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Black Flag Black Flag Playtest 2: Magic, Luck, Fighter, Wizards!

Kobold Press has released the 2nd playtest package for its Project Black Flag, which showcases magic, the luck system, and the fighter and wizard classes. Black Flag is the codename for Kobold Press' open source 5E 'replacement' game.

Kobold Press has released the 2nd playtest package for its Project Black Flag, which showcases magic, the luck system, and the fighter and wizard classes.

Black Flag is the codename for Kobold Press' open source 5E 'replacement' game.

Playtest 2 black flag logo.

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I was underwhelmed with the first packet.

I found this one more toothsome and much more interesting, so consider me whelmed.

Perhaps the third packet will actually overwhelm me and spark serious interest.
It’s definitely getting its own identity more and more, and actually piquing my interest in more than just what they’re doing, causing me to reevaluate the 5e engine. I am eagerly awaiting the next packet.

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Very disappointed with the Fighter design. It's like, a very slightly better version of two WotC designs, but they were dumb designs. Manuevers should be a part of the Fighter chassis, and frankly, "magic dude" absolutely 100% should NOT be a base/common Fighter subclass, it's just an incredibly perverse approach. If you want to play a caster, play a caster.
How does a subclass option ruin the entire class? I genuinely don't get that.

Personally, I like the idea of martials getting SOME magic options, but I'd really restrict them. WotC went with specific schools, I'm thinking a sub-list. Defensive spells (Shield, Mage Armor, Absorb Elements), Melee Spell Attacks, anything that augments your weapon (IE: Booming Blade, Shillelagh, Magic Weapon, Flame Arrows) or GIVES you one (...wait, is there not a "Bound Weapon" equivalent in WotC's 5E? Why? Hey, Kobold? Free idea!), etc., for the Fighter, specifically. You want a magical Fighter? You get a magical FIGHTER. A Fighter who AUGMENTS and ENHANCES their martial skills with magic. Basically, no to Fireball, yes to Elemental Weapon.

Though, now that I think about it, that IS... also... kind of the Ranger's purview.... Isn't it? Shoot...

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
The Gish has been a popular, if somewhat hard to implement, option since Elf was a character class. I can't blame people for wanting it, even if it could be a lot better at truly combining magic and swordplay, instead of creating "Fighter who can cast Shield" (and the far worse, 9-level caster who can swing a sword if they want to).


I will give Kobold's credit for being sly; they picked two the biggest classes in 5e that WotC hasn't covered yet in their playtest so that we cannot (would not?) compare them. I imagine if the first classes BF released were rogue and cleric, we'd have just spent the majority of the discussion comparing them to the 1D&D versions and debating which company was actually fixing the problems.

That said, I see once again Kobold (like WotC) have been copying Paizo's homework in that that there are universal spell lists that every class will share. They also moved subclass features to 3rd and 7th level, (the fighters were that prior, but the wizard was 2nd and 6th) which makes me think that they too will have subclass features align across all classes (though with only 2 classes and not even all 20 levels, that is a bit of speculation). Regardless, I wager that some conversion of prior subclasses will be necessary for BF as well, which again puts their level of "backwards compatible" about on part with One.

More interesting is that rituals are no longer regular spells you can choose to free cast, but only castable as rituals. It somewhat makes sense to take spells that are purely utility and typically cast outside of combat and silo them away from spell slots. It's also worth noting that Mage Armor is a +3 to AC rather than set your AC to 13, which may have some interesting implications with things like Unarmed Defense.

I'm also growing less enchanted with terminology changes. Talents, Circles, Rings, and Stunts are just Feats, Spell Lists, Spell Levels, and Maneuvers with legally distinct names. I'm sure if I played it, I'm sure the new names would stick, but for the moment, they throw off my comprehension of the rules. That's a nitpick, but if the goal is compatibility, terminology changes are a bad way to do it.

Overall, my opinion of BF hasn't changed; there isn't anything yet that has made me thing this isn't basically Two D&D. It's not really offering anything that WotC isn't offering, just doing so in a different way. It will be interesting to see when they handle a class WotC already covered (like Druid) to see how the two directly compare how they intend to solve the same problem points.


Part of me thinks it's too soon to cast any overall major judgement. I'm hoping Black Flag can offer their own takes on the Sorcerer and Monk to improve some of their issues that have been lamented on within 5E. I also feel like the Spellblade lacks enough features at this stage to make any solid difference/take. The ability to make a weapon +1 and the Tasha's Bladesinger Extra Attack variant doesn't leave much to be desire in saying "Oh wow-super cool awesome."

Granted Valor Bard and Eldritch Knight maybe somewhat jelly of such goodness.
(Although, Spellblade may end up being the Black Flag Eldritch Knight since it follows up to the same spell levels/rings AND it's a Fighter subclass). So that could be an example of a QoL fix for the Eldritch Knight that Black Flag does.

Which gives me hope that such fixes can be figured out/applied to the Monk and Sorcerer.


Can anyone make a simple fighter that isn't boring? It seems like a real design challenge if the history of gaming is any indication.
DCC has Mighty Deeds for the fighter that lets you do whatever you can think of, within confines of the die roll and the circumstances at hand. It's the best iteration of the fighter class I've ever seen. Also, since DCC relies heavily on crit tables, the Fighter has the best, most damaging Crits. And they can burn luck to offset critical failures, unlike other classes, so mechanically the Fighter is very unique in that game.

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