I have a problem.
My favorite character to play in Don’t Starve is Willow the fire starter. She’s the first character you unlock in the vanilla game, and she has a delightfully flutey voice, she’s immune to fire damage, and she has an infinite torch as her special item (in a game where spending too long in the dark will literally kill you, this is a major plus). My best runs on Don’t Starve are usually with Willow; I’ve spent enough time playing as her that I’m mostly familiar with her little idiosyncrasies, and I feel pretty confident managing the wilderness with her (one of my favorite things to do with her is to plant a dense ring of trees around a pengull nest during the winter and then light it on fire, burning up the pengulls and netting myself some tasty pre-cooked food).
Unfortunately, Willow also has a bad habit of setting things on fire to calm herself when her sanity gets low; because she has an abnormally low sanity cap, she’s in danger of setting stuff on fire pretty much all the time during harsher game seasons. In vanilla this isn’t such a huge deal; most of the stuff that you can build around your base camp can’t be set on fire or is typically set far enough away from the campfire that Willow can’t reach it while she’s huddling next to the flames for sanity.
This is not the case in Shipwrecked.
Now, it’s important to remember that I never played Reign of Giants, the first expansion to Don’t Starve; I have passing familiarity with it, but since I’ve never played it myself, a lot of the new mechanics (which are intended to make the game more challenging for experienced players) that carried over into Shipwrecked from Reign of Giants trip me up.
So here’s the setup for my recent playthrough: I picked Willow because I hadn’t yet unlocked any of the Shipwrecked characters and I thought maximum familiarity would be the best way to tackle survival. I also started off doing all the things I normally do in vanilla: I looked for a spot to set up base, I gathered a bunch of basic tool materials, I built up a territory with known food spots to exploit, I was very conservative with my exploration.
This is apparently not the way to play Shipwrecked.
I did fine through the first season, which is the mild one. I had a decent little network of islands that I could travel between, and I figured I was doing pretty well with my basic resources.
What I did not account for was the fact that getting poisoned, while by no means a deadly condition (it only drains one health every few seconds, and it apparently can’t kill you outright), is a very inconvenient one because the longer you’re poisoned, the faster your sanity depletes as well. I had a few small fires, including one where I accidentally lit my crockpot (it’s made of stone! You can’t light stone on fire!) while I was trying to gather the materials to make an antivenom. I was successful in getting rid of the the poison, but it left Willow’s sanity in a terrible place. She was way below the threshold for not being attacked by hallucinations, and the stormy season was gearing up.
So here’s the thing about the stormy season that Rachael explained to me: you need to build a shelter next to your fire so that your character can dry out when it’s constantly raining. Being wet all the time tends to make people cranky, after all. Of course, Willow’s sanity was already in bad shape, and the rain was coming, and wouldn’t you know it, the basic shelter is made out of logs, ropes, and palm leaves.
As soon as I got one built, Willow lit it on fire.
I wasn’t careful in how I laid out my camp, so the shelter fire quickly set everything else on fire.
At this point, Rachael, who was watching me play, started laughing hysterically because I was (quite rationally, I think) freaking out. My storage chests had all gone up in flames, and my supplies were scattered around the camp, being blown this way and that by the constant storm. I had nowhere to put extra materials, and it was a struggle just to sort my inventory into things I needed to try to rebuild essentials immediately and things I could risk leaving on the ground to potentially be lit on fire by Willow’s continued bout of delirium.
Once, I managed to get a new crockpot built and Willow immediately set fire to it.
I realized this was a dire situation, and Rachael suggested I just needed to try to find some place with a decent source of food and some seashells and flowers to pick (these things raise sanity). In my rush to figure out where such a place might be among the islands I’d already found, this happened:
I was a little slow on the screenshot button, but this is what’s left of my tree stand that I had begun growing for harvesting wood. Willow lit it on fire while I was running toward my boat, visible in the lower left corner. You can see that the conflagration did wonders for Willow’s sanity, but it left me more than a little dejected.
I struggled on for three more game days after this point, fighting off nightmares, eating sweet potatoes. I eventually succumbed, and ended up using the touchstone that I had found on the island where I set up my base.
You’d think this would have been a chance at a fresh start, but right about the time I gathered up enough materials to make a new alchemy engine, Willow lit it on fire.
It was at that point I realized there was no justice in the universe, and I had Willow provoke a fight with the neighboring monkeys, who flung poo at her until she died.