As an avid comic-book fan, I love the way the team at ArtCraft Entertainment has been building up their latest reveal to close out quite an impressive year of development. With a series of comic-style art panels, Crowfall developers have been hinting at a player’s role in the game and how the concept of continuously dying characters makes sense in the lore of Crowfall (finally somebody makes this make sense!)

Crowfall Reveals it Crows & Vessels System

In a nutshell, the players are the “Crows”, which is just a specific lore term for immortal player spirits in the game of Crowfall; and the array of players’ characters are “Vessels” – though it does get a bit more complex than that.

Vessels are also treated similar to in-game objects, that can be crafted, modified, and traded (among other things), within the context of the game. Once possessed, these vessels then become temporary avatars (characters) for a player. In a game built on the concept of constant war, battle, and general fatality – it would make sense for the lore to provide and explanation for how players (who carry specific individual agendas) keep coming back for more.

I’ll share more depth on the details below, but overall I believe this system is very reminiscent of League of Legend’s Summoner System – which allows for a player’s account to hold onto all the various unlocked runes, masteries, and other character-enhancers and allows players to augment and custom-tailor each Champion the play in any given match.

For Crowfall, this means any skills, bonuses, perks, and even class-specific (archetype) augments will be tied directly to your account and can be applied (when possible) to any character or archetype that you happen to pick up and play in a given campaign. Due to the way that Vessels work as an in-game object, you can also carry multiple vessels into a given campaign, knowing you’ll have an arsenal of Crowbound skills to support them with. It will likely be possible even to acquire new vessels during campaigns.

It’s a clever system that helps address the issue of players dealing with a swath of alternate characters. When it comes to a game that is focused on strategic combat, the ability to switch between various Vessels (characters/archetypes) during and between campaigns is extremely critical. The fact that it makes sense within the lore of Crowfall is just an added bonus and a brilliant artistic touch on the whole design.

Kudos to the team for this interesting new system. It is a mark of true innovation within the realm of MMORPGs and I hope it pays dividends for them in the long run. This genre is long overdue for some authentic and original creativity – and the Crows & Vessels system of Crowfall surely fits the bill.

Crows & Vessels System Details

  • Each Crowfall account may have one crow (and thus one master skill list).
  • All skill training happens on the crow.  This means that skill train benefits you across all characters, subject to the skill limitations of each vessel.
  • Guild memberships happens at the crow (account) level. You can change between avatars without affecting your guild affiliation.
  • Crows will have a unique name.  Avatars can take names as well, but they are not unique.

Defining Crows & Vessels

Crows (Players) - Every player is an immortal, chosen by the gods to participate in an endless war to determine who shall be the King of the Gods. As an immortal, you have the ability to take different forms (or avatar) which provide you different attributes and powers. You retain your memories between these vessels, in the form of retained knowledge (skills).

Vessels (Characters) - Vessels are (basically) bodies – corporeal forms that players can inhabit. You possess the body of a fallen hero and use it for as long as you like.  It’s up to you how frequently you want to change vessels – some players will collect them and change often, other players will pick one that they like and play it forever.

Deatils on Attributes, Knowledge, and Skills

Physical Attributes are dictated by the mortal vessel.  This means that a Minotaur Myrmidon will be much stronger than an Elven Frostweaver who will be much more agile than a Human Knight. The avatar will set base attributes and will encapsulate the combined effects of runestones (archetype, disciplines, talents and traits).

Spiritual Knowledge is comprised of the memories that you accumulate over the course of many lives – which means that they are stored on your crow. Think of this as the residual knowledge that you carry between avatars, such as how to craft a helmet, recite an incantation or wield a blade. The vessel that you choose to possess (your avatar) will determine how much of your residual knowledge you can use at any time.

Skills are now stored at the account level – not on the individual avatar.

  • This makes it far less painful to lose a vessel. That opened up a lot of new design vectors for the game. Things like vessel decay, vessel crafting, vessel rarity and vessel looting could all be explored and added.
  • This setup also places the emphasis of training on the account level, which reduces the amount of management associated with skill training. Logging in periodically to train 2 skills (or 4, for VIP members) is far less burdensome than logging in to adjust 12, or 20, or 40.
  • Finally, our Crows & Vessels system helps with replay ability. Increasing your sword skill as a Knight is fun the first time. It’s not nearly as much fun the 2nd, 3rd or Nth. This way, you increase the skill once and you keep that benefit forever.

Additional Notes & Information

If you’re looking for even more detailed notes and info on this new reveal for Crowfall, you can go read the full player/developer FAQ on the game’s official website.

The team has also created a brief visual preview and overview of this system in a short explanatory trailer that runs down all the important highlights that most players will likely be curious about. You can check that video out at the bottom of this article.

Final Thoughts

From what has been revealed so far about Crowfall, and especially concerning this new Crows & Vessels system – the team at ArtCraft is staying true to their designs that Crowfall will honestly be a completely new and different MMORPG that deviates dramatically from the traditional theme-park model of online gameplay that we’re all accustomed to.

So far, the concepts look very promising, and with this latest reveal the team continues to attract my attention – despite the fact that the game itself is outside my usual realm of interest. I enjoy competitive combat, but that isn’t the primary reason I play fantasy (or sci-fi) MMOs. Yet still, the team continues to display features and systems that have me wondering if it might be a game I find myself in after all.

If ArtCraft can continue to make good on its intentions, and really push into a new realm of MMO design with Crowfall, I believe the title will definitely warrant some exploration – even for players who may not be interested in a combat-heavy experience.

Crows & Vessels Overview Video

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Crowfall Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Alex has been playing online games and RPGs for quite some time, starting all the way back with Daggerfall, EverQuest, and Ultima Online. He's staying current with the latest games, picking up various titles and playing during his weekly streams on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings with both MMOs and MOBAs being feature plays. Hit him up on Twitter if you have a stream request for Freeplay Friday! Two future games he's got a keen eye on are Daybreak's EverQuest Next and Illfonic's Revival.