The rules of Drifter are quite simple, but before we dive into the character creation rules, let’s go over the basic mechanics and get a sense of how Drifter is played. This way, as you proceed into creating your drifter, you will have a better idea on how the game can emulate your ideas.

System Fundamentals

To play Drifter, let’s take a look at our core fundamentals. This brief is not a detailed write-out, but a summary intended to quickly get the essentials of the systems and it’s interactions.

Action/Resolution Flow

  • You only make a roll if failure of the action can yield an interesting result.
  • Actions that necessitate a roll, may require some energy to perform. This energy cost is reduced by your relevant ability score and specialization.
  • If you wish to perform more than one action action in a round, each action after first will cost more energy.
  • If you don’t like your roll result, you can boost your roll by spending energy.
  • There are three outcomes to your action: Fortune (a full success), Temperance (success at consequence), and Judgment (full consequence).
    If you are not satisfied with the potential outcome of your action, you can spend more energy to boost your result.

Narrator Mechanics

  • Narrators don’t roll, focusing on keeping the story moving, but may ask you to make a roll.
  • Establishes extra energy costs if extreme actions warrant.
  • Leverages consequences and Interventions to increase tension and drama in a scene.

Mechanical Elements Overview

  • Energy
    Each character has an Energy Pool. Points from this pool are spent on making actions, or improving your rolls (see Boosting). There are various methods of recovering energy, including when the narrator changes scene, resting, some combat actions as well as some skills. Once you run out of energy, you need to start rolling [Fortitude] or [Resolve] skill saves to remain conscious (see Energy).
  • Attributes
    Characters have four ability scores, each representing a different facet of a character’s capabilities, including Vigor, Swiftness, Insight, and Presence. When you want to perform an action, it costs you energy, and your ability score tells you how much you reduce the cost of that action by. If you reduce the cost of an action below 0 energy, you can gain a bonus to your roll (see Attributes).
  • Rolling
    If your character wants to perform an action or react to an event, you’re going to make a roll to see what happens. When performing what is called a check, you will need to pay the energy cost, if you’re reacting to something, known as a save, the action costs no energy. In Drifter, we use a twenty-sided die (also referred to as a d20). Your result is then compared against three thresholds (more below), determining the outcome of your action. If you’re not happy with your roll result, you can choose to spend more energy to succeed (see Boosting).
  • Thresholds
    Once you’ve made a roll, you can interpret the results. There are two key thresholds you need to pay attention to which lead to three possible outcomes.
    • Fortune (full success) If your result is equal to or above your relevant Discipline rating.
      This means you were able to perform the desired task with no negative consequence to your action.
    • Temperance (Success at Consequence) If your result is below your Discipline rating, but above 8.
      This means you were able to achieve your intended result, but something happens that complicates the scene or events. These complications are known as Consequences. The consequence from a Temperance will always be at least one level lower than that of a Judgment.
    • Judgment (Full Consequence) If your result equal to or less than 8.
      Not only do you failed at the task, but the story continues to move forward. This is known as failing forward, allowing you to complicate, or increases the drama and tension of the event unfolding.
  • Disciplines
    All skills within the game are divided into four disciplines: Survival, Exploration, Combat, and Social. Your thresholds are determined by your Discipline Values, which always start off at 18. When creating your drifter, you have 6 points to reduce your discipines as you see fit. When creating your character no Discipline can be set below 14.
  • Specialization
    There are some skills that you are practiced at performing, almost second nature. When creating your character you get to pick three skills, each from different Disciplines. When you are performing an action with a specialized skill, you can reduce the cost of that skill by 2, this reducation only applies once per round and can be split between actions. In addition, once per scene you can reroll that skill as if you had spent an Intervention Point.
  • Boosting
    If you’re not happy with the outcome of a roll, you can choose to spend energy to improve your result. This is known as boosting a roll. Each skill is associated with an ability score, which is broken down into two categories: Grit and Nerve. Both have a boost score that determines how much each point of energy improves the result of your roll.
  • Intervention Points
    Intervention points are a communal resource that is gained and spent in a number of different ways, from activating your class features to re-rolling a bad check.