Black Flag Playtest: Initial Reaction

Building A Black Flag Character

The first PDF playtest of project Black Flag provides the basic rules of Character Creation. Classes aren’t released yet so you need to import one from a compatible system.

If you are familiar with making RPG characters this will be familiar territory for you.

Key Differences

  • Talent’s are more integrated into the main ruleset than Feats are in 5e. Different classes have access to different talents and it seems like the class-specific talent list will be a key feature in Black Flag classes.
  • In part due to there no longer being racial bonuses and in part due to the game designers wanting a higher starting character power level Point Buy is done with 32 points, instead of 27 and an alternate standard array (16, 15, 13, 12, 10, 8). I now have 3 standard arrays to track – the traditional one, the Black Flag one and Hostile Sun’s (16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 7, Stamina Set by Class). I suspect at first there will be some confusion between number sets, but it should not have too much an impact.
  • Race is now Lineage and Heritage – and the system looks good.
  • The XP Advancement Chart is slightly different. Getting to 3rd level now takes 2,700 points instead of 900 with familiar increments following after that.

Lineage and Heritage

One’s Lineage is the biology of your character. In the case of my Dwarf character, this includes advantages to saves against poison, an extra HP and Darkvision.

What’s neat is that your Heritage can be mismatched with your Lineage. In my case, the Dwarf was raised amongst humans and has the Cosmopolitan heritage. This gives him access to Street Smarts and Worldly Wisdom which I think will be beneficial for a rogue.

All in All

All in all I like the splitting of Heritage and Lineage (and not using the Sci-Fi term Species). I do think incorporating talents into the main ruleset for classes and initial character creation will allow more player control over characters.

As for the initial higher power level with stats . . . I am not sure how much it will be noticed at table. Behind different RPG systems there is usually power scaling between players and monsters/obstacles. When all is said and done, most RPG math, even from very different editions, condenses into the below table ( in the case of ruleheavy systems replace ‘GM decides’ with ‘the stats decide’:

This chart, and the concern I am acknowledging is from the below YouTube video. The video discusses, amongst other things “The Buzz Lightyear Effect” where, though characters look different, they are functionally identical mathematically when you see through the noise of the rules.

I do think though that Heritage / Lineage will help push back against the Buzz LightYear problem. Even more important than the bonuses they provide, having both Heritage and Lineage will encourage players to think about their character’s past, which will roleplay wise encourage different characters.

The real test of Black Flag will be its Class System – hopefully we are able to see that this upcoming month.

The title is a bit confusing as D&D Beyond has little to do with the content of the video.

One Last Thing . . .

I hope that this Black Flag project and all that lead up to it helps encourage in-person gaming. The world now more than ever needs analog, non-digital ways of connecting, and connecting in a creative way.

One thought on “Black Flag Playtest: Initial Reaction

  1. Thanks for the write up. I hadn’t seen anything about Black Flag until everything was blowing up with all of the OGL nonsense. As a result, I was really hoping that it would end up being something entirely new. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s