Tales of the Valiant reimagines 5E roleplay with “cooler spellcasting” and less burden on GMs
Kobold Press’ Project Black Flag sets sail as a fully fledged RPG ruleset.
One of the larger projects to rise in the wake of Dungeons & Dragons’ Open Gaming License fiasco has now launched a crowdfunding campaign for its own set of 5th Edition-compatible sourcebooks. Tales of the Valiant will be a two-book attempt to streamline the rules, classes and roleplay of the most popular tabletop RPG and carve out its own niche.
In the midst of the OGL debacle earlier this year, tabletop publisher Kobold Press announced Project Black Flag: an attempt to separate D&D’s 5th Edition rules from Wizards of the Coast and what Kobold perceived as corporate overreach into the tabletop industry. Tales of the Valiant will be “powerful Kobold-style 5E with teeth,” according to the publisher, and work with any vaguely fantasy setting - including past D&D and Kobold Press books.
The system combines the fundamental rules of D&D 5E - which now exist in the Creative Commons - with the Open Roleplaying Content (ORC) licence from Pathfinder maker Paizo.The result is something that, when looking at the Kickstarter campaign page, hews close enough to D&D’s contemporary vibes with just enough important caveats carved out. Anyone familiar with Kobold Press’ work will know this aligns with the publisher’s avid love of D&D 5E but with their own -and fairly popular - spin.
Tales of the Valiant will exist as two books - a 300-page Player’s Handbook and a Monster Vault sourcebook. Kobold Press boasts 13 base class options - barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, mechanist (their new addition), monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, wizard and warlock. The main book will contain a slew of new lineages, spells and character options, as well as rules and guidance for player characters to make “meaningful choices throughout all levels of play”
Kobold claims it wants to “make spellcasting cooler” and give martial characters interesting options during any encounter, but the system that will make good on those boasts isn’t quite done yet. There’s a 60-page quickstart guide available for free on the campaign page and the publisher's website, but Kobold says the books are still in the middle of both public playtesting and internal development.
The full text won’t be ready until April 2024, when the books begin shipping to backers, but an alpha release is planned for this summer. The publisher and design teams have been happy with the results of public playtesting so far and will continue to rely on players’ help shaping whatever comes out the other side of the printers.
One other prominent flag planted in Tales of the Valiant’s yard is a reduced demand on facilitators to run the game for a group of players. Right now, that looks more like a hodge-podge of tools than something baked into the RPG’s foundation. More information on the campaign, which has already raised over $500,000 and runs through June 23rd, can be found on its Kickstarter page.