room.
This volume includes a new character race for gameplay, mysterious goblin nomads with unique powers of adaptation and evolution called the Verdan. Appendices include a host of nonplayer characters, monsters, vehicles, orrery details, and 100 incredibly cool usable game-specific trinkets–what will you do with an old contract marked “void”, a six-sided die that sometimes rolls a seven, or literal rose-colored goggles? (I couldn’t find a red stapler or everlasting TPS reports, but I’m sure they’re in there somewhere).
Not altogether new to D&D–Acquisitions Incorporated has been around for the past decade, beginning as a Seattle podcast–this book becomes the new 5th Edition players’ first opportunity to dive into this D&D tangent world of play. Acquisitions Incorporated hails from a partnership between your familiar Wizards of the Coast (check out the Acquisitions Incorporated website here) and Penny Arcade, Inc. (penny-arcade.com), bringing some extra levity to your traditional gaming.
It’s an unusual–but fun–addition to D&D’s 5th Edition. Grab your copy of Acquisitions Incorporated now in the D&D familiar, full-color, hardcover format at your local gaming store or here at Amazon. If you like the game you may want to check out the mahogany box, dice, and spell “Employee Manual” set from Penny Arcade here and a tailored DM screen here. And don’t forget, the all-time second best and most realistic office movie* Office Space celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
*#1 is still 9 to 5, celebrating its 40th anniversary next year.