The first adventure was a collaborative podcast between Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast, designed to introduce the then-new fourth edition of D&D, with WOTC senior producer Chris Perkins as the DM for Jerry, Mike and Scott. They were joined by Wil in the second adventure, and later by Patrick after Wil's departure. In 2010, the series transitioned from podcasts to the live shows at PAX (though a new podcast was produced as a prequel to the PAX 2013 adventure), and in 2012 the series transitioned from using the D&D Next open playtest rules. Their adventures to date are:
The Keep on the Shadowfell. The first half of the adventure sees the newly-founded Acquisitions Incorporated venture into Shadowfell Keep in pursuit of Irontooth, the leader of the local kobolds and goblins, while the second half (with a different DM) has the party confront a death cult of Orcus. This adventure is an abridged version of The Keep on the Shadowfell, the first module published for fourth edition.
The Tower of Goldenhawk. Several months later, the party are joined by their Eladrin intern Aeofel (Wil Wheaton), just in time for a mission from the local militia captain to scout out the abandoned tower of Goldenhawk. This and all subsequent adventures were written and DMed by Chris Perkins especially for the podcast, although a modified version of this one (titled Storm Tower) was published in Dungeon Magazine.
The Ambershard Manor. The party are send to root out a gang of bandits on the eastern road, and eventually track their quarry to the Dwarven necropolis-city of Hammerfast. But the mission becomes personal when Binwin learns the leaders of the bandits are the Ambershards, sworn enemies of the Bronzebottoms. It doesn't end well.
The Prisoners of Slaughterfast. Played live at PAX 2010, this adventure sees the surviving members of Acquisitions Incorporated gather to perform a ritual to bring back their fallen comrade, only for it to fail for an unexpected reason. To get their friend back, Acquisitions Incorporated must go to hell and back — literally.
The Last Will and Testament of James Darkmagic I. Played live at PAX 2011, this adventure follows Acquisitions Incorporated as they travel to the Darkmagic Estate, Jim's childhood home in New Hampshire, for the reading of his late grandfather's will. Once there, family rivalries soon escalate and the party are thrown into unexpected adventures and shocking revelations.
The Lost Episode. Played live at PAX 2012, this adventures begins with the heroes trapped in an evil lair that's equal parts Gary Gygax and J. J. Abrams. After waking up tied to the altar of an imposing demon, Acquisitions Incorporated are met by a mysterious Drow girl who seeks their help, and warns of the dangerous "others"...
Ark of the Mad Mage is a longer adventure, divided between a return to the podcast format and a live game at PAX Prime in 2013. Stranded in the Forgotten Realms, Acquisitions Incorporated have headquartered at Waterdeep and taken on Viari as a new hire to replace Aeofel. Binwin gets a girlfriend, Omin has a religious conversion, and the party set out to find the lost ark of Halaster, the Mad Mage.
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 podcasts can be found here, and the PAX games can be viewed here, here, and here (as well as on YouTube).
Wil: Dungeon Master, friends, assembled nerds. I'm forty years old. I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the Red Box set in 1981, 82, 83, somewhere around there in my life. It is safe to say that I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a minimum of 20 years, possibly longer, maybe closer to 30 years. I'm gonna say something I have never said. I have gone against the giants, I've been killed in the Tomb of Horrors, I have visited the Temple of Elemental Evil, and of course, there is not a single square in the Cave of Chaos that I have not crawled through. One time I talked to a wizard named Bargle, and I have never said the following words: I will climb up the asshole.
In Season 6, the Drow girl speaks in French. Blocked by the DM when the players translate her French.
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.
Awesome McCoolname: Mike's character, Jim Darkmagic. During character creation, he is immediately called out by Scott Kurtz, who demands "Why don't you call yourself Chet Awesomelaser?" The group then also suggests "Jim Fellmagic," "Fell Darkjim," "Jim Felldark," "Fell Darkevil," and "Ominous Darkfell Magic-Bad."
Backup Bluff: Taking advantage of Percy's inability to perceive fey, Jim tries to do this in the second live game. It doesn't work.
Badass Boast: Aeofel, all alone in hell, facing Cetrine Ambershard and a Devil lording over a fortress full of minions and artillery, makes numerous claims of how he will extract a price in blood from all of them.
Cetrine: Acquisitions Incorporated will be a footnote in the pages of history! Aeofel: Acquisitions Incorporated will not be a footnote, Acquisitions Incorporated will write the book!
Jerry/Omin is pretty good at these.
Omin: Percival, let me save you a lot of time. We're better than you. Each of us, individually, are better than you. If we all hit you at once, you will explode.
Jim Darkmagic has a habit of saying "Have a magical day!" or a variant of it.
Omin has a habit of saying that some event "is the worst thing that could happen."
Aeofel often says "My name. Is. AEOFEL!" when people call him "Al," and also would like to remind us all that "Elves are the Eladrin's hillbilly cousins." Out of character, Wil also declares his catchphrase to be "Does nineteen work for you?"
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."
Critical Miss: Jerry is infamous for this; the most infamous example of this is when he rolls a 1 twice in a row at the climax of the second season.
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.
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 D Med by James Wyatt (one of the lead designers on 4E) instead of Chris Perkins.
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.
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."
Genre Savvy: Jerry, very much so at the second PAX game.
"Put these books in your box, close the lid of the box, remove the key, swallow the key, get the fuck on this dragon, let's get out of here."
Graceful Loser: When the guys beat the Ambershards' gatekeeper, he willingly opens the only entrance to the manor and leaves.
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.
Scott: This isn't the first time I have double-teamed someone with a fey.
Idiot Ball: Mike/Jim has it firmly in grasp when he kisses a girl he just met, who turns out to be a succubus.
The Intern: Aeofel, which is actually funny because he is a lot more serious than the rest of the party. He generally balances the others' crazy antics.
Viari takes on the role later on and still serves as the straight face.
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".
Binwin: We are Acquisitions Incorporated and we are here to acquire your ass!
Properly Paranoid: In the celebrity game, when The Party first meets the Darkmagic's house cat, it immediately becomes attached to Omin. In his genre savviness he checks it out first with his holy symbol so he can be certain it isn't "some crazy sorcerer cat". The rest of the party just dismisses it as Omin being overly cautious as usual, but as it turns out the cat is actually an evil spy for the Wartstaffs.
Rousing Speech: When Gygax the cat and his undead hamburger minotaurs have ambushed the party and things seem bad, Wil steps up.
Wil: Listen — I've been to hell. And back. And I did not go to hell and back to let some fucking cat come up here in my friend's house and tell my friend "me and my hamburger train are gonna take your books"! [to Gygax:] FUCK! YOU!
Running Gag: 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."
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 get Bonus Points for actually playing 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.
Zethir: Magic coat?
Jim:Yeah, it's like a coat, but it's magical.
Shout-Out: Plenty. It's a table-full of geeks, remember?
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.
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.
Too Dumb to Live: In episode 6, Jim Darkmagic dual-wields his wands as usual... while dangling from a rope. With no hands available to hold on to the rope, he falls into the giant acid pit he just got out of.
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.
Unnecessary Combat Roll: Aeofel begins to do a lot of very well described air flips in the PAX games for no apparent reason.