Video Game / Don't Starve

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dontstarveboxart_1116.png

"Say, pal, you don't look so good. You'd better find something to eat before night comes."
Maxwell

Don't Starve is a Survival Sandbox game by Klei Entertainment. The player awakens in a procedurally generated world, populated by various monsters of varying levels of friendliness (these levels being "indifferent" and "murderous".) From there, it is up to you to survive and explore the world. To do this, one should gather resources, do science, and most importantly... Don't Starve.

Don't Starve started as an app for Google Chrome, but later became available on Steam. It saw a full release on April 23, 2013, with new content continually being added post-release.

On May 1, 2014, a DLC titled "Reign of Giants" was released. It added lots of new content to the game, including two new characters, three more boss monsters, the seasons of Spring and Fall, and a tweaking of the game mechanics.

Also in May 2014, Klei announced a multiplayer feature titled "Don't Starve Together". The closed beta was released the next Summer and Early Access was released on December 15, 2014. Don't Starve Together was officially released on April 21st, 2016.

July 30th 2015 was the day that Don't Starve Shipwrecked was revealed to the public, co-created by Capy Games. Shipwrecked was fully released on March 31st, 2016

Like every other video game and its dog, it has a wiki. The official website can be viewed here.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Most of the characters are just normal people (for a given value of the word "normal") who are caught up in an unusual and terrible situation and forced to survive for as long as they can. In the end and in a depressing subversion of the more optimistic elements of this trope, it's bound to be a losing situation for them, since they'll either die or become permanently imprisoned on the Nightmare Throne.
    • They also don't get any tougher or stronger from spending time on the island; the only way to make permanent improvements to your Day 1 stats is to play as WX-78, who can turn spare mechanical parts into physical upgrades.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Dangling Depth Dweller, a type of spider that resides underground and drops from the ceiling before attacking.
  • Adipose Rex: The Pig Kings. These guys are very useful for one reason: they give you gold if you give them meat! Since meat is a replenishing resource and gold is not, this is one of the few ways to regularly get the best equipment in the game.
  • Adorkable: Wilson. He may be a scientist, but he doesn't really use scientific terms to describe things. For example, he will say, "It's all piney." when he examines a tree. Another is when he is examining a hammer, and states, "Stop! It's time. To hammer things!" Dorky, but cute.
  • All Balloons Have Helium: Wes can blow balloons at the cost of five sanity points apiece. They do indeed float.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: There is a desert biome in Reign of Giants worlds, and there are cacti in abundance there.
  • Alternate Reality Game: Some of the supplemental material in the form of puzzles hidden in trailers and on the game's website.
    • The William Carter Puzzles are a series of puzzles hidden in update trailers in the form of hidden web links. It follows the story of a stage magician named William Carter, who is Maxwell's original identity and details how he came to the Don't Starve world.
    • When the DLC "Reign of Giants" was released, mysterious notes with coordinates could be found in-game. The trailer for the DLC had a hidden link to a website that had a map and a puzzle. Solving the puzzle would lead to comic that showed a teaser for the upcoming multiplayer feature.
    • A parrot named Wolly can be found in-game that provides riddles which, when entered on a website, will give clues about the new DLC, Shipwrecked.
    • Upon the release of Don't Starve Together, a hidden word was found in the Launch Trailer, leading to a new set of puzzles. This follows up on Don't Starve Adventure Mode's ending, after Maxwell was released from the throne, culminating to Charlie taking the throne for herself and the start of her reign.
  • And I Must Scream: The Nightmare Throne.
  • An Ice Person: "Reign of Giants" gives the Deerclops freezing ice attacks.
  • Anime Hair: Wilson, and Willow to some extent. The bones in the characters' hair may explain how, in Forbidden Knowledge, Wilson's hair can be blown back in a small explosion and "boing" back to its original shape.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Apparently, Thulecite, upon which the Ancients in the second level of the Caves built pretty much their whole civilization.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A hidden page shows, among other things, an article about a collision that William Carter/Maxwell somehow survived. The headers say:
    TRAGIC TRAIN CRASH
    Circus wagon struck at crossing
    Many passenger injuries reported
    Elephant unharmed
  • Artistic License – Biology: Even without getting into the fantasy creatures, some of the island's flora and fauna is rather odd. Just a few examples:
    • The "evergreens" look like firs or spruce, but drop pine cones.
    • The "lumpy evergreens", which have no cones, are said by Wickerbottom to be a different species from the regular ones. If they're a separate species, how do they reproduce without seeds?
    • The "saplings" never grow into trees, so they seem to actually be shrubs.
    • The redbirds sound like robins (and are called "robins" in the game code), but look like cardinals.
    • Spiders have six legs and maws full of sharp teeth.
    • Planting a butterfly on the ground somehow turns it into a flower. Killing one has a small chance of producing butter.
    • All farmed plants look like vague cabbage-like things until they bear fruit, regardless of what they eventually end up producing.
    • In the Reign of Giants DLC, when players are struck by lightning and the viewer sees their skeleton, they are shown to have bones in their hair and clothes.
    • The berry bushes that are one of the player's primary food sources are according to Wickerbottom Ardisia crenata (coral ardisia), which is of dubious edibility in real life.
  • Audible Gleam: Golden tools make a "shiny" noise when equipped.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Wilson is capable of growing one.
    • Woodie starts with one, although unlike Wilson’s beard, it cannot grow or be shaved off. Word of God states that his beard may not actually be made of hair. It's shown when Woodie is struck by lightning, his hair has bones in it, and his beard is part of his skull.
    • Webber can grow a beard of spider silk.
  • Badass Bookworm: Wickerbottom qualifies.
  • Bandit Mook: Krampus and Splumonkeys. Krampus will take items only if the player has been "naughty" enough, while Splumonkeys will knock items out of the inventory onto the ground and take them. The player can take everything back from both only by killing them.
    • In the Shipwrecked DLC, Prime Apes resemble above-ground Splumonkeys but will only take items lying on the ground.
    • If a Gobbler pops up, it will eat up any berries left on nearby berry-bushes.
    • To a lesser extent, Frogs will knock items out of your inventory when they attack, but not steal them.
    • Pigs and many monster types will eat food left on the ground. Rock Lobsters and Slurtles do the same thing with rocks.
    • Moleworms will grab any mineral, including Thermal Stones, and hide them in their dens. The dens can be dug up to retrieve the items, but if the moleworm is still around it might just take them again.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Abigail, and the ghosts that occasionally appear when you dig up a grave.
  • Bee Bee Bomb: The Bee Mine (which occasionally shudders and buzzes when laid).
  • Berserk Button: Bunnymen are normally quite docile, but they despise all forms of meat, and having any in your inventory enrages them, turning them hostile.
  • Big Bad: Maxwell is the primary antagonist here, and you can confront him directly in the Adventure Mode. However, it becomes apparent that Maxwell himself is a prisoner of a higher power, the shadow beings.
    • As of Don't Starve Together, Charlie has taken over as the newest antagonist.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Spider Queen. From the DLC Reign of Giants, there's the Dragonfly.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Krampus Sack. Krampus can jump into it to leave the world, and Wickerbottom remarks that the sack is somehow bigger on the inside.
  • The Big Guy: Wolfgang. Although his in-game sprite is practically the same size as the others, only a bit bulkier.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: The pigs.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Fireflies can be caught at night and used to craft the Miner Hat. Light Bulb plants grow in the caves, and are a component of Lanterns. An item just called "Bioluminescence" (presumably bacterial) can be snagged from the seas of Shipwrecked and crafted into Bottle Lanterns.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Most of the male cast have these, except for Webber and Woodie, who have blank white Prophet Eyes . Some mobs also sport black bead eyes.
  • Booby Trap: Be careful when finding random chests. You never know what you might find.
  • Boss Battle: Complete with its own unique theme music. There are currently four boss monsters in the vanilla gamenote  but even if you managed to defeat them there's still more where they came from.
    • The DLC "Reign of Giants" introduces three new bosses note .
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Tallbirds. They tend to be encountered in the same areas as spiders, but they have a ton of health and can kill an unarmored character in two hits. (Unless you're playing as Wolfgang, in which case they kill you in four hits).
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Inverted with Wes. For all the trouble you had to go through to free/unlock him, he turns out to be the weakest playable character. His purpose is to provide a challenge for players who felt the game was too easy.
    • Played straight with Maxwell, who starts the game with several powerful late-game items and has considerable passive sanity regeneration which more than makes up for his low health. Unlocking him requires beating adventure mode by clearing five increasingly-nasty challenge maps, consecutively. Any player capable of beating Darkness likely does not need any more help.
  • Breakable Weapons: Most weapons have a "durability" that appears as a percentage, which lowers every time they're used. They break when the number hits 0. Unlike most games where this mechanic is used, this time it's justified - you can't expect an axe made out of a twig and a piece of flint to be very durable.
  • Buffy Speak: The name of the structure that teleports the player to the next world is called a Wooden Thing. The parts that must be combined with the Wooden Thing are the Box Thing, Crank Thing, Ring Thing, and Metal Potato Thing (the last of which is the reason why the fully assembled Wooden Thing is often called a Teleportato).
    • Wendy's description of the Purple Gem.
    Wendy: Purple like a... purple thing.
  • Bullfight Boss: Though not exactly a boss, the Clockwork Rook will charge at you at an alarming rate. It will often break through marble structures and even trample its own allies to get to you.
    • Also the behavior of the Ancient Guardian, which the Clockwork Rook resembles.
  • Canada, Eh?: Woodie.
  • Captain Obvious: Every character has their moment, simply calling something what it is upon examination.
    Wendy: "The darkness! It is too dark!
  • Cast From Sanity: Using magic staves consume some amount of the player's sanity, in addition to bringing the staff one step close to breaking.
  • Chess Motifs: One of the many mysterious themes in the game, it’s present here in the form of Clockwork Bishops, Clockwork Knights, and a single Clockwork Rook, all of whom guard the Teleportato to the next world in both Sandbox and Adventure Mode.
  • Combat Tentacles: The subterranean swamp monster, otherwise known as the tentacle, is an ambush monster that can be found within swamp/marsh biomes. You never get to see the creature it's attached to but regardless it is hostile towards anything that comes near it. What makes it worse is that it remains hidden until you're inches away from it and it also deals massive amount of damage. If you manage to kill it you'll get the spiky part of its tentacle which you can wield and attack foes with. So, in essence, you can technically obtain a combat tentacle, too.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: The spacebar does a lot for you.
  • Continuing Is Painful: If you die in the Adventure Mode, you get back to the Survival Mode with all the items you had when you left. This means you will have to go through all 5 chapters again.
  • Cosmetic Award: The game's creators consciously avoided giving this game any achievements on Steam because they didn't want to force players into any particular actions or routes during the game. The PS4 version of the game needed to have achievements, so what they did was pare it down to the most basic of basics, one trophy each for each playable character, and an "Accomploshrine" that doesn't do anything except provide you with a trophy. Might be Biting-the-Hand Humor at that.
  • Creepy Child:
  • Creepy Good: You can create clockwork monsters from piles of scraps. They may look scarier than regular clockwork monsters, but they're friendly and will protect you.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: All of the human characters have these, some more noticeable than others.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Having lower health does not incur any penalties to your character. You'll perform just as well as you were when you have full health.
    • Low hunger means Wolfgang becomes weaker, though he is fine at low health.
  • Cute Monster: The art style of the whole game fits this in general for many of the mobs encountered in the game. But special mention goes to the Spiders and their variants, who adorably cower in fear from light sources and purr when asleep. Reign of Giants introduces Glommer; a cute and completely harmless insectoid monster that only follows you around and produce fuel with his goop.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Inverted by friendly Pig and Bunnymen followers, along with the resident Cute Monster Glommer because being surrounded by their cuteness actually increases your sanity and can help fight sanity drops during night time. (Although you have to be standing right beside them constantly in order to take advantage of the passive increase.)
  • Cyclops: The Deerclops, of course. He drops his eye when he dies, which is a rare and useful item.
  • Darkness Equals Death: A literal interpretation with The Night Monster, which may be a reference to Zork.
    • Except for Willow, who has a lighter that functions as a torch which never goes out.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Similar to Realm of the Mad God, dying used to be the only way to gain experience. Nowadays you can assemble and activate a device known as "The Wooden Thing", or Teleportato, to go to the next world and collect your XP. However, it's a pretty big slap, as you have to start the entire world from scratch when you die.
  • Detect Evil: In a way. Many monsters have an insanity aura, meaning characters will lose sanity when they're close to them. Since Tentacles are hidden in the ground until mobs get very near, watching the sanity meter for the downward arrow is a good way to detect if a Tentacle is nearby and act accordingly.
  • Difficulty Spike:
    • Surviving 'til Winter is an accomplishment. Surviving through Winter is an even greater one.
    • Then comes "Reign of Giants" DLC. Surviving Autumn til Winter takes little effort. Surviving through Winter is an accomplishment. Then comes Spring with its endless rain, sanity drain and dropping body temperatures. THEN comes Summer with constant Overheating, scorched plants, and Spontaneous Human Combustion. And that's without taking the eponymous Giants into consideration.
  • Diurnal Nocturnal Animal: rabbits and frogs are strictly diurnal in the game; in real life both tend towards crepuscular.
  • Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Played straight. You won't drop your equipped tool no matter how many times you get hit, unless you encounter frogs or Splumonkeys, who have an attack that drops your items with each hit.
    • In the Reign of Giants DLC, there are enemies that can make you drop your equipped tool. And if you are wet enough, there's a chance for your tool to be dropped.
  • Downer Ending: The ending to Adventure Mode has you figure out that Maxwell is merely a pawn for the Shadowy Forces that run the world and has actually been trapped on a Throne of Nightmares for an eternity, and if you free him from the Nightmare Throne it will trap whoever you are currently playing as there forever... or until you beat Adventure Mode again.
    • Slightly softened by Don't Starve Together, in which the player character (canonically Wilson) is freed from the Nightmare Throne by Charlie and cast back into the wilderness.
  • Dummied Out:
    • Several unimplemented characters have been found in the game's files. Among them are a demon, a witch, and the Pyro from Team Fortress 2. Many of the playable characters were only found in the game's files before they were implemented.
    • There are also several unimplemented items, the most notable being the long pig from Don't Starve Together. Originally players would drop long pig (human flesh) when they die, but the developers thought that eating people was too dark. Naturally, there is a mod that re-enables it.
  • Easter Egg: The Old Bell summons Bigfoot, a giant reptilian foot that crushes anything in its path. The rest of the body normally can't be seen, but by using console commands, you can see that the rest of Bigfoot is a bony stump with a brain attached.
  • Edible Bludgeon: The Ham Bat. Though despite being made of meat, it's not actually edible.
  • The Edwardian Era: Maxwell and Charlie are from this time, according to the William Carter Puzzles. One of the included letters implies that Wendy might have come from there as well.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All of the human characters in the game prior to Shipwrecked have pale white skin and most have dark hair. The exceptions are Wendy (blonde), Woodie (brownish-red hair) and Wigfrid (brighter red hair).
  • Eldritch Abomination: Let's see... First we have the Night Monster, which kills you if you are in the dark for too long, and as of the sanity update, there are the delightfully named Crawling Horrors, invisible, tentacled tick/mite things, as well as multi-legged beaked snake things, shadowy hands, and many others.
    • Just to emphasize this trope, they only spawn at low sanity levels, and they drop literal Nightmare Fuel. Yes, Nightmare Fuel is an item in this game.
    • The Ancients may have worshipped or even harnessed Eldritch Abominations, considering the quotes from some characters upon examining the Ancient Pseudoscience Station.
  • Eldritch Location: The Ruins, which sit beneath the Caves. Dark magic constantly flows in and out of them, causing the Nightmare Cycle. Most of the time, it's hardly any more dangerous than the Caves, but at high tide, the statues' faces contort into expressions of despair that cry tears of Nightmare Fuel, and shadow monsters will spawn in droves regardless of the player's sanity level. It's implied that the Nightmare Cycle was caused by the Ancients that built what became the Ruins, and in turn was what made that civilization into the Ruins.
  • Electric Jellyfish: The—well—Jellyfish— from the the Shipwrecked DLC.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The spiders have a much more dangerous variant called the spider warriors. Basically, they're gigantic jumping spiders which makes them a lot more difficult to run away from: luckily, they only come out when you attack their den or when spawned by a Spider Queen.
    • Hounds have Red and Blue variants (for summer and winter, respectively). They set you on fire or freeze you.
  • Endless Game: Survival Mode. The introduction of Adventure Mode gave the game a proper ending.
  • Enemy Summoner:
    • A Spider Queen, who don't summon Spiders and Spider Warriors so much as she gives birth to them.
    • Wargs call hounds to their aid by howling.
    • In the multiplayer expansion Don't Starve Together the Dragonfly will spawn Lavae to aid it if attacked.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Splumonkeys, monkeys that dwell in caves and live inside barrels. They rob players of their inventory and throw manure in combat. If a Splumonkey manages to steal a hat, it'll wear the hat.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Pengulls. They’ve been described as classy.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Former provider of the page image.
    • Webber has it worse than other characters: while spiders ignore him, or even become his friends with an offering of meat, every other mob able to attack in some way will hunt him on sight.
  • Evil Costume Switch: The Shadow Collection.
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Tentacle Spike, Krampus Sack, Tam o' Shanter, Snurtle Shell Armor, and Shelmet.
  • Experience Meter: Unlike the usual, your experience meter appears when you die (or when you move to the next world map) and increases depending on how many days you survived.
  • Eye of Newt: Some of the Magic recipes that require parts from living creatures. For instance, the Meat Effigy, which requires beard hair, but not necessarily from a person's beard. Arguably the Pan Flute, since the Mandrake it consumes doesn't seem to be visible anywhere on the item.
    • The most blatant example is the Old Bell in Reign of Giants, which bears absolutely no resemblance to the ingredients used to craft it.
  • Face Hugger: The Slurpers do this. When they attach, they take up the head slot of the character's inventory, dropping whatever is there. When attached, they provide light and slowly drain the character's hunger. Make of that what you will.
  • Fantastic Flora: Lureplants, whose "eyes" are their only defense and will eat anything.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The entire point of Yellow Gems. The two items crafted from them (the Magiluminescence amulet and the Star Caller's Staff) are both primarily light sources, though they have extra benefits on the side.
  • Fire of Comfort: Willow’s sanity will increase when she is near a fire.
  • Fish People: The Merms, who often drop fish when killed. Developers' explanation? "They are made of fish".
  • Flower Motif: The Florid Postern in Don't Starve Together noticeable roses attached to it. This is the sign of Charlie's reign of the world.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Charlie, the Night Monster and, in Don't Starve Together, the new ruler of the Nightmare Throne.
  • Fog of War: Don't Starve Together has this to balance out the multiplayer. With this active, what is shown on the map is the last version seen.
  • Forbidden Fruit: As revealed in Wilson's character intro trailer, Maxwell offered him forbidden scientific knowledge in exchange of helping him, and Wilson being out of original ideas, gave in.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In October 2013, Klei released a series of puzzles to accompany the "All's Well That Maxwell" update. Dubbed the William Carter puzzles by fans, it elaborates on Maxwell's backstory as well as that of a girl named Charlie. The same Charlie confirmed to be the Night Monster. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
  • For SCIENCE: The crafting aspects in the game, as well as Wilson's motivation for building the Wooden Thing in his backstory.
  • invokedFridge Logic:
    • In the DLC Reign of Giants, if Webber comes across his skeleton and examines it, he wonders what happened to the spider parts, since he's not entirely human.
    • Despite being a robot, WX-78 can be bitten by mosquitoes. It wonders why they'd bite a bloodless machine like itself.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Assumed to be the Bottlenosed Ballphin.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Chopping down a tree in the vicinity of other trees will very rarely spawn a Tree Guardian. For added fun, it happens to be a boss level monster.
    • Said Tree Guardian can also be pacified by planting enough pine cones, or balancing out what you're taking from the environment.
  • Game Mod:
    • The first official mod was released in October 2013, titled The Screecher. It was also the first total conversion mod to be possible on the game's engine.
    • Steam has a workshop for the PC version. There's also an in-game link to a community filled with mods that aren't on the workshop. This includes, amongst other things, the ability to play as Freddy Fazbear and friends, Markiplier, and The Tf2 mercs, because of course it does.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Freeing Maxwell unlocks him as a playable character, but your own character gets trapped in his place. You're not locked out of using them, however, and can even re-enter Adventure Mode and rescue them with themselves.
  • Gameplay Automation: The space bar. Use it to chop down entire forests, strip mine rock fields, harvest crops, pick up items and kill hordes of monsters with only one button.
  • Geo Effects: Swamps and spider webs impede movement, while cobblestone and dirt roads boost movement speed.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: In "Reign of Giants", an item called the Old Bell can summon Bigfoot, a giant reptilian foot that squashes anything it steps on. It dwarfs the already huge boss monsters and can kill them in one stomp.
  • Giant Spider: The spiders, the most common hostile mob in the game. They live inside spider dens and roam around near it at night. They're about the same size as your player character's head. There's also an even larger spider called the spider queen. (She is, essentially the den that the smaller spiders live in.)
  • Giant Squid: The Quacken, a Shipwrecked boss which can spawn when trawling in the open ocean. It's easily the biggest creature in the entire game.
  • Go for the Eye: Wilson's battle cry.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: There are regular pickaxes, axes, and shovels made from flint, and there are golden variants of those that are more durable (the logic of which is pointed out by some characters).
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When Wilson examines a sewing kit, he will comment, "Darn it! Darn it all to heck!!
  • G-Rated Sex: When Beefalo are in mating season, their babies spawn off-screen.
  • Gravity Barrier: There are no beaches. The edges of the game world are surrounded by cliffs.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Bat Bat is a giant Batilisk wing that not only damages foes but gives health to the player with each hit, and the Tentacle Spike, the end of a Tentacle, is the most damaging item in the game with no harmful effects on the user.
  • Hammer Space: The characters' pockets can hold a great number of items, including wall segments and flooring.
  • Harmful Healing: Monster Meat is very filling, but dramatically lowers your health. The same goes for Monster Lasagna. The mushrooms qualify too; typically, eating a mushroom will recover one stat and lower another.
  • Harmless Electrocution:
    • WX-78 will not only become supercharged upon being zapped, but will come out of it with a large health boost. It will take a toll on the ol’ Sanity Meter though.
    • Other characters take a bit of damage from being struck by lightning, but that's about it.
  • Healing Potion: Healing Salve and Honey Poultice.
  • Heal Thyself: Spiders drop their glands when killed, which can be used to restore a pittance of health. Alternatively, you can save them and gather some ashes and rocks to craft a healing salve, or create a poultice using papyrus and honey. Several food items can also heal you up a little bit as well.
  • Hearts Are Health: The Life Meter is represented as a heart in a red circle that shrivels as the character's health lowers.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Distorted growls and moans generally signify the approach of a powerful mob. Hounds bark, a distant Deerclops growls and shakes the earth, and the Night Monster hisses periodically. Player characters have a tendency to panic at the noise, which also provides a warning to those who have their sound off.
  • Heroic Mime: Wes, who gets bonus points for being an actual mime.
  • Hit Points: Hover you cursor over the Life Meter and you'll see exactly how much HP you have left.
  • Hive Mind: The Giant Spiders and the bees. Attack one of them or one of their dens/hives and all of them will attack you. Each have their own worker and warrior classes. In the single-player game, however, only the spiders have a queen, who grows out of the den itself when it gets too big. Defeat her, and you can wear her body as a hat to control the hivemind yourself.
  • Hive Queen: As of the "Long Live the Queen" update, the colonial spiders of the game now have a queen.
    • Updates to Don't Starve Together have added a queen for the bees to that version, but not single-player.
  • Hot Bar: It also acts as your item storage.
  • Hot Blade: Obsidian equipment heats up if used repeatedly in a short amount of time. As they charge up, they begin to radiate light and warmth, making them useful at night, in caves, and during winter, but if they get too hot, they start igniting things you hit with them.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: When winter rolls around, a pair of Scottish walruses named MacTusk and Wee MacTusk emerge from their igloos to hunt you. These blubbery Scots sic their ice hounds on you before using their blowguns to finish the job. To make matters worse, they're smart enough to keep their distance when you get close, so it's best to fight ranged weapons with ranged weapons.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Many foods have healing effects, with the best ones being even better than the dedicated healing items.
  • I Call It "Vera": Woodie’s possessed, sweet-talking axe is named Lucy.
  • Idle Animation: Every playable character in the game does the same idle animations. When they're facing the camera they scratch their heads, when they're facing sideways they kick the dirt and when they're facing away from the camera they scratch their backs. Depending on their sanity, they might also shake their heads back and forth in paranoia or wince from having a headache. If they're freezing, they'll huddle and shiver, and when they're hungry, they'll rub their stomachs. In the Reign of Giants, characters overheating will wipe their foreheads.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: "Maxy" to Charlie when the latter attacks the former. It never works...
  • Improbable Weapon User: Items that can be held can also be used as weapons, including torches, umbrellas, and fishing rods. Sometimes, such as with the Divining Rod, attacking with it requires you to hold down the Force Attack key because even the developers weren't particularly intending for you to use it as a weapon. Most of them don't do a lot of damage, but if the enemy you're fighting is weak or easily stunlocked you might not need a lot of firepower.
    • The Weather Pain (from Reign of Giants) is a weather vane that is meant to be a weapon, as it fires a whirlwind projectile at a target. Wickerbottom comments that she's never seen such an item used as a weapon.
  • Improvised Umbrella: The Pretty Parasol is made out of twigs, cut grass, and petals. While it doesn't provide as much protection as the regular Umbrella, it is easier to craft and provides a sanity boost when used.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: The majority of the game's dialogues come from examining things.
  • Instant Sedation: Subverted with sleep darts, as they can take several uses to sedate one target depending on its size, but played straight with the Pan Flute and Mandrake.
  • Interface Screw: This starts to happen when your character's Sanity Meter decreases. It gets worse the more the meter decays.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game has a day and night cycle with night time being noticeably shorter but still very dangerous. Each cycle lasts eight minutes.
  • Ironic Name: The tree which you get Living Logs from, that has a face on it and looks threatening, is called "Totally Normal Tree".
  • Item Crafting: Nearly every usable thing in the game.
  • Jackalope: The rabbits were originally called Jackalopes and they still have the horns.
  • Joke Character: Wes has lower health, sanity, and hunger than the other characters, and isn't able to properly examine things (he will just make odd gestures and remain silent). Word of God says he was introduced to challenge players who thought the core game was too easy.
  • Joke Item: The Ham Bat, which originally did the same damage as a Spear but is more costly and can spoil; and the Powder Cake, very similar to a real life Twinkie, which only decreases health, can't be fed to allies, and takes 18,750 days to spoil.note 
    • The Ham Bat has now been fixed so that it does nearly TWICE as much damage as the spear on top of having infinite use for as long as it's fresh making it a Lethal Joke Item.
  • Just Add Water: Some of the crafting recipes make sense, and some don't. Four logs, four rocks, and a hunk of gold make a Science Machine. Two sheets of paper and one or two other items make a book. Two pieces of flint and some twigs make an axe. Corn and honey make what's basically a Twinkie. And so on.
  • Karma Meter: Killing too many innocent animals results in Krampus appearing and stealing the items in your chest.
  • Killer Robot: One of the unlockable characters is WX-78, a robot stated to have a homicidal hatred for all organic life.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The player can destroy pig houses even with the pig still inside and take all the components without the pigs minding.
  • The Krampus: A monster named after this shows up if the player kills to many innocent animals.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot of the characters wonder why golden tools are more durable than flint-based ones.
    Generic: "Hey, isn't gold really soft?"
    WX-78: "GOLD IS MORE DURABLE?"
    Maxwell "Must be game logic."
    • Maxwell questions how an entire wall can fit into his inventory.
    "Pocket-sized wall pieces. Yup."
    • Butterflies rarely drop butter when killed. This is pointed out by one of the characters: "Some puns are irresistible".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Killing too many non-aggressive creatures will make Krampus spawn. He is very fast and will break your chests, grab your stuff, and run away.
  • Letter Motif: All the playable characters (Wilson, Willow, Wolfgang, Wendy, WX-78, Wickerbottom, Woodie, Wes William Carter, Wigfrid, and Webber) have names that begin with 'W'. As a matter of fact, the only ones who breaks this rule are the NPCs Maxwell and Abigail.
    • Lampshaded in that Maxwell's playable character file is called Waxwell. And his real name is William Carter.
  • Level-Map Display: It only displays your current location and some objects and structures in the game.
  • Life Drain: The Bat Bat heals the player for 6.8 health every time it hits an enemy.
  • Life Meter: The game's life meter consist of a circle filled with red that decreases when damaged. Along with it is a heart icon that slowly shatters and disintegrates as your health meter nears zero. This game also has a sanity meter, a hunger meter, and (in Reign of Giants) a wetness meter.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: See Harmless Electrocution.
  • Loading Screen: The game has one every time a new map is generated. Rather than actually say what parts of the game are loading, the loading screen will say things like, "Iterating upon spiders", "Reticulating Wilson's beard", "Embiggening game theory", and "Framing a keen sense of despair".
  • Loud of War: When the player character finds Maxwell, he's stuck in the Nightmare Throne while the phonograph next to it plays the same ragtime song over and over. Turning it off will make Maxwell thank the character and say that he's been listening to it for an eternity.
  • Lunacy: A full moon causes all sorts of weird things to happen such as:
    • The native pig people of the game transform into werepigs every full moon. They'll also turn into werepigs if they eat enough damaging food, usually in the form of monster meat.
    • Woodie turns into a Werebeaver during a full moon or when he chops down trees too quickly.
    • The eyes of the decapitated pig and merm heads placed on pikes that you find throughout the game glow eerily. They make you lose sanity if you stand near them and drop Nightmare Fuel if you smash them with a hammer.
    • Flowers turn into Evil Flowers.
    • Mushrooms turn into Mushtrees.
    • Any graves you come across will have a ghost.
    • If you go to Glommer's Statue during a full moon it'll have a Glommer's Flower on it. Pick the Flower and Glommer, a fuzzy, flying, insectoid thing will follow you around as long as you have the flower on your person.
  • Magitek: The Shadow Manipulator. A tier 3 science machine that is made with, and seems to run on Nightmare Fuel and shadows.
  • Mama Bear: If you steal a tallbird egg, the parent will chase you until it dies or it kills you.
  • Mana: The sanity meter can be thought of a a mana pool, as characters lose some sanity when using magic items.
  • Metal Slime: Koalefants. They can only be encountered through following animal tracks that rarely spawn in the world and actively flee when approached, making hitting them with melee weapons impossible. Managing to kill one will give you enough meat to survive a week in-game and their trunk which can be cooked to fill most characters's hunger entirely or be sewn into a jacket for Winter.
  • Mighty Lumberjack: Woodie, who comes complete with a Badass Beard and a possessed axe, affectionately named “Lucy”.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: This game has plenty.
    • Rabbits are Jackalopes in all but name.
    • There are also the Beefalos which seem to have a body of a yak, antelope-like horns and, most bizarre of all, a monkey's head.
    • The Deerclops is a deer Cyclops.
    • Pengulls are a mix between a penguin and a gull, the beak noticeably being the gull part.
    • The Koalefant has the furry body and general cuteness of a koala, but it has the legs, tusks, and trunk like an elephant.
    • Slurtles and Snurtles, portmanteaus of "slug" and "turtle", and "snail" and "turtle", respectively.
    • From Reign of Giants DLC:
      • The Catcoon is a cat-ish, raccoon-ish critter that behaves much like a cat.
      • The Dragonfly is a giant fly with draconic characteristics, like the ability to breathe fire.
      • Bear + badger = Bearger.
      • Moose + Goose = ... Moose. Or Goose. The label in-game alternates between the two. The mob can lay eggs that hatch into Moslings.
    • And from Shipwrecked:
      • Crabbits look like crabs and act like rabbits.
      • Dogfish are fish with dog ears.
      • Stink Rays are striped stingrays that spray poisonous gas like a skunk.
      • Tiger + Shark = Tiger Shark.
      • Subversion: the name "Quacken" implies a Giant Squid mixed with a duck, but the Quacken is just a giant squid.
    • From Don't Starve Together is the Ewecus, a grotesque, mucus-spitting sheep.
    • On the plant side of things, birchnut trees. Also while they're not explicitly called such, the evergreens have characteristics of both firs and pines.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: The aptly-named Cave Banana Trees, of which most of the characters will comment on the absurdity. In Shipwrecked, there's Elephant Cacti, growing on a volcano in the middle of a tropical ocean.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: The Bush Hat is a berry bush hat. When in use, the player appears to be a regular bush, and enemies won't attack. The disguise doesn't work on the Night Monster, turkeys, timed hound attacks, and mobs that are already pursuing the player.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Most of the female characters have blank white eyes for some reason. The only exceptions are Wickerbottom and Charlie. Some mobs also sport white eyes.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Lureplants are surrounded by Eyeplants that will eat birds, rabbits, and anything that can fit in one's inventory. They're sort of like Bandit Mooks, though they'll eventually digest the animals and food.
  • Mook Maker: Spider Queens will spawn smaller spiders every few seconds. What makes it even worse is that she also spawns the spider warrior variant, and all the while other existing spiders will follow her around, making it extremely difficult to kill her directly without some special tools and advanced tactics.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Growing a beard as Wilson allows you to shave it. With four beards and four pieces of meat, you can create an effigy of yourself, which means you can never die as long as you have a fresh effigy. A full beard also provides Wilson warmth during the winter.
  • Mushroom Samba: Eating 'shrooms relieves some hunger, may restore or damage health, but always takes out a chunk of sanity.
    • Cooked green mushrooms are actually very good for sanity, at the cost of a negligible amount of health loss.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: WX-78, a robot who detests life, will surprisingly be distraught when inspecting gears as they most likely are the destroyed remains of a fellow robot he just killed. Then the player will likely make him eat the gears to grant him a very much needed boost to his stats.
    • Likewise, Webber, a spider, will say the trope if he inspects a Spiderhat as it can only be obtained by killing a "Mommy-Longlegs."
  • Nemean Skinning: The Spiderhat, which is obtained only by killing a Spider Queen.
  • Nice Hat: You can craft headwear in the game. All of them possess unique properties when worn like sanity recovery, built-in light source, warmth during the winter, bee protection or armor.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe, actual fear in liquid form, which can be used in several recipes.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Although the protagonists never do, many other creatures do. A lot. Manure is of vital importance for farming. Pigs will "produce" after you feed them, and Beefalo do it all the time. In fact, it would probably be difficult to find another game that features poop so prominently.
  • Nominal Importance: All pigs are named, but the player can more easily see them when they've been befriended. (Hovering the cursor over an allied pig gives "Examine (name)" instead of "Attack".)
  • Non-Indicative Name: While there is a hunger mechanic, it quickly becomes apparent that starvation is only one of your worries.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The Moose/Goose is rather goofy looking compared to the other giants. Not that it's any less dangerous.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: A Dummied Out feature in Don't Starve Together. Players would've dropped "long pig" (human flesh) when they die. It acts like monster meat, meaning you can eat it at the cost of health and sanity. However, it was removed because the developers thought it was too dark.
    • There are mods to add it back in, with the developers' unofficial blessing.
  • No Periods, Period: Played straight for the human characters but averted for the animals, similar to the poop situation. Beefalo go into heat during mating season, indicated by a redness on their backside. During this time, they become quite aggressive.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The game's plot can be summarized with "You are on an island; don't die". This was changed with the introduction of Adventure Mode and subsequent puzzles strewn through various trailers.
  • Ocean Madness: Shipwrecked DLC. You start off on an island, miles and miles and miles away from civilization. (Not that there was any from the game's beginning anyway) While sailing, you can hit waves to get a speed boost, but they make you wet, and wetness leads to being insane.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Plays when a Night Hand appears.
  • One-Gender Race: Tallbirds are all female since there is always one to a nest.
  • Only One Name: With the exception of Wilson and Maxwell/ William Carter, every other playable character only has one known name.
  • Organ Drops: Many enemies drop body parts once killed.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • Full moons and digging up graves can summon vengeful ghosts that attack anyone who disturbs their grave.
    • Wendy can summon Abigail, the ghost of her dead sister. Abigail will follow Wendy and protect her from harm.
    • In Don't Starve Together, players will turn into ghosts when they die (even WX-78 the robot). As ghosts, players can haunt items and structures, which sometimes sets them on fire. If they get tired of the afterlife, they can be resurrected using a touch stone, meat effigy, life giving amulet, or a tell-tale heart.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • Pigs stuck outside during a full moon or given four health-damaging foods (mostly monster meat) transform into Werepigs, retaining whatever hats they had as Pigs. They will eat all the food they find on the ground before attacking the nearest living thing. A Werepig will stop to eat something even while chasing or fighting someone. The transformation lasts 2 minutes or until the sun rises.
    • Woodie transforms into a Werebeaver on a full moon or when he chops trees too many times in a short period. The only way to stay as a Werebeaver indefinitely is to gnaw on trees and foliage, filling a meter. The meter diminishes over time or when Woodie gets damaged, and when it empties, he becomes human again. Thus, on a bad night, your gameplay might be interrupted by your befriended Pigs and yourself becoming Were-critters.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • When you're wearing a Beefalo Hat, Beefalo in heat don't attack you when you go near them. Presumably, they think you're a Beefalo too, or at least no threat.
    • Wearing a Spiderhat (a Spider Queen's head) will make Spiders and Spider Warriors follow you and fight for you, even against a Spider Queen. Pigs, even those you've befriended, will see you as an enemy and attack.
  • Patchwork Map: There's not much rhyme or reason to the way the world generator stitches biomes together. It's possible for a soggy swamp to suddenly give way to a parched desert, and then to a dense evergreen forest.
  • Perma Death: If you die and don't have an item to revive you, you will have to start over in a new world.
  • Petting Zoo People: The indigenous pig peoplenote . They live and spawn in pig houses and they will become your ally/minion once you've given them meat. They will chop your trees and fight your enemies (even at the cost of their own lives) just as long as you keep feeding them meat.
  • Pig Man: There are pigmen in the game. They are simply known as "pigs" in-game. They live in pig houses or villages and worship their own pig king. You can befriend one by giving them meat,and you can also trade with the pig king with grave-dug objects like lawn gnomes or buttons in exchange for gold nuggets.
  • Player Character: In the beginning you'll start out with Wilson, unlocking new characters for you to play with as you level up.
  • Point of No Return: Once you activate the "Wooden Thing" to travel to another random world map, you'll never be able to go back to the previous world unless you die in which case you'll have all the equipment you owned from BEFORE you used the Wooden Thing. You'll lose all of your adventure mode progress though.
  • Power Crystal: There are several gems available in the game, all of which are used to craft magic items. Unless dug up from graves, they're obtainable in the late game.
  • Power-Up Letdown: You can use a carrot to bait a trap, and it'll catch a bunny faster. However, in this game there's so little to eat in a rabbit that you might as well have just eaten the carrot.
  • Power-Up Magnet: The Lazy Forager, the amulet crafted from Orange Gems, is an Auto-Gained type. While wearing it, items on the ground nearby will teleport into your inventory.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: A weapon useful for attacking from a range. As long as the target doesn't move too far, the boomerang will always hit and return to the player.
  • Protagonist Without a Past: So far only Wilson has been giving a proper story for why he's in the Don't Starve world, though it's been suggested that everyone is there because of a certain brand of radio.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: The Prestihatitator, a machine that is basically a magic top hat, has a chance of spawning a rabbit each time it is used.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Sure, all of the characters have unique strengths and weaknesses, but it has nothing to do with their gender. The weakest character (Wes) and the frailest character (Maxwell) are male, and the strongest character (Wigfrid) is female. The only female character to be weaker than the default is Wendy, but she may or may not be a prepubescent child based on some of her quotes; if that's the case, her age probably has more to do with it than her gender. (Webber doesn't make a very good comparison, since while he's confirmed to be a kid he's also a spider monster who has more health than most of the adults.)
  • Purple Is the New Black: Of all the gem colors, the Purple Gem is mostly used in "dark" items like the Shadow Manipulator and Nightmare Amulet. Maxwell starts with one in his inventory.
  • Pyromaniac: Willow. Her special abilities include being immune to fire, being able to restore sanity by standing next to an open flame, and starting fires if her sanity gets too low. The other characters can burn down trees and spider's nests with torches.
  • Random Drop: Most items that come from mobs have varying chances of dropping.
    • Rare Random Drop: Butter (from butterflies), Shelmet (from Slurtle), and Krampus Sack (from Krampus) are the rarer drops. Fortunately, none are essential.
  • Random Encounter: Set pieces are rare, naturally spawned structures and items in all game modes. They can be helpful (like a skeleton with items by it), neutral (like a forest full of Treeguards), or dangerous (a chest that turns the season into winter or summer).
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The game's map is randomly generated every time you start a new game.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: If the already-pitch-black Ruins suddenly develop a pinkish-red iridescence, you might want to head for the exit...
  • Respawn Point:
    • The player character will always respawn at the same spot every time you start a new game (assuming it's the same map from before).
    • The Meat Effigy also counts as a respawn point. The advantage of this method is that you'll still be in the same playthrough, and you get to decide where you respawn by placing the Meat Effigy where you want to respawn. Touch Stones have the same effect as the Meat Effigy but are randomly spawned at certain areas on the map, can only be used once, and don't reduce your maximum health like the effigy does.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Respawning from a Touch Stone, Meat Effigy, or Life Giving Amulet sets all your meters to half-full. The trope name is applied literally as your cause of death when you build so many Meat Effigies that they reduce your health to zero (as Wilson and most other characters, this is five).
  • Roaming Enemy:
    • Koalefant, which must be tracked first.
    • Sometimes while tracking a Koalefant, you might find a big angry Warg instead.
  • Robinsonade: The concept of Shipwrecked, starting off on an island in the big open sea and whatnot.
  • Rule of Funny: Presumably the reason why Wilson, Willow, Wendy, Wickerbottom, Woodie, Wes, and Wigfrid have bones in their hair.
  • Sanity Meter: When you're still relatively sane, your vision becomes flickery and desaturated. As your sanity gets lower, you will begin to encounter horrific creatures made of shadows, which become more visible as you get more insane. When your sanity is dangerously low, strange white sigils will start to ring your screen and all rabbits turn into Beardlings, Ugly Cute living tufts of hair. What happens when you're totally insane? Any drops of meat are turned into monster meat instead, and your hallucinations begin to come after you.
  • Sanity Slippage: What will happen if you neglect your Sanity Meter.
  • Satan: Maxwell, probably.
    Wilson, examining pitchfork: "Maxwell might be looking for this."
  • Savage Setpiece: Several set pieces, also called Boons, are traps, some more deadly than others.
  • Scenery Porn: Being a game with 2D graphics, some of the art can be seen as simplistic, but still absolutely gorgeous, especially the different settings of seasons. Some of the official artwork also looks fantastic.
  • Schmuck Bait: Sometimes averted with skeletons surrounded by loot, but often if you see a pile of meat, there's a nasty surprise waiting for you. Also, some set pieces are traps: For example, opening a chest may immediately set the surrounding area on fire, or change the season to winter.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Wilson.
  • Screen Shake: Warns the player when a Deerclops is nearby. Also occurs during an underground earthquake.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: Woodlegs, the playable pirate character.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: You can lure a hostile monster to another kind of hostile monster. They'll start killing each other giving you a chance to escape or watch the fight and kill the softened surviving one.
  • Shock and Awe: One of Wickerbottom’s books can summon lightning.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: Dragonfly eats flammable objects by spitting lava and eating the leftover ashes. This mimics how real flies eat: by spitting digestive juices on their food before sucking it up.
  • The Smart Ones:
    • The gentleman scientist, Wilson. Implied to be one anyway. In-game he is no different from the others except for his "beard growing powers" which makes it a lot more easier and safer for him to construct the meat effigynote . The design of the meat effigy itself (modeled after his own visage) suggests that he invented the thing himself. He also made the Wooden Thing.
    • Wickerbottom can prototype all Science Machine and some Alchemy Engine recipes without having to build the Science Machine. Her examinations of various objects also implies this, giving you more detailed descriptions of the object than any of the characters in the game.
  • Smash Mook: Deerclops and Treeguards.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The final level of Adventure Mode, a shadowy realm full of graves and ominous masonry, is filled with cheerful ragtime courtesy of Maxwell's phonograph.
    • The Spring music in Reign of Giants is catchy, upbeat jazz, at a time when the player is likely on the brink of hypothermia and insanity from the constant rain.
  • Speaking Simlish: Well, kinda. The player characters (except Wes) are subtitled but their speech is represented by rapid instrumental notes. Wilson's is a trumpet, Willow's is a flute, Wendy's is an alto flute, Wolfgang's is a tuba, Wickerbottom's may be an oboe, Woodie's is a cello, and Maxwell's is a harmonium.
  • Spell Book: Wickerbottom’s books can be used to make plants grow, put nearby creatures to sleep, summon monstrous tentacles, conjure lightning from the heavens, and call birds.
  • Spider Swarm: The spider enemies live in a spider nest, attack all together, and a nest can spawn a "Spider Queen" who spawns spider followers.
  • Sprint Shoes:
    • Wolfgang on a full stomach can move slightly faster.
    • The craftable Walking Cane makes the character run 25% faster when equipped.
  • Stealth Pun: Wilbur is voiced by an organ grinder (also know as a monkey organ).
  • Stealth Sequel: Don't Starve Together—as revealed by the Cyclum Alternate Reality Game—takes place after the Adventure Mode of the first game.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Bunnymen, who attack players on sight if they're carrying meat while they call them "murderers" or "unclean" and such.
  • Stock Beehive: Beehives resemble wasp nests. Interestingly, Killer Bee Hives are of a different appearance but are referred as Wasp Hives in the in-game files, implying that Killer Bees were originally meant to be wasps.
  • Stock Femur Bone: The giant (known as Bigfoot) summoned by the Old Bell has a protruding femur. Not so bad until one notices the tiny, peculiarly human brain perched atop the end of the bone.
  • Stomach of Holding: Finding an eyebone summons Chester, a weird hairy creature who can store up to nine objects in his gut.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: All of the neutral or hostile monsters will attack you - even if you are wearing the best gear in the game, and/or if you have an entire army of pig people, a flock of Smallbirds, or a cluster of spiders by your side. Pigs will attack monsters no matter how powerful their foe is or how outnumbered they are. Not even the player is immune.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: With an Old Bell, you can summon your own Giant Foot of Stomping to crush anyone and anything opposing you.
  • Super-Deformed: All of the playable characters, regardless of their actual age, are depicted with big heads and small bodies. This even applies to Maxwell, who has more realistic proportions as an NPC.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the Shipwrecked DLC, if your raft breaks you die instantly even if you were one footstep away from shore.
  • Survival Sandbox: One of the few examples of the genre not to be in first person.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Comes in three main flavors:
    • Sometimes a setpiece will have a chest full of potentially useful items that, when opened, will rot all the food you are carrying or set the surroundings on fire, or an icebox that immediately brings winter. Usually there are hints to these traps though, such as the fire trap being surrounded by hay walls.
    • If you see a seemingly random pile of meat in the marsh, don't be surprised if a Tentacle lurks beneath.
    • Some chapters of Adventure Mode will start you out with a handful of blueprints and/or resources to prepare you for the hardships to come.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Very evil. Even the frogs are trying to kill you. There's also giant spiked tentacles that pops out of the ground and lash out on anything that comes near it.
  • Talking Weapon: Lucy, Woodie’s axe.
  • Teleport Spam: At the cost of Sanity, the Lazy Explorer staff allows you to blink to any solid ground you can put your mouse cursor on.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: the torch lasts only for a little over a minute. Of course, the game's day is also only eight minutes long, so you can (just barely) make it through the night with just one torch, except in winter.
  • Theme Initials: All playable characters have a name that starts with W. In the game files, the player character 'Maxwell' is specifically named 'Waxwell', just to keep the theme going.
    • Turns out "Maxwell" is a stage name; his real name is William Carter.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Whenever the player examines something.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Catcoons will attack entire Spider dens, beehives, frogs, Tallbirds, and Pengull colonies on sight, only to die in the process from their retaliation without achieving anything. Often, Catcoons will use up all their nine lives this way and eventually stop respawning afterwards. If unchecked, this can potentially render their own species extinct in one game without the player even knowing about it.
  • Top-Down View: Though it's more of a 3/4 down view.
  • Tube Travel: The game has one in the form of wormholes. Literal "worm" holes. You can go into its' toothy mouth to come out somewhere on the map (though at the cost of some sanity).
  • The Turret Master: The player can become this by building a Houndius Shootius. Spamming them is somewhat difficult, as it requires two different boss drops to build one Houndius.
  • Undying Loyalty: What Abigail seems to be for Wendy.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Smallbirds will protect their player at the cost of their own life. However, when they grow, they act as regular tallbirds and will attack the player on sight.
  • Vague Age: None of the characters in this game have a definite age. Some characters look like children; but due to the stylized nature of the art design and their in-game models (all player characters have big heads and small bodies of the same proportions), they may actually be much older than they appear. While not exact ages, Word of God has revealed that Wilson is in his early 30s and Willow is in her early 20s.
  • Vendor Trash: Played straight with certain items that are dug up from graves, such as buttons and kazoos, since they literally have no tangible use but can be traded to the Pig King for large sums of Golden Nuggets.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Befriend pigs and you can learn their names and give them hats while they talk about how great you are, like a talking dog. The pigs smile and dance and clearly adore their Giver-of-Meats. You can work to make sure they stay alive and safe by your fire. Or...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Lead your recently befriended pigs into a hopeless battle, leaving them to take the brunt of the damage and then move in for the kill on the softened enemy, then cook and eat their bodies and use their hides for clothing. Oh, and the player becomes a Karma Houdini because pigs dying in battle doesn't count as the player murdering them. One can also feed a pig enough health-damaging meat to turn it into a Werepig, then having its former kin kill it in its temporary monstrous state for more meat.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In Adventure Mode, Maxwell becomes steadily more unhinged as you clear more and more worlds, symbolized by his elegant business suit becoming a worn, ratty cloak, and his trademark sneer becoming a deranged snarl. By the time you finally reach him in the Epilogue, he's pretty much completely given up and lets you kill him.
  • Violent Glaswegian: MacTusk and Wee MacTusk.
  • Voice Grunting: Each character is "voiced" by a different musical instrument. For instance, Wolfgang sounds like a tuba whenever he talks, and Wendy sounds like a flute.
  • Wall Master: Tentacles, which come out of the ground to kill anything that walks near or on the ground it's in.
  • Warp Zone: The Wooden Thingnote . Once all the parts are found and assembled, it will act as a dimensional gate way to a new world map.
    • Since the Doorway to Adventure update, there is also Maxwell's Door, which is, well, a doorway that takes you to Adventure Mode. Somewhat subverted in that you get taken back to Sandbox Mode if you die while in Adventure Mode.
  • Was Once a Man: Word of God is that the Grue was formerly a human girl named Charlie, and a friend of Maxwell.
  • Weaponized Animal: Bee Mines.
  • When Trees Attack:
    • Every so often when you cut down enough trees, a "treeguard" will spawn. It's a very formidable opponent, and is very unhappy that you're messing with nature. They have a chance to stop attacking you if you plant some trees - and then you can use them as a personal guard.
    • "Reign of Giants" introduces the birchnut tree, a deciduous tree that sometimes become angry when you chop other birchnut trees. They attack using tree roots and spawn tiny birchnutters to go after foes. Fortunately, they're not boss monsters and can be killed like any other tree. They also don't get angry during the Winter.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The entire game revolves around delaying your inevitable starvation. Wickerbottom will even lampshade this when her hunger gets low enough, stating, "Librarian needs food."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Wilson apparently detests spiders. On a more amusing note, Woodie feels this way about birds, of all things, while WX-78 the Extreme Omnivore feels this way with sweet potatoes for some reason.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Dark Sword is the strongest weapon, the Night Armor is the toughest armor, and the Night Light is a very efficient light source. The catch? Using them will eat through your Sanity Meter like a pig eats through a piece of meat.
  • World's Strongest Man: Wolfgang looks like your typical circus variety strongman.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Many player deaths are preventable, but occur when they take stupid risks out of desperation, like attacking monsters or pigmen to eat them.
  • You No Take Candle: The Pig folk speak in this manner.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The hallucinations can damage the player and produce Nightmare Fuel, Beardlings (rabbits) and Beardlords (bunnymen) give beard hair, and the Night Hands can put out fires. The items obtained stay as Nightmare Fuel and beard hair when sanity is increased.
    • The craftable item Night Armour is made with five aforementioned Nightmare Fuel and three pieces of papyrus. It's wholly possible that the character just slaps a bunch of paper to their chest under the belief that it's armour.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The limit on how well you progress is dependent on finding certain key materials. You'll need flints to make the most basic tools, and gold to make the science machine and most better tools. Without flint or gold, all those sticks and berries you got won't go far.
  • Zerg Rush: One Killer Bee or Spider are easily dispatched, both can be stunlocked, although this is easier with spiders because bees, being smaller, are harder to target. However, if you stumble into a cluster of Killer Bee Hives or second to third tier Spider Dens, they can all attack you at once, and kill you very quickly. Just to exacerbate the problem, if you actually attack one, rather than trying to simply run past them, every single Bee or Spider nearby will come after you.

My torch just ran out!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/DontStarve