Final Fantasy XIV 1.0’s Black Shroud held many secrets, among them was the mysterious area in North Shroud, called Peacegarden. This area was located close to Gelmorra Ruins, and was, much like the Gelmorra Ruins, surrounded by high level monsters. It was such a curious location, mainly because the devs had bothered to put Peacegarden on the map, but had no point of interest pin, nor any structure or monument to justify the name. It was just a regular copy-paste area, not unique in the slightest. Well that’s where the whole “secret” comes in. Notice that the name “Peacegarden” is located here, on the stump leading out of the copy-paste circle. Following it to the end, you’d encounter this cave entrance, guarded by a lone Twin Adder soldier by the name of Rimomo. Rimomo would then tell you: “If it were up to me, I would let you pass. But my orders are to let none through. Please go, before there’s trouble.” Because we’re bad boys and girls, we naturally ignore this warning and pass Rimomo and venture down into the cave.
We then encounter a door. And that’s where the secret reveals itself. Peacegarden was never intended to just be the name of a generic overworld area, it was intended to tie in with the dungeon in the area – its main attraction. Now there is not official name for this dungeon, but one commonly used name for this dungeon is Peacegarden Croft, or simply “Peacegarden”. In lack of a better name, I will refer to the dungeon as simply Peacegarden. Well, I believe it’s time to pass through the doors of this dungeon. A dungeon that never saw any adventurers pass through its doors in its lifetime. This dungeon, like all other unused dungeons, has no map. Once inside, we’re presented with the same sets of stairs we’ve seen in Tam-Tara, Toto-Rak and Mun-Tuy. This is very clearly a Black Shroud Dungeon alright. Following the stairs quite a way down, we reach a room similar to those we’ve seen in all the previous Shroud dungeons. A circular room with four pillars in the middle. However this is where things start to look slightly different. The dungeon appears to be full of ixali flags, lit up by these candles on top of barrels.
I decided to follow the most linear path, moving straight forward, much like I did in the previous episode of Secrets of a Realm where we explored the Sand Caves, to see if this dungeon would follow the same pattern as that dungeon, with a secondary entrance and exit. Unlike the Sand Caves, Peacegarden does have the odd light source in the form of lamps hanging on some of the wooden frames, and the tiny candles placed on top of the barrels next to the Ixali banners. Other than that though, there is very little artificial lighting. No torches on the walls. Could be because the dungeon was unfinished, or maybe they just went for this dark vibe, like they did with Tam-Tara.
As I pass through the first circular room, I enter a series of similar rooms, connected via tight corridors. Three rooms in succession, all of them a copy of one another. As I enter the fourth room, I notice this door, with Ixali banners plastered on the outside. The door is closed, so I decide to just follow the path, but I make a mental note of this door, and plan to return to it after completing my linear journey.
After reaching my second circular room, my linear path ends. I now have a choice, do I go left, or right? Up? Or Down? My gut tells me there’s probably a lot more going on downstairs, but since I’m looking for a second exit, I choose the left path, and continue my journey. As I ascend the stairs, I am surprised by just how far up the stairs go. I start wondering if this actually leads me straight to the exit already. And bingo. I found the second exit. I smile triumphantly as I exit the doors and… realize that I’ve just walked out the same way I came in. The lack of a map and my excitement has made me walk in a circle and end up at the entrance. … This also made me realize that if I had chosen the downward path, I’d just end up walking the exact same route as I had just walked.
I decide to abandon my linear path strategy. Peacegarden is a maze, and without a map, this is going to be hells on Hydaelyn. I decided to retrace my steps all the way to the door with the ixali banners, and I pass through. The room is small, and only has one door. This was most likely supposed to house a lot of mobs that had to be defeated before you could proceed. Walking through that door, I get to yet another room, with two paths.
One behind a door, the other one just an opening. I chose the opening and following this path I believe I encountered the first potential NM room. The room contained several tables and stools, barrels, crates, sandbags, firewood, buckets and shelves filled with supplies. The room was rectangular in shape, and was lined with these gelmorra styled lamp-pillar-things. I pass through the door in the previous room and I find myself going even further down. I am starting to doubt that this dungeon has a second exit. I now finally encounter my first torch. A very lonely torch overseeing a hallway to the north leading to another Ixali marked door. There is also an unmarked door to the east, as well as an open path to the south. The southern opening leads to a dead end. The corridor has collapsed, but just as I’m about to turn around, I notice it. I first thought it was some sort of quest item related to the dungeon, left behind. Maybe a crystal shard… but no… that blue shimmer was… THIS FROG! OH MY GOD IT’S SO CUTE. That frog has been sitting there, waiting for someone to notice him for 7 long years.
I’ve decided to call him Pedro Caramello. I’ve said this before, but walking around in abandoned content with nothing resembling anything that’s alive gets a bit lonely at times, so when Pedro Caramello appeared out of nowhere made me surprisingly happy. I legit felt bad when I left him behind. But our expedition had to continue. I went back and decided to check the eastern door. Eh… Well. No. That door leads nowhere. Well at least it made my decision on where to go easier. I pass through the ixali door to the north, and I’m in my third circular room so far on this journey. But the Ixali theming is ramping up. Along each of the three pillars in this room the same ixali flags stand up. Is this another boss room? A choice of 3 doors present themselves. One to the north, one to the east and one to the west. The eastern door is once again unmarked, which so far has meant it’s a dead end, and this was no exception.
This feels like the first time I get a legitimate choice, as the opening to the west leads down a pretty long corridor. But the ixal flags on the door also seem to be an indicator as to where to go. So I decide on the door. The opening can wait. After what seemed like an eternity of the samey looking corridors and rooms. Paranoia sets in. Am I going in circles? I finally end up with another short corridor going down. Another door lurks at the bottom. I enter through the door. I am in a room looking almost identical to the one I was in earlier, only this time there are four pillars, and the opening to the left of the ixali flag door is shorter and has a door at the end of it. This door looked so ominous it almost started to freak me out. I also did not have any background music on when exploring this place, so all I had was the ambience.
I had to investigate this door. I enter what was very clearly intended to be a boss room. In fact, this looks exactly like the boss room you’d see in Toto-Rak. Only difference here being the ixali flags on the west side of the room. That’s when I noticed the room had three identical doorways to the east west and north. I had to be careful to go out the same way I came. If I choose the wrong one, I might end up looping again. Back to the four pillar room, I enter through the ixal door, and the cycle continues through another room followed by a curved corridor.
This dungeon has to be way bigger than the Sand Caves. As I pass through the door at the end of this corridor – wouldn’t you know it. A three pillar room. The opening to the left of the ixali door is now blocked by roots. But the door to the right now actually leads to a corridor going down. And guess what? So does the Ixali one. When in doubt, trust the Ixali. With my friend Pedro Caramello fresh in my mind, boosing my morale, I passed through the Ixali door, and continued down. Surely this dungeon has to have an endpoint. I continue down the dungeon, now ignoring all sidepaths. This dungeon feels like it’s going on forever, and I’m about to lose my sanity, when I finally encounter another Ixal door. After passing through this door, my first instinct is to just walk straight through the opening ahead of me. But then something odd catches my eye. This door. This door is placed almost immediately after a wooden doorframe.
With what looks like the shortest corridor I’ve seen. This has to mean something. This is the first time I’ve seen this. Could this be the result of a copy-paste gone wrong? Could a section have been copy-pasted here and been off by a slight margin, so they just covered the gap with corridor? I decided to first walk through the opening to make sure I didn’t miss anything important. Turned out to be another boss room, with several entrances and exits. I trace my steps back and enter the absurd door. I am startled as I enter the room on the other side as it has but one door – the exact same design as the one I just entered.
Only this time it had a small lamp in the upper right corner. This definitely means something, right? I pray to Pedro Caramello, and pass through. To the right of this very plain room is ANOTHER set of stairs going down. Surely we’re about to breach into hell at this point. This corridor is different. The stairwell is steeper than usual. It’s darker. There has to be something special through this door. I can feel it. I pass through, and lo and behold. A large room filled with Ixali banners, in what is very clearly the final boss room. The top most banner is covering a stone carving of Gridania’s flag. Whatever was planned for this room is impossible to say. This was made so early in FFXIV’s life, it could be anything. It is very clear that this was intended to be an Ixal-themed dungeon, because of all the banners.
But other than that, we’ve got nothing. Because the dungeon was abandoned, there is no NPC text or other entries that describe what was going on in this place, so it’s up to our imagination. Let me know in the comments what you think the story of this dungeon was supposed to be. I also want to point out that the dungeon has no second entrance or exit. So it was not meant to be a passage dungeon like Sand Caves and Mun-Tuy. There are also several boss rooms, so it could very well have been a planned instanced dungeon, like Toto-Rak. Looking at the layout, and the inclusion of boss rooms, that would certainly be my guess. Open world dungeons rarely had boss rooms, as the whole idea of the open world dungeon was that is was open 24/7 for everyone in the same instance, and thus having fixed boss rooms would be near impossible. Instead, open world dungeons like Shposhae and Mistbeard Cove had larger areas where NMs could spawn. Or in free dungeons like Natalan, where a final NM would spawn in a specific room.
This dungeon feels more like it was meant to be explored linearly, with the banners leading the way to the final boss room. Also seeing as the exit is so far away from the final boss room, with no physical quick exit door available put the final nail in the coffin on the open world dungeon theory for me. This was a very atmospheric dungeon, and I legit felt the paranoia as I ventured deeper into this dungeon, not knowing what I would face around every corner. I also made a friend for life. Pedro Caramello. He’s still down there you know, just… being a frog. I would like to thank you all for joining me on this adventure. I had a lot of fun exploring this one, I hope you had fun too! I’ll be back next month with another episode of this really bizarre series.
And in that one we’ll be looking at Umbra Cove! Please look forward to it! May you ever walk in the light of the crystal! .
As found on Youtube