Listening to Acquisitions Incorporated Season 1!


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I so enjoyed the latest Acquisitions Incorporated Live Game at PAX that I decided to go back and listen to all the podcasts and rewatch all the live games. Here are my impressions!

Acquisitions Incorporated, Season 1, Episode 1
Listen to it here.
The story begins in May 2008, before the 4e Core Books have even dropped. WotC invites (and pays) Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, and Scott Kurtz of PvP to play 4e using the Quick Start rules, run by Chris Perkins and James Wyatt.

Story Summary: Omin Dran (Half-elf Cleric of Evandra, played by Jerry), Binwin Bronzebottom (Dwarf Fighter, played by Scott), and Jim Darkmagic (Human Wizard, played by Mike) operate as adventurers for hire in Winterhaven, under the name "Acquisitions Incorporated". Having heard that a goblin chief named Irontooth has been terrorizing the roads going into and out of Winterhaven, Acquisitions Incorporated decides to check it out. But after a bit of searching they come across a ruined keep on a hill. They investigate the ruins and come across stairs leading down into the hill. Binwin leads the way down and promptly falls into a pit trap. With rats. A swarm of rats. The episode ends with the party taking on the rats while trying to get Binwin out of the pit.

Impressions: It's kinda funny to see Acquisitions Inc., whose adventures now are epic and awesome, get their start freaking out trying to deal with rats. Being the first episode, Chris Perkins is very low key, and not really engaging in the goofing around the players are doing. A lot of the podcast is taken up with Chris explaining the rules and the players naming and figuring out their pre-generated characters, which while a bit staid now, at the time no doubt was quite interesting for people wanting to hear more about the new rules. In this ep, Chris goes over power sources, the bloodied condition, healing surges, and second wind. It is Mike's first time playing, and he doesn't know much, but he outstandingly gets into the action by giving his character the quintessentially D&D PC name of "Jim Darkmagic". Meanwhile, Jerry starts feeling out an idea of a CEO of an adventuring company, with corporate headquarters in an inn. Scott names his dwarf fighter Binwin Bronzebottom, a name he's used in various games. On the whole, it's a pretty unremarkable start...but with glimmers of promise...

Quotes -
Jerry: What is your name?
Mike: Jim Darkmagic.
Scott: No – what? Why don't you just name yourself Chet Awesomelaser?
Mike: No, I'm from the New Hampshire Darkmagics. It's a very renowned family of magicians.
Scott: What was your name again? Jim...
Mike: Darkmagic. You've never heard of the Darkmagic family?
Scott: No...
Mike: Well, we're kind of a big deal.

Jerry: You're a dwarf. You lose powers if your name doesn't alliterate.

Chris: You see stairs going down into the hill, and there are bones on it.
Mike: Jim wants to go in.
Scott: Is that Jim talking, or-
Mike: Jim refers to himself in the third-person.
Scott: Right. Gotcha
Mike: He has a very high opinion of himself.
Chris: The air is kind of cool, and you hear this owl hooting off in the distance.
Mike: Jim is terrified of owls.
Chris: Understandably.
Jerry: I wrote that down.
Mike: An owl killed Jim's grandmother, actually.
Scott: Is this your character development?
Mike: Yeah. And so Jim really wants to go downstairs, right now.

My favorite season

That first adventure was, by far, my favorite of all the Acq. Inc. stuff. Even though Chris Perkins doesn't DM the second half of the season, it still delivers. That podcast is what got me back into D&D after six years out of the hobby, and I've been enjoying it more than ever.

- RtC


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Acquisitions Incorporated, Season 1, Episode 2
Listen to it here.
The story begins in May 2008, before the 4e Core Books have even dropped. WotC invites (and pays) Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, and Scott Kurtz of PvP to play 4e using the Quick Start rules, run by Chris Perkins and James Wyatt.

Story Summary: After doing some damage against the rats in the pit trap Binwin fell into, the party is attacked by a Goblin sharpshooter wielding a crossbow. Omin takes an arrow, but holds onto the rope that Binwin uses to climb out. The party engages the goblin, who is surprisingly hardy, and retreats down a hall way, firing at Omin and Binwin all the way. Just when they get him on the ropes, he's joined by a spear-wielding friend. The party's dice grow cold, and they have a tough time finishing off these two mere goblins. Eventually the wounded goblin makes a get away, and the party strings together some Magic Missiles and Reaping Strikes to take the spearwielding goblin down. Finally out of the Encounter, the party takes a breather and uses some healing surges.

Impressions: The fight with the goblins takes up the entire 36 minute episode. It's a surprisingly dry ep, as the group is focused on figuring out the rules and bringing their PCs abilities to bear on the goblins. Mike gets in a few witticisms between asking rules questions; Jerry and Scott seem a bit too focused on their sheets and the battle to do a lot of joking around. Over the course of the episode, the group goes over DMs rolling behind screens, Passive Perception, Opportunity Attacks, Encounters and Encounter Powers, blasts, sunrods, cantrips, the action economy, and healing surges (again). Great stuff the first time around, when 4e was still new, but not so interesting on the re-listen.

At one point Mike has the opportunity to fry both friend and foe with Burning Hands, but decides against it. One of those examples of Early Installment Weirdness. On the other hand, Jerry rolls the first of many natural 1s.

Quotes -

(Omin gets hit with a crossbow bolt for 9 damage.)
Mike: Jim is disappointed.

Scott: Wait, I can't climb up. The guy holding the rope just got hit in the chest with an arrow.
Jerry: I'm still holding the rope.
Chris: He's an adventurer. He is made of stronger stuff.
Jerry: I'm a CEO.

(Mike wants know why he shouldn't roll Perception every time. Chris explains at length that he certainly can if his character is particularly paranoid, but that he also has Passive Perception.)
Mike: But as a human, I am "decisive and rash", so I'm not gonna roll a Perception check.

(Jim whips out his Wand of Accuracy and fires a Magic Missile at a goblin. It misses.)
Mike: Jim whistles and backs out of the keep...

(A goblin runs away from the fight...)
Mike: Was that Irontooth? Did anyone check his teeth? :):):):)! I should have used Perception to check his teeth.

(The group's dice grow cold, and they can't finish off one goblin who keeps hitting them.)
Mike: You guys actually get together and do this for fun?

(A Magic Missile followed by a Reaping Strike finally kills the goblin.)
Mike: Okay, now I see why you guys play this.


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Acquisitions Incorporated, Season 1, Episode 3
Listen to it here.
The story begins in May 2008, before the 4e Core Books have even dropped. WotC invites (and pays) Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, and Scott Kurtz of PvP to play 4e using the Quick Start rules, run by Chris Perkins and James Wyatt.

Story Summary: After their battle with the goblin, the party examines the room they are in and find some beds. However they turn out to be lice-ridden, and an examination underneath does not turn up any treasure. They decide to follow a blood trail left by the goblin they wounded. It goes through some double doors that lead to a western stairway going down. Descending the stairway, they find that the goblin blood goes north, but they hear moaning coming from the south. Jim Darkmagic makes a Ghost Sound of the party's footfalls going south, which brings out a couple of zombies. Jim easily incinerates them with a scorching burst, but five more follow. Omin Dran takes out another with a Lance of Faith. Binwin Bronzebottom charges another and destroys him. Then the zombies attack, and one of them grabs Binwin. Jim fires off another scorching burst, with Binwin included in the area of effect. Happily, it destroys one zombie and damages another, but Binwin remains unscathed. Omin uses Turns Undead, damaging the hardy zombies and forcing them back. Binwin follows this up with a cleave that damages both. The zombies hack at Binwin to mixed effect. Jim tries another scorching burst, but doesn't damage either. Omin takes a swing and misses. Binwin cleaves again, and this time drops one of the zombies. Finally, we get the first mention of Jim's Magic Missile, as Jim uses it to take out the last zombie.

Just as the party are congratulating themselves, the two zombies stand back up. Omin hits one with Lance of Faith, dropping it again, and Jim launches another Jim's Magic Missile, dropping the other. Omin than double-taps the zombies to smithereens with Lance of Faith, just to be sure.

The party resumes following the blood trail of their wounded goblin. They have a bit of trouble trying to navigate some glyphs that Jim's knowledge of Arcana tells them are possibly trouble. Finally they come across an empty room, with no sign of their quarry. But an examination of a wall reveals a secret door, with a trace of blood on it. Resolutely, Binwin pushes it open...

Impressions: After about an hour of play, it seems like Chris has gotten a feel for the group, and has loosened up a bit, become much more creative and humorously dry in his descriptions. The players also respond, and as a result, this 45 minute episode is filled with funny quotes, as detailed below. Other significant moments in this episode are Mike and Scott coming up with the design of their characters as the doodle during the game. After forgoing singeing his allies with AoEs in the previous episode, Mike forgoes it again, eschewing nailing the zombies with Burning Hands because they've grabbed Binwin. Instead, he immediately decides to fry the zombies in a scorching burst...that includes Binwin. And we get the first appearance of "Jim's Magic Missile", although it's special property (it spells out "Jim" with its smoke trails, like some purely egosticial Omega Beams) will not be revealed until a later episode.

Quotes -
(The party flip over beds to check what's underneath...)
Chris: You see little brown nuggets of something or other.
Mike: Why are they keeping that?
Chris: It keeps them warm at night, I dunno...

Jerry: Well, that guy was more powerful than any member of our party. With the exception of Jim!
Scott: All right, take it easy, Jim.
Jerry: Ease down, tiger.
Chris: Yes, don't get a big head or anything, man. Cuz ya can't roll twenties forever.

Jerry: My mother always said I had good Perception rolls.
Scott: Did she?
Jerry: No. If she did, I couldn't detect it.

Mike: With a wink, Jim creates an illusory sound somewhere close by.

Chris: You see some creatures wander into view.
Jerry: Some interest in our IPO?

Chris: Okay, so they both take the same amount of damage and--
Mike: (reading triumphantly) “A vertical column of golden flames erupts, and burns ALL within!”

Chris: You see a...
Jerry (scary voice): You see the evil crypt!
Chris: You do see something that looks very cryptlike and sepulchral.
Jerry (scary voice): Is it a crypt?
Chris: Yes. And it's full of walking corpses.
Mike: Sepulchral?
Scott: Sepulchre.
Chris: Gotta throw in the big words, keep ya on your toes.
Scott: If you were the hoard, you'd know how to say sepulchre.
Mike: I thought it was a sepul-culture.
Scott: Nnno. What?
Jerry: There's a ch in there. I understand. Does the new set come with a dictionary, like a web series, something like that?
Chris: Oh, no.
Mike: It's seriously not sepul-culture? How do you say it?
Jerry, Scott: Sepul-ker.
Mike: Sepul-ker?!
Jerry: It's weird. Anyway, so it's the classic look, right? The look everybody's trying to get for their dungeon.
Mike: They've been reading “Sepulculture at Home Daily”. “Sepulculture and Garden.”

Chris: It'll hit all of these squares.
Mike: I put it here and all these guys get hit...
Chris: And so does the dwarf.
Mike: Eh, he's tough.
Chris: Yeah, he is tough.
Scott: I'll be all right.
Chris: I like the cavalier way he just wrote you off there.
Scott: No, he's not concerned for me at all. Because he's not separating how he feels about me as a person from my character. And he would let me die in real life. I know this.
Mike: Absolutely.
Scott: It's all right!
Chris: Dwarves are fireproof, right?

Chris: And now against the dwarf...ooh, a natural one!
Mike: Hey, I missed you! On purpose!
Scott: Right!
Mike: That's the kind of control Jim has.

Chris: On the other hand, the two zombies that are still standing are a kind of monster called Brute, which is...
Mike: A real :):):):):):):)?
Jerry: A real son-of-a-bitch?
Chris: More like big sacks of hitpoints.

Jerry: So that's what's going on. Those guys are designed to be laid to waste...
Scott (to Chris): We know we suck, all right, dude?
Jerry: Yes.
Scott: You don't have to point out how you've created special monsters that go down easy for us...
Jerry: ...for this party...
Scott: ...for these ridiculous 1-rollers over here.

Scott: This is what these bastards see coming at them right now.
Jerry: That's hot! All ultra-Nordic... Is this the shield of his fathers or something?
Scott: Yeah! Okay, so it's time for some Cleave action. What happened to my character sheet? It's junior high all over again; the game has become secondary to my art. See, this is when a non-professional Gencon DM would be all like, “Pay attention, Scott!” And then you as my friend would be like, “Shut up! Draw my character! Now draw mine!” But see, you've got a buddy who already draws...
Jerry: You've already drawn Jim and now you doing his close-up?
Mike: I really like Jim's face!

Mike: Jim is just going to go ahead and Arcane Missile this last guy...or, Magic Missile. Sorry.
Jerry: It's all the same stuff.
Mike: It's a missile. And I'm going to go ahead and use my Wand of Accuracy.
Chris: I mean, you can rename your spells whatever you want, you know, “Jim's Wondrous...”
Mike: Jim's Magic Missile!

Scott: Could I say that, I guess the guys that I play with at home are idiots. Because, I'm having such a good time, I'm considering starting a campaign when I get home. Like, it's fun!
Mike: It's surprisingly fun, yeah.
Scott: Are you having a good time?
Mike: Yeah!
Jerry: You sound shocked!
Mike: I AM shocked!

(Binwin jumps a glyph to check down another corridor.)
Mike: What do your dwarf eyes see?


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Acquisitions Incorporated, Season 1, Episode 4
Listen to it here.
The story begins in May 2008, before the 4e Core Books have even dropped. WotC invites (and pays) Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, and Scott Kurtz of PvP to play 4e using the Quick Start rules, run by Chris Perkins and James Wyatt.

Story Summary: The party enters the secret room, but it is empty. Two crossbow bolts seem to phase through the wall but miss Binwin. After two more come flying through, Omin runs through the wall, breaking the illusion. Inside the interior room, they fine Irontooth and some of his minions, and the party immediately take the fight to him. It's a hard fight, with Jim taking damage for the first time, and Omin going down in the late rounds. Jim, now quite comfortable with burning friend and foe alike, sets the entire room ablaze (cleric and dwarf included). Binwin spends an action to heal Omin, who returns the favor on his turn with a healing word that, thanks to a previously used daily, brings the badly wounded dwarf nearly to full health. Rejuvenated, the dwarf whallops into Irontooth, killing him. After a bit of a mop-up operation, the one remaining goblin surrenders. He's the goblin who gave the party trouble in the first room, and his name is Splug. Acquisitions Incorporated decides to take Splug on with a temp contract, and set up camp in the hidden room for a long rest...

Impressions: One thing I noticed this episode is that Chris doesn't roleplay any of the characters. Perhaps it's to keep the game moving, perhaps it's because he's not comfortable with the group yet, or doesn't feel it's his personal job to take the spotlight. But every NPC's dialogue is simply described: "He says..." Chris also makes one mistake in this episode: he tells Scott that Binwin will have to use a Standard Action to use his second wind, even though dwarves are able to do it with a minor action. This is also Chris's last podcast of the season; Episodes 5-8 are DMed by James Wyatt. Even though this was just Chris Perkins, and not CHRIS PERKINS! yet, he seemed to rapidly warm up to the group as the session went on, cracking some jokes and even talking some smack a little bit with the players. Also, he has a great voice and diction for podcast. He was always very easy to hear and understand. Mike sometimes mumbles or leans back from the microphone, while Jerry sometimes talks really short and fast.

One AI in-joke that starts with this episode is Jim/Mike's tendency to pronounce "illusion" as "illu-zee-own". And at this point, he's fully on-board with cooking his friends for a good Area of Effect attack.

We find here that Chris has really altered Keep on the Shadowfell, with one room empty instead of full of zombies, and another filled with goblins and Irontooth (instead of zombies). He does show off a keen hand at 4e's Encounter building system, as all the Encounters prove to be challenging, but not overpowering for the group, nor do they drag out.

Quotes -
Chris: You are a bit puzzled...
Jerry: There's poison gas, spikes and some :):):):); this is the worst thing that's ever happened.
Mike: The room's immediately filled with lava.
Jerry: The room devours you. It is a mouth.

Jerry: You are walking down a tunnel. You look up. It is a mouth. I think every adventure should end with that. You look up. It is a mouth.

Scott: Do we see our hated foe, Irontooth?
Mike: I roll to kill Irontooth. (rolls) Success.

Chris: Here's the good news. This goblin is wearing a helmet that has a partial visor sort of bolted to the sides that comes down over his jaw and protects his mouth, and it's got these big, sort of jagged, pointed teeth coming out of it, so it's...
Mike: It's him.
Scott: It's Irontooth!
Chris:'s like a metal mouthpiece with these saw like fangs.
Mike: I roll to kill Irontooth!

Jerry: I bring the hammer right down on Irontooth.
Chris: Okay. (Jerry rolls)
Mike: But he doesn't care.
Scott: Wow, you really do go just straight for Irontooth.
Mike: He literally rolled to kill Irontooth.

Chris: 12 points of damage...
Jerry: Augh!
Chris: ...and you are slowed.
Jerry: Agh! I wasn't roleplaying there. Like...ow!

Scott: Help? 27 – 9?
Jerry: 27 – 9 is 18. You're okay. I have, what, 14. Cry me a :):):):)ing river.
Scott: I'm fine.
Mike: I'm still unhit. Jim is unscathed at this point!
Chris: Such is the way of wizards.

Mike: So if I do Burning Hands and I turn that whole place into an oven, I'm gonna cook these two, right?
Chris: Absolutely.
Mike: For how much? For the same amount, 2d6+4?
Chris: Yes, if you hit them. There's always a chance you could miss them.
Jerry: Wouldn't that be great?
Mike: I dunno, part of me feels I should just set that whole room on fire. Consquences be damned.
Jerry: Well, I'm not going to stop you.
Mike: Well, how much health do you have?
Jerry: I have 21, so I can take that hit.
Scott: I have 23.
Mike: You guys are fine!

Chris: This little guy will step up to the wizard.
Mike: What?! This is unprecedented!

Chris: The wizard knows now his own blood.
Mike: I don't like it. Jim tastes his blood for the first time!
Jerry: It's a taste he doesn't like!
Mike: It's a taste he's not familiar with!

Mike: The only thing making him loyal is the weight of our blade against his neck.
Jerry: No, Splug is in, it's short term, he's temporary, he serves at my pleasure...
Chris: He seems much happier with you than he ever did with Irontooth.
Mike: He'll find that we are tough but fair employers.
Jerry: Tell him we do dental.
Chris: He needs it.


Community Supporter
Acquisitions Incorporated, Season 1, Episode 5
Listen to it here.
The story begins in May 2008, before the 4e Core Books have even dropped. WotC invites (and pays) Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, and Scott Kurtz of PvP to play 4e using the Quick Start rules, run by Chris Perkins and James Wyatt.

Story Summary: Having leveled up, the party again proceeds into the dungeon. With Splug in tow, they go through a door and come across some zombies...and a very tough ghoul. After a tough battle, they are then confronted by a homunculous and some more zombies and take those out. Over the course of the battle Omin goes down, but a successful Heal roll by Binwin stands him back up and he's able to take out the squirrelly homunculous. The homunculous opened a door before he died, and Binwin pulls a Dain at Moria (and sees an empty room), while Jim uses Ghost Sound to imitate a dragon roar to frighten any other foes from coming through before Binwin closes it.

Impressions: That's the entire episode. They go through a door. They fight zombies, a ghoul, and a homunculous, and then they have another door in front of them. I must confess a certain degree of encounter fatigue at this point. There's just not a lot for the guys to play off of to make the podcast really interesting. There are a few jokes here and there, but just no a lot of driving forward, making you want to see what happens next. James Wyatt seems a decent DM -- he does more "in-character" roleplaying than Chris Perkins did in the first four episodes. He has a good, up-tempo DM patter, and an excellent command of the rules. He automatically gives Scott his mark, which is nice because Scott played the first four episodes with no idea what marking was. Also, he's given to a bit more trash talk with the players. Unfortunately, James' voice isn't as clear on the audio as Chris's was, and sometimes it's hard to follow the action because they don't really describe it.

There's a bit of a disconnect from the first four episode and this one. The characters level up to Level 3 at the beginning. James doesn't seem to be up on any of the plot hooks and threads that Chris had worked into the adventure. I think perhaps Chris was supposed to DM the latter half as well, but wasn't able to, requiring James Wyatt to step in. He has no idea about the riddle over the armor the party found in the armory in Episode 4, and he quickly nerfs Splug by saying that he didn't actually know his way around the whole dungeon. There's a little metaphor shear there, and contributes to the idea that there's very little to interest the listener other than some occasional jokes. Of course, when originally released, there must have been a lot of interest in what the 4e rules are.

Quotes -
Mike: My new gray is that I run away really fast?
Jerry: You may need it.
James: It doesn't have to be away.
Mike: Oh, so I can really run fast.
James: So you move up to twice your speed, but “shift” means you're not provoking opportunity attacks with that movement.
Jerry: So shift means you can go anywhere you want with that movement.
James: Go right to the bad guys.
Jerry: If we wanted to get you far away, up close...
Mike: I see. Okay.
James: It can put you right into harm's way, that much faster.

Ghoul tries to bite Omin.
James: 15 against your Armor Class.
Jerry: That doesn't do it.
James: He is very sad.
Jerry: I'm not, so maybe it evens out.

Jim uses scorching blast to fry both zombie and ghoul.
Mike: Now you see the Jim Darkmagic magic!

Mike: Jim feels like that was pretty good.
Jerry: That was a good round for Jim.
Mike: Jim thinks Jim's all right.

Mike: Jim is considering his options.
Scott: He wields the power of arcane
His moves are never tragic;
Can you see what I'm setting up?
A rhyme with Darkmagic!
It's Jim....Darkmagic!

Mike: I'm just going to set this whole room on fire.

Scott: So what the hell is our goblin friend doing?
Mike: He's way back here.
Jerry: He's just cowering.
Mike: Shove him in there.
James: He's sure you have everything well under control.
Jerry: Can we use him as a thrown weapon?

Binwin hits the homunculous for 5 damage.
Mike: Jim goes to the bathroom and does 5 damage.

Binwin seems to nail the homunculous—but his maul instead nails Omin.
Mike: Jim doesn't like what he just saw. Jim's going to be honest.
Jerry: Please do not set the room on fire, Jim!

James (to Binwin): So you're dazed until you make a save, and you can't see the little clay guy anymore. He hit you with this thing and then just winked out of existance. (To Jim) You can still see him fine.
Mike: Oh yeah. Jim can see anything Jim wants.

Omin fails second death roll
James: Jim?
Scott: Heal him!
Mike: Jim sees if he wants :):):):) done he's going to have to do it himself. So Jim enters, and Jim is going to cast Jim's magic missile. … What?
Jerry: Nothing.
Mike: I'm not going to heal you! Jim is not a nurse.
Jerry: I know, I know. I know what Jim is. I'm often reminded.
Mike: So Jim rolls 8...9-10-11-12...
Jerry: But Jim doesn't hit either.
Mike: ...13!
James: Jim does not hit.
Scott: Thanks, Jim.
Jerry: Jim is such a :):):):)ing jackass.


Awesome thread! Just found it and had to register to say: Thanks for this gem! :)

Just one quick question, I listened to the podcast here: Acquisitions Incorporated - Portfolio unfortunately Episode 4 is cut off at the end, just when Chris Perkins talks about a riddle... Any chance of a complete version of the podcast somewhere? :)