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Playtest Packet 1 is here for Project Black Flag!

Playtest Packet 1 is here for Project Black Flag!

Thanks to every one of you who signed up for Project Black Flag playtesting.

Because of your support, our team’s dedication, and the magic of Kobolds, we can announce Playtest Packet #1 is now available!

Everyone who signed up through our playtest form has already been sent official downloads and playtest feedback links via email. It’s already happened! Check your inbox and/or spam folder!

Did you miss the signup? It’s OK! Click the big blue button to download it now!

Start Playtesting Lineage, Heritage, and Talents!

You have until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, February 27, to share your insights and feedback. Playtest feedback for Lineage, Heritage and Talents will close on February 28.

Then we will begin sorting through your comments and prepare for Playtest Packet #2 in March 2023!

Submit feedback using our online form until 11:59 p.m., Monday, February 27.

Happy playtesting!

Did you miss this one in your inbox, but you want first access to ongoing playtests? Sign up!

59 thoughts on “Playtest Packet 1 is here for Project Black Flag!”

  1. Typo in the intro! “These countless worlds rarely —reassemble— one another on the surface,”

    I like that it’s 5e compatible and am looking forward to seeing the 2nd playtest packet! Very cool flavor!

  2. Got an email on the 7th stating that I would be part of the play test, but have yet to receive an email with the download.
    Hoping my email is just falling behind, I’m excited to test out the packet.

  3. I was really hoping for a further departure from 5e, to be honest. All of this works mechanically, but it feels just like a reskin of the existing system rather than something truly new.

    1. When PF1 came out, it wasn’t that much different from 3.5e. I fully expect this system to take a similar route, initially just being a slight rework of a few things, then expanding as time goes on into it’s own.

  4. I think this is a positive first glimpse and I hope I get a chance to try it out with some players. Feels similar to what early Pathfinder did in their first edition in terms of similarity to the D&D source.

    From a first read, I like that the heritages appear to have a little more significance than the subraces in 5e. I read it as giving you a choice of leaning towards magic or towards fighting. As someone who has primarily DM’d for new players, that feels like a positive move that should give players flexibility in their choices.

    There’s not a lot here to differentiate from 5e, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 5e is a pretty fun system. Apart from the recent controversies, I think it’s biggest issue is that in trying to move away from some of the more restrictive ways lore limited player choice, recent decisions have made lore somewhat irrelevant. Baking more options into each ancestry and making them meaningful seems like a compromise that could be very appealing.

    I look forward to seeing what comes with classes and subclasses. Seeing some more differentiation there would be nice.

  5. One thing I do think is a little disappointing is that you’ve followed 5e on talents (feats). Pathfinder 2e has shown how feats/talents can be made much more integral. Letting players take a talent from the off is great but leaving the ability score increase or talent choice in place feels stale. Perhaps something to consider is an array of class-based talent options to be taken at different levels and ABIs being their own thing that you get without forgoing a talent.

    1. The main difference here is the Talents are quite Substantial compared to the 5e ones, Combat Casting letting you AOO with spells when enemies move into or out of your space, Combat Conditioning Boosting your HD as well as giving you bonus HP, School Specialization letting Bards, Sorcerers, Clerics, Druids, even Eldritch Fighters and Arcane Tricksters specialize, while also still letting Wizards expand their own specializations, and Hand-to-Hand (Although unfairly nerfed for Small Creatures, I hope they change that.) letting non-monks go HAM in Unarmed while actively buffing their Grapple skills (Brawlbarian seems like a fun archetype.).

      It’s not as in-depth as PF2, but I think that’s good, folks who want that level of complexity should play Pathfinder. I play Pathfinder, but some of my friends have a harder time getting into it, so something like this seems like a good middle ground that can outperform 5e while not competing with PF2.

      (Plus, given how they’ve structured Talents, I’m fully expecting Classes to have bonus Feats of certain types, like how Fighter in 5e already gets extra feats at certain levels.)

      1. Combat Conditioning is an awkward nerf of Toughness, and I don’t understand why you’d write the talent that way.

        Perhaps there are additional game mechanics that key off the size of your hit dice that haven’t been revealed yet, but 5E’s toughness is mechanically both better and more elegant.

        1. A boost to hit dice size helps with regaining lost HP over rests that 5e’s toughness doesn’t effect, but i do agree that it is worse than just getting the +2 every level. they should change the increased hit dice size to something like always gaining +2 HP when they rest and roll hit dice.

    2. I think the main argument against is about what market they’re trying to serve. I suspect that the tighter similarity to D&D 5e here is to serve customers who already like 5e as a system, but would prefer to give money to Kobold Press than to WotC. I think that’s a wise decision. If people want to play Pathfinder 2e, it’s already there, and Paizo is a great company to support, from what I’ve seen.

      1. Negromaestro Games

        Also, come 2024, there will be no official 5e core books from Wizards of the Coast, and new Players introduced wanting the traditional 5e experience instead of OneD&D will need to purchase either a Project Black Flag core book series or Levelup from EN Publishing.

  6. I like a lot of what I’ve seen so far, Heritages and Lineage seems like a far better system for 5E moving forwards, and Talents seem pretty cool. I like that the school specialization hints at a rework of Wizard which I’m certainly down for as a lot of those level 2. I think the main issue that I see is that the Talents are wildly imbalanced, something like Trade Skill is nice conceptually but is just completely overshadowed by talents by stuff like Combat Casting and Combat Conditioning, which in turn makes humans a bit too strong currently, personally I’d prefer for a different thing to be given humans rather than them starting with two talents.

    I am a little disappointed that it seems like stat increases and talents are still connected, I understand that this is still meant to function with previous 5E content to some degree but I always felt that feats and ASI having cross over caused too many issues for classes like monk and casters.

    1. I forgot to add also not keen on the penalizing small Lineages for Hand to Hand Talent, 1d4 just feels like it’s just making it not a viable option to take. Small races in 5E don’t really get anything but a few slim negatives, so unless there is a large rebalancing of this, it doesn’t seem great.

  7. I’m a little confused are we supposed to play test these character with the 5e rule set? In the PDF it mentions a Core Fantasy Roleplaying system that has a GM book and monster vault. Have those been released yet?

    1. There’s going to be multiple play test packets as they’re ready to be released. We probably won’t get those until later, I think.

      I’m a backer on MCDM’s Flee Mortals project and I think they’ve released like 5 or 6 packets for play testing so far. If this is going a similar route, we may not have a “finished” (final book in hand or PDF download) set of books for well over a year, and it could easily go further than that depending on how much they want to adapt or improve on 5e, or how much they want to freestyle their own stuff they felt 5e was missing.

  8. Disappointed to see that after all the hype this is looking like yet another fantasy heart breaker nearly identical to 5e. This was such a wonderful opportunity for a new start, to see this talented team show their stuff and make a unique game that does it’s own thing. Players are now more willing to try out new systems than they have been in a long time, and yet this is playing it as safe and boring as possible. There’s a whole sea of games out there trying get the attention of those who feel spurned by WotC, and Core Fantasy System / Black Flag just looks like it’ll be yet another indistinct clone. I just have to question how successful trying to be that D&D replacement is gonna be when Pathfinder and a plethora of OSR games already exist.

    1. I get where you are coming from, I pretty much expect also something with big improvements and original spin on it, though it was always clear to me they would try to somewhat make it 5e compatible due to the massive amounts of 5e content that Kobold Press released.

      That said, I feel like right now it is a bit premature to judge, considering a majority of content has not yet been released.

    2. I dont think their intent was to create something entirely new. 5E does have a significant player base and I think they were catering to those people who like the system but don’t want to support WOTC anymore. There are also a lot of 3rd party content creators who have been creating content for 5E ruleset for years, they probably want to cater to those people as well so they can publish under Black Flag instead of 5E and not have to learn a whole new system to keep creating content for the ruleset they are familiar with.

  9. Typo: “These dice are abbreviated in game text, so a four-sided die is a
    d4, a six-sided die is a d6, and so on for d8, d10, d12, and d10.”

    Should be d20 at the end.

  10. Way too close to 5e so far for me to take the time to actually take the time to transition to it. Looking forward to seeing what you do to differentiate it more, but so far it’s just too close.

      1. They are starting slow, which is the right way to make changes, getting approval for every step on the way and accepting feedback on how to potentially improve. Theres always the general Feedback section you can write your suggestions into for future mechanics they will introduce.

        I agree that the Lineage and Heritage system is very interesting and will diversify character creation ALOT, exponentially giving more choices with every lineage that is being introduced. they may even create heritages completely seperated from Lineage.

        My biggest hope is that they balance attributes a bit more and when creating the classes make it a bit more open than just Class and Subclass.

  11. …Yes? Like PF1 was. It was pitched as 5e Compatible, so there’s not much they can change about the base system, and they aren’t trying to change much, just enough to improve on some lackluster parts of 5e. Those extra steps are exactly what was advertised.

  12. I like what I am seeing so far, I am disappointed to see that the Ability Score Improvements (ASI) for race and heritage is not there I feel that would be a great way for a players to diversify their character. Hopefully it is brought in in later playtests. Still super hyped about this project.

    1. You still get the +2 to one stat and +1 to another, it’s listed in “3. Determine Ability Scores” section, unless I misunderstood and you were asking for race based ability scores like old 5E used to have.

      “To determine your starting ability scores, roll 7four d6s, add up the highest 3 (discarding the low die) to get your total, then write it down. Do this five more times until you have six totals between 3 and 18. Assign those six numbers to the ability scores you choose. Add 2 to one score of your choice that is 16 or below and add 1 to one score of your choice that is 17 or below, and you’re done!”

      I’m glad I posted that since that made me just notice the feature which stops players starting with 20 in a stat straight away, I like that.

  13. Zee Bashew made a good video about an additional ability score, but I can’t find it. This is the idea:

    Ability: Honor.

    Because of this system’s balance with lineage and heritage, it might be interesting to create a reward system which emboldens heritage. Where Charisma rewards intimidation and persuasion, Honor rewards gifting and understanding. Those with Honor, whether liked or not, value the heritage they come from. As such, those who see value with those of high Honor stats share their beliefs and riches freely to those who represent a greater understanding of the heritage they come from, regardless of lineage. How it could vastly change the playing dynamic of this RPG is by creating a system which values honoring the player as both a necessary game mechanic and indispensable truth to the relations they wish to share with those who invest their time, energy, knowledge, and care into Project Black Flag.

    Just a simple change, but I believe Honor can make a world of difference. All the best.

  14. OH! Also, please adopt the Blade in the Dark’s equipment guide. Light, medium, heavy, and list all the items in advance to use at an adventurer’s disposal when needed.

    If possible, make an, “Awe” talent for Charisma and Honor players. Those which presence itself leaves characters who understand their position, “speechless” and/or “motionless” for one round. Like looking at a JoJo character and having zero idea what the hell you’re looking at, but can’t help but to be amazed at either the audacity or beauty. Or an Artificer with high Honor which creates a Totem which either causes blasphemy or awe to onlooking characters or creatures.

    All the best!

  15. It seems okay so far – some of the things I hoped for (a more gradual proficiency system, seperation of feats/talents and ASI) are not there. The lineage and background systems seem fine. There is nothing in here that excites me or makes me want to use these rules over the base 5e rules so far. Luck points are mentioned but not explained, those could be cool or could just be a different name for inspiration.
    I really hope the classes get a little more modular than 5e handled it. I know they want to be 5e compatible, but it would be cool, to see some more ideas that make the game it a little more intersting. Maybe even with some optional rules, to customize the complexity, but maybe that is too much to ask.

  16. You are starting off slow with base changes for now, which is good. Character creation, Lineages and Heritages, a couple of talents (which are feats that just have been improved upon) and background. I like that, you dont wanna throw gigantic changes at the public out of nowhere and its best to improve the system step by step like this and get approval for changes.

    I did write some suggestions into the general feedback section, hoping that you would adopt those.

  17. What is special about this? It just seems like a clunky uninspired take on 5E. Sorry to be so harsh, but you need to put some more effort into it if want me to play your new system.

  18. Using “Lineage” to replace race feels awkward and unnecessary. Also bring back racial ASI’s, just make them optional.

    1. I imagine they are doing this to quell the rage some people had in DnD over the term races and different races fighting each other leading to concerns about racism in ttrpg’s. Paizo already did this by using Lineage in Pathfinder instead of “race”.

  19. Opinion and Suggestions Only. Be merciful!

    Please switch to Spell Points (variant rule in 5e) and away from spell slots. It will differentiate from both 5e and PF2E and make the game a lot more fun. I did so with my group in 5e and they never want to go back.

    If you keep a mechanic to Action / Bonus Action then allow casters to do both Action and Bonus Action spells per round.

    Readied spells do not consume SP or spell slot until they are cast.
    Readying spells does not break concentration on an existing spell, unless the new spell cast is concentration and only if the readied spell is actually cast.

    Bonus Action can be spent to maintain concentration on a spell so that action can be used to cast another concentration spell (maintain concentration on 2 spells once max in this manner). This can be a Talent.

    Or better yet re-work concentration to be “better”.

    Death and Dying:
    Dropping below 0. Player gets a point of exhaustion. Every time they go below 0 stack on a point of exhaustion. Accumulate enough (without it being taken care of somehow) results in permanent death. It makes the game much better and gets the players to care more about not dropping below 0 only to be “back up” and fully functional from a little heal.

    Not sure what your stance on “bounded accuracy” is, but seems easily breakable in 5e. Seeing PF2E I Iike their approach better.

  20. My largest desire with Black Flag is is to see tables for full character backstory generation made a standard feature. These tables can prove invaluable to both to new and old players, giving you a rudimentary framework to base your own backstory off of interpretations of your rolls. 5e tried to do this in Xanathar’s, and promptly made them outdated with every future supplement, and eventually going so far as to remove even the basic personality trait, bond, flaw, and ideal tables from Backgrounds. Black Flag seems already has the adventure motivation tables included with backgrounds, but hopefully these can be expanded to included heritage and classes in the future.

  21. This feels more like D&D5e than I’d expected, but being able to combine this with that system will have that effect I guess. I hope to see more divergence as testplay is released.

    “Reassemble” eh? Well it is isn’t? But maybe spell check before big publishing. Lol, I do like to see human error in this age of AI artists!

    Otherwise I’m looking forward to more and playing this with friends at our Crazy Gatherings game nights.

    1. I would like to see maneuvers and fighting styles as proficiencies (general, by class, by archetype, by heritage, by lineage). Also, have trained, expert, specialized, and master proficiency ranks would be nice IMHO.

      I would like to see iterative attacks and rounds. In D&D combat the monster sit while players perform their turns.

      Less spellcasting classes is better IMO. D&D has only 4 classes of 12 without spellcasting. Add a spellcasting archetype instead.

      Add summoning spells again. Maybe a mini system for summoning considering that controlling multiple summoned creatures can slow the game.

      Ruins of Symbaroum have an interesting alternative for Vancian spellcasting (spell slots per day).

      Other interesting options IMO: split spell slots, cast with more actions or sacrificing movement for greater effect.

  22. It is a bit too “light” for my tastes. Come on, there is so much to improve in 5E!
    1. Bonus action use – remove it or add many ways to use bonus action!
    2. Feats/Talents at start level and later on – please add them AT LEAST every 4 levels, if not every 2!
    3. Tools to help balancing teams
    4. Magic Items, gold and handling it properly
    5. Death and Dying conditions
    6. Balance Martials and Casters

    and so on

    1. Thats why this is a playtest, to ask for feedback, don’t assume that everything they have released so far is going to be the final product.

  23. I would prefer we did not change the lingo, not without adding substantial simplicity or clarification by using another word. Like the change from feat to talent. I would rather stick with feat.

    I do not mind too much that this makes a stronger character… i imagine it is there for better sales. Just don;t over do it.

    Lineage and heritage is not bad, but both words are a bit convoluted. On of the 2 should be simpler… or both. Nature (DNA stuff) and Nurture(early environment stuff) are probably too simplistic and to similar to go with :)

  24. Looks okay mechanically. But I don’t see the need to buy another 5e ruleset. If your game is so close to the original I give the same 0$ to wotc If I just use what I have. I was hoping for a new game rising

  25. I see neither races or backgrounds give ability score points, allowing a take three system to be a bit balanced, where characters could take two races or two backgrounds, dealing with the issue of mixed blood or pure blooded characters.
    Those with parents from two different races just take both sets for racial features and pure bloods gets a second background to even things up.
    These options can set the tone allowing for more whimsical and grittier characters then what would normally be.

  26. Sorry I submitted this part I would like to see the take three system as an optional rule set included. in the draft. Abd would wonder what other people would think of the take three system.

  27. I know some people are disappointed with PBF being so similar to 5E, but I love that the intention so far is for it to be backwards compatible with 5E.
    One D&D isn’t fully backwards compatible with 5e, so I really hope that PBF will improve on the 5E system while retaining compatibility with player options from things like Tasha’s and Monsters of the Multiverse.
    Being able to give a 5E character a feat at level one and throw them right into PBF is perfect for bringing people over from 5E and is great for stubborn players that don’t want to learn a new system.

  28. I like a lot of what I see so far, but I dislike separating the ability bonuses from the races and subraces.

    And no matter what you call a race, it is still a race. Changing traditional words will risk some avoiding the product. There are a lot of us players that want politics to stay out of our games. While I myself don’t care what you call it, as long as I am content with the end product. I know a lot of people that were avoiding one D&D before the OGL fiasco due to what they see as politics infringing on their gaming table.

    Calling a race, a lineage to me implies that Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Orcs are all sub-variants or offshoots of one overarching race of proto man. A definite improvement over calling them a species, but it still falls off the mark unless you do actually consider them to all be one overarching race. In my home campaigns, I have thought about having the standard PC races all being descended from modern mankind and having the D&D world I run in being a post cataclysmic earth, 50 million years or so after the bomb and several ice ages later. I have dropped hints in my games as such also.

    Indecently, I dislike one D&D using the term species much more as it implies that the characters are less than human.

    1. Scaring off a few customers is easier than dealing with the Twitter mob. They’ll lose potential customers either way, the difference is that the Twitter bullies won’t just go away. A sad but predictable response to the issue.

  29. If your goal was to make something that’s almost indistinguishable from D&D 5E, then I guess you are succeeding so far.

    When you said you were making your own system, I expected something more original, so I’m disappointed.

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