Updated September 2012
These guidelines outline the steps you need to follow to submit an article or adventure proposal (referred to hereafter as a “pitch”) to our online magazines, Dragon and Dungeon. Specifically, they help you craft and submit your pitch. If your pitch is approved, we’ll contact you with more specific instructions on how to submit a first draft of your manuscript.
We have two open submission windows during which we accept article and adventure pitches: April 1st to May 31st, and October 1st to November 30th. We do not accept pitches outside of these time periods.
By submitting any material to us, you acknowledge and agree to adhere to these Submission Guidelines, including the Terms and Conditions at the end of this document. Please read them carefully.
Step 1: Do Your Research
Before sending in a pitch, know what’s out there. If you’re a D&D Insider subscriber, odds are you’re already aware of the types of content we’re looking for. Familiarize yourself with the articles we produce so you know what we’ve done recently.
Step 2: Send Us Your Best Idea(s)
Write up your pitch and email it to email@example.com. Here are some rules and advice:
- Include the article series (if applicable) in the subject line (e.g., Ecology of the Tarrasque, History Check: The Blood War). In the body of the pitch, tell us whether the article is aimed at players, DMs, or both.
- For adventures, include “Adventure” in the title. (e.g., Adventure: The Cursed Crypts of Ambergul). In the body of the pitch, tell us what level(s) the characters should be to play the adventure.
- Feel free to include multiple pitches in the same email. The subject line of the email should tell us how many article pitches and how many adventure pitches the email contains (e.g., 5 Article Pitches, 2 Adventure Pitches). We want to see your BEST ideas, not ALL of your ideas, so aim for no more than a dozen pitches.
- For each pitch, give us your best estimate of the word count.
- Do NOT submit pitches as attachments. Embed them in the body of the email.
- If you’re submitting content for one of our campaign settings, let us know in your pitch.
- Be concise. An article pitch shouldn’t be more than 150 words. An adventure pitch shouldn’t be more than 300 words. Hit the highlights and leave it at that.
- Proofread every pitch before sending it in. Your writing skill will be judged on the basis of your pitch. If your pitch is full of typos and errors, we will reject it on that basis alone.
A successful pitch sparks the imagination. It either presents something wholly original or takes familiar elements and presents or combines them in a new and interesting way.
Here are two sample pitches (one for an article, and one for an adventure) that you can use as models:
Sample Article Pitch
Working Title: All Aboard!
Estimated Word Count: 4,000
This article is aimed both at DMs and players. It provides a fully detailed, ready-to-use ship that DMs can give to seafaring adventurers as a reward, along with DM advice for integrating the vessel into an ongoing campaign. The article includes a map of the ship and a handful of wondrous items and ship enhancements that player characters can purchase to customize their latest acquisition.
Sample Dungeon Pitch
Working Title: Prey for Smiley Bob
Estimated Word Count: 6,000
A band of goblins has trained a bear to kidnap the halflings of Riverslye Homestead. The halflings don’t understand why the bear is after them, and they hire adventurers to “deal with” the beast in its lair — an abandoned windmill. The bear, Smiley Bob, gets its name from the scar that runs from the corner of its mouth to its left ear. Although killing the bear is one option, heroes can also try to befriend it, but first they must contend with the goblins that are using Smiley Bob for their own ends. The adventure is aimed at characters of levels 1–3, and it will have a slightly humorous tone.
Do not be discouraged if your pitch gets rejected. We receive thousands of pitches during every submission window, and we publish only a few dozen articles and adventures every year. The best thing you can do is remain optimistic and keep sending in ideas. Persistence often pays off.
Here are common reasons why a pitch is rejected:
- It’s poorly written.
- It proposes fundamental changes to the core rules.
- It’s too similar to stuff we’ve already published or something currently in the works.
- It doesn’t appeal to a broad enough audience. (We try to publish content that will resonate with as many of our subscribers as possible.)
- It focuses too much on mechanics, and not enough on narrative.
- It doesn’t excite us. (We’re searching for the best content we can find, and if your pitch doesn’t thrill us, we’ll keep looking for something that does.)
Step 3: Be Patient
You should get an auto-reply from our system that your submission has been received, after which you can expect a follow-up email from a member of our staff, notifying you of the decision regarding your pitch.
We review every pitch received in a given submission window and will respond within 60 days of the window closing. If you send us multiple pitches in a single email, we will usually reply to all of them at once. If you send multiple emails, we will get to them one at a time.
Due to the volume of pitches we receive, we do not offer detailed feedback on every pitch. If we like your pitch, we will request a complete first draft of the article or adventure, either by a specified deadline or at your earliest convenience depending on how urgently we’d like to see it, or we might ask for a revised pitch or outline that provides more detail before committing to seeing a first draft.
If we accept a pitch, it’s because we’re enamored with the idea and genuinely interested in publishing the article or adventure. If the first draft delivers on the promise of the pitch, there’s a good chance we will buy it. However, acceptance of a pitch does not guarantee acceptance of the manuscript. The article or adventure will ultimately be judged on its own merit.
What We’re NOT Looking For
At this time, we are not accepting pitches or manuscripts for:
- New campaign settings
- Multi-part articles or adventures (i.e., new series)
- Content aimed at evil player characters
We do not accept any submissions that contain content we deem objectionable or content that violates our corporate Code of Ethics. Topics of concern include animal abuse; child abuse; drug abuse; foul language; glorified homophobia or racism; gratuitous sex, torture, or violence; kink; pornography; rape or spousal abuse; and stereotyping.
Other things to avoid include defamation of real-world religions, presentations of real-world religious iconography, and references to real-world people and organizations.
We also do not accept any submissions previously published by or simultaneously submitted to another magazine, website, or d20 publisher.
Do not send us plagiarized content.
Although Wizards has announced a new iteration of the D&D game and made playtest materials available, no release date has been determined. In the meantime, the online magazines will continue to focus on 4th Edition. Please do not submit proposals for articles and adventures based on prior or future editions of the D&D game.
We are not looking for articles that add new mechanical elements (such as powers and feats) to the game. The current edition contains thousands of these elements, and the digital tools (D&D Character Builder, D&D Compendium, et al.) are bloated with options. We will only publish new mechanics if we find the underlying story extremely compelling and the mechanics are necessary to support the narrative.
What We ARE Looking For
We’re looking for two kinds of content: articles and adventures. We have a strong preference for content that players and DMs can use in their games immediately with little or no effort or preparation.
Articles and adventures can be non-setting-specific, or they can be tied to specific Wizards-owned campaign settings, including the following:
We’re primarily looking for short (1,500–4,500 words) player- and DM-focused articles that explore and further develop the existing lore of the game, including (but certainly not limited to) articles that fit into one of the following categories:
- Backdrop (detailed location descriptions)
- Class Acts (exploring new facets of existing classes)
- Codex of Betrayal (movers and shakers of the Nine Hells)
- Court of Stars (movers and shakers of the Feywild)
- Demonomicon of Iggwilv (movers and shakers of the Abyss)
- Domains of Dread (dark lords and domains of the Shadowfell)
- Ecology of . . . (iconic D&D monster lore)
- Enemies and Allies (factions and/or nonplayer characters)
- History Check (important D&D stories that stand the test of time)
- Lords of Chaos (movers and shakers of the Elemental Chaos)
- Unearthed Arcana (articles providing alternative player and DM options)
- Winning Races (exploring new facets of existing races)
Before writing an article for a specific category, please do your research. Review some previously published articles in the series to see what information is appropriate and how that information is presented.
An article doesn’t need to fit neatly into one of these categories. We would love to see articles that help players create more interesting characters, articles that inspire DMs to run awesome campaigns, and timesaving aids for both players and DMs.
We’re looking for all kinds of adventures, with an emphasis on shorter submissions (10,000 words or less). We occasionally publish adventures longer than 10,000 words, but it’s a tough sell. We could use more Side Treks, which are short adventures (usually 5,000 words or less) that can be played in a single session.
Non-setting-specific adventures are preferable to setting-specific ones, since they appeal to a broader range of subscribers. If your adventure is set in a specific campaign setting, please mention that in your proposal, and try to think of ways in which the idea might serve a broader audience.
Pitches for adventures should include brief descriptions of:
- The antagonist(s), if applicable
- Important location(s) in the adventure
- The antagonist’s goals and the heroes’ objective(s)
Coming up with an interesting goal for the heroes to accomplish, a villain with a convincing motive, and a memorable location in which to base the adventure can be tricky. Sometimes the simplest ideas work best, provided there’s a clever twist or complication. For example, it’s okay to pitch an adventure in which the heroes must slay a red dragon in its lair, but try to come up with one or two ways to turn the cliché into something original.
Adventures should feature preexisting monsters and avoid introducing new ones (unique NPCs are the exception to this rule).
In the event we buy your manuscript, you must assign your rights to us. That means that once your contract is signed, we’ll own all rights in your submission. The assignment contract (as well as applicable tax forms) will be sent out shortly after an article has been accepted. You’ll receive the contract by email, and you’ll be asked to sign a hard copy and return it to us, along with an invoice form. If you’re under 18, a parent or guardian must sign or co-sign your contracts. Once we have purchased an article, it might not appear in an issue for several months, so be patient. We’ll do our best to let you know when your work will appear.
Our starting rate for articles and adventures is $0.06 per word.
Once we receive your signed contract and invoice, you should see a check within 45 days or so. We pay on receipt of an invoice, not on publication, but there’s still a certain amount of delay between us receiving your contract and invoice and you receiving your check. We just ask that you remain patient.
Terms and Conditions
In submitting any materials to Wizards of the Coast, Inc. (“Wizards”) by sending them to Wizards through its submissions e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org, the submitter (hereinafter “Author”) agrees to the following terms and conditions. For the avoidance of doubt, submission of any and all materials (“Work”) is considered acknowledgment of this agreement.
1. Author Warranties
Author warrants that he has clear title to the Work. Author also warrants that the Work has not been published previously and that the Work is not being considered for publication by any other publisher. Author warrants further that the Work is original and does not infringe upon any copyrighted material other than that published by Wizards of the Coast.
2. No Obligation
Author acknowledges that Wizards is under no obligation to acquire the Work.
3. Risk of Loss or Damage
Author agrees to retain a complete copy of all Works. Wizards will not return any Work to Author, and Wizards is not responsible for the loss of or damage to original manuscripts or revisions of it supplied by Author.
4. Independent Development
Author acknowledges that the Work may be similar to the theme, plot, idea, format, or other element of material that Wizards has independently developed or that has or may come to Wizards from other sources. Author shall not be entitled to any compensation by reason of the use by Wizards of such similar material, whether developed or acquired by Wizards before or after Author’s submission of the Work.
This Agreement shall be deemed to be entered into and governed by the laws of the State of Washington applicable to contract made and performed entirely therein and constitutes the entire Agreement between the parties regarding the Work. This Agreement shall take effect upon the date of submission. No waiver by one party to this Agreement of any breach by the other party of any term or condition of this Agreement shall be deemed to be a waiver of any other breach of the same or any other term or condition of this or any other agreement. If any term or condition of this Agreement shall be held to be invalid or void, that term or condition shall be deemed to be stricken without affecting the validity or enforceability of the remainder of the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Except as otherwise provided in the Agreement, any subsequent modification or termination of this Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of and be enforceable by the successors and assigns of the respective parties.