The Dark Forest can be accessed through the Wizard Tower in the Fertile Plains after obtaining the requisite rumor from the Blaze of Glory Tavern in East Cheswick. This area is filled with an abundance of special items, making it one of the most important places to explore in terms of item searching. Since some of the encounters here are difficult and it's generally not possible to exit this area freely, heroes should be prepared before entering the Dark Forest.
- Dark Knight, Shadow Thief
- Dryad, Daemonwood, Elderwood, Tanglewood
- Evil Oculus
- Flesh Hunter
- Flowering Sporeweed, Flowering Deathweed, Strangling Flowerweed
- Giant Spider, Huge Spider, Forest Spider, Web Spider
- Harpy, Greater Harpy
- Medusa, Greater Gorgon
- Minotaur, Greater Minotaur
- Rock Golem
- Witch King Ruins: Explorable location, the entrance to which is found randomly as a special encounter.
- Wild Gardens: Explorable location, the entrance to which is found randomly as a special encounter if the requisite rumor has been obtained.
- Lycanthria: Quest location featured in Merlan's quest line. The entrance to Lycanthria is found randomly as a special encounter if a quest with an objective in this location is currently active.
Encounters with no prerequisites
- Bridge to the Hellfire Mountains South. After defeating the Brothers Brashnard, they will let you pass without fight every time you find the encounter. This also grants the HFM South map if not already obtained.
- Daemonwood Grove: Guarded by Elderwoods and Tanglewoods, the number of which depends on your level. A nice encounter to gather accessories (Holsters, Scabbards, Sheaths, Quivers). Some drops:
- Spiked Iron Large Shield
- Dwarven Headband,Iron Skull Cap
- Amulet of Destruction, Token of the Forest
- Forest Cloak
- Mithril Belt
- Bracer of Accuracy, Bracers of Defilement, Mithril Studded Armband
- Silver Band
- Holster of Might, Holster of Pain, Holster of Striking, Holster of Venom, Quiver of Burning, Quiver of Venom, Scabbard of Might, Scabbard of Pain, Sheath of Sharpness, Sheath of Venom
- Hellbear Beard Ring
- Total Restoration Tincture
- Entrance to the Witch King Ruins
- Brashnard Ruins: Can either feature many weak foes or a moderate amount of very strong foes. One of the rare locations where one can find the 7 shards/splinters of Brashnard's Sphere, used in many schematics.
- There are three possible combinations of foes. See Brashnard Ruins opponents for information on the number of opponents, which depends on your hero's level.
- Possible drops:
- Banded Armor of Sneaking, Enhanced Chain Mail, Full Plate Armor, Mithril Breastplate +4, Mithrilweave Robe, Partial Plate Armor,
- Mithril Tower Shield
- Neckband of Smiting
- Forest Cloak
- Nevryl Bracers
- Ring of Fortitude, Silver Band
- Holster of the Arcanist, Holster of Magic, Holster of Might, Holster of Pain, Holster of Striking, Holster of Venom, Scabbard of Might, Scabbard of Pain, Sheath of Sharpness, Sheath of Venom
- Medusa Beard Ring
- Bellanite Shard, Shard of Assimilation, Splinter of Burning, Splinter of Combustion, Splinter of Detonation, Splinter of Displacement, Splinter of Haste, Splinter of Health, Splinter of Transfixion
- Abandoned Altar: Guarded by Evil Oculus, the number of which depends on your level. Similar to the one found in Hellfire Mountains East, dropping:
- Mithril Breastplate +4, Ironcloth Robe
- Dwarven Headband
- Amulet of Destruction, Amulet of the Berserker, Nevryl Amulet
- Holster of the Arcanist, Holster of Magic, Holster of Might, Quiver of Burning, Quiver of Venom, Sheath of Sharpness, Sheath of Venom, Sterling Ribcage
- Shield Beard Ring
- Large Oculus Eye, Shadow Gem, Small Oculus Eye
- Total Restoration Tincture
- Ruins resembling an old Magical Chalice site. Protected by Flesh Hunters, the number of which depends on your level. Contains a portal to the Sunken City.
- Paladin's Keep: This special event is available until it is completed. In this event, heroes can choose to either fight off six waves of Paladins and Monks (3-5 of each) or fight against six waves of Warriors of Discord, Priestesses, Shadow Beasts and Vampires to gain a beneficial Aura with a permanent effect.
- Choosing a side: Heroes with piety toward one of the two temple factions must choose that faction, while heroes with neutral piety can choose either faction. Heroes of template-affiliated classes may still choose to go against their own faction as long as actual piety is neutral. The reward for the successful completion of either fight is the same (but if you take the paladins' side, all your fallen followers will be resurrected, and you will be healed).
- Reward: Select one of five auras that will greatly improve any Hero's attributes. See Dark Forest Auras for a description of the five possible choices. This Special Event can be completed only once, so choose wisely.
- Merlan's Quests: Events connected with Merlan's Quests only appear when a quest for Merlan is active. This includes access to Lycanthria which appears only if Merlan requires you to go there, as well as other certain quest-related encounters in the Dark Forest.
- Adept encounter. This event only appears when in possession of the Circlet of Lycanthropy schematic (but not the Circlet itself) and needs a Gate Key for successful completion. Player rewarded with the Lunas Staff.
- Entrance to the Wild Gardens. This is another explorable location inside the Dark Forest and contains the Sorcerer's Abode and the Abandoned Library. To find it, one must first obtain the correct rumor from the Blaze of Glory Tavern at East Cheswick. A hero who has obtained all desired items from the Wild Gardens may discard the rumor to avoid finding the wild gardens again.
- In order to exit the Dark Forest, every class must find an exit event, even Rangers. These exits can eventually be found once the Hero does a little exploring.
- The bridge to Hellfire Mountains South also allows Heroes to exit the Dark Forest area. However, the bridge is only accessible after defeating the Barbarian Guardians in an encounter (see "Bridge" in "Common Events" section, above).
- Going into the portal to the Sunken City will also allow you to exit the Dark Forest, but the portal is only accessible after successfully defeating a group of Flesh Hunters (see "Ruins" in "Common Events" section, above).
- Characters with the Gate Key may exit the Dark Forest at any time by using its gate feature. The Gate Key is available only after assembling it from the Gate Key schematic (see Schematics).