The following has been sent to me through other channels, excerpted from a rejection e-mail sent to another contributor. It may be of use to everybody:
FYI: In 2012, we’re looking to provide less game support for the D&D 4E “core world” (as described in the Nerathi Legends articles and featured in the Conquest of Nerath Board Game) and more support for DM’s home games (in the form of generic, non-world-specific content) as well as classic D&D campaigns (FR, Eberron, Dark Sun, and to a lesser extent out-of-print settings).
1) I pitched two psionic item sets -- response: item sets didn't catch on with players and won't be further supported.
2) I pitched a Vestige Pact Hexblade -- response: warlock very well supported in print products & DDI; not interested.
3) Mark Meredith of DiceMonkey.net pitched both mass combat and naval combat rules. These both got responses of "if we tackle something this large, we'll do it in-house."
4) Mark Meredith also pitched an Unearthed Arcana on grievous wounds, based on the disease track rules. Response: Already in the works.
In the related ENWorld thread here, Craig Campbell (who wrote the Baba Yaga's Hut adventure in November) listed these points. I've renumbered them to be consistent with this list.
5) Avoid things that hearken to D&D's past of devil and demon worship. Adventures that play into devil worship (including "deals with the devil") will be summarily rejected.
6) Regarding Backdrops, Wizards folks favor articles that describe locations in previouly-published material over all-new, custom-designed backdrops that aren't specifically tied to published campaign settings.
7) Content built around seafaring is already in the works.
8) Sidetreks and adventures built around the D&D trope of "road bandits" has been done before. There's a sidetrek in the works in this theme.
9) Bazaar of the Bizarre articles are submitted often. Don't propose such an article unless you have a GREAT hook for such an article.
Brian Liberge (who write a fair amount of 4E stuff for Kobold Quarterly) adds this:
10) Wizards is absolutely not interested in getting more material about the Abyssal Plague.
11) If you pitch Dragonlance make sure it is clear when it is set and it is best to take into account the current events in DL.
12) I was told " We already have as much runepriest material as we need for the foreseeable future."
13) Avoid pitches that suggest the PCs have a particular role in the world, especially if it's something like Cormeryan noble.
14) No arcane archers in 4E. Chris (Perkins?) has finally said that people aren't interested and the Seeker fills the niche already.
On the cross-post thread at ENWorld, Joshua Randall has added
15) "We’re not interested in exploring optional initiative rules at this time, and the game already allows strikers and others who tend to roll high initiative to delay and act later in the round."
From the 17 January 2012 Rule of Three column:
16) Articles that take a class or race and turn them into something that they are not; for example, don't pitch "I want to design a wizard build that is a striker" or "I want to design a halfling subrace that is geared toward being a fighter." That kind of material is really better suited to the books, and requires a lot of expertise and development time to pull off well.
17) Redesigning something that exists as something else; we're not interested in seeing an "arcane archer" class when we have the seeker, even though there's a power source difference. Something smaller that does something similar—to continue the above example, new material for the bard that focus on songbows—would be better.
18) No articles that reimagine something we've already done in previous editions as their primary goal.
19) Highly scripted adventures are likely to be rejected. If your adventure pitch reads more like a short story, reconsider. The players need to be able to have an impact on the adventure.
20) Articles that require a lot of campaign context to pull off; it's OK to pull ideas from your own campaign, but be aware that articles of that nature sometimes would not work without the context of your own campaign. If it relies on a lot of other elements of your campaign, it probably won't work as an article.
21) Specific beats general; don't pitch an article on "The Astral Sea" but focus on one aspect of the Astral Sea, for example.
22) High-impact story elements; if dropping it into the world has a huge impact, it's harder to use and makes more work for the DM.
23) General advice articles.
24) Unearthed Arcana articles that further complicate or lengthen encounters.
25) Right now we're full up on Bazaar of the Bizarre, Tavern Profiles, and Bestiary articles. Also, don't pitch articles for the "Eye on..." Columns. Those are columns tied to specific authors.
Comments to John duBois (removing duplicates)
26) Articles dealing with one particular area of a campaign setting are better than articles that are literally all over the map.
27) Thumbs down on articles that are too "niche" (in particular in reference to an article on Small-size barbarians)
28) Thumbs down on articles that try to fill a perceived mechanical void without story development or flavor attached.
29) Strong hints that articles containing system-agnostic content may be viewed with a more positive eye (which was confusing to me in early December, but makes a lot more sense now).
30) They're not interested in full articles on a new artifact. They prefer to integrate these into adventures.
31) They don't want detailed encounter settings/set pieces unless they already have a map to use.
Last update: 27 January 2012; 8:30 PM CST