From Destinypedia, the Destiny wiki
The Drifter is a nameless, rogue Lightbearer who hosts Gambit and acts as a vendor for Gambit related items. He is found in his ship that you spawn at within the beginning of a Gambit match. He is a traveler that has explored the far reaches of the Solar System and beyond, collecting machines, gadgets, and trinkets along the way.
The Dark Age
During the Dark Age the Drifter was revived by a Ghost, who ushered him towards the Last City. Drifter, not being keen on the Traveler's Light, heads in the opposite direction. Dying of starvation, Drifter was reduced to crawling upon the ground, continuously being revived by his Ghost, and continuously regaining consciousness hungry. Drifter eventually found his way to a small and starving village in the East, where he gains a new life as a normal citizen - keeping his Ghost and Light hidden, but performing minor miracles when nobody was around to provide small amounts of food.
At some point, the Iron Lords appeared, offering the town a deal they couldn't refuse. The leader of the Iron Lords' group, Lord Dryden, offered the town multiple months' worth of supplies and food in return for the use of the town as bait to draw out a warlord known only as the "Red Man". The town accepted the terms, and they were able to survive through the winter. However, when one of the townsfolk tried to escape out of fear of the Iron Lords' plan, they were captured by the Red Man and his Fireteam, tipping the Warlords off to the town's location. When the Warlords arrived, the Iron Lords ambushed them, and the resulting battle razed the town to the ground as Drifter's Ghost watched from afar. When the battle was over, Drifter honored the townsfolk by giving their bones a burial.
Some time later, the Drifter owned a bar under the shadow of Felwinter Peak disguising himself as a man named Wu Ming (still keeping his Light a secret.) The bar was ruined when Lady Efrideet got into a fight with a group of Warlords and shot it up, the Drifter paying her for the work after the job was done.
After the gunfight, Drifter walked up Felwinter Peak to have a conversation with Lord Felwinter. Drifter informed Lord Felwinter about the event of the town, what Lord Dryden did, and informing him that Lord Dryden broke the code of the Iron Lords, involving Lightless people with their conflicts. Felwinter, skeptic of his claims, asked how Drifter could prove his claims. Drifter's Ghost appeared, and sent various pieces of evidence (audio and video) to the Ghost of Lord Felwinter. Felwinter then asked Drifter to leave, asking his Ghost to prepare his Iron Banner loadout.
At some point during the Dark Age, the Drifter was in a crew with the Risen Otto, Thalia, and Ayrin. This crew would perform heists on Warlord territories, with Otto accompanying the Drifter to respond to any security detail, Thalia picking off any remaining lookouts, and Ayrin providing the escape using a kitbashed bomber aircraft. In one such heist against the Warlord known as the Wake, the crew stole an amount of supplies, encountering no resistance other than a poorly-trained civilian militia. The Drifter later commented that his crew could have easily "kept on like that for centuries."
The Drifter was opposed to the Warlord Rience and requested that his fellow Risen Cenric, Jaak, Otto, Ayrin, and Thalia stop doing business with him. He later spotted all five meeting with Rience in the Warlord's territory and decided to eliminate them. After buying them five rounds of drinks at a bar to lure them into a false sense of security, the Drifter was told by Cenric that he had never liked him but was feeling fond of him now. Smiling in anticipation of killing the treacherous Risen, the Drifter noted Cenric was a smooth talker and wondered if he had said those same words to Rience. As the other Risen fell quiet, Jaak lied that they had cut the Warlord out as requested, but the Drifter revealed that he had seen them all in the valley meeting with Rience. Cenric demanded he speak plainly, and the Drifter declared them all rats and swiftly drew his assault rifle while stating there was only one thing to do to rats.
A World of Darkness
At the dawn of the City Age, the Drifter and a subset of his crew set out to leave the Sol system, in search of something "greater than Light" due to the conflicts that Light had created on Earth. They traveled for centuries, eventually finding a cold, desolate planet which gave off an energy that seemed to repel Light, much like the exotic weapon Thorn. The Drifter and his crew landed with the intent to study this energy and render it portable, although the Drifter felt that humans were not supposed to be on the world. The extreme cold of the planet took a toll on the Lightbearers and caused them to occasionally freeze to death and require Ghost resurrection, yet the Drifter and his comrades were hopeful they could find something useful and confident in their skills to survive the planet.
The Drifter's crew found a series of abandoned monolith-like structures on the planet, which they discovered contained strange, amorphous shadow-like creatures imprisoned in cryogenic suspension. They determined that these entities were the source of the Light-repressing fields and that they shared some characteristics with the Hive, although the Drifter regretted not having a scientist among his crew who could study them better. They soon discovered that not all of the creatures were imprisoned in the monoliths and that some roamed out in the wild. One night while they slept in the frozen wilderness due to it still being warmer than inside the cryogenic monoliths, a member of the Drifter's crew froze to death but was unable to be revived by his Ghost due to the proximity of one of the creatures. This loss angered them, but also increased the Drifter's determination to find a way to take the creatures off-world as they could change conflicts between Lightbearers forever. However, the crew also started becoming paranoid due to how unlikely it seemed for one of the creatures to be in close enough proximity to prevent resurrection, particularly so soon after they had realized the potential to weaponize the creatures.
Not long after this first death, the Drifter and his crew moved into one of the monolith's to get better protection against the roaming creatures despite the cold. The Drifter continued examining the technology within the monoliths to try and understand the cryotechnology but was unable to figure out how it worked. Tempers began rising, which only worsened when a second member of the crew died due to the proximity of one of the wandering creatures. Some members of the crew began to believe one of the others had lured the creature close, although the Drifter thought the creature itself had deliberately only killed one of them as a warning to leave. When one of the Lightbearers drew his gun, the Drifter warned them all that the next time one of them did that he would kill them all. A little over a year after they arrived, only the Drifter and three others remained and their ship had ceased working due to the cold. The cold had killed them thousands of times and their paranoia had begun turning into insanity. As they settled in for another night in a monolith, they all suddenly lost their connection to the Light due to Dominus Ghaul entrapping the Traveler in a cage. However, they each believed that the others were responsible and drew their weapons. Unsure if they really intended to kill each other, the Drifter still lived up to his promise and murdered all three of his remaining companions. Angry and seeing one of the frozen creatures seemingly watching him, the Drifter flipped it off and contemplated that he was now alone and stranded.
Drifter's Ghost 'snapped' at this point, informing Drifter of a way they could capture the creatures. Drifter asked how they would do such a thing, as the creatures were undoubtedly dangerous. His Ghost told him of a set of modifications they could perform on his shell, but that they would require components from other Ghosts - the Ghosts of Drifter's deceased teammates which had now scattered across the icy planet.
Drifter hunted these Ghosts, being sure to stay away from the Shadow Creatures as much as possible. Drifter, having killed the Ghosts to obtain their parts, began the modification process of his own Ghost, trying not to freeze to death before the process was completed. With the modifications complete, Drifter's Ghost could see and emit light and energy in spectrums no other Ghost could - eventually inspiring the tech used in Gambit banks, Motes, and Portals.
Gambit with a Lone Gunman
After escaping the cold world, the Drifter returned to the inner solar system on a new ship dubbed The Derelict with a massive object from the Nine in tow and had acquired a small Taken army in a pocket dimension which he could control using Motes of Dark. His goal was to go to the Last City and start a competition he dubbed "Gambit" which would generate Motes of Dark and also recruit Guardians into a new crew. The Drifter became associated with another group of Lightbearers who leaned toward the Darkness known as the Shadows of Yor until he had a falling out with Callum Sol. Following this the Drifter encountered the rogue Gunslinger Shin Malphur, who had begun tracking the Drifter after learning of his connections with the Shadows, whom Malphur was hunting. During their first chance encounter in a neutral location, the Drifter told Malphur some of his story but left out his name, asking only to be known as the Drifter while Malphur told him to call him "pal". The Drifter bragged about all the places he had travelled outside of the system, claiming he had gone to the Luvial Crux, the Shift Chasms Below Elios, and the Fourth Tomb of Nezarec and seen the Idols of Lower Sul, the Treasure of Exodus Prime, and the Solar Engine of Dead Star-Six, although Malphur was unsure how truthful any of those tales were. He also claimed the object his ship was hauling was an artifact with a mysterious origin that "may be" powerful. Sensing that Malphur was unsatisfied with the answers he was giving, the Drifter changed the subject by mentioning Callum, knowing that Malphur's obsession with killing the Shadows of Yor would divert his attention.
At some point after coming back, The Drifter meets Emperor Calus in his real form. Drifter asked if he and Calus would be fighting over Guardians now, and Calus replied that (his) Shadows were his. Drifter took that as a “yes” and spoke about how “everyone is crazy, now.” He tells Calus that the Cabal emperor is not even Cabal anymore, and leaves on his Sparrow.
Return to the City
Starting the Gambit
With Shin's approval, the Drifter returned to the Last City and set up shop in an alleyway by the bazaar. Soon after his arrival, he introduced himself to The Young Wolf and explained the rules of Gambit to them. Not long after establishing himself in the Tower, news arrived in the Last City of Cayde-6's death at the hand of Prince Uldren Sov of the Reef. The Drifter spoke with the Young Wolf before they departed the Tower to hunt the Prince and told them he had heard the two of them had been good partners, which the Drifter considered a rare thing and that he had thought Cayde preferred working alone. He advised the Guardian to not let Cayde's death weigh on them and that everyone, including himself and the Young Wolf, had a bullet with their name on it somewhere in the universe and that all they could do was go out on their own terms. The Drifter also suggested that they vent their anger by participating in Gambit matches.
Owing a favor for The Spider, the Drifter employs Guardians on an job to retake the Prison of Elders on behalf of the former. He also provides tactical support during the strike against Variks' malfunctioning Servitor within the prison.
Leveling the Playing Field
After the Young Wolf defeated an Ascendant Chimera while playing Gambit and recovered its Seething Heart, the Drifter met with them and took the Heart, remarking that they could use it later. Noting the Young Wolf's reliability and skill, he asked them to track down Callum Sol, claiming that the Shadow had stolen something valuable from him. The Drifter suspected that Callum was dead due to not having seen or heard of him in awhile. Callum's ash outline is found in the Dreaming City. A final audio recording from his ghost hints that Shin Malphur killed Callum for joining the Shadows of Yor.
Using the parts stolen from him, Drifter and The Guardian finished their creation: Malfeasance, a weapon powered by both the Light and the Dark. 
Season of the Drifter
The Making Of Gambit Prime
To test Gambit Prime, Drifter hires a Titan named Joxer, a regular in Gambit who was good at invading. He explains that he was setting up a new version of Gambit, how regular Gambit has been a training ground for it, and he wants Joxer to test it. Joxer brings up The Guardian, claiming that Drifter favors them, and the Drifter asks why people always assume he has a liking for them. Joxer mentions they built a gun together, and he counters Drifter that making Malfeasance took more than just the two of them and that many Guardians have one now, and it wasn't his fault he kept missing the shot. Joxer gets angry, but Drifter calms him down by saying he likes the motes he gives him, with or without Malfeasance. He then complements Joxer's Invading skills and asks him to test Gambit Prime. Joxer isn't enthused by the name, but he agrees to take the job.
The test is successful to Drifter, even though three Guardians died permanently. Joxer is incensed that he didn't stop the Taken even though he could have. Despite that, the armor Drifter supplied worked perfectly. He pays Joxer, including his dead teammates' cuts, and offers more work. Joxer refuses to work with him anymore out of disgust, but Drifter lets him keep his Invader armor. After Joxer leaves, he reviews the data his Ghost collected, impressed at the results..
After several successful trial runs, the Drifter introduces Gambit Prime to the Guardian as a role-based, single-round evolution of Gambit. Unlike regular Gambit, Gambit Prime utilized counterfeit Primevals of the Drifter's creation from the acasual energy of the Haul, his Gambit banks full with Dark motes, and sheer force of will; the most prominent having the likeness of the late Oryx and his son. During this development however, the Drifter's actions eventually reached the prying eyes of the Warlock Aunor Mahal of the Praxic Order, who has been after the nameless Light-bearer in his illicit schemes of tempting Guardians with the unscrupulous power of Darkness. Having been barred by the Vanguard from investigating, She called upon the Guardian to monitor the Drifter instead and report their findings.
Games of the Nine
When the Young Wolf visited the Drifter again, their Ghost mentioned a vision from the Nine and Orin that showed them the card game where the Drifter had been gifted the Haul from the Nine. The Drifter was alarmed about the Nine reaching out to them and that they had gotten another glimpse into his past, stating that his deal with the Nine was risky and warned them not to trust the Nine or what had become of Orin. He asked them to ignore the Emissary if they approached them again and to leave the situation to him to deal with.
Three weeks later, the Drifter confronted the Young Wolf about their continued visits with the Emissary in the Unknown Space. He asked them to promise to stop visiting her if he explained who she was, and proceeded to tell them about how Orin was a Reefborn Awoken who was close to Queen Mara Sov before dying and being reborn as a Guardian. She eventually went looking for the Nine to gain power and got it, but was transformed. The Drifter declared that her past no longer mattered and that she was no longer who she had been, just like him, and made another demand that they stop investigating.
The Young Wolf ignored the Drifter's demands and continued to seek information from the Emissary and the Nine. After six more visits, they learned of the Drifter's true past with Orin and the Nine and of the warning given to him about the Pyramids imminent arrival. The Drifter angrily confronted them once more, noting that he had killed people for less, but admitted that he was in over his head with everything that was happening and that his own interactions with the Nine had just confirmed his deepest fears. He warned the Young Wolf that they need to set aside their dogma and understand that Light could not defeat the coming Darkness on its own, but that the key to salvation lay in Gambit.
After you finish your first Reckoning Mote, the Drifter will give you two choices, side with him and be a part of his crew, or side with the Vanguard and work with the Warlock Aunor in trying to find something to incriminate the Drifter.
Siding With The Drifter
If you side with the Drifter, he will be extremely pleased and excited with your decision and you'll be told to go talk with the Spider as he has an item called "The Jerky", the Young Wolf will then head to the Spider's Lair and discover the Spider is selling many different illegal items including "The Jerky", a Ghost in a cage, a replica Gjallarhorn, and many other items (however you are only able to buy "The Jerky"). Once you buy "The Jerky" from Spider, it'll lead the Guardian to Titan where several supplies the Drifter requires lies then the player will replay the Adventure "Thief of Thieves", afterward the Drifter will ask the Guardian to talk to him, face to face. He'll then tell the player to go to the Derelict to find a tape that sets up the beginning of a scavenger hunt all over the EDZ. These tapes will tell the Guardian the Drifter's past and reveal some more about his personality including his time in the Dark Age, his distrust of Ghosts, his time in the Shadows of Yor, his fear of Shin Malphur, the Warlock Aunor, who has been after him for a period of time, and even a foreshadowing comment that a Second Collapse is coming and that Reckoning is only a preparation for it. After all the tapes have been collected, the Drifter will request your presence one last time, he'll then explain how he has many enemies and that he has seats for people that'll escape the impending apocalypse with him and that he has a seat reserved for the guardian and hopes that they will be with him when that day occurs. He'll then reward the Guardian with a package of Gambit Loot, ending the quest.
Siding With The Vanguard
If the player sides with the Vanguard, the Drifter will be disappointed but respect their decision. He tells them that they are wrong about him. Afterward, the player is instructed to use a terminal in the Hangar to send a message to Aunor Mahal, who then instructs them to place bugs around the Drifter's area of the Annex. Once all three bugs are placed, the player must return to the terminal to monitor them, and they'll hear the Drifter tell someone to visit The Spider. When the player visits the Eliksni crime lord, he will request a bribe of 50,000 Glimmer, which must be paid to continue the quest. When the Spider receives his payment, he will direct the player to Titan, where they must replay the adventure Siren Song. Toward the end of the quest, Drifter will start talking to the player, wondering what they're doing on Titan. After the adventure, Aunor requests that the player goes into Gambit or Gambit Prime, where the player must bank 50 motes to continue. The next step is to get 25 kills in the Crucible. After finishing those steps, the player must return to their Hangar terminal and then search the Drifter's ship, the Derelict. The player will find the path lined with explosives and have to either destroy or navigate around them all to reach the Drifter's first tape, leading Aunor and the Guardian to believe that the Drifter has selected a protege. From this point on, the quest is identical to the Drifter's side: a scavenger hunt around the European Dead Zone to find the other tapes. After all the tapes are found, the player must return to the Drifter and speak with him one more time. He tells the player that he's only doing what he has to in order to survive and he won't let anyone stop him from doing so.
Season of Dawn
Prior to meeting the Guardian, the Drifter was hired by Osiris, to Sagira's chagrin, to aid him in the construction of the The Sundial. Though they completed their machine The Drifter warned Osiris there were no guarantees that it will work. After that, he left to return to the Tower. He notes that he can hear the Sundial whispering.
The Guardian Games
With the Almighty bearing down on the City, Commander Zavala decided to hold a competition between the three Guardian classes to keep spirits high during the crisis. To facilitate this, he enlisted the help of Eva Levante, who in turn convinced the Drifter to repurpose his bank technology for the Games, presumably unbeknownst to the Vanguard. Guardians would then visit the Drifter to register themselves to participate in the Games.
Around the time the Pyramid ships arrive in the inner parts of the solar system, Drifter is approached by Eris for help in hearing the messages the Pyramid was broadcasting. After a private exchange, the two agree to work together. Drifter contributes to her mission by enhancing one of his Gambit Bank so it can store the dark power put out by the Pyramid. Using supercharged Motes of Darkness gathered by Guardians, he built and powered two new machines. One device is made to decode engrams tainted by the Pyramid's power into new tools for Guardians, while the other charges and focus the power of a seed from a Tree of Silver Wings so Eris can receive the Pyramid's messages.
During a meeting with the Guardian, the Drifter informed them of his alliance with Eris, and how he believed he had a way to learn the secrets of the Darkness quickly. He wished to use the Haul to travel into the realms of the Nine and ask them what the Darkness was, believing that they might hold the answers. Eris, listening in on the conversation, demanded to know what he was doing, declaring that she would not let him deal with the Nine without being involved, a condition that the Drifter had no issue with.
Personality and traits
Whether making jokes or making threats, the Drifter never loses his smirking, irreverent temperament, or his affable manner of speech. He shows particular enthusiasm as the host of Gambit.
The Drifter sees Light and the Traveler with distrust. Having lived through the age of Warlords, he has personally witnessed the worst that the Light can do, even when wielded by nominally heroic figures like the Iron Lords. 
The Drifter himself resents being a Lightbearer, feeling that his immortality and power have cut him off from some kind of essential humanity. As such, he has never gotten along with his Ghost and treats it solely like a tool, even actively rejecting any help it volunteers. He envies the survival instinct of regular people: with only one life to spend, they live far more vitally than Risen who do nothing but throw away an endless number of their own in constant warfare. 
Even beyond the Light, the Drifter is a suspicious and secretive figure. The only side he's ever on is his own. At various times, he has associated himself with the Shadows of Yor (who he grew disillusioned with and renounced), their "nemesis" Shin Malphur (who he planned to kill), the Spider (a frequent business partner), the Vanguard (which tacitly approves of his experiments with Darkness), and the Nine. The trauma of losing loved ones during the Dark Age has left him uninterested in forming any more close relationships, though the Guardian is a notable exception. According to the Emmisary of the Nine, underneath the Drifter's duplicitous nature and history of violence, he is secretly afraid of everything, including violence itself. He will do everything in his power to avoid having violence inflicted upon him, including kill.
One of the Drifter's most notable eccentricities is his constant hunger. He starved to death repeatedly during the Dark Age and would always be revived still hungry; this seems to have developed into a fixation with food, which has developed further into a complete willingness, even eagerness, to consume Fallen, Hive, and Cabal, and to drink Vex radiolarian fluid.  He particularly enjoys eating Hive. At one point, he described Motes of Dark as "delectable." 
Another of the Drifter's eccentricities is his lack of name. He refused to adopt a name when he was first risen, and has since gone by and discarded several others. These include Germaine, Eli, Dredgen Hope, and Wu Ming (which can be read as "Nameless" or "No Name" in Mandarin Chinese).  "The Drifter" itself started out as a nickname given to him by other people. 
The Drifter is pessimistic about humanity's continued survival. He foresees a second Collapse occurring in the near future, and ultimately is interested only in surviving or escaping it.
In Gambit Match
Derelict Ready Room
Siding with the Vanguard
Siding with the Drifter
Last Wish quotes
The Drifter serves as both the handler and vendor for Gambit.
List of appearances