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 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.
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- 1873 - The Old Mill crossing is constructed.
- 1890s - 1906: Time period of William Carter's origin story.
- July 26, 1901: William Carter, a stage performer, departs from Liverpool, England aboard a ship named Quest to move to the United States.
- August 15, 1904: William buys a ticket for a train going from New York City, New York to San Francisco, California.
- August 23, 1904: The Daily Speaker newspaper has 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 and 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.
- June 6, 1905: William Carter requisitions 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.
- Maxwell appears to be holding rituals and summoning strange beings. He is writing notes about what he's seen.
- Maxwell has acquired an assistant, Charlie, and has become 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.
- 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 his lantern to look at the walls of his secret room, where Maxwell has scribbled troubling words and strange symbols. Distressed by what she sees, she runs out of the apartment with his outfit. She leaves a letter revealing that he had been out of contact with her for days.
- 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.
- A Shadow Watcher stands in the ruined remains of Maxwell's apartment.
- Maxwell takes the Nightmare Throne becoming the "king" of The Constant, bending it to his will and creating many creatures to inhabit it. Charlie becomes the Night Monster.
- 1906 - 1910ish: Unknown "crazy stuff" happens.
- 1910ish - 1921: Over this time period, Maxwell starts taking people from the real world into The Constant. They are forced to survive the nightmare world he created.
- 1910: The Exposition Universelle et Internationale is held.
- March 29, 1911: A library in New York City burns down.
- 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, went missing the same night as the fire. Someone presumed to be Wagstaff is sucked into a strange portal in an office. Factory worker Winona runs to investigate while the other workers escape. She is unable to save Wagstaff and the portal breaks down. Winona repairs and reactivates the portal, and sees 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.
- 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. The Voxola was Maxwell all along.
Don't Starve and Reign of Giants
- Wilson spends an indeterminate amount of time in The Constant, dying multiple times.
- The events of Adventure Mode begins, as Wilson finds Maxwell's Door and survives his challenges.
- Wilson replaces Maxwell on the Nightmare Throne, and Maxwell becomes one of the survivors.
Don't Starve Together
- Charlie banishes Wilson back to The Constant and takes the throne for herself.
- Maxwell and Wilson meet, form a truce, and build the Jury-Rigged Portal, which joins the survivors' dimensions. Wendy, Wes, and Wolfgang arrive through it just as Charlie takes the portal over and turns it into the Florid Postern. All the other survivors (excluding Walani, Wilbur, Woodlegs, Wilba, Wheeler and Wagstaff) arrive through the Postern and join forces.
- Wilson, Wendy, Wickerbottom, and Webber fight the Ancient Fuelweaver. Eventually, the Fuelweaver is taken away by Charlie. The Ancient Gateway destabilizes.
- Winona arrives through a portal similar to the Ancient Gateway, attempting to rescue her sister. Her profile can be seen through the Ancient Gateway as Charlie picks a rose from the ground.
- 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. The inhabitants were banished here by "the Throne". Their leader, Battlemaster Pugna, calls the survivors "Gatekeepers" and accuses them of attempting to return his people to the Throne. 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.
- Directly after the events in the Forge, Wilson, Wickerbottom, and Wendy find themselves in a new dimension: the Elder Bog. 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, mentions that "another of [their] kind" passed through her dimension once. 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.
- 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 pavillions.
- 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.
- Thread with Kevin's timeline post (on page 2), originally posted on September 25, 2014
- William Carter Puzzle #4: Papers in the desert
- William Carter Puzzle #1: William's Inspection card
- William Carter Puzzle #2: William Carter the Magician poster
- William Carter Puzzle #3: William's desk papers
- William Carter Puzzle #5: Maxwell the Great poster
- William Carter Puzzle #6: Maxwell and Charlie poster
- William Carter Puzzle #8
- William Carter Puzzle #9: The Final Act video
- The Next of Kin Cinematic Trailer
- 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.
- 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."
- The Forbidden Knowledge Cinematic Trailer
- The A New Reign Cinematic Trailer
- 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."
- Cyclum Puzzles comic
- A New Reign trailer
- Events of the Atrium raid event
- Winona quote for The Forge, Ancient Gateway (off): "Just like the one I came through..."
- Winona quote for The Gorge, Ancient Gateway: "I might not be good at rescue missions."
- What Lies Beyond?, a video available after completing the Metheus Puzzles.
- The Forge cinematic
- 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."
- Battlemaster Pugna quote, Introduction: Gatekeepers? Have you come to return us to the Throne?
- 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."
- The Gorge cinematic
- Mumsy quote: "Are you... Gatekeepers, by chance?"
- Mumsy quote: "Another of your kind passed through here once."
- Return of Them Turn of Tides cinematic