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 stepsAfter 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: Otherwise, create the world and keep reading for an overview of the World Anvil's layout.
The DashboardWhenever you click the World Anvil logo at the top left corner you will access the Dashboard: The top bar has a row of buttons to navigate to different parts of the interface and search box to look up your world's content. The Discover button will let you check public content from other World Anvil users, as well as the current and past challenges, the faeture suggestion board, and more community-related pages. The sidebar contains links to various parts and tools of World Anvil (keep reading for more information on them). Clicking your world name 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 the most recent video from our YouTube channel and the user stream: posts made by community members sharing tips, inspiration, progress updates, and more!
World dashboardWhen you click the Dashboard option in the left sidebar, you will get to the dashboard specific for your active world. The central part of the page has three sections. The left side has the world search, in the middle there's the list of article templates, and the right has other tools for the world.
Search and previewThe search and preview feature 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 (for Guild members, 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 this feature, check this guide:
StatsAt the bottom of the page, Guild members have stats about the world. Journeymen and Masters see four numbers: total number of comments, likes, articles, and followers. Grandmasters and above tiers see these stats plus a graphic with the daily evolution, which includes some additional stats like views and word count.
Creation menuIn 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.
Statblock creationIf you click the Statblock section, you'll see buttons to create RPG statblocks: 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 contentIn the Other tab you have links to create maps, timelines and historical entries, and secrets. Check their respective guides for more information.
Right panelsThe right side of the world dashboard has these panels, from top to bottom:
- Continue working: The last five articles you edited will appear there so that you can get right back to work!
- Get inspired: this displays a random worldbuilding prompt that you can answer. See the Guide to Prompts for more information.
- 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.
- World meta progress: this displays the completion progress of your world meta, as well as buttons to edit and view it.
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:
- Dashboard: go to the world dashboard
- View World: view the world from presentation mode
- Articles: see the Guide to the Articles & Categories Manager
- Maps: see the Guide to Maps
- Timelines: see the Guide to Timelines
- Images: see the Guide to Images
- Statblocks: see the Guide to Statblocks
- Secrets: see the Guide to Secrets
- Calendars: see the Guide to Calendars
- Content trees: see the Guide to Content trees
- Tables: see the Guide to tables
- Variables: see the Guide to Variables
- Discussion boards: see the Guide to Discussion Boards
- Player characters: lists the player characters invited to the world. See the Guide to Character Creation
- Manuscripts: see the Guide to Manuscripts
RPG CampaignsIf 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 ProfilesIf 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!
HomepageA big part of World Anvil is its community, which mainly lives on Discord but is also important in the site itself. The community homepage can be accessed from the Discover menu at the top. You can use it to see the latest and most popular articles, published manuscripts, random generators, and more. You can also suggest features for the site or vote on open suggestions, and participate in worldbuilding challenges. If you are in need of inspiration, this page is an amazing resource to see what your fellow worldbuilders are working on!
StreamLists updates for characters you follow or for a sampling of global characters.
ChallengesA list of challenges from present to past for World Anvil members to participate in. The newest/active ones are listed at the top.
Followed WorldsA list of worlds you follow. When the creators of these worlds push notifications you will find them in the notification (bell) menu.
Your Reading ListArticles that you clicked on to add to your reading list. Great for saving things to read later or just plain cool stuff!
SettingsAllows you to modify aspects for your account.
Finding your workflowIf you're looking for a good worldbuilding workflow, check out our getting started guides on the blog!
- Set up your world's meta
- Organize your world with categories
- Create and set up your map
- Record your world's history with timelines
- Use themes to customize how your world looks