A Hero's Guide to the Old Forest
The folks at Turbine have prepared a dev journal to guide players through the trials of the Old Forrest, a region of Middle Earth where the common folk fear to tread, and where adventurers travel frequently.
The untamed and maze-like environs of the Old Forest fill the south-west part of Bree, set against the border of the Shire and nestled between the haunted Barrow-downs and Buckland.
Throughout the ages of Middle-earth the Old Forest has remained an ominous region. Dark tales abound of trees coming to life and misleading those who tread harshly upon their roots. The most sinister of stories is often told to young Hobbits to keep them out of the Old Forest; it speaks of a monstrous tree called Old Man Willow, whose tremendous claw-like branches snatch up unwary travelers. The tales work to keep most folks at bay, coupled with the fact that many who have ventured into the Old Forest—either alone or with companions—have never been heard from again.
These precarious and ancient woods are thought to be the northern remnants of the great forests harvested by the Men of Númenor who ruled during the Second Age.
Bringing your character to the Old Forest is possible starting at around 10th – 12th level. The place offers an excellent variety of quests and deeds for soloing and for small and larger size fellowships through 20th level. There are several location and collection deeds when soloing around the northern fringes of the Old Forest. But beware as you venture farther south, as you may need help. There are mobs and elite monsters that could well end the life of any single hero. The majority of the quests surrounding the Old Forest are obtained at various spots in the Shire and Bree-land.
The closest civilized region is the Hobbit village Crickhollow in the northern hills of Buckland. Considered to be a retreat of sorts by Hobbits away from their homes and daily duties, Crickhollow was where Frodo Baggins claimed he was moving to when he departed the Shire with the One-Ring. Here. In nearby Newbury, your character can find various traders and a safe place to rest during your exploration of the Old Forest.
Adversaries in the Old Forest
The Old Forest contains an assortment of creatures amid the ancient trees and clearings, some of which could pose a considerable challenge if you're not of an appropriate level. Below is a list of the most commonly encountered monsters and their appropriate challenge level:
Baleful Willow-root 12th
Barkshredder Cub 13th
Barkshredder Mother 13th
Barkshredder Yearling 12th
Barkshredder Sentinel 13th
Creeping Oak-root 13th
Flittering Gloomwing 12th
Forest Biter 14th
Forest Tree-spinner 15th
Forest Web-weaver 15th
Forest Web-crawler 14th
Gil Goatleaf 14th
Great Leaf-crawler 17th
Large Forest-hunter 13th
Outcast Forest-hunter 13th
Shrieking Gloom-wing 14th
Slimy Leaf-crawler 17th
Warped Oak (Huorns) 14th
When challenging the denizens of the Old Forest, keep your eyes open for rare crafting materials. Even if your character doesn’t need the items personally, perhaps other members of your fellowship would covet them. Or you could put them up for sale in the Auction. Don’t leave them behind.
- Warped Oaks (Huorns): Blunt Huorn Twig, Blackened Huorn Bark, Blunt Huorn Branch, Blackened Huorn Root, Blackened Huorn Heartwood, Wildthorn; used by Woodworker or Metalsmith.
- Flittering Bats: Dirty Bat Wing; used by Tailor and Metalsmith
- Gloom-gaze: Gloom-Gaze Fang; used by Tailor.
- Eitor-kalsak: Eitor-Kalsak's Mandible; used by Weaponsmith
Quests & Deeds
The Old Forest offers many opportunities for your character after 10th level. The most common quests and Deeds in this region are slayer and exploration. Since all quests and deeds fall within the boundaries of the Old Forest, getting as many of them as possible prior to entering should make adventuring easier. Here is a recap of the primary quests and deeds in this area, what to look for, and what to avoid. Some of the quests within the Old Forest actually begin in the surrounding territories.
Deed: The Old Forest
In this deed your hero needs to find the following locations: Bald Hill, The Weaver's Den, Tom Bombadil's House, Goldberry's Spring, and Bonfire Glade. Of these three, only The Weaver's Den is not located in the northern half of the Old Forest. Completing these exploration deeds earns a Virtue of Wisdom +1.
Deed: Flowers of the Old Forest
Legends tell the tale of Entwives sisters, female Ents who fled to the north and settled in the lands to the south and west. Of those who fled not much is known, though there are stories that speak of eight Entwives who settled in what is now known as the Old Forest. Enthralled with the beauty of the deep woods, the eight Entwives were said to have “rooted” themselves to live out their lives as a majestic part of the Old Forest. At the locations where the Entwives settled grow exquisite, singular flowers. This deed is to find those flowers across the far reaches of the Old Forest: Rhosthon's, Neldorlas', Dorollin's, Cordofoneth's, Lenhwest's, Silloth's, Braiglad's, and Merillif's. Completing this earns your hero the Virtue of Idealism +1.
Quest Arc: Stirrings in the Old Forest
Hodric Bracegirdle is a Hobbit who lives on the river side of Brandy Hall, west of the Old Forest. He’ll be quick to tell you about the growing number of aggressive beasts coming out of the Old Forest and into Buckland, where they cause damage and put fine Hobbits in danger. Hodric wants you to thin the number of these creatures within the forest before they find their way out and into the Shire. These monsters consist of bats, bears, spiders, and wolves. Hodric figures that by killing a few dozen of each the immediate threat will be eliminated. Finding these creatures is not difficult and can be coupled with the above exploration deeds. Completing this arc can net you some finely made Hobbit items.
Quest Arc: Old Forestry
This series of four Quests starts in the lands surrounding Buckland, with you assisting the Brandybuck and Maggot Hobbit families. It ends with you searching the Old Forest for two missing sons. Rewards for this arc include an exquisitely crafted Hobbit armband and a choice of several finely prepared Hobbit foods.
- Old Forestry: Celandine Brandybuck has been studying the Old Forest and borrowed some notes from Farmer Maggot, a resident of the Marish in the Shire. She has asked you to return them.
- Unwelcome Strangers: The good Farmer Maggot was accosted by Men across the river near Buckland, and they stole an entire wagon of his produce. He hopes you can get it back.
- Rollo and Doderic: One of Farmer Maggot's sons has gone missing. The boy was last seen with one of the Brandybuck Hobbits. The farmer asks you to help find him.
- Old Forest Investigation: Your search for Rollo and Doderic leads you into the Old Forest in search of Bald Hill, east of the Bonfire Glade. The Old Forest is not a place for young Hobbits, and Doderic's uncle Saradoc Brandybuck pleads with you to bring the boys home.
Quest Arc: The Wood-cutter's Tale
Standing before the Old Forest Tunnel just outside of Crickhollow is the wood-cutter Toly Brockhouse. Toly will present you with a series of Quests stretching deep into the heart of the Old Forest. Rewards for this series include crafted items usable by any hero of Middle-earth: Brandybuck's Leggings, Estellos Earring, Brandybuck's Shoes, Watcher's Mace, or Brandybuck's Cudgel.
- The Wood-cutter's Tale: The wood-cutter Toly Brockhouse has sprained his ankle and is unable to finish his weekly chores in the Old Forest. These consist of collecting lumber, gathering savoury mushrooms, and filling a bucket of maple sap between Bonfire Glade and Bald Hill. You should be able to handle this easily, right?
- New Trouble in the Old Forest: Toly Brockhouse is troubled because all of the items you brought him are spoiled in some fashion. He thinks there is something wrong with the forest, and asks you to seek out an old Hobbit Forester Gillemin Brandybuck somewhere beyond Old Muddyfoot's Hill.
- Haunted Forest: Gillemin Brandybuck says that a great spider nest in the southern portion of the Old Forest is the cause of the recent troubles. Gillemin tried to destroy the nest himself, but failed, and he thinks this Quest is beyond the means of a single hero.
Old Forest Locations
Although many who traveled into the Old Forest never returned, those who made it out spoke of the enigmatic and eccentric Tom Bombadil and the massive tree known as Old Man Willow. Your character has an opportunity to meet these two legends.
Tom Bombadil lives in a large glade in the eastern portion of the Old Forest. Taller than a Hobbit, but shorter than the people of Bree, Tom's Hobbit-like eyes, ruddy face, blue eyes, and bristling beard have etched themselves into nearby residents’ memories. Dressed in a blue jacket, yellow boots, and an old battered hat, he is known for singing songs with lyrics that have meaning only to him. Tom Bombadil has been deemed slightly mad by nearly all who have met him. The more learned and wise who have encountered him—mostly Elves he has dealt with through the years—believe he is a powerful being as old as the world itself. No one really knows for sure, but one thing that is certain . . . Tom Bombadil knows more than he lets on about the Old Forest and the surrounding lands.
Tom Bombadil and the Old Forest play an important part in your character's first Epic Quest, Book 1: Stirrings in the Darkness. In Chapter 8: Master of the Woods, Strider asks you to track down a rogue flock of crebain, the feathered servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. These crebain might know something of Frodo and the One-Ring, and they must be found and stopped before they pass along any information to their vile master.
After finding Tom in Chapter 9: Lilies for the River-daughter, he agrees to help you—only if you collect lilies for his wife Goldberry. Tom warns you that the lilies are guarded by the ancient tree known as Old Man Willow. Some say that this venerable tree and its dark heart is the source of all that is evil within the Old Forest.
If you're successful in winning the lilies from Old Man Willow, Tom tells you where to find the crebain.
The Journey Continues
Once you’ve thoroughly explored the Old Forest, you’ll find that many quests are leading you into the Barrow-downs. There, you’ll find some great adventures and impressive rewards before you embark into the more dangerous territories of the Lone-lands.
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