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Here's How to Write for LFR!
RPGA Report
by Chris Tulach

I’ve been asked many times over the past few months how a prospective writer can get an adventure published through Wizards of the Coast. If you’re new to writing adventures for Wizards, there are basically two avenues you can follow, and they’re not mutually exclusive. You can either submit a proposal to Dungeon, our online magazine, or you can submit a proposal to the Living Forgotten Realms campaign staff. The two processes are similar but some of the methods and specific steps are different. Let the veil of mystery be parted, and learn how you can turn your idea into an adventure that thousands of gamers the world over will enjoy!

Why Write for LFR?

Writing an adventure for Living Forgotten Realms can be a very rewarding experience, as you’ll not only get the thrill of knowing (and reading about) people all over the world playing your adventure, but it’s also a great way to “break into” getting more substantial projects from Wizards down the road. In addition, you’ll have the benefit of making contact with the Living Forgotten Realms staff, who may decide to involve you in future projects where you’ll write to a specified adventure outline for future distribution.

Dispelling Confusion

If you’re not in the know about Living Forgotten Realms, you should head to the webpage for information on the program. You also may want to check out the LFR Community page. Despite what you may think, you don’t need an intimate knowledge of the Realms or of the Living Forgotten Realms campaign to write for it. All that’s really needed is a good knowledge of 4th Edition adventure writing strategies, willingness to follow rules and guidelines, and a great idea that you can articulate into a fun-filled, four-hour play experience.

Another common misconception is that writing for LFR involves you spending your valuable time writing without compensation. That’s not the case. You are paid for your work -- which means there is an expectation of professionalism when your work is reviewed and edited by the LFR and Wizards staff.

Getting Started

There are two ways in which you might get involved in a writing project for LFR: either you make a proposal to the campaign staff, or you solicit availability as a writer to work on an existing outline. In either case, you’ll want to do the following before you contact the staff.

  • Before you do anything else, read the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This book is essential to understanding how to create intriguing 4th Edition encounters and adventures. You might also want to pick up Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 as well. There’s tons of great advice in there, and the skill challenge section in particular is quite enlightening.
  • Download the Living Forgotten Realms Writer’s Guidelines from the Events Downloads page. Read it thoroughly. There’s a lot of information crammed in there on specifics of style and game mechanical concerns for Living Forgotten Realms. Writing for LFR is a bit different from writing for your home game or for Dungeon, as you’re writing for a shared-world game that plays out adventures in 3.5- to 4-hour sessions. The Writer’s Guidelines address these differences in detail.
  • Write out a short introduction about yourself, including any writing and D&D experience you have. This doesn’t need to be a history of your involvement in the game but should clearly communicate in a few sentences where you’re coming from and why you’d like to write for us. Hang onto your introduction; you’ll need it when you contact the LFR staff.

Make a Pitch or Work on Demand?

If you have a great idea to pitch, start jotting down notes and a short summary, following the guidance presented in the reading material listed above. This will form the core of your pitch to a writing director for the campaign. If you have more than one idea, that’s great. Write each one concisely (keep it to a paragraph or so) in preparation for contacting the LFR staff.

Alternatively, if you’d rather be given an outline and work to it, you can move on to the next step, keeping in mind the valuable information you’ve learned from the DMG and Writer’s Guidelines.

Contacting the Staff

After you’ve read through the materials above and (possibly) developed a pitch, you’ll want to get in touch with our campaign staff. A listing of the LFR campaign staff can be found at the LFR Community page. You’ll want to get in touch with the appropriate point-of-contact first; they will get connect you with the writing director (unless the writing director you want is contactable).

  • If You’re Making a Pitch: Choose the contact person appropriate to the setting of your adventure, not based on your geographic location. If you don’t see a specific Forgotten Realms region listed, choose one of the global administrators. They’ll review your pitch and reply to your query. If your adventure pitch isn’t associated with a specific region, you can send it to a global administrator.
  • If You’re Looking to Work on Spec: Send an email to the point-of-contact appropriate to your specific geographic location. For example, if you live in Georgia, you’d choose the point-of-contact for Aglarond (the Southeast US). Note that this is the exact opposite of what to do when you're making a pitch; the difference is important.
  • Be Patient: It may take several weeks for the writing director to review your pitch or answer your query. There are a lot of adventures in the queue, and they’re all involved in various stages of completion at any given time. If you don’t receive a reply back within two to four weeks, you can send your query again.

Be Professional

Once you’ve been selected, contacted, and have begun the adventure writing process, you will be expected to turn over work on a timely basis. Sometimes the adventure you’re writing will become available within a couple of months from when you complete it; other times, it may be a year or more before it sees distribution. No matter what the case, there will be a deadline for your initial draft and final changes. Make every effort to hit those deadlines; it may impact the adventure’s availability later on. Above all, stay in contact with your coordinator!

In addition, your adventure will be reviewed by a regional writing director, a global administrator, and the Wizards staff. You have to be open to critique and editing of your adventure, as elements you’ve submitted may change at any point in the process.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor!

After the final approved draft of your adventure is submitted to Wizards, you will be compensated for your work. Once your adventure releases, check the Wizards Community site and look for feedback from players and DMs. It’s always valuable to see how the adventure is received by the community, and it may help you with future writing projects.

Oh, and thanks for writing; we appreciate your hard work!

New Living Forgotten Realms Adventures Releasing this Month

Check out the latest adventure offerings for November!

November 4, 2009

BALD1-6 Brothers in Arms
A frail alliance connects the city of Baldur’s Gate to the nation of Elturgard, and when vital information crosses the border without authorization, that alliance is bound to be put to the test. A visiting paladin’s moral code clashes with the organization that has kept the city safe for more than a century, and the outcome may be hard to predict. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Baldur’s Gate for characters levels 4-7.

CORE1-16 Fragments of a Shattered Mind
In the human bastion of Almraiven, a gifted magical scholar has gone missing. The academy insists she’s taken a sabbatical; her friends say that she was on the verge of a major discovery and would never have abandoned her research at such a critical juncture. Can you get to the bottom of this mathematical mystery? A double-length Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Calimshan for characters levels 11-14.

MINI1-4 Coaxing the Flame
Your discoveries regarding a fire cult operating in the Windrise Ports brings you to the city of Harglast You believe the leader of this cult is in town. Now begins the frenzied race to find him. A double-length Living Forgotten Realms adventure that is part of the Embers of Dawn mini-campaign set in Harglast for characters levels 1-4. It is recommended that you play the Embers of Dawn mini-campaign adventures in sequence with one character for the best enjoyment and play possibilities within the mini-campaign, but it is not required.

TYMA1-6 Troubled Roads
A group of young scholars from Ruinspoke has gone missing in the capital city of Djerad Thymar. Although their academy insists that they are simply on a research trip, their families believe otherwise, and the leader of House Jalt has asked you to help. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Tymanther for characters levels 11-14.

November 11, 2009

DALE1-7 Arts
Isolation can be a boon, but when strange events leave the members of an airborne boarding school for young nobles in High Dale ill, only aid from outside can offer a solution. Can the PCs solve this discretely and in time? A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in the Dalelands for characters levels 1-4. A part of the "Arts & Crafts" major quest. The other part is DRAG1-7 Crafts. Successfully completing both adventures in any order completes the major quest. This major quest is a prequel to the paragon level "Pain and Suffering" arc, which starts in DRAG2-1 Discomfort.

DRAG1-7 Crafts
Westgate, the City of Coin is a haven for all races and creeds. But now the Docks and Moonside districts hide something more sinister -- an affliction that threatens to spread to all corners of the city if it is not dealt with in its infancy, with madness and agony the result. It is up to the PCs to discover and eradicate the cause. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in the Dragon Coast for character levels 1-4. A part of the "Arts & Crafts" major quest. The other part is DALE1-7 Arts. Successfully completing both adventures in any order completes the major quest. This major quest is a prequel to the paragon level "Pain and Suffering" arc, which starts in DRAG2-1 Discomfort.

IMPI1-6 The Ancient Temple
In Impiltur, the Fraternity of Tharos threatens all good people. When a Fraternal Brother of Tharos learns of an ancient temple, he seeks the relics it may hold to increase his own power and that of the Fraternity. Can you stop him before it is too late for Impiltur? A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Impiltur for characters levels 11-14.

November 18, 2009

AKAN1-6 Abeir Eternal
Rumors are swirling in Airspur. A group of genasi is prophesying the defeat of the Abolethic Sovereignty, quoting from the sayings and strategies of Gethani, a legendary resistance leader. Will the age-old hopes of the genasi people be realized -- and are someone's ambitions getting out of control -- or is it some dastardly plot by the aberrant lords of madness? A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Akanûl for characters levels 7-10.

EAST1-6 The Fardrop Incident The Crafty Kobold Salvage Company has lost contact with an expedition to the ruined outpost of Fardrop. The mission is simple, but the true situation is far more complicated than the dwarves realize. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in the East Rift for characters levels 7-10.

MOON1-6 Black Heart
As if the lycanthropes of Moray, the giants of Oman, and the beasts of Norland were not enough, something evil and dangerous lurks in the dark corners of what used to be the most civilized island of the Moonshaes. Occupied Snowdown has need for heroes, and soon. Choose your friends well and your enemies even better. This is the conclusion of “The Fisherman” major quest. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in The Moonshae Isles for characters levels 11-14.

November 25, 2009

CORM1-7 Patronage and Pestilence
A disease has hit the outskirts of Suzail, and the captain of the guard has hired the PCs to provide safe transport for the arriving cure. Unfortunately, everyone else in town wants it just as badly. Can the heroes protect the medicine for the sick and dying, or will the temptation of wealth be too much to pass up? A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Cormyr for characters levels 1-4.

WATE1-7 The Missing and the Missed
In a city built on closely guarded secrets, nothing goes unnoticed, including the strange disappearance of some of the town’s poorest residents. While some remain indifferent to the plight of the missing, a City Watchman is determined to give justice to those who have nothing else. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Waterdeep for characters levels 4-7.

About the Author

Originally thought to have been raised from a humble Midwestern family, Chris Tulach actually fell to Earth in a meteorite-shaped capsule flung from a planet far outside our galaxy. While under the yellow rays of Sol, Chris’s nerdity far surpasses that of any normal human. Using this precious gift only for good, he has become the D&D Organized Play Content Developer, responsible for the development and deployment of Dungeons & Dragons organized play programs. He is also the co-author of E2 Kingdom of the Ghouls.

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