Around the start of 2020 I started working on what was then a conversion of the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module Ruins of Adventure into 5th edition D&D. The module took place in the expansive Forgotten Realms setting originally created by Ed Greenwood in 1967 as the backdrop of his childhood stories but brought into Dungeons & Dragons two decades later. Since then countless forms of media from novels to computer games have been released using this setting, including the roleplaying game that sparked my infatuation, Pool of Radiance.
What started as a conversion slowly turned into a reimagining as I sought to, among other things, streamline story elements, play up certain themes and revise some cultural stereotypes to make them play better in current times. One huge task was, obviously, updating the city of Phlan. The city has a deep history that speaks volumes about the people who currently reside here and those that wish to take control of it, so I wanted to flesh it out more in line with a character rather than a simple backdrop. This lead to listing shops and family trees and more which began to get quite unwieldy so I recently sought out a program that could help me manage all this information easily and in one location. That’s when I came upon Kanka.io.
What is Kanka?
Kanka.io is a wonderful campaign manager created in 2017 by a single RPG DM and player who wanted to “build and manage a world with his players.” After noticing the deficiency in similar websites during that time, he set out to create his own that would fill the void, and by all accounts he did that and then some.
Right from the start you are greeted with nearly no limits and a ton of options to create your vision. There are no restriction on how many campaign scenarios you want to create and within these scenarios you are able to drill down using modules and create locations, characters and families, organizations, items, events, calendars, races, quests and so much more. All of these you are able to easily link together using linkable areas within the modules or by typing @ and what you want to link that entry to. This means once you are in your campaign either playing or creating it, you will easily be able to follow threads at the speed of thought.
For example, here I have created a Location – the city of Phlan – and linked it to the Moonsea region which in turn is linked all the other cities in the area. Phlan is directly linked to other cities through Relations meaning you can list the relationship the city has with others in the area and the attitude (a number positive or negative) they have towards that location (Relations also work with Characters, Organizations and other entities in the same way). You can link what Characters live within the city, what Organizations operate here, what inventory items are found here and more.
Characters operate in the same way allowing you to tie them in with Organizations and Locations. You can give them special Traits, Attributes, Roles and more once you dive into the character sheets. You can even link them to Families which allows you to see who is a member of a specific family coming in very handy when creating unwieldy towns where lineage may serve a key factor.
Calendars allow you to create your own custom calendar including seasons, moon phases, months, weeks and so on. Events allow you to create special holidays, disasters, ceremonies and more. you can even create Abilities for your characters so you don’t have to leave the program if you want to know what a character can do in terms of magic or special skills. I should mention that all entries in every module have a full featured text entry field that allows links so, if you want, you can link to Roll20, D&D Beyond, a wiki or where ever else your heart desires.
You can invite members (via email) to the campaign and give them different roles which can be used to restrict access to certain parts of the campaign. For example, if you create a Character you can have their personality, organization and other information blocked from the players view which obviously helps if you are using this to run your campaign in that way. I’m solely using this for a visualization and management tool so I have easy access to all my notes, but I’m happy this option exists.
The website itself is easily useable on desktop, tablet or mobile device so if you are on the go, you can easily access (and edit most) anything you need as long as you have access to the internet. However, if you don’t have online access, you are able to download all your files as .PDF or .JSON.
There really are a ton of features in this program, and from the start you can tell it was created by someone who truly gets it. The developers clearly play roleplaying games and saw a need, then they went out and created a website that covered that need and have released it to the public. You deserve to treat yourself to this wonderful gift.
Registering to use the website is free (Kobold tier) and gets you everything you will need in order to use the website without any issues. However, subscribing ($5/mo Owlbear tier) allows you larger file uploads which can help when uploading maps and other images, access to Campaign Boosters which allows all members of a boosted campaign certain benefits such as larger uploads and custom CSS in the campaigns, private discord channel access and more. The top tier ($25/mo Elementals tier) gets you 25mb upload size, more campaign boosters, and the ability to impact the community and future development of the website. Of course, one of the best reasons to subscribe is you will be helping a wonderfully designer continue his dream.