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How to Design and Publish With Black Flag Roleplaying

How to Design and Publish With Black Flag Roleplaying

Sometimes a game master turns into a game designer. It can be as simple as writing down and expanding your game notes, or as complex as documenting an entire campaign. Anyone can become a designer; you simply write less for your own reference, and start writing for other game masters.

If you want to share your creations with the world, it’s easy with the Black Flag Reference Document (BFRD).

Here’s an overview of what the BFRD is, how it works, and how you can publish your Black Flag RPG adventures and creations.

What is the Black Flag Reference Document (BFRD)?

The Black Flag Reference Document is a free resource containing the rules that power the Tales of the Valiant RPG from Kobold Press, including the rules for monsters, items, and magic for those games. You can find it free, right here in the Kobold Press store, and there’s also a Wiki version at bfrd.net.

How does it differ from other tabletop reference documents?

The BFRD is built on the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset that was released to the Creative Commons in 2023, and it is compatible with those rules. The BFRD adds a lot of new mechanics (talents, lineages, Luck, Doom, and more) and a lot of lore material (for monsters) to the 5E community.

The BFRD is offered to the public for use under the Open Roleplaying Content (ORC) license.

What is the difference between the BFRD and Tales of the Valiant (ToV)?

The Tales of the Valiant roleplaying game is a larger version of the Black Flag rules set, containing additional art, creatures, and subclasses not found in the BFRD. It’s basically a super-set of Black Flag, containing some proprietary creatures and classes. Tales of the Valiant art and mechanics are not under an open license; the BFRD is.

How can I publish my own content using the Black Flag Reference Document?

It’s easy! Create your adventure, character options, or other Black Flag tabletop material using any PDF-generating tool, and include the ORC license statement with attribution to the Black Flag Reference Document.

You can see examples of this attribution in The Shadow Over Innsmouth from DM Dave, Mythos Monsters from Legendary Games, Thrones & Bones: Keeper of the Drowned from Lazy Wolf Studios, and a growing number of others publishers on DriveThruRPG.

Then offer your published game design to the world either for free or as a paid download—it’s up to you.

What are the benefits of using the ORC license for publishing my content with the Black Flag Reference Document?

The ORC license protects all of your intellectual property (characters, worldbuilding, art, maps and so forth) automatically, by default. You give away none of the rights to your characters or worldbuilding by using the ORC.  On the contrary, it explicitly protects all that material unless you say otherwise.

It also gives you the license to reprint, remix, and reuse the rules and text in the Black Flag Reference Document itself within your own publications. For instance, you can publish an adventure that includes the full stats of a BFRD monster, or you can create a set of wizard spells that includes the full text of BFRD spells, and so on.

This includes permission to sell your creations that use the BFRD, to Kickstart materials created with BFRD, to create VTT versions, and to create printed editions of your game designs.

If you have more specific questions about the ORC license, review the ORC Answers and Explanations document or consult an attorney. It is an open license, meant to make game material as broadly available as possible. Expert advice can be helpful for complex question and special cases.

Will my published content be available on the Kobold Press store if I use the Black Flag Reference Document and the ORC license?

Alas, the Kobold Press store is not (yet) set up for third-party sales. Your best options right now are places like DriveThruRPG.com for PDF and print-on-demand, and hobby stores or Kickstarter for printed books.

Will Kobold Press promote my content if I use the Black Flag Reference Document?

Possibly! Kobold Press is committed to promoting creators throughout the community, and has done so for many years. For examples using Black Flag Roleplaying, see the Black Flag Roleplaying Adventure Pack 1 and Black Flag Roleplaying Adventure Pack 2. These projects showcase small and large publishers like Steamforged Games, Legendary Games, Lazy Wolf Studios, DM Dave, and many others.

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