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.
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.