Wonderdraft

Here’s another tool that I think you should check out. Wonderdraft is an intuitive yet powerful fantasy map creation tool. I have been experimenting with this one and have been quite happy with the results. It makes good looking maps, has quite a bit of customizable features, and for the early access, one-time purchase price of $19.99 it was a steal.

The price has gone up to $29.99, but that still feels like a bargain to me. One time purchase. No subscriptions. No nickel and diming for add-ons. Just nice maps. And there’s already a community of users making resources for Wonderdraft.

I was using the free Inkarnate online mapping software. It makes it very easy to make really nice-looking maps, but I found the free version to be pretty limited. I wasn’t sure I wanted to subscribe to it in order to get all the good stuff. Then I saw a YouTube video by WASD20 asking if Wonderdraft was an Incarnate killer. I liked what I saw and went looking for this interesting mapping software.

Let me tell you the features that were important to me and then I’ll show you a few maps I’ve created using Wonderdraft.

  • Depending on the brush set and symbol set I can generate a variety of different looking maps and a variety of scales. I can make city maps, regional maps, and world maps with equal ease.
  • Brushes that let me change the roughness of the landmasses and coastlines easily.
  • Automatic tools for making nice looking rivers and roads with a few clicks
  • A variety of symbols that I can drop on the map and the ability to paint groups of trees and mountains easily.
  • Artistically curated default map themes
  • Create aesthetic labels using presets
  • Big maps. Map dimensions up to 8192 x 8192 pixels
  • It’s DRM-free software and royalty-free user-made content
  • It works with my Wacom pen and tablet

So, you can probably tell I like it. But you want to see what I’ve done with it. I get that. These are the first four maps I’ve created using Wonderdraft. Be kind, they’re all works in progress and they’ve all been scaled down for the website.

Regentia from the Baenrahl campaign
The Skorr, homage to my Greyhawk origins
Inner Sareth, better known as the BlackMoon map
Something new I’m working on

I made those first three by overlaying my existing, hand-made maps and tracing them. Which is something else I should have mentioned. You can do that. I’m very happy with the results. The bottom map is something I started while making a video tutorial for Wonderdraft. I like the map, not sure if the video will ever appear.

My basic review is this. I love this software, the price is good, the results are nice, and I’m very glad I found it. I have no reservations in recommending this software. It’s a great mapping tool and I think it’s going to just keep getting better with time and continued development. If it seems like something you’d get some use out of, go check it out. Wonderdraft.net or watch some of the videos on YouTube by the Wonderdraft creator, Megasploot.

And if you like it and want more out it, be sure to check out this resource site, Cartography Assets. It’s a website that makes sharing mapping resources easy. New mountains, forests, city symbols, and themes are just a few of the things that you’ll find over there. It’s all free and it all has clearly marked asset usage statements. I’ve gotten some really nice stuff from this site. Of course, you can find stuff for Wonderdraft, but they also have assets for Campaign Cartographer, MapForge, and Virtual Tabletop.

World Anvil

This is not going to be a full review of the World Anvil site/toolset, but rather it will be a rambling bunch of first impressions of this handy tool.

Absolutely first impression, before ever going to the website, literally from just hearing about it on some webpage or YouTube video (I don’t remember which). A worldbuilding tool for authors, storytellers, and world builders made up of templates, prompts, and other assorted tools. What an awesome idea. I’ve got to check that out. And so, I did.

World Anvil for Game Masters

As expected, World Anvil is an online service for documenting imaginary worlds. It’s a sort of wiki, but with custom content templates designed for worldbuilding – things like maps, timelines, characters, settlements, locations, creatures, etc. You can simply fill out the templates or you can write articles or or or… There are probably as many different ways to use this toolset as there are people using it. I’ve just gotten started, so I’m at the beginning of the learning curve, but I’m having fun documenting my worlds.

In addition to the site itself, the World Anvil community, the World Builders Guild, has a lot going on. There are lots of tutorials, YouTube videos, a bunch of Discord servers dedicated to world building, help, and clarification. The team behind it seems dedicated to making World Anvil great and developing a strong community.

Which is good, because World Anvil has a lot going on, it is big, it is full of features, and it is more than a little intimidating to the uninitiated world builder. But you only need to use the parts you want, not using things doesn’t hurt anything. You don’t put any data in, no data shows up. You don’t get a header with a big blank canvas beneath it letting everyone know you skipped something. It just doesn’t show up. Excellent. Because some of those queries are about things I never thought about before. But they do get you thinking about them now.

There is a lot there. I’ve only just gotten my feet wet.

So, what’s the catch? How much is this going to cost? Nothing. It’s free. But like so many tools on the web, the more you give the more you get. You can pay monthly, quarterly, biannually, or yearly and choose from a few different tiers; freeman, journeyman, master, grandmaster, and most recently sage. The freeman tier is free, $0. You get all the article templates, maps, timelines, article and data exporting, 2 worlds with wo map layers per world, and 100 MB of storage space. That’s not a bad package for nothing.

I signed up for the free account on February 10th and by the 24th I realized this was a tool that I liked, and one I was going to get some use out of, so I upgraded to the Master package ($45). Then they had a sale on March 2nd to celebrate some landmark or another and I upgraded to the Grandmaster plan ($98). They charged me the sale price for the full plan, but then refunded me the original cost of my Master plan. I was not unhappy. Will I get my monies worth? I can’t say for sure that I will write enough to justify the upgrade, but I feel good knowing that I’m supporting a site and a tool that I really like.

My first impressions have been nothing but positive. There are some features I’d like to see, but for all I know they’re already there and I just haven’t found them yet. Or maybe they’re in development; this has only been a thing since June 2017. So far, I’m impressed and I’m getting inspiration for my worlds–that’s priceless.