Acquisitions Incorporated is less than a week away, but it’s never too soon to start planning your own franchise of this renowned adventuring company! In the worlds of franchising, nothing is more important than location, location, location—so before the book even comes out, you can decide on where to headquarter your very own Acquisitions Inc. franchise. The famed “C” Team is headquartered in the Dran and Courtier inn in the town of Red Larch, and the Acq Inc. main headquarters is somewhere in Waterdeep, City of Splendors. Where will yours be?
Read on for a sampling of some of the big cities and small towns you can base your franchise in, as well as ways to link your adventuring company to any of the hardcover adventures released for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons!
Three great cities line the Sword Coast of Faerûn, and make up the backbone of the political coalition known as the Lord’s Alliance: Neverwinter, Waterdeep, and Baldur’s Gate. Despite Waterdeep also being the location for Acquisition Incorporated main headquarters, a venerable tavern named Trollskull Manor would be the perfect location for an Acq Inc. franchise! Like other famous consulting detectives and thieves throughout literature and television, a property of your very own in the heart of the big city is a perfect location for people with problems to find creative problem solvers. Try reading some classic Sherlock Holmes adventures (or watching one of their countless film or television adaptations) or the incredibly D&D-esque modern heist show Leverage for great examples of adventurers setting up shop in the city.
The recent announcements of the new adventure Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus and the new video game Baldur’s Gate III have drawn the public eye back to the Gotham City of the Sword Coast: Baldur’s Gate. Despite all the bad press this poor city has received lately, it’s a great place for an adventuring company to set up shop, as long as they play nice with the Flaming Fist mercenaries that keep order in the town. With Flaming Fist forces spread thin across the city and its outlying territories, many of Baldur’s Gate’s impoverished lower class turn to adventurers for aid in solving problems of theft, occult activity, and monster sightings within the lower levels of the city. If you’ve learned anything from Omin Dran, other people’s suffering can be your profit!
As a DM, encouraging your players set up their headquarters in Baldur’s Gate gives you a great way to motivate them when Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus comes out this fall. Surely they’ll want to save Baldur’s Gate when push comes to shove; after all, all of the loot they’ve acquired and all the business partners they’ve made are there!
Once known as the Jewel of the North, Neverwinter is a once-glorious metropolis now in need to reconstruction. The events of the Spellplague devastated fair Neverwinter, bringing cataclysms ranging from the eruption of nearby Mt. Hotenow to monstrous invasions to a seismic event great enough to open a rift clean down the middle of the city. A wall was erected to divide the city from its fearful residents and the monsters that invaded its walls, but with the Chasm closed and most monsters banished from the land, much of Neverwinter’s ruined half is unpopulated and ripe for exploitation.
And a member of Acquisitions Incorporated in the ruthless mold of Omin Dran would never hesitate to exploit struggling people for personal gain! Of course, if you’re looking for a more upscale property and have wealth to burn, locating your franchise headquarters in the iconic and beautiful Protector’s Enclave would certainly be a draw for high-profile clients. Characters who are traveling the length and breadth of the North during the events of Storm King’s Thunder may find themselves temporarily in Neverwinter. Likewise, characters that complete the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure from the D&D Starter Set, or the adventure Dragon of Icespire Peak in the upcoming D&D Essentials Kit will find Neverwinter to be a nearby urban hub, perfect for establishing a franchise headquarters.
Image from Neverwinter by Arc Games
Dozens of bustling centers of urban activity exist beyond the Sword Coast, but none of them are quite as traveled these days as Port Nyanzaru in the land of Chult. The merchant princes who rule Port Nyanzaru are rightfully suspicious of any foreign enterprise that would attempt to set up shop in their city—especially in the wake of their recent liberation from the colonial forces of Amn. Nevertheless, if your franchise is able to earn the trust of the merchant princes by aiding the people of their city and proving your willingness to support their hegemony rather than subvert it, you may find Port Nyanzaru to be an excellent plot to put down roots in.
Adventurers trying to stop the Death Curse in Tomb of Annihilation will be able to make the most of Port Nyanzaru’s location—as it’s conveniently close to the vast jungles of Chult and the source of the curse. Much closer than any other Faerûnian city, at any rate. If you have an easy mode of transportation, such as an Acquisitions Incorporated battle balloon, for instance, making Port Nyanzaru could be a splendid way to avoid the day-to-day troubles of the Sword Coast.
Villages of the Sword Coast and Beyond
If you’re like most adventurers, you don’t spend too much time in the big city. Instead, your travels take you from hamlet to hamlet, solving problems and acquiring treasure at the edge of civilization. Just like the heroes of Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team who are based out of Red Larch, you may find that a small village—full of country yokels who are ripe for exploitation, as Omin might say—is the perfect place to set up shop. These are some villages you may come across on your adventures:
With the D&D Starter Set and the upcoming D&D Essentials kit both featuring adventures that take place in the frontier town of Phandalin, it would be foolish for any aspiring Acquisitions Incorporated franchisee to overlook this bustling burgh. Contacts for all five of the Sword Coast’s major factions have staked their claim in Phandalin, and are trying to pull the village into their sphere of influence. There’s no shortage of adventure to be found here, and it’s located conveniently close to Neverwinter, if you’re ever in need of political favors or wealthy patrons.
Saltmarsh is a city in the world of Greyhawk, quite distant from the Forgotten Realms. But if Omin Dran and friends can be drop-kicked into an entirely separate Multiverse and go on adventures on the city-plane of Ravnica, who’s to say you can’t set up an Acquisitions Inc. franchise in Saltmarsh? Or, better yet, on a boat exploring the Azure Sea, docking every now and then at coastal towns to restock on supplies and sell off your ill-gotten gains. The Faithful Quartermasters of Iuz in Saltmarsh would certainly be happy to pay a hefty sum for any magic items you acquire on your journeys. Obviously, this option is great for adventurers taking on the challenges found in Ghosts of Saltmarsh.
Towns of the North
Storm King’s Thunder is an adventure that sends adventurers trekking all across Faerûn’s expansive North, exploring the length and breadth of the Sword Coast from Daggerford to Icewind Dale. There are dozens of towns across the North that would make for excellent home bases for your franchise, but clever Acquisitions Inc. employees know that it helps to establish a headquarters in towns already indebted to you. Having the undying adoration of townsfolk whose lives you’ve saved from rampaging giants certainly makes it easier to get cheap real estate.
There are three major settlements that the adventurers in Storm King’s Thunder have the opportunity to save: Bryn Shander, Goldenfields, and Triboar. All three are fertile ground for an adventuring startup, but each has slightly different opportunities. Bryn Shander is a frigid northern village part of a consortium of villages known as the Ten Towns, and while its somewhat inaccessible northern locale makes it a less than ideal place to make a home, its secluded location makes it hard for enemies to attack directly. Goldenfields is smack dab in the middle of the Faerûnian heartland, just south of the Dessarin Valley and the nearby village of Red Larch. This fortified temple to the nature goddess Chauntea is a major food supplier for the entire Sword Coast, and locating your adventuring franchise’s home base there would be an incredible business move. The location comes pre-fortified and boasts an incredible central location—an amazing place for a franchise HQ! Finally, Triboar is a busy town of merchants located east of Phandalin. If you finish your adventures in Phandalin and are looking for somewhere with a bit more traffic, but find Neverwinter real estate a bit too pricy, Triboar is the way to go. That said, it’s not quite as well-defended as some other towns of the north, and wouldn’t fare too well if one of your archnemeses ever came calling.
Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. If you played D&D at the very start of fifth edition, it’s likely that one of the first villages you ever visited was the quiet town of Greenest, nestled cozily in the sea of tall grass known as the Greenfields. Of course, the village was on fire. And under attack by an adult blue dragon. But if you manage to save the town from the Cult of the Dragon in Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the place becomes a fair sight nicer, and a perfect launching point for a franchise HQ. Just like in Storm King’s Thunder, hunting down the Cult of the Dragon sends you all across the Sword Coast, so settling down in one small village might not be the best idea. That said, what if you could fly?
Over the course of your adventures in thwarting the Cult of the Dragon, you may come into contact with a flying castle. It may be difficult to win the trust of Blagothkus, the castle’s keeper, but if you manage to do so, you win the ultimate prize: a flying castle and mobile base of operations. Not only will having a flying castle make battling your draconic foes easier, but it will also allow you to never stray too far from your franchise headquarters. Just take it with you! Just in case, it might be worth backing up all your files and expense reports in a stationary headquarters, like in the town of Parnast, just in case an ornery red dragon decides to torch your flying fort.
The Underdark isn’t a terribly inviting place to do business, but if you’re a person of precious few morals and even fewer scruples, you won’t find a more cutthroat or profitable place to do business anywhere else in Faerûn. Unless you’re a dark elf yourself, setting up shop in Menzoberranzan isn’t the brightest of ideas—instead of turning a profit in your first quarter, you’re more likely to be disappeared in the night and enslaved after your first day of business. If you’re in search of a feasible location to do business in the Underdark, the ancient deep gnome settlement of Blingdenstone is a good place to start. The svirfneblin locals are a dour lot, and wary of outsiders, but saving them from drow invaders of demonic servants of Juiblex would certainly win you their trust.
If you make your home in Blingdenstone, take care not to advertise your presence too loudly to the outside world, lest you draw the ire of the drow back to these peaceful gnomes. Instead, this ancient settlement could be the site of your secret base. Use this place as a secluded retreat that you access when you need to escape the pressures of the outside world for a few months. Alternatively, this village could make a great home base while exploring the Underdark over the course of Out of the Abyss.
Last, but not least, we have—Barovia!? Why would you want to start a business in Barovia? Do you think the property taxes would be low just because quality of life there is rubbish? No! A vampire rules over the land there, and you pay your taxes in blood for Lathander’s sake! And nobody can escape the mists, so don’t even think about trying to take your PTO somewhere sunny!
Even if you are an adventurer fighting to overturn the authoritarian rule of the vampire lord Strahd von Zarovich and break the Curse of Strahd, take a long, hard think before setting up your franchise here. If your franchise folds because you drew too much attention to yourselves and provoked Strahd, your screw-up will look bad on the whole company. Do you want that on your conscience while you’re spending the rest of your pitiful existence as a vampire spawn?
I didn’t think so.
Acquisitions Incorporated releases on June 18th, 2019. Where will you set up your franchise’s home base? Let us know in the comments!
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, the DM of Worlds Apart, and a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his partner Hannah and their animal companions Mei and Marzipan. You can find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.