PAX is home to many console, PC and tabletop showcases, it is an amazing chance to get a hands on demo of the game. There is a different experience that started as a podcast, turned Main Theater act at PAX, and that the live performance of Dungeons and Dragons, following the adventures of Acquisition Inc. Now if you haven’t seen the show before, ( Click Here to see this years episode)the first several iterations featured amazing cosplay by Penny Arcade founders players, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik along with fellow webcomic artist Scott Kurtz and a semi rotating door of fellow geekdom heroes Patrick Rothfuss, Morgan Webb and Wil Wheaton. Of course these are all DM’ed by who many consider a real treasure and inspiration to DMs (Dungeon Master) Chris Perkins who is the lead for a team of designers and developers for the Dungeon and Dragons 5th edition rule set. Accompanying these performers (comedians and game maker) are usually amazing and stunning miniature sets for their characters to explore.
This year, we didn’t get any of the flair of costumes or helms, we didn’t get the incredibly meticulously designed dungeonscape. But we did get a very fun twist in the story telling along with Gabe aka Mike Krahulik’s art to illustrate the villains in his encounter. With DM Chris Perkins taking a seat as a player instead of Game Master, he took on the role of a very famous (to Faerun and R.A. Salvatore fans) dark elf with his twin masterful scimitars. This allowed for two of the other Acquisitions Inc members to take turns running a short encounter for the others to play. Starting off with a murder mystery birthday dinner party for Jim Darkmagic (Mike Krahulik’s character was turning 40) with a few surprising twists, there was enough fun tweaks that many of the D&D players and DM’s in the crowd will want to step up their DM’ing game and roleplaying abilities.
The second DM of the night was Patrick Rothfuss, who probably wrote 800 pages of backstory fully detailed as if he was writing one of his wonderful fantasy novels (The Name of the Wind). In his session, the Acquisitions Inc members traveled through many skill tests and roleplaying chances to help show off the individual creativeness of each player. Again this is something that made me at least, if not others in the crowd already start to come up with cool new ideas for their own adventures.
If there is any takeaway anyone should get from watching these live, on youtube or as a podcast, its that D&D isn’t only just a “you have to play it to enjoy it” experience, but the stories that are told are unpredictable and unwritten, so there is no way you can know the outcome, proving that D&D can be fully enjoyed as an audience member. I have spent many hours doing all the above mention methods of being a fan of other Dungeons and Dragons games. The Acquisitions Inc game is so popular, people began lining up nearly 2 hours prior to the event (during a packed Penny Arcade Expo), and was soon at maximum capacity an hour before the show even began. The joy and fun of this event is so worth it, it is worth sitting there even as the event goes well over the time slot for the “Panel”, that people who have played D&D once many years ago or never before were showing up to watch this live performance.
The devoted love for this event (as seen by the long running crowd response of “Green Flame”) has survived for such a long time that the announcement at the end of the Main Theater show was very much worth the wait in line and anxiously waiting for the next session to come about. With Perkins announcing and reiterating that there are modules such as these two adventures from regular people up on DMSGuild.com where anyone can play anyone else’s games and adventures. Followed by Jerry Holkins slam poetry and the announcement that Acquisitions Inc will be a webseries coming in June and it looks every bit like a gaming session in any other D&D players basement, just with a production budget. Again, these guys prove that D&D isn’t an exclusive club, but everyone can enjoy as proven by the thousands in attendance and tens of thousands more on twitch.
To further add onto the obsession I (the fans) have for Acquisitions Inc, the group has even jumped into PC game format and added their own voice talents to and Jerry Holkins even wrote an original script for. Card Hunter is a very addictive semi-tabletop rpg free-to-play game. The Acquisitions Inc module is well worth the $5.99 addition.