Last week, Artcraft revealed a cool feature coming in Crowfall, the Vessel System, that essentially allows players to find and inhabit the bodies of the fallen. They can even be crafted and sold! We simply had to know more about this fun (and gruesome!) system so we posed a few questions to Artcraft's J. Todd Coleman.
MMORPG: With the notion of player bodies being fully lootable objects, does that mean a player will "lose" their chosen looks for their character if they lose their vessel on the more hardcore campaign worlds?
J. Todd Coleman: You mean in the situation where the vessel is lost (or destroyed completely)?
Well, yes -- I should make it clear, however, that you would have to knowingly put yourself into a situation where that could happen. Complete vessel loss will be limited to the most dangerous (and, of course, most lucrative) areas of the game.
MMORPG: When someone "scavenges" a new body as a crow, how does that work exactly? Is it basically a character creation process, with some snazzy animations of your crow digging?
JTC: The scavenging part will happen in the 3D world -- it's really part of the exploration loop: you explore the world and find a tomb or a graveyard and find the new vessel(s). At this point, you haven't really initiated character creation -- the vessel is just a (rather large and unwieldy) inventory object. It can be picked up, moved, traded, use as a crafting reagent... all the things you would expect from an item that you find in the world.
Once you have acquired the object, there are a number of ways you can use it. You can possess it, of course, or you can break it down ("scavenge" it for parts) to use in crafting other items. You can also use these raw materials to modify or improve your current vessel (assuming you have the correct skills). We added this last one because some players want to have that traditional feeling of attachment to a single character, and never lose it. Allowing players to scavenger parts from more rare vessels and upgrade their current one gives a way to stay competitive with the same character.
MMORPG: Can players switch between their chosen bodies at will, since they're inventory items? They just equip and unequip like a suit of armor?
JTC: No, there is some friction involved in changing vessels, it's not something that you can do instantaneously.
MMORPG: With the account keeping track of all your skills, how do the vessels (bodies) have their stats determined? Is it sheer RNG, or is that where crafting comes in?
JTC: Skills are tracked at the account level. If you spend a lifetime training with two-handed blades, your immortal soul carries that residual knowledge into every new life. (In game terms, this means that you will get the benefit of that training across all your characters, to the degree each vessel is capable of mastering that skill.)
Attributes, i.e. Strength, Dexterity, etc., are dictated by the vessel (including any talent and discipline runestones you have applied to that vessel). You may be incredibly skilled with an executioner's axe, but your ability to wield it will be severely blunted if your vessel doesn't have the strength to wield it.
There is a degree of rarity involved in how vessels are dropped, but it is primarily location-based so it’s not as random as you might expect. The best vessels are going to come from the more dangerous campaign worlds, in keeping with our general design philosophy of "higher risk, higher reward". Crafting end the economy system are the methods that we use to level the playing field. We expect a thriving economy of vessels and vessel components to give players who don't want to brave those worlds a way to stay competitive. They will just have to specialize in another good or service so that they have something of value to trade.
MMORPG: Since there's a whole crafting tree behind vessels (ew, crafting bodies), does that mean you can "deconstruct" a vessel to get the parts needed? It makes me think you get to play out your Frankenstein fantasies in Crowfall.
JTC: Yes, technically it's called 'scavenging'; it's actually the same process that you use to break a longsword down for raw materials.
MMORPG: What would the "resources" for vessel crafting be like? I'm cringing already.
JTC: Yeah, it's grim. We're likely to limit this these recipes to particular disciplines (sub-classes) like "Necromancy", though, so the players who elect to trade in this market should have a pretty good idea what they are getting into.
MMORPG: Be honest... Was this what you were thinking of when you came up with the name Crowfall? Or was it something that clicked later?
JTC: The idea of players as immortal scavengers – nicknamed Crows – that’s been around from the beginning. The idea of moving advancement away from the physical avatars and attaching it to the spiritual form (making that spiritual form actually a thing, not just a narrative concept) is new.
Raph and Blair and I were talking about skill training and world-to-world travel, and we kept bumping into this because it was already a core concept in our narrative: the immortal Crow is your true essence, and it transcends mortal forms. It just… works. It not only links into the narrative, it also connects some of our ideas that were conceptually a bit weird anyway – and it also nicely answered a handful of questions that we still hadn’t quite resolved.
Thinking back to the beginning of our Kickstarter, though, we did release a portrait of one of our gods, D'Orion the Sky Hunter, sitting on a throne of horns and casually eating a heart. So, while it didn't occur to me that tie, I suppose that image might also have been a teaser for our not-yet-to-be-invented vessels system.