Story Line

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Gramophone.png This page contains major spoilers for the plot of Don't Starve and Don't Starve Together as well as the story details of puzzles. Read at your own risk.

The Story Line of Don't Starve is not just contained within Adventure Mode. The developers have expanded the lore through supplemental material such as animated promotional videos or hidden puzzles. Some clues can also be gleaned from character quotes. The Story Line continues in Don't Starve Together, the sequel to Don't Starve.

On September 25, 2014, Klei developer Kevin Forbes[1] posted a rough canonical timeline for Don't Starve. This page will incorporate this. However, as it has been many years since this post, its accuracy can be questioned. For instance, this post was written before the reveal of Shipwrecked.

Glommer's Flower.png See also: William Carter Puzzles, Forbidden Knowledge Trailer Puzzle, Cyclum Puzzles, and Metheus Puzzles

The Earth Timeline

  • 1873 - The Old Mill crossing is constructed.[2]
  • 1890s - 1906: Time period of William Carter's origin story.[1]
    • July 26, 1901: William Carter, a stage performer, departs from Liverpool, England aboard a ship named Quest to move to the United States.[3]
      • In America, William tries to make a living as a stage performer.[4]
    • November 11, 1903: The twins Abigail Lillian Carter and Wendy Carter are born.[5] They are the daughters of Jack Carter, William's brother.
      • William finds himself in debt. He receives a postcard from Jack who lives on the West Coast.[6]
    • August 15, 1904: William buys a ticket for a train going from New York City, New York to San Francisco, California.[2]
    • Tragic Train Crash - August 23, 1904: The Daily Speaker newspaper reports a story about a passenger train striking an Abernethy & Parker Circus wagon at the Old Mill crossing. Dozens are injured, and one man is missing but presumed dead. Based on his description, the man is most likely William Carter. This is the third incident at this crossing since its construction in 1873.[2]
      • During this, William is saved by the circus' strongman, Wolfgang, thanks to him being granted temporary supernatural strength.
      • After the train accident, William writes a postcard to Jack from North Fork, Nevada, in which he reveals he is alive and that he has found a book containing "terrifying new possibilities". [2]
    • June 6, 1905: William Carter places advertisements in The San Francisco Call for a lady assistant. He appears to be working under a new name: "Maxwell The Great." He no longer wears glasses, and appears very confident. He is now living in San Francisco, California.[7]
      • Maxwell appears to be holding rituals and summoning strange beings. He is writing notes about what he's seen.[7]
      • Maxwell has acquired an assistant, Charlie, and is becoming a very popular act. He is using the Shadow Creatures from his book as part of his performance. In a letter to Maxwell, Charlie talks about working on a new finale when she comes back from her sister's place.[8]
    • Earthquake in San Francisco - April 17, 1906: The night before Maxwell and Charlie's last show, Charlie visits Maxwell's apartment. She finds his hidden room behind the fireplace. As she takes a look at his book, shadowy hands appear in the other room. They are vanquished by Maxwell who magically manifests from a photograph on the wall. Charlie uses her lantern to look at the walls of his secret room, where Maxwell has scribbled troubling words and strange symbols. Distressed by what she sees, Charlie runs out of Maxwell's apartment with his outfit. She leaves a letter revealing that he had been out of contact with her for days.[9]
      • That night, Maxwell and Charlie perform their final act. Maxwell attempts to pull shadows from the book, but they try to pull him in. Multiple shadow hands emerge from the book, grabbing Maxwell and Charlie.[10] Charlie is later officially reported missing on this date.[11]
      • A Shadow Watcher stands in the ruined remains of Maxwell's apartment.[9]
  • 1906 - 1910: Unknown "crazy stuff" happens.[1]
    • According to the The Kronicle report, people are still missing after the San Francisco earthquake.[12]
  • 1910ish - 1921: Over this time period, Maxwell starts taking people from the earth into the Constant. They are forced to survive the nightmare world he created.[1]
    • The Exposition Universelle 1910: The Exposition Universelle et Internationale is held.[11]
    • New York State Capitol fire March 29, 1911: A library in New York City burns down.[11][13]
    • April 16, 1914: Wendy Carter writes an entry in her diary: "I keep hearing strange music when I dream... the same song repeating over and over... is it you, Abigail? Are you trying to tell me something?"[14]
    • Voxola burns 1919: The Voxola PR-76 Radio is manufactured in Sidney, Ohio. The factory is destroyed in a fire days after production. Only a few radios remain, one being in the possession of Wilson. The founder of Voxola, Robert Wagstaff, was declared missing the same night as the fire.[15] He was actually sucked into a portal of his own creation[16] which also caused an explosion in his factory. Factory worker Winona is unable to save Wagstaff and the portal breaks down. Winona repairs and reactivates the portal, just in time to see her missing sister Charlie. She tries to pull Charlie through, but Charlie's Night Monster side takes over and pulls Winona into the portal as well.[11]
    • Wilson missing 1921: Wilson, depressed after failing a scientific experiment, receives a message from his Voxola that he may be able to succeed with "secret knowledge", if he thinks he's ready for it. Wilson accepts the offer, and is given the knowledge to build a strange contraption. He is ordered to pull the device's lever by the Voxola. Upon doing so, shadowy hands appear from below Wilson, pulling him into the Constant.[1] The Voxola was Maxwell all along.[17]

The Constant Timeline

Pre-Game Events

Don't Starve and Reign of Giants

  • Wilson spends an indeterminate amount of time in the Constant, dying multiple times.[1]
  • The events of Adventure Mode begins, as Wilson finds Maxwell's Door and survives his challenges.[1]
  • Wilson replaces Maxwell on the Nightmare Throne, and Maxwell becomes one of the survivors.[1]

Don't Starve Together

  • Charlie banishes Wilson into a portal and takes the throne for herself.[18]
  • Maxwell and Wilson meet, form a truce, and build the Jury-Rigged Portal, which joins the survivors' dimensions.[19] Wendy, Wes, and Wolfgang arrive through it just as Charlie takes the portal over and turns it into the Florid Postern.[20] All the other survivors (excluding Walani, Wilbur, Woodlegs, Wilba, Wheeler, and Wagstaff) arrive through the Postern and join forces.
  • Winona arrives in the Constant.
  • Wickerbottom activates the Gateway with the Ancient Key. Wickerbottom, Wilson, Willow, Wigfrid, Wendy, and Wolfgang enter it. Charlie appears at the activated Gateway and draws a white energy out of the structure, though the exact nature of her interference remains unknown. The survivors arrive in a dimension known as the Forge.[23] The inhabitants were banished here by "The Throne".[24] Their leader, Battlemaster Pugna, calls the survivors "Gatekeepers" and accuses them of attempting to return his people to the Throne.[25] The survivors battle a series of increasingly difficult enemies in Battlemaster Pugna's arena before defeating the Grand Forge Boarrior. Pugna surrenders and allows them to use the Molten Gateway.[26]
  • Directly after the events in the Forge, Wilson, Wickerbottom, and Wendy find themselves in a new dimension: the Gorge.[27] For years the goat-like inhabitants of this dimension have been under the threat of the Gnaw, a giant wyrm in the sky that turns those who fail to satiate its appetite into Merms. Only a few beings remain alive, and the world has been left in ruins by the wyrm's rage. The survivors, with the help of Mumsy the goat woman, must cook to satiate the Gnaw and eventually earn enough favors to charge the Ancient Key and grant them an escape. Mumsy, who also considers them Gatekeepers,[28] mentions that "another of [their] kind" passed through her dimension once.[29] The survivors succeed, making their exit through the Mossy Gateway along with Mumsy and her son Billy.
  • A large piece of the Moon lands in the ocean. Wilson, Winona, and Wigfrid build a boat to reach the new island, on which they discover horrifying creatures and a bizarre aura of lunacy.[30]
  • Walter and Wanda arrives in the Constant.
  • Winona, Wilson, and Maxwell explore under the surface of the moon shard, discovering a cave network with mysterious ruins. They used Iridescent Gem to power the building. During their leave, they find Greater Gestalts and Shadow Creatures fighting each other. Charlie show up briefly and disappears into the caves.
    • Sometime between the time the moon shard falls and the time the survivor completes the three lunar altars: Charlie took the Tragic Torch to the Lunar Island. Charlie lifted the torch and sucked Gestalt into it, which then burst into white flames. She looked at the moon through the flames. Inside the moon was a huge eye.
  • The Survivors complete the three Lunar Altars, releasing Mysterious Energy, and in turn caused a huge storm in The Forest. At the same time, Alter, who had been mistaken for a moon in The Constant, -- "Them" or one of "Them" -- reveals itself. In the storm, the survivors meet Wagstaff, who asks them to help him collect static electricity and build a device on top of the mysterious energy. This device is used to harvest energy, but it happens to trigger some kind of defense mechanism, as the Celestial Champion comes down from the sky and destroys this device. Meanwhile, Charlie and two Shadow Creatures arrive at the Ancient Archive.

Placeholder.png Trivia

  • The date and location of Maxwell's last act, April 17, 1906, coincides with the real life 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
  • The 1910 Exposition Universelle et Internationale was held in real life in Brussels, Belgium. Notably, it suffered a large fire that gutted several pavilions.
  • The library fire in New York City that is seen on a newspaper headline in Next of Kin may be a reference to the real life fire that broke out in the library of the New York State Capitol on the same date, March 29, 1911.

Blueprint.png Gallery


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Thread with Kevin's timeline post (on page 2), originally posted on September 25, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 William Carter Puzzle #4: Papers in the desert
  3. William Carter Puzzle #1: William's Inspection card
  4. William Carter Puzzle #2: William Carter the Magician poster
  5. Wendy was between 8-10 years old when she was taken to the Constant. To account for the dates of the fourth William Carter puzzle (August 15, 1904), the date on Wendy's nightstand artwork (April 16, 1914), and the twins' official birth date via the Compendium, November 11, 1903 is the only possible full date of birth.
  6. William Carter Puzzle #3: William's desk papers
  7. 7.0 7.1 William Carter Puzzle #5: Maxwell the Great poster
  8. William Carter Puzzle #6: Maxwell and Charlie poster
  9. 9.0 9.1 William Carter Puzzle #8
  10. William Carter Puzzle #9: The Final Act video
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 The Next of Kin Cinematic Trailer
  12. The Curtain Calls
  13. Full pegboard background from Next of Kin shown during Rhymes With Play #229. A missing poster for Ms. Wickerbottom is in the bottom right corner.
  14. Wendy's Character Refresh is Now Available!. Posted on March 19, 2020.
  15. Post by Kevin about the Voxola, originally posted on April 11, 2013. "The radio is a Voxola PR-76, manufactured in 1919 by the Voxola Radio company of Sidney, Ohio. The radio offered revolutionary sound and reception quality for the time, and was promoted by an intense national marketing campaign. Very few units were actually produced, because the factory was destroyed in a fire only days after production began. Voxola founder Robert Wagstaff went missing the night of the fire, and the company declared bankruptcy soon thereafter."
  16. Jeff Agala on Tumblr: "Winona tries to save Wagstaff from being sucked into a portal of his own design. Rough animation done in Adobe Animate." Posted on April 10, 2020.
  17. The Forbidden Knowledge Cinematic Trailer
  18. The A New Reign Cinematic Trailer
  19. Florid Postern Portrait Frame flavor text: "Wilson and Maxwell constructed the first prototype of the Florid Postern, connecting the survivors' dimensions and allowing them to band together."
  20. Cyclum Puzzles comic
  21. A New Reign trailer
  22. Events of the Atrium raid event
  23. The Forge cinematic
  24. Battlemaster Pugna quotes, Round 6: "... Do you understand the forces you serve?"/"We were severed from the Throne!"/"Trapped in a realm of stone and fire, with no scepter to provide."/"Why serve a power that deserted my people?"/"They destroy all They touch..."/"That is why we cannot let you win."
  25. Battlemaster Pugna quote, Introduction: Gatekeepers? Have you come to return us to the Throne?
  26. Battlemaster Pugna quotes, Victory: "No! My Forge, felled by the Throne's lapdogs!"/"Please. No more, Gatekeepers. We surrender."/"The day is yours, as is the Gateway."
  27. The Gorge cinematic
  28. Mumsy quote: "Are you... Gatekeepers, by chance?"
  29. Mumsy quote: "Another of your kind passed through here once."
  30. Return of Them Turn of Tides cinematic