This page lists a number of worldbuilding tools I use and recommend others to use as well.
Before we get into the guide there’s something important to tackle. And that is asking yourself,
What problem are you wanting the tool to solve?
If your problem is organising the hundreds of maps, characters and items of your world then signing up for one of the Mother of all worldbuilding tools such as World Anvil would be a great investment.
But if your problem is you’re overwhelmed with where to start worldbuilding, then it would be a bad idea. Because worldbuilding tools such as World Anvil have layers upon layers of menus, questions and content types designed to capture an encyclopedia of information about a world.
So first define your problem.
Software and tools only solve problems when they’re assigned to the correct problem. And sometimes you don’t need a tool or software.
Do you need a worldbuilding tool?
Since around 2017/18 a number of worldbuilding specific software tools have popped up. They’re doing well and have created a niche in the software market.
But, you might not need a dedicated tool. I’ll explain more.
Just because a tool or piece of software has been designed for worldbuilding, doesn’t mean it’ll be right for you. Thankfully most of the tools provide either free tiers, trials or very cheap tiers. Which means you can test them out.
However, you might already have a system that is working brilliant for your writing or roleplaying. If so, don’t feel the need to run to the next shiny thing.
A process and workflow that is already working is a wonderful thing.
I believe the most important thing with worldbuilding is creating something that allows people to get into your world. For writers that’s short stories and novels, for roleplayers it’s actually running a game.
When your existing process or workflow starts to creak then it might be time to look for a MoaW.
What’s a MoaW? Read on to find out.
Mother of all worldbuilding tools (MoaW)
These are software applications that have been built specifically for building imaginary worlds. Usually built for roleplayers but also marketed to writers and game designers. They contain many menus, content types and fields to track and record everything you create. If you’re making a worldbuilding encyclopedia then you probably want one of these tools.
The current contenders that I know of are:
- Legend Keeper
- World Anvil – a tool for tracking your worldbuilding
Non-worldbuilding software, that could work really well as a MoaW
The other option is to look for tools that exist but weren’t created specifically for worldbuilding. This might be more appealing if you already use one of the tools for another purpose.
Everybody loves extending WordPress and I believe there is a space in the market for a savvy plugin builder to create a worldbuilding tool.
In the meantime, if you have a little bit of WordPress knowledge, can model data relationships and content types then there are a number of existing plugins that could be joined together.
- Custom post types (native WP function) in either a dedicated plugin or site specific plugin
- Advanced custom fields
The big bonus with WordPress is that it’s Open Source and secondly you can use your own domain with it.
For many years I thought AirTable had potential, but the cost is a bit daft. So a non-starter, but it does lead me to my next tool.
Ah ClickUp, if AirTable had a baby with Trello then switched on beast mode.
ClickUp has recently launched a relationship field which makes it an interesting candidate as a worldbuilding tool. There’s too much to explain or describe in this short guide as to why I believe ClickUp would work. So it’s on my long list of jobs to build and record a demo.
Other worldbuilding tools
Here Be Taverns – a collection of random generators for Table Top RPGs. It’s put together by Adam from Sword & Source and features content from a number of TTRPG creators. Well worth a look.
Novus Bestiary – another great resource from Sword & Source. It’s an encyclopedia of monsters.