Acquisitions Incorporated, by Wizards RPG Team
This is a book that has a lot of promise and does not end up quite being as enjoyable as one would hope. As a general concept, this book certainly does provide an interesting hook for an adventure, in that it provides an alternative to a class-based system that also adds a role-based playing for a corporate franchise of a fantasy business that is in competition with a variety of related firms. This added angle is certainly interesting and is something that I might consider worth trying in future campaigns if other players I happen to be playing with are similarly as intrigued in fantasy capitalism as I am. This obvious hook is one that can be easily celebrated and enjoyed, and the first part of the book was a great joy to read as the authors explored how it was that a party of different roles could involve not only fighting classes but also people with different jobs in a small office that deals with business interests involving the local area as well as different planes of existence, getting more and more complex in the affairs of business as characters and their offices level up thanks to success in missions.
This relatively short book of a bit more than 200 pages begins with a preface and a short look at how one can play a campaign that is just business (1) and that includes a wide variety of roles for growing one’s franchise (2) through having an office that can contain various roles like cartographer, decisionist, documancer, hoardsperson, loremonger, obviator, occultant, and secretarian. This humor continues when the authors discuss how these job titles can be finessed based on the player roles, can add new backgrounds, and even add a new race of Verdan as well as spells and factions and rivals (3). After that the authors include a lengthy mission that involves six episodes, starting with how one runs an Acquisitions Incorporated campaign in general to an overview that begins with the wrong heroes and moves on to Phandalin and then a light house, and then a rivalry with Dran Enterprises, and then a deadly game of hide and seek that leads to a showdown with the Secret Six and a look at the campaign to come after that (4). The book then ends with various appendices that include the figures in Acquistiions Incorporated (a), monsters (b), vehicles (c), components (d), trinkets (e), and an index.
Even so, this book did not end up quite as much fun as I would have wished because of the nature of the missions discussed in the book itself. The campaign itself forced a certain progression from corporate rivalry to involvement in various planer horrors, and could have been handled better. That isn’t to say that the idea of having multiple teams and locations and corporate rivalries involving business affairs can’t be fun, but it appears as if the authors could have done a better job by making a more open-ended campaign that took advantages of the strengths of the idea of being part of a company working out some sort of corporate strategy and overcoming corporate espionage. Perhaps there are other quests involving this particular idea that would be more to my liking that I have not yet read, but this book had a bit more sizzle than steak when it comes to my own view of its materials. Perhaps others will find this book more completely to their liking if they appreciate how the authors handled the interesting setup by providing a full quest that could go from level 1 to 20, which would take a long time to sort out, obviously, and play to completion.