Ryan Hartman Interview, Acquisitions Incorporated Kickstarter

An interview Ryan Hartman (Vice President of Penny Arcade) on Acquisition's Incorporated, and more!

On Thursday, March 2nd, 2023 I had the pleasure of meeting with Ryan Hartman, the Vice President of Penny Arcade to discuss Acquisitions Incorporated, their Kickstarter, and what their next plans are at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington.

Acquisitions Incorporated is a Dungeons and Dragons player group that was formed in 2008 at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington. “Originally consisting of Omin Dran (Jerry Holkins),  Binwin Bronzebottom (Scott Kurtz), and Jim Darkmagic (Mike Krahulik)” (Wiki)

Ryan Hartman joined the group around 2016, and plays a Dragonborn Paladin named Donaar Blit’zen on the “C” team.

Rina: In 2019 Acquisitions Incorporated worked with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast to launch your own 5th edition book. What was that like?

Ryan Hartman: Yeah, it was really exciting! We have a good relationship with Wizards of the Coast and their Dungeons and Dragons team. It’s an honor to have an official book out there. It was really neat to have the red ampersand on it and to be the first third-party to have an official book and have it be canon. It was fun! I think we kind of helped lay the groundwork because now there are a bunch of books out there (like Critical Role). The whole team worked on the book, and it was great.

Rina: You all were revolutionaries in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, from starting podcasts of game play-throughs to livestreaming events. How has this changed for you over the past several years?

Ryan Hartman: I have only been with Acq. Inc for the past 6 years, but if I can talk to Jerry and Mike, when I’ve heard the stories of it (it’s Acquisition Incorporated’s 15th anniversary). I think it was the first big one. I think they laid the groundwork for what is happening now in the liveplay space. To hear them tell it; Dungeons and Dragons wanted Penny Arcade to promote DnD and Jerry thought it would be a good idea to do a podcast with Scott and Mike. Where they teach Mike how to play, as Mike had never played.

Dungeons and Dragons said no at the time, “Who would want to watch that?” but then it became huge, and kind of went from there. They had to be convinced that it was a good idea.

Rina: Now you’re launching a Kickstarter on March 8th for a new series to roll out in September, can you tell me more about that?

Ryan Hartman: We are very excited about this project. We do a live game at every PAX, and we have done side series that we’ve recorded, and we’ve done side games (“C” team). I think it was about 5 years ago that we did a pre-recorded live bottled series. People loved it, so we’re planning to bring that back. We plan to work with a large production company and have some fun stretch goals and tiers that we have cooked up for it as well.

Rina: Can we expect any special opportunities with the team at Pax West this year?

Ryan Hartman: I am reticent to stick to this timeline but my dream timeline is March 8th to April 8th-Kickstarter. Film over the summer. Host a viewing and release party at PAX West. As well as the live action panels that we will be hosting during PAX West.

Rina: Very exciting! Will you be dressing up yourself?

Ryan Hartman: I have a Donaar costume, so we’ll see!

Rina: You’re new to DnD. when it comes to getting started, what would you recommend doing with a group of friends? (A one-shot game or jumping right into a long campaign?)

Ryan Hartman: It depends on your familiarity. Speaking from my own experience, I was the only person who hadn’t played DnD at my table. I think it’s important for a new player to have an experienced DM. I do think everyone can go in blind and have a good time, but an experienced DM can really make a difference.

I also think to not get too caught up in things like how the high production shows display the game. Our “C” team game has fart jokes and is much more of that homebrew style.

Rina: Exactly. I think it’s like watching pro-esports or sports players, and then feeling discouraged and going “Well now I can’t play because I’m not at XYZ caliber.”

Ryan Hartman: Yeah, it’s like reading Shakespeare and going “I’m going to write a play!”, then reading Shakespeare, and going “Wait a sec, I can’t do this!” Don’t compare yourself to that stuff.

A picture of the 2019 Dungeons and Dragons manual.
Image via Acquisitions Incorporated

Rina: Why do you love playing Dungeons and Dragons over any other role-playing franchise or series?

Ryan Hartman: I’ve only played the one DnD campaign for the past 5 years. I have played a couple of other systems, Call of Cthulu, and Marvel with a friend (I’m a big comic nerd), but, I love DnD. DnD is fun, and they’re kind of the Grandfather of all of it.

I have found that it’s more about who is at the table than what system you’re playing. You can have fun in any system, in any world as long as you got people you click with and are being creative. All of this is just improved with like loose rules anyway. You all are just doing improvised storytelling off the top of your heads. I’ve enjoyed a lot of different systems, don’t pigeonhole yourself.

Rina: Do you think story building and play are important for adults?

Ryan Hartman: Absolutely. I listen to a screenwriting podcast, and they’re constantly talking about their DnD campaigns on their podcast all the time. I think if big Hollywood screenwriters are playing, then that should tell you something. I think it’s a great way to A) have fun with your friends and B) to work on your creative storytelling, and if you don’t have that in your day job, then it’s a great way to blow off some steam. I’m a big proponent of adult storytelling.

Rina: Is there anything else you would like to share with us/the Press SPACE to Jump audience?

Ryan Hartman: This right here (the Kickstarter) is my big focus. Had I been able to do it all over again, I don’t know if I would do it while planning PAX again. I see why people hire outside organizations to run their Kickstarter for them. As it’s the 15th Anniversary, there are other projects in the works over the next three years.

A screenshot of the Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series 2's Kickstarter page.
Screenshot by Kristi Jimenez

Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate getting to meet you all, and I look forward to that Kickstarter. Their Kickstarter is scheduled to go live March 8th, 2023, so be sure to register for it so you can be notified of when it goes live!

You can catch the “C” Team live on Twitch every Wednesday from 4 PM – 7 pm PST! If you aren’t familiar with them, you can check out their videos and previous broadcasts on their website.

Meeting with Acquisitions Incorporated was a true delight of my journey through ECCC. Storytelling is something I am passionate about, and the art of play, should always be explored. It’s a great way to build bonds and community, and a great way to connect with others on a deeper level while revitalizing that inner child. Acquisitions Incorporated has made play a part of their brand, and that is how they’ve inspired others into this space.

Want to learn about community engagement? See this article written here by Taylor Hicklen on the PStJ team about his experience at Super Nintendo World.

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Rina Abbott
Rina Abbott

Rina is a professional writer with a background in digital marketing and social media management. They have a B.A. in communications and public relations from Eastern Washington University.

Rina's passion for gaming started in 1995 with the SNES and Zelda: A Link to the Past. From there, Rina has grown and evolved with gaming moving from console to PC.

Rina is passionate about traveling, making TikTok's and vlogs, and cosplaying in their free time.
You can connect with Rina on Twitter, TikTok, or LinkedIn!

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