Getting started guide

At its core, World Anvil is a tool to help you organize your creative process. As such, this is not a definitive guide on how you should use World Anvil, but rather what you can do.
 

First steps

After creating your account, you will be given the choice of either creating a new world or a new character. If you have created an account specifically to play in a campaign, you should choose the character option. Otherwise, choose Create my world (choose this option if you are game master too). This will take you to the world creation and the character creation pages, respectively.   For more information on how to create a character, please see the following guide:
Guide to Character Creation
Generic article | Mar 25, 2021

RPG characters for your TTRPG campaigns.

  Otherwise, create the world and keep reading for an overview of the World Anvil's layout.  

The Dashboard

Whenever you click the World Anvil logo at the top left corner you will access the Dashboard:
global dashboard.png
  The top bar has a search box to look up your world's content. The Browse button will let you check public content from other World Anvil users.   The sidebar contains links to various parts and tools of World Anvil (keep reading for more information on them). Clicking your world name (Black Light in the screenshot) will open a drop-down you can use to switch between the worlds, characters, and campaign you have created. Under the world name there is a Continue working... box; click it to go to the last article you were editing.   The central section of the page has a featured article from the community, as well as tabs to browse your own content (worlds, campaigns, and more). Underneath are the latest blog entries —the left column lists the latest development updates while the right column is a stream of the rest of the blog entries. You can visit our blog at blog.worldanvil.com!   The right sidebar shows progress for special events (like World Ember), a random worldbuilding prompt, upcoming streams and events, and links to our podcast. There's also a Continue Working panel with the last five articles you've edited:  

continue working.png

 

World dashboard

When you click the Dashboard option in the left sidebar, you will get to the dashboard specific for your active world.  
world dashboard.png
  Note that if you're a Freeman (free account) or a Journeyman (lowest subscription tier) the world dashboard will look slightly different than the screenshot above.   The central part of the page has three sections, or two if you're a Freeman or Journeyman. The left side has the Explorer search (Master and above tiers), in the middle there's the list of article templates, and the right has other tools for the world.  

Explorer

rank-master
  The Explorer is a Master feature that lets you search, view, and make quick edits to your world's content, all from within the dashboard. Simply type in the search bar, and any results from articles, maps, notebooks, and more will appear (it searches the article contents too, not just the title). Alternatively, you can use the category tree and press the article you want to view.   For more information on the Explorer, check the guide about this feature:
Guide to Explorer Mode
Generic article | May 26, 2021
 

Creation menu

In the middle, you have the list of available article templates. In World Anvil, all articles are created using a template (for example, religion is an organisation template, a person is a character template, etc.). If you click any of the buttons, you will access the article editor. If you created custom templates (as a Grandmaster or above) those will be listed at the top.  

Statblock creation

If you click the Statblock section, you'll see buttons to create RPG statblocks:  
dashboard rpg blocks.png
  Note that you will only see this section if you have selected Dungeons & Dragons 5e as your world's RPG system. You can still create blocks with other systems, see the Guide to Blocks for more information.  

Creation of other content

You'll see additional content types to create in the Other tab:  
dashboard other.png
  Check the guides to maps, timelines, and secrets for more information.  

Right panels

The right side of the world dashboard has these panels, from top to bottom:
  • "View your world" button: click it to view the world from the presentation view.
  • Prompt: this displays a random worldbuilding prompt that you can answer. See the Guide to Prompts for more information.
  • Challenge box: if there is an active community challenge, it will also appear in the sidebar.
  • Continue working: The last articles you edited will appear there so that you can get right back to work!
  • World meta progress: this displays the completion progress of your world meta, as well as buttons to edit and view it.
  • To-do list: it will be generated automatically every time you create a link to an article that doesn't exist. It contains all links to unexisting articles as well as articles created using the purple inkwell button. More information in the Guide to the to-do list.
 

Sidebar

sidebar.png
The sidebar changes its contents depending on what you have active. When you have an active world, it looks like the example on the left. These are its options:   Note that your subscription level (or lack of thereof) will change the options available to you in the sidebar.
 

RPG Campaigns

If you want to use World Anvil as a campaign manager, create your first campaign. To do it, find the Your Campaigns tab in the global dashboard (click the World Anvil logo on the top left corner) and then click the Create a new Campaign button you'll find on the right. See the Introduction to Campaigns for more details.  

Character Profiles

If you have been using Heroes (or want to start using it) to create and manage characters that live in your world, you can use the drop-down on top of the left sidebar to get a list of them and switch between them. Take a look at the Guide to character creation and Guide to character interaction for more information!  

The community

Homepage

A big part of World Anvil is its community, which mainly lives on Discord but is also important in the site itself. This page is pretty straightforward, and displays the following elements:
  • Featured article: it appears at the top. It's an article selected every day by the Enchanter team.
  • Most liked articles in the last 3 days.
  • Most viewed articles in the last 3 days.
  • Newest articles created in any (public) world.
If you are in need of inspiration, this page is an amazing resource to see what your fellow worldbuilders are working on!  

Stream

Lists updates for characters you follow or for a sampling of global characters.  

Challenges

A list of challenges from present to past for World Anvil members to participate in. The newest/active ones are listed at the top.  

Followed Worlds

A list of worlds you follow. When the creators of these worlds push notifications you will find them in the notification (bell) menu.  

Your Reading List

Articles that you clicked on to add to your reading list. Great for saving things to read later or just plain cool stuff!  

Settings

Allows you to modify aspects for your account.
Guide to the Account & Profile Menu
Generic article | Feb 13, 2021

This is a guide to the account and Profile Menu. You can reach this menu by clicking your user icon in the upper right.

FAQ

AARRGGHHH MY EYES!!
Don't worry, we've got a dark theme! Go to your interface settings (click on your profile picture at the top right corner for the link) and choose Villains as a theme. Guides are made with the light theme (called Heroes) because it's default one, but the layout is the same, only colors are different.
 
Is a world really a world?
Your "worlds" in World Anvil can contain multiple planets and solar systems (which is pretty common for SciFi settings, for example).
 
How do I delete X?
Delete buttons are generally found in the configuration page (in the case of world and campaigns) or the edit page (articles, images, maps, etc.).
 
Where is the template for X?
Sometimes, you want to create something that doesn't exactly fit one of the predefined templates. Keep in mind that templates are guidelines, not rules. Take a look at different templates and think which is the template with text fields that fit the article you want to create better.
 
Why did all my content disappear or go wonky?
Sometimes, after you save an article and view it from the presentation view, everything looks weird. If that has happened to you, check for unclosed tags. For example, if you have a [row], make sure that you close it with [/row] at the end of the row!
 
Is there a way to see what articles link to a specific article?
This feature is for Master of the Guild and above ranks.
 
If I change the title of an Article, do links to that Article need to be fixed?
The links will still work, but the old title will be displayed in the links instead of the new one.
 
Can I export my work?
You will find an "Export article" box in every article's edit page (bottom of the sidebar). This will export the article to PDF format in a printer-friendly version.
 
Can I make an entire article or world private?
This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks.
 
How do I add a subscriber or a co-author to my world?
This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks.
 
I found a bug or I miss a feature and I think it should be added!
Great! Go to the general Help page of World Anvil (accessible from the footer of any page) and click the "Report a bug" or "Suggest a feature". Your World Anvil login details will NOT automatically work, and you'll need to create a new account with the third-party bug-tracking system, since it uses an external platform (Jira).
 
This is too basic, I want more information about something!
Check out the following list of guides in this Codex! You can also join our Discord server, where we have a dedicated help channel

Other guides



Comments

Author's Notes

Updates

2019/12/2
Updated graphics and text to match the new menu and create page layouts. (shyredfox)


Please Login in order to comment!
16 Jul, 2019 07:10

What are the two or three square icons on the bottom right of a page? I do not get an <alt name> when I hover over them.

16 Jul, 2019 15:55

Those are some very useful shortcut buttons! The green one ("power hammer") is a quick-access menu with links to each article template plus different world interfaces, as well as a world switch (useful if you have multiple worlds).   The purple one (the inkwell) lets you create articles on the fly. Of course, it's not designed to be used as a full editor, so there's only text boxes for the title, vignette, privacy status, article template and category. However, it's very handy for when you are editing an article an need to quickly jot down something into a new article. When you click the save button of the pop-up editor, you will be able to copy a bbcode link to the newly-created article in case you need to insert it to your current main editor. It will also add the article to the to-do list.   Finally, the blue button (potion vial) appears only in the world edit interfaces and lets you quickly upload images (multiple at once) using a drag-and-drop system. When you click the upload button, you will be able to copy their BBCode ID blocks from the pop-up window. It's very useful to upload art while you're working on an article without interrupting your workflow!   Hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you've got any other questions.

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
21 Jul, 2019 16:21

Thank you for your assistance.

18 May, 2020 03:30

This Getting Started Guide has two FAQ questions that look to be missing their closing square bracket on the IMG tag. Both are listed below. How can I make an entire article or world private?

[tooltip:This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks][img:386947
How do I add a subscriber of a co-author to my world?
 
[tooltip:This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks][img:386947

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
18 May, 2020 03:35

Thanks for the catch!

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

18 May, 2020 04:05

No problem. The FAQ for This is too basic, I want more information about something! should also include a link to the Help Page for the Discord invite (or a direct link to the Discord invite, depends on how many locations you want to manage the invite link).

17 Jun, 2020 08:32

Is there a way to copy an article or secret for a secondary world on the same account? Like for example if I write up a whole article with secrets in one world, is there any way to copy, not just move entirely, to another world so that both worlds have said articles and/or secrets?

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
17 Jun, 2020 17:15

Not at this time, no.

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

13 Jul, 2020 20:28

How do I export my world? I can't find the button in World Configuration. Thank you!

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
16 Jul, 2020 19:23

Exporting is a member feature, for a full list of features check here.

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

25 Jul, 2020 07:10

Hello, what happend to the sections that used to be a part of article editing i.e. culture, ecology, structure etc? Also, what happened to the save button?   Thanks,   Ryan

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
25 Jul, 2020 18:25

The site autosaves all changes now! :) To see the other fields, check under the vignette for the "Show Template Specific Prompts and Connections"

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
25 Jul, 2020 18:25

The site autosaves all changes now! :) To see the other fields, check under the vignette for the "Show Template Specific Prompts and Connections"

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

25 Jul, 2020 19:28

Wonderful, thank you!

11 Jan, 2021 17:42

i would like to make another world for my other books. how would i do that?

Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
24 Jan, 2021 08:01

Right here! Sorry for the delay.

explore-ethnis.png

Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

29 Jan, 2021 17:54

thank you