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Project Black Flag Friday: All Hands on Deck

Project Black Flag Friday: All Hands on Deck

It’s February, and Project Black Flag playtesting draws ever closer!

As our Kobolds work their nimble fingers designing and editing the first playtest material, we’re excited to answer some of your burning questions.


First, let’s reveal just a few of our partners raising the flag with us. The virtual space is increasingly important to Kobold Press and tabletop games, so we’re excited to announce some of the VTT and Digital Tool partners we’ll work with over the next few months.

Some Things Stay the Same…

As announced, Project Black Flag will be compatible with 5E. But there’s more! Kobold plans to revise and sharpen familiar mechanics while offering new, streamlined options for a core tabletop game.

Dice goblins of the world, rejoice! You can keep your hoard as Project Black Flag will use the beloved, time-tested set of Platonic solids, d4 to d20 (and also the d10, which, okay, sure, isn’t a Platonic solid, but everyone loves it so much, no one brings it up.)

And what kind of Kobolds would we be if we didn’t show love to our monsters? You can expect a Project Black Flag core book of 400 monsters, fully illustrated! It will include some of your favorite classic fantasy monsters and all new ones to bedevil players.

…And Some Things Change

Now let’s talk about ongoing design. The first playtest packet in February contains rules and mechanics that focus on character creation.

  • Talents & Backgrounds: A new talent system helps players customize their characters with potent Magic, Martial, or Technical advantages.
  • Lineage & Heritage System: Not every dwarf was raised among dwarves, so we’ve split those aspects to help refine character concepts. During character creation, choose a lineage, which represents a character’s biology, and a heritage to represent upbringing in a particular group or society. Choose a standard match of race and heritage for a more traditional character or mix ‘n’ match to craft a unique origin!

We look forward to your feedback in helping us refine these options. We’ll have a new playtest packet each month highlighting new features and options. Do you want to get these packets and help us playtesting? Sign up to join our playtest crew!

Thank you to everyone who continues to support us as we develop Project Black Flag. Raise those flags high!

*This article has been updated as of 2/6/2023. The original post used the term “race,” which will be replaced with “lineage” throughout Project Black Flag.

172 thoughts on “Project Black Flag Friday: All Hands on Deck”

    1. Several 3PP have been doing this for a while, including myself (first with Chromatic Dungeons, and later with Bugbears & Borderlands). So it’s nice to see it become more mainstream.

      1. One thing I would like to see is another big class choice at level 13 or 14 to represent the characters stepping into the final leg of their destiny. All of the other choices seem great

  1. Question – are the new monsters going to be “Net New” monsters, or are these beasts from the Creature Codex/Tomes of Beasts?

  2. What about character generation/management apps? This has always been the Achilles’ Heel of D&D 5E if you’re not a Beyond subscriber and/or intend to use third-party material (like Kobold Press stuff). My crew has been muddling along with Fight Club 5 and Game Master 5 thanks to a somewhat-dated bundle of fan-authored Kobold Press data. But it would be great to finally have a proper character generator that supports your ruleset, the SRD basics, and Midgard material.

    Are there plans for such a tool, or maybe a partnership with Lone Wolf Development for Hero Lab Online support?

    1. Look to Demiplane for character tools, Bear. It is helmed by one of the original founders of DnD Beyond and looks like it will have a very similar model. I’m in on the PF2 stuff while anxiously awaiting PBF.

    2. My crew has all been using Shard for our Empire of the Ghouls campaign. We have the Heroes Handbook loaded and all my players can use it – they’ve been building Kobold Press inspired characters for several levels now. it’s an excellent tool that runs on multiple devices – all of my players state it’s easy to use both during game play and leveling up their character. I also have Vault of Magic on Shard, so I can easily provide them access to any magical “goodies”. Dndbeyond be gone! Raise the black flag!

    3. Why not use the free version of Fantasy Grounds Bear? It does everything you ask. You really only need the paid version -which I use a lot and recommend- if you are running games online.

  3. I think if possible, ditch race altogether. It was probably the one smart move WotC made in 2022 and I think it’s crucial to growing the hobby. The market for growth is in inclusivity anyway.

    1. I like the feature described, but going with a different name I think would be a good move.

      Perhaps Nature/Nurture instead of Race/Heritage with the same description.

      1. Adventures Unknown

        My thoughts exactly! I felt so clever thinking of it, but it’s such a good fit for the idea that really I just have to be glad you agree :)

    2. Most people couldn’t care less. That word only carries the baggage that you attach to it yourself. Most people simply choose not to do so…

      1. that’s remarkably incorrect actually. It’s a word that massively polls poorly and the number of people of color who told WotC they don’t play their particular game because they use that word still after all these years and many games moving away from it was really telling.

        1. It’s a sensitive subject these days, for sure. But to Backcountry’s point, the concept of, and the term “race,” is not racist. But it is a loaded word today because of all the negative connotations attached to it, so it makes sense that it would poll poorly. However, I still think its usage is appropriate in the context of D&D and adjacent game rules.

          1. As long as the word rolls off the tongue better than, “Geographically Isolated Group of a Species Who Express Similar Biological Features Which When Viewed By Others Of Their Species Find It Fairly Easy To Abstract Into a Single Term to Describe Them In Far Fewer Words, Although In The Past They Frequently Mapped This To Culture or ‘Ethnicity’ But Not So Much Anymore” or something, then I’m good with it.

          2. The problem is, languages evolve, and connotation is part of the evolution of language. Telling people that a word is “technically” correct when it bothers them doesn’t address the fact that the word has been used to marginalize them.

        2. It only polls poorly in democrat echo chambers. The rest of the world doesn’t care.
          A dwarf… is a RACE. And Elf… is a RACE. Stop injecting these stupid woke nonsense politics into our beloved subculture. Man up.

          1. Species.
            I believe you meant that they are species.

            Stepping aside from American politics, or “woke culture”, you are assuming race similar to it’s more recent etymological usage: a term to separate those of the same species (human) into groups based on the ethnical features they share (such as the colour of one’s skin).

            Continued usage of Race in this manner brings with it many many hundreds of years of racist usage along with it.

            So why is changing this word so disturbing if a new word corrects this and removes it’s connotations from a game?

          2. So, most elves have two races, then? The sub-races are closer to the real definition of race after all. And what if there are multiple high-elf civilizations with different cultures and phenotype? Does that mean that a given high-elf has three races now? Maybe even more?

            I just swap the typical DnD use of ‘race’ with ‘lineage’ or ‘kinship’, but what do you do to address this pile-o-races?

    3. I think race should be there. If you call all the races species then you promote the idea that they are genetically incompatible and then you would not be able to have all the lovely half races. I think we should have race ancestry and heritage. Raise being the blanket for example elf. Ancestry being what type of Alf. Heritage being how you were raised. For example if you were a wood elf raised by dwarves you might look at other elves as snobbish.

      1. The world is magic. Dragons can have children with humans and other humanoids. Genetics doesn’t matter, so there really isn’t a good argument to say that implied genetic incompatibility should take precedence over empathy.

        1. Well, if any biological elves and dwarves complain, I guess it will need to be addressed. Until then, maybe we should focus on gameplay instead of worrying about the sensitivity of mythological beings.

      2. To retort, exactly this logic. The only half variants I’ve historically seen are half humans. I don’t see hybrids between other playable races (elves, dwarves, dragonborn, aaracocra, etc.). Either let race be what it is, with very fuzzy borders, or call it species.