The Best Campaign Management Software for Tabletop RPGs
Pen and paper is not for me. Well, it’s not the only thing I can rely on. I don’t mind hand-drawing maps or keeping a notebook for my games. But I need a digital source to archive my world and campaign. This story takes a look at the best options out there for campaign management software. I’ll break down the cost, benefits and downfalls of each. Let’s get rolling.
City of Brass
City of Brass provides a nice set of tools with a clean design. You can build a world or story that presents well to others. The site provides a modular workflow that’s quick to use after the initial learning curve.
Stories and worlds have side navigation bars that are completely customizable.
City of Brass
You can build a list of existing pages by utilizing tabs or the built-in Childtools. Text content is easy with a simple set of styling options. Featuresallow you to display metadata on the page, like the owner or creation date.
There is a decent learning curve in how to use this product and organize your data. They have great tutorials but they’re almost required to pick it up.
Images are not handled well. You can only upload images from the image gallery page. Often, I’d find myself working in two tabs. One tab for creating content, the other for uploading images to the gallery. If you need an image added to a text section of your content, you need to have the image URL from the gallery.
The separation between the Story Builder and World Builder is a bit odd. For the most part, you build the same page types from each. I could be missing the point here but I’ve found no major features indicating why these are separate.
The product is in 100% maintenance mode. Active development is no longer happening so the feature set will likely remain the same. Although, the project is now open source. So anyone could suggest features they’ve designed.
City of Brass is a well-designed web platform that never reached its potential. Despite a steep learning curve, the tools can be fun and you can build something great. A few wonky workflows and missing features make this product miss the mark for me.
Free. The Premium plan is $5/month and gives you unlimited characters, creatures, rules, images, worlds, stories, and campaigns.
City of Brass | Welcome
The City of Brass is a fully-featured app specifically designed to manage the mechanics of pen-and-paper games allowing…
World Anvil is a newer and exciting web platform for gamemasters and storytellers. Over the last 6 months, it has exploded onto the scene, releasing new features each week.
World Anvil gives you a robust suite of features for building and organizing worlds. You can create over a dozen different types of content.
World Anvil Content Types
Each type of content has specific fields to track further details. There’s a nice linking system in place where you can link articles that make sense.
Example: If you create an organization, you can select the type of organization and link one of your existing characters as the organization Leader. In addition, you can choose a parent organization if you need one.
Recently, they’ve added a set of campaign management tools for RPGs that can link to your worlds. Your world’s public page is completely customizable. You can choose which articles display next and what appears on the table of contents.
The timeline feature is one of their more exciting ones. You can create timelines for you world and present them in an appealing way.
World Anvil Timelines
Another benefit is the community and creators. There is a fantastic community surrounding World Anvil. They’re supportive and active on the site and in Discord. The creators, Janet and Dimitris, are a fun couple that puts out a lot of content. They’re very active in the community.
Dimitris is the sole developer of World Anvil and shows no signs of slowing down. As mentioned, they’re releasing features weekly (sometimes daily). The community can even vote on which features are next.
To their credit, this benefits section is leaving out A LOT. There are categories, subscribers, comments, and so much more.
World Anvil has grown so quickly that the platform feels a bit disjointed. The feature set, while initially attractive, is overwhelming.
Example: In creating a settlement, there are sections to fill out for population, demographics, government, infrastructure, assets, defences, industry & trade, guilds & factions, history, and more.
Now of course, you don’t need to fill out each section but its quite daunting. I found myself not using over half of the fields.
There are 5+ fields for determining layout and design. Character portraits also tend to get cut off. After all the work, the presentation pages are a bit lackluster.
It does take time to discover all the features, how they interact, and where all they’re used.
World Anvil is an exciting platform at its beginning. Passionate creators have built a passionate community around this ever-growing product. Though the features are endless, the platform needs some direction and focus. Extra developers, and a designer, will only help World Anvil move in the right direction.
World Anvil is worth your time to check out. It excited me, but it failed in its execution this early on.
Free. Worldbuilder’s Guild Membership is $3/month or higher. A fully fleshed-out Patreon describes the levels and features.
About World Anvil | World Anvil
World Anvil is not just a fancy looking wiki. It is designed specifically for worldbuilding and to accommodate the…
Notebook.ai provides a unique set of worldbuilding tools wrapped in a modern design. Like World Anvil, each category of content provides a dozen or so inputs for more details. You can link articles to each other, like characters and locations.
There’s a nice share feature on each piece of content. You can share a link and toggle the privacy setting for that page.
The biggest strength is the “AI”. Once you have enough content, you can ask for a “Worldbuilding Prompt”. The site will find something you haven’t filled out and pose the question to you.
Example: What’s the magic system like in <insert world name here>?
The creator keeps you up-to-date with the latest enhancements and plans on Medium. It appears the project is open source and others are contributing, as well.
The input fields are quite small. If you’re looking to add a good amount of text for a subject, the page gets stretched.
In another similarity to World Anvil, character portraits are ill-formated. In the page header, they’re often cut off and large pictures don’t resize down — they overflow the content box.
Notebook.ai is a well-developed, modern web platform that’s growing. The site has a solid foundation and it will be exciting to see where it goes over the next few years. There’s very little learning curve but the workflow is lacking. With a few changes, it will be able to compete with some of the other choices on this list.
Free. There’s a Premium tier at $7-$9/month unlocks all page types and increases your storage limits.
Notebook.ai is a set of tools for writers, game designers, and roleplayers to create magnificent universes - and…
Obsidian Portal provides a streamlined and powerful wiki for your campaign. Though it doesn’t have endless prompts to guide your worldbuilding, it provides a blank slate.
The editor is simple and the same for every page. Tools to link existing characters, wiki pages, and images are right at your fingertips. These same tools can create a new character or upload a new image on the spot.
Each page has a GM Only section for private notes about that topic or you can make an entire page GM Only.
You can also choose between two editors for your content (Textile vs CkEditor).
If you know some HTML and CSS, you can further customize your content as the editor can handle some of this.
Like any wiki, if you aren’t mindful of linking pages, it can be tough to track down a deeply-nested page. If you use the search bar you can get around this.
While most features work without issue, a few could use a redesign. The editor preview is quite handy. But some of the time, the preview is not 100% reflective of what the page turns out to look like.
Obsidian Portal is not in maintenance mode but it might as well be. They’ve struggled to provide good support for the product over the last few years. Communication is poor. Yet, in the last month they’ve actually released a new feature and announced a new Community Manager.
Obsidian Portal is a simple and powerful web platform for managing tabletop campaigns. The features unlocked by the Ascendant tier are well worth the price. But I’d start with month-to-month pricing. The owners have a long ways to go in proving they actually still care about the product and will invest in it.
Free. Ascendant memberships cost $5/month or $40/year. These memberships add quite a few features listed here. Most notably, increased storage, player secrets, notifications, custom styling, a forum and more.
Obsidian Portal - Campaign websites for Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs
Obsidian Portal allows you to create campaign websites for tabletop roleplaying games. Better manage your group and…
The Overall Summary
This article is reflective of my personal experience using these products. I know I am leaving out a host of features from each but I hit 99.9% of the features that are important to know going in.
I’ve cycled through all these products (and some listed below) and always come back to Obsidian Portal. It’s established, simple, and powerful.
The goal of this article is to help you learn about some of the best choices built for worldbuilders. While they have their flaws, I’d encourage you to check out each of the above products to see what works for you.
- Campaign Logger
A note on Realmworks
The question will arise around why I left out Realmworks. It’s a powerful tool for organizing worlds and campaigns. But Realmworks, for me, is an outdated and confusing product. If it ever becomes a web app and receives the love of a designer, I’ll give it a look.