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Podcast / Acquisitions Incorporated

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"Once again, the time has come for four heroes to straddle the throbbing heart... of danger!"
Introduction to "The Lost Episode"

Acquisitions Incorporated is a Dungeons & Dragons party starring in a series of online Actual Play adventures since 2008, originally in podcast format but nowadays mainly in live shows that are 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 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. In late 2018, Chris Perkins stepped down as AcqInc's Dungeon Master and handed the reigns to fellow WotC producernote  Jeremy Crawford.

The series began as podcasts, available for Archive Trawling at the official WotC website, before transitioning to live events at Penny Arcade Expos 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 and timeline pages. For a behind-the-scenes look into the AcqInc history, check out this interview with Chris Perkins (be warned, however, that it spoils elements from pretty much every game during his entire tenure).

In 2022, Penny Arcade announced that they were concluding the original run of Acquisitions Incorporated, but that a "Series II" was in the works. In March 2023, a Kickstarter was launched for "Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series 2," a ten-episode video series commemorating Acq Inc's 15th anniversary.

Related media include:

  • Acquisitions Incorporated: The "C" Team is a spinoff series featuring Trystan Falcone, Kate Welch, Kris Straub, and Ryan Hartman, DM'd by Jerry and presented in association with Hyper RPG. The show ran on the HyperRPG channel for four seasons, from March 2017 to November 2021.
  • Table Titans is a spin-off of Kurtz' webcomic PvP that features a tabletop group; and Val's character in Season 2 is Binwin's niece Valeria Bronzebottom.
  • Binwin's Minions is a further spin-off of Table Titans, featuring Binwin starting his own adventuring group after leaving AcqInc.
  • The Force Grey: Giant Hunters campaign finale tied in with the AcqInc PAX West 2016 live game, taking place at Stratovar's castle right after Omin's party leaves.
  • Dice, Camera, Action!, also DMed by Chris, lent out its party members Strix (played by Holly Conrad) and Evelyn (Anna Prosser) to AcqInc a few times. In turn, Omin and Binwin have appeared in their show. The entire party from this show ("the Waffle Crew") also participated in a full crossover with the "C" Team which was dubbed "Waffles Inc." After DCA was cancelled in 2019, Evelyn joined the "C" Team permanently fourth its last season and both she and Strix became regular members of the main show.
  • 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).
  • Neverwinter, meanwhile, got its own AcqInc-themed Expansion Pack, titled The Heart of Fire, in 2018.
  • Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms includes both the main and "C" teams among its character roster. (It also includes other characters that have appeared in AI, Binwin and the Waffle Crew, as tie-ins for Binwin's Minions and Dice, Camera, Action! respectively.)
  • Acquisitions Incorporated received its own official D&D Sourcebook in 2019.
  • The tabletop game Clank! released an AI-themed Legacy version.

Acquisitions Incorporated provides examples of:

  • 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.
      Binwin: Huh?
      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...
    • In Season 12, the rest of the party is discussing how Omin has screwed all of them over when his crush Evelyn comments, "I just want to point out that I've never been screwed by Omin."
  • Actor Allusion: During the Previously on… bit of the PAX 2010 live show, Scott Kurtz refers to Wil Wheaton's character, Aeofel the intern, as "the redshirt".
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Season 7 gave us the gem "You bluntly bash her bark-covered body".
  • Adventure Guild: While AqcInc started as a single party, with the start of The 'C' Team and subsequent reveal of at least two other "Franchises" (Read: Parties) promotes them to a full-fledged Adventuring Guild.
  • 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 Just a Dream: The "C" Team has a Running Gag-slash-Paranoia Fuel bit that the party has never actually left Jim's illusory world wherein they had been trapped for the first three episodes of the show, and so all of their adventures since then have just been an epic dream.
  • 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.
  • Animated Armor: One of the servants in Jim Darkmagic's ancestral home is a suit of animated armor.
  • Answer to Prayers: At the climax of season 7, Omin, a priest of the goddess Tymora, has second thoughts about piloting a giant magical mech and decides to pray to his deity for a sign of guidance. Not just a mere sign, Tymora takes his call directly and tells him in no ambiguous terms to get into the mech so he can "fight the kaiju" a.k.a. the Tarrasque.
  • 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.
  • The Assimilator: The myconid colony wastes no time incorporating the "C" Team into is consciousness. Granted, the players plug themselves in voluntarily, and are released after they help the colony defend against some attackers from Underdark. The overall experience is actually surprisingly nice for the team, so much so that some of them even begin voluntarily using the colony's catch phrase (without any explicit prompting from Jerry, who is very happy about it):
    "We are joy."
  • 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.
    • During "How Not To Host A Murder", Jim is killed and his soul is sucked into a gemstone. At the end of this and into "ISTAR Facilities" immediately afterward, the players joke about how the soul (and the gemstone) had to be, ah, forcibly reinserted into Jim's body.
    • 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.
    • The "C" Team has Twitch chat members, referred to as "the Shadow Council", send "bits" and hashtags to earn the use of advantages for the players; and they're also polled to determine aspects of the game itself (such as which choice of two enemy types the players will fight in a later encounter). In exchange for their support and donations, the subscribing members of the Shadow Council are rewarded with varying boons themselves (e.g. gift certificates from show sponsors) any time the players roll a Natural 20.
    • Jeremy Crawford has the A team encounter a Circus of Fear, where the audience raucously cheers on the carnage and mayhem, and encourages the PAX audience in attendance to play that audience themselves. The entire audience of the live show chanting "BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!" in unison was quite affecting. The audience has kept up the Crowd Chant at following games, and will chant other words as appropriate (like "CHEESE! CHEESE! CHEESE!" when cheering on Bobby).
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: At the end of "Ark of the Mad Mage", Omin is made a Masked Lord of Waterdeep.
  • Baby Morph Episode:
    • At the first PAX Unplugged game, a stray curse by the nine Trickster Gods of Ommu turns Omin, Jim, and Viari into the 8 years-old versions of themselves for the rest of the episode and into the following PAX South game. Rosie, being as old as she is, is mostly unaffected by the curse (simply going from really old to just very old).
    • "The Omindalorian" is also one, as it's a knockoff of The Mandalorian with Jim in the role of the Child thanks to some unspecified magical mishap.
  • 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.
  • 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? is a spineless gasbag, and the other is a flumph!
  • 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."
  • Blofeld Ploy: Pulled off by Rosie (on Chris' suggestion) against the last two Red Wizards, when Omin tells her to murder one of them (both are helpless, but he wants to interrogate one), but lets her pick which. After some deliberation, she approaches the one that attacked the party unprovoked earlier, then strikes and kill the other one in the last second, saying that death is too good for the first one.
  • Boastful Rap: The "C" Team intro song has lines like:
    They see you bleed, they come like sharks to it
    While I swim in that money bin like Carl Barks drew it
    So send your National Parks druid,
    I'll send them home in a natural box, with a closed top and most of the parts included!
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Never used in-game, but Jerry believes that all adventures should conclude with...
    "You look up. It is a mouth."
    • The PAX South 2017 game ends with an NPC, Amander Deadrose, holding off two fire Ifreet while AcqInc takes Whelm the warhammer to safety. None of the team is happy about leaving her to her probable death, with Pat/Viari being the most broken up about it; and this is used as the excuse why he doesn't take part in the following PAX East game.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • After Viari is (almost) crushed to death by the falling Beholder tank in season 9, one of the gargoyles quips:
    "For a musician, he sounds kind of flat!"
    • And later on in The Series Part 1, he gets one of his own:
    "How'd you like that on my resumé!"
    • 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 catchphrase is "Jim winks", but Wil occasionally borrows it for Aeofel, usually directed at Jim himself.
  • Breaking In Old Habits:
    DM: When the rod touches [the remains of] your arm, you grow a new arm.
    Mike: What!? Does it look like his old arm?
    DM: ...Nah.
    Scott/Binwin: Viari — jerk off with that tonight. I bet it feels different.
    Pat: [singing] Feels like the fiiirst time...
  • 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, when yelling for the French-speaking Danielle to find the switch that controls the acid trap in Ep 6.
    Omin: S'il vous plait!
    • 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.
    Binwin: Oooh, it's Drizzt O'Durden... Dontcha 'now? With my twin shillelaghs!
    • 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.
  • Bus Crash: During the PAX West 2018 show, Strix passes along the information that Binwin has died, which happened over in Dice, Camera, Action! some time after he left Acquisitions, Inc.
  • 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 "C" Team has a lot of callbacks to the original series, given how the entire campaign seems to have grown out of Jerry's desire to apply realistic consequences to the improvised comedy he and the others have created on-stage. Perhaps one of the most obscure call-backs was the cask of trippy Zaggernezzar beer the party receives in "Last Stone's Day", which is a callback to the 2016 Christmas Special, which is the only non-free installment of AcqInc so far, drastically reducing the number of people who have watched it.
  • 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: Given how the party goes by Acquisitions, getting expensive stuff out of secure places is their nominal business. In reality, they have a rather mixed record:
    • Their first proper heist had been in "The Ambershard Manor", where their main goal had been to acquire a piece of magical armor (as well as to screw over Binwin's ancestral enemies). They did get the armor, but lost Aoefel to an acid pit.
    • 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. This one goes surprisingly well, despite multiple complications.
    • In season 12, Jarlaxle hires the party to break into the bank vault of a devil-worshiping cult, which goes very, very awry "thanks" to both Viari and Jim's antics.
  • 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.
  • Cardboard Box of Unemployment: Played for Laughs in season 10, where the Bad Boss Omin learns that one of his underlings unwittingly assisted in Viari pulling a fast one on him. Omin has this to say to his (now ex-)employee:
    Omin: Put everything you like and care about in a box, and when I come back, we will talk about what happens to the box.
  • Character Overlap: Strix from Dice, Camera, Action! has become a regular member of the AI games. She's less of an intern and more of a consultant. Evelyn, also from DCA, got caught up in the team's adventure in Ravnica.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Near the beginning of one adventure, the team arrive at the mansion they've been summoned to just as a puzzled butler is taking delivery of a large shipment of hamburger meat that nobody remembers ordering. This gets written off as just part of the general chaos engulfing the mansion and forgotten about until near the end of the session, when it's revealed that the shipment was sent by the adventure's big bad, a necromancer, and consists of the minced remains of four minotaur minions which are then reanimated and set against the heroes.
  • 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Omin is completely mercenary and will even throw his party members under the bus in the name of profit. When one of his victims tries to get the party to turn on him in Season 12 for exactly this reason, Viari's only defense is that Omin only betrays him in certain ways and that it's rather comforting to know what to expect in that regard.
    Jim: The fact of the matter is, I think everybody at this show has been screwed by Omin, and you're the only one making it weird!
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • Jerry is fond of ending episodes of The "C" Team this way, usually eliciting cries of protest from Amy and Kate.
    • Once he took over the DM position, Jeremy usually ends his games on cliffhangers.
  • Content Warnings: Most published recordings of 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 "C" Team streams and 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 The Series 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. The "C" Team is also continuity-heavy, as Jerry has stated it was made with the intention to explore his own AI headcanon.
  • 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 Versus 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. Omin even gives Jim an AcqInc-themed butt brand!
  • Critical Failure:
    • 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.
    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 5:
    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 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.
    Wil: Is he dead?
    Chris: No, he's just very, very unconscious. Possibly for the rest of the show.
    • In the PAX East game of Season 11, Kris makes his very first roll after trying to get on the show for years... and he critical fails, meaning his character goes insane.
    Chris: Welcome to Acquisitions Inc.!
  • 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.
  • 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. Subverted in Season 11, where anyone who had come back from death (in this case, Jim) is now suffering a necrotic curse and the team is tasked with resolving it.
  • Deconstructed Trope: A big part of The "C" Team spin-off series seems to be applying reality checks to the Heroic Comedic Sociopathy of the "A" Team, e.g. many of the NPC deaths that were brushed off or even Played for Laughs in the main series, from Splug to Jeff, come back to haunt Acquisitions Incorporated in some way.
  • 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.
  • De-power: The age-reducing curse in the first Unplugged live game has a nasty side effect of dramatically dropping the afflicted party members' damage output and, more importantly, their maximum HP, meaning that a single regular magic missile instantly brings all of them down.
  • Died on Their Birthday: In Season 10, the party is invited to Jim Darkmagic's 40th birthday party, where he plans to host a fake murder investigation with himself as a victim. However, he is actually murdered by one of the guests. This being Dungeons & Dragons, he is raised from the dead by the end of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: 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 immediately revealed to have triggered the appearance of an acid pit beneath their feet.
  • 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: Hey Wil, do you want the Elf [figurine] that looks like a girl, or the Eladrin that looks like a girl?
    Wheaton: I want the— 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the PAX West 2018 game, after Omin coldly denies the Jim Clone he created and consigns Clone-Jim to an eternity of torment in the Nine Hells the Pit Fiend (an immensely powerful devil) who is officiating the proceedings can only remark "Damn".
  • 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 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.
    • 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?!
  • Extra-Long Episode: The season 9 finale is over an hour longer than the previous live games had been (3 hours instead of regular 2), probably because the organizers realized that they have run late every time. Before that, the season 8 finale had been 30 minutes longer than the usual episodes, but it wasn't planned to run that long (and was more than likely the final straw that led to the AcqInc regular time slot at PAX being officially extended).
  • Fake-Out Opening: Each episode of the The Series opens with a wonderful spoof on 80's saturday morning cartoons that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual plot of the show.
    On a planet, between time. Three foes, now friends, join forces to battle Arch-Thrall Molbin and his weird snake guys. Now that he's gone they watch over the world of Benetar using the Dragonite Amulets, each granting a different aspect, of a dragon.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Parodied when Viari's sword breaks.
    Viari: 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...
    • In The "C" Team, dragonborn Donaar Blit'zen is frequently dismissive of non-dragons.
    • Donaar himself is looked down on by other dragonborn clans for reasons not yet specified.
  • Film Noir: Parodied when Omin is aimlessly wandering through the city searching for a way to get his powers back.
  • 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).
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: 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.
  • 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 (they don't).
  • 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!"
  • The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: Halfway during the Battlegrounds game, Pat realizes that guest DM Mike stacked the game with Dexterity checks in order to screw over Omin (who has a -1 in that stat), since in-universe Jim is currently mad at Omin and running the event to get back at him. Mike is also fairly blatant about how he always places the safe zones as far away from the players as possible.
  • 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."
  • In Medias Res: The Star Wars game at PAX Australia begins with the team already confronted and captured by a rival smuggler crew. Mike, as the GM, taunts Jerry that this probably wasn't how he expected things to go.
  • 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.
  • In the Style of: When Mike guest-GMs he usually twists the game into a homage of a popular video game. He's sent the C Team through a tabletop version of Mario Kart and the main party into Player Unknowns Battlegrounds.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At one point on the C-team, Donaar points out that the party has really just killed every threat they've come across so far and that they should probably begin seeking other solutions, despite him ostensibly being the least sympathetic member of the Red Larch franchise.
    Ryan: I don't know how I suddenly became the moral compass of the group.
  • 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.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Played straight and subverted in the PAX Unplugged 2017 adventure. Omin, Jim and Viari have all been turned into children, and their childhood phobias have returned - but they still have the minds of adults. This doesn't stop Jim and Viari from taking off their clothes, giggling at each other, and touching butts.
  • Microtransactions: Parodied during the Battlegrounds game, where Mike let the players buy chests for $5 of real money. Pat talked his way into buying an extra inventory slot.
  • 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.
  • Mondegreen Gag: The Call of Cthulhu game included closed-captioning displayed on a screen. During the reading of a suicide note, the transcriber misheard "porkhouse" as "whorehouse", which derailed the game for a few minutes when the players noticed.
  • 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 receives 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."
  • Musicalis Interruptus: The party passes Strix off as a wealthy patron in order to infiltrate an infernal bank at Pax West 2018, and the tiefling bank manager launches into a clearly carefully prepared introductory musical number. When Strix cheerfully announces that she has no money in the middle of the second verse, the tiefling abruptly cuts the song short for a Flat "What".
  • My Future Self and Me: Discussed when the party begins to wonder why people always emphasize how much Auspicia looks like an older Omin, and speculate that maybe she is 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).
  • Naked People Are Funny: Characters losing clothes for laughs is a fairly common occurrence, with Viari as the usual victim.
    Pat: Have we ever played a game where all my clothes stayed on? I'm not complaining, I'm just genuinely curious.
  • Never Split the Party: In season 3, Aeofel leaves the rest of the party behind and is promptly killed by an acid pit trap.
  • Never Trust a Title: The episode titled "Darkmagic vs. Do'Urden" doesn't actually feature a clash between Jim and Drizzt, as Mike steadfastly refuses to go within a line of sight of Drizzt, let alone attack him. The title was actually announced via the PAX site weeks ahead of the game, and the way it turned out is probably the main reason Chris abstained from giving most of his games official titles ever since.
  • 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.
  • N-Word Privileges: Trystan Falcone insists that they're allowed to do the comedy-Italian accent that distinguishes their weasel wildshape, but it would be racist coming from anyone else.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Invoked. The "C" Team, where the players have agreed to touch their temples whenever their characters confer with each other telepathically, as opposed to voicing their dialogue out loud. This happens at least Once per Episode, if not more often.
    Jerry/DM: There are a lot of things that make this the best campaign ever, but one of them in that you guys still have your fingers on your heads.
  • 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.
  • Off the Rails: During the "Paterfamilias" arc, Jerry was planning to cut Donaar's duel with the cultist leader short, so that the latter would become his recurring nemesis. Instead, Ryan powergamed the heck out of his character and unleashed so much whoopass (and completely consistently with Donaar's beliefs and motivations, to boot), that he killed his nemesis faster than Jerry could come up with a way to save him, forcing him to rewrite the Skolla plotline.
  • 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.
  • Passing the Torch: The transition from Chris Perkins to Jeremy Crawford as DM, which happened on-camera in the aptly-titled episode "The Old Switcheroo" in 2018.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    • Omin gives one to an annoying streamer in the Battlegrounds game:
      Listen, I can understand the desire, and the enthusiasm, to build a global brand. Let me show you how I did it.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: 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".
  • 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.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Late in 4E's run, the Wizards had made the decision to retire the Nentir Vale in favor of the Forgotten Realms as the main setting of 5E. Consequently, the entire dimension-hopping Darkmagic Mansion arc (seasons 5-6) had to be written in to justify this change of setting in the story.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The entire dinosaur race from the PAX West 2017 game. It's not really cheating if you say "Oops" when you do it.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: In "Doomsgate Inn", the "C" Team encounters Splug the Goblin, whom Omin left to bleed out to save Binwin back in season 1 of the original series, now apparently going by the name "Splugoth the Returned" and still really pissed at Omin for making that particular call.
  • Retcon:
    • In season 8 of the show, it's Portentia who went through a dungeon and vanished. In season 10, it was Auspicia. Then horrifyingly subverted when the "C" Team visited the dungeon itself — it's possible that neither of them came back. The two women Omin has seen as his family may not be his relatives at all, but monsters from the Shardling's Wandering Crypt.
    • In the early seasons, Omin was born and raised in the Nentir Vale, but post-5E, he is officially a native of the Dessarin Valley. Word of Jerry is literally that the "dark god Retcon" is to blame for this.
  • Retired Badass: Prophetess Dran, Omin's mother, is a level 9 paladin of Tymora, who is currently an innkeeper in Red Larch.
  • 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.
  • Rules Lawyer: Pat has a reputation for trying to argue some sort of favorable ruling out of Chris, and for usually being successful at it.
  • 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...invoked
    • 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?
    • At some point in The "C" Team, Jerry started prefacing his location descriptions with "Imagine, if you will, a dark X...", where "X" can stand for anything, from a lake to Applebee's. The players soon picked up on this and started coming up with outrageous "Xs" to insert at comically appropriate moments.
    • During Franchise Opportunities, every interaction between Donaar and K'thriss calls back to when the dragonborn noble accidentally ended up tipping a dirty and disoriented K'thriss.
    Donaar: [Bumping into K'thriss in a doorway]: Look dude, I already told you I don't got anymore money!
    • From the 2017 Twitch Con Special live game: Kate would like to remind everyone that she's playing a dog.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: During the 2017 PAX South game, Jerry identifies an NPC as a member of the Harpers, whom he calls a genuinely heroic group in the setting, "not like us!"
  • 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.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Jim and Strix always bicker and try to one-up one another when forced to work together. That said, it's not entirely without respect: during the PAX West 2018 game Jim is charmed but one way to break the spell is if the charmer tries to make the victim commit suicide. Mike reluctantly, but successfully, argues that "attacking Strix" qualifies as suicidal.
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: The "C" Team: Rosie Beestinger, an elderly halfling lady, is diminutive even by her species' standards. She had also enjoyed a very promiscuous lifestyle for most of her long life, so one of her many, many children is a giant half-orc(-half-halfling) named Driebus.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stable Time Loop: Thanks to strange non-linear magics within the "Wandering Crypt", The "C" Team were able to interact with a young Omin who promised to "remember them". Not only is the team released from the Crypt by a slightly older Omin who indeed remembered them, but once Omin grew up he made sure to arrange things so the "C" Team members would end up working together.
  • 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 a Third Option: When the rest of the party was forced to go through Viari's ISTAR intern proving grounds, one of the tests placed the party in a room full of items of varying value, and instructed them to place them in a bin, to see who could accumulate the most valuable treasure in the least time. Drizz't Do'Urden (Played by DM-On-Vacation Chris Perkins) immediatly declared that he had no less than FOUR priceless legendary artifacts on his person and simply got in the bin himself.
  • 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 Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: Discussed. The party suffers from some bad rolls when facing a single half-orc Zhent in a Bar Brawl at the beginning of an encounter. After they finally get rid of him, the main quest begins with a Technology Porny description of the magic hammer Whelm that the party is aiming to steal.
    Jerry: That would have been really handy with the half-orc, if we'd had that before.
    Morgan: The whole thing was a sales pitch for the hammer! "Ladies and gentlemen, if you had Whelm..."
    Jerry: It's like the black-and-white video part of those midnight commercials.
    DM: But Wait, There's More! [continues to describe the weapon's many qualities]
  • Torture for Fun and Information: In "Ark of the Mad Mage", a miniaturized 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.
  • Underequipped Charge: In season 4, Chris initially has Rad the Surfer Dude (who is stil shackled at his hands and feet, not to mention having just had Jim's Nightmare Eruption leveled at him) run and hide, but after recalling that Rad is a soldier, has him turn around and charge in the midst of four heavily armed duergar, then strangle one of them with the very chain around his wrists.
  • 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.
  • Untranslated Catchphrase: Aeofel's Oath of Vengeance is spoken in a fictional language invented by his player Wil Wheaton on the fly during his first session with the party. In later episodes, it becomes one of his catch-phrases, usually reserved for combat, meaning that it's spoken at least once every session, — but we never actually learn what it means.
  • 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).
    • Actually invoked during the "C" Team games - Jim has acquired a ridiculous number of non-combat spells because Mike thinks they're cool. It's how he hazes the new people: trapping them in a demiplane.
  • 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.
    • The "C" Team opens with one, as the party realizes that Jim has somehow trapped them in an alternate dimension.
    • Near the end of the "C" Team's first season, the party is suddenly confronted with the realization that the god Maelith, whom Walnut has been trained to hate for almost a hundred years, is actually just trapped inside an Outside God of unknown power, who is also K'thriss' patron, and is being drained of her divine power. For potentially thousands of years.
  • 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 "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!
    • In the "C" Team's adventure to the Underdark with Holly Conrad, there's one for fans of the old Planescape line when Omin summons Strix to the team's location... by using damned petitioners from Hell to rip her out of the ground. What was in her contract, exactly?
    • When the group is finally ready to go home from their trip to Ravnica, a bomb gets dropped in the last thirty seconds of the session (though the next game reveals that it's a case of Superdickery):
      Morgaen: [to Omin] By the name of House Dimir, you are not going anywhere.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Omin has still not invoked his contract with Elemental Evil, several years later.
    • The "C" Team has yet to resolve what happened to the metallic wires blocking the route from Skolla (Paterfamilias, Part 1) or what happened to the Alternate Universe version of Walnut (Anchors Aweigh, Part 4).
    • The fate of Omin's dead sisters, whose failed resurrection kicked off the Chult excursion in season 11, has not been addressed even after its conclusion (at least, not on the A-Team side; The "C" Team at least gave us The Reveal that the dead "Auspicia" has been an impostor all along).

Oh my God, you're horrible at this game!

Alternative Title(s): Penny Arcade Dungeons And Dragons Podcast