The Big Reveal: Crows and Vessels

The Big Reveal: Crows and Vessels

The day has come to drop the curtain for the Big Reveal!

We recommend that you begin by watching this video from Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Design Lead Thomas Blair, and then read the FAQ below. The team is looking forward to reading your feedback and discussing this system with you on our forums.

A fully stitched-together version of the comic book panels is available at -- watch for an interview with Todd there in the next day or so and don’t miss Blair tonight (Dec 29) on the Crowns and Crows webcast at 8:30 pm Eastern/7:30 Central where he’ll be available to answer your questions live!




How does advancement work in Crowfall?

Advancement in Crowfall is slightly different than what you’ve seen in other games. We’ve effectively broken advancement into two parts: physical (represented by attributes such as Strength, Intelligence, etc.) and mental (skill gain, such as concentration or competency with two-handed weapons).

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).

What is a “vessel” and how does it work?

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.

Do the players have a spiritual (non-corporeal) form?  How do I appear when I am in between avatars?

You have an immortal form that looks like a ghostly crow in the 3D world. This represents your immortal, eternal spirit.

In technical terms, the crow is really the “account level” version of you (the player). You take this form in the game when you die and remain in that form until you possess your next vessel.

How do you split advancement between the crow and the avatar(s)?

Character power is divided into two distinct parts:

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.

Notable Functionality:

  • 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.


What is the difference between a vessel and an avatar?

A vessel is an unoccupied body; literally, it is a mortal cadaver. When you possess a vessel, it becomes an avatar, the character that walks around and interacts with the world.  You can have any number of vessels in your possession, but only one avatar (because you can only possess one vessel at a time).

When a vessel is not currently being “possessed”, it is treated like any other normal inventory object.

Does that mean vessels can be collected?  Crafted?  Traded?

Yes, all of the above.

The character creation process works as it did before, only the process is now integrated directly into gameplay (not a separate process, like most MMOs).

In fact, you can think of vessels and runestones as the base materials (or reagents) that can be used to “craft” a new avatar.

Really! Vessels can be crafted?

Yes, vessels can be crafted. We have a whole crafting skill tree planned around it!

What does crafting vessels give you?

Because vessels are separate inventory objects, that means we can allow variation between vessels. For instance, not all Knights will have the exact same attributes or skill maxes. We can create variety in characters, not only with Advantage and Disadvantage runestones, but also in allowing certain disciplines (like Necromancy) to create variance between vessels of the same base archetype.

Do vessels adhere to the item rarity system?

They do! Since they are an item they follow item rules as well, meaning quality levels. Higher quality level vessels will have higher attributes and skill caps.

…and, since they are items, the drop rules are going to be mirrored here, as well.  The best raw vessels are going to come from the more dangerous campaign worlds. This means that we expect a brisk trading economy of vessels and an entire market devoted to crafting and trading vessels. Crafters rejoice!

If vessels are items, does that mean they are subject to inventory capacities and embargo rules?

It does. When a player subscribes to a campaign and they add items to their import embargo, this includes vessels. Deciding how many (and which type) to take into a campaign then becomes a strategic decision.

…and, of course, you can always find new vessels inside the campaign. Different graveyards produce different types. (For example, you won’t likely find an Elven Frostweaver vessel in a Centaur tomb.)

Does this mean a vessel is locked into a campaign?

It does. Your crow is free to travel between worlds (any campaigns you are subscribed to or any eternal kingdom you have access to) but vessels that are brought into a campaign are both locked there for the duration of the campaign and subject to the import/export rules of that campaign.

What happens when I die in a campaign?

The crow leaves the vessel and can’t do much (or see much) until they find a new vessel to possess. In a graveyard, they can:

  • Scavenge a new body to create a new avatar
  • Possess a vessel from your import embargo (if you have one), or
  • In some Campaigns, use an altar to pray to the gods to return your fallen vessel (and some number of the item(s) that were lost)

Note: This last option is campaign specific!

Faction-based rulesets (i.e. God’s Reach, Infected) will allow you to retrieve your vessel and items after a brief period of time (with some decay).

The more difficult rulesets will require you to find and retrieve your vessel and items manually, assuming they haven’t been looted by other players.

Does this mean that vessels can be looted?

In the Dregs, yes. There is a countdown timer that applies to the fallen vessel and if it isn’t retrieved quickly enough, other players can take not only your items but also your vessel.

This gives corpse looting a whole new meaning.

Can I change the appearance or advantages of a vessel after it has been activated?

Yes! It can be modified via the crafting system.

It’s easy to turn an avatar back into a vessel. Death is one way, obviously, but we’ll likely provide another mechanism to allow you to voluntarily leave a vessel (and minimize decay on that vessel in doing so).

What happens when a vessel is completely decayed?  Is it destroyed?

Yes, it can be destroyed like any other inventory object. There will be disciplines in the game that allow you to repair your vessels or strip them for parts (in a very Frankenstein manner) to create new vessels.

If my vessel is destroyed, what happens to the discipline runestones that were applied to it?

If you allow your vessel to be destroyed, you will lose any applied discipline runestones. (On a good note, this will keep our runecrafters in high demand!)

Can vessels be traded?

As long as a vessel in in inventory form, it can be traded. After all, it follows normal inventory rules! They also take up inventory space. Carrying vessels around isn’t free.

How do skills work?

Skills are now stored at the account level – not on the individual avatar.  We did this for a few reasons:

  • This makes it far less painful to lose a vessel. That opened up a lot of new design vectors. We could add things like vessel decay, vessel crafting, vessel rarity and vessel looting.
  • It 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.
  • It increases replayability. 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.

How are the skills organized?

This part is pretty straightforward. We’ve broken them up into skill trees.

How do skill trees work in Crowfall?

A skill tree is a container for a themed set of skills. The skills within this group are arranged in a branching pattern, with some skills becoming unlocked/available only when previous skills are mastered.

For example, the weapon basics tree only contains skills that are related to simple weapons.  Generally speaking, you won’t find a stealth-related skill inside of the weapon basics tree.

What kinds of skill trees are there?

Skill trees are divided into two main categories, general and archetype.

General skills are further subdivided into three major gameplay activities: combat, crafting and exploration.

The skills contained in each tree are what you might expect to find. Skills that are useful across every archetype, weapons and armor skills in the combat trees, crafting skills in the crafting trees, and gameplay actions as stealth, harvesting, and animal husbandry in the exploration trees.

Archetype skill trees contain specific skills related to each archetype and their promotion classes. Each archetype has a dedicated skill tree and three promotion class trees off of it.

How does skill advancement work?

A player may set a skill to “train” and this skill earns skill experience points (XP) in real world time. Every few seconds, skill XP points trickle into skills that are set to passively train, whether you are online or offline.  In effect, your characters keep advancing while you do things like sleep or go to work – and you aren’t at a numerical disadvantage to other players who have more free time than you.

How many skills can I train at once?

A standard Crowfall account may train one general and one archetype skill concurrently at any time. A VIP Crowfall account may train one general and three different archetype skills at a time. (No triple-dipping into one archetype!)

Our goal, as previously stated, is unchanged: VIP status should give you more options but no more power in any one-on-one engagement. VIP members do not get an advantage in general skills, but they DO have the benefits of having more variety in the archetypes they can readily play.

How can I train in a promotion skill tree?

Archetype promotion skill trees are accessed once you meet the requirements of the base archetype. (For example, to train in the Crusader skill tree the player must train X amount of skills in the parent Knight skill tree.)

Do I get credit for Confessor skills that have been trained while I am playing a Frostweaver?

Archetype skills and class promotion skills ONLY apply to the current avatar. As this is a representation of your skill within that archetype, we do not allow “double-dipping” between the Archetypes.

Do I get credit for Knight skills that have been trained while I am playing a Crusader (a Knight promotion class)?

Yes, since Knight is the parent archetype of crusader, you get credit for all Knight and all Crusader skills trained.

How are my skill levels computed for each of my avatars?

When the crow enters a vessel, each skill for that avatar is capped to the skill max that is calculated for that vessel. This calculation is the result of (the base vessel quality) + (advantage and disadvantage runestones applied to this vessel) + (disciplines runestones applied to this vessel).


Your crow has One-Handed Sword Mastery trained to 200. When you enter a Knight vessel, this skill is reduced to the Knight’s maximum of 100 One-Handed Sword. You apply a Blademaster discipline runestone that raises your Knight’s maximum in One-Handed Sword skill by 25. Your skill total when playing this avatar is now 125.

Your crow has Crusader Proficiency trained to 52. When you enter a Crusader vessel this skill remains 52 since the Crusader’s maximum of 100 Crusader Proficiency is not exceeded. You set your passive training to start training this skill.  When you login you will see this skill increase as a result of passive training until the max of 100 is reached. Once the skill has reached (or exceeded) 100, your crow will continue training the skill, but your avatar will not see the benefit until you apply a runestone to increase his max. 


How will my character be unique if we can train all the same skills on the crow?

While each player will be able to train the same skills at the crow level, the sheer amount of time and number of branches that a player can explore on each skill tree will cause crows to be dramatically different.

When you also factor in all the different knobs that can be turned—passive training, advantage & disadvantage runestones, class promotions, vessel quality, and disciplines runestones—we expect an extremely wide variety of avatars and playstyles.

I started playing Crowfall months after my friends, how can I ever catch up?

While there is an advantage in this system to starting earlier, skill gain is set up on a diminishing results curve; it’s easier to gain the first 20% than it is to gain the last 2%.

Additionally, we have a few ideas brewing that would allow players to “catch-up” to some degree. Our goal will be to strike a balance: early players will have a slight advantage, but competitive gameplay won’t be insurmountable for the players who come along months (or years) later.

One of my Kickstarter rewards was “additional character slots”.  Now that you are using vessels instead of dedicated slots, what happens to those rewards?

This is the first time we have changed the design in a way that materially affects a crowdfunding reward. We apologize for this; we never want to change rewards, but when a game is still in development there is always a risk that a design will shift and cause unforeseen results.

Our intention is to change this reward into a different (but equally) valuable reward. We’re still discussing ideas of what to replace them with, but in the meantime, any backer who has these rewards will be able to redeem these slots for $25/slot of Crowfall Store credit which can be used to purchase additional item(s) or VIP game time.



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