"Once again, the time has come for four heroes to straddle the throbbing heart... of danger!"Acquisitions Incorporated is a Dungeons & Dragons party starring in a series of online adventures since 2008, originally in podcast format but nowadays mainly published on YouTube. 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 Comic Fantasy thanks to the fun dynamics between the players and excellent Dungeon Mastering by the 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 Kurtznote ), 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 for Archive Trawling at the official WotC website, before transitioning to live events at Penny Arcade Expo around the United States, which can nowadays be most easily viewed on YouTube. All adventures to date are listed in their official Portfolio, as well as our own recap page. A spin-off podcast was produced in 2010, between AcqInc seasons 3 and 4, to showcase the newly-resurrected Dark Sun campaign setting. It did not feature the characters of Acquisitions Incorporated, with Jerry serving as the DM in place of Chris and Kris Straub subbing in for the absent Wilnote .Card Hunter has received an official Acquisitions Inc.-themed Expansion Pack in April 2016, containing six custom adventures that you can play through as Omin, Binwin, and Jim (watch the trailer here). Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series, which forms a sort of extended season 10 leading up to a live finale at PAX West 2016, premiered at Penny Arcade TV on June 8, 2016. The same PAX West game also tied in with Matthew Mercer and Nerdist's Force Grey: Giant Hunters campaign finale.Following Scott's departure from the show, a new, independent franchise starring Binwin was announced, Binwin's Minions. It consists of a webcomic published by Scott alongside (and crossing over with) both Table Titans and PvP, and, as of PAX South 2017, a hybrid RPG/puzzle video game tying in with the comic. In March 2017, the spinoff series Acquisitions Incorporated: The "C" Team was announced, featuring Amy Falcone, Kate Welch, Kris Straub and Ryan Hartman, DM'd by Jerry and presented in association with HyperRPG. The "C" Team is to air on the HyperRPG Twitch.tv channel every Thursday, starting March 16, 2017.
— Introduction to "The Lost Episode"
- Accidental Innuendo: Invoked in a couple of PAX live games:
- Season 4:Omin: So go bang on her!
Aeofel: Wait, what?
Omin: I mean with your sword.
Omin: No, I mean with a weapon!
- Season 5:Chris: It's been several years since you had to "mount" Cronk.
Jim: Well, I have a girlfriend now...
- Season 4:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Season 7 gave us the gem "You bluntly bash her bark-covered body".
- Aliens Speaking English: 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 have changed so drastically between seasons 5 and 6. 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 season 7 has a bright green gemstone set into its right hand. Said gemstone, when activated, fires a ray of green flamenote that does massive damage. Which turns out to be useful since the climax of the adventure involves the Tarrasque.
- Ass Shove:
- Implied by thankfully not spelled out by Chris in regards to where the Darkmagics' golem family lawyer keeps the stone tablet with James Darkmagic's will on it.
- For most of The Series, Jim keeps a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts safely, as Mike puts it, "keistered".
- Audience Participation:
- In the very first live game in season 4, the DM asked the audience to vote via phone messages to determine what the party had to do to activate the portal to Hell, whom the fire ballistas fired at (thrice), and which monster would be the final boss of the game.
- As the party descended into Halaster's labyrinth in season 7, Chris came up with a way for the audience to participate in live events: whenever someone at the table said "green flame" or mentioned fire of said color in any way or form, the entire crowd was supposed to echo it (which, apparently, is a reference to Big Trouble in Little China). 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.
- In season 9 part 2, Chris lures the audience to imitate the pitiful cries of the svirfneblin being slaughtered, and the crowd runs with the idea so well, the players are mightily creeped out.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: At the end of "Ark of the Mad Mage", Omin is made a Masked Lord of Waterdeep.
- Back for the Dead: In season 9, Danielle the Drow, last seen three seasons ago, comes back but is killed by Drizzt Do'Urden at the end of the episode.
- Backup Bluff: Taking advantage of Percy's inability to perceive fey, Jim tries to do this in season 5. It doesn't work.Jim: Percy! You are surrounded by my fey army... of fey warriors! They are all fey.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bag of Holding: The party acquire one in season 1, although it doesn't feature in later campaigns.
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: The Gargoyles in season 9 have this to say about Viari:What's the difference between that guy and a flumph? ...one is a spineless gasbag, and the other is a flumph!
- Bald Women: Auspicia Dran is so focused on business, she "doesn't have time for hair".
- Base on Wheels: The Darkmagic family manor (which isn't actually on wheels; it "merely" teleports).
- Beard of Evil: The first episode of The Series opens with a discussion of all facial growth being a sign of evilness (including it being the telltale sign distinguishing Omin's hypothetical Evil Twin from the real thing).
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Splug, the temporarily foe-turned friend goblin employee, pulls one at the climax of season 1 where he saves the party from another defeat.
- Done epically in season 4, where right after the bad guy has taunted Aeofel about his friends having abandoned him, the party appears on a hell beast to rescue him.
- Finally outdone in season 8, when Viari, of all people, rejoins the party, who were trapped inside Dragonspear Castle, and brings a Cool Airship with him.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: Seems to be a recurring theme:
- The entire season 6 misadventure in the lizardmen temple takes place on Aeofel's 142nd birthday.
- The first mini-episode of season 10, meanwhile, takes place at Jim's 40th birthday party.
- The season 11 opener concerns the acquisition of Whelm a present for Omin's birthday.
- Blatant Lies: After hiring Viari as their new intern, the guys try not to mention what happened to their last one.Binwin: We will always, always... protect our friends.
Jim: Don't worry. Your safety is our number one priority.
Omin: It has been zero days since our last intern death.
- Black Comedy: Shows up from time to time. Some of the side-effects of the party's ride in the Halaster statue conveniently gets swept under the rug, as an example."Those orphans didn't have any parents anyway."
- Bolivian Army Ending: Never used in-game, but Jerry believes that all adventures should conclude with..."You look up. It is a mouth."
- Bond One-Liner:
"For a musician, he sounds kind of flat!"
- After Viari is (almost) crushed to death by the falling Beholder tank in season 9, one of the gargoyles quips:
"How'd you like that on my resumé!"
- And later on in The Series Part 1, he gets one of his own:
" How does 19 work for you?"
- The Series Part 2 has Viari on the receiving end of one (again) that doubles as a Wham Line, when he is reduced to 0 hit points by Aeofel:
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Mike's Catch Phrase is "Jim winks", but Wil occasionally borrows it for Aeofel, usually directed at Jim himself.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Episode 6, Wil deliberately mugs to the audience after pointing out a new feature in D&D Next, in mock shill. And is then disappointed when the DM won't reward him with a bonus on his next roll.
- Brick Joke: At the start of season 7, the then-newcomer Viari throws a few probing stones at Binwin and Jim, calling Omin out on his Bad Boss tendencies (behind his back, of course), but it doesn't go anywhere, as Omin is able to maintain an iron grip on his employees. Come season 9, where Omin's sister Auspicia plans to buy out and restructure Omin's company, and the entire party is openly questioning the previous policies when made aware of alternatives, and Omin becomes increasingly irritable, as he feels his control over it slipping, going as far as snap at Viari for showing too independent thoughts.
- Brief Accent Imitation:
Omin: S'il vous plait!
- Omin, when yelling for the French-speaking Danielle to find the switch that controls the acid trap in Ep 6.
Binwin: Oooh, it's Drizzt O'Durden... Dontcha 'now? With my twin shillelaghs!
- When Drizzt finally makes his appearance in season 9, Mike mispronounces his surname as "O'Durden", pushing the whole table into a brief bout of Irish Accents.
- Jerry/Omin is made to briefly adopt a Southern USA accent every time he speaks in-character while disguised in Season 11 Part 1 (which took place at PAX South).
- The Bro Code: Apparently, there is one between Jim and Omin, as Jim is (very tangentially) concerned about violating it by sleeping with Omin's sister.
- Butt Monkey: Jeff, the manager of the Baldur's Gate chapter in season 9, gets far too much flak from the founding members for things he had very little impact for. Viari seems to be the only one with some sympathy for him, and even that doesn't save him from Jim's elaborate scheme to have him killed.
- Call Back: Viari's ISTAR Facility in season 10 has a room dedicated to Aeofel, his predecessor in The Intern position. The Facility is a maze of various traps and tests, and this particular room has a giant acid pit trap in it (too bad it isn't finished yet).
- The Cameo:
- Paul and Storm (a.k.a. the Minstrels from season 5) make a brief appearance in season 8, helping to remove the Dragonspear Castle diorama. Then Paul comes back to take a group selfie with Morgan, Jerry, and Pat.
- Minsc and Boo from Baldur's Gate join Acquisitions Incorporated as interns in season 9 and defend their chapterhouse against Elemental Evil.
- The Caper: Part One of The Series sees the party breaking into a secure, heavily-guarded vault to acquire a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts and thwart Auspicia Dran's plan to acquire Acquisitions Incorporated.
- Cape Snag: When Viari fails his Dex save to get out from underneath the falling Beholder tank, Pat ad-libs his failure to be a consequence of V's fabulous cape getting snagged by the falling tank and then pulling the rogue after it.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Soon after Viari's return in season 8, he gains Inspiration, allowing him or any party member reroll a single d20 later on. It ends up saving Omin's life during the final confrontation.
- In the finale of season 10, Viari uses his revival song — unused since their trip to the Undermountain (when he used it to resurrect Jim) — to bring Binwin back to life.
- City with No Name: It is never explained where exactly season 6 (a.k.a. "The Lost Episode") takes place. In the end of season 5, the party travels from their home plane (the Nentir Vale, as established very early in season 1) to the Forgotten Realms, but something goes wrong and they wake up in a strange temple. Season 7 explains that the Darkmagic Estate crash landed near Waterdeep, so it can be presumed that the lizardmen found it while the party was out cold and dragged them to their temple. On the other hand, Omin's divine spells still work as if they were on their home plane (Avandra has no presence in the Realms, causing him to briefly lose his powers in season 7), while Danielle the Drow somehow speaks actual French, additionally implying a connection of the place to Real Life... Season 9 sees Danielle return in the Underdark, lending credence to TLE taking place on Faerun, but the questions of Omin and Aeofel's divine powers and Danielle's French are still open.
- "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 event running fifteen minutes over before the party had reached the final encounter.
- Similarly, "Playing With Fire" ends with Portentia Dran revealing that her and Omin's other sister sent her as advance recon in preparation for buying out Acquisitions Incorporated from him.
- 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." The only ones that aren't are the very first three podcasts of season 1.
- Continuity Creep: While the series has never been particularly episodic, most of its early episodes could be watched standalone, but starting about season 8, Chris began re-introducing characters from the earlier episodes, creating a much more cohesive continuity, such as Omin's sister(s) from season 4, Danielle the Drow from season 6, and Percival Darkmagic from season 5. And then Aeofel comes back as a bad guy and almost kills Viari in The Series "Part 2". Furthermore, all episodes since the cliffhanger reveal at the end of episode 8 comprise an on-going Dran Enterprises arc, which concerns Omin's older sister's plans to buy out Acquisitions Incorporated from Omin and shows no signs of winding down.
- Continuity Nod: At the start of season 9, the guys moor their battle balloon near a plinth that seems to be the base of a statue which isn't there. This is a reference to the current Legends of Baldur's Gate comic series, in which a statue of Minsc and Boo is accidentally transformed into the actual heroes. This is also subtle foreshadowing of their eventual appearance later in the adventure.
- Cool Airship: The Acquisitions Incorporated Battle Balloon from season 8.
- Cool vs. Awesome: The season 9 finale title, "Darkmagic vs. Do'Urden", invokes this, but since Jim is very reluctant to actually fight Drizzt, Omin is the one who ultimately breaks the evil's hold on him (after taking the brunt of his damage).
- Cowboy Episode: The season 11 intro casts the main characters as Old West outlaws, complete with an awesome blues theme: Môrgæn the "Fastest Shaft in the West", "Have Lute, Will Travel" Viari, Big Jim "The Wandslinger" Darkmagic, Omin "High Planes Drifter" Dran, and Chris "Cheats At Dice" Perkins as The DM In Black.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The idiotic Surfer Dude, Rad Longhammer, is able to defeat a couple of guards while unarmed and shackled.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Dragons Over Easy", thanks to a combination of the DM's amazing rolls and the party's poor ones, the villains ambush the party, kill Jim, and down Binwin and Môrgænnote ... before any of them can take a single action.
- Darth Vader Clone: The Series Part Two introduces a mysterious Dran Enterprises employee (revealed at the end to be Aeofel) with robes, a masked face, and a glowing magic sword. When describing him, Chris flat-out said that he basically looks like Kylo Ren.
- Death by Irony: Citrine Ambershard dies in an acid pit just like Aeofel did in her manor, much to his amusement.
- Death Is Cheap: This being D&D, the party members come back from the dead with increasing ease as they grow in level. The first party death, Aoefel in season 3, had been a major event, with the entirety of season 4 dedicated to bringing him back. Since then, Jim died trice (by a succubus in season 7, by wyvern in season 8, and by a plot device in season 10), Binwin was mauled to death by an ancient dragon in The Series, and Viari had his neck snapped by Drizzt in season 10, although this may have not been canon. This leaves Omin pretty much the only regular with a clean death record, despite several near-death experiences.
- Defeat Means Friendship: After defeating Irontooth and his lackeys, the only surviving goblin, Splug, 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.
- Disturbed Doves: Seeing how the dove trick is a staple of Jim's act, he also tends to summon them in droves at dramatic moments just for the Rule of Cool.
- The Dog Bites Back: Jeff, who dies due to Jim's manipulation in season 9, comes back as a giant magic-resistant golem to almost kill Jim in season 10.
- Does Not Like Men: Portentia implies this much about her and Omin's big sister, Auspicia, when Jim announces his plans to seduce her.
- 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.
- In the ending of The Series "Part 2", Aeofel assaults and severely wounds Viari, Binwin dies, Jim get teleported away from the party, and a legendary White Dragon kills and devours nearly everyone else in their strike party (though they were mostly Dran Enterprises mooks... and Percy).
- At the end of season 11 part 1, the party has potentially left a proud and good-hearted warrior (plus Chippy the Owlbear) to die holding off two powerful genies and Omin is suddenly told his sisters are both dead. Omin is said to be looking as sad as he was at the start.
- Draco Lich: Towards the end of Ark of the Mad Mage, the party runs into a skeletal dragon, prompting Scott to ask Jerry "What is a dracolich, by the way?" Jerry's reaction: "That is a draco-fucking-lich, yes." It turns out to be just a reanimated dragon, not an actual D&D dracolich, however.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original podcast series (a.k.a. season 1) was recorded to help teach players about 4th Edition rather than purely for entertainment value. Wil/Aeofel wasn't with the party yet, the others were still learning the rules and feeling out their characters, and the second half of 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 Aeofel is fey, how they have a "don't ask don't tell" policy, or how Aeofel is a pretty boy. Wheaton (Aeofel's player) for his part embraces and defends the trope.Chris: You want the Elf [figurine] that looks like a girl?
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.
- Epic Fail:
Mike: Oh my fucking god! Punch him in the dickhole! Get your dick out! Get your dick out, and you [Wil] punch him in it! What the fuck is wrong with you?! God!! Is that a zero, what is that, it's just a picture! You did it twice in a row! You are the worst D&D player ever!
- In Season 2, a string of bad rolls by Jerry culminates during the final battle. With half the party knocked out and their backs against the wall, Omin breaks out a desperation Encounter Power to finish off the Big Bad... and rolls a natural 1. Aeofel uses his Divine Intervention power to grant him a re-roll... and Jerry rolls another natural 1.
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 season 5:
Wil: Is he dead?
- In season 6, Omin rolls a 1 on his very first roll while the others roll well into the double digits. That roll being a Constitution save.
Chris: No, he's just very, very unconscious. Possibly for the rest of the show.
- Fantastic Racism: Parodied when Viari's sword breaks.Viara: Friend dwarf, do you have any forge tools? Not to be racist here, but your people carry, like, forge tools around, right?
- Evil Brit: Downplayed with Ray of Thay, The Fixer of the Baldur's Gate chapter. His British accent is more of a reference to Q from the James Bond movies, but he is also a lich (read, an evil undead necromancer who made terrible sacrifices to achieve immortality) and delights in inventing all sorts of murderous mechanisms and contraptions. Given how helpful his usual demeanor is, however, he is Affably Evil, at his worst.
- Expy: The two wisecracking gargoyles in season 9 finale are essentially fantasy counterparts of Statler and Waldorf.I bet the thief goes down in the fourth round!
Hah! On whom?!
- Film Noir: Parodied when Omin is aimlessly wandering through the city searching for a way to get his powers back.
- Five-Man Band: In season 8, the party size is bumped up to five for the first time: Omin is The Leader of the mastermind variety; The Lancer's role goes to Viari, who is, in many ways, the opposite of Omin; Binwin, as the token brawler, is The Big Guy; Jim is The Smart Guy (Statistically Speaking); and Môrgæn is The Chick, being the Token Girl of the series, who, in a subversion, is a sociopath rather than The Face.
- The Fixer: The Baldur's Gate chapter has a freaking lich as their resident Gadgeteer Genius and The Engineer.
- Foreshadowing: The very first time Viari is about to attack with the Apocalypse Dagger, he jokes about it probably taking his arm off...
- Former Friends Photo: In season 10, the party finds a photo of Jim and his "buddy" Roger back in magical school. Roger being the guy who murders Jim on his 40th birthday (though he gets better).
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- If you stop the season 8 episode 2 intro when K'thriss selects from the chapter menu, you'll see season 6 conspicuously absent from the list—which may have something to do with it being titled "The Lost Episode"...
- The season 10 intro has a picture of Aeofel under a Missing column in a newspaper Binwin is reading.
- Freudian Excuse: Invoked but ultimately averted in season 4, when Jerry inquires about what Chris' childhood was like after some particularly unsettling encounter descriptions. Chris just chuckles, though.
- Freudian Slip: Played with during The Series Part Two, as Chris keeps mistakenly referring to the Dran Enterprises mooks as Zhentarim, the Part One bad guys. After doing this one too many times he tries to clarify that he's just screwing up and they really aren't secretly Zhentarim, but the other players say that at this point they might as well go with it.
- 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."
- Germanic Efficiency/Germanic Depressives: A German-accented dwarf serves as a taciturn but effective chief of security of the Baldur's Gate chapter of Acquisitions Inc. in season 9. Scott also invokes Germanic Efficiency when he imagines said dwarf sitting with Binwin in the beholder tank, going "Now you're going to see ze superiority of our German technology!"
- 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.
- Has a Type: Môrgæn jokes about Brath the Dragon Cultist having a type after Vandal relates seeing him with a woman who looked slightly like Môrgæn shortly before he tried "courting" her. Of course, Brath was just trying to lure her away from the others and kill her, and the woman was his fellow dragon cultist.
- Heel Realization: Scott/Binwin has a minor one in Season 5 after Jim and Aeofel act like complete assholes during the mourning of Jim's deceased grandfather.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Splug the Goblin comes to save the party towards the end of season 1 and goes down defending them. He bleeds out when Omin has to make a choice between saving him or Binwin.
- 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.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In season 9, a beholder uses his anti-magic eye to make the Acquisitions Inc.'s floating beholder tank fall down and crush Viari—only for Jim (by sheer luck) to switch Viari and the beholder's positions, crushing the beholder instead.
- 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.
- Hurricane of Puns: All the "fey" jokes in season 5.Scott: This isn't the first time I have double-teamed someone with a fey.
- Implied Death Threat: Viari delivers a very elaborately veiled one in season 9:"What could we do for you that wouldn't necessitate you having to replace many skilled and expensive employees? Because that is about to happen."
- Insult Backfire : After Chris grants Viari Inspiration for an awesome performance, Scott quips "Now he can finally finish that novel!" Pat likes that joke so much, however, he doesn't take any offense.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Kind of. In season 6, Jim theorizes that the party is in his mom and dad's basement when they find themselves bound to an evil ancient altar upon which thousands of people have been sacrificed. It's only when they notice that their bindings are made of sinew that Jim begins to suspect that this may not be his old folks' cellar. It would seem the Darkmagics are cool with human sacrifices, as long as they're kept classy.
- I Think You Broke Him: In season 6, when Scott starts singing the theme song of Binwin's greataxe, Chris cannot contain his laughter and takes two attempts to return to the table and resume DMing, prompting Mike to quip that Scott "broke the Dungeon Master". Something similar (sans the lampshade) happens in season 7, when Pat acts out a Man on Fire after Jim drops a fireball on Viari.
- 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".
- Just in Time: Throughout the first half of season 9, Pat agonizes over not making a single good pun while the other players seem to crank them out left and right, until he finally gets his one—literally 30 seconds before the end of the game.
- Kiss of Death: Jim instantly bites the dust when he brazenly kisses the succubus that the party encounters in "Ark of the Mad Mage".
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: After Jim summons a magmabeast, Aeofel becomes a beacon of Malora's might, and Omin declines to attack because he wants to save his abilities for stronger enemies, Scott complains that Binwin's daily powers are still just "hit things with hammer". He then goes on to finish off the boss they're fighting — with a hammer blow.
- Literal Metaphor: In season 6, the DM repeatedly describes Danielle's movements in terms normally used to describe Spiders. Wil even calls him out on this:Wil: I'm just saying, you are making very suspicious choices of words... sir!
Chris: You take an extra two points of acid damage.
- Lock and Load Montage: An extended one in "Playing With Fire". Having just learned that they'll be attacked by a squad of mercenaries, Omin and the rest of the party tour the chapterhouse, meet their new allies and load up on cool gear with which to fight.
- Mobile Maze: The Baldur's Gate chapterhouse of Acquisitions Incorporated was built in a wizard's dungeon, in which the rooms can be shifted about of a square grid. However, the party are able to control the shifting and move the rooms wherever they like, which they use to their advantage during the battle.
- Monty Haul: Chris seems to have had a soft spot for Viari, often letting him get away with rule-lawyering and creative interpretations, especially in season 8. The trend seems to have reversed in season 9, however, where Viari instead became his favorite Butt Monkey, between having his pockets picked by a drider (doubly insulting, as pickpocketing has been V's shtick until then), and being nearly crushed to death by the beholder tank.
- Mood Whiplash: Not unusual for a tabletop roleplay group. A good example is at the end of Season 11 Part 1, where the party has just acquired Whelm the sentient hammer as a birthday gift for Omin and Viari (depressed about having left an NPC to fight some Ifreeti without him) is comically drunk, and Omin suddenly recieves a sending from Flabberghast.Flabberghast: Your sisters... are dead.
[The table goes quiet]
Some guy in the crowd: Happy birthday!
Pat/Viari: [resumes sadly miming/playing the lute] Pling. Pling.
- Mundane Utility: The first time Jim, a mighty wizard capable of great magical feats, uses magic in season 3. What does he do? He closes a door dramatically.Mike: I'm gonna turn that daily over.
- Mushroom Samba: Invoked by the players upon descending into Underdark in their beholder tank.Chris: There are small creatures hiding behind the mushrooms and the rock formations...
Scott: ...and they are high as fuck!
Jerry: They are seeing some shit... Here is the reality: They're tripping hard, they're tripping balls... and then a huge laser skull comes in. We need to have some sympathy for these creatures... I get on the horn, like, "It's cool. It's gonna be fine."
- My Future Self and Me: Discussed when the party begins to wonder why people always emphasize how much Auspicia looks like an older Omin. They agree that weird logical leaps like "maybe she's my sex-changed future self" are an occupational hazard for nerds.
- Mystical White Hair: Olivia Darkmagic has prematurely silvery-grey hair in her early twenties. The reasons for this are never explained, but she is a wizard of the Darkmagic family.
- Mythology Gag: The giant demon statue in season 6 is a spitting image of the one depicted on the cover of the original AD&D Player's Handbook◊ (as well as on the Hackmaster PHB).
- Never Split the Party: In season 3, Aeofel leaves the rest of the party behind and is promptly killed by an acid pit trap.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: The season 10 intro has several supporting cast members play an 80s pop rock number, during which Viari completely steals the spotlight with his e-guitar solo from Morgaen (bass), Dead Jeff (drums), K'thriss Drow'b (electric lute), and the rest. Jim immediately lampshades it.
- Obviously Evil: Pathos Gloomblight from season 10 is so obviously evil, even the Super Gullible Binwin sees right through it—yet Jim, being the Horrible Judge of Character he is, happily invites him to his birthday party. Pathos, a.k.a. Roger, is, of course, Jim's murderer, too.
- Once per Episode: For a while after season 3, every session has had someone fall in (and in several cases die from) a pit of acid.
- One-Hit Kill: In the "Ark of the Mad Mage" podcast, the party encounter a succubus, who kills Jim Darkmagic with a single attack. Mind you, she was only able to do it because Jim kissed her.
- One-Liner Echo: During the battle with the Ambershard's gatekeeper both sides go all out with taunts and one-liners, especially between Jim and their foe.Dwarf: First rule of combat: wizard dies first!
Jim: I'm not a wizard, I'm an entertainer, sir!
Dwarf: How's your death scenes?Then later on when the guardian's beloved mount has bitten the dust.Jim: How's your death scene?
- Organ Theft: Jokingly used when Omin gets saved by a temple priest."We had to remove your liver."
- Packaged as Other Medium: The intro to the second half of season 8 is presented In the Style of... SNES-era Final Fantasy games, complete with 16-bit pixel graphics, white-on-blue menus, Overworld Not to Scale, 2D side view battles, and even a Kill Screen towards the end.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: Most of the Darkmagic clan in season 5.
- Player Archetypes: Among the original core cast, Jerry is The Roleplayer (of the Brains subcategory), Scott is The Real Man (or at least plays Binwin this way), and Mike is The Loonie (helped by his very late entry into D&D). Wil sat somewhere between the Real Man and the Thespian, while Pat is a Roleplayer much like Jerry, which explains the two of them being so hand-in-glove all the time. It's difficult to say after just three games which archetype Morgan falls under, but Chris, judging by his decision to play Drizzt in his only outing as a player, is probably just a plain ol' Munchkin (to his defense, he does role-play Drizzt very authentically).
- 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."
- Powered Armor: The party discovers two magical sets of these in the Baldur's Gate chapterhouse in "Playing With Fire". One is an Iron Man-esque model that fires beams from its hands. The other is a freaking Beholder, with all its abilities.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
- 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.
- Used by Binwin after the villain pulls a Who Are You? before the final encounter of the second season.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
- The first test at the ISTAR Facility in season 10 is a contest between participating interns of who can deliver the coolest catch phrase before dropping an enemy.
- Scott comes up with one retroactively for a Frost Giant who downed Viari by throwing a giant ice chair at him:Have a seat!
- 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.
- Pun: As befits a role-playing table, puns comprise about a third of this show's humor. Perhaps the best one comes courtesy of Pat in season 7:Omin: I'm gonna part the illusory fronds [and peer out of the room].
[some time later, while the party is still exploring the illusory forest]
Viari (to Omin): You called me an "illusionary frond" before, and it kinda hurt my feelings.
Omin: Well, no...
Viari: I thought we were real fronds.
Omin: This is about frondship? Frondship is magic?
- Puzzle Boss: Drizzt Do'Urden is way above the party's collective paygrade in season 9, so they instead "defeat" him by casting a simple level 1 cleric spell, Protection from Evil, to break the evil force's mind control over him.
- 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.
- Retcon: In season 8 of the show, it's Portentia who went through a dungeon and vanished. In season 10, it was Auspicia.
- Rule of Cool:
- Basically invoked by Omin in season 9 part 2, when he describes the sheer awesome of the beholder tank hurtling through the Underdark with a drider sitting on top of it and svirfneblin hanging off each of its eye-stalks, while "Born to Be Wild" is playing. Too bad they are attacked immediately thereafter and don't actually get to make this happen.
- Notably, Viari's entire fighting style relies on this to justify such things as conveniently placed chandeliers and sneak attack opportunities for combat advantage and massive damage. It helps that Chris really digs Rothfuss' deliveries.
- 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 season 5, every time Jim Darkmagic's cousin Olivia makes a comment, Mike mutters "Shut up Olivia."
- Everything to do with Aeofel'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.
- Ever since Pat joined the team, someone makes a joke pertaining to slow writing at least once per season at his expense. Ironically, that "someone" is usually Scott, who has a well-known propensity for Schedule Slip...
- Chris using some arbitrary word like "several" or "contingent" to describe the number of guard NPCs present, and Pat immediately asking him to specify how many there are in case a fight breaks out. Also, are there any chandeliers in this room?
- 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.
- Secret Test of Thieving Skill: Viari manages to secure The Intern's position for himself (where many other applicants died during tests) by pretending to show a card trick to the world-famous Master of Illusion Jim Darkmagic and picking Jim's credit card from his pockets while he's distracted.
- Sequel Hook: Set up early in season 8, even before the season's actual adventure is set up. Omin receives a letter from the Baldur's Gate chapter of Acquisitions Inc. asking him to mediate with the local authorities, so that season's adventure is essentially a detour. The Baldur's Gate story is the focus of "Playing With Fire".
- 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: It's a table-full of geeks, remember?
- The Siege: "Playing With Fire". When Omin rebuffs the Flaming Fist's first attempt at seizing Acquisitions Incorporated's Baldur's Gate chapterhouse, they come back in force, and with fire elementals to boot.
- Signed Up for the Dental: In season 9, Viari remarks that for all its flaws, AcqInc has an exceptional health care policy (mainly because Omin is a cleric).
- Simple Score of Sadness: Starts playing when the season 8 preview explains how the party has lost Viari.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Live Games can quickly turn into this. An example from Season 6:Chris: And Snarl, you know [Points at Mike], is mute.
Mike: Can't talk.
Chris: That's what "mute" means.
Wil: I can't believe the Darkmagics can't afford the kinda mute that talks.
Scott: That would be a pretty shitty mute.
- Something Completely Different: The first game of season 10 was composed of two mini-adventures DM'd by Mike and Patrick. In the meantime, Chris became a player himself.
- Sound Effect Bleep: Only once during the entire series, which is otherwise uncensored. It was in Season 1, and it was from Scott. What was bleeped is up to debate, but it was likely a case of Country Matters.
- Storming the Castle: Inverted in season 9, where the heroes start off defending their castle against a massive invading force of mercenaries and fire elementals.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Omin's sisters look very much like him in the animated sequences, right down to the way they dress.
- Stylistic Suck: Word of God (i.e. of Jerry) is that the official AcqInc website design is very consciously of the Web 1.0 era to "evoke a very specific corporate hell".
- Surfer Dude: Rad Longhammer. You can't really tell from his accent that he was adopted and raised by dwarven nobles.Rad: That would be totally rad! Oh, by the way, that's my name: Rad.
- Surprise Incest: "The Last Will and Testament of Jim Darkmagic I", Jim's cousin Olivia wistfully reminisces about how they "used to kiss in [Jim's] bedroom closet". Later, Jim's aunt Wanda reveals that Olivia isn't his cousin — she's his sister. So technically it's "Surprise Even More Incest".
- Tangled Family Tree: The Darkmagics have an official one◊, which doesn't actually reflect the true messed-up nature of the family, however, which is revealed throughout season 5.
- Take That!: In season 6, Aeofel finds hole in the backside of a giant demonic statue:Chris: It seems to be some sort of anus.
Will: Is it a living anus or the platonic ideal of an anus? Is it Mitt Romney in there?
Mike: Oh, he took it political!
- A Taste of Power: Season 5, the last one to have been played under 4E, saw the party skip a lot of levels all the way to level 10, before bumping them back down in season 6, so they have only just reached level 9 again by season 11.
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Chris gives one to Patrick in part 2 of season 9, when Danielle the Drider manages to pick his (and Binwin's, for a good measure) pockets while pretending to hug them out of joy (after a similar incident happened in part 1 with Viari doing the pickpocketing), and it takes Viari a full ten minutes to remember to check his gear. Not to be outdone, however, Viari then bluffs her into returning what she stole back to him.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: The Tryout videos preceding season 7, wherein Omin, Jim, and Binwin interview candidates to take Aeofel's place in the party in their next adventure. There's a few Expys of well-known characters.
- That's What She Said: The joke is used on multiple occasions, usually courtesy of Wil. In particular, it's used twice in season 6, in response to Chris describing the party's current situation as a "tight fit", and then much later, by Chris himself, in response to Aeofel's "It's a pleasure to open for you, Sir" (after Jim tops his acrobatic stunt with a natural 20).
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After Viari drops a chandelier onto the last batch of bad guys in season 7, Chris lets him roll all of his dice at once to determine the damage it does to them, knowing full well that they won't survive this. He probably did it because the game was running late and they still had the True Final Boss to beat...
- Thicker Than Water: The respective relatives of all three founding 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. Viari's Amazingly Embarrassing Parents, meanwhile, provide much of the humor in the Holiday Special.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Aeofel's memories of Hell during the trip to the Darkmagic Estate in season 5.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 season 4 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 Soon: At the 2012 PAX session, an audience member warns the group to "watch out for acid pits", which prompts many utterances of this from the group , as well as a middle finger from Wil, whose character died in an acid pit a few games prior. This, of course, proves to be prophetic as they are immeiately revealed to have triggered the appearance of an acid pit beneath their feet.
- 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.
- Total Party Kill:
- Happens in season 1, when the party first encounters the Orcus cultists. Luckily, it proves to be a Hopeless Boss Fight rigged against them, as they soon wake up on an altar where the cultists plan to ritually sacrifice them, and the fight resumes with (slightly) evened odds.
- Narrowly averted in season 8, when another batch of cultists nearly wipes the party out in an attempt to scare them away from Dragonspear Castle (they fail). There are strong indications that that battle was also rigged against them from the start.
- In Chris's words, "technically" happens in The Series Part 2, thanks to the combined efforts of Isohedrus the dragon and an apparently post-Face–Heel Turn returning Aeofel. The entire party are out of hit points for about half a round before Viari rolls a natural 20 on his saving throw to stabilise, bringing him back up to 1.
- Trash Talk: Party members usually throw around enough insults and humiliations among themselves, but Chris really steps up his game in season 9 with the Gargoyles (whose jabs are mostly aimed at Viari, though).
- Turn Undead: Used by Omin in the climax of season 5 to thin out the ranks of burger zombies. Lampooned immediately by Jim, who assumes that "turn undead" means Omin transforms into an undead monster.
- Unknown Rival: The Series reveals that Dran Enterprises have their own Darkmagic wizard, upsetting Jim a lot. He then finds out that it's his cousin Percival from season 5, whom he doesn't even remember.
- Utility Party Member: Played with throughout the seasons. After running into a couple nasty traps early on, Omin loudly contemplates adding a rogue to the party next—but their next hire is an Avenger, however (who has the worst luck with traps overall). Eventually, the token rogue Viari does take over Aeofel's party slot—but thanks to the new 5E rules, he more than pulls his weight in combat (and traps haven't been as common since his debut, either).
- Wandering Minstrel: In season 5, Paul and Storm, as "the Minstrels", performed the season's theme songs.
- Was Once a Man: In season 9, Danielle the Drow has been transformed into a drider by the time she meets the party again.
- Weapon Wields You:
- Briefly happens to Aeofel, when he picks up a cursed sword in season 6 and loses the battle of wills against it. Luckily, he manages to regain control and get rid of it before it causes any real damage.
- Season 11 introduces Whelm, a sentient warhammer that really wants to be owned by a dwarf and is willing to take over the minds of non-dwarves in order to achieve its goals. Omin eventually manages to snap its current host out of it and strike a deal with Whelm itself in order to safely take it with them.
- We Can Rule Together: Invoked by the raven in Ark of the Mad Mage.Jim: When you say that you and I can have all the treasure, what do you mean?
Invisible Fiendish Raven: Halaster's treasure! It's in his ark! Need the orb!
Jim: (Takes the raven in his hands) You and I could have all of the treasure.
Invisible Fiendish Raven: Yep! You and I!
Jim: 'Kay. You almost killed my friends.
Mike: ... and I cast Burning Hands.
- 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.
- "Part Two" of The Series. The party nearly suffers a TPK against a white dragon and are forced to retreat, Binwin is dead, and the masked man that's betrayed them is Aeofel.
- Wham Line:
- When Omin steps into a magical portal which requires the user to speak their deepest, darkest secret as an activation passcode (after the rest of the group has already gone through)... and reveals the existence of his long lost sister:Omin: She went into a dungeon one time when I was very young. I didn't follow after her. I stayed outside and she never came out.
- 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.
- "And on the deck of the ship, you see a familiar face..." And the entire theater falls silent.
- In the final episode of The Series Part 2, the masked figure the group knew as "Kylo Ren" whispers to Viari as he runs him through:Kylo: " How does a "19" work for you?"
- At the end of season 11 the party is already in the middle of a Downer Ending when Omin receives a message from Flabberghast 'Both your sisters are dead.'Jerry: You cannot leave it there!
- When Omin steps into a magical portal which requires the user to speak their deepest, darkest secret as an activation passcode (after the rest of the group has already gone through)... and reveals the existence of his long lost sister:
Oh my God, you're horrible at this game!