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IV.I. Submission Guidelines

The following submission guidelines were adapted from Dungeon magazine's old guidelines for 2nd edition adventures. Adhering to these guidelines will make life easier for us (when reviewing your submissions) and your audience (who will be running your adventure). The sheer lack of volume of Al-Qadim material creates an opportunity for designers. If you have a "good idea", we're willing to help you flesh it out.

Adventure module proposals should include a working title, an original and believable plot, the major opponents, and types of characters for which the module was meant, a summary of the rewards to be gained and foes to be overcome, and an estimate of the completed module's length and number of maps.

Whenever possible, we will return comments that we feel will help to improve your submission.

Consistently poor spelling, grammar, and sentence structure will almost certainly cause an accessory to be returned. Any accessory submitted to us must be written in as professional a manner as possible. Even if you feel that you have a strong grasp of the English language and that your article is good, you should have the manuscript proofread by one other person, preferably an English teacher or professional editor. We do not insist that manuscripts are perfect, but we do look more favorably upon those that require little editing.

Do not copy material from another source and pass it off as your own (i.e. commit plagiarism, like we did with these guidelines). Authors will bear full legal responsibility for such actions.

We prefer that the electronic text be in MS Word or RTF (rich text format). You should also send a cover e-mail highlighting any special features or other considerations within the submission. All relevant maps and diagrams should accompany a finished accessory. Additional drawings, sketches, and charts may be added for clarification. Make each map a separate file (acceptable file types include .bmp, .gif, .jpg file formats). Do not incorporate or weave maps around the text of your manuscript.

A Special Note about All Submissions

Before setting out to write a game accessory, familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with the rules and game setting. Be aware of the specifics of the Al-Qadim Campaign Setting and of the elements of which your module focuses on.

Avoid making changes to the published rules. Other alterations, such as new monsters and treasures, are permissible but should not be overused. You may also add new material that expands on the rules, such as optional aerial combat rules or details on adventuring in unusual environments.

All submissions should retain iconic heroes, locations, magical items, and artifacts. Products uploaded to the site should not kill off major NPCs (no matter how much you dislike Drizzt), destroy well-known artifacts, or similar activities.

Correspondence and Evaluations

It takes a while to evaluate submissions. If you have not heard from us after a couple of weeks, feel free to inquire by e-mail about the status of your material. All authors must give us their current e-mail addresses and keep us up to date on any e-mail address changes.

 

Article, Campaign Expansion, and Sourcebook Guidelines

If you're familiar with the Dungeons & Dragons game, particularly the Al-Qadim Campaign Setting, you've probably realized that there's a relatively consistent style to the way such products were printed. We strongly prefer that manuscript submissions adhere to that style as closely as possible.

For instance, in an accessory about some aspect of the Al-Qadim setting, the names of magical items and spells should be italicized in the printed text. In the AD&D game, numerals are used to identify character levels (e.g., a 4th-level ranger); the levels of spells are written out (a fifth level spell).

Another important example of proper style: A character is a fictional personality created for a roleplaying game, like a character in a movie or stage production. A player is a real person who plays the game. Do not confuse these two terms in your submission!

These guidelines assume the use of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rules set. We will, of course, also accept proposals that conform to the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules set. Refer to the submission guidelines for Dungeon and Dragon magazines for format standards.

Use proper bibliographic style when listing book and magazine references in your accessory. 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.

Manuscripts should address all facets of the subject at hand. They should not pose questions that aren't answered in the text, nor should they contain flat statements that are not explained or justified with sound reasoning or deduction. Any accessory that proposes a new procedure or offers a new creation for use in a gaming adventure should also provide reasons why the new procedure is beneficial to use or why the new creation has the properties it does.

Develop an eye for detail and pay close attention to specifics. Lack of clarity occurs when an author assumes knowledge or understanding on the part of the reader that the reader may not have. Someone exposed to an author's ideas for the first time needs to have all relevant facts explained in detail and in order of significance.

Tastelessness should be avoided. We will likely hesitate to accept any accessories involving the destruction of children or helpless persons, cruel mistreatment of animals, excessive gore or violence, descriptions of Satan or Satanism, or game versions of major religious figures. Explicit sex, the encouragement of substance abuse, offensive language, and bathroom humor cannot be used. If you're not sure if it qualifies, explain to us in your proposal what the potential problem is.

Drawings and sketches may accompany your accessory 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. Sketches and artwork should be done in ink, not pencil, and if appropriate should include a scale grid (square or hexagonal pattern) or size scale. Legibility of maps and drawings is critical. If some of your illustrations are publishable, we will make use of them if we can.

Make sure that your accessory is complete. It must have all relevant game statistics, maps, and any other necessary support information. Place any tables, charts, or maps at the end of your manuscript. Any sketches or maps you include must be clear, legible, and rendered by computer or done in ink and scanned.

Please do not try to make the manuscript look fancy by using "artistic" fonts; these are more difficult to read. We are interested in what you have written and how it is constructed; a simple font will do.

 

Adventure Module Guidelines

An adventure module should contain the following elements: (Note that these elements apply to all adventure modules—including those included in sourcebooks or campaign expansions.)

  • A description of the player characters (classes, races, level range, total levels, etc.) that work best for the adventure. Also, any relevant information that the PCs should have before the adventure, including what equipment and special information they need at the mission's start.
  • A Dungeon Master's briefing giving the background of the adventure. This section should not repeat information from the characters' briefing, as the DM will have read that section also.
Maps, Diagrams, and Visual Aids

Make sure that all artwork and maps are neatly rendered, and that scanned images are clear and legible. The map grid (square or hexagonal) should be clearly marked without obstructing the map's legibility. Scale lines may be used for outdoor maps. Use a straight edge to draw the straight lines on your final copy. Darken solid areas (such as rock around a dungeon complex). Whenever possible, draw the furnishings or obvious features of an area. Use icons for beds, desks, ladders, trap doors, curtains, etc. Try to make your icons readily understandable without a map key.

Remember internal consistency when designing maps. Inhabited areas require provisions for bringing in food, water, light and heat; a method for disposing of waste materials; and ways for the inhabitants to get around easily. Large area maps should conform to known geographical principles; note special cases. Use numerals for rooms in dungeons and other structures, numbered consecutively throughout. (Do not start over with room number 1 on a dungeon’s second level.) Remember, indoor complexes laid out in perfect symmetry are often dull; use creativity, even if the final result isn’t perfect architecture. Avoid using large mazes. Always check your maps against the finished text. Make sure you have described all relevant areas on the maps and have not mislabeled anything.

The Module Itself

A description of the adventuring environment, with all details relevant to the adventure supplied (including maps and charts). Complete information on running the adventure, including special rules; monster and NPC statistics and possessions; possible encounters; information and items to be discovered; rumors; details on new magical items, spells, monsters, and weapons; and any other material that would be helpful to the DM or players. A description of the possible consequences resulting from the adventure’s success or failure, including rewards, punishments, and spin-off adventures for later gaming sessions. Include story award experience points for completing the story's goals.

Encounters should be described fully. Make sure no relevant details of encountered beings are left out (including pertinent statistical information such as hit points, ability scores, etc.) The weapons and equipment carried by an NPC, along with relevant personality and reaction notes, should be given with the first mention of the individual. Major NPCs should be well-rounded characters with specific motivations. All encounters, NPCs, hazards, rewards, details on the environment, and specific information required for combat or accomplishing the mission should be detailed sufficiently to allow the DM and players to run through the scenario without trouble.

Do not include statistics for player characters, as players usually wish to bring their own characters into the game. Ideally, your adventure should be designed for 3-6 player characters, with no more than eight.

We strongly encourage you to use boxed text to set off material to be read aloud to the players. You can draw the boxes by computer, or an acceptable alternative is to leave two blank lines before and after "boxed text" in italic type, separate from the surrounding text. Additional information such as encounter tables, lists of rumors, new monsters, and magical items can be set off in sidebars. Place a note in the text near the location the sidebar will occupy ("Rumor Table Goes Here"), but place all sidebar text at the end of the module.

Style and Content

We prefer adventures with strong plot elements -- ones that tell good stories. The majority of encounters in an adventure must relate directly to the adventuring goal. Encounters that are interconnected and critical to the adventure’s plot are best. Illogical adventure set-ups in which monsters and treasure are randomly thrown together should be avoided. This does not mean one cannot use random encounter tables, but the tables should be logical and consistent with the adventuring environment, making the overall adventure sensible and believable.

Don’t over-reward players or underchallenge them. We will reject modules in which mighty fortresses are guarded by weak monsters, or in which the PCs can walk off with half the miscellaneous magic items in the Dungeon Masters Guide. Take the time to make rewards consistent and believable as well as balanced. Non-monetary rewards (such as a noble's gratitude or small plot of land) are equally favorable. Conversely, do not create opponents that would totally overwhelm a party. If you must use an exceptionally powerful being in an adventure, there must be a good reason for it, and the situation must be carefully handled. High-level adventures should keep the balance of the game in perspective and should challenge the players without damaging the Al-Qadim world set-up. Adventures tailored for the saving or ruining of the Al-Qadim world cannot be accepted.

Modules that present new magical items, monsters, weapons, or NPC classes are not as interesting as modules that present a fast-paced, exciting, enjoyable adventure. If you create something new for the game (such as a new magic item used by an important NPC), make sure its presence in the module is justified, that it is fully explained in terms of its effects in the game, and that it is reasonable and fits with the game rules. Feel free to "tweak" existing items by giving them unusual properties, such as a ring of invisibility that nullifies the wearer’s ability to speak or cast spells.

We’re looking for refreshingly new ideas or fresh approaches to old ideas.

Do not use NPCs to help the player characters excessively. NPCs who step in and eliminate all opposition to the PCs, lead the PC party, and accomplish the PCs’ goals for them are very dangerous to campaigns. Set up the adventure to challenge the players, and let them make it on their own.

We are also interested in seeing short adventures under 2,000 words that can be easily dropped into an evening’s game. Unusual monster lairs, city encounters, and small ruins may be presented, but each should be unique, interesting, well detailed, and backed by a compelling story. When we receive enough of these short adventures we may produce an anthology exhibiting them. Again, these types of short adventures do not require a proposal but should follow all other listed module guidelines.

We have few other definite rules about how a module should be put together. We are willing to look at any innovative ideas that involve changes in a module’s structure and so forth. Such innovations should not, however, interfere with the playability of the module or the gamers’ enjoyment.

Playtesting Adventure Modules

Your module should be playtested before you complete the final draft. An inexperienced DM and group who try to play from the manuscript without help do the best testing. Experienced players are a good way to find rule inconsistencies, but they may gloss over basic aspects of play or assume local house rules, thereby missing some problems. The least efficient and effective method of playtesting is for the author to run the game, because he or she tends to mentally fill in the holes, especially holes in game mechanics and encounter staging.

In terms of game mechanics, was enough information given to run the adventure’s NPCs and monsters? Were there any rules questions that came up during play? Did you need to reference any rules that are hard to find or use? Was the amount of treasure and magical items given out appropriate?

For manuscript organization, consider the following: Was the text of the adventure easy to understand? Were any sections contradictory? Were any important points not covered? Was the information given in a logical order? Were the maps and diagrams neat, clearly labeled, and easy to use?

Narrative elements are vital to making a manuscript fun to read and play. Did the adventure hook work, or did the players have to be railroaded? Was the pacing too fast or too slow? Were there encounters that interfered with the flow of the adventure? Did the plot flow logically from the background? Were the NPCs’ actions consistent with their goals, character traits, and alignment? Did the manuscript help create the proper mood? Is the conclusion satisfying?

Finally, adventures must balance danger and triumph. Are the challenges appropriate for the recommended level(s) of play? Was the adventure fraught with PCs perishing left, right, and center, or was it a cakewalk? Was the DM ever forced to "fudge" things in the party's favor to keep the adventure going? Did the players solve mysteries easily, or did they need lots of hints? Which encounters did the players enjoy most? Why?

Note: Please do not send playtest results with your manuscript, but use the results to create a playable, well-balanced adventure.

Specific Formats

In the case of all game accessories, only proper nouns are capitalized. Monsters, character classes, NPC classes, characteristics, and weapons begin with lower case letters. The words "Dungeon Master" and the abbreviation "DM" are always capitalized. The various AD&D hardbound books are italicized. Abbreviations of AD&D game terms usually use all capital letters and no periods (DM, NPC, HD, XP, etc.). Ability scores should be capitalized (Dexterity, Charisma). The abbreviations for hit points and coins use lower case letters and no periods (hp, gp, sp). Note that the abbreviation for "electrum piece" is ep, and the abbreviation for experience points is XP.

Single digit numbers (zero to nine) are spelled out. Larger numbers are written as numerals. Never start a sentence with a numeral. Any amount over 999 should have a comma separating the thousands from the hundreds (1,500 gp). Numerals are used to identify character levels (a fighter of 4th level). When preceding a noun, the level should be hyphenated (a 2nd-level illusionist). Numbers should be written out to identify spell levels; for instance, wizard lock is a second level wizard spell. In AD&D game systems, use numerals with inch marks (") and foot marks (‘) to indicate depth, height, width, and length. Hyphenate compound adjectives before nouns ("the reddish-shelled, 15'-sartani"). The names of magical items and spells should be italicized. Use capital letters only if the name of the magical item or spell includes a proper noun. List all plusses after the description of the item. List jewels in order of descending value. If there is more than one jewel with the same value, note how many there are in parentheses after the value ("There are five gems in the sack, worth 500 gp, 400 gp, 250 gp (x2) and 50 gp.")

When 2nd edition AD&D monsters and NPCs are described in the text, the listing should use one of the following formats in a separate paragraph:

Name (# appearing): INT (intelligence); AL (alignment); AC (armor class); MV (movement rate); HD (hit dice) or NPC class and level); hp (hit points); THAC0 (to hit armor class 0); #AT (number of attacks); Dmg (damage); SA (special attacs); SD (special defenses); MR (magic resistance); SZ (size); ML (morale); XP (experience points); MM/# (Monstrous Manual and page) or MC# (Monstrous Compendium number); other notes (armor, equipment, weapons, spells, etc.)

For example:

Ogres (12): INT low; AL LE; AC 3; MV 9; HD 4+1; hp 30 each; THAC0 14; #AT 1; Dmg by weapon +6; SA 18/00 Strength; SZ L (9’ tall); ML 12; XP 420 each.

Head Taker (slayer tasked genie): INT High (14); AL NE; AC -2; MV 24, fl 30 (B); HD 12; hp 96; THAC0 9 (5 with Firefiend, 7 with Widowmaker); #AT 2; Dmg: 2d8/2d8 or by weapon +9 (scimitars: 1d8+14/2d8+12); SA: cause fear in true form, poison; MR 15%; ML 20; XP 11,000. Scimitar of speed +5 (Firefiend: self-immolate 1 / day for 2d4 rounds, damage + 1d4+4, body contact causes 1d4+4 hp damage, metal items save v acid or melt, flammable objects (paper, cloth) save v magical fire or ignite; wielder is immune to these effects and normal or magical cold), vorpal great scimitar +3 (Widowmaker), hands are coated in type-N contact poison, wears a leather baldric with the mummified heads of worthy foes.

Spells: blindness, silence (15' radius), darkness, improved invisibility, ventriloquism, misdirection, assume gaseous form, polymorph self, and dimension door.

 

Character (race sex Class / kit / #-level): AC (armor class); MV (movement rate); hp (hit points); THAC0 (to hit armor class 0); #AT # (notes); Dmg by weapon type (strength bonus); SA (special attacks); SD (special defenses); S (Strength), D (Dexterity), C (Constitution), I (Intelligence), W (Wisdom), Ch (Charisma); AL (alignment); ML (morale); XP (experience points); thief abilities: PP (pick pockets), OL (open locks), FRT (find/remove traps), MS (move silently), HS (hide in shadows), DN (detect noise), CW (climb walls), RL (read languages), DM (detect magic), DI (detect illusion), FD (forge document), BO (bribe official), DT (dig tunnel), EB (escape bonds); other notes (armor, equipment, weapons, etc. with magic items italicized and listed first)

Wizard Spells (x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x)
First level—xxx, xxx; second level—xxx, xxx; third level—xxx, xxx; fourth level—xxx, xxx; fifth level—xxx, xxx; sixth level—xxx, xxx; seventh level—xxx, xxx; eighth level—xxx, xxx; ninth level—xxx, xxx.

Priest Spells (x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x)
First level—xxx, xxx; second level—xxx, xxx; third level—xxx, xxx; fourth level—xxx, xxx; fifth level—xxx, xxx; sixth level—xxx, xxx; seventh level—xxx, xxx.

For example:

Jamal al-Yindannim (hmW/fm/12): AC 2; MV 12; hp 48; THAC0 16 (15 with Dex bonus); #AT 1, Dmg by weapon: poisoned jambiya (d4 + type-D poison); SA fire spells inflict +1 hp/die; SD +6 save bonus on against fire-related attacks (sash); fire spells cast on her inflict -2 hp/die; S 17, D 16, C 15, I 18, W 14, Ch 16; AL NE; ML (15); XP X,XXX; sash of fire resistance, wand of the sun (66 charges), ring of genie summoning (Khaizuran, warmonger tasked genie), bracers of defense AC 4, potion of extra-healing, philter of glibness, philter of love, vial of Starella's aphrodisiac, fireproofed white aba with deeppockets containing spell components, red keffiyeh, travelling spellbooks, six smoke spheres, four greek fire projectiles, two poisoned jambiyas (type D), and 12 poisoned throwing darts (type O).

Wizard Spells (4/4/4/4/4/1/0/0/0)
First level—burning hands, charm person, detect magic, magic missile; second level—banish dazzle, flaming sphere, ray of enfeeblement, sundazzle; third level—fireball, haste, sunscorch, slow; fourth level—fire shield, minor globe of invulnerability, sunfire, wall of fire; fifth level—seeming (x2), teleport, wall of force; sixth level—repulsion.

 

Use the following abbreviations for character entries:

List of abbreviations
Race Kit
Dwarf d Askar a
Elf e Ajami Mage aj
Gnome g Beggar-thief bg
Goblin gb Barber br
Human h Corsair c
Hobgoblin hb Desert rider dr
Half-elf he Ethoist e
Halfling hg Faris f
Half-orc ho Flame mage fm
Half-ogre hr Hakima h
Kobold kb Holy slayer hs
Lizard man lz Kahin k
Orc o Moralist m
Ogre og Merc barbarian mb
Sex Mamluk mk
Female f Merchant-rogue mr
Male
m
Matrud
mt
Class Mystic my
Bard
B
Outland priest
ow
Fighter
F
Pragmatist
p
Priest
P
Rawun
r
Paladin
Pal
Sand mage
sam
Ranger
R
Sea mage
sem
Thief
T
Sha'ir
sh
Wizard (mage)
W
Sa'luk
sl
 
 
Sorcerer
so
 
 
Wind mage
wm

For mages and clerics, spells memorized or received should be listed in alphabetical order by level; a semicolon should separate each level of spells from the next.

Finally, use the same method to address the DM throughout your accessory. Use either direct address ("Read the following to the players.") or indirect address ("The DM should roll 1d6.")

 

Fiction Guidelines

We seek original Al-Qadim fiction with intriguing plots and interesting, identifiable characters. Possible themes include problem solving, survival tales, quests, magical battles, and challenging missions. We are not specifically looking for fiction based on your own home Al-Qadim campaigns, because such fiction is generally of interest only to the original game's participants.

We do not want fiction that deals primarily with philosophical, metaphysical, or religious premises. Submitted fiction should be written for an older adolescent and adult audience. Use of obscene language and sexually explicit details or themes are frowned upon. A proposal is not necessary for fiction submissions; send the complete manuscript only.

 

Artwork Guidelines

Familiarity with the Al-Qadim campaign setting is essential to understand the editorial themes and artistic styles appropriate to the setting. Being a player or DM of the Al-Qadim game provides the added advantage of having a feel for the basic nature of the setting and our editorial direction, but this is not necessary. Most of the artwork we use must conform to or be justified by the rules of the AD&D game and the Al-Qadim Campaign Setting. We prefer characters that are outfitted sensibly and in accordance with the styles and fashions dictated by the AD&D game rules and the Al-Qadim campaign setting.

In general, overly stylized or abstract approaches to art are inappropriate. Serious consideration is given to work that demonstrates an artist's ability to create realistic illustrations. Accurate depiction of anatomy (human and animal) and the use of proper perspective are essential skills. Submit illustrations that have a strong composition and mood, and show figures in action. The ability to portray authentic historical weapons, armor, costumes, and architecture from middle eastern cultures is very desirable, and it weighs heavily in our evaluation of your artistic skills.

The use of professional-grade art supplies and materials is desirable. Art submissions rendered with ball-point pens, markers, or crayons will probably be refused. We prefer color work done in oils, acrylics, watercolors, or gouache.

 

Standards of Content

These guidelines are a modified version of the Wizards of the Coast Standards of Content. As such, they show a baseline for acceptable standards as relates to the Al-Qadim.com website. These standards should NOT be used if you intend to submit material to Wizards of the Coast. As guidelines, rather than a strict code, they allow for some interpretation.

Profanity

Profanity, in it's modern usage, isn't really appropriate to Al-Qadim; avoid it.

Dramatic Horror, Violence and Gore

The use of dramatic horror is acceptable in product development. It must fit the tone of your product.

Sexual Themes

Sexual situations are common in Al-Qadim. Focus on the romance and not the act.

Prejudice

Your products should not depict existing minorities, nationalities, social castes, religious groups, genders, lifestyle preferences, or people with disabilities as a group inferior to any other group.

Religion and Mythology

Current, real-world religions and religious groups and/or practices will not be portrayed in any way that promotes disrespect for these religions or their participants.

Addictions

Addictions of any kind should not appear as glamorous or entertaining pastimes. Addiction, or the encouragement of addiction, should be shown as a dangerous habit with harmful effects.

 

Summary

Adherence to these guidelines (and common sense) should go a long way toward improving your product. We want to present new Al-Qadim material as the best that can be found anywhere, and we have to set our standards to match. Submissions are open to anyone with the drive to contribute. We look forward to seeing your proposals.


© 2000 - 2006 Jonathan E. Bauder. All rights reserved by owners.