This is a momentous month for Dungeon. We're launching Scales of War, our new Adventure Path. This one is big. Not only will this Adventure Path take you from 1st level all the way to 30th, but we're pulling out some big guns. As always, if you're planning to run the AP, make sure your players stay away from the pdfs so they don't get any insider information!
The main thing I wanted to cover in this space is how we're looking at pitches for new adventures now that 4th Edition has launched. We're revamping the writer's guidelines for both Dungeon and Dragon magazines, and we'll be posting them in the very near future.
In the meantime, I wanted to give some general guidelines on submitting adventure pitches to us. We still want a pitch first. Send pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an eye toward the types of adventures we're running, but here are a few tips to winning us over:
Before you send a pitch, think about your villain, your location, and your villain's agenda. These three elements really form the cornerstone of good adventure.
You want your villain to be compelling. That often means he's a hateful SOB that the PCs just can't wait to nail to a wall. But sometimes it means he's a surprise. Sometimes he's a former ally. Sometimes he's a misguided fool. There are lots of viable options, but give your villain something fun and unique -- a compelling personality, a stylish mannerism, a unique ability or signature item. Give him (or her) something that sets him apart from the crowd.
Then think about where he lives. Make sure the location has something to offer. "Sleeper in the Tomb of Dreams" (issue #155) took us to a dungeon filled with crazy traps and blind, obsessed cultists. You don't have to go that far out, but try to push the boundaries of the system. Dungeons that allow for battles across multiple rooms, or that take place in large areas, are not only viable in 4th Edition -- they're encouraged. Your dungeon is a living environment, not something static.
Give your villain something to shoot for. If he's just hanging out, minding his business, he's not very exciting. He needs a goal, just like anyone else! There's nothing worse than kicking the door down on a villain's lair to find him sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and slurping on a Big Gulp. Yawn! If he's not up to no good, he's not a villain. This bit might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many folks forget to include the menace part of their "menacing villain" in their pitch.
Finally, read the Dungeon Master's Guide. There's loads of great info in there, but especially on building integrated encounters (using traps, monsters, and terrain together effectively). You just can't go wrong with a thorough reading of the DMG anyway.
So crack those books, fire up the brain cells, and send us a pitch! This magazine won't write itself.