If you're an author who writes fantasy or science fiction, then World Anvil is a worldbuilding platform that you should know about.
It's a worldbuilding software with many features and benefits for authors, but also some things I would caution authors against.
In this review article, we'll explore what World Anvil is and why it would be worth your time to use it in your writing process. We'll talk about the pros of using World Anvil as well as the cons, so that by the end of reading this review you will have all of the information needed to make an informed decision on whether or not World Anvil is right for you!
- What World Anvil is
- Its pricing and available plans
- Its extensive features
- Its pros and cons
- Whether you should use World Anvil as a storyteller or not
Table of contents
- What is World Anvil?
- How Much Does World Anvil Cost? Pricing and Plans
- How to Use World Anvil
- World Anvil's Features
- The Pros: What I Liked
- The Cons: What I Didn't Like
- World Anvil Alternatives
- Verdict: Is World Anvil Any Good?
Please note that if you click some of the links in this article and end up buying the product, we get a small piece of that, but it costs you nothing extra, and 100% goes to the coffee fund.
What is World Anvil?
World Anvil is 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, primarily:
- Game Masters
- Role Players
- Worldbuilder Hobbyists
Note: for the purposes of this review, I focus primarily on the features that are relevant to authors, but keep in mind that there are many more that are useful if you are developing a role playing game scenario (such as various RPG campaign rule sets).
World Anvil has a ton of features that I'll get into below, but generally it helps authors to create interactive maps, create and link articles about your world in a wiki-like style, create timelines of your work, and even provides novel-writing software that integrates with your wiki.
You can create public or private wikis, depending on your plan, which is useful if you want to keep your worldbuilding notes close to your chest.
Learn more on their website.
How Much Does World Anvil Cost? Pricing and Plans
There are five pricing tiers to World Anvil. The more expensive tier that you use, the more features you get.
Here is the list of tiers, their pricing plans, as well as a few features unique to each one that are particularly relevant to authors.
- Pricing: Free
- Storage: 100MB
- Articles: Up to 175
- Has all the main article/map/timeline templates
- Contains ads
- Up to 2 universes
- All content is public, no private settings
- No novel writing application
- No community features
- No family/diplomatic relations
- Limited organizational ability
The Freeman tier is free to start, and a great place for most people who are interested in World Anvil to give it a try.
While it is lacking in a few features that are relevant to authors, such as the novel writing application and the ability to have private wikis, it's still a good way to test out the waters before you take the plunge.
That said, for authors who are serious about building their worlds in World Anvil, I recommend one of the higher tiers.
- Pricing: $5/month, $14.50/3 months, $25/6 months, $50/year
- Storage: 1 GB
- Articles: Unlimited
- Up to 5 universes
- 2 co-owners/editors/writers
- 5 subscribers (people who can see your hidden data)
- Ads world privacy/article privacy
- Removes ads
- Adds goal tracking
- Still lacks the novel writing application, community features, family/diplomatic relations, etc.
The Journeyman tier is the cheapest paid version of World Anvil, and adds a few useful features, such as unlimited articles, the ability to have one additional co-author/editor, and most importantly the ability to have private worlds or articles.
It still lacks a few additional features that I think are useful for writers, particularly the novel writing application. However, if you use another application for novel writing (we recommend Atticus), this tier may work for you.
- Pricing: $6.50/month, $19/3 months, $34/6 months, $58/year
- Storage: 2 GB
- Articles: Unlimited
- Up to 10 universes
- 4 co-owners/editors/writers
- 10 subscribers (people who can see your hidden data)
- Ads the Novel Writing Application
- Ads interactive tables
- Adds diplomatic relations webs and family trees
- Adds discussion boards, Discord integration, and other community aspects
This is what I would call the sweet spot for most authors. It's only a little more than the Journeyman plan, especially if you get the yearly price, and adds a number of useful features for authors, most notably the novel writing application, the family trees, and the diplomatic relations webs.
- Pricing: $12/month, $34/3 months, $62/6 months, $105/year
- Storage: 5 GB
- Articles: Unlimited
- Unlimited universes
- 9 co-owners/editors/writers
- 100 subscribers (people who can see your hidden data)
- Adds content trees and charts to organize your data
- Supports advanced customization, templates and management
This is the tier that I would only recommend to authors who are seasoned users of World Anvil. Because most of the additional benefits that you get with this tier are only useful once you have already built huge universes and need a better way to organize them.
If you've been using the Master tier, and are about to run out of space, or your worlds are getting too complicated, then the Grand Master tier might be for you.
- Pricing: $175/6 months, $300/year
- Storage: 10 GB
- Articles: Unlimited
- Unlimited universes
- 20 co-owners/editors/writers
- 1000 subscribers (people who can see your hidden data)
- Adds the ability to customize the url of your wiki
- Adds Google Analytics integration
- Adds monetization videos & private workshops
This is the most advanced here that World Anvil offers, and it will not be needed for most authors. That said it does offer some very advanced features, such as the ability to customize your URL, analytics integrations, and the ability to monetize your content.
Basically, if worldbuilding is your bread and butter, this tier might work well for you.
Overall recommendation for authors: The Master Tier.
How to Use World Anvil
The initial beginner steps to using World Anvil are pretty straightforward:
Step 1: Create Your World
When you first set up your account, you will be greeted with a dashboard that tells you to “Create your first World!”.
By clicking the button here, you can input the basics of your world to get it all started, and the prompts will walk you through this, as you can see here:
Step 2: Write Your Articles
The second step is also the longest: it's time to populate your wiki. To do this, you will need to write a lot of articles, and World Anvil give you a lot of prompts for what these articles could be about. There are a lot of categories to choose from, and you can be as thorough as you could possibly want.
Step 3: Organize Your World
When you have a lot of articles written, it's important to try and organize them in a good way. You can do this through World Anvil's very structured approach, and if you have the Grand Master tier, you can also use organizational charts to display everything in a logical, organized manner.
Step 4: Continue Adding
From now on, it's a simple matter of continuing to update your world as needed. If this is a private wiki, you don't have to worry about making it presentable. If it is a public wiki, you might want to consider revealing only parts of your wiki so you don't spoil things for readers, or crafting your content in such a way that it is engaging for readers.
The whole process is as simple as that. World Anvil can get a little complicated and overwhelming, but for authors it's ultimately about adding content and keeping it organized. The rest is cosmetic.
World Anvil's Features
But let's dive into some of the features that make World Anvil unique, and make it an exciting option to create your world.
Again, I'm focusing specifically on the features that are most important for authors, not for Game Masters or tabletop players looking to create homebrew RPG campaigns, though many of these features are relevant to them too.
The flagship feature of World Anvil is it's a wealth of article templates, from a magic system to a character sheet to combat mechanisms to monsters. In my experience, most of the article categories look the same from the backend, and it would've been nice to have a little more handholding, with unique fields for each category, but the level of customization in the article creator makes it so you could do pretty much anything.
For authors, one of the unique features is the novel writing tool which allows you to create your novel directly within World Anvil (private or not), with the added benefit of being able to reference and link the relevant worldbuilding articles to each chapter.
What this means is that you are able to quickly access all of the worldbuilding you have done for each scene you write.
One of my favorite features is the historical timelines. These allow you to put together comprehensive historical events of your world, your novel, or the life of a particular character, in a way that flows well and makes sense.
Plus they look great, which is a big plus compared to a list of bullet points in your Google Doc.
World Anvil is not a mapmaking tool. In order to create maps in World Anvil, you have to already have the art on hand to serve as the background of the map.
However, World Anvil can take that map and turn it into something interactive. You can create icons that users can hover over, click on, and then learn more about that particular location. This allows you to tie in your articles directly into your map, in a way that is highly interactive. I found that these are a great way to interact with fans, and people who want to explore your world even more.
It's worth noting that this specific feature is one that is hard to find anywhere else. While there are other companies that do this, you can't put it interactive map in, say, a book about your world, or a list of articles on your own website. It's one of the highlights of World Anvil, and one of the biggest reasons why you should consider it.
Chronicles is a newer feature that allows you to blend the best of the timelines and maps features. Basically, you can look at a map, select where you are on the timeline, and you can change that map to match that particular era.
This is great if you are creating multiple eras for your world, especially if the map might change significantly (such as tracking a world from a medieval state to a futuristic one).
If you are familiar with Wikipedia and other similar wikis, then you will be familiar with the concept of cross-linking all of your articles.
This is a useful feature to keep everything organized and easily at reach so that all relevant articles can be linked from the one you're working on.
World Anvil can get complicated, and the organizational tools built into the platform offer a decent solution for finding everything you need.
You can sort through all of your articles by category, in various organizational trees, and they are all easily searchable on both the front and backend.
If you are on the Grand Master tier, you even have the option of organizational charts to really lay out how your world is structured. This is one of the more handy features of the Grand Master tier
Family Trees and Diplomatic Relations
One of the fun features that is hard to replicate on other platforms is the family tree and diplomatic relations webs. This allows you to set up complex relations between characters or organizations, which help you to build complex lineages and a thriving political system.
This is another feature, like the maps, that can look great and resonate well with fans.
There are a number of World Anvil community resources, including Discord integration, and discussion boards that you can create yourself.
While this is great for people who have established audiences and people that love their world, or for a Game Master who wants to keep up the conversation online with their friends, it's not something that beginner authors will necessarily need.
Still, it is a handy feature to have around.
Tutorials and World Building Info
If there's one thing that I have to give mad credit to, it is the level of content produced by the creators of World Anvil. There is a ton of information on virtually any subject you can imagine.
Every single feature has in-depth tutorials, and there's tons of information on how to build your world generally. Even if you don't have World Anvil, this could be useful to you, because it's quality worldbuilding information.
Additionally, there is a high degree of engagement with fans of the platform. Multiple contests and significant influencer marketing make this one of the hottest sandboxes to play in if you are a world builder.
A useful feature for some authors is the collaboration feature. With certain levels, you can coordinate with other authors, editors, or fellow world builders to create your universe.
This could be particularly useful for authors who establish a world setting and bring in other authors to write new stories in that world. You can mark down the canon of your universe, and let other people play in it.
This is also a great feature for co-writers, or for anyone who wants to work with a collaborator. After all, worldbuilding is a long endeavor, and it can help to have some extra hands.
As I've already mentioned, the tutorials and documentation on this platform are out of this world (pun totally intended).
If you still run into issues, you can discuss them on the Discord server, or reach out to support directly through email or social media channels. So far I have found that their response is excellent.
Is World Anvil Secure?
You definitely don't have to worry about losing your work with World Anvil. All of their works backed up on multiple servers, and you can also download a backup onto your hard drive.
The Pros: What I Liked
There are a lot of useful features in World Anvil, and it's a platform I would recommend to any fantasy or science fiction writer, or anyone who likes to build world.
Here are a few features that were my favorite:
- You can construct virtually anything related to your worldbuilding
- The number of tutorials, documentation, and support options are first-class
- The worldbuilding tips on the blog are exceptional, as is the community engagement
- It has a great visual aesthetic on the front end
- It's a reliable software
- It supports collaboration
- It is reasonably priced
- It has a free version so you can give it a try before committing
Overall I think it's a solid platform with a lot of great features supporting it, and I trust the creators to continue to turn it into a great platform, as they are continuously updating and improving World Anvil all the time.
The Cons: What I Didn't Like
despite a long list of pros, there are a few things that I would improve to make it even better.
- It has a sharp learning curve, which could be a barrier for many authors who just want to jot down a few notes about their world. I would have appreciated more handholding for the different categories of articles, so that each one retained the same level of customization, but had a more guided approach for those who might feel a little overwhelmed.
- I thought there were too many pricing tiers, which made it seem overly complex.
- While it works great for authors, this is definitely not a platform built just with authors in mind. A lot of content is there for RPG players and Game Masters, most of which is irrelevant for most authors. It might be nice to have an author-specific plan that only includes author-related features.
- There is no World Anvil app
A lot of these problems are nitpicky, except for the learning curve which I found to be a challenge, but even that is improved upon by the dedicated tutorials and documentation. With pretty much any problem you would have with the platform, you are likely to find the answer in the documentation.
World Anvil Alternatives
Let's say that for whatever reason World Anvil doesn't work for you. What other options are there?
Here are a few.
Campfire is a similar platform with a completely different pricing structure. It does not have as many features, but is a little more author-centric. Overall it is a viable alternative.
Just remember that the worldbuilding features are limited, and that its strengths are in other areas.
World Scribe has the advantage of being a free mobile application. Like World Anvil, it has a wiki-like writing structure, but has one advantage of allowing you to work offline.
It's definitely limited in scope when compared to World Anvil, but may be fine for some people who are seeking a simpler solution.
One Stop for Writers
Similar to Plottr, One Stop for Writers is another platform that is useful for plotting, creating characters, and the universe creation process. If you are not a fantasy writer and are just looking to build a couple of notes for your story, this is one software that will might work for you.
I'm particularly a fan of the thesaurus features, something that you won't find in most other similar platforms.
Kanka.io is one more tool that is comparable to World Anvil. It has much of the same worldbuilding capability, and can be pretty advanced.
However, this is a platform primarily built for tabletop gamers and Game Masters. It is not a tool best suited for writers, so if you are an author, I would recommend World Anvil over this particular platform.
Verdict: Is World Anvil Any Good?
World Anvil is one of the best worldbuilding platforms on the market today. Its complexity and sharp learning curve are overshadowed by its capability and flexibility. It's hard to find anything related to worldbuilding that this platform cannot do.
While I do think it can be a lot to get used to, it is still one of the best for creating and documenting your universe. This is especially true if you are a fantasy or science fiction writer.
I trust that the creators are actively improving and working on this platform, which is an important point that many people overlook. I have no doubt that this platform's issues will be addressed at a later point based on its history of improvements.