Acquisitions Incorporated is a Dungeons & Dragons party starring in a series of online D&D adventures since 2008. A collaboration between Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast, the series was originally created to showcase the then-new 4th Edition of D&D, but soon evolved into something of an improvisational comedic fantasy thanks to the fun dynamics between the players and excellent Dungeon Mastering by WOTC producer Chris Perkins.The plot centers on the (mis)adventures of the eponymous Acquisitions Inc., a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits banded together in a pseudo-corporate formation on a quest for fame and wealth. Originally consisting of The Leader Omin Dran (Jerry Holkins), The Big Guy Binwin Bronzebottom (Scott Kurtz), and The Smart Guy Jim Darkmagic (Mike Krahulik), they were later (temporarily) joined by a number of corporate "interns", a full list of whom and their associated tropes can be found on the characters page.The series began as podcasts, available through the official WOTC website, before transitioning to live events at Penny Arcade Expo events around the United States, which can be viewed here, here, and here (as well as on YouTube). All adventures to date are listed on the recap page. Another podcast was produced to showcase the newly-resurrected Dark Sun campaign setting, but did not feature the characters of Acquisitions Incorporated. Wil didn't appear, with Kris Straub subbing in, and Jerry served as the DM in place of Chris.
The Alcoholic: Binwin's father. In fact, it's a sign of trouble when he stops drinking. And Binwin himself for that matter. So much that he carries around a brewers kit in "Ark of the Mad Mage" and gets seriously depressed when the party has to leave a beer-automaton behind.
Wil: So, she said she wants our help to steal the eye?
Chris: You have no idea.
All There in the Manual: The official Wizards of the Coast podcast did a few episodes about converting the Acquisitions Incorporated characters to D&D Next, which helps explain why everyone's abilities are so different in the PAX 2012 games. Among other things, the mechanics for Wizards were still in early beta, the new Fighter mechanics were very different, and Aeofel is technically a Cleric because an Avenger class/build hadn't been designed yet.
Arc Welding: Chris took the story of Omin's sister, which Jerry probably invented on the spot in season 4, and actually introduced his sister into the plot in the end of season 8.
Arm Cannon: The eponymous Ark of the Mad Mage from the 2013 show has a bright green gemstone set into its right hand. Said gemstone, when activated, fires a ray of green flame that does massive damage. Which turns out to be useful since the climax of the adventure involves the Tarrasque.
The Atoner: Parodied by Scott Kurtz. Upon first reuniting with Wheaton-Aeofel, he delivers the long-overdue warning about the acid trap killed him. Aofel states that all is forgiven. Scott-Binwin replies "Maybe now I can forgive myself" to looks of amazement, bursts of laughter and a standing ovation from the other players and the audience. The look on Wheaton's face is priceless.
Audience Participation: As the party descended into Halaster's labyrinth, Chris came up with a way for the audience to participate in the show: whenever someone at the table mentioned "green flame", the entire audience was supposed to echo it. By season 8, it seems to have become a meme, since every fire in the Forgotten Realms is now apparently colored green—to the delight of the cheering (and diligently participating) audience.
Brief Accent Imitation: Omin, when yelling for the french speaking Danielle to find the switch that controls the acid trap in Ep 6.
Omin: S'il vous plait!
Cliffhanger: "Dragons Over Easy" ends with the party attempting to sneak out of Dragonspear Castle with a clutch of eggs, past a green dragon and its minions... only to run head-on into a second green dragon. This was a result of the PAX East 2014 live show running fifteen minutes over before the party had reached the final encounter.
Content Warnings: Most published recordings of the AI's sessions are prefaced by a warning along the lines of "This podcast features adults, using adult language. You Have Been Warned."
Cool Airship: The Acquisitions Incorporated Battle Balloon from season 8.
Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Dragons Over Easy", thanks to a combination of the DM's amazing rolls and the party's poor ones, the villain ambushes the party, kills Jim, and downs Binwin and Môrgænnote They get better... before any of them can take a single action.
Defeat Means Friendship: After defeating Irontooth and his lackeys, the only surviving goblin pledges his loyalty to the party, if only so they won't kill him. He proves his worth later in the campaign.
Jim: Have we room for a new hire?
Deliberate Injury Gambit: It's a common tactic of the team for Binwin to charge in and get surrounded, whereupon Jim drops a fireball on all of them, Binwin included. Binwin is not always in on this plan but generally comes out of it looking better than the bad guys. This happened so often in Season 1 that the players joked it was an all-purpose plan: "When in doubt, set the dwarf on fire." In fact by Season 3, they've learned to use it to their advantage, where Binwin gets temp hit points when he gets wounded, and Jim gets better stats to hit enemies if his friends are in the field of attack.
Disposable Intern: Occasionally crops up, such as when Omin the CEO tries to magically convert their current intern into gold on accounts that they can always hire more.
Double Meaning Title: Part 2 of season 8 is titled "Five Heads are Better than None". At first, it was thought to be a reference to the Tyranny of Dragons metaplot (which revolves around the Cult of the Dragon trying to free Tiamat, the five-headed dragon goddess) that the game ties into, but it also foreshadowed the return of Viari, which bumped the party headcount up to five.
Downer Ending: At the end of season three, the party hasn't helped Barton or Hammerfast, neither of the chief villains have been captured or defeated, and Aeofel is dead.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The original podcast series, which was recorded to help teach players about 4th Edition rather than purely for entertainment value. Wil/Aeofel wasn't part of the party yet, the others were still learning the rules and feeling out their characters, and half the adventure is DMed by James Wyatt (one of the lead designers on 4E) instead of Chris Perkins.
Elfeminate: The group makes the occasional joke revolving around this trope mentioning how Aofel is fey, or how they have a "don't ask don't tell" policy or how Aofel is a pretty boy. Wheaton (Aofel's player) for his part embraces and defends the trope.
Wheaton: Listen, here's the thing about elves: Elves are the Eladrin's hillbilly cousins. So I'll take the Eladrin that looks like a girl, thank you very much, because we deserve to look and feel pretty.”
At the climax of season two, Binwin and Jim are down, and Omin and Aeofel are in bad shape as well. Omin breaks out an encounter power, but rolls a 1. With some divine intervention from Aeofel, he gains a re-roll and tries again. And rolls another 1.
In the second PAX game:
Wil: Oh yeah, so I run down the thing, and I land on top of the bear, and I, like, flip in the air, and then, as I'm coming down, I sort of, like, barrel-roll a little bit, and then I flip again, and then I come down here so I land just like this, so I'm flanking this guy. Yeah, and it's super-cool! And there's rock music playing while I do it, and I'm gleaming cubes on my way there, and as I come down, I use my Avenging Echo against him... ohhh, I rolled a 1.
In the third PAX game, Omin rolls a 1 on his first roll while the others roll well into the double digits. That roll being a Constitution save.
Wil: Is he dead? Chris: No, he's just very, very unconscious. Possibly for the rest of the show.
Viara: Friend dwarf, do you have any forge tools? Not to be racist here, but your people carry, like, forge tools around, right? Jim: Uhhh... Omin: Oh... Binwin: Wow...
Film Noir: Parodied when Omin is aimlessly wandering through the city searching for a way to get his powers back.
Friendship Moment: In part two of "The Ark of the Mad Mage", a demon-slash-familiar tries to tempt Jim (a narcissist who isn't known for very sound judgements) with promises of power and treasure, to which Jim responds by grabbing it with both hands, reminding it of how it tried to kill his friends earlier, and casting Burning Hands at point blank range.
Full Boar Action: The Ambershard clan's doorkeeper keeps a gigantic dire boar as a pet. And a mount.
Gag Penis: The whole penis conversation from season two. Apparently dwarven penises are shaped like tuna cans.
"When women see it, they say it's time for some more chicken of the sea."
To Scott: "The good news is, the dart only does minor damage. The bad news is... it is poisoned. But the good news is, you're a dwarf, and dwarves are immune to poison."
To Mike: "The good news is, the raven takes full damage. The bad news is, it has fire resistance. The good news is: you still kill it."
Graceful Loser: When the guys beat the Ambershards' gatekeeper, he willingly opens the only entrance to the manor and leaves.
Gunship Rescue: Viari brings a gun-dirigible to the Dragonspear Castle just in time to save the rest of the party trapped there. Subverted, however, in that they (with Viari's help) then manage to defeat all enemies without actually using any of the ship's guns. They do come in handy later on, though.
High-Altitude Battle: The final showdown against the Dragon Cult and their masters in season 8 takes place aboard the Acquisitions Incorporated Battle Balloon flying through the storm of the century amidst a massive battle between metallic and chromatic dragons.
Honor Before Reason: Two uses combine in the third season. First, It's Personal for Binwin when the party is raiding the home of Clan Ambershard, which had ruined the Bronzebottoms. So while everyone else wants to get the treasure and leave, he leads them straight into a confrontation with Leer, the Big Bad. This leads to Aeofel swearing his Oath of Enmity on Leer, and once that happens, he pursues even when (both in and out of character) he realizes it means getting separated from the team. Which ends with Aeofel meeting his end in an acid pit.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The first encounter with the dragon cultists in "Dragons Over Easy" is so blatantly rigged against the heroes that it was likely intended as one of these: the cultists wipe the floor with the party before they can even act, sparing only Omin, who happens to be both the leader (for whom their bloody message was intended) and party healer (who can quickly get his people back on their feet).
Humongous Mecha: The Mechalaster—the eponymous Ark of the Mad Mage in season 7—is a giant humanoid combat robot designed by Halaster to defend Waterdeep from the Tarrasque.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: For the Will and Testament of James Darkmagic I campaign, it is explained that Jim's family is not from New Hampshire, but rather the much more fantasy-sounding "Newhamp Shire".
Kiss of Death: Jim instantly bites the dust when he brazenly kisses the succubus that the party encounters in "Ark of the Mad Mage".
Player Punch: In-universe, in a meta way. The near-Total Party Kill in "Dragons Over Easy" was obviously intended as this for Jerry—and it connected real good, because the first thing he said afterwards amounted to "We are taking those bastards down—and hard."
Used by Binwin after the villain pulls a Who Are You? before the final encounter of the second season.
Binwin: We are Acquisitions Incorporated and we are here to acquire your ass!
Also, in season eight, Jim gets one (subverted in that he gets killed after saying it but before making any actions):
Jim (to Omin): Let me off the chain, boss. This dog's gotta hunt.
Psychic Static: Used by Vandal in season 8 to conceal the fact that he is a dragon in disguise when Jim attempts to read his thoughts—all Jim hears are some silly songs a not-too-bright halfling in awe of the upcoming adventure would sing.
Red Herring: The intro to season 8 part 2 drops a hint or two at a possible return of Aeofel. However, it's Viari who re-joins the party to save the day.
Plenty of examples. Jerry rolling ones, Binwin getting caught by traps, no one being able to pronounce Aeofel's name, Jim setting Binwin on fire, and Scott getting his teammates killed. In the 2011 Live game, every time Jim Darkmagic's cousin Olivia makes a comment, Mike mutters "Shut up Olivia."
Everything to do with Aofel's fatal encounter with an acid trap and the lingering trauma from that encounter. Chris Perkins makes a point to include more acid in subsequent adventures.
Sadistic Choice: In The Lost Episode, when Aeofel is dangling from a rope above an acid pool where Jim is stranded, both of them almost botch a roll to grab each other's hands, so the DM rules that they grab hands but Aeofel has to decide whether to let go or to fall into the acid himself. His phobia of acid ultimately wins over the Power of Friendship. Wil and Mike actually play this entire scene out over the gaming table.
Shaped Like Itself: When Jim is trying to describe the artifact that they're after in season 3.
Terrible Interviewees Montage: The Tryout videos in 2013, as Omin, Jim and Binwin interview candidates to take Aeofel's place in the party for their seventh adventure. There's a few Expys of well-known characters.
Thicker Than Water: The respective relatives of all three of the AI core members have been the driving force behind some plot line: season 3 misadventure happens because Binwin's father stops drinking; Omin reveals in season 4 that the whole Acquisitions Inc. brand was started by him and his long-lost older sister who comes back as their enemy in the end of season 8; and Jim's own Big Screwed-Up Family basically is the plot of season 5.
Thousand-Yard Stare: Aeofel's memories of Hell while riding on the back of Cronk the skeletal dragon. Making their way to the New Hampshire during "The Last Will and Testament of James Darkmagic I"
Wil: Nam was hell. "Necromancers are dicks, you guys. Necromancers are dicks." Aeofel just stares off, the wings beating beneath him, his silvery hair blowing out behind him, a thousand-square stare in his eyes. He feels nostalgia as a standard action. A single tear falls from his perfectly black, orbular eye, and turns into a diamond as the wind catches it and carries it away.
To Hell and Back: The entire plot of the first PAX game involves going to a hell plane to bring back Aeofel from the dead.
Too Awesome to Use: The magical scroll in season 2 ends up not getting used despite how useful it could have been.
Torture for Fun and Information: In "Ark of the Mad Mage", a miniaturised wizard trapped in a cage is being uncooperative, so Jim holds his new pet raven up to the cage to scare the wizard into talking. The raven leaps out of Jim's hands and eats the wizard.
Wham Episode: A double whammy in season 8 part 2. Not only does Viari come back from his bus trip to bump the party size up to five for the first time in the series, but Chris also does some Arc Welding to introduce Omin's long-lost older sister first mentioned in season 4—as an evil cultist fighting the heroes.
When the group finds the Ark in season 7, Omin asks Tymora for some spiritual guidance.
Chris/Tymora: I need you, Omin Dran, to fight and slay the Kaiju... or as we call it upstairs, The Tarrasque.
Then another, funnier one, as Mike and Scott reveal they have no idea what that is.
Why Do You Keepchanging Jobs: Kinda. While every party member dresses up pretty much consistently as their character during live events, Chris Perkins sports a different outfit every time (except the very first live event):