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Got Adventure?
Dungeon Editorial
by Steve Winter

The very best part of my job is selecting adventures for publication in Dungeon and working with authors to develop them into the best excursions they can be. In the final analysis, the entire point of a Dungeons & Dragons session is adventure. Players don't gather around the table to ooh and ahh over one another's characters. They assemble to stomp monsters, explore dark places, gather loot, and protect the world against evil.

If you'd like to write adventures for Dungeon Magazine, here are some tips to get you started and to maximize your odds for landing a contract.

First, know the market. Currently, we deal in four types of adventures:

  • Features run 6-12,000 words and can be on just about any topic or theme;
  • Chaos Scar adventures follow the dungeon delve model (mostly), run 4-6,000 words, and need to have some association with the Chaos Scar and its story (we'll look at non-Chaos Scar delves, too, but the Scar is our chief interest in that format);
  • Side treks run 3-5,000 words and should either be associated with a print adventure or suitable for insertion into a longer adventure;
  • Encounter sites run 2-4,000 words and detail a single encounter in an unusual or especially challenging locale.

Those aren't set in stone; we've broken the frames before and will again in the future (in December, for example, we've scheduled a Rob Schwalb extravaganza that's nearly the size of a printed, 32-page adventure). Still, a proposal needs to be compelling to step outside the format. Suggesting a 10,000 word Chaos Scar adventure does not by itself qualify that proposal as something new and different.

Second, provide enough information in your proposal to get the idea across without going into too much detail. We like to see

  • A statement of the adventure's theme in a sentence or two;
  • A synopsis of events in however many paragraphs are needed;
  • An estimate of new material (monsters, magic items) that you'd like to include.

Aim for a proposal that's no more than a few hundred words long. Keeping it short saves you work if the idea you're proposing is something we're not interested in or if we already have someone else writing a similar adventure. It also shows us that you can write effectively.

As a matter of course:

  • Put the proposal in the body of the email, not attached as a separate document;
  • Include an estimated word count and the intended character level;
  • Include your name, not just an email address or forum username;
  • If you have prior publishing credits, especially with Wizards of the Coast, mention that.

Finally, be creative. We like to work within established formats but not within thematic constraints. "Rescue the kidnapped farmer from the goblins" has been done. And it's mundane. We're actively looking for ideas that carry players into fantastical realms and situations. That might be the Feywild or the Elemental Chaos, but it doesn't need to be. Some of the best proposals we've seen lately (and which we hope to publish in 2011) involve Feywild crossovers run amok, devices that disrupt time, astronomers who puncture the Far Realm, and a tower half-submerged in a bog.

That's everything you need to know to get started, except where to send your ideas, which is Begin your subject line with "Dungeon" so we know which magazine the proposal is for and give it a short, descriptive subject (something more descriptive than "adventure").

We hope to hear from you soon!

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