Today I have the privilege of sharing another awesome interview with you. Koray Birenheide (story teller, author, RPG game designer, and worldbuilder) was kind enough to answer my questions and share his inspiring personal worldbuilding story. You might know him as IsaNite on WA or Greenhorn on the WA Discord. Reading his answers was a delight for me, so I hope you enjoy reading too!

What we’ll cover:


Tell us a bit about you and your WA worlds. What made you start your worlds?

IsaNite - portrait

Well, if it comes to World Anvil specifically, I would say that it was more or less a case of Synchronicity. It was January of 2018 and I was caught in the lethargy of severe depression. My art, by which I mean my writing and music, was the only thing I could hold on to at the time and I desperately needed something to kickstart me out of my torpor.

At the time, I had already finished the initial 700+ page manuscript for my novel, Rise of the Broken, but it had sat on my shelf for two or three years owing to my utter inability to pick it up and start editing.

It was around this time that I happened to watch the anime series “Made in Abyss”, which really resonated with me with its fantastic and creative imagery, excellent cinematography, and most of all the utterly mind-blowing score composed by Kevin Penkin. In my school days I spent many years with meditation and exploration of the self, and the right music has always helped me in my endeavors to learn more about myself and spark my creativity, even if I had to compose it myself sometimes to hit the right bases. Well, when I heard that amazing score, it was like a switch had been flipped inside of my and my creative urges exploded out of me past the mire of my weakened mental state.

On top of all this, I happened to learn about World Anvil via Guy Sclanders’ video podcast “How to be a Great GM”, and I was immediately in.

I started churning out articles about the world of Aqualon, in which my novel is set, like a human factory, Aqualon cover imageexploring more and more aspects of my world as I went along. As I have learned, many authors there had already created huge reference documents and wikis for their novels to keep it all together and expand on their worldbuilding, but I had always just written the story down, focusing on the plot more than the fine details of the world, reasoning that there was so much story to tell I would eventually get to each bit little by little.

Instead, building my world on WA while editing my manuscript has given me the wondrous opportunity to flesh out many scenes with intricate details that really bring the world to life. It has been an amazing experience.


How long have you been world building? How long have you been on WA?

As I have stated in the previous question, I joined WA in January of 2018. However, I have been worldbuilding since long before that.

By the time I wrote my very first novel set in one of the worlds of the Aqualon cosmology at the age of 14, I had already been writing poetry for half as many years.

Since then, my worldbuilding has oscillated between the medium of writing, composing, and roleplaying. By necessity, once I started getting into D&D, I generally had to DM games, and I generally insisted on using my own settings and characters, which I always tailored towards certain overarching stories I wanted to tell and give my players a chance to immerse themselves in.

As for music: starting in 2009, I began composing digital music using vocaloid software, and each of my albums had its own little stories, told in song, culminating in my fifth and most ambitious album, Mainframe Revolution, which is a world explored in song, in which mankind is outlived by its electronic offspring. This world has since been integrated into my Aqualon cosmology as the previous incarnation of the world, called “Aura”, and one surviving android actually appears in the novel.


What do you consider to be the most outstanding aspect of your world(s)? 

I think there are many outstanding aspects of my world, especially when looking at the work I’ve been doing on World Anvil. The love I’ve been putting into crafting maps and articles in innovative formats has, in my mind, paid off a hundred-fold in providing an amazing experience to those who dare to explore them.

Map - initial view of Aqualon

Initial map view of Aqualon

If I had to specify one of the aspects I am most excited about, I would likely pick my series on “Soul Theory”.

Aqualon - Soul TheoryOn my world, there is an article called “Magic. Still incomplete, this article tries to convey the nature and kinds of magic on Aqualon. Nested within this article, is another article called “Soul Theory”, which itself encompasses many more articles.

Having spent many years of my life researching spirituality and esotericism, I have since developed my own cosmology and esoteric practices, which have flown readily into my worldbuilding. A reflection on both the journey and the results can be found within the articles that comprise my series on “Soul Theory”, which explores how Aqualonians have in turn explored their own existence and the nature of magic and the universe. How they started with humble, spiritual and sometimes religious beginnings, but did not stop once their minds became more evolved and critical, instead applying the scientific method to their study of the forces beyond reality.

You will not find a lot in the manner of orcs and elves on Aqualon, but you will find this. A mankind that has learned to live with magic and worked diligently to make sense of it and of themselves.


Do you consider yourself a gamer, a writer, an artist, simply a world builder, a mix, or something else entirely?

I would consider myself all of these things in a cinch, but playing and creating games, writing novels, short stories, and poetry, drawing maps and compositing images, composing and playing music, scaffolding and fleshing out worlds, all of these things are, to me, just tools or expressions of the greater calling of storytelling.

So there is your answer: I am a storyteller. Because when all is said and done, this is what I care about; to tell a story. 


What got you involved in world building and what are your specialties or favorite world building topics?

Aqualon - Yarenma MothWorldbuilding has always been a natural extension of my storytelling. As for specialties and favorite topics… I love all of them, to be honest. I will gladly explore any aspect of my worlds, however minute, because to me it is no different from learning something about our real world, and I love to learn new things.

If I had to name a specialty it would be, you might have guessed it, storytelling. So, exploring places, customs, cultures, people, and whatever you have via the lense of a story is something I enjoy doing a lot. Still, I am not at all opposed to aggregating and arranging facts in a visually appealing manner, so I generally tend to entwine the two methods of worldbuilding to really immerse my readers and myself.


Why did you start customizing your world?

I like to cook, I like to write, I like to compose music, I like to design things. And part of why I like to do those things is because I like to consume those things and I enjoy making them for myself. There is, I would say, a certain dignity and accomplishment in enjoying food you made for yourself, and the same goes for all creative endeavors in my mind.

As for the world customization, which I understand as my CSS styling of Aqualon if I got the question right, I wanted the experience of exploring Aqualon to be unique and memorable. As much as I love the platform of WA, I want the world to be distinctly mine, because it is.


How important is the look of your world(s) to your readers?

I’m not sure. I get very little feedback, though on the very rare occasions I do, people seem to generally enjoy the styling and layout of Aqualon. If that is at all important to them, however, I do not know.

Aqualon short stories

Are you a programmer by trade or education? Did you know CSS before coming to World Anvil?

Yes. I’ve been developing and designing websites for years, and am currently developing web software for the Japanology department of Frankfurt University (Germany).


Do you have a tip or snippet of commented CSS or BBcode to share for the readers? 

In general, I share guides on implementing certain CSS features from Aqualon in your own worlds on my discord server, so if you like to style your world, or if you just enjoy talking about creative topics or would like to learn more about Aqualon, you are all invited to drop by and take a peek, you’d be very welcome!

Now an advanced bit of CSS scripting I think not every person is aware of is that you can use element attributes as selectors when writing your code. One way that has served me very well in the past is in my world meta-description.

Since probably the beginning and to this day, your entire world page content (at least what you have written) including bb-code is inserted into the meta-description tag of your world page in its entirety. Because of this, my meta-description has the unreasonable length of over 50k characters, which is, as you might imagine, not optimal for sharing my world on social media, which will create link-previews using the meta-description.

Of course they will only use the first couple of words, so this forces you to make the first words on your world page the meta-description you want to display on social media, regardless of whether you want this to be how your world page begins. If you were to start your world page off with an image, the [img:XXXX] bb-code would probably be the first word in your twitter, facebook, and whatnot links.

Use this simple guide to add any custom meta-description by inserting and hiding it:

Guide 7 (from tips on his Discord): Creating a custom synopsis for your world that will show up in links instead of just the first few lines of your world (which aren’t pruned of most bb tags!) Step 1 – At the very beginning of your world add a bb code link that looks something like this:

.user-css a[href=gomyworld]
font-size: 0%;

Done! The link will be invisible on the page, but will be automatically shown when you link your world!

Of course, nowadays, it would be easier to simply create a custom container and hiding that one, but I am not 100% sure whether those are part of the Master+ advanced customization features, and this code is from the time from before containers were a thing.

Furthermore, using the “+” selector in conjunction with links you make invisible, you can still accomplish complex nesting which the containers are not designed for. I use this method for my custom spoiler cards like so:

Koray's pop-out menu example

How should people reach Koray with questions? 

The best ways you can reach him are via his Discord, his Discord username Greenhorn #0180, Twitter (@GatesOfAqualon), or via e-mail: Kentai92[at] Those will get you the fastest responses.

Feel free to check out his beautifully designed world of Aqualon , his Aqualon website and look for his upcoming book!

Koray's upcoming book - Rise of the Broken


Quick Tips

I have one quick tip to share before we go.

How to Access Statblocks - Dashboard->Statblocks->Your Statblocks->Menu to Pick Type

Statblock example showing the article is for all Guild Members

Use a statblock for information you use more than once in your world or that has many BBcode tags. If you choose the ‘Generic Text’ option, you can enter information just like in an article.

I use these for my Kofi support block (that’s dropped into every page), my tag list and book progress bars (both have large amounts of BBCode), notices to show an article has secrets for subscribers, list of updates to the world, links to CSS resources, and notices if a tip article is for all guild members or Grandmaster and up.

On the Your Statblocks page you can click on the block number to copy the BBCode and paste it where you need it.


Coming Soon

I’ll be changing up the format to share shorter tutorials (with just one type of major tip in them). crossing my fingers I’m hoping to share these individual tips more often. Up next:

  • Using Notepad++ to check BBcode tags (for all WA members)


Make Your World Look Awesome!

Thank you so much for sharing, Koray!

Readers, please let us how you use these ideas and let him know you appreciated the interview and tips.

Until next time, my fellow smiths. Go light up the forge!