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 sidebar (highlighted in green) contains links to various parts and tools of World Anvil (keep reading for more information on them). The Switch to... drop-down menu lets you quickly switch between worlds and characters you have created, while the world drop-down menu (Liminal Chronicles in the screenshot) has quick links to various interfaces you can use to edit your world —see the next section for more details! The central part of the page has a global search bar (highlighted in yellow) that lets you search for articles and worlds created by any user on World Anvil (as long as they are public). If instead you would like to search articles in your world only, you can use the search bar at the top of the page. Under the global search bar there are the latest blog entries (highlighted in red) —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, highlighted in cyan, it shows progress for special events (like World Ember), upcoming streams and events, and how to listen to the podcast. Farther down in the right sidebar (as in the image below), it contains your latest edited articles (if you have a world selected) and upcoming sessions (if you are part of any RPG campaign). Click on the "Edit WORLD" blue button to access the world summary page!
World editionHighlighted in orange (in the image below), you see the menu for your world.
Create MenuThe central part of the page has two sections. Highlighted in green, you have a template menu. 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. Is you created custom templates those will be listed at the top. The sidebar of this page (highlighted in cyan) has different content. From top to bottom:
- "View your world" button: click it to view the world from the presentation view.
- Campaigns & Characters: if you have a campaign running in your world, it will appear in this section. Otherwise, there will be a button to create it (see Guide to campaign creation for more information).
- Challenge box: if there is an active community challenge, it will also appear in the sidebar. This screenshot was taken during World Ember 2019, so that's why it appears there.
- Continue working: The last article you edited will appear there so that you can get right back to work!
- World word count: it's 10,000 by default, but you can change it in the world configuration. It's great to see your progress!
- 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.
The world menu is displayed whenever you are browsing your world from the Authoring Panel. This section contains brief explanations for the pages you can access from it. Each of these pages has its own Codex guide, so this will just be short summaries. Click on each liknk for more information!
ExploreThe Explorer is a feature that lets the author of a world quickly browse and edit its articles, maps, and timelines —all in one page. It features a full-body search bar, a tree-structured article list, a quick edit mode and more!
ViewOpens the presentation view of your world in another tab.
ArticlesThis is a full list of all articles in your world. You can order the list alphabetically or in "tree view" to have a better understanding of their organization if you have sorted them into different categories.
CategoriesCategories are a way to organize your world's articles. For example, you can have a category called "Birds" and fill it with articles about birds in your world, and then put the Birds category in a wider "Animals" category. This page lets you see all your world's category, both in the tree and alphabetical view.
MapsThe map functionality of World Anvil lets you display the geography of your world (or parts of it) in a very interactive way. This page is just a list of all maps, with a link to view and edit them.
Timelines and CalendarsTimelines let you display the history of your world, a country or a person in a very visual way. From this page, you can access your world's timelines, historical entries, and calendars.
SecretsYou can use secrets to keep information from your readers (or players, if you have an RPG campaign). Secrets are short pieces of information that can be embedded in articles and revealed to some people only (using subscribers).
ImagesThis page displays all the images you have uploaded to your world, as well as the images galleries you have created. It's also the page you use to upload images. Keep in mind that you can't use external images; you need to upload them if you want to use them in articles.
To-Do ListThe to-do list is a little nice feature that automatically lists all links that point to articles that don't exist, as well as drafts created by the purple inkwell button (in the bottom right corner). And, of course, you can also add new items yourself. It's a very handy feature when you are looking for articles to write!
Access rightsThis is another Guild-only feature that lets you add people as co-authors of your world. There are three levels of access, each with different permissions and limitations.
ConfigurationYou can tweak several settings for your world. Its introduction, date and time settings, and much more! If you're a Guild member, you will be able to use this page to customise its appearance using CSS.
Player CharactersYou can tie Heroes characters to your world and you'll see them in this page. To learn more about Heroes, take a look at this guide:
FollowersThis page contains the list of people who follow your world. The "follow" button is displayed in your world's main page as well as at the bottom of all the articles in your world.
Worlds ListThis will take you out of your current world! If you have multiple worlds, this page will list all of them with links to access their respective Author Panels.
CampaignsThis is the campaign manager and social media network for your characters in World Anvil. To access the campaign manager, just click on the Create a new campaign button you will find in your world's dashboard. 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 page in the sidebar menu (under the world drop-down) to get a list of them a switch between them. Take a look at the Guide to character creation and Guide to character interaction for more information!
You can access the Notebook from the top blue menu bar, and you can use it to quickly jot down ideas that you have but that you don't know how to make them fit in your world. You can attach an image to them and create relations between them in a parent-child structure, just like you would do in other note-taking apps such as OneNote. Only you can see your notes, so using it is also a great way to develop ideas that are not mature enough for public display.
StatblocksThis is specially useful if you are using an RPG system for your world, but it's a handy feature even if you are not, since the same feature can be used for other non-RPG formatting such as tables or embeds. Take a look at the Guide to Sheets.
StudioHere you can create new article templates, map pins, or sheets and blocks. (if you are
Grandmaster or higher. ) See Guide to Blocks, Guide to Block Templates, Guide to Maps. (The guide to article templates is coming soon.)
HomepageA 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.
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.
Worlds you FollowersA list of worlds you follow. These worlds will post updates viewable by clicking the notifications (bell) icon.
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.
- Interface and Accessibility: allows you to change the editor theme, style of editor (WYSIWYG (great for mostly text input) or Legacy (best for container heavy input).
- Default Editor Mode: for the WYSIWYG editor - specifies which view you'll see first (Tags/Source or WYSIWYG/text).
- Activated Advanced Select Dropdown: allows you to turn off the popup dropdown menu if your mobile device does not display the menu properly.
- Activated Accessibility Features: allows you to chose whether to show the accessibility interface or not. (Great if you need larger text, more contrast, for your computer to read the page, etc.)
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