Playing around with custom scenarios and such, I’ve realized that if someone wanted to play entirely in the wilderness before venturing into villages or cities, or if they wanted to play an island start, making stone tools is extremely difficult.
First, you need survival 4 to craft a stone hammer or axe, which is painful to learn without a book as there’s no efficient way to grind it up from 3, but it’s not entirely impossible.
If you do start at survival 4 or manage to raise it to that level somehow, you need a stone chisel to make a stone hammer or axe, and by extension, any recipe requiring hammering 2, all because the wood chiseling quality which requires sand. This is the only tool that has wood chiseling quality, and from what I can tell, the sole purpose of the tool and quality is to make stone tools more difficult.
The only reliable way to get sand is to dig a deep pit or get lucky and spawn near or on a river shore, which is even more RNG when playing from an island or somesuch. Digging a deep pit requires digging 2.
The only way to get a digging 2 tool from scratch is to make a wooden shovel. This requires the stone chisel. So, survival from scratch is currently bottlenecked towards the acquisition of sand, which is severely limiting from some interesting avenues of gameplay.
There are a lot of ways to rebalance this, one of them being to simply remove the need for the wood chiselling quality to make a wooden shovel. This keeps the difficulty of having to make the stone chisel in the first place while making it possible to dig a deep pit to acquire these resources anywhere instead of requiring you to find or spawn near a river. Alternatively, make shallow pits more likely to give sand. This is probably the least intrusive way to handle it. As a test I dug eight shallow pits on a lake shore and none yielded sand.