Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series, the original Dungeons & Dragons live play phenomenon is officially making a return. Mike and Jerry, better known as Gabe and Tycho, or Jim Darkmagic and Omin Dram, are bringing back the popular tabletop series in September this year.
The masterminds behind Penny Arcade and the PAX Expo series will begin a Kickstarter on March 8, 2023, to crowdfund the upcoming Acquisitions Incorporated series. I’ve been a reader of Penny Arcade since its earliest years, and I’ve attended several PAX events as a member of the press. Furthermore, I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons since the early 90s, so all of this is exciting news for me.
With that in mind, it was a genuine pleasure to chat with the creators of Acquisitions Incorporated about the upcoming new tabletop series. I spoke to Mike and Jerry about the upcoming tabletop series, being able to play D&D together again in this setting, special rewards in their Kickstarter, memorable moments, and much more.
Mike and Jerry of Penny Arcade speak about Acquisitions Incorporated
Q. First, as someone who has read Penny Arcade since the beginning, thanks for taking the time. Would you introduce yourselves?
Jerry: It would be my great pleasure. I am Jerry Holkins, but I am more commonly known as Tycho or perhaps Omin Dran.
Mike: Hi, I’m Mike Krahulik, also known as Gabe.
Q. Acquisitions Incorporated is officially coming back with a Series 2, with an all-star cast of players, and of course, yourselves. How long has this announcement been in the works?
Mike: Probably a long time, but I only heard about it very recently.
Jerry: Yeah. Currently, Acquisitions Incorporated is a PAX thing, and I've been doing that solo for a minute. I'm overjoyed to be playing with Mike again.
Q. When you first started Acquisitions Incorporated, live play for TTRPGs was still very much in its infancy. Are there any particular lessons or mistakes made in the first series that will be course-corrected in Series 2?
Mike: I don’t know about mistakes, but I am certainly a much better player now than I was back then. I had never played D&D when we did the original podcasts, but now, I have years of playing Jim Darkmagic under my belt and I feel much more comfortable at the table.
Jerry: I've played Dungeons & Dragons functionally since I was six or so, so I have had the opportunity to learn many different systems, all of which are called "D&D." I think it's possible to misinterpret the rules, but purely as a Grizzled Ancient in terms of players, if you're having fun, you're probably doing okay. The most important thing is that you're telling fun stories with your friends.
Q. With design or technology you intend to use, has any inspiration been taken from tabletop content creators like Dimension 20 for Acquisitions Incorporated?
Jerry: God bless D20. Love what they're doing. That said, it doesn't look like any roleplaying game that I've ever played or experienced. It's a new type of theater when they do it. I'm mostly trying to play a game.
Mike: We tend to be pretty low-fi and I personally like that. What makes AI special, in my opinion, is that it’s just friends around a table. There are other shows that are much better at the theatrics these days, but I’m not an actor of any kind. I’m just there to roll dice and have a good time.
Q. Acquisitions Incorporated will come to Kickstarter on 8, 2023, to help fund this project. Are there any extra special rewards that you want to tease for the fans?
Mike: Jerry is going to write a GD book! We’ve been kicking around the idea of how Jim and Omin met for a while just between the two of us and now he plans to blow it out and tell that story in a book. I’ll even draw the cover!
Jerry: I only needed the barest hint of an excuse to write a novella, and now, I have done so.
Q. Will Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series 2 be a continuation of the first series of adventures?
Mike: No, this will be a sort of reboot. The characters you know and love, but we are starting fresh, so it’s a great jumping-off point for new folks.
Q. How does it feel to have written a sourcebook based on your adventures for Dungeons & Dragons?
Mike: Honestly, that was a very cool moment for me. Being given the official Dungeons & Dragons book template to work on and then getting to put that logo on top of my artwork was a very special feeling. When you talk about home games that have become official supplements, we are on a very short list alongside some big names. Jim Darkmagic is right up there with Raistlin Majere, at least in my head.
Q. Do you have any particularly fond memories of Acquisitions Incorporated from past play sessions?
Mike: My fondest memory is seducing an undead version of myself who was the big bad guy in our game. While we were French kissing, I slipped the seed of Galder’s Tower under his tongue and a magical stone tower erupted out of his body, destroying him in the process.
Jerry: I'm quite pleased with Certainty Dran, Omin's daughter, played by Jasmine Bhullar. We've talked a lot about her and she's taken it to incredible places that I couldn't have imagined.
Q. If you could collaborate with any of the other tabletop RPG content creators in Acquisitions Incorporated, who would you bring to the table?
Mike: I don’t know if they are a tabletop RPG content creator, but I would love to play D&D with ALF from the hit NBC show ALF in 1986-1990. No cats, though!
Q. Besides the 15th anniversary of Acquisitions Incorporated, Penny Arcade has been running since 1998. What is the secret to your success in running a webcomic for such a long time?
Mike: We are too stupid to quit. Honestly, it’s really just dedication to your job. Even back in 1998, we were treating it like a job when we both had regular full-time jobs already! Making the strip in the middle of the night if we had to, but making sure we never missed a publishing day. At this point in my life, I’ve been drawing Penny Arcade longer than I wasn’t drawing it! I don’t even know how to stop now.
Q. You've also been a part of the long-running Penny Arcade Expo. Did you ever think that it would take off to be such a staple of the games industry as it pertains to demos and reveals?
Mike: I did not! We never go into any of our various endeavors expecting success. We always just try to make cool stuff that we like and hope that that's enough. In the case of PAX, we were tired of going to comic book conventions that had little or no video game representation.
We had been to E3 by faking media credentials for years, but that's honestly not a great place to play games. It was very much a show for business people to shake hands and make deals. PAX was designed from the ground up to be the show that Jerry and I would want to attend.
Lots of free play spaces, concerts in the evenings, and more of a “festival” vibe. I’m proud to have been a part of its beginning and to see what it has become.
Q. If the two of you would pick D&D character classes for yourselves, what would they be and why?
Mike: I think I would probably still choose wizard. Locked away in the spire of some remote tower pondering over piles of dusty old scrolls, maybe with a cat. That sounds like a dream come true to me.
Jerry: There's so many great options. But I love the way early D&D handled barbarians. I'd be pleased as punch if they got back to some of that early madness.
You can catch Mike and Jerry three times a week on the Penny Arcade website, writing and designing memorable comic strips about what’s interesting (or awful) in the world of gaming. You can find Penny Arcade on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series 2 will begin sometime in September 2023, with a Kickstarter kicking off on March 8, 2023.