Campfire vs World Anvil: A Full Comparison of the Best Worldbuilding Tools

Of the many world building and story Bible-creating software out there, there are two that stand out above the rest: World Anvil and Campfire.

But which one should you use?

In this in-depth comparison, I explain exactly why I would choose Campfire if you are a writer, and World Anvil if you are a game master or world building hobbyist.

In other words:

How did I come to this conclusion? And why is it that I prioritize Campfire for writers? Read on for my detailed breakdown of these two incredible tools.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. What Campfire and World Anvil are
  2. Their difference in price
  3. Their difference in core features
  4. My recommendations for both

Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links, but as always it costs you nothing extra, and every bit goes to the Kindlepreneur coffee fund.

First: Are You a Writer or a Tabletop Gamer?

I need to first point out that the audience for Kindlepreneur is almost exclusively made up of writers.

That said, World Anvil and Campfire have two major audience: writers and tabletop gamers.

The reason this is important to point out is because my answer to the question of the “what is the best world building software” will differ depending on which audience you fall into.

Generally speaking, I recommend World Anvil for tabletop gamers and Campfire for writers.

My reasoning will become clear as you continue reading. But just keep in mind that I am speaking primarily to writers in this article.

What Is Campfire?

Campfire (sometimes called Campfire Write and formerly known as Campfire Blaze or Campfire Pro) is a plotting, planning, and worldbuilding platform designed primarily for authors to write their books and other storytelling projects.

Unlike some of its competitors, like World Anvil, Campfire focuses more directly on authors as their primary target audience, and less on game masters and RPG players, though they could also take advantage of this platform for their purposes.

Check Out Campfire

What Is World Anvil?

World Anvil is a worldbuilding platform that helps you create your world, maintain it over time, and keep track of all of the details in your world as well as generate maps, timelines, and charts based on those ideas.

World Anvil has several audiences, including authors, tabletop gamers, and worldbuilding hobbyists, and it has a ton of features.

Check Out World Anvil

What I Will Prioritize in This Review

Both tools are genuinely useful for world building, and both are incredibly powerful. In fact, many of the features are so similar that it is hard to choose a winner. But given that their primary focus audience is slightly different, this is not actually as hard as you think.

To make as fair a comparison as I can, I will be using a point system, awarding points based on which features I think are better for writers.

Once again, note that I am gearing this review towards writers and not tabletop gamers. There may be some features that work better for writers, but not for game masters.

Pricing: Campfire vs. World Anvil

One of the biggest differences between these two programs, and one of the biggest reasons you might choose one over the other, is their pricing.

Campfire Pricing

Campfire has a unique pricing scheme. It allows you to pick and choose among various modules, so that you only pay for the modules you want.

This is particularly useful if you are not a science fiction and fantasy author, in which case you only need a few modules, and can ignore the rest of the world building stuff.

For example, if you are a romance author, you might only need the Manuscript, Characters, Encyclopedia, Research, Timeline, Arcs, and Locations modules. These are all useful for planning your story and creating your story Bible, but are not exclusive to science fiction and fantasy world building.

Campfire allows you to subscribe to each of those modules, and also has a lifetime option for each of them.

Subscribing to all modules costs $12.50/month, $125/year, or $375/lifetime.

World Anvil Pricing

World Anvil, on the other hand, is a subscription-based service, and has multiple tiers that add features as you go.

The Grandmaster tier has the most features, and is comparable to owning all modules of Campfire. The Grandmaster tier is priced at $12/month, $105/year, or $650/lifetime.

There are lower tiers of World Anvil (and I even recommend the Master tier for authors that are just starting out, at $6.50/month), but I spotlight the Grandmaster tier because it is the closest to Campfire in terms of features and functionality.

Note that for both of these programs, there is a lot of flexibility. You can choose lower tiers of World Anvil, or choose fewer modules of Campfire. The above prices are assuming you want all of the features all at once.

But Campfire has one major advantage: customizable modules. As I mentioned before, not everyone will need all the modules, especially if you don't write fantasy or science fiction. So having that level of customization is helpful.

Also, since the lifetime for all Campfire modules ($375) is cheaper than the World Anvil equivalent ($650), I'm giving this point to Campfire.

Point +1: Campfire

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Core Features Comparison

Now to get into the nitty-gritty. I have selected the most important features (see my review of both Campfire and World Anvil for a more in-depth list) and we will look at which software is best for each feature.

Number of Content Types

When it comes to the number of articles you can create for your story Bible or wiki, World Anvil definitely comes out on top.

You can use it to write articles on any of the following:

  1. Generic article
  2. Building
  3. Character
  4. Condition
  5. Conflict
  6. Country
  7. Document
  8. Ethnicity
  9. Geography
  10. Item
  11. Language
  12. Material
  13. Military unit
  14. Myth/legends
  15. Natural law
  16. Organization
  17. Plot
  18. Profession
  19. Prose
  20. Religion
  21. Title
  22. Settlement
  23. Species
  24. Spell
  25. Technology
  26. Tradition
  27. Vehicle

Campfire, on the other hand, has a more limited list of possible articles, including:

  1. Characters
  2. Manuscript
  3. Locations
  4. Maps
  5. Research
  6. Timeline
  7. Arcs
  8. Relationships
  9. Encyclopedia
  10. Magic
  11. Species
  12. Cultures
  13. Items
  14. Systems
  15. Languages
  16. Religions
  17. Philosophies

While this is certainly fewer than World Anvil, I will add that both programs have a module (Generic Article for World Anvil, and Encyclopedia for Campfire) that allows you to craft whatever articles you need that don't fit into the other categories.

Nevertheless, I'm still going to give this point to World Anvil.

Point +1: World Anvil

Ease-Of-Use

This is one of the few aspects where there is a clear winner: Campfire.

Campfire makes the entire process of putting together a complicated story Bible easy. Everything is modular, and the UI design is intuitive and easy to follow.

World Anvil, on the other hand, has a sharp learning curve. It is capable of doing a lot, perhaps a lot more than even Campfire, but there is no handholding for authors who just want to put together a good story.

Point +1: Campfire

Manuscript Writing

Both tools have a manuscript writing feature, where you can actually write the text of your book (or copy/paste) so as to include as part of your wiki.

Both tools give you the ability to make these manuscripts public or private, or even have specific chapters that are public, with the rest private.

While I would not recommend either program as the perfect tool to write your book (for that, I recommend Atticus), I would say there is little difference between the two programs on this feature.

Point +1: Both

Timelines

The timelines feature in both programs is one area where the two tools differ considerably.

World Anvil has various ways you can show off your timeline, but it is designed primarily with the intent to show off your timeline to a reader. It uses a vertical setting, with events listed one after the other. This makes it better for historical timelines than what Campfire offers.

Additionally, with World Anvil Chronicles, you can track a timeline vertically over time (it's a really cool feature).

timelines in world anvil

Campfire, on the other hand, uses a horizontal set up, similar to other plotting programs like Plottr, but with perhaps a bit less refinement. It allows you to do scene maps, and works more like a novel writing software.

campfire timelines

Personally, I see a place for both styles of timeline, and I wish you could have multiple options in either program.

As a plotting feature, I think Campfire is not as great as other plotting programs like Plottr, but it is better suited for writers than World Anvil.

Nevertheless, I think the functionality on World Anvil is one of its best features.

Therefore, because the two are so different, it can both work well in their respective spheres, I'm also giving a point to both.

Point +1: Both

Maps

Both programs allow you to import a map and turn it into an interactive map, i.e. link with your locations, allow for markers on your map that can be expanded to show more information about that location, etc.

Honestly, the functionality in both programs is very similar on this feature, so I am also awarding a point to each.

Point +1: Both

Organization

Going hand-in-hand with ease-of-use, I wanted to talk about how Campfire and World Anvil approach organization.

On the backend, they look roughly the same. You have a menu with a list of every category, and you can sort through that category to find your specific topic.

I might give a slight edge to Campfire because of its superior ease-of-use, but not enough to award the point. So once again, I'm awarding a point to both.

Point +1: Both

Scope

It took me a little while to articulate my thoughts on this area, because Campfire and World Anvil have a different feel to them, for lack of a better word.

Campfire, as I have already stated, is better for writers. World Anvil is better for tabletop gamers and world building hobbyists. But why?

It comes down to scope for me. Campfire seems designed to help you navigate around smaller projects, a.k.a. a single novel or series. It is not as great at organizing large projects that could include multiple books or series. If you spent time dabbling in Campfire, you would understand why this would be a bit cluttered and clunky.

World Anvil does not have this problem. You can easily create a world, outline the different time periods for that world, create manuscripts for various projects in series, etc.

Now, for many authors, limited scope is a good thing, because it allows them to maintain their focus on a single project. But for people building a massive universe, you will likely have to start multiple projects in Campfire, rather than keep it all in one universe project.

Point +1: World Anvil

Article Creation

Here is another area where Campfire shines. Even though World Anvil has a lot of different categories for articles, you will find that many of them look exactly the same. All that differs is the category itself.

However, with each category/module that Campfire releases, each one is unique and designed around that topic.

For example, the character module gives you various fields that are unique to characters, such as personality traits, statistics, physical traits, etc. All of these can be customized to work for your specific character sheet.

creating an article in campfire

World Anvil gives you a generic article template, with some customization available, but with less handholding compared to what Campfire gives you.

Point +1: Campfire

Online/Offline Capability

Are designed to be like a “wiki” for your world. Most wikis are found online, but is there a way to take your wiki offline so you only work on it on your computer?

For Campfire, there absolutely is. Campfire allows you to download the software onto your computer, make it private, or back it up to the cloud if needed. You can also access it from the cloud online.

World Anvil only has an online version, and you can keep the wiki private if you are paying for one of the plans. But you will need Internet access in order to view or modify your wiki.

Point +1: Campfire

Platforms

Related to online/offline capability is the number of platforms that each software has. And in this, Campfire currently comes out on top again.

World Anvil is (as of this writing) only available online.

Campfire is also available online, but also has the following:

  • A desktop app (to make offline easier), available for both Windows and Mac.
  • An iOS App
  • An Android App

This puts Campfire at an advantage. The apps can be handy if you just want to jot down a note here and there, and the desktop app is actually what I use for most of my work in Campfire.

Point +1: Campfire

Learning Resources

Both World Anvil and Campfire have robust learning resources.

In fact, I was honestly impressed by the level of world building and writing knowledge found in both tools.

These resources include tutorials on how to use the platforms, but also a lot of general advice around world building. 

Since Campfire is primarily designed for writers, they also have a lot of writing advice that World Anvil lacks. World Anvil also has a lot of role-playing and tabletop gaming advice that Campfire lacks (see why World Anvil is better for tabletop gamers and Campfire is better for writers?).

Since this is an article for writers, I am giving the edge to Campfire in this case, but honestly both learning resources are impressive.

Point +1: Campfire

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Verdict: Should You Use Campfire or World Anvil?

When it comes to a world building or story Bible platform for authors, you can see that Campfire clearly wins out in this comparison table:

FeatureWorld AnvilCampfire
Pricing+1
Content Types+1
Ease of Use+1+1
Manuscript Writing+1+1
Timelines+1+1
Maps+1+1
Organization+1+1
Scope+1
Article Creation+1
Online/Offline Capability+1
Platforms+1
Learning Resources+1
TOTAL:7 Points10 Points

However, I would not discount World Anvil in the right situations. It is an equally powerful tool, and which one you use really depends on your own needs.

For writers, I do think the best option is Campfire.

But for those creating an RPG campaign, game masters, and hobbyists, World Anvil is definitely the superior option.

Which one are you? That will determine your choice.

But as for this writer, I'm choosing to stick with Campfire.

Check Out Campfire


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