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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Zaukrie

New Publisher
Here's a question that I hate to raise, but, whatever. Should Dwarvish and Elvish be languages? This isn't about "race" for me, it is about...would a lineage have a language? Again, I think this is something not going away, but I'd give some advice to DMs about how language could be more like regional......I mean, comprehend languages exists for a reason, if everyone speaks common, does it matter (like light)?
 

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Marc Radle

Legend
I realize we need to keep alignment, it is part of the rules.....but I'd like a comment or two about it being a DIAL, not a switch. NO ONE (outside a few creatures) is purely lawful or purely neutral or whatever (please don't turn this into a thread about alignment, I'm making a suggestion to KP here about what I'd like to see in their rules).
Great feedback! Please remember that Kobold Press isn't officially monitoring these threads for playtest feedback

Be sure to submit feedback via the playtest feedback form:
https://koboldpress.com/project-black-flag-playtest-packet-1-feedback/
 



Retreater

Legend
So the playtest has a pretty quick turn-around ("every now and then I fall apart!")
I can't implement these tests in my established home games, so the best I can do is just read through them and comment.
Unless...
Are there online options for playtesting? Or maybe we get something together between some of us on these boards?
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
So the playtest has a pretty quick turn-around ("every now and then I fall apart!")
I can't implement these tests in my established home games, so the best I can do is just read through them and comment.
Unless...
Are there online options for playtesting? Or maybe we get something together between some of us on these boards?
There really isn't anything actionable in there, though, is there?
 

Combat Casting is way too good. A caster with a spell DC of 13, standard at level 1, needs to take 26 damage before they have to make a concentration roll. At level 5 it could be a DC of 15 or 16. That's 30 to 32 damage. How are martials supposed to force those rolls? Anyone without a big nova ability is SoL. Change the ability to be "damage less than their spell DC" instead of "a DC less than their spell DC" and it's at least in the right ballpark. Add on the two other bullet points and this becomes a guaranteed talent for anyone looking to cast spells.
 

Marc Radle

Legend
Combat Casting is way too good. A caster with a spell DC of 13, standard at level 1, needs to take 26 damage before they have to make a concentration roll. At level 5 it could be a DC of 15 or 16. That's 30 to 32 damage. How are martials supposed to force those rolls? Anyone without a big nova ability is SoL. Change the ability to be "damage less than their spell DC" instead of "a DC less than their spell DC" and it's at least in the right ballpark. Add on the two other bullet points and this becomes a guaranteed talent for anyone looking to cast spells.

Great feedback! Please remember that Kobold Press isn't officially monitoring these threads for playtest feedback

Be sure to submit feedback via the playtest feedback form:
https://koboldpress.com/project-black-flag-playtest-packet-1-feedback/
 

Nockergeek

Explorer
I'm reading the ability score section, and I want to make sure I'm reading this right:
Random Stats is the only one that provides the +2/+1 ASI bonuses
Point-Buy doesn't include it, but does go above 15 (unlike standard 5e)
Standard Array doesn't include it, does bump the 14 to a 16, but also comes out slightly weaker than point-buy (31 points total vs the 32 in point buy)

So, if that's right, while standard array is the fastest, it's (marginally) the weakest stat set, and the only one that can't go above 16 (unlike standard 5e, where ASIs, whether based on lineage or freeform as in Tasha's, can get to 17). Is that correct?
 

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