Sometime next year, we'll open up the doors to independent submissions for DCC RPG adventures (as Harley alluded to). Let me take a moment to describe what the submission guidelines will look like. I think that will answer some of the questions in this thread, in a slightly roundabout way.
I'm writing these off the top of my head, so the final published guidelines may vary somewhat, but in general the submission guidelines will be something like this:
* The writer must be familiar with the authors of Appendix N. I would expect that they have read a representative cross-sampling of the books in Appendix N, and be specifically familiar with the books Gygax generally defined as the most influential on D&D; namely, the works of REH, ERB, HPL, Merritt, de Camp & Pratt, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance.
* The writer should be familiar with the sci-fi/fantasy/horror/comic cultural influences of the 1960's/1970's. This may sound odd for the moment (since none of you have seen the DCC RPG rulebook or the adventures yet) but 1960's/1970's culture is crucial to the ambiance of a retro-style RPG. Afros, Mr. T, cargo vans, bell bottoms, Planet of the Apes, Creepy and Eerie and Vampirella, Savage Sword of Conan, Frank Frazetta, KISS: the list can go on and on, and there are many candidates for inclusion, but understanding these influences is important in conjuring up the retro vibe and nostalgic sensations that will make DCC RPG writing appealing to its target age group.
* The writer should be familiar with the imagery of the pulp magazine era (i.e., late 1920's through the 1950's). This is the era when many of the greats in Appendix N were actually doing their writing. The visuals of that era are part of the DCC RPG inspiration. Frank R. Paul is a powerful influence on the cover images; the pen-and-ink masters are important for the interiors: Virgil Finlay, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster -- and their modern descendants such as Mark Schultz, Bernie Wrightson, and so on.
* With all these influences in mind, there are a couple hard and fast rules about DCC RPG adventures that must be followed.
First, all new, or almost all new, creatures / monsters / NPCs. The beautiful thing about the influences noted above is that most are pre-genre; i.e., most of the Appendix N books were written before the terms "science fiction" and "fantasy" existed as genre descriptions. (Look at old Frank R. Paul covers from the 1930's and you can see the term "scientifiction" being used to describe some stories -- one of the early attempts to differentiate sub-genres of adventure stories.) This leads to the conclusion that the writers had no canon to draw from: they were in new, uncharted territory. I would expect that all DCC RPG encounters feel the same way. The author should approach them as if there is no monster manual or genre material to draw from: each opponent should make sense in the context of that adventure, and not be plucked from some predetermined menu of opponents.
Second, strong overtones of pre-genre crossover. Appendix N is composed of authors who routinely crossed genre lines, sometimes in the same story. I expect to see "fantasy" with elements of what would be called "horror" or "science fiction" by modern standards.
Third, a strong narrative within the adventure. That is, protagonists and antagonists, NPC / creature motivations, events, character histories, and all the other things that make a great piece of fiction. Even if the characters are simply exploring a place, there should be a history therein, a mystery to solve, and a story that emerges.
Fourth, the ability to communicate mysteries beyond the ken of man. Too many D&D terms are over-used and meaningless in this regard: I am frankly tired of manuscripts that use the words "eldritch," "divine," "arcane," and other D&D phrases. Challenge yourself to describe magical encounters using words outside the D&D lexicon, in a way that would make a non-D&D player experience a sense of mystery.
Fifth, extraordinary visuals. Players should walk away remembering the sights their PCs experienced. Harley's Sailors on the Starless Sea
features a vast underground sea at the center of which is an island ziggurat topped by a fiery sacrifice. My People of the Pit
has a fog-shrouded canyon with crumbling stairs spiraling to its base, where a massive blubbery beast sends rotund tentacles slithering upwards out of the fog. And so on.
Sixth, no D&D stereotypes. No dwarves miners or giant-slayers. No elven foresters. No goblin raiders (especially not caravan raiders!). And so on.
Off the top of my head, those are the rules. I'll probably refine this list as we get closer to publishing submission guidelines next year.
Back to the prior posts in this thread: I agree that a good re-telling of a classic story is fine. There are only so many stories to tell, and what matters is often the strength of the telling, more than the story itself.
It's funny you mention submissions with dragons. Not one of the DCC RPG adventures features a dragon. One of them does feature a bad guy who rides a gigantic pterodactyl (see http://www.goodman-games.com/5071preview.html
). Every time I run that adventure, I describe his mount using visual terms, never naming it as a pterodactyl...but the players ALWAYS conclude the "leathery reptilian winged beast" I'm describing is a dragon. D&D players like to categorize the creatures they face. Your job as a writer is to break those categories.