Big Potato savvily taps into the deep well of ’90s nostalgia
Have you ever thought that fantasy adventuring needed more corporate structuring, nebulous morality and seriously silly comedy? If so you’re in luck, because while the latest Dungeons & Dragons supplement leans a little heavily on references, it gives DMs across the world a chance to embrace the wackier aspects of their roleplaying.
Entirely based on a long-running collaboration between the folks behind the Penny Arcade webcomic and D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast, the book’s mere existence is a tribute to RPGs’ moves into the mainstream. What started out as a faintly silly podcast in 2008 has grown to encompass live shows, streamed adventures and celebrity collaborations, all revolving around the titular Acquisitions Incorporated – an ever-expanding corporation devoted to reaping the maximum profits from the adventuring biz.
The book itself is devoted to helping you set up your very own Acq Inc. franchise and is studied with new player options to help with that. There are rules for using fantasy-tinged corporate roles such as the ‘Documancer’ or ‘Occultant’, as well as spells that incorporate royalty payments and backgrounds for sons and daughters of famous adventurers keen to make their own name in the world.
None of the options bring revolutionary new powers to play, but they’re damned fun and have the chance to be genuinely funny too. This strong sense of humour and absurdity extends through the lengthy campaign that takes up much of the book’s page count.
Rather than encountering just some faceless bandits, for example, the party run into a group led by a skeleton who refuses to believe she’s long dead, instead loudly muttering about allergies. Later, an important contact in the piratical city of Luskan is attempting to revolutionise the industry with a line of peg-hands and foot-hooks.
Hidden behind this silly façade, however, is a genuinely well-written, well-structured story. It’s heavily scripted in the very beginning and the nature of playing a franchise means the party is rarely in total control of their goals, but there are plenty of to forge creative paths through the melee.
If you’re already a fan of the various Acquisitions Incorporated podcasts and games this is a wonderful supplement. Even if you aren’t, it’s still worth checking out if you want to bring absurd comedy to you r weekly sessions.
RICHARD JANSEN PARKES
PLAY IT? YES
Designer: James Vaughn
Artist: Big Potato design team
Time: 30-45 minutes
Purchase the game here
This review originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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