|Final Fantasy VI copyright Square Enix.|
Images used for educational purposes only.
One of the newer dungeons added to later editions of Final Fantasy VI, the Dragons’ Den is one of the game’s ultimate challenges. It appears on the world map as a Pac-Man shaped island just off the course of the Dragon’s Neck Coliseum, one of the most northwestern locations on the world map. In order to unlock the Dragons’ Den you must first defeat the Eight Dragons. Details for doing so are found in this article.
Attempt to land on the island’s sole tree and you’ll be forced to create three parties of four members, similar to the setup in Kefka’s Tower. Be prepared to enter this place with a stronger party than you’d have for Kefka’s Tower, though, as this is the most difficult dungeon in Final Fantasy VI. Bring a lot of restorative items, as well, ‘cause the Dragons’ Den is loooooong.
One other thing: you do not gain AP in the Dragons’ Den. Have all the spells you think you’ll need upon entering.
- As ever, we’ll separate into Parties One, Two, and Three. There are two entrances to the Dragons’ Den nearby; check out the right to start. Inside as you head northeast you’ll find a variety of Seals. These Seals are kept in place by their respective elemental Dragons - yes, they’re back for another round - and you need to find and destroy the Dragons to get through these passages. This first area has some fairly standard enemies, the only exception being the otherwise-innocuous Vilia. These ladies can charm your characters into taking physical hits. Use magic on ‘em to avoid wiping out your own party.
- Head north through this passage and, soon enough, you’ll hit your first boss battle.
Though it looks the same as the previous battle at Narshe, the Ice Dragon - and all of the Dragons - fights differently this time around. Upon entering the battle the Ice Dragon splits into four, and you’ll basically have to fight four bosses. The Ice Dragons typically attack and counterattack with physical attacks, making the effects of Vanish quite handy, but they also use enough magical attacks that Vanish won’t last for long. Either put your team members in the back row to cut down on damage and focus grouped Firagas at the Ice Dragons or, with one character focusing on healing, concentrate on one dragon at a time. Any piece of equipment that nullifies cold damage will make this battle a lot easier, especially since the Ice Dragons will use an all-hitting ice attack upon defeat. (Though, mercifully, only once per round if you kill more than one Ice Dragon at once.)
You’ll gain the Final Trump, Setzer’s ultimate weapon, for defeating the Ice Dragon(s). You’ll also eliminate three Seals in the first part of this area.
- If you continue north as Party One you’ll find a chamber filled with lava. Stick to the right side of the path to find a Hi-Ether, then head along the left branch to find a button. Don’t worry about it just yet.
- Jump to whichever team you designate as Party Two and follow Party One into the right cave. The very first path leading north takes you to a button that opens a passage in an adjacent tunnel. Hop to Party Three and, entering the left cave at the entrance, you can go through this
new doorway. Inside is a button in the lava room that will create stepping stones. Return to Party One and guide it through this same open passage. Hop across the stepping stones to find a Rename Card.
- Remove Parties One and Three from this small area. Send Party One back to their button past the battleground with the Ice Dragon, then send Party Three through the door to the right of the passage to the Rename Card. A stepping stone here will take you to a button that creates another set of stepping stones. Send Party Two through the left passage in the button room entrance and, in the far north, you can jump south to another button. This will create a stepping stone in front of Party Three.
- Parties Two or Three can now fight the Dragon sitting on the island in the midst of the island. Hop over and take it on. Pick the team with the most special attacks.
First thing’s first: Storm Dragon uses Cyclonic to sap everyone’s HP rather severely. Quickly heal your team before it can follow up with physical attacks and kill at least one of your characters. This opening salvo will set the tone for the rest of the fight, one in which you’ll be constantly struggling to keep your HP high against the Storm Dragon’s brutal physical attacks and wind strikes. Put your fighters in the back row to deaden the Storm Dragon’s attacks, as its evasion is way too high to hit the thing with normal attacks, then go at it with hits that are guaranteed hits - in other words, special attacks. Bushido, Blitz, Throw, and some of Gau’s Rages work nicely to inflict damage. You can also use Flare and Ultima to bypass its evasion, though you may want to preserve your MP for constant castings of Curaga. Partway through the fight the Storm Dragon will increase its speed and evasion even more, though your attack pattern shouldn’t change a whole lot.
You’ll gain the Longinus, Edgar’s ultimate weapon, for defeating the Storm Dragon. You’ll also unlock the dungeon’s one Seal of Wind, to the east.
- Regardless of which team fought the Storm Dragon, send one (we’ll stick with Party Two) back to hit the button to create stepping stones that lead north. This will allow Party Three to hop across to a chest containing an Elixir. To the right is a passage leading out of the lava room, and to the right of here in the next area is a room where you can save and reshuffle the members of your parties - though only if all three parties are in this room simultaneously. Mind that you can save and use a Tent as any of the three parties so long as someone is standing on the save point in this room, allowing you to heal up all three parties.
- Send Party Three through the door to the left in the lava room. You’ll wind up in the same general area as Party Two. Head over to the save room and you can step on a button that will allow Party One to get up here as well. Head west through this passage and you’ll find a room leading to a platform dominated by…
Earth Dragon is similar to its old form, though this one is much stronger. It spends the fight either using a variety of all-hitting earth-elemental attacks to strike everybody, the worst of which is by far Quake (which also heals the dastard), or smacking your characters with a physical attack that can hit for 6,000+ HP of damage. Ooooouch. Worse, once it takes enough damage Earth Dragon will become enraged and use multiple physical attacks at a time when its turn comes up. This latter move can be enough to kill your entire party in one round. Start by equipping items that will absorb or otherwise avoid earth attacks. Gaia Gear will absorb the hits, which is handy, while Angel Wings will allow your team to avoid damage without losing float status… which they will if you just use Float, since Earth Dragon loves 50 Gs coupled with two more earth-based attacks. Double ouch. Get Vanish onto at least one of your party members once the Earth Dragon is enraged to avoid its physical attacks, then continue chipping away ’til it croaks. It doesn’t have much HP, so it doesn’t take a really long time to kill.
You’ll obtain the Godhand, Sabin’s ultimate weapon, for defeating the Earth Dragon. You’ll also break the Seal of Earth to the east and the southeast, opening two new areas for exploration.
- Send two parties to the save room and use one of them to create a path back to the south. Send the second party southeast and you’ll find a cave door that leads to an area lined with stone walls. Head north, travel across the turtle in the water, and hit the switch on the next side. This will open a door in another area you’ll be visiting soon. That done, go up the stairs on either side of the switch and you’ll find a boss waiting on the walkway above.
The Blue Dragon has barely changed at all since the previous fight, only gaining boosted stats, and thus isn’t much of a bother. It continues to assault your team with watery attacks, uses Rippler to bother your party on occasion, and can inflict stop status on one character with its Blue Fang attack. Blue Fang is its worst attack, which is a testament to its rather poor chances of survival. Smack the Blue Dragon down with strong electrical attacks.
You’ll gain the Save the Queen for defeating the Blue Dragon. This will open three Seals, all in places you have yet to visit.
- Return to the save point room and head east until you find a passage that was originally blocked by a Seal of Earth. Follow the passageway west and you’ll find another Dragon waiting, just beyond a doorway.
This is one of the weirdest fights in the game. The Red Dragon is completely immune to all of your attacks, and you absolutely cannot kill it the way you’d kill the other 99.9999999999% of monsters in Final Fantasy VI. To defeat this thing you must, instead, wait it out. The Red Dragon will spend its time trying to batter you with a bevy of fire-based attacks - Firaga, Flare Star, Meltdown, etc. - as well as strings of physical attacks and one insta-kill swipe that can only be blocked if you’re immune to, y’know, insta-kills. You have to keep your team alive and healed throughout this bombardment, ignoring all offensive options and focusing entirely on defence. Curaga, Arise, Reraise, Protect, Shell, Hastega, anything you can use to increase your team’s survivability is key to winning the fight. Equipment that resists or absorbs fire, as well as increases your magic defence, is preferred. So, too, is putting your team in the back row, as there’s no reason for them to be standing up front. You’ll know Red Dragon is about to die when it uses Ultima and Flare one after the other, and if you want a hope of survival you’ll need at least two members alive after Ultima goes off. Force Armor and Force Shields can help.
You’ll receive the Apocalypse, Terra’s ultimate weapon, for… defeating…? … the Red Dragon. You’ll also eliminate several Seals.
- Head south and east from the Red Dragon’s room (look for a southbound dead end where you can find an invisible Magicite Shard) until you find a button. A short ways southwest of here is a chest containing a Teleport Stone. Grab it, then step on the button. This will make a rock nearby disappear. Send another party through the gap you’ve just created to find another button which will make another rock disappear. Third party gets to pop through this second gap.
- Send the south-most team - Party One returns! - to the northeast. You’ll enter a new, cavern-esque area. Go north up the stairs in this area until you see a room straight ahead. This is another save room. Use it as you please, then go back out and take a left to find yet another new area. Take a right when you emerge and follow the path northward until you find a weight. Push it off the cliff and onto another button. That done, head back south to the doorway and go left this time. Down a blind alley on your right is an X-Potion, and to the left is a button that will create a stepping stone when depressed.
- Jump to one of your other parties, now Party Two. Send them through the doorway north of the button. This path leads to a ledge that you can hop across thanks to the stepping stone. Down some steps and to the north is an interaction. Go left and south to find a partially-hidden chest containing Force Armor.
- Hop back to Party One. Return to the save room and head south, down the steps, until you see a bridge on your right. This eventually leads to hopping bridges similar to the ones found when recruiting Gogo, jerks blocking the path and all. Head south upon hitting these bridges to find a Celestriad, then brave the jerks ahead. If knocked off you’ll wind up in an area with nigh-unavoidable enemies that are as strong as bosses, so for the most part you want to not get knocked off. If you take a northwestern path through here you can find an Elixir and an X-Ether, and ultimately wind up at the top of a cliff facing another Dragon.
This is a veeeeery irritating battle until you figure out the trick. The Skull Dragon is much as it previously was, assaulting your team with a series of status ailments - imp, poison, confusion, doom, zombie - and quite often combining them into a single attack, Disaster. Painful. Beyond that it has a strong physical attack, but can’t do a whole lot else, so equipping everyone with Ribbons will make the fight much easier. It doesn’t have a ton of HP and has some obvious weaknesses… but when you kill the Skull Dragon it will immediately regenerate at full HP. You cannot kill it by depleting its health. Instead you have to destroy the Skull Dragon by depleting its MP via Rasp. Put everyone in the back row, then spend every round picking away at its MP. This will take a while given Rasp’s general limit of around 500ish MP, but it’s not that difficult so long as the majority of your party is protected from status ailments. If you have to choose between ailments to avoid, zombie, imp, and confusion should take precedence.
You’ll gain the Scorpion Tail, Gogo’s ultimate weapon, for defeating the Skull Dragon. You’ll also unlock a Seal elsewhere and create a stairway south of the battle spot. This allows you to bypass the bridges.
- Still as Party One, head back to the southwest entrance of the Skull Dragon’s cavern and back out. Stand on the button beyond to let Party Three backtrack to the dungeon’s first save room, then send Party One back as well. One team can let the other through. Go back to the turtle room, sail north to the spot where you fought the Blue Dragon, and climb up into the top-left chamber. There’s a tombstone here that will tell you to check between ‘molten pools’. The pools are found north of the weight you knocked down earlier; check the plain wall between them for a hidden switch. (You may be able to skip this step entirely, in which case the backtracking is not necessary. I failed to check. Sigh.)
- Check the room to the west of the molten pools. There are three rooms beyond. The middle is empty; the left contains a Magus Robe; the third, now fully opened, contains a Dragon.
Where the original Holy Dragon was pretty lame, this new incarnation is quite a pain. The Holy Dragon loves its holy-elemental attacks, no surprise, and will bombard you constantly with a combination of Saintly Beam and, every unlucky now and then, Heartless Angel. This can be a deadly combo if you’re unlucky, as Heartless Angel takes the whole team down to one HP and Saintly Beam finishes them all off. Beyond that the Holy Dragon uses single-hitting attacks to batter you, the most powerful of which is Holy. It goes without saying that resistance to magic or the absorption of holy attacks takes precedence here. Holy Dragon typically responds to attacks with Curaga on itself, so cast Reflect on the Dragon and then go nuts walloping it with your strongest non-holy attacks that will not be Reflected back at your party. The Holy Dragon mercifully doesn’t have a ton of HP, so once it’s deprived of healing this won’t be a reeeeally long fight… though healing on your own part may clog up the works a bit.
Defeating the Holy Dragon will earn you the Zanmato, Cyan’s ultimate weapon. It will also break two Seals elsewhere in the dungeon…
- … one of which, if you left Party Two alone, you should be near. Leap to Party Two back in the weight room and head north a short ways to find the doorway. Beyond is a save point… and a Seal. Rats.
- Manipulate your parties so you get back to the turtle chamber. You can now get through the eastern passage. There are four graves beyond the stairs with inscriptions:
- And beyond them… Dragon.
Considering this is the last of the normal Dragons, the Gold Dragon is a little underwhelming. It employs an ability quite like Celes’s Runic in that it will automatically absorb any magic you use. This will put the kibosh on magical healing, and your magical offences are pretty much useless. That aside the Gold Dragon focuses on strong physical attacks, as well as its Mighty Claw which inflicts confuse on a single character. Tricky, yes, but really not that bad. The easy way to get past Gold Dragon is to get Vanish on your characters before fighting the Dragon, allowing you to effectively ignore most of its attacks and assault it with special attacks and normal hits. Barring Vanish, use your strongest items to keep your team strong and beat the thing down, preferably from the back row to lessen damage inflicted. Not that difficult either way.
You’ll earn the Zwill Crossblade, Locke’s ultimate weapon, for defeating the Gold Dragon. You’ll also unlock the final Seals in the dungeon, paving the way to the final boss. Oooo.
- Take your party north of the turtle and up the stairs. Through the pathway to your right is a blank tombstone. The message your want to assemble is ‘THEKINGOFDRAGONS’. It will open a passage to your right. Head through, bringing two party members with you. This will take some finagling of buttons.
- There are plenty of stairs beyond. Down the left flights of stairs you’ll find a Phoenix Down, and if you keep wandering you’ll come to a door. Inside you’ll find some adjoining chambers that lead to a gleaming teleporter. It takes you to a room containing four chests. The top-left one contains a Ribbon; the bottom-left contains a Bone Wrist; the bottom-right contains an enemy called a Neslug, a familiar shelled enemy that can be killed with fire-elemental, perfect accuracy attacks, and drops the Gungnir for Mog; and the top-right one contains a Plague, a highly evasive creature which will doom your whole party if you don’t target it with more perfect accuracy attacks. It drops Relm’s Angel Brush.
- South of the chests and to the left is another chest containing a Stardust Rod, Strago’s ultimate weapon. Return to the four chests and go right to find another transporter. Follow the line of transporters until you see a door along the bottom wall that leads back outside. Look down the stairs for a Ribbon, then look up the stairs to find a dead end… and a darkened square on the floor. This is a switch that creates a door on the stairs to your left.
- Take your second team down the right flight of stairs from the top. You’ll find an Elixir on the way down to the door, and inside you’ll find a teleporter that will take you to a crossroads. To the north you’ll find a Crystal Orb, a Genji Glove, and a battle against five Flan Princesses that will bother the hell out of you with Imp Song. Otherwise they’re fairly normal enemies that you should try to kill with all-hitting attacks. They’ll drop the Oborozuki, Shadow’s ultimate weapon. To the south you’ll find a Dueling Mask, the closest thing Gau gets to an ultimate weapon.
- You’ve now explored the majority of the Dragons’ Den. All that remains is a small room, connected to three points in the dungeon, which lead to buttons. You need to hit all three buttons to get to the end of the dungeon.
- The furthest of the buttons you need to reach is found in one of the rear-most sections of the dungeon, where, if you haven’t Teleported, one of your parties should still be sitting, ‘cause they’re… probably stuck. If you did Teleport out you’ll need all three parties to reach this room, and you’ll have to go through the Inner Eye - Labyrinth (red rock palette).
- The second-furthest button is in the Dragon Temple, the grey stone area in the east of the Dragons’ Den, near the tombstones and past the spot where you fought the Blue Dragon. You need one party to stand on a darkened spot near a save point to open a door in an adjoining hallway. To get both teams here from the interior of the dungeon you’ll have to backtrack along the buttons in the lava-filled room in the reverse order that you used to get across in the first place. Both teams need to be in the bottom half of the first area to reach the switch and the button beyond.
- The final button, which at this point is just a teleportation spot, can be accessed with your remaining party member. Use the turtle room to reach the area with the bridges (Dragon Temple and the Grand cavern, respectively) and you’ll find a doorway in the northwest corner of the room. This takes you where you want to go. Hopefully you have the party you want, as the final battle of the Dragons’ Den awaits…
Before you enter this battle, you should do a few things to your selected party:
- Give them the best armour and shields you’ve got by stripping the other two parties. Incline towards elemental resistances and absorbency. Try to cover as many elements as you can on each character. Females will have an easier time with this thanks to the Minerva Bustier, and having the Paladin’s Shield will make your life sooooo much easier. Force equipment is also pretty good, as physical defence isn’t much of an issue.
- Unequip weapons that inflict elemental damage if you plan on attacking normally. Stick with neutral damage. For the most part you’ll want to use non-elemental special attacks anyway, so this isn’t an issue if you’re using guys like Shadow, Sabin, Edgar, Cyan, etc.
- Give them the best relics you have on hand. Ribbons are fairly good; Celestriads will really cut down on your MP expenditure; Souls of Thamasa can help you attack and heal on the same turn, very important here; a Master’s Scroll can do wonders with the right weapon (Fixed Dice or Ultima Weapon).
- Get your characters floating. You’ll want to periodically recast Float during the battle, as well. You don’t need Angel Wings to make this happen.
- Make sure you have several characters who know Curaga, Arise, and Reraise. If you don’t have these spells you’re probably dead. (Plus you probably never got this far in the first place.)
Ready? Let’s do it.
A superboss of epic proportions, Kaiser Dragon is probably the toughest enemy in Final Fantasy VI. This thing could chew up Kefka and spit him out rather easily, and now you have to fight it. This will be one hell of a battle.
Kaiser Dragon sports a massive attack range, though it only uses a few moves at a time. What it uses depends on its most recent Barrier Change. Several times during the fight Kaiser Dragon will swap elements, and in the process change its attacks. What you receive is pretty easy to predict. If it changes to earth, expect Quake. If it changes to fire, here comes Flare Star or Firaga. If it goes to ice, Absolute Zero gets trotted out. If it changes to lightning, Thundaga or Flash Rain are incoming. It uses all of these moves relentlessly, sometimes twice per turn, and you’ll either need elemental coverage to survive everything or somebody who heals more often than you can probably manage. In short, if you don’t have elemental coverage, you’re dead. Kaiser Dragon’s Barrier Changes don’t change its weaknesses, and most elemental moves simply do nothing, so it’s best to stick to special attacks and Ultima / Flare to do damage. Expect a lot of countering.
For much of the battle it’s more important to heal your party than it is to hurt Kaiser Dragon, as it will reset its HP each time it switches elements. You’ll simply expedite the process by whittling its HP down. Arise anybody who falls and cast Curaga liberally, depending on how much damage Kaiser inflicts with its current element. Status ailments trot out to play occasionally, but much less often than Kaiser’s brutal all-hitting attacks. Be prepared, too, for one-hit wonders, as Kaiser Dragon’s single-strike moves typically kill their target regardless of your HP count.
You don’t need to truly move to the offensive until Kaiser Dragon starts using Heartless Angel to lower your HP to one. Curaga away the damage, then pull out your strongest moves and batter it. In the meantime, choose one character to stick only with healing duties. You’ll want the character least likely to die. This character should receive a casting of Reraise. This is very important, as Kaiser Dragon will automatically cast Ultima when it runs out of HP, and unless you have a lot of HP on your own side (7,000+) this will likely kill your whole team. Reraise will bring your character back just in time for the win.
Defeating Kaiser Dragon will bring the Dragons’ Den to a close, and as a reward for your efforts you’ll receive the Diabolos magicite. Your victory will also unlock one final dungeon, the Soul Shrine, off the coast of Mobliz.