But the Forest is queer. […] And the trees do not like strangers. They watch you. They are usually content merely to watch you, as long as daylight lasts, and don't do much. […] But at night things can be most alarming, or so I am told. […] I thought all the trees were whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language; and the branches swayed and groped without any wind.
–Merry in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Old Forest
The Old Forest is an ancient and mysterious forest biome in Middle-earth on the outskirts of the Shire, the remnant of the forests that once covered all of Eriador. It is large and dense, containing many normal and taller tree versions, along with some open glades. However, a few trees are more than meets the eye…
To add to the mysterious atmosphere of the forest, there is always a dense green fog, cutting off vision at a distance. The Withywindle River runs through the south-central part of the biome. Upon entering the Old Forest, one gains the achievement "Unfriendly Trees".
The Old Forest biome has the following variants, in addition to the Withywindle River and scattered lakes:
Standard - Normal Old Forest biome.
Flowers - The fields and the undergrowth of tree clusters teem with flowers here, albeit that flower variety is limited.
Hills - A hilly landscape with a higher average elevation.
Clearing - Clearings in the surrounding forest without any trees and a typically flat surface. These areas offer the best opportunity to spot Dark Huorns.
This forest and its trees are guarded by Dark Huorns. These tree-like NPCs will attack any player that tries to chop down a tree or gets too close to them, no matter what their alignment with any faction. Putting an end to the life of these creatures will grant a player alignment rewards with Hobbits and Rangers of the North. No other NPCs spawn in this forest, although Orcs, Hobbits, Rangers or Barrow-wights may wander in from neighboring biomes. The only creatures living alongside the angry guardians of the forest are aurochs, deer, rabbits, birds and butterflies.
Dark Huorns are coded as belonging a faction. It is so possible to players pledged to hobbits or rangers to conquer the Old Forest by slaying Huorns.
The Old Forest's canopy is dominated by oak, dark oak, fir and pine, as well as willows near water. The forest soil is varied and holds large patches of Barren dirt and podzol. Ferns, grasses and mushrooms can be found in scattered groups on the forest floor. In the renewed version, you can also find vanilla vines growing on some of the trees.