Guides/Character Guide - Maxwell

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A revised guide by MyCadaver

Last edit 8/25/22

Maxwell is a character best suited for resource gathering and avoiding combat.

How to obtain (Don't Starve)

Throughout Don't Starve, upon creating a world that is not in Hamlet or Shipwrecked, within The Constant you will be able to come across Maxwell's Door. Upon entering said door, you will be transported from Survival Mode to Adventure Mode, which is a level based survival campaign meant to test the skills of your survival as you enter a course of 5 different worlds with frugal starting resources. Upon completing the 5th chapter: Darkness, you will start up the Epilogue: Checkmate, in which [Spoiler Warning]

Perks and Quirks (Don't Starve)

After being unlocked from completing Adventure Mode, Maxwell comes with the most starting items of any character. These starting items include the Codex Umbra, 4 Nightmare Fuel, 1 Purple Gem, Night Armor and a Dark Sword. All of that is accommodated with his natural Sanity regeneration of +20 per minute, the sanity drain of the Sword and Armor are negligible with the provided regeneration, thus making any utilization of wearing sanity-regaining clothes a waste of resources unless it is also an armor (like the Scalemail). Maxwell will never lose sanity even at 100 Wetness with wet clothes.

The Night Armor is incredibly useful earlier on in the game for combat with hostile mobs, as it blocks 95% of damage taken by everything. This is a better alternative to all of the early-game armors.

The Dark Sword can make hunting, attacking enemies, and boss fights easier.

With Maxwell's entry of 4 Nightmare Fuel and Purple Gem means he has a starting advantage to craft a Shadow Manipulator faster than most characters, which will allow access to dangerous and powerful recipes early on.

The Codex Umbra is a character specific item and is definitely his most useful item as he can make Shadow Helpers to help with chores and fighting. Summoning a Puppet will cost 55 max sanity, 2 Nightmare Fuel and 15 health. Any type of the Shadow Helpers last for 2.5 days but can be dispelled at any time by force-attacking them. Shadow Helpers will also follow Maxwell into the ocean with their own shadow Row Boats but do not have a sail in the Shipwrecked DLC.

Cons (Single Player)

Maxwell has incredibly low health compared to other characters which makes combat dangerous if caught without his armor. This is remedied with his beginning Night Armor or any other armor items. Crafting a Meat Effigy will only serve to make Maxwell even more frail due to it lowering his health capacity from 75 to 45 health.

While his sanity regeneration may be beneficial in certain areas, his regeneration can make it hard to get past obelisks or farm Nightmare Fuel which will inhibit a constant production of Shadow Puppets.

Pros and Starting Items (Don't Starve Together)

Maxwell has been changed significantly in terms of starting items and Shadow Helper tweaks within Don't Starve Together. His health remains the same at 75 maximum health points, and he still possesses the Codex Umbra along with what is now 6 Nightmare Fuel instead of 4 when entering the Constant. With all of the above being said, Maxwell no longer starts with the Dark Sword, Night Armor, and a Purple Gem.

Maxwell's sanity regeneration has been cut down to +6.67 per minute which makes it harder to regain lost sanity. However, this also means that Maxwell will be able to stay insane for longer, allowing him to farm Nightmare Fuel more effectively. This same sanity regeneration will negate the loss of any sanity after one player has died and become a ghost if there are no other factors involved. One other thing to help aid being able to go insane would be the amount of maximum sanity that is temporarily lost by having summoned Shadow Helpers.

Maxwell's general role in DST is to be a resource gatherer. This can easily be attributed due to the fact that he can split his mind to be able to have a maximum of 4 separate Shadow Helpers(This only applies to working Shadow Helpers and not Shadow Duelists) specializing in mining rocks, chopping down trees, and digging up tree stumps and graves (If done by a Shadow Digger no sanity will be lost) which also does not even cover the fact that you can be doing anything whilst they work in the background. With this being said, he can clear out entire forests and remove the stumps even faster than Woodie. However, if we take the Werebeaver into account, Woodie can still gather wood at a faster rate than Maxwell. The only real differentiation between what would be considered more effective for garnering as much wood needed would be having a plentiful supply of food to sustain Woodie after he reverts back to his human form. All in all Maxwell is much more suitable for resource gathering as he can be a jack of all trades due to him being able to not only get resources from trees, but also from any type of rock, moon stone, salt stones, or graves without having to put in any physical effort.

Maxwell is also able to read Wickerbottom's books, but unlike Wickerbottom will take 2.5x the amount of sanity loss upon reading any of her books. This can be useful for Maxwell as it allows him to go insane faster, and for Wickerbottom it allows her to not have to deal with the repercussions of trying to regain sanity.

The Codex Umbra has also had a massive overhaul. Now Shadow Puppets no longer require health to be sacrificed in order to summon them, as they only require 2 Nightmare Fuel, the corresponding tool to which trade you want the Shadow Puppets to do, and a cost of maximum sanity loss. The sanity loss is the only thing that can fluctuate and cause inconsistencies with the amount of Shadow Puppets able to have out at once, due to it being -20% per any Shadow: Logger, Miner, or Digger, with a -35% maximum sanity loss per Shadow Duelist.

Please refer to the table below to view the requirements for each specific variation of the Shadow Helpers.

Shadow Helper Description Prerequisites Max Sanity Loss

Shadow Logger

Chops trees closest to the player

2 Nightmare Fuel

1 Axe


Shadow Miner

Mines rocks closest to the player

2 Nightmare Fuel

1 Pickaxe


Shadow Digger

Digs up stumps/graves closest to the player

2 Nightmare Fuel

1 Shovel


Shadow Duelist

Defends the player from attackers as well as attack player's target. Naturally regenerates health.

2 Nightmare Fuel

1 Spear


Summoning Limitations

  • 3 Harvesters - Remaining Sanity: 80
  • 1 Duelist and 2 Harvesters - Remaining Sanity: 50
  • 4 Harvesters - Remaining Sanity: 40
  • 2 Duelists and 1 Harvester - Remaining Sanity: 20

Note: Harvesters are resource-gathering Puppets.

Cons (Don't Starve Together)

Maxwell's cons remain largely the same. He is still frail but he can go insane faster, which as as stated earlier is both a pro and a con. As he no longer starts with armor, getting into fights is dangerous. Creating Telltale Hearts is often not worth the health penalty and it is better to ask somebody else to make one. Maxwell's usefulness often dims the later the game goes on, as his combat potential is weak, and his resource gathering is not as efficient as Woodie's in the late game.

Creating Shadow Duelists should generally be avoided. In combat, they are not very useful, although they do equivalent damage to a Dark Sword strike per swing. However, Duelists' actual damage output is relatively low since only two can be active at any time and they spend the majority of an encounter attempting to kite attacks. In addition, they will die after just 75 damage is dealt to them, just like Maxwell. Duelists can be healed, but armor cannot be applied to them. They automatically attack Monster-type mobs, and non-Monster mobs hostile to Maxwell. This also means that Duelists will attack and kill Glommer without provocation.

(Note: Here, mobs that drop Monster Meat are considered to be in the Monster mob category, with the exception of Deerclops.)

Possible Hidden Perk? Or bug?

It is currently unknown whether an occurrence for many Maxwell players is an easter egg, or simply a bug. The occurrence in question deals with Maxwell and Charlie. While surrounded by darkness, Charlie will attack Maxwell 3 seconds later than any other character. While I have tested this personally, it could simply be lag, but many of my Steam friends have also reported this to me.