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Penny Arcade partners with Wizards of the Coast to publish official "Acquisitions Incorporated Dungeon Manual"
Penny Arcade partners with Wizards of the Coast to publish official “Acquisitions Incorporated Dungeon Manual”

Penny Arcade, the Seattle-based webcomic that spawned the popular PAX video game conventions, is partnering with Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast to release an official Acquisitions Incorporated Dungeon Manual, the first official third-party D&D book. According to the announcement, with this new manual, “fans will be able to franchise their own branch of the famous finders collective.”

Currently in its eleventh year, Acquisitions Incorporated began as a podcast hosted by Wizards of the Coast producer Chris Perkins and starring Penny Arcade co-creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik as Omin Dran and Jim Darkmagic, respectively, in addition to a rotating cast of other friends of Penny Arcade.

While it was initially created as a form of marketing for the new 4th Edition of D&D, Acquisitions Inc. grew to be a popular standalone show and has expanded to live performances at most PAX events in which Mike, Jerry, and the other Acquisitions Inc. players don elaborate character costumes. To date they have produced 44 podcast episodes, 19 live shows at PAX conventions, and 13 web series episodes including the holiday special for a total of 76 documented adventures over the course of over 10 years.

The new Acquisitions Inc. D&D manual brings together two Seattle-area gaming powerhouses who have collaborated on many projects and are now taking their partnership to the next level. Penny Arcade hosts PAX, which is Seattle’s largest annual convention and has spawned four other PAX events across the US and Australia. Renton-based Wizards of the Coast produces the hugely popular Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering games, and has been a perennial presence at various PAX events.

The Acquisitions Incorporated Dungeon Manual will introduce new character positions, and is slated to be sold in hobby stores, bookstores, and digital storefronts this summer.

To get some additional background about the new Acquisitions Inc. Dungeon Manual, we spoke with Jerry Holkins and Penny Arcade producer Elyssa Grant:

GeekWire: How long have you been working on this? Is it something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time?

Holkins: We’ve been wanting to do it forever. In fact, that was originally the whole reason we hired Elyssa Grant – to project manage the book! Of course that was a couple years ago, and on the way to getting it done Elyssa essentially owns Acquisitions Incorporated as a project now. Bringing the book across the finish line is only one of the things she’s doing.

Who initiated this project, Penny Arcade or Wizards of the Coast?

Holkins: We told them we were about halfway done with the book, just to let them know what’s going on over on our side – we’ve worked on tons of stuff over the years. We’d shipped everything from our previous Kickstarters, so the deck was clear, and we thought this might be a cool way to use the platform. We were surprised when Wizards said, well, what would it look like if you didn’t Kickstart it? What would it look like if we put it out together? I think I died very briefly but I came right back.

What’s your favorite part of this project?

Holkins: Having a chance to codify a decade of public play. Getting to put our stamp on a little corner of the Forgotten Realms. Working with great artists. Making cool tools for players and DMs. I think I like all of it.

Is this likely to lead to additional follow-ups down the road?

Holkins: If it does okay, I hope they ask us back! There are a few things hinted at in this book faction-wise that, well… hm. How much to say. Recall that it began life as a Kickstarter – of course, you have to plan for things to go well in those, and if they do you want to have more stuff ready to go. So I already know exactly what the second book could be because we already have an outline and the guts of the book complete. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Can you share a little more about how the process of creating this manual worked?

Grant: The process for a book like this is largely reliant on finding those with the expertise and passion to create content that matches the tone we’re targeting. Bringing the comedic yet high fantasy tenor of Acquisitions Incorporated to an official D&D product is the result of hard work between our team of designers, writers, artists, and editors. The final step of the process is getting the book into the hands of players and we’re beyond excited to bring our beloved brand to life at the table!

Did Jerry and Mike both do a lot of work for this new manual, in your usual words+art collaboration style?

Holkins: Part of making the book was accepting that it wasn’t gonna be something we could do ourselves – we were gonna have to build a team. Luckily, we’d just come off Thornwatch and that had a ton of asset requirements, and a couple years ago Wizards had made a couple Acq. Inc. themed adventures for special events – you could tell from the first page they understood the genuinely odd mixture of danger and dark humor that goes into our take on the game and setting. So we do have lots of work in there, but this is a team effort from the ground up.

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