Hey Delvers, Drifters, and Beastmasters,
It’s only a week away until we launch the Hyper Light Drifter: Tabletop Role-Playing Game Kickstarter (9/10), to which we’re super excited to start sharing the details with you bringing this amazing project to life!

In this sneak-peek, we’ll reveal the system’s fundamentals. So when we launch the basic rules with the Kickstarter you can hit the road running and create your characters.

Also since Hyper Light Drifter: Tabletop Role-Playing Game is a bit of a mouthful, we’ll be referring to the tabletop game as Drifter. So, Let’s get into this!

System Fundamentals

To play Drifter, let’s take a look at our core fundamentals, these will get your character up and running first before we dive into other systems.

  1. Energy
    Each character has an Energy Pool. All actions have an energy cost and your ability score (Might, Agility, Intellect, or Charisma) will reduce the cost of those actions by your ability score value.
  2. Make a roll
    In Drifter, we use only the twenty-sided die (d20). In addition, only the players roll. Typically whenever a player is rolling, they are utilizing a skill from the broad skill groups, activating a talent, or some other ability that asks for a skill check.
  3. Skill Groups
    All skills in the game are categorized under four skill groups, Combat, Social, Exploration, and Survival. When you make a roll, your threshold for success will be rolled against your skill group’s Adversity Level.
    In character creation, all skill groups start with an Adversity Level of 18 and you are provided points to reduce it. You can also choose to reduce an adversity level using an advancement.
  4. Thresholds
    Once you made a roll, you can interpret the results. There are two key thresholds, which you need to pay attention to which lead to three possible outcomes.

    1. If your result is an 8 or below, you fail the task (Full Consequence).
    2. If your result meets or beats your skill group’s Adversity Level, you succeed (Full Success).
    3. If your result falls between 9 and your Adversity Level, you achieved a partial success (Success at Consequence).
  5. Boosting
    If you don’t like your roll result, you can choose to expend more energy to increase your roll result, we call this Boosting. The amount each point of energy increases your result is determined by your Ability Category’s Boost score.

Character Creation

So now that you have the core mechanics mastered, let’s take a look at the character sheet and creating a character.

  • Identity Choices
    • Species: What are you?
      (ex. birdfolk, canifolk, otterfolk or perhaps a blue)
    • Traits: What is noticeable or interesting about you?
      (ex. marks, scented, eyes or worn equipment)
    • Knack: What is your character good at?
      (ex. academics, cooking, healing or crafting)
  • Class Choices
    • Class: Which of the 4 classes are you?
      (ex. Warrior, Wielder, Delver, Versifier)
    • Talents: Pick your talents, which are (special abilities you can perform).
    • Pick Starting Gear: Each class has its own starting equipment choices.
  • Customization
    • Set Ability ScoresPoints to distribute across your four ability scores.
    • Distribute Skill Points: Points to reduce your Skill Group’s adversity level, making succeeding at tasks easier.
    • Pick Skill Specializations: Pick three specific skills from any group, you are more practiced using these skills.

We’ve detailed a lot of the fields, that you see on the character sheet (above) but there are a few we haven’t covered.

Armor: Typically granted from wearing armor, this reduces the damage you take. The stronger armor you wear the more damage it reduces; however, it’s weight will increase your energy cost to perform physical actions.

Boost: As noted above, you can spend energy to increase your roll result. For every point of energy you spend, your roll result is increased by your Boost Score. Boost Scores are broken up by the two ability categories, Physical and Cognitive, and apply to skills relevant to skills covered under the ability score category.

Dashes: You have two dashes per encounter, and you can use them to evade damage or execute a special maneuver.

XP: When your character can take a full rest, you can spend four bits for an advancement point. When you do so, you gain an advancement perk, and you fill in one of the little diamonds going left to right. When you fill in the single diamonds you get to select an advancement Path which provides you further bonuses and features and talents to pick from.


For an action-packed game, we need to make sure combat is smooth, awesome and efficient. With the ability to play it using theatre of the mind or at the table with minis. This is where we introduce the combat board, as shown above.

Players start on the left side and enemies on the right. The center is called “heat.” This is where most front-line allies and enemies will be fighting.

Each tile represents a short-distance, so several allies and enemies can fit in the same tile. Some attacks will target a single creature in a tile or one tile away, others will target all enemies in a tile.

In combat, you will likely be using your Dashes, a special resource that allows you to move about the battlefield, evading damage and executing special maneuvers. You recover your Dashes after each encounter.

In Conclusion

If you got down this far, I want to thank you so much for reading. There’s more we would love to share, but this newsletter is getting a bit too long. We promise that you’ll be able to see everything once we launch the Kickstarter campaign, of which we’re looking to create a gamebook and a setting book.

 We have social links up at the top of the page all dedicated to Drifter art and news. In addition, we’ll be able to take feedback on both the community forum (on the website) and on the discord channel (which we just launched).

If there’s something you’re really interested in seeing or something that you think should be in the game, feel free to reply and let us know.  We’re fans of the HLD universe as much as you are and we’re making the game we want to play, and we want it to be yours as well.

Thank you and stay awesome drifters,