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I don't know what They want. They... they just watch.


"They" are a mysterious force in the lore of Don't Starve and Don't Starve Together. Their identities are unknown, but they seem to be beings with a very powerful influence over the Constant and its inhabitants. Their goals are unknown, but it involves kidnapping individuals from the real world and forcing them to survive a parallel dimension, as well as selecting certain survivors to rule upon the Nightmare Throne.

In Don't Starve, the first references to "Them" were featured in Maxwell's dialogue during his final speech at the end of Adventure Mode. Don't Starve Together added more references within the dialogue of the Ancient Fuelweaver and Battlemaster Pugna.

Moon Alter reveal.png Alter

The reveal of the Alter in the Eye of the Storm trailer

Alter,[1] which is a giant looming eye in the sky, was identified[2] as "Them" or at least one[3] of "Them". The name Alter has previously been mentioned by Maxwell in the quotes for the Ancient Lunarune Stones[4] and in the Celestial Champion's spawn code.[5] The surface of Alter is covered with a rocky shell, as it was previously thought to be the "Moon".[6] Its activities can have an impact on the Constant itself.[7] For example, each phase of the Moon Cycle is actually caused by the periodic glow of a fissure in its shell.[8] The shedding of its shell creates a shower of Meteors, with the largest of which falling into the sea to form the Lunar Island.[9]

Alter has a different type of magic than Nightmare Fuel.[10] However, some quotes suggest that it has similar abilities like Nightmare Fuel, by altering creatures in some significant way.[11] Part of its magic seems to work through "sight", so it's difficult for it to affect what is inside the caves.[12] In areas affected by Enlightenment, Alter casts Gestalts as a medium for its communication with the characters.[13] Besides this, it also has a type of specialized Gestalt used during combat.

Alter, it seems, was an important part of the Ancient Civilization culture[14] before their culture came into contact with Nightmare Fuel.[15] They also built the Moon Stone to obtain energy from it.[16]

Other Relevant Quotes

Maxwell's Adventure Mode speech

  • Or maybe They've grown tired of me.
  • Heh. Took them long enough. They'll show you terrible, beautiful things.
  • There wasn't much here when I showed up. Just dust. And the Void. And Them.
  • I don't know what They want. They... they just watch. Unless you get too close. Then... Well, there's a reason I stay so dapper.

Maxwell quotes

Ancient Fuelweaver quotes

  • You are not Them...
  • They are coming. It cannot be stopped.
  • They are unfathomable.
  • Curse Their name!

Battlemaster Pugna quotes

  • They destroy all They touch...

Stage Performance

  • The Enchanted Doll, A Stage Play, Act 3 - Scene 3, Narrator:
    • And so,
    • with the treacherous King gone and forgotten,
    • the little doll became a just and formidable Queen.
    • The people rejoiced across the land,
    • and the magic mirror knew
    • they had finally found the one who would set Them free.

Placeholder.png Trivia

  • The official Chinese translation of Return of Them is 旧神归来, which means "Return of the Elder God(s)." This, along with various quotes regarding "Them", could imply that "Them" are a reference to the Elder Gods from the Cthulhu Mythos. [17]
  • The player community had long theorized that "They" were either shadow creatures, players, or the developers.
  • The giant eye is a recurring motif throughout the game, as seen with the Thulecite Medallion, murals in the Metheus Puzzles, and in the Enlightenment meter.
  • From the comparison of different quotes, it can be seen that Maxwell may have some misunderstanding or bias to "Them".
  • Sometimes a message like this may appear during the loading screen in DST: ""Nothing here is what it seems. If you're reading this, keep an eye on the rabbits, don't trust the statues, and don't mistake that thing hanging in the night sky for the moon...\" -W" This may refer to Alter.

Blueprint.png Gallery


  1. uiclock.lua, self.trans_out_anim = "alter_reveal"
  2. "With the three lunar altars now complete, the truth at the center of this ancient mystery will finally come to light...They've been here all along." from forums topic Don't Starve Together - Return of Them: Eye of The Storm Now Available! Posted on May 5, 2021.
  3. Maxwell:"It communes with us through them."
  4. Maxwell:"'Alter'?"
  5. "alterguardian_phase1"
  6. Maxwell:"'Moon' rock."
  7. Wagstaff:"Amazing! This world's celestial satellite is influential on its terrestrial inhabitants!"
  8. Wickerbottom:"The moon cycles here are beginning to make a lot more sense."
  9. Return of Them: Turn of Tides Launch trailer
  10. Wickerbottom:"This is not the same type of magic I've seen from Maxwell's fuel."
  11. Wickerbottom:"I wonder if its size is natural or caused by lunar mutations?"
  12. Maxwell:"The cave provides sanctuary from the Moon's prying eyes."
  13. Maxwell:"It communes with us through them."
  14. Wortox:"It seems they were quite enamoured with our fickle moon once."
  15. Wickerbottom:"These chambers appear to pre-date the rest of the ruins.", "These glyphs must pre-date their discovery of the shadow fuel."
  16. Maxwell:"The staff is powered by the 'moon's' energy."
  17. The Chinese Return of Them Update post by Klei-Weibo account. Posted on Aug 16, 2019.