Characters in Drifter have four ability scores, broken down into two Boost categories: Grit and Nerve. Each represents a different facet of a character’s capabilities in that given area. Grit covers physical actions, including Vigor and Swiftness, and Nerve covers cognitive actions, including Insight and Presence.

Performing an action requires a certain amount of energy, an amount that is potentially reduced by your ability score. If your ability score reduces the cost of an action below 0, you do not gain energy. Instead, the remaining points get added as a bonus to your roll at a rate of 2 to +1. However, if your ability score is negative, it will instead increase the amount of energy needed for that action.

For example: Your character lifts a blast door. This requires you to use the [Lift] skill and your Vigor ability score (which is 4). The narrator states the action itself costs 2 energy, but your Vigor score reduces that cost to -2 energy. As the bonus works on a -2:+1 ratio, you gain a +1 on your die roll. In case your Vigor would be 3, it would reduce the energy cost, but not add a bonus to the roll.

Most people dwelling in sanctuaries typically have an ability score ranging from -1 to 2. Individuals with higher ability scores are exceptionally rare and represent the best of their communities. Drifters, however, tend to develop higher ability scores due to their various expeditions, while interacting with various cultures and people provides them with knowledge that cannot be attained by those confined to a single sanctuary.

Your two ability scores, Grit and Nerve, are your Boost scores. When boosting your roll with the use of energy (see Boosting for more info), your respective Grit and Nerve boost scores dictate how much each point of energy adds to your roll result.


  • Vigor: Represents a character’s raw strength, from lifting and moving objects, to the ability to arm wrestle an opponent, or resisting poison as well as physical damage.
    Swiftness: Represents a character’s hand-eye coordination, their speed, reflexes, and ability to evade an adversary’s attack.


  • Insight: Represents a character’s reasoning, their ability to analyze and solve problems, and their capacity to recall and retain information.
    Presence: Represents a character’s strength of personality, charm, empathy, social skill, and their ability to influence others.