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‘Project Black Flag’ Brings New Rules to D&D 5E–Playtest 2 Imminent

3 Minute Read
Mar 8 2023

With a first playtest on the books, Kobold Press’ answer to D&D 5E, Project Black Flag outlines the path to Playtest 2.

Project Black Flag is a new “core fantasy RPG” in the works from Kobold Press. You might recognize Kobold as makers of many a 5th Edition book, from the Tome of Beasts series, which includes a menagerie of monsters both magical and mundane, to the various campaign settings that explore Kobolds’ worlds.

Whether in Midgard or the Empire of the Ghouls, Kobold Press has a lot to say about what you can do with 5th Edition D&D’s ruleset. This is why, back during the OGL fiasco that kicked off 2023, if you can remember back that far, they announced Project Black Flag as a way of keeping that rules system “open and subscription free.”

Now, after the first playtest packet has hit, and audiences have had a chance to leave their feedback about Kobold’s first glimpse at a reworked 5th Edition (many commenters felt that it was more like a retread than a rework) they’re back with a look at what’s next for Project Black Flag. There’s a revised roadmap based on community feedback, as well as the big changes promised. So let’s take a look at what awaits in Project Black Flag – Playtest 2.

Project Black Flag Playtest 2 Coming Mid-March

Project Black Flag may not have made as big a splash as players were hoping for with the first playtest drop. But it looks like Kobold Press is determined to hit the ground running. And with a rather open look at how the designers are responding to feedback, the way forward seems like it could explore some interesting territory for the venerable 5E ruleset. Celeste Conowitch, lead designer on Project Black Flag says it best:

Thank you so much to everyone who shared your thoughts on the first playtest packet! We received so much positive feedback about design direction, and y’all gave us a great idea of what you want to see for this game. We are claws-deep in the next playtest packet, and we can’t wait to hand you a heaping serving of fresh content.

Here’s a look at what Kobold’s team considers the most salient based on player feedback:

  • Develop existing talents to build out the full talent catalog
  • Streamline the organization of heritage options
  • Revisit Lineage and Heritage options to improve balance
  • Eliminate the forced choice of either ability score increase OR gaining a new talent for class milestones
  • Clarify mechanical language

Which is all well and good. But what about the mid-March Playtest 2? Well, it looks like spellcasting is here. Project Black Flag will play with four different magic types: Arcane, Divine, Primordial, and Wyrd, and will be previewing the Arcane Circle ritual list.

Alongside the changes to the spellcasting rules, Kobold will showcase:

  • The first 8 levels of the Fighter base class, including features of two fighter subclasses.
  • The first 8 levels of the Wizard base class, including features of two wizard subclasses.
  • A new fail-forward Luck mechanic to replace Inspiration. Transform failure into a spendable resource to influence future rolls!
  • A handful of new talents.

Accompanying this packet is a look at the forthcoming Kickstarter campaign, which is due to launch in May!

Happy Adventuring!


Author: J.R. Zambrano
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