Destiny 2 Season Of The Drifter Lore Guide: Everything You Need To Know
By Phil Hornshaw on
Pack Your Six-Shooter
Destiny 2 has started Season 6, the next stage of the game's Annual Pass content offerings. From what Bungie has shown so far, the next period of the game, called the Season of the Drifter, is primed to push forward a bunch of threads of Destiny's story, including those surrounding the last Exotic weapon added to the game, the Destiny 1 hand cannon The Last Word. The Season of the Drifter is set to advance the story of the Drifter, the character who runs the competitive event known as Gambit, and concerns the death-worshipping aliens known as the Hive, a Guardian hero who turned into a villain, a particularly evil gun, and an Old West-style duel.
The trouble with Destiny 2, though, is that it's not particularly great at telling its coolest stories. Learning about everything that's going on requires reading a bunch of entries in Destiny 1's Grimoire--which was only available online, outside of the game--as well as digging into Destiny 2 lore and flavor text, and completing missions that are actually pretty tough to access. You'd be forgiven for missing all the lead-up to the Season of the Drifter, even though it's one of Destiny's biggest story pushes ever. (In fact, if you want some catch-up on the story of Destiny 1, check out our rundown.)
The good news is, we have you covered. We've dug into all the lore to tell you the story of the Drifter, Dredgen Yor, and a mysterious character who wielded The Last Word. Here's everything you need to know about Destiny 2's story to make sense of the new season.
The Hive, The Deep, And The Sword Logic
Most of the story information about The Draw comes from Destiny's Grimoire, the big lore compendium from the original game. Bungie recently compiled a bunch of those old entries into a bound book, the Destiny Grimoire Anthology, Vol. 1, which is a convenient (and actually pretty slick) way to get a lot of what you need to know about what's going on in Destiny 2 today. The first half of the Grimoire Anthology covers the Hive, one of Destiny's groups of alien enemies, and their lengthy, spooky creation myth.
We won't get too far into the Book of Sorrow, the Hive's Bible-like story of how it transformed from a meek species often referred to as "krill" into a death-worshipping race of evil conquerors, bent on killing everything they could. What's important is the Hive serve worm creatures they believe are gods, which are parasites that give the Hive's creators incredible abilities. The power of the worms, which comes from the unknowable evil force-slash-entity called the Darkness (or the Deep), consumes the Hive if they don't constantly conquer, kill, and feed their worms with violence. They call it the Sword Logic--the idea that in order to achieve perfection in the universe, the Hive should constantly try to kill everything it encounters. Everything that can be killed must be killed, so that only the strongest thing survives: the Final Shape of the universe.
The Hive's king and living god, Oryx, showed up in The Taken King expansion of Destiny 1 with a special power thanks to the worms and the Sword Logic: the ability to "take," or corrupt, other creatures and bend them to his will. Though Oryx was killed seemingly for good in Destiny 1 at the end of The Taken King, his Taken creatures still exist--and seem to be multiplying despite their king being gone. The Taken's power, as well as Oryx's and a lot of the Hive's magic, is derived from an alternate dimension called the Ascendant Plane. That'll come up again later.
The Collapse, The Dark Age, And The Risen
Destiny's history is broken up into several periods. There was the Golden Age, when the giant moon-like magic robot called the Traveler showed up in the solar system and used its power, the Light, to usher in unprecedented enlightenment and prosperity. But the Traveler has always been hunted by the Darkness, and eventually the Darkness showed up in the solar system and attacked. That event is called the Collapse, and nobody is really clear exactly what happened during it, but it was basically the end of the world, as everyone of the Golden Age knew it, all throughout the colonized solar system.
The Traveler was damaged and apparently went dormant, but the Darkness was driven back. Lingering, though, were the various alien races of Destiny, including the Hive, that continue to war for control of the solar system.
In the time after the Collapse, the Traveler sent out a bunch of tiny little robots called Ghosts, which were tasked with finding particular dead people and imbuing them with the Light, reviving them to turn them into the immortal superheroes called Guardians--the players in Destiny.
But after the Golden Age and before Destiny's present (what's known as the City Age), there was the Dark Age. That was the time right after the Traveler went silent, and when the world was a seriously dangerous mess. At that time, Guardians were known as the Risen, and not all of them were heroes and good guys. Some became super-strong immortal warlords and dictators, while others like the Iron Lords, for whom the Iron Banner competitive tournament is named, went around fighting the bad folks.
The Legend of Rezyl Azzir
So, the Dark Age is something of a Wild West, full of heroes and villains. One such hero was Rezyl Azzir, a Risen man who used his abilities to help refugees reach what would later become the Last City, the last safe bastion of humanity in the present day of Destiny 2. Rezyl was among those who helped band together the heroic Risen and turn them into Guardians, the organized protectors of humanity, and fought to protect humans from the threats of the Collapse. But he started to have dark thoughts and nightmares, and he seemed plagued by the idea that the Light wasn't enough to really keep everyone safe.
Rezyl went to the Moon, driven by his dreams. There he found the Hive, still populating strongholds and doing evil rituals, despite the Risen believing them to be gone. Against his Ghost's better judgment, Rezyl went into the stronghold, and encountered Xyor, The Betrothed, a Hive wizard. Xyor cursed Rezyl for walking on the holy ground of the Hive, but despite the creepy words, Rezyl managed to kill a Hive knight, the creature to whom Xyor was apparently betrothed. After escaping the stronghold, Rezyl took the bones of the knight and attached them to his hand cannon, a gun he called Rose, as a trophy, and headed back to the City to warn the Guardians of the Hive's return.
There was more to what Xyor had said to Rezyl--she also prophesied that his Light would shatter and that he would fall to Darkness. What Rezyl didn't realize was that the Hive bones he had taken from the Moon had the power of the Darkness. Slowly, the Darkness in his new gun corrupted him. Eventually, he stopped calling the weapon Rose; with the spiky knight's bones wrapped around the barrel, it had a different, deadlier look, and he gave it a new name: Thorn.
In Destiny 1, Thorn was an Exotic hand cannon with some seriously awesome power. The shots it fired poisoned enemies, damaging them over time, which made it a favorite in Destiny's competitive arenas of the Crucible.
Thanks to Thorn, the Darkness seeped into Rezyl, and he became a callous murderer, using Thorn's dark power to kill other Guardians as well as innocents out on the frontier, consuming their Light. We don't know why Rezyl did what he did, but it seems like he might have believed that in order to defeat the Darkness when it eventually returned, he would need something more powerful than just Light--a mixture of Light and Darkness. From a practical standpoint, though, he just became a terrible villain, responsible for a whole bunch of deaths.
Rezyl eventually decided he was no longer the same man, and changed his name to Dredgen Yor. That name became feared, and Dredgen Yor, the Guardian fallen to Darkness, became one of the greatest villains in Destiny's lore.
Jaren Ward and The Last Word
Guardians were still out in the world doing good as Rezyl Azzir slowly became Dredgen Yor, though. One of those Guardians was Jaren Ward, a gunslinger who carried a famously cool hand cannon called The Last Word. It also is a Destiny 1 Exotic weapon players were able to earn.
At some point, Jaren came to a town called Palamon, which was under the thumb of a despotic leader, Magistrate Loken. Jaren stood up to Loken, drawing his anger, and eventually Loken caught up with Jaren in the middle of town with a group of armed men, meaning to kill the Guardian. Instead, Jaren drew The Last Word and killed Loken, freeing the town. A young boy in the town named Shin Malphur came to revere Jaren for his heroism and the two became friends, with Jaren showing Shin some of the ropes as a fighter.
Jaren stayed in Palamon for years as its protector, until a day when Fallen were seen nearby. He and a group of the town's hunters left to pursue and eliminate the threat. While they were gone, someone else came to town: Dredgen Yor. He stayed a few days and Shin interacted with him during that time, but eventually, Yor murdered everyone in Palamon and burned the town to the ground. The only person he left alive was Shin.
When Jaren returned, Shin told him what had happened and the group set out to hunt Dredgen Yor down. After following the fallen Guardian for months and joining up with a few other people searching for him, they eventually found Yor--but a few of their number were killed in the fighting and Yor escaped. The group continued to follow Yor's trail, but Jaren became concerned that the endeavor would get them all killed. He told the others he was going ahead to scout. Soon after, in the distance later, the group heard shots: The Last Word, and Thorn.
Showdown At Dwindler's Ridge
Thinking Jaren dead, the others of the group fled, leaving only Shin, who knew that Jaren had gone to fight Yor alone so that the others would be safe. He decided to find and help Shin or die at Yor's hand--but Jaren's Ghost appeared, bringing The Last Word along with it. Jaren Ward was dead. The Ghost revealed something it had learned years earlier, that Shin had been born with the Light of the Traveler. Apparently, both Jaren and Dredgen Yor had sensed the Light in Shin as well. With the Ghost's help, Shin became a Guardian, the only one known not to have been resurrected, and continued to hunt for Yor.
Eventually, Shin Malphur found Dredgen Yor at a place called Dwindler's Ridge. Yor revealed that he'd let the Ghost and The Last Word go on purpose, hoping for the showdown, although he never said why. In a duel, Shin channeled his Light to turn The Last Word into a Golden Gun, one of the super abilities Destiny players can use, and outdrew Yor, killing him. Shin got vengeance for Jaren Ward and stopped Yor's reign of terror. He went on to become a renegade Guardian, following in Jaren's footsteps and blazing his own lone path.
The Shadows Of Yor
That wasn't the end of the story of Thorn, however. Years later, some Guardians started to wonder about the power of Darkness Dredgen Yor had wielded, and the weapon he'd used. They also started to believe that maybe the stories of the villainous fallen Guardian weren't as truthful as they'd been told. The group started to investigate Yor, and eventually, to follow some of his beliefs. They called themselves the Shadows of Yor.
As the Shadows kept on their pursuits, they tried to capture the power of Thorn without its corrupting influence. Eventually they succeeded, creating replicas of Thorn that maintained much of its power, seemingly without causing people to go all evil. Those replicas started showing up in the Crucible--basically, Destiny 1 players using Thorn. That drew the attention of Shin Malphur, who saw an unknown, sinister plan in the use of Yor's power and spreading it out to unwitting Guardians. He approached the Vanguard, the Guardians' leadership, but was brushed off since seemingly nothing was wrong. Convinced the Shadows of Yor were corrupted and up to something Darkness-related, Shin started hunting them.
The Shadows went into hiding and scattered, and some seemingly disbanded from the group--including one rogue Guardian who called himself the Drifter.
The Drifter And His Gambit
As Shin was going after the Shadows, the Drifter made a play of his own. Holed up in the Guardians' base, the Tower, he started recruiting others to take part in Gambit, a competitive event he created. In Gambit, Guardians would fight and kill various aliens and gather up items they dropped called motes of Darkness, and deposit them in a strange cylinder, a bank. The bank uses the motes to tap into something else: Taken power.
Since the Dark Age, the Drifter had been searching for a power stronger than the Light to use against the Darkness, and that had taken him beyond the edge of the solar system. On a distant planet, he discovered an artifact that might be the key to what he sought, and brought it back with him. Apparently the artifact allows him to contain and control a small pocket of the Ascendant Plane, and inside it, an army of Taken. In Gambit, you use motes to send Taken to fight the competing team; bank enough motes and you fight a powerful Taken boss called a Primeval.
So Gambit is more than just another fun mode for players to fight each other in; the lore suggests the Drifter is using all those motes and Taken deaths for some currently unknown purpose. Shin Malphur, apparently, is aware of this, and seems to think that the power the Drifter is pursuing might be a necessary evil. He's not exactly hostile to the Drifter, but he is keeping an eye on him and whatever Gambit is all about. But in Forsaken, Destiny 2 added "Seals," which track your accomplishments in specific areas to grant you special honorific titles--and perhaps tellingly, the title you earn for completing the Gambit seal is "Dredgen."
Meanwhile, playing Gambit matches sometimes has a chance of drawing out an Ascendant Primeval, a special boss, and killing it drops a strange chunk of a Taken called a Seething Heart. That item is of special interest to the Drifter. When you discover it, he sends you on a mission to find a former "associate" of his named Callum Sol, who the Drifer says took something from him.
Malfeasance and the Man with the Golden Gun
The Drifter's mission to find Callum eventually sends you to the Ascendant Plane, the domain of the Hive and the Taken. Turns out, Callum--one of the Shadows of Yor--has been hiding there. You eventually fight your way through a series of Taken to discover Callum's fate, locating his grave, where his shadow has been burned into rock. It seems Shin Malphur, the Man with the Golden Gun, found Callum before you did. The lore text that tells the story of their confrontation suggests Callum had fallen to the Darkness, like Dredgen Yor before him, and Shin took him out.
But with Callum's grave you find what the Drifter was looking for. Using the Seething Heart and what you recover from the Ascendant Plane, the Drifter crafts you a new weapon: an Exotic hand cannon called Malfeasance. Imbued with Taken power, the gun causes bullets to lodge in their target, and when enough of them land, they explode.
It's with the creation of Malfeasance that the Drifter reveals some of what he's got planned. He says he'll outfit himself and his former crew, seemingly meaning the Shadows, with Malfeasance hand cannons, apparently to use the weapons against Shin Malphur when he comes for them. The Drifter knows that none of the Shadows can out-draw Shin--but if enough of them get one shot off, all of them can bring him down together.
The Drifter leaves you with one last frightening point: you're part of his crew now, too. Whether you intended to or not, you've aided him, drawn on the power of the Darkness, and wielded Malfeasance (and if you played Destiny 1, probably Thorn, too). If Shin Malphur is coming for the followers of Dredgen Yor, he's probably going to count you among them.
In The Draw, the mission to get The Last Word, the Drifter revealed that the Hive were trying to create their own Thorn just like the Shadows of Yor: one of a powerful set of instruments the Hive referred to as the Weapons of Sorrow. Players managed to stop the Hive from creating the guns, dueling the Hive weapons master with the help of The Last Word, sent by Shin Malphur to assist. At the end of the mission, Shin passed The Last Word onto players to use to continue to stop the Hive.
While the Drifter helped stop the Hive, his intentions still are somewhat unknown. The lore about him--written from Shin's perspective, in fact--suggests his motivations don't necessarily align with either Shin or the Shadows, and that he's got some other plan in mind. In fact, it was the Drifter who told Shin where to find Callum, and Shin's words suggest that Gambit might be the Drifter's efforts to lure the rest out of hiding so Shin can stop them. There were six in Callum's crew of Shadows of Yor, and the fate of the other five is currently unknown.
Elements of the Hive's greater schemes and efforts also have been swirling in the background throughout Destiny 2. The Taken attacking the Dreaming City, home of a neutral race called the Awoken, has been a huge part of the Forsaken expansion. And we know that the Hive's god-king, Oryx, had two sisters, Savathûn and Xivu Arath. Their names have come up in several places as well. The Drifter's unfolding story may well be on its way to intersecting with those larger plot threads.
A Villain Is Coming
The Last Word is back in Destiny, and Bungie also officially confirmed ahead of the Season of the Drifter that players would go after Thorn in Season 6. That suggests either the Hive or the Shadows of Yor are still working on creating their Weapons of Sorrow. We also know that something will happen that will force players to choose between allegiance to the Vanguard and to the Drifter.
The Season of the Drifter is set to illuminate more about the Drifter, his past, and the giant, weird artifact he drags behind his ship that makes Gambit possible. The season also seems primed to give us more information about The Nine, a strange and mysterious group about whom very little has been shared in Destiny lore so far. They're the folks who send Xur, the Exotic weapons and armor dealer, into the solar system each weekend. And it seems likely that as the Drifter's story continues to unfold, so will that of the Hive.
The Season of the Drifter kicks off on March 5.