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Project Black Flag: No White Flag!

Project Black Flag: No White Flag!

An armored male figure with a horned helmet raises a tattered black flag above his head. In the background, an army of followers raises swords and black banners in agreement.

Kobold Press thanks our colleagues at Wizards of the Coast for listening to the community and responding by releasing the SRD 5.1 into Creative Commons. This change ensures that 5E remains available to everyone, including Kobold Press.

But what does this mean for Project Black Flag?

First, Project Black Flag is going forward. Our timeline is unchanged. The first phase of playtesting releases at the end of February 2023. 

Regardless of what comes, Project Black Flag maintains core compatibility with the 5E products you already know and love, but with a Kobold spin.

Project Black Flag will embrace 5E and expand upon it. Our goal is to keep 5E products vibrant and available in print and on our VTT partner platforms. Project Black Flag is one step in making this a reality.

Join us this week for Project Black Flag Friday as we detail some revisions and unique design goals for Project Black Flag and new information on Playtest Phase One.

Until then, sign up for our open playtesting and keep those flags raised high!

61 thoughts on “Project Black Flag: No White Flag!”

  1. All I need to be happy is a playable psychic class, but no matter what my party and I will be playtesting the MOMENT we get the materials. The excitement is unreal!

    1. Yo Zack, as a fan of DnD, Pathfinder, and EXTENSIVE homebrew. I humbly suggest you look up the Psychic class from Pathfinder 2e. Sure it’s nothing close to 5e equivalent, but it’s certainly inspirational for home brewing a wizard or sorcerer at least.

      1. And again, I try to follow the link to sign up for the Playtest and it says my email has already been used. I know I’m not the only one who has hit the issue.

        I sent an email about it but got no response.

        1. The are going to start the play testing end of February, you probably already signed up and got an email that linked here… to let you know its not ready yet, but will be soon, like end of February.

        2. Same thing is happening to me. I also sent in emails but have gotten no response.

          And to the well meaning person below, I think we’d know if we’d already signed up for a playtest of this kind. I got my error the DAY they started letting people sign up, so…

        3. Since your email has already been used and they will use it to contact you, then just monitor your inbox and get in when they send you the mail about it…

      1. Would love to see magic items come back as a focus like in 3.5. Item generation tables and everything. Won’t cross my fingers for prestige classes. It would be really cool to implement a weapon maintenance system where well made weapons have a bonus and damaged weapons have a penalty.

      2. Thanks! Just backed paranormal power with just a little time left. Already have kibblestasty Psion but always looking for fresh Psion stuff!

  2. Glad to hear you’re moving forward. I’ve signed up to playtest. I urge everyone else to do the same. The more feedback, the better.

  3. 5e needs more than a rework. It’s fundamentally flawed to me, and it’s very disappoitning that you are sticking with it’s ruleset. I really wish you would develop for pf2e as well as 5e as other companies have been doing

  4. I am very happy to hear that you are keeping and improving on 5e – glances over at sizeable 5e collection, and my homebrew campaigns. I am very exciting to start testing the Kobold spin on 5e soon. “In Kobolds we trust.”

  5. Michael J. Ahlers

    Debuting my Project Black Flag t-shirt at game night this weekend. Looking forward to testing the system when it’s available.

  6. Great! Looking forward to it. I’m beyond thrilled that WotC came around and dis the right thing in the end by maintaining the status quo. I hope they continue to support OGL and CC in all future versions of D&D. But I’ve supported Open Design/Kobold Press from the beginning, and I’m excited to see what they come up with!

  7. So happy with a release date, I’m really looking forward to the playtest, knowing the care and dedication kobolds put into their projects, this system is going to be amazing.

  8. I also was hoping for a different rule set. I suspect the decision to keep it 5e is money related — probably analysts indicate a much larger audience. I’ll check it out still, but I was excited before. Not so much now.

    1. ORC ( Open RPG Creative License). It is a new OGL-type license that is suppose to definitively keep project Backflag in the OGL space perpetually.

  9. More ways to play 5E is good for everyone. I’ll buy whatever comes out of Project Black Flag and keep supporting similar systems like Level Up. I’ll buy lore supplements for both Pathfinder and 5E from both Paizo and companies like Kobold Press. I’ll keep buying stuff that interests me from Wizards. And I’ll be able to run better and better 5E games for my groups because of all the tools I’ll have at my disposal.

  10. Looking forward to details surround project Blackflag–INCLUDING how you will support the project with things like an Adventure-League-type organization, con support, etc. Blackflag is needs to be much more than just a book (or PDF). It needs support the community that will support it!

  11. I have to admit I’m disappointed. I thought this was going to be something new and not a 5e variant. Oh, well. I’ll still give it a look, but my enthusiasm is much reduced.

  12. Gonna be blunt.
    WotC made this announcement not out of goodwill (they did everything else before doing this and even here they’re being dishonest in how they’re talking about everything.) They’re trying ot take the wind out of any other project, specifically ORC and Black Flag.

    As someone who’s honestly considering making a setting centered on the whole ‘dungeon core’/living dungeon fantasy subgenre? Having something secure to hang bits and pieces off of is good.

    WotC can backtrack or alter things at any time. Unhitching from them is good.

  13. “Project Black Flag maintains core compatibility with the 5E products you already know and love, but with a Kobold spin.”

    This is EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!!!!

    Thank you!!!

  14. Can we please have a re-imagined ranger class that allows for customisable versions including a no-spells option? Ideally the class would avoid locking players into class features based on 5e PHB Favored Enemy/Natural Explorer type thing which are so situation specific.

    I love what EN have done with the ranger in their Level-Up 5e with the Exploration Knacks.

    A ranger class should allow for both companion and solo options and the ranger should not suffer action economy due to pet’s presence or absence. Perhaps an approach could be a summons with the duration and frequency based on level. Allowing the ranger to still operate effectively when pet is not there. A bit like circle of wildfire Druid…. The 5e PHB and Tasha’s versions of BM really cripple the ranger if pet is unable to join (the bear gets left outside the palace)….

    Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

  15. We play in Midgard and use much of Kobold Press 5e material, but much of it is poorly edited or written. Dark magic and the new Tome of Heroes (confusingly not the older Heroes of Midgard) supplement have over a dozen spells for tracking opponents which at the end of the day Enhance Ability Wisdom would cover. There are omissions in some of the sub classes for levels and feat bloat and spell bloat more akin to Pathfinder. I sincerely hope they employ someone at the editing level who understands 5e rules clearly, or whatever rule-set they go forward with. DnDdetective did a great summary of their shortcomings here:
    I’m not being overly critical, if only 1 out of every 5 pages of spells is well written with clear rules, good balance etc, then 80% of their content is close to forgettable and difficult to scan past. This is not helpful to new players, let alone seasoned gamers like myself. They need to clearly understand the different nuts and bolts between 5e and Pathfinder and edit books appropriately.
    If they can change their product then a new system might be worth looking at, otherwise I don’t hold out much hope.
    Also, does the eco-system need new rule sets? Savage Worlds, ICRPG, 13th Age (2nd edition coming soon) all this is already on the shelf, play tested and in edition versions.
    The big IF is can WOTC make a better DMG, screw the new PHB rules. if they can make a DMG that invites new DM’s into the hobby, makes encounters a little easier to calculate, treasure magical and wondrous, NPC’s exciting, then they’ll get my moola. Savage Worlds is fine, but difficult to work out ‘monster’ CR, unless that’s been helped along in it’s latest incarnation.
    Basically anyone who makes a good DMG is in the running for bringing in fresh customers, young folk and the casual board gamer interested in expanding into RPG’s.
    Good luck to Kobold Press, I hope they fire their old editors with this new ‘system’ and produce something with their flair and style but also comprehensive system knowledge, it’s not their forte and it will be the biggest challenge they’ll ever face.

  16. Well that is disappointing. I was hoping Black Flag would be NOTHING like 5th edition. I don’t want more support material for what is essentially a one dimensional system. Just because something is popular rarely means its any good think Kardashians. But I understand, its business and no one wants to risk on new when you have tried and true.

    That’s it for me, I will be checking out. I have enough 5th edition crap and don’t want or need anymore.

    BTW: Does this whole OGL debacle ring of some kind of pro wrestling worked event to anyone else besides me? All publicity is good publicity and this thing sure made HUGE news….

  17. I was also hoping that Black Flag would not be a 5e clone. I don’t really need or want that. I think if they want it to stand out in the marketplace they’ll need to add some significant new spins.

  18. Please do not make a 5E clone. There is really no point in that. LevelUPA5E has already done that work. 5E has been around for some time now and it’s strengths and weaknesses are very well known. It would be nice to see some of those flaws addressed. Other posts have mentioned the three action economy used in Pathfinder 2E. This system is wonderfully efficient. I want to add to those sentiments. Looking forward to the play test and thank you for taking this initiative.

  19. Please dear Kobolds, don’t make another 5e variant.
    We already have tons of them and with the (now) creative commons SRD I can bet we’ll see even more of that “spins”, to the point of nausea.
    We all know you can do better than this!

  20. I’m curious if Kobold Press might be interested in following WotC and using a Creative Commons license for Project Black Flag instead of the Open RPG Creative License?

  21. I suspect Black Flag was written from the start to be 5e compatible, and rewriting it for a different system (like PF2e) would delay release and the income from it for too long.
    The timing from WotC to burn its community was probably just really bad wrt. PBF release schedule.

    I would very much encourage Kobold Press to rewrite it for PF2e, or make it more generally compatible with other systems, and then publish that.
    It would show that you’re in touch with what has happened, and are reacting to it appropriately.

  22. I was expecting something better than rewritten 5e. This is people’s chance to push a better system. Please don’t push a 5e-derived system.

  23. I’ll be honest, I was kind of hoping that Black Flag would be something wholly separate from D&D. I feel like the tabletop RPG space needs to move away from everything WotC, especially with what happened. Please reconsider making Black Flag something derivative and just have it stand on its own as an alternative.

  24. I love your work and have long see your company as the best thing about 5e,and now the only part of 5e I miss.

    I would love for you to keep your options open for co-releasing your products for Pathfinder 2e since my crew is committed to that system now,that would be the best way we can continue to support you and enjoy your products.

    If nothing else, I will still pick up anything you do in the vein of Ebon Tide since it is now a Canon part of my Golarion (long story) and anything that supports an anti-WOTC company is good by me.

    All the best

  25. Ashura Dragosnai

    I was rather hoping it would not be tied to WotC. Going 5e, I have no interest. WotC is just waiting and biding time for us to forget, they will pull this again. I stand with many other, I’d rather see a competitive system, not just a derivative.

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