In the trailers, there would often be hidden text (with some variation) or parts of hidden text that are not easy to spot in the video without closer inspection. The hidden text would lead to links for images that reveal the backstory of Maxwell, whose original name was William Carter, before the main events of the game's story. As the puzzles go on, Charlie is introduced as well.
- 1 First puzzle
- 2 Second puzzle
- 3 Third puzzle
- 4 Fourth puzzle
- 5 Fifth puzzle
- 6 Sixth puzzle
- 7 Seventh puzzle
- 8 Eighth puzzle
- 9 Ninth puzzle
- 10 Gallery
The first puzzle leads to William's inspection card that says APPROVED, boarding a ship named Quest to the United States. In real life, the White Star Line ship Celtic had its maiden voyage on July 26, 1901 from Liverpool, England to New York City. This is the same date and port of departure as William's voyage on the Quest.
The second puzzle leads to an advertisement for William's magic show at Bowery Hall. The advertisement has a picture of William pulling a rabbit out of a hat. William's face is scratched out. The poster is partially covered by other advertisements, suggesting that the show wasn't very successful. Bowery Hall may be a reference to the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan. The text on the ad reads:
- WILLIAM CARTER
- PERFORMING FEATS OF THE MYSTERIOUS FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT AND EDIFICATION.
The third puzzle shows a desk with multiple papers on it. One of them is a bill from a man named George T. Witherstone for magician's props totaling $7.10. There is a large red 'OVERDUE' stamped on the bottom. The date on the bill is covered by another paper, but the word May can be seen. The props are a set of marked cards, a gimmicked top hat, and two docile rabbits (which cost $2).
Another paper appears to be a note to William, which reads:
- You are late again! Where is the muny? Do you think Mr. Witherstone is runnin a charatee? You better pay up this week or there will be trubble! I will find you! [sic]
There is also a postcard on the desk from Jack Carter, William's brother. Next to it is a postcard from California, suggesting that Jack may be sending the letter from there. The address is William Carter / 21 Harold St. / New York, NY.
The letter reads:
- You've finally come to America! How exciting! Has your show taken New York by storm yet? I fear we may have just missed each other - the city was too much for me, so I've gone west - It really is amazing out here - maybe you could visit sometime?
- Have you corresponded with mother lately? The post is dreadfully inconsistent out here, I can't believe she hasn't met the twins yet!
- Warmest regards,
The fourth puzzle is an article from a newspaper, a circus poster, some blueprints of what appears to be an obelisk, a postcard to Jack Carter, and a Coach Ticket. In the source code, there is ASCII art of a Shadow Watcher.
The Newspaper reads:
- TRAGIC TRAIN CRASH
- Circus wagon struck at crossing
- Many passenger injuries reported
- Elephant unharmed
- A passenger train struck a circus wagon that had broken down along the tracks at the Old Mill crossing. Dozens of passengers were injured, and at least one man is missing. The missing man has yet to be identified, but fellow passengers described him as a tall, nervous fellow with an English accent. A search party was convened but quickly abandoned when it became apparent that a [Second column begins after tear in the first column] cage full of potentially dangerous trained monkeys had been vacated in the collision. Given the remoteness of the crash site, the scorching desert sun, and the escaped animals, the missing man has been presumed dead.
- This is the third such incident at the crossing since the railway's construction in 1873, but the first to involve a circus wagon. Local businessman and railway investor Harold J. Rutherford assured this publication that all pertinent safety precautions had been taken, but no one could have foreseen the appearance of such a dangerous blockage on the tracks
The date of the paper is August 23, 1904.
The Circus Poster
The Circus poster has the words ABERNETHY & PARKER CIRCUS written at the top. There is an elephant balanced on a ball with flamingos on its back and left ear. A man is balanced on its head on one hand. Two monkeys wearing fezes are standing next to the ball.
Below this picture it reads:
- COMING TO YOUR TOWN!
- GOOD SPRINGS BULLFROG DELAMAR ROUND MOUNTAIN
- KLONDYKE HARSHAW CHARLESTON FAIRBANK
- DON'T MISS THE INCREDIBLE STRONGMAN
Most of the cities reported above are actual ghost towns in Arizona and Nevada, which were abandoned after the gold rush. The Strongman mentioned in the advertisement is implied to be Wolfgang, as his nickname is "The Strongman" and both the circus poster and Wolfgang's character portrait share similar barbell imagery. In addition, the human figure hand-standing on the elephant wears a striped suit similar to Wolfgang's.
The postcard to Jack Carter reads:
- The strangest thing has happened! Please discount all reports of my demise, should they reach you. I am very much alive, despite my recent misadventures. I have discovered something, a book of sorts. I have yet to decode it fully, but what little I have deciphered has opened my mind to terrifying new possibilities. I shan't say more through post - I fear it may attract unwanted attention. All will be explained when we meet. I shall continue west forthwith!
The address has been scribbled out with red ink, but can still be read as Jack Carter, 33, 4th St, Corona, CA, 91720. Corona is a city situated in Southern California that goes by the zip code 91720. The postcard is postmarked in North Fork, Nevada, another ghost town.
The Coach Ticket
The coach ticket reads:
- SUNSET LINES
- NEW YORK (GRAND CENTRAL) TO:
- San Francisco - Mission Stn. (Exc'nge)
- Date: August 15th, 1904
There is some red text running down the left and right hand side reading No. 702, and a black stamp at the bottom reading COACH CLASS.
The Obelisk Blueprint
There is no readable text on the obelisk blueprint, but there are many symbols and measurement lines. The page appears to be torn out of something, possibly the book mentioned in Willam's postcard. The symbols on the blueprint are identical to a series of runes featured in the Metheus Puzzles.
The ground is made of cracked dry rock, suggesting a desert. Two shadows are standing over the scene. The shadow on the left is indistinct, and the shadow on the right heavily resembles a Shadow Watcher.
The fifth puzzle shows a poster advertising Maxwell the Great. Below the poster is a classified ad requisition. Also, a sketch of both the Telelocator Staff and Life Giving Amulet with more runes are included, along with what may be a journal page. In the source code, there is ASCII art of Maxwell.
The journal page reads:
- A terrible form took shape in the air above the ritual last night! It was large and indistinct, but its countenance was infused with a sort of alien malevolence that chilled me to my very core. My fear was so great that I almost faltered in my incantations.
- It made no hostile motions, however and after having hung in the aether for a time, it shivered out of existence. What was it? Was it observing me? Is it the guardian of some deeper secret to which I am drawing closer? In any event, I am not keen to meet its like again.
Along with the description is a drawing of a Terrorbeak.
The ad requisition reads:
- San Francisco Call Classified Advertisement Requisition
- To appear in the [X] early [X] late edition(s)
- On the following days [X]M [X]T [X]W [X]Th [X]F [X]Wk
- Starting on June 6th, 1905
- In the category of Employment Opportunities
- Copy (2 cents per word per edition):
- Looking to hire a lady assistant for a magician's stage show. Previous experience unnecessary, but should have a curious demeanor and a keen interest in the mysteries of the universe. Must provide own costume.
- Contact information:
- William Carter
- c/o Palace Hotel,
- San Francisco, California
"William Carter" is smudged, as if someone tried to erase it. The San Francisco Call was a real life publication in California. The Palace Hotel is a luxury hotel in San Francisco, which was highly renowned in William's time, and was later gutted by fires after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The page with the Telelocator Staff and Life Giving Amulet appears to be from the same book as the obelisk blueprint. In the source code, there is ASCII art of Maxwell's head.
The sixth puzzle shows a poster of Maxwell and his assistant, along with a handwritten note.
The poster reads:
- THE AMAZING MAXWELL
- PERFORMING FEATS TO ASTOUND AND MYSTIFY
The note reads:
- Hey Maxy,
- We really knocked 'em dead last night, didn't we? I thought that old guy in the front wasn't going to make it. Those shadow things are so convincing - they almost scare me, and I'm part of the act!
- We can work on the new finale when I get back from my sister's place. I'm looking forward to it!
- ~ Charlie ♥
In the source code, there is ASCII art of the Shadow Watcher.
The seventh puzzle shows a dim room with a small light bulb. Here, a poster of Maxwell and the circus from previous clues are shown. The right half of the Maxwell poster is torn, meaning that the room is shown after the events of the eighth puzzle. There are also a few journal pages on the walls. In the source code is ASCII art of Maxwell.
Editing the image shows that there are hidden words etched into the walls of the room. The words include devinctionibus, magicae, pretiositas, insaniam, alucinatio, voces, and tenebris - these are Latin for "incantation," "magic," "value" or "cost," "insanity" or "madness," "illusion," "voices," and "darkness," respectively. Each word is accompanied by a corresponding symbol, which were later used to help decode the runes in the Metheus Puzzles. There are also some words in English: Enough!, it's them, and Charlie. Charlie is written three times, and gets increasingly larger.
The eighth puzzle consists of a sequence of images that portray a scene where Charlie visits Maxwell's apartment. At the top of the images are tally marks indicating the order of the images. The portrait in the foreground above Maxwell's desk also changes across every picture.
In the source code of the first image is ASCII art of the word interitus, Latin for "destruction." In the source code of the second image, there is ASCII art of a Terrorbeak. In the source code of the third and fourth images are ASCII art of a Crawling Horror. In the source code of the fifth image is ASCII art of a Night Hand. In the source of the sixth image is ASCII art of an upside-down Shadow Watcher.
In the source code of the seventh image is a box with two arrows pointing to its center, with ASCII art of a puzzle piece beneath it. When the extension of the seventh puzzle image is changed from a .jpg to .zip, a hidden image will appear (Note: This cannot be done with the version shown on this wiki; the official link listed below should be used). Something to the right of Maxwell can be revealed if the hidden image is adjusted with an image editor.
In the source code of the eleventh image is ASCII art of a letter from Charlie. In the source code of the thirteenth image is simply the message "Soon...".
The text of Charlie's letter to Maxwell in the source code for the eleventh image reads:
- Where are you? I haven't heard from you in days! I stopped by your place, so I've got your props and costume for the show. I'll see you at the theatre tonight, I hope?
- We need to talk about your... study room. There's some creepy stuff going on in there! Maybe when this run is over we can take a little break? My sister said we could use the family cabin up in BC if we want to get away.
Clicking on the Shadow Watcher on the 13th image will take you to this page. Clicking on the film reel will download a mod titled "lost fragment". The mod allows the player to create a Shadow Portal and enter a new world with a biome similar to the one depicted in the epilogue for Adventure Mode. After activating the Shadow Portal, a Skull Chest will appear in the new world. Upon completing the mod, it will spawn a shadow Phonograph which plays a message written in Morse code.
The Morse code, when translated, will give a password to the secret page of the last puzzle update here. The page features an embedded video entitled The Amazing Maxwell - The Final Act. The Final Act is an animated short in the style of a projector film reel, showing Maxwell's final performance, in which he loses control over the Codex Umbra. Suddenly, a pair of large Shadow Hands sprout from the book, ensnaring both Maxwell and Charlie. Before the camera cuts, they are shown being swung around violently.
The date and location of the final act alludes to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, which is implied to have been caused by the Codex Umbra in-universe.
Links to official image locations
The ninth puzzle marks the beginning of the next phase in the Don't Starve story. Two hidden words can be found in the first update trailer for Don't Starve Together. Praecantator, referring to the intermission after the last puzzle, is crossed out. This is followed shortly after by Resumptus, meaning "resumed" or "recovered".
The video features a transition from a world that is black and white and looks like the stage Maxwell and Charlie performed on in The Final Act to one that is filled with color and looks similar to the Constant. On the ground lies the Codex Umbra, as well as a red rose, resembling the one worn in Charlie's hair and on Maxwell's lapel.