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DCC Submission - Hopeful, but wondering...

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:40 am
by GnomeBoy
So I'm sticking my neck out in a public forum to say, I'm writing a spec DCC to submit... Haven't told even my friends yet, and now you know.

My biggest question is this: Do all encounter areas need to be either C, P, or T?

Level 2 is event-based rather than strickly mapped out (which may be another question in itself). As such, there are some "Areas" that don't feature a fight, a puzzle or a trap, but are a 'pivot point' that leads to such encounters based on the PC's choices.

Is it kosher in a DCC to have an encounter that doesn't feature a combat, puzzle or trap? Or should I redesign this level to include one or more of those features along with the 'pivot point'?

I'm curious what fans in the forum think, as well as the Moderator's thoughts. I have 6 or 7 DCC's and can't recall seeing a 'null' encounter, per se, but I must admit I haven't scoured my collection to look for them. Thought I'd be social :D


Re: DCC Submission - Hopeful, but wondering...

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:02 am
by Mike_Ferguson
GnomeBoy wrote:My biggest question is this: Do all encounter areas need to be either C, P, or T?
Quick answer - no. If there's no specific "encounter" in an area that doesn't involve challenging the players with a (C)reature, (P)uzzle, or (T)rap, then it doesn't need to be marked in that manner. Several areas in the DCCs that I've written don't have encounters or an EL assigned to them.

Before writing your spec DCC though, I strongly, strongly urge you to send a query to DCC Line Editor Harley Stroh first, with an outline/summary of the adventure you want to write. That's the first step in possibly getting your DCC published. Once your concept gets approved, then you have the "greenlight" to write the whole shebang for Goodman Games.

Full details of the submissions guidelines/process can be found here:

And while it already says this on that page, I can't stress this enough: make yourself familiar with the SRD before you start writing a DCC.

Link to the SRD:

Hope this helps - good luck to you!!

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:08 am
by GnomeBoy
Thanks for the quick reply! I'm writing more today in fact, and that alacrity is helpful.

I may or may not write the whole shebang before submitting it - the guildlines ask for 20K words of sample writing, and since I don't have anything else published, I figured I might as well write the idea I want to submit, at least to the 20K point (16K+ so far...). Makes more sense than writing 20K of something else. :)

I think I've got my head wrapped around the SRD, too, which is why I didn't start working on my other idea, the Illithid who owns the casino....

Yes, you read rightly. Mind Flayer. Casino. Probably too obvious a combination anyway....


Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 7:17 pm
by goodmangames
Keep in mind that the DCC line is called DUNGEON CRAWL Classics. I've had many great submissions that simply weren't dungeon crawls. Read the front cover of any DCC -- the first-paragraph blurb is the same on every one -- and make sure your adventure lives up to that.

We'll be hosting a seminar at Gen Con this year entitled "How to Write Adventures that Don't Suck," where we'll talk about all the things that make a good adventure. In the meantime, here is a list of things I look for in adventure submissions. A good adventure doesn’t need to have all of these items. But most good adventures do have many of them.

• A sense of the fantastic. Convey this through encounters, descriptions, and most importantly, magic. The fantastic is what makes D&D so much fun, and that has to come across in the adventure.
• Memorable encounters. Avoid repetition. Consider all aspects of an encounter: timing, environment, opponents, hazards, battle conditions, and so on. Think about templates, feats, equipment, magic items, and spells as ways to make opponents interesting. Try to come with ideas for rooms that players will still be talking about 20 years from now.
• Hard work on thinking out great encounters. Dungeons with stirges, darkmantles, chokers, rust monsters, orcs, and other no-brainer monsters strike me as lazy. The job of a published author is to produce material that the typical DM at home could not produce. Don’t submit derivative dungeons.
• New twists on old classics. Don’t throw in a rust monster. Instead, make it a rust spider that climbs walls. Players will never suspect that the reddish-brown spider attacking them actually has the same stats as a rust monster. Surprise the players!
• “Easter eggs” – at least one well-hidden room with a cool treasure of some kind, accessible only to very diligent or very lucky PCs.
• Intelligent treasure. Why give gold when you can give art objects? The treasure should match the villains and location. Sometimes the best treasure is information, because information leads to more adventures. The classic example is a treasure map; other options include blackmail lists, diaries and journals, or spell books with new spells requiring rare adventure-worthy components.
• A good villain. Not every dungeon crawl needs one, but the best ones often have them. The adventure has to establish a strong emotional framework for the villain, too; it’s not enough for him to just be “another evil necromancer.”
• Sequel potential. The DM should be able to continue the plot threads begun in this adventure to create future adventures for his campaign.
• Distinctive levels. Each level of the dungeon should feel distinct from the ones before and after it. They shouldn’t blend together.
• A strong narrative feel. Usually this is a buildup with a climax in a big encounter at the end, but that formula can be varied. Regardless, focus on an encounter list that forms a storyline that reads like a great adventure novel.
• Secret doors. Every dungeon needs at least one secret door, preferably hidden in a place the PCs won’t think to look. Secret doors at the bottom of pit traps, secret trap doors mounted in the ceiling above normal doors... think of ways to fool the players.
• Thought requirements. There should be at least one puzzle. That doesn’t necessarily mean a riddle. It could be a room that’s hard to figure out, or a strange new monster that can only be defeated in a special way that’s alluded to elsewhere in the dungeon.
• Good pacing. Long, tiresome combats should be followed by quick rooms. Thought-provoking puzzles should be followed by bloodbaths. Slow, trap-filled hallways should be followed by a rousing fight.
• Group involvement. Meter the action so there’s an even mix of involvement by all character classes.
• A twist, preferably at the end. Establish PC expectations through read-aloud text, then use those expectations against them to create plot twists.
• Subplots. Subplots vary widely, but the best ones have a few things in common. First, they involve several PCs in an ongoing drama of some kind. Second, they create mystery or intrigue. Third, they lead to potential future adventures.
• New monsters. A new monster that throws off the characters is good (as opposed to simply duplicating the role of an existing monster, which is a waste of space).
• A “cut to the chase” feeling – start with a bang and get to the action fast. Don’t waste time on empty rooms unless they really add something.
• Intelligent ecology. Most monsters need to eat, sleep, and drink. Dungeons should allow for this fact.
• Atmosphere. The dungeon should have a strong, cohesive vibe of some kind, whether dangerous, or evil, or disturbing, or reptilian, or whatever.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 7:18 pm
by goodmangames
P.S. I second what Mike said, too. FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Writers who can't follow submission guidelines probably won't be good at working with their editor, either.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:41 am
by Napftor
• New twists on old classics. Don’t throw in a rust monster. Instead, make it a rust spider that climbs walls. Players will never suspect that the reddish-brown spider attacking them actually has the same stats as a rust monster. Surprise the players!
Hey, that was one of mine from DCC #29. Cool, I knew that not all of my monsters were terrible (my brother hates the spellsnakes from that adventure).

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:53 am
by Mike_Ferguson
Not that I'm a huge fan of plugging my own blog - but I wrote a piece on submitting freelance pitches to gaming companies not too long ago. Hopefully, there's something in here that you might find helpful.

Here's the link: ... pitch.html

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:17 pm
by Rick Maffei
Mike_Ferguson wrote:I wrote a piece on submitting freelance pitches to gaming companies not too long ago.
I would definitely read Mike's post -- it addresses many good points for a writer interested in breaking into the business.

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:50 pm
by GnomeBoy
Thanks for all the suggestions, reference and imperatives! I'm excited because I've thought through most of the points made by Messrs. Goodman and Ferguson and I'm thinking how to incorporate those elements I hadn't considered (I hadn't specifically thought of putting in an "Easter Egg", but I do have a 'puzzle piece' in each level that could combine to aid PCs in the climax..., duzzat count?)

Now I'm busy crafting the perfect short query - I have to admit I hadn't previously noticed the call for an initial query on the submissions page, since it seems to be formatted as part of the Artists' submission guidelines.... Maybe that was intentional. :wink:

I realize it could be fairly variable, but roughly how long should I expect to wait for a response to a query... 1 week? 2 days? a month?

Thanks for all the help!

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 10:45 am
by Harley Stroh
It depends on how swamped we are at the time. But don't worry too much about the perfect query letter --- you writing/design sample is the one that carries the weight.