Dragon Writers Guidelines

The Ground Rules

With few exceptions, submitting an article to Dragon requires these important steps:

  1. Review these guidelines.
  2. Send a query. Send and outline if it's requested.
  3. Submit the manuscript if approved.
  4. Wait patiently.

The Guidelines

The Writers' Guidelines outline what we expect as far as format and style, but they also give specific advice about how to write certain kinds of articles. Before sending any query, review these guidelines for information about what we're looking to see and on how to write the kind of articles you'll propose in your query. Forearmed with such knowledge, your queries and articles have a much greater chance of being accepted.

These guidelines do not address one of the most important subjects any writer should know: the proper way to prepare and submit a manuscript for possible publication. You can check out any number of resources for manuscript preparation, but we don't care much about specific format except for two things: Your manuscript must be easy to read, and it must follow D&D style. Note that all rules articles should be written for the current edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game. See Writing for Dragon for more details.

The Query

Query us with an email to dragon@paizo.com before you submit an article manuscript; that way, we can tell you which articles we're most likely to accept. We do not accept unsolicited articles.

We recommend you list a few possible article ideas with each query. Write a brief description of each article and the game content you'll include in the article. If we're interested, we'll ask you to send in the article or to email an outline.

An outline should give more detail, providing a description of every part of the article. For instance, if you want to write an article containing new magic items, your outline should tell us about the items and what special powers each will have.

You don't need to have the whole article written before you send a query or outline, but you should be able to give us a good idea of what the final article will look like. Give a rough estimate of each article's length, which should be less than 5,250 words in most cases. Certain types of articles have specific word counts they must meet, and longer articles of those types have little chance of being accepted. See the Familiars section of the Writers' Guidelines for more details.

Also, it's frustrating for the editors to see proposals for articles similar to articles that have been printed. If you subscribe to the magazine and are familiar with its content, you'll save yourself and the editorial staff time by not submitting ideas for articles that have already been published, and you're more likely to write the article in a style acceptable to the magazine.

Send queries to: dragon@paizo.com

The Submission

After you have received a request to write an article, email the completed submission to dragon@paizo.com as a Word document or in rich text format. There are two important rules for your submission:

1. Always include your name, current email address, and home address on the first page of your article. If either address changes before you receive a response, send an email to dragon@paizo.com noting the address change and the article or articles to which the change is relevant so we can send a response to the appropriate place.

2. Always include a disclosure form. You'll find the disclosure from attached to these guidelines. You can scan the form with your signature, mail a signed copy, or include it in the file at the end of the article.

The Waiting

An editor should reply to your emailed submission within one week to let you know the article was received. We might need as long as twelve weeks to make our evaluation of your submission. If you have not heard from us after this much time, feel free to inquire by email about the status of your material. While you wait, feel free to send more queries. Do not contact us by phone to ask about the status of your manuscript.


If your article is acceptable, expect to do some revision. We often ask for changes to articles to adjust style, game balance, length, or focus. Send your revision in Word or rich text format attached to an email to the editor who requested it or to dragon@paizo.com if no email address is provided. Put "revision" in the title of your email and give a brief description of the article in the body of your email. When we ask for a revision, it is not a guarantee of acceptance of the article. If you are unwilling or unable to revise your work as we require, we will not print your article. Again, we might need as long as twelve weeks to make our evaluation of your submission. Please do not contact us about the status of you submission until that time has passed.


Your article might be deemed unacceptable, even after revisions, and we will not often have time to provide you with an explanation. Although we would like to help writers improve their skills and better inform our freelancers of how to get articles accepted, the quantity of articles we receive already exceeds our ability to respond to them in a timely manner. If you receive a form rejection letter, please save your article for future inspiration and query us about new article ideas.

Articles are most often rejected because of poor writing quality, imprecise game mechanics, failure to present information in D&D styles, poor formatting and organization, clichŽd approaches to topics, or differences between the query and the final article. These are problems that all freelancers should be aware of and looking for in their writing. We strongly recommend that you have another person or several others review your work before you send it in. Another person's point of view can often reveal problems or missed opportunities invisible to you.

Writing for Dragon

Writing for Dragon can be an easy, fantastic experience, but you must do your homework before writing and familiarize yourself with Dragon's guidelines and the ways to write for the D&D system.

What Do We Want?

We usually don't assign specific article ideas to freelance writers. It's easier and almost always better to write about subjects that interest you. Still, there are some generalities about the articles we prefer that you should keep in mind.

Player Focus: Articles for Dragon should be useful to players. We're not interested in content useful only to DMs or written specifically for DMs. If you'd like to write an article for DMs, see the Dungeon Writer's Guidelines. Articles can have content useful to DMs, but they should have a player focus overall.

New Rules: Articles that provide new feats, races, spells, magic items, equipment, or prestige classes often make great "Familiars," as we call our regular articles. See the Familiars section of the Writers' Guidelines.

We also like new rules systems that deal with new concepts in the game or rules that cover certain aspects of game play that the current D&D rules might gloss over. Ensure that your rules article adds to the existing D&D game rather than replacing parts of it.

Published Worlds: We don't mind reviewing articles that stem from a published world, but we're not interested in presenting articles that are deeply rooted in any particular setting. An article describing a race from Spelljammer that is useful in all D&D games without requiring the Spelljammer setting or ships-in-space motif is fine, but an article that delves deeply into the politics of a region in Greyhawk or the rites of a religion in the Forgotten Realms is not useful enough to most readers.

Iconic Topics: When submitting your article ideas to Dragon, remember that the closer your ideas are to the core experience of playing D&D, the more they'll appeal to the majority of readers and the more likely they will be accepted. An article of necromancy spells is far more likely to be of interest than an article of time-travel spells. An article about strategies for fighters is more useful than an article about strategies for druid-illusionists. An article about the equipment you need to go dungeon delving is better than an article about the equipment you need to go to Mechanus.

No New Columns: We are not looking for any new columns.

Format and Style

Article manuscripts should use the current style of D&D game products. For instance, the names of magic items and spells should be italicized, and feat names should be capitalized. See the Rules Content section for more information about how to present game elements.

Note that we will not publish an article written in the first person. This means that you should not use the words "I" or "my" in your article unless some character other than yourself is saying them. If you must refer to some example from personal experience, do not use the first person to do so.

If your article begins with a narrative vignette or piece of example dialog, it should be no more than 200 words long.

A full page of text in Dragon contains about 750 words. Submissions should not exceed 5,000 words or the specified word count for the Familiars article unless the editor specifically responds to a query that a longer article is desired.

Use proper bibliographic style when listing book and magazine references in your article. If your article quotes material verbatim from other sources, identify the sources (including page numbers) and be sure that each quote is written exactly as it appears in the original source.

Consistently poor spelling, grammar, and sentence structure will almost certainly cause an article to be rejected. We don't insist that manuscripts be perfect, but we prefer those that require little editing.

Do not submit any manuscript simultaneously to Dragon and to any other magazine, website, or d20 publisher. Do not copy material from another source and pass it off as your own (i.e., commit plagiarism). Authors will bear full legal responsibility for such actions.

Drawings and sketches may accompany your article if they are necessary to illustrate important points. Such pictures need not be for publication as drawn but should still be clearly and neatly rendered. We can sometimes use photographs, but they must be clear, crisply focused, and high in contrast.

Rules Content

D&D is precise and consistent. This precision makes the game-stalling and argument-provoking questions of other games and previous editions a thing of the past. The designers of the game put a lot of thought into how the various rules and game elements interact and are balanced. Dragon articles must be held to this high standard. If there is one thing you must remember when creating new game elements for D&D, it is this: Be precise.

The more work you do to adhere to the rules and the formats presented in the rulebooks, the greater the chances that we'll be able to accept the article you write and the less revision you will be required to do. When you've gotten the go ahead to write an article that contains rules, make sure that you have a good grasp of any other similar rules that exist and that you use all the resources you have available.

If you plan on creating new rules elements, you should be aware of other such rules elements that have been published in Dragon and other D&D products. It's a good idea to keep a library of these materials so that you do not duplicate content. Unique new game elements garner our attention; highly derivative or duplicated rules will not be published.

Book References: If your article uses rules elements from D&D products other than the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, or Monster Manual, reproduce the integral elements in your article for readers' reference. You will not be paid for those words, and too much reprinting of such information will make an article unacceptable. It's to your advantage and the readers' to provide content that can be used with just the three Core Rulebooks.

Show Your Work: When you calculate the skill points for a monster, figure out the cost of a magic item, or set the level of a spell, provide the calculations or the thought process behind the decisions you made.

Standard Text: When you give an established ability (such as scent or sneak attack) to a monster or prestige class, use the full text from the most recent product available. If your article would repeat that text many times, use the full text just the first time, and note in later instances that the earlier text should be used.

d20 Resources and References: Do not use or reference material produced in d20 products by companies other than Wizards of the Coast, even if it is labeled as open game content. In certain rare circumstances, the editors might grant permission to reprint or reference certain d20 content, but for the most part Dragon is devoted to giving readers new D&D elements for their games.


Your article might include a number of sidebars (text set apart from the main body of the article). When you include a sidebar, it's helpful if you indicate its presence with text in brackets, such as: [[begin sidebar]] and [[end sidebar]]. If you present a table, use the same indicators.

There are a couple sidebars that appear regularly in Dragon, and you should always check if your article would benefit from the inclusion of one or more of them.

Behind the Curtain: This sidebar explains the decision-making process about a new rule in the article.

New Equipment: This sidebar presents a new nonmagic weapon, armor, alchemical item, or tool useful to players and related to the topic of the article.

How-To: This sidebar explains how readers might construct something from your article. For instance, if you devise a new kind of quality for a magic item, you might explain how to arrive at that quality's cost and thereby how to create other similar properties.

Power Plays: "Power Plays" sidebars present a combination of feats, spells and feats, spells, magic items, or other game rules that results in a particularly puissant effect. They briefly show how a game element or a few game elements can be used by players to the greatest effect. A "Power Plays" sidebar should be no more than 150 words long.

For Your Character: If you present elements of an article that are not easily adopted by players (which should be rare), include a "For Your Character" sidebar. This sidebar should give examples of how players can use the more DM-oriented element of your article. A "For Your Character" sidebar should be no more than 300 words.

Table Talk

Dragon has several standard articles that appear in the front section of the magazine. These articles have specific guidelines that you must follow in addition to those noted above. Adhering to these guidelines greatly increases your chances of having an article accepted.

Scale Mail (Up to 300 Words)

"Scale Mail" is Dragon's letters column. It's a place for readers to give their opinions and let other gamers know their thoughts. We do not pay for letters sent to "Scale Mail," but we'd love to hear from you. Send emails to scalemail@paizo.com.

First Watch (Up to 300 Words)

"First Watch" features upcoming products of interest to D&D players. We do not pay for submissions to first watch, but if you have a product you'd like to see featured in the magazine, we'd be happy to review it for inclusion. Send product samples to: Dragon at Paizo Publishing; 3245 146th Pl. SE, Suite 110; Bellevue, WA 98007.

Player Initiative (Up to 300 Words)

"Player Initiative" presents news about what gamers are doing. It gives information about conventions and RPGA events, and it presents famous folk who play D&D, survey results, and things that D&D players are doing. If your highschool has a D&D club, you're heading up a convention, or you've built an addition to your house just to game in, we want to hear about it. We do not pay for submissions to "Player Initiative."

Under Command (2,600 Words)

The "Under Command" column offers advice, insight, and new rules for the D&D Miniatures game as well as D&D uses for elements from the miniatures game. Any article submitted for this column should make heavy use of the miniatures in some fashion. "Under Command" does not present painting or customizing advice, miniatures statistics for monsters without miniatures, or alternate statistics for figures.

Silicon Sorcery (1,400 Words)

"Silicon Sorcery" presents a recent electronic game and takes inspiration from it to create new D&D rules. The article should begin with a short description of the game and then proceed to present D&D rules elements inspired by the game. Please note that the new D&D elements you present must be inspired by the game, not direct translations of parts of the game's identity (such as D&D statistics for a character or monster).

Each of these articles should include a 300-word sidebar that evaluates the game for what D&D players would like about it, focusing on the elements that are similar to D&D. This sidebar is not a review.

A Novel Approach (1,400 Words)

Similar in many respects to "Silicon Sorcery," "A Novel Approach" presents elements takes inspiration from a novel to create new D&D rules. The article should begin with a short description of the novel and then proceed to present D&D rules elements inspired by the book. We're not interested in seeing D&D statistics for Elric's sword or Suaron's ring, but items inspired by those elements from novels would be good.

Each of these articles should include a 300-word sidebar that evaluates the novel for what D&D players would like about it, focusing on the elements that are similar to D&D. This sidebar is not a review.


Dragon's Features section presents longer articles on a diverse array of topics of interest to D&D players. If you have an idea for an article that doesn't fit one of the other types noted in the guidelines, or you have an article like them that does not fit the specified word count, your article idea is a Features article. Typically, the Features section contains an advice article for players, a general interest article, an article that delves into detail about some aspect of the D&D (not a specific setting), and a couple rules articles. Sometimes the Features section contains fiction.

Advice Articles (2,650 to 5,250 Words)

Longer advice articles make great articles for the Features section. Your advice article should be directed toward players, not DMs. Advice articles about elements central to adventuring or D&D play have the greatest chance of acceptance. Example topics include: surviving and fighting in a specific environment, developing backgrounds for characters, picking or building a base of operations, and deciding what class to play.

General Interest Articles (2,650 to 5,250 Words)

General interest articles discuss something of interest to D&D players without necessarily discussing an aspect of D&D. Example topics include: the history of the crossbow, an encyclopedia of fantasy movies, the real-world myths of the tarrasque, and real-world tomb traps.

D&D Detail Articles (2,650 to 5,250 Words)

This type of Features article takes an element central to the D&D game and describes it in greater detail. The "Ecologies" article are an example of doing this kind of thing for monsters. Example topics include: elven names and language, fostered dragons, the design of dwarven cities, and what D&D races might have as holidays.

Rules Articles (2,650 to 5,250 Words)

Longer rules articles make great articles for the Features section. Many rules articles will fit in other parts of the magazine. An article of four prestige classes is likely better as four "Gaining Prestige" articles. An article with twenty feats is often better as several "Heroic Feats" articles. Rules elements that don't have a place in a recurring column make the best Features articles. Example topics include: new nonmagic equipment, new cleric domains, rules for creating your own constructs, and new familiars.


Dragon no longer accepts unsolicited fiction. We publish just twelve issues a year, and not all of those issues will have a short story in them. In the past this meant an unfair competition between thousands of unsolicited fiction submissions and fiction solicited from established fantasy authors.

Dragon will continue to feature great fiction, but Dragon can't be the place for potential fiction authors and novelists to break into the industry. There are other outlets for short fantasy fiction better equipped to showcase a new author's work, such as another of Paizo's publications: Amazing Stories.


Dragon has several standard articles that appear regularly in issues. These articles have specific guidelines that you must follow in addition to those noted above. Adhering to these guidelines greatly increases your chances of having an article accepted.

Spellcraft (2,000 Words)

"Spellcraft" features original spells. The best such articles are introduced by a brief history of the spells and have spells from as many schools and for as many classes as possible. When creating new spells, reread the Magic and Spells chapters in the Player's Handbook. Make sure you understand the divisions between the various schools of magic and that you use the proper formats for school, subschool, descriptors, level, components, casting time, range, area, effect, target, duration, and other spell description elements. Pay particular attention to the guidelines for how much damage a spell of a particular level should do. If you have them available, check out the spells sections of other D&D books like Complete Arcane, Tome and Blood, Magic of Faeržn, and Defenders of the Faith. The "Abuse Your Illusions" article in issue #292 is an excellent resource to learn how to design illusion spells. Present the spells with the proper formatting.

Do not design spells that are simply variations on standard themes, such as a fireball that deals acid damage or an entangle spell that constricts to damage foes. These are easy spells to design and can be represented by rules already in place.

Ecologies (2,600 Words)

An "Ecologies" article delves into greater detail about a particular monster from the Monster Manual. However, "Ecologies" articles must focus more on the players and how PCs interact with the creature, rather than exhaustive information useful only to Dungeon Masters. It should offer helpful tips for dealing with the monster, such as how to recognize signs of its presence. In general, an "Ecology" article should have a hunter's guidebook approach, although it should not be written "in voice." A number of sections must be included in each "Ecologies" article. Remember: Don't describe new features of the creature or add to it in such a way that it would change game mechanics.

Introduction: Draw a reader in with a strong introduction of only a paragraph or two. It should include something tantalizing, such as a cool or oft-overlooked feature of the monster that makes the reader want to continue with the article.

History or Origin Myths: Relate a brief version of the creature's history or origin myth as described in other D&D books. This is perhaps most important for intelligent creatures with complex societies, but unnatural creatures and constructs might also have interesting histories. It's important in this section that you rely on what has been written. We do not want a new origin story for a monster.

Knowledge Check Sidebar: This sidebar should offer sample bits of knowledge depending on the DC result of an appropriate Knowledge check. See the Player's Handbook, page 78, for the different Knowledge skills and what type of Knowledge a monster falls into. This knowledge should scale from DC 0 to DC 40 (assuming there's enough interesting things to know about the creature) with DC 10 representing the limit of common knowledge and what PCs would know with an unskilled Knowledge check.

Physiology: Describe the creature in more detail than the Monster Manual. Include physical descriptions of adults and young. This is also the section to include a dissection-table analysis of the creature or a part of the creature. See the first chapter of the Draconomicon for some examples of what you might do.

Psychology and Society: Describe the creature's eating and sleeping cycles, procreation, lifespan, and other such information related to how the creature lives. Especially important for creatures with near-human or greater intelligence, this section details how the creature thinks and why it acts the way it does. Try to strike a balance between simplification and psychoanalysis. Many creatures have drastically different mentalities that are completely alien to humans. This is the place to explore those differences. Obviously, creatures without an Intelligence score don't have psychologies, and therefore don't need this section.

Vs.: This section explains tactics and tips for defeating the creature in combat. It should describe the creature's tactics and offer counter tactics that PCs should use. Think about the mundane and magical equipment PCs should have to defeat the monster, and if you devise a useful piece of equipment not already in the game, describe it in a sidebar.

The Magic Shop (2,000 Words)

"Magic Shop" articles describe magic items for the D&D game. We prefer that each "Magic Shop" article provides a magic item for each "item slot" (see Magic Items on the Body on page 214 of the Dungeon Master's Guide) or provides a magic item for each item creation feat (see the Player's Handbook). Items should be useful to players, and it should be possible for players to buy or create them (i.e. no artifacts). As with new spells, the best items have an interesting background and description.

Reread the Magic Items chapter in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Pay special attention to the rules for creating magic items for the game and how the costs for magic items are devised. Magic items must have their aura, caster level, prerequisites, market price, and weight listed. Understand what these terms are and how their values are derived. Note that saving throws for magic item effects are usually calculated by the minimum ability bonus needed to cast the spell.

The easiest magic items to design are those that duplicate spell effects or that stack current magic item qualities. While an item that does this in a creative way might be acceptable, we prefer that you attempt something more difficult and ingenious. We will reject articles that feature magic items that are too derivative or that simply reproduce existing effects.

Heroic Feats (750 Words)

"Heroic Feats" is a regular feature that presents several feats for use by players. The feats can be along a particular theme, be for a particular race, or be grouped in some other manner. The best such articles present feats useful to a large number of PC classes and types.

Gaining Prestige (2,000 Words)

"Gaining Prestige" provides a new prestige class. Prestige classes are fun to design, but they can be difficult to design well. Be especially careful when assigning a prestige class sneak attack damage, all good saves, a high Hit Die type, the fighter attack progression, or +1 level of existing class at each level for the purposes of determining spells per day; these are elements that can quickly make a prestige class too powerful. A prestige class should be better than a base class in some way, but not better at everything or so much better at one thing that everyone would take the prestige class.

The prestige class should have a consistent and unique feel; we don't want to see a better version of the barbarian or a prestige class with abilities that have nothing to do with its theme. Each level of the prestige class should tempt the player, but not necessarily because of the powerful ability that it grants. Ideally, a character that starts on the path of your prestige class will want to follow through on the whole thing, not switch to another class after gaining one particular ability at a low level of the prestige class. Look at all the D&D references you have for prestige classes and use them as examples of how your prestige class and its abilities should be presented.

A prestige class that represents a classic or "iconic" idea has a better chance at acceptance than one that is more on the fringe. The assassin is a great prestige class, but a prestige class designed for dwarven druid/bards is not.

Winning Races (2,600 Words)

"Winning Races" presents a single new PC race. This race should be described in the same manner as the races in the Player's Handbook with the addition of a "History" section and a section at the end that provides random starting ages, random height and weight, and aging effects (see Chapter 6: Description in the Player's Handbook).

The race should be unique, interesting, suitable to most D&D settings, and have no racial HD or level adjustment. Do not give the race ability score adjustments; we will assign them as appropriate. We find that too many authors start designing a PC race by thinking about racial ability score adjustments rather than imagining an interesting race. Do not design the race to be the best choice for a particular class. If the race is only a good choice if you play a particular class or if it overly benefits certain classes, it's not worth printing.

"Winning Races" can also present existing monsters for player use in the monster class format that appears in Savage Species. In this case, the article must present a monster class not already presented in that book, by Dragon, or by another official source.

Class Acts (700 Words)

A "Class Acts" article presents 700 words for a single core class from the Player's Handbook. Each issue features one such article for each of the eleven classes. Topics could include: class equipment, character backgrounds, character descriptions, gear packages, alternate class starting packages (see the Player's Handbook), alignment outlooks, animal companions and familiars, mounts, nontypical class representations, keeping a 1st-level PC alive, min-maxing the class, being the best, becoming famous, martial arts styles, power feat or spell combinations, how races overcome negatives for classes, class knowledge, skill application, origins, societies, secret agendas, goals, duties, schools, combat styles, spellcasting styles, cohorts, hirelings, and so on.

Player Tips (750 Words)

"Player Tips" offers advice to players about how to have more fun when they play. Possible topics include: helping your DM, coming prepared, dividing the spoils, playing fast, planning PC advancement, making good choices for the long term, dying well, dealing with DMs, using a funny voice, how to play a PC smarter than yourself, and so on.

Adventurer Tricks (750 Words)

"Adventurer Tricks" provides tactical advice for PCs, particularly in a dungeon environment. Possible topics include: marching order, dealing with traps, handling darkness or concealment, opening doors, how to enter the room, when to talk or fight, how to get the best result with a skill check, and so on.


If we like your manuscript, we'll ask to purchase the rights to print it. Once we have accepted your article, be patient when waiting for contracts. Contracts are sent when we begin work on the issue in which the article appears, which might not be for several months. We will send three copies of a contract to you if we want to purchase the rights to your manuscript. Sign all three and return two. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must sign or co-sign your contracts.


Payments for most articles are made 30 days after publication of the issue in which the article appears, usually at a rate of about 5 cents per word. We pay a flat fee for the use of an article, and we do not offer royalties. If two or more persons collaborate on an article, send us a signed statement from all authors concerning the division of payments.

All authors must keep us up to date on any address changes. American writers (only) must also provide us with their Social Security numbers, for tax purposes. If you have not received a check 60 days after your article's publication, contact the editors by mail or email.

Good luck!

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