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Drift Into The Sea Of Leaves With The Summerland RPG

Overnight a vast forest sprang up ancient and full grown. It devastated the works of man. Foreboding and somehow alive, the Sea of Leaves is a wild place permeated by the Call, a siren-song that lures the majority of humans into the woods never to return. Survivors know that tight human connections strongly binding communities together provides resistance to the Call. A small number of people, survivors of terrible trauma, are able to resist the Call to journey between settlements and enter the ruined cities. You are one of these damaged people. You are a Drifter.

Summerland Second Edition is a full color 200 page PDF published in 2018 via kickstarter which updates the rules to Open D6 and incorporates full color. Summerland presents a haunted new world via stunning art of green plant life choking out the works of man. Themes include hope, horror, and the otherworldly magic of the ancient forest. Styles of play include action, survival, and investigation. Games can focus on any or all of these ideas.

Mechanically, characters have four attributes with values of 1d6 to up to 5d6 and can be split into two +1 pips per die split. Tags, like a past job, are attached to attributes to allow for a reroll on one die. Skills, perks like good looking, and complications like enemies are added next.

Drifters have a Trauma scale, numbers of d6s that describes how the event in their past affects the character’s relationship with other people. The aim of the game is to reduce the value to zero, whereupon the character becomes acceptable into what remains of human society. A Stress scale records how close a character is to losing control. Drifters must face their Trauma to reduce it but suffer Stress while doing so. This Stress requires rest in a settlement to heal and that settlement will then require the Drifters to perform a needed task for them in the forest, starting the cycle anew.

The Drift has a level of 0 to 5 with a community having a 0. Trauma higher than the Drift rating prevents a human from heading into the woods and not returning. If the Drift is twice that of a character’s Trauma they succumb to the Call, head into the woods, and are lost. Drifters who lower their Trauma are closer to finding a home in a community but are less able to resist the Call of the forest.

A variety of interesting challenges include distrustful community members, other Drifters, humans Lost to the forest, the animal-like humans called the Wild, mundane animals, unnaturally intelligent beasts, and ghosts. Several scenario ideas are provided like a dangerous feral bear preying on a settlement, establishing trade and communication between settlements, and the discovery of an old army base. Various sources of inspiration from fiction are included. Building NPCs and animals from a template include fourteen examples. Also included are random tables to build a community. Wrapping up the book are sample Drifters, communities, and adventure hooks a GM can use to create a sandbox setting. A blank character sheet is included.

Summerland Second Edition is a comprehensive, well put together, beautiful RPG with all the resources needed for players and GMs to explore their own version of the Sea of Leaves. Summerland is about survival and horror but also hope and redemption. Drifters yearn to be welcomed into a community, but they must risk everything in the Sea of Leaves to redeem themselves and cure the wounds of their past. The question for players is how much are you willing to risk to make this happen?

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
Charles Dunwoody


Irda Ranger

First Post
Oh this sounds rad as hell. I wish Wizards made D&D stuff this evocative. I'd love to see Ravenloft with slightly-different Trauma, Drift, and Call mechanics.

Oh this sounds rad as hell. I wish Wizards made D&D stuff this evocative. I'd love to see Ravenloft with slightly-different Trauma, Drift, and Call mechanics.
I was really impressed by Summerland. I like the switch to d6 dice pool. Trauma vying with stress is a great mechanic. And the art is really amazing.


It is a great game - my story idea behind Summerland and what caused it was a mass Fae spell/ritual gone wrong or right, depending on which side of the fence you're looking on. It is essentially the Fae in their moment of desperation for survival striking back at humankind their tech and their rampant destruction of nature. Using the Mists they brought upon the ultimate Unleashing spell (refer Dark Ages: Fae)

So the monsters at night would include Vampires, Werewolves and Wraiths (who might have also become twisted with the Unleashing spell). i.e. Merge the World of Darkness with Summerland.

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