Articles & News >> Acquisitions Incorporated: The Best D&D Job You’ll Ever Have!


Acquisitions Incorporated: The Best D&D Job You’ll Ever Have!

The Acquisitions Incorporated D&D hardcover is now on the game store shelves, in the virtual warehouses of D&D Beyond, and sitting on gaming tables around the world. I was unbelievably lucky enough to get the chance to get to be one of the designers on the book, one of the many, many talented and creative and dedicated people who contributed to make the book what it is. As I was watching and re-watching episodes of Acquisitions Incorporated and the C-Team, two shows that form a bulk of the AI content, I was confident that fans of the franchise would absolutely love the book. And if they were not yet D&D players, I strongly believed this would be an excellent bridge to get them to that promised land of rolling dice and telling their own stories.

The one place where I was unsure, when I started the project, was how D&D players who were not fans or did not know about the AI/C-Team shows would react. I wanted this to be a project for everyone. I knew there are some people you can never entice. The people who want the game and the hobby to stay static, who don’t want players new or different from themselves to change this thing they love – they are generally impossible to deal with.

Who I hoped to get onboard was the open-minded player. There is a resistance to new things like streaming games, and in ways it is natural. I would rather play than watch people play, they think, so therefore anyone who likes to watch people play must be crazy, or lazy, or posers, or fill in whatever adjective people use to disparage what they don’t understand.

I knew there would also be a resistance to the book making use of the Forgotten Realms as a setting. Or the tone of the book being more satirical or lighthearted or subversive. Or things people don’t know or like being made (oh how much I dislike this word…) “canon.”

As one of the writers on the book, and as someone who has worked in the Realms on official products for more than 10 years, I took great care in ensuring that everything in the book that I wrote or edited or developed made sense in the Realms, regardless of tone. People play D&D in different ways, and none of those ways are better or worse than any other, and they all have a place in not just the Realms, but in any of the D&D settings.

As those of you who are at all familiar with the AI content knows, parts of it are silly. Parts of it are a bit slapstick. And parts of it are satire. But there are also parts of it that are grim, deeply complicated, and deadly serious. What captured my fancy with AI in its earliest incarnations was that it was much like my own home campaigns over the years – lots of joking that contrasted and illuminated the seriousness of the plot – but with AI that joking took on a unique form. The campaigns incorporated the jokes rather than brushing them off, and, in a complicated and subtle way, transcended the jokes while still putting them forward.

We worked hard to make sure the mechanics, even when placed on a humorous or satirical frame, worked well as D&D mechanics. The adventure, while it presents a structure that highlights how to use an AI franchise in your campaign, can still be run as a typical starting campaign with very little tweaking necessary. This is not a one-off product. This is a book created by D&D fans, for D&D fans. The company positions are mechanically sound. The rules for running an AI franchise could work for running a guild office, faction branch, adventuring company, or other entities that have long been a part of D&D lore.

In the world of the Realms, I have written hundreds of thousands of words. I wrote on Halls of Undermountain and the Moonshae Isles Regional Guide. I wrote parts of the D&D Next products Confrontation at Candlekeep, War of Everlasting Darkness, and Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. I helped administer the Living Forgotten Realms campaign, and I write extensively in the current Adventurers League campaign. I cared about the tone and history of the Realms with all of those works, I took the same care with the AI book, and I know the rest of the team felt that burden and mandate as well.

Thanks to everyone who supported the effort. Thanks to Teos and Scott and Jerry and Elyssa and Mike for letting me play in such a wonderful sandbox. And thanks to those who took the time to read the content of the book before passing judgement on it. I can’t say it’s for everyone, but, of course, nothing is. If you’re ever at a convention where I’m attending, please say hi, and I’d be happy to chat about it or anything else related to this great game and hobby we share.

Shawn Merwin

Shawn Merwin

Shawn's professional design and editing work in the roleplaying game industry has spanned 20 years and over 4 million words of content. His Dungeons & Dragons work has ranged from 3rd to 5th edition, showing up in sourcebooks, adventures, articles, and Organized Play administration. He has been a driving force in several Organized Play programs, and has written material for Wizards of the Coast (Dungeon Delve, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, Halls of Undermountain), Pelgrane Press (Dracula Dossier), Modiphius Entertainment (Star Trek Adventures), Baldman Games (as Content Manager), Kobold Press (Creature Codex, Book of Lairs), and countless others. Find his adventures here: https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?keywords=Shawn+Merwin&affiliate_id=465726

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