After completing Palom’s Tale you’ll be shunted back to Troia, to the point just before the Lodestone Cavern trip. You’ll find the Challengingway NPC for the Dungeon lounging on the banks of the northern pond in Troia.
Palom’s Challenge Dungeon consists of a series of randomized areas which will change each time you enter the Dungeon. What you’ll encounter, therefore, is up in the air each time.
This area is populated by some dangerous physically-inclined creatures, and should be treated with caution. Take enemies out one-by-one rather than trying to target them all. Of note is the Gil Bird, which will drop 999 gil most of the time… and 9,999 gil on Full Moons. Oooo. These flee quickly, so stick to Band attacks and Bio to kill ‘em before this happens.
Head south. You’ll find a split path. To the left you’ll find 3,000 gil; to the right the path continues. Keep going east until you’re forced north. The exit is at the end of the path, as well as a boardwalk on your left. The boardwalk leads to a Mystic Veil.
This floor lives up to its name, and you’ll have to do some wandering to get to the other side. If you go to the northwest corner from the entrance you can find a restorative pot, making this a decent place to level up. You’ll find another such pot on the far right side of this area. The exit is in the northeast corner; head north, east, south, and then general northeastish to get there.
As the name suggests, the Flan Floor is inhabited entirely by Flan-type creatures which can only be defeated with matching magic. (Or Bio. Bio works very nicely.) There’s an Ether in the first pots you find and 5,000 gil in a side passage on the west side of the room, accessible via a secret passage to the south (you have to pass through a bunch of secret passages to get here, speaking of which). Easy floor.
This floor is populated almost entirely by magically-inclined monsters, and isn’t too difficult for your small team. In the north the path splits; go right to find a chest containing a WHAT?, and go left to find a chest containing a Soma Drop and stairs out of here.
Another floor with a looooot of dangerous physical hitters. Be careful. This place is a bit of a maze, though it’s not as bad as the Maze Floor. Along the southern wall from the entrance is a Phoenix Down; in the northwest corner is a Lilith’s Kiss; in the east is a Cottage, and just north of the Cottage a Silver Apple. The exit is in the northeast corner, accessible by following a middling path as far east as you can go.
Guess what you’ll find here? The enemies in this area are pretty easy, so don’t worry too much ‘bout that. There’s a Decoy east of the entrance, a Bestiary to the south and west, a Dry Ether in the northeast, and a White Fang just north of the exit, in the southeast of the area.
Just a place with a lot of people who want to beat you up. Bio will slaughter the hell out of this floor. You’ll find a Hi-Potion in a pot on your immediate right and a Killer Bow in a chest straight north from the entrance. The exit is on your left in the far north.
This area consists of a series of connected boats. The enemies are nothing special overall, and lightning magic works well enough. Head east at the start to eventually find an Ether, then start making your way south from ship to ship to find the exit.
After completing three of the floors above you’ll be shunted to the Final Floor. There’s one more enemy waiting. Be sure to save, as this thing isn’t messing around. That said, save on a different file, because there’s no way to leave this area without beating the boss - and it’s tough enough that there’s a good chance you won’t be able to win. Ouch.
The Blade Dragon is easily one of the most annoying bosses in the individual Tales of FFIV: The After Years. The beast operates on a rotating elemental system, casting either Thundara, Fira, or Blizzara on one or both of your team members. Your job is to hit it with the element it is not using at a given time. Doing otherwise will cause Blade Dragon to not only counter your attack, but to regain health. Irritating. This is made even worse by the fact that Blade Dragon will counter all non-elemental magic with an all-hitting, sapping attack and a huge, percentile-based bump to its own health. Imagine a more difficult version of Magus from Chrono Trigger and you’ve got the Blade Dragon.
This is a long fight. All you can really do is watch the Blade Dragon’s spells and either guess which spell is its current weakness or wait until it uses two elements, which can take a while. Once you guess successfully the Blade Dragon will swap weaknesses and the process begins again. BAH. This can be extremely painful if the Blade Dragon is operating at full speed, so despite the impending health boost and counterattack it’s highly recommended you cast Slow on the bastard to cut his effective attacks per round in half. Then just whittle away at the Dragon with Palom’s magic while Leonara goes on healing duty for the rest of the fight. It will take a while, but so long as you can heal each round you should be able to survive.
Besting the Blade Dragon will allow you to access the final chest in the dungeon and leap out for another try. The chest may contain the following:
- Black Robe
- Protect Staff
- Red Robe
- Silver Apple
- Single Star
- Soma Drop
- Wizard’s Rod