Acquisitions Incorporated trains its franchise employees in certain skills that provide paradigm driving success and enables a framework for enhanced team focused priorities in terms of accomplishing objects as a collective unit and enhancing the brand as a whole.
Basically, being a member of Acq Inc gives you a specific role on a team, with things that you can do that enhance the party and reinforces how AI functions. Each company position gives a special item, some passive bonuses, and some special abilities. These abilities use a resource called Position Points (PP). You have a maximum number of PP equal to your franchise’s rank (See p. 10 of Acq Inc book). These points recharge completely in the downtime between missions. Each role also has a recharge activity listed. These can be done as part of a short or long rest and recharge a single PP.
Your role in the company also provides a passive bonus to other members in the party for specific checks. This bonus is equal to your franchise rank, and only gets added to any check once.
Item: Franchise Vehicle
At first level, you’re given the metaphorical keys to a company vehicle. It could be a horse and cart, a boat, or some other conveyance that works well in your Franchise’s territory. It has enough room to fit the party, at least. As your franchise increases in rank, your company vehicle will also be upgraded. Your GM should have ideas as to how this is special, but they should listen to your requests as the Cartographer.
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to rolls to navigate, track a creature, and activate and control machinery and vehicles.
“Of course I can!”
Spend a PP to gain proficiency and expertise in a mount, vehicle, or machine for a short period of time, even if you haven’t seen this ever before. An impressive History check extends the duration you’re able to fake proficiency. (A mount requires an Animal Handling check instead).
Spend a PP to have a party member reroll a check or a saving throw that involved them moving in a dramatic way. Jumping a gap, crossing a bridge, stealthy approaching a target, etc
Spend a PP to do something amazing and likely impossible with a vehicle (or with a piece of rope if your vehicle is sadly elsewhere.) You’re going to do something cool, an Acrobatics check might be required for some truly impressive shenanigans
Regain a PP when you spend some time exploring an area, studying a map, or taking care of your vehicle.
Item: Coin of Descisionry
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank on Persuasion and Insight checks against large groups and populations, like getting a crowd’s support or getting a feel of what a city thinks, as well when dealing with the morale of singular creatures. The party also adds this bonus to Charisma and Wisdom saving throws.
Do by Delegation
Spend a PP. Another player recharges a Position Point.
Spend a PP to gain an extra vote. While normally just for internal votes, a high Persuasion check might let you exert your influence over other groups.
Spend two PP and announce a (possibly new) franchise policy to your allies. For a short period of time, each ally who can hear you can use this ability once to make an attack, check or save with advantage, provided the roll would be following company policy. A high Persuasion increases the duration.
Regain a PP when you hold a party vote and follow the results.
Item: Documancy Satchel
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to Charisma checks with creatures that you have contracts with, Persuasion checks when getting paid, and on Intelligence checks made to understand complicated systems. This bonus is also added to Intelligence Savings throws.
Spend a PP to allow a party member to reroll a Attack, Check, or Save where failure would have had consequences for the completion of your current contract.
Spend a PP to Produce a scroll of 3 or lower. A successful Arcana check increases the likelihood that you acquire a real version of the spell, instead of a “discount” version nobody will buy that has side effects, altered area of effects, and other oddities. The franchise will be charged a fee for the scroll if it is not returned to your documancy satchel in 10 minutes. These spells scrolls have been mass produced with a unique method, meaning that they cannot be copied into players books, or sold to people who are not members of Acq Inc
Spend two PP to produce a helpful document. It won’t hold up under a thorough investigation, but it’s probably enough to deceive a cursory glance. A blank document, such as a contract renegotiation form, has no problems with being genuine, as you have yet to fill it out. The deed to the largest bridge in waterdeep, however… A high History check helps sell the deception, if there is any.
Regain a PP when you review your contracts
Item: Living Loot Satchel
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank when haggling, on checks to appraise and identify things, and on investigation checks to search for things of value.
That thing you need
Spend a PP to produce an item from your Living Loot Satchel that is useful to the plan. A strong History check indicates good planning. The item in question might be even more fit for the job, or more than one.
Example: The C-Team is faced with a large cliff that they have to descend. Some rope would be handy. K’thris spends a PP and pulls a length of rope from their bag. With a high History check, they could have pulled an entire climbing kit out of their bag.
That expensive thing you need
The secrets of the Hoardespeople are vast. Sometimes, they can do things that defy all sense. For instance, Spend two PP and produce an impossible item. This could be a replica of the Dragon Chalice you just saw, an ornate key that fits perfectly into the lock, or a list of passwords the Dragon Cultists have been using recently. A high History check increases how ridiculously useful this item is.
If your party is concerned where you got such an item, mutter something about wizards, quantum holding entanglement, and extra-dimensional contractors.
Regardless of whether or not you return the item to your satchel, the franchise will be charged for the creation of the piece.
Loot is everywhere
Spend a PP when examining a potential source of loot. This could be a bookshelf with various tomes, a trash heap, the pockets of some goblin, whatever. You manage to find something of value that no one had noticed before. The higher your Investigation check, the better the reward.
Regain a PP when you go through your inventory and catalog and sort your hoard.
Item: Whisper Jar
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to Intelligence checks.
I’ve studied this before
Spend a PP to make a reasonable guess about the layout of an area, the strategy of a group, or some other information. A decent History check might convince the GM to provide more useful, accurate information.
Need to Know
Spend a PP to acquire the dossier of a creature that you can name or at least, describe clearly. Most dossiers in the loremonger network contain basic information, but a solid Investigation check might reveal more details that are usable.
Spend a PP to reroll a party member’s Intelligence check.
Regain a PP when you spend time acquiring new information for your Whisper Jar by reading from books or interviewing a character not of your party.
Item: Obviator’s Lenses
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to Insight checks, Intimidations checks, and Perception checks to find hidden creatures.
Read the Opposition
Spend a PP and ask the GM questions about a creature you can see. They will respond with some information. A high Insight check might allow you more questions.
Spend a PP to immediately identify a substance. A decent Arcana check might provide you some secondary information, such as what it was likely to be used for, what it’s value might be, and who might be a likely buyer.
Spend a PP to ask the GM one question based off of a clue or other scrap of information. They will respond with some information. A high History check might allow you more questions.
Regain a PP when you spend time studying a foe, or making preparations.
You can cast a special form of Augury. It functions mostly the same as regular Augury, where a particular course of action is stated, with results of Weal, Woe, Both and None. Unlike the basic version, however, you can make adjustments to the question as part of the same casting, to see how changes would affect results. The casting time of this modified Augury is 10 minutes, allowing 1 question and 8 alterations. You cannot ask vastly different questions with the spell, just alterations to the first question.
At the GM’s discretion, a lot of discussion might make the party miss out on an alteration as time passes in game.
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to Medicine and Intimidation Checks, and to Death Saving Throws
As a Reaction, spend a PP to give a roll Advantage or Disadvantage
Spend a PP to give a member of the party a d10, similar to a Bardic Inspiration die. A high Arcana check can increase the duration the die will last.
Correct the Balance
Spend a PP to create a otherworldly bubble of altered fate, that treats a creature who died within the last 7 days as being not dead (like “It’s a wonderful life” in reverse) A strong Religion check
Regain a PP when you examine a kill made by the party.
Item: Sending Stone
As per regular Acq Inc Item
Your party gets to add your franchise rank to Charisma checks when you actively represent Acquisition Incorporated.
Spend a PP to reroll a party member’s Charisma check
Spend a PP to acquire some rumors from the Scertarian network. A good History check will produce more useful, interesting, and profitable rumors.
Spend a PP to find a guy to do a job. The higher the Persuasion check, the more useful and willing of a temporary employee you find.
Regain a PP when you make a new contact for Acquisitions Incorporated
GM’s Corner: What’s all this then?
I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with the Acq Inc roles. It started with our Obviator, who failed to Read the Opposition 4 times in a row. And it’s not because of bad stats. He’s a druid with proficiency., He just got bad rolls each time and lucked out of gaining this bonus. And is it really a bonus? Why is there a DC 15 gate on something that doesn’t provide a mechanical advantage? On an effect that’s a daily use power? I know the advantages a well-placed Read can have on the story, but that involves the players asking the right questions, and how often does THAT happen?
Obviator isn’t the only class that has issues. I can see the roles as written being good if you have a group that is familiar with Acquisitions Incorporated, who plays into the same story style, and who are familiar with D&D. My core group doesn’t match that (although they’re a lot more familiar with the game than when the group started 9 months ago.)
So I decided to change it. My changes aren’t for everybody. I’m okay with a D&D that gives players a lot of crazy powerful options, and I understand that not everybody enjoys that. I’m also okay with the party having access to a lot of wealth.
I endeavor to explain my thought process in this here GM’s Corner, but if something doesn’t make sense, feel free to ask me about it.
Simplicity and level restrictions
Another change to the design of the roles is to simplify. Instead of gaining new powers as they gain levels, the players have access to (most of) the powers at first level. It’s just a question of how often they are able to use the ability. This allows people to get very familiar with what they’re supposed to be doing in the party, and how to work with other people in the party.
There are some things that level up. Most of the items provided by the standard book have been maintained (as they’d be too much work to rebuild). There’s also a few abilities that require 2 power points to use. This is an attempt at balance, although you may allow some collusion between players to produce such an effect.
Failure and fun
The second change to the roles is to remove the potential for a wasted ability. I don’t think it’s fun for an ability to do nothing. So all abilities do something, if only for a short period of time. Most abilities also have a related check mentioned, that can enhance the utility of the ability. I’ve kept this vague on purpose. Hard coding a DC can make it impossible at level 1, and trivial at level 20. Keeping it dynamic allows the GM some control of the situation.
I moved each ability from it’s own recharge to a pool of points. These recharge in full at the end of a mission aka story arc, but each role has a method to recharge abilities during a short rest. Each of these recharge abilities is designed to allow the GM to drive the players or reinforce the AI gameplay.
- Can discover Plot by exploring, clues by studying the map, and maybe more clues by examining the vehicle.
- Incentivized holding a vote and having the party actually make a decision.
- Reviewing contracts to find clauses, point out mission objectives
- Clue items in inventory, remind of special item, reveal stolen items
- Adding lore to the Jar can give it to the party
- Observing a target can give information to the party
- Observing a corpse can give information to the party
- Incentivized to meet new characters, can acquire new information
In addition to these recharges driving the plot, the abilities themselves are worth noting. Abilities that allow a reroll or other mechanical benefit are nice to the players, but the GM doesn’t really have to worry about them. It’s the effects that can change the story that are important. Keep in mind the abilities your players have to directly mess with the plot.
The only ability that really needs to be prepared for in advance is the Secretarian’s Rumor Mill. Having a few jobs on tap is always useful, but this ability makes such preparation crucial.
Charge to the Franchise
One of the ways that the GM has to balance the abilities is to put things on credit to the Franchise. The Documancer and the Hoardesperson have abilities that are really powerful up front, but they charge the franchise. Money isn’t the only currency that AI deals in. Owing corporate a debt might mean they send some dirty work your way, paying you less than you deserve in exchange for the debt.
There’s no numbers attached to the fees, so use your judgement. Scrolls cost 25/75/150/300 gp for perfectly fine scrolls of 0-3. Other items cost whatever makes sense. Because it’s billed to the franchise later, you can make a note of it and figure out a good cost between sessions when you’re doing your prep, as opposed to having to stop the game and come up with something
Reinforcing the Brand
One of the things my rebuild intends is the reinforcing of the “Brand” of Acq Inc play. Namely, that players are a Team that functions as a business through Contracts.
The team aspect is easier to establish. Each role provides a passive benefit, a simple increase to a few ability checks and saving throws. These aren’t going to be amazing useful in combat, but they make the franchise as a whole more capable. If you have a small team, the majordomo’s role can also benefit the party. Some abilities also assist your party directly allowing rerolls or advantage at key times, which makes the party work better as a cohesive unit.
Some abilities and recharges reinforce the flavor. The Descionist has a reason to actually call a vote as opposed to just going along with people in general. Some of the Documancer’s abilities only work if the franchise is working under a contract. The Secretarian is rewarded as they make contacts.
Ideally, this fosters more play that feels like AI.
Changes Big and Small
The Role changed the most is the Cartographer. I changed them from being the navigator into the driver. I never really like the reality travel bubble thing. So instead, I made the role function the way it seems to be working at my table, namely with a focus on the “cart.” I’ve now made a role that you could see Han Solo taking.
The Descionist was a weird role. It’s there to keep the party from fighting, I guess, but that’s only been an issue once at my table, and our descionist didn’t have an opinion. The C-Team hasn’t helped, as Donaar doesn’t take things to a vote often. So I incentivized voting, and made the Decisionist more of a Leader.
The Documancer is basically the same. I removed the forgery kit and gave an instant forgey ability that also allows them to instantly produce contracts. It’s a thing Walnut does, and her GM allows because it’s in character as she embodies the role. I’ve just firmly included it into the text of what a documancer does.
The Hoardesperson is the role I’m most worried about having to nerf after I do some playtesting with my group. I think it’s going to be really powerful, as I gave it some “get out of challenge free” abilities. Maybe it’ll work out, idk.
The Loremonger is a role my party has tangentially. Their majordomo is a loremonger. I think i’ve given it some good abilities? But I’m not sure, as I haven’t run for one before.
The Obviator is the role I most wanted to fix as opposed to just simplify. Being able to give a player answers to clues is important. My first passes gave the Obviator some super broken abilities, so this is a lot toned down from what it was. The Obviator is now Batman
The Occultant is the role I have the least experience with. I tried to make it work okay, but I have no idea if I pulled off the tone right. I rebuilt the magic item and meh? Idk.
The Secretarian was a complicated role, I simplified it. Unlike other roles, it has a focus outside of the party which I think fits the theme.