RPGaDay2020 Day 5: Tribute – a tribute to WorldAnvil and Summer Camp 2020

RPGaDay2020 graphic

Yesterday in RPGaDay2020 I looked at The Gyrfalcon’s Vision and how it has changed Akorros.

Today the theme is Tribute, and I’d like to pay tribute to WorldAnvil and the Summer Camp 2020.

World Anvil is an online tool designed for world-building – whether that’s developing a world for a TTRPG, or keeping track of details for a novel.

It was originally a present from Dimitris to his wife Janet, who was struggling to keep track of all her notes and who had done what to whom and when, and what was in a particular location. Dimitris is a software developer, so he wrote a web app for her. Fast forward several years, and they have formed a company and this tool is now available to anyone (though they’re still calling it beta – does any software ever finish?).

You can use it for free, or you can subscribe at various different levels to unlock more features and support. They have even just released a full-blown novel-writing tool for subscribers at Grandmaster and above.

So what is it? Well, at base, it’s a type of Wiki where you can create articles on all sorts of topics in your world and link them together. It also has ways of organising and categorising to help readers navigate (which I really need to learn from and start applying on my site…).

Articles and templates

So far so run-of-the-mill. But an article isn’t just an article. Each article is built on particular template, and depending on the template, you get various template-specific prompts suggesting things you might like to think about for the article.

For example, for a species (such as https://www.worldanvil.com/w/melestruas-mystara-melestrua/a/the-wasteland-dragons-of-the-ardelphia-wastes-species), you get a wide range of sections, as you can see in these screenshots:

…and each of those sections continues, giving loads ideas of things to think about when describing the species.

But you’re not restricted to Species. There are whole host of different templates to inspire you, as you can see in this screenshot:

My Summer Camp 2020 status page

Summer Camp

We have just finished Summer Camp 2020, a month-long challenge to write a series of articles using different templates. See this blog post for the list of prompts. I ended up completing 21 articles, with a big surge right at the end where I went from 9 to 21.

The best part of this was how much I found out about my world from responding to the prompts. That’s where the ideas for the Gyrfalcon and the Treaty came from. I also discovered the ghost kobolds of Akorros as one of my first prompts (before I decided I didn’t have time to write them in both WorldAnvil and on the blog, so concentrated on WorldAnvil).

Plenty more inspiration came out of those prompts, and I found one article inspired another, leading me on a journey of discovery through Akorros and its people. They will gradually make their way onto this blog, or read them on WorldAnvil.

Other cool features

The whole cross-referencing system.

While writing an article, type @xxx and if there is an article with that substring, it will find it and link. And the link will contain a GUID, so if the article gets renamed it will still find it.

For example, typing @ghost offers me “The Ghost Kobolds of Akorros (ethnicity)”, and accepting it inserts the link @[The Ghost Kobolds of Akorros](ethnicity:3cdc369c-8f6f-4fed-b314-83ea1d186bdb)

Clickable, zoomable maps

I’ve only scraped the surface here, but you can set up zoomable maps where you can click through to articles, and/or set up sections which link to other maps. Loads of different map pin options, and I really need to get round to using this properly…

And there’s more…

  • Timelines, which can relate to other timelines
  • Character/creature sheets
  • Family trees

And most importantly of all, they’re continually developing, and tweaking, and improving. Even during Summer Camp Dimitris brought out a whole load of improvements from a simple auto-save and a word-count on the page to a wholesale clean-up of the UI. And I have lost track of what else has arrived since I joined at the start of the year. They have brought in various improvements to the structure including tags, categories, TOCs, dynamic article lists by type and I’m sure more which I now need to take advantage of.

But powerful though it is, if all you need is to get something down, you can ignore all the fancy options and just create an article and type all your text into the Vignette.

Sign up for free at worldanvil.com/register/

Come back tomorrow, and we’ll explore a Forest.

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