Black Flag So What's In Kobold Press' BLACK FLAG First Playtest?

Black Flag, the codename for Kobold Press' new open TTRPG, announced during the height of the recent OGL controversy as an open alternative to 5E, has put out the first playtest packet. It's 12-page document of character creation rules. So what's inside? The introduction summarises character creation, defining 5E concepts like level, hit dice, and so on. It introduces the game as being...

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Black Flag, the codename for Kobold Press' new open TTRPG, announced during the height of the recent OGL controversy as an open alternative to 5E, has put out the first playtest packet. It's 12-page document of character creation rules. So what's inside?

The introduction summarises character creation, defining 5E concepts like level, hit dice, and so on. It introduces the game as being backward-compatible with 5E.

Black Flag -- like Level Up: Advanced 5E, and Ancestry & Culture--divides the 5E concept of 'race' and 'subrace' into inherited and cultural elements. Black Flag goes with the terms Lineage and Heritage.

It goes on to present the Dwarf, Elf, and Human, along with a choice of two heritage traits for each--the heritage traits for dwarf, for example, are Fireforge and Stone. Elves get Cloud and Grove, while humans get Nomadic and Cosmopolitan. You can choose any heritage for your lineage, though. These are analogous to 5E's 'subraces', although the inherited/learned elements are separated out -- Cloud Elves are a lot like High Elves, and Grove Elves are a lot like Wood Elves, for example.

Following that are two backgrounds -- Scholar, and Soldier. They each give the usual array of proficiencies plus a 'talent'.

Magic, martial, and technical talents are essentially feats. You get a talent from your background, and can substitute an ability score increase for one.

The playtest feels to me much like a 5E written in their own words, but with 5E's 'race/subrace' structure replaced with 'lineage/heritage', the biggest thing being that the heritage (what was subrace in 5E) is cultural.

As a disclaimer, I do of course publish Level Up: Advanced 5E, which shares the exact same goal as Kobold Press' project (BTW, check out the new A5ESRD site!) It will be interesting to see how the approaches diverge; while both are backward-compatible, they already have different ways to handle what 5E calls race -- Level Up has you choose a heritage (your inherited species, basically), and any of 30+ cultures (learned stuff from where you grew up). Black Flag goes with lineage (again, your inherited species), and a choice of heritages for each lineage. And the bestselling 5E book Ancestry & Culture on DTRPG, uses those terms -- so there's plenty of options to choose your heritage/culture, lineage/heritage, or ancestry/culture!

Whatever happens, the future certainly contains a choice of open 5E alternatives!
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Looks like they kicked up the standard array a bit. That's nice.

Starting with a character concept is dangerous in a class-and-race game. The players' imagination will always find the spaces the designers have yet to fill.

Yeah, it reads like 5E text. To me, that's not good. I'm just not the target audience any more. That's too bad. Best of luck with Black Flag. Hope they keep the name. It's too good to change.
 

Marc Radle

Legend
Looks like they kicked up the standard array a bit. That's nice.

Starting with a character concept is dangerous in a class-and-race game. The players' imagination will always find the spaces the designers have yet to fill.

Yeah, it reads like 5E text. To me, that's not good. I'm just not the target audience any more. That's too bad. Best of luck with Black Flag. Hope they keep the name. It's too good to change.

This is the time to participate in the playtest and tell us what you like, don't like, or would like to see.
Trust me, we ARE listening!! The idea is to remain 5E compatible but we also want to improve, expand, and innovate!

If you have thoughts or ideas, sign up and participate - I promise you will be heard
 

Marc Radle

Legend
This is the time to participate in the playtest and tell us what you like, don't like, or would like to see.
Trust me, we ARE listening!! The idea is to remain 5E compatible but we also want to improve, expand, and innovate!

If you have thoughts or ideas, sign up and participate - I promise you will be heard
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This is the time to participate in the playtest and tell us what you like, don't like, or would like to see.
Trust me, we ARE listening!! The idea is to remain 5E compatible but we also want to improve, expand, and innovate!

If you have thoughts or ideas, sign up and participate - I promise you will be heard
And I absolutely appreciate that. Thank you.

I don't like 5E. So I'm not your target audience. Changing the game to suit me would alienate 95% of your target audience.

Consider that there are already at least two 5E-alike but heavier games out there. If you're going to change anything, think about making the game lighter rather than heavier.

Best of luck with the game. I hope it does everything you want it to and more.
 


Bolares

Hero
I don't really get why we are still doing Ability Score and Modifier separation. Sure, it's easier to do the rolling for stats with the 3-18 ability scores, but basicaly, for the rest of the game we use modifiers, not Scores. Wouldn't it make more sense to get rid of the ability scores and give you a reference table for rolling ability modifiers?
I like what I'm seeing in a preliminary read though, keep up the good work!
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I don't really get why we are still doing Ability Score and Modifier separation. Sure, it's easier to do the rolling for stats with the 3-18 ability scores, but basicaly, for the rest of the game we use modifiers, not Scores. Wouldn't it make more sense to get rid of the ability scores and give you a reference table for rolling ability modifiers?
I like what I'm seeing in a preliminary read though, keep up the good work!
I agree with this, but it is a 5e clone.

As I said in the other thread, give elves something other than darkvision.....please :) ( I don't expect this).
 

I like this Standard Array better :) 16,15,13,12,10, and 8 instead of 15,14,13,12,10 and 8.

Also, is the points-buy more generous?

Editing in other thoughts as I go:

I like the name "Night Vision" way more than "Darkvision", though this would have been a great time to bring back the Darkvision/Low-light vision divide, frankly. The description is clearer too.

Grove Heritage is going to be a big hit with players because of the talk-to-animals feature.

Background approach is good.

Talents somehow seem a lot more together and sensible than 1D&D's weird little Feats.

Honestly this looks more like what I was expecting 1D&D to do than 1D&D does. Eager to see more.
 
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