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"Dragon Quest IX" - Grotto Exploring for Newbies

I've been playing video games since the tender age of four. As a result, most of my articles are related to video games.


Greetings, my dear readers, to my 38th article!

As has become a certain habit for me recently, this article is going to be about the RPG Dragon Quest IX. More specifically, I'm going to talk about grotto exploring. You may or may not have come across these dungeons during your travels, by way of treasure maps. I'm here to explain how to get treasure maps if you haven't gotten one already. I'll also explain what your party should look like by the time you start grotto exploring.

Getting a Treasure Map

There are four ways to get a treasure map, but two of them are inaccessible until you beat the game's main boss (if you're having trouble with him, check out this article).

  1. Complete the quest in the Heights of Loneliness, on the screen right before Zere Rocks. The fallen man requires a special medicine. Make one via Alchemy and give it to him. He'll give you a Level 1 treasure map.
  2. Go talk to the king in Stornway during the post-game.
  3. Complete a quest received by interacting with a corpse in the island near the top right corner of the world map during the post-game (it's unreachable without the ability to fly, since it's surrounded by shoals).
  4. Trade maps with other players via Tag Mode.

Option #3 will actually give you a map that leads to a Legacy Boss rather than a grotto. Legacy Bosses are returning villains from previous Dragon Quest games and are just as tough as you remember them to be. I'm currently stuck on the first Legacy Boss and my party has two level 45 characters and two level 41 characters, if that's any indication of where the power curve lies there...

The First Grotto Location

This is invariably the location that the first treasure map will lead to. This is located a little to the west of Stornway.

This is invariably the location that the first treasure map will lead to. This is located a little to the west of Stornway.

Finding the Grotto

Once you acquire a treasure map, you get a new option in your Items sub-menu to see your Treasure Maps. To find a grotto, you must select a map from this menu, which will then replace the area map on the top screen of the Nintendo DS, and you must find the X, as it were. An exclamation mark will appear over your character's head when you're in the vicinity of a grotto. Press A to reveal it and then A again to enter it. The first treasure map is a freebie to find, as the location marked by the X is none other than the area close to the west of Stornway. Other treasure maps will have different locations for their X, determined by a random generator that has over 100 distinct locations in it.

Minimum Party Requirements

If you want to go grotto exploring as soon as you get that first map, and assuming you got it as soon as possible (which means you've probably just beaten Garth Goyle at Zere Rocks and are in your late teens to early twenties), I'd recommend you hold it off until your party is at a neat level 25. As you'll see, if you don't heed my advice, the problem isn't the grotto itself, it's the grotto boss at the bottom. They are much stronger than regular bosses at this stage of the game, so if you go straight to Equinox (a boss of the Beast Family which is the guaranteed boss of this first grotto as well as a possible boss in other low-level grottos), he's probably going to wipe the floor with you, and fast. Grotto bosses tend to have some nice features such as:

  • Double attack (Although they sometimes don't use it, go figure!)
  • Disruptive Wave (This removes all boosts and tension your party may have gotten via in-battle actions.)
  • Mass attacks (Every grotto boss I know of has one of these. Whether it does 40 or 140, they have it. You probably don't have Multiheal yet, so if said boss' mass attack does enough damage, your healer is going to get out-damaged, and fast.)

So, what are some good minimum party requirements for exploring grottos?

  • Your main character should be a Minstrel, with the ability to Zing.
  • A tank to withstand punishment. Early on, you'll want a Warrior (for Whipping Boy), but later you'll see that Paladins have a nicer array of defensive skills and spells (not to mention a Coup de Grace that screams out defense; Knight Watch).
  • A healer. I can't stress this enough. You NEED A HEALER. At the start, a Priest is all you'll have, but once you get the ability to switch into the Sage vocation, I recommend having a Sage as your healer as they're the only vocation that can Kazing. In either case, your healer should have Multiheal. Also, your healer should have points in the Wand skill tree and use a Wand, ALL THE TIME. The MP bonuses you get as you level up that skill tree are too good to pass up.
  • A damage dealer. Gladiators were made for this role, but spell damage is higher at times depending on the situation, so feel free to use a Mage here. Keep in mind that your tank can also fill in as damage dealer if his HP are not needed to shield an ally that turn.

With that set up, you should be able to beat Equinox as long as you use Multiheal every turn.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Well, after you beat Equinox, you'll get a new treasure map which, according to sources online, will be leveled according to your party level (in other words, the stronger you are when you finally beat Equinox, the harder the map he will drop). So, you may consider beating the main game before you keep grotto exploring, as (in my opinion) this content is meant to be done after you complete the story. This is without mentioning that the best spot for getting quick levels (Slime Hill) is only available after you beat the game, so all signs seem to point to putting this content off until later.

That's pretty much the extent of this article, but I'll close this one with some general tips for grotto exploring:

  • Always explore each floor thoroughly. Some floors in some grottos have blue chests. They don't have much in low-level grottos, but higher-level grottos should have some nice chest loot.
  • Each grotto boss drops a Treasure Map the first time you beat it. Additionally, the boss has a chance of dropping one additional item as well. I've currently seen Equinox drop a Dragontail Whip (10% chance) and Vesta Gauntlets (2% chance). This will be noted in the treasure map info once you've acquired an item in particular.
  • If you find a member of the metal slime family in a grotto, make sure to make a personal note somewhere so you don't forget where you saw him. From personal experience I can say that grinding these critters is much easier inside of a grotto than in other locations (including Slime Hill, depending on your luck).
  • Legacy Bosses will always drop a Mini Medal upon defeat, and may drop other loot. There are other things related to Legacy Bosses that I won't touch on here, but may touch on in the future.
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So, now that you have a primer for grotto exploring, I suggest you go and have fun! If you can't beat the boss, then keep advancing in the story or (if you're in post-game already) go get some levels off of Metal Slime family members.

Feel free to post in the comments section if you have any questions about this article, or if you just want to talk about Dragon Quest IX!

Until the next time, take care and have fun!



Gandalf on February 22, 2014:

what about a ranger can he help fight 1st baddie by the way I am 10 and I beat the zere rock baddie

Lord of the Sword on January 17, 2013:

There are also some other legacy boss maps, but they are all available only from DLC quests, and I don't know their numbers.

Lord of the Sword on April 19, 2012:


Advice: You might also upgrade a couple of the Miracle Swords into Uber Miracle Swords for the ones with less strength.

AG on April 16, 2012:

Go with 4 Gladiators, miracle swords and sacrosanct armour. You do loads of damage (successive hit multipliers really add up if you use falcon slash with them all) and recoup hit points as you go. Its a bit of a brute force and ingnorance approach, but you can blast through the main game and the regular grottos with it

Lord of the Sword on March 02, 2012:

@ Keaton the Celestrian

Don't feel bad if you can't beat those bosses like Orgodemir, Baramos, and Malroth.

Those are called LEGACY BOSSES.

They are bosses from previous DQ games.

They are meant to be HARD.

Personally, I would like Orgodemir, I need blue orbs. :P

Lord of the Sword on February 29, 2012:

@ ?????

For one, unless you REALLY like your ranger, I'd say change his vocation to a paladin (the tank REALLY helps). Change the vocation of your priest to sage (sage eventually learns Kazing, WAY better than Zing, barely ever fails). Finally, change your armamentalist to... probably a mage, you will need a magic damage dealer for those bosses that spam Buff and Kabuff (vice versa for gladiator, for those bosses that spam magic mirror(barrier)).

Jackeea on February 22, 2012:

I'd use a priest, mage, martial artist (NEEDS MULTIFISTS AND PSYCH UP) and minstrel with egg on. Get the m.a's tension to 100 and oomphed, then use multifists. Can do about 2k damage in total. 3k with crits.

????? on February 16, 2012:

Having trouble with baramos with lvl 61 ranger lvl52 gladiator lvl 65 priest and lvl 57 armentlist what do i do

Keaton the Celestrian on January 31, 2012:

(corrections)My party is levels 50-80 but i cant beat lv 1 grotto bosses (not equinox) like Orgodemir,Baramos,Malroth,and lv 47 grotto boss:Atlas can you help me beat these 4 bosses.(btw i might get more maps because im doing all the quests that gives you maps so if i get more i might ask for more help but i saw that virtue and magic mirror combo you talked about so ill try that and hope it works(oh btw i beat elusid with a ministrel(main) warrior martial artist and a theif(my theif likes to heal us a lot so he helps)help me with these 4 bosses please!

Keaton the Celestrian on January 31, 2012:

my guys are lv 50-80 but i cant beat most lv cave bosses like Atlas,Elusid,ect,please help

dragonquestfreak on June 08, 2011:

omg guys im trying to beat lleviathan for the second time where you get your powers back. Im trying to get my sage up to where she can replace my mage. this is my party : minstrel 61 warrior 52 mage 50 gladiator 52

im still getting my but kicked and idk y i just cant find a way to lvl up fast enough and liquid metal slimes are not helping 1 bit! reply soon :)

CYoung75 from Largs, United Kingdom on May 27, 2011:

I clearly need some help in this game. I have 71 hours of gameplay and a party of level 44s.

I haven't opened the Sage profession yet or maxed out the Gladiator.

Of all the professions I have opened and levelled I have most of them around level 20 and just did this to collect skill points.

I also still need to kill the last boss as well.

Love this game

James on May 21, 2011:

i have a level 65 minstrel, 63 sage, 55 wairrior and a level 55 mage. i dont know if im strong enough to start fighting greynarl and the legacy bosses.

Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on March 20, 2011:

Theburningcrusade: Nope, no strings attached. Although, I would revocate your whole party at once, because of how the experience system works.

(Characters gain EXP based on their level relative to the rest of the party. So, if one character is overleveled, he/she gets more EXP than the rest. The opposite is true as well).

Great Trolls can be found in the Realm of the Mighty (the game's final main dungeon). If you're incredibly lucky, you might stumble on a grotto that has them before you reach RotM, but I didn't have such luck.

Theburningcrusade on March 20, 2011:

that's pretty good u sur there arent any strings attached also do u no where can i find great trolls so i can get a sage

Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on March 19, 2011:

Theburningcrusade: Way to go! :)

As for the skill points: No, they don't really improve much after they drop. :/

The best you can do is switch vocations and grind extra skill points from vocations you may not use. You can also revocate when you reach level 99 in your specific vocation, returning to level 1 in the vocation but keeping your skill points, allowing you to get more. :)

Theburningcrusade on March 19, 2011:

thx pretty sure it wuz just my leverage now im either in high 40's or mid 50'with th same classes and im kicking butt, my only problem is skill points now im only getting like 1 skill point when it was like 5 and i cant level up th class' main ability much anyone know a way to help out or whether or not it starts going back up

lol on February 24, 2011:

good combo to beat equinox, a armentalist with gale force, a warrior with gigaslash and a healer and ur main with egg on, just egg on the gigaslash character to max, then use gale force on them then use gigslash, shud 1 hit it

Theburningcrusade on February 20, 2011:

K well ou basicaly just named my team my main is a armentalist hen it goes minstrel priest

and warrior here are the stats incase they help( feel free to say they suck)

armentalist lv33 male

sword 40


fource 27



m-might 144





minstrel lv 34 female










priest lv35 male











warrior lv36 male











Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on February 19, 2011:

TolalDude: Thanks for the info! I'll add it into the hub ASAP!

Theburningcrusade: Hello! Well, check this hub out!

If you still need help after reading that, let me know. :)

Theburningcrusade on February 19, 2011:

K so my ppls r in the low 30's and i hav like no new vocations under use and all the bosses keep kickin my butt down and back any tips? Do plz post bout soon

TolalDude on February 01, 2011:

Actually, you can also get treasure maps by trading in canvas for guests.

Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on December 22, 2010:

@TGTASC: The poster above that one comment called winter isn't me. :P

I bet you're surprised now, hehe. :D

guest on December 22, 2010:

the boss is equinox

TGTASC on December 22, 2010:


Just get 3 characters that can kill liquid metal slimes then go to slime hill and level your low person up that you are trying to get up the persons VUST

Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on December 13, 2010:

@winter: Hehe cool. Well you have seasonal references in your party. My references are actually elemental (Winter = Ice = Frozen Water, Pyro = Fire, etc.). :D

To be honest, you're probably going to have to grind out more levels. The normal progression for grotto bosses is:

Baramos > Murdaw > Dhoulmagus

Check out to see my current party levels. :P

The way I see it though, you might be better served by just exploring grottos for now. You'd be surprised how much experience you get from them once you find one with Liquid Metal Slimes and aren't actively looking at your party levels. I took a LONG (about 5 game hours) break from Legacy Bosses and just kept clearing grottos. :)

After that, I got Murdaw to level 16. I'm trying to get him to drop the Dhoulmagus Map. After that, I'll probably beat on Dhoulmagus a bit and then publish an article about him. It's what I usually do. :)

But yeah, my party was in their mid 50s when I took on Murdaw at level 1, and now they're about 15 levels higher for Murdaw at level 16, so I assume that you'll need to be in your mid 60s to low 70s to take on Dhoulmagus.

Or have a bunch of natural stat boosts from other skill trees.

Hope this helps! :D

winter on December 13, 2010:

I NEVER THOUGHT (ohh got my caps on) that somebody would come up with that name... moving on, i changed my vocation from lvl 50 martial artist to paladin... im only lvl 40 and getting owned by Dhoulmagus...:( so now ive been training on slime hill my friend gave me dhoulmagus's map... just wondering, is this a good party against him?: Warrior lvl 58 (spring) Thief lvl 51...i think(summer) Mage lvl 49 (fall(you were expecting that right? :))) and i already gave my lvl and name on top so if you forgot just check...PS paladin's vust ROCKS! plz get back to me as soon as you can :)

Darrin Perez (author) from Puerto Rico on December 02, 2010:

So, still believe you don't need a healer? ;P

Kidding aside, here's how I've set-up a character to hold off Elusid's attacks:

Get enough points in the Shield Skill tree to learn Magic Mirror (this is the ability equivalent of the spell Bounce).

Get enough points in the Paladin Skill tree (Virtue) to learn Forbearance. This allows your Paladin to take all attacks meant for your other party members.

With those two skills and decent armor, everytime Elusid casts a spell, you'll just reflect it back at him (4 times in the case of Kaboom or Kacrack).

Alternately, you could just get Magic Mirror on your whole party and just fight normally from there (same effect, but you run the risk of Elusid using a physical attack and attacking your weaker characters).

Hope this helps! :)

digesgen on December 02, 2010:

no you don't need a healer i have completed 12 grottos without a healer but elusid always kills me with his magic plz help me!!!!!

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