"One could say it's a world in which one's distorted desires have materialized. I call such a place a "Palace.""
- Persona 5 / Royal
A Palace is a manifestation of "distortion", strong negative or corrupt thoughts that warp the perceptions of people into a hazard for themselves and others (for example, seeing all other people as living ATMs). According to Morgana, most people's negative and corrupt thoughts are blended together into the Metaverse in a location called Mementos, which is a Palace for all of humanity, as this game's iteration of the Collective Unconscious. However, particularly strongly distorted individuals manifest personal Palaces that is solely inhabited by their Shadow Self.
Not all Palaces are formed by ill-natured individuals, as Futaba's Palace is fueled by Futaba Sakura's suicidal thoughts and repressed memories of her mother. This suggests that extreme negative emotions or psychological trauma can also cause a Palace to form. If the Palace is formed by said reasons, objects containing it will appear in their own Palaces as they represent subconscious knowledge, so it is possible for its owner to enter it and recollect or for other people to view them. The hosts of Palaces are often unaware of its existence, and if they were infiltrated by someone, they will not generate any adverse effects for its hosts in the real world until the Palace is destroyed or the host's Shadow Self is killed.
All Palaces draw in Shadows, which help to protect them and fend off intruders, and cognitive existences projected by the host's interpretation of a real person or idea appear in the Palace. These existences are either passive, as in the case of Princess Ann in Kamoshida's Palace, or pose a threat to intruders, such as the Corporobo in Okumura's Palace. The stronger the person's corruption, the stronger the Shadows will be in the Palace. While cognitive existences do not affect their counterparts in reality, the Shadows still represent the unconsciousness there, so the Phantom Thieves of Hearts establish code names for all of their members to avoid identity exposure during their infiltration. Also, Morgana states that directly entering from the main entrance of a Palace is a no-go option for a Phantom Thief, since that will alert any Shadows inside the Palace to take action.
To activate access to a Palace from the real world, it requires input for the Metaverse Navigator app with four pieces of crucial information, whether it's by either voice or typing: full name of the host, location of the Palace in comparison to the real world, title of the host, and the form the Palace takes. The Metaverse Navigator will afterward permanently remember the Palace (E.G: Perverted Teacher, Castle and Shujin Academy as Kamoshida's Palace's parameters) and remove it only if the location is no longer accessible. Palaces serve as the main battleground for the Phantom Thieves, and the ones explored each represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Deep within a Palace is a Treasure, a physical representation of the Palace owner's wicked desires or negative emotions, which is supposedly the root behind the owner's distortions. Once the Phantom Thieves of Hearts successfully infiltrate a Palace, find the treasure, and establish an escape route, they send a calling card to the owner in the real world in order for the Treasure to take on a physical form. Once the Treasure has been taken and the Shadow Self of the owner has been defeated, the Palace immediately crumbles and permanently disappears, and the host's personality will undergo a massive change. The Treasures can be taken into the real world and can be pawned off. For the Phantom Thieves, some of the Treasures are used to fund their activities.
Generally, a Persona user cannot develop a Palace, as a Persona user almost always has a clear grasp of their desires, having tamed and trained their Shadow.
The Thieves will have a deadline to complete a Palace each time it is unlocked. If this deadline passes, a game over scene will be triggered. Exploring a Palace takes out the entire day period, including nighttime. There will also be a deadline for the initial infiltration, the exploration round, sending a calling card to the target and stealing the treasure. Clearing them before the deadline is of utmost importance in a day's time, and should be performed before all other activities if possible unless the player has excellent time management or requires additional preparation. Clearing most Palaces takes 3 days, as one day after the exploration is required to send the calling card and the following day after doing so the Thieves will be forced inside the Palace to defeat its ruler and steal the treasure. Therefore, exploring a Palace during the last 3 days prior to deadline (Or in the case of Madarame (5 days), Niijima (4 days) or Maruki's (4 days)) will still result in a game over. Furthermore, after securing a treasure route, all party member Confidants are rendered unavailable until defeating the boss encounter(s). The only exceptions are Niijima's Palace and Maruki's Palace, whose deadlines are also the final exploration date, as the heist must occur on the final day for story-related reasons.
In the cases of both the Depths of Mementos and Qliphoth World, both dungeons are cleared in just one day (both on December 24th), due to narrative reasons. While traversing through the Mementos Depths, the deadline of the re-arrest, reading "FEW" is shown, and when ascending the Qliphoth World, this will be replaced by the message “Day of Reckoning." After the protagonist sends the calling card to Maruki on February 2nd, and enters his Palace on February 3rd, the fixed message now reads “Day of Fates." During any of these cases, the deadline banner will remain that way until the boss encounter(s) were defeated.
The party may revisit Palaces even after the treasure route is secured, as long as the treasure has not been stolen yet, as the latter action destroys the Palace.
If the host's desires are destroyed by the intruder, usually by stealing their treasure, that person's mental state will deteriorate in the real world, and they will confess all their crimes in front of the public. If the host's Shadow Self is killed outright, the one in reality will suffer a mental shutdown, almost always leading to their death as well. This is key to the plan of Masayoshi Shido, who uses the talents of Goro Akechi in the Metaverse as a way to safely assassinate Okumura to advance his plan. The Phantom Thieves prevent the host's death by not killing their Shadow Self, instead persuading them to return to their true selves and confess their crimes.
While exploring the Depths of Mementos, the Thieves learn that the Shadow Selves they have reformed (except for Kunikazu Okumura who has been killed due to Akechi’s actions) have in fact returned to the Prison of Regression that lies within the Depths of Mementos, where the majority of the Shadows lock themselves behind bars, embracing the deadly sin of sloth - specifically, due to their fear of disrupting societal order in any way. Masayoshi Shido’s Shadow Self reveals that Palaces are formed by the Shadow Selves of chaotic elements who escaped from the Prison of Regression and are locked inside personalized Palaces as a result. (In other words, to form a personalized Palace, one needs a distorted and powerful desire for controlling and terrorizing others, to the point that the Prison of Regression can't contain them.) However, the Palace Rulers also help to keep all those still within Mementos locked away by their own hands, as these people terrorize others into remaining "safe" within the Prison of Regression. This is the true reason why the conductor of the Metaverse incidents sends the protagonist into Palaces to clean those people's distorted desires up as a part of his game, as changing their hearts does not actually reform them but keeps them silent.
The public is also not the true ruler of Mementos despite initial assumption, as they were supposedly incapable of creating such an orderly and complex security system like the Depths of Mementos. Instead, the true ruler and conductor is the Holy Grail, an almighty being created from humanity's desire for eternal apathy. He manipulates the public into foolishness and indolence and make them resemble organic events, to the point that they all desire total control by the Grail, rendering it virtually invincible as it infinitely self-regenerates. He then merges Mementos with the real world, turning it into an apocalyptic wasteland in a grand display of the public's foolishness, although the influenced general public is so manipulated that they can't perceive the distortions. The Holy Grail then proceeds to make the public believe that the Phantom Thieves do not exist, wiping them out from cognition entirely. Declaring that the protagonist had lost his game while taking Igor's form, he proceeds to order Caroline and Justine to execute the protagonist, although the two realize the malice of the situation, and the protagonist fuses them back into Lavenza instead. The two expose the Grail's trickery, reject his offer to rewind time and return the Phantom Thieves to glory, and he leaves, allowing the protagonist to rescue all of his teammates in the cells adjacent to the Velvet Room and make the ascent into the Qliphoth World to confront Yaldabaoth, the Holy Grail's true form.
With his defeat, Mementos is erased for good without its master to sustain it. And since Mementos is the source of all other Palaces, the entire Metaverse is sealed off from reality, free of distortions.
Persona 5 Royal
In Persona 5 Royal, The protagonist possesses his own palace known as the Thieves Den, which acts as the game's gallery room.
After the collapse of Mementos, if the protagonist maxed out the confidant of Takuto Maruki prior to 11/18, the party, along with the entire general public bar the protagonist, Akechi, and presumably Kasumi, found themselves suddenly living in a different reality where all their desires are real, such as Morgana living as a young human, Futaba's mother being alive and well, and Ann's friend Shiho back at Shujin Academy. While the rest of the Thieves appear to be content, Akechi knows that something is odd and requests that the protagonist investigates with him. Kasumi can sense the strange unknown palace from before and offers to join in as well. The three investigate the matter by infiltrating the mysterious Palace. They eventually learn that its owner is Takuto Maruki, and that he's the one responsible behind the alterations of people's reality, and, as revealed by him, how Kasumi is really her sister Sumire Yoshizawa, who wanted to believe she was Kasumi after her untimely death. Maruki's Palace itself was formed out of his grief over the suffering of his girlfriend, Rumi, and subsequently the desire to end the suffering of humanity as a whole.
Maruki's case of developing a Palace differs greatly from previous situations, and is the exception to several rules on how Palaces work. One such instance is that Persona users cannot have Palaces, however, Takuto Maruki also uses a Persona of his own, Azathoth, which eventually evolves into Adam Kadmon. Additionally, instead of his Shadow self, Maruki himself is the one who operates the Palace (as opposed to his Shadow), even if he himself believed it to be a real location, at least before Akechi explained it to him.
After checking on the other Phantom Thieves and taking back Sumire from Maruki, including a battle with her own insane, grief-stricken Persona which is only won thanks to the sudden reappearance of the rest of the team, the now ten Phantom Thieves reunite to investigate the new Palace. Once the treasure route is discovered and the protagonist personally gives Maruki his calling card on February 2nd, they confront him and his Persona, Azathoth, followed by Adam Kadmon on the next day. They eventually succeed in defeating him, changing Maruki's heart for good and destroying his Palace. As a result, everything returns to as it should have been before Maruki's alterations.
Persona 5 Strikers
List of Palaces
|Kamoshida's Palace||April 11th||May 2nd (Board Meeting)||Castle of Lust|
|Madarame's Palace||May 16th||June 5th (End of Exhibition)||Museum of Vanity|
|Kaneshiro's Palace||June 19th||July 9th (Kaneshiro leaks the photos)||Bank of Gluttony|
|Futaba's Palace||July 25th||August 21st (Medjed’s Cleanse)||Pyramid of Wrath|
|Okumura's Palace||September 15th||October 11th (Haru moves in with her fiancé)||Spaceport of Greed|
|Niijima's Palace||October 29th||November 20th (Start of Investigation)||Casino of Envy/Jealousy|
|Shido's Palace||November 24th||December 18th (Election Day)||Cruiser of Pride|
|Mementos||May 7th (Surface)
December 24th (Depths and Qliphoth World)
|December 24th (Day of Reckoning)||Prison of Sloth/Regression/Acedia|
|Maruki's Palace*||October 3rd (First Glimpse); January 2nd (First Exploration); January 9th (Saving Sumire), January 12 (Forced exploration)||January 9th (Checking on teammates), February 3rd (Day of Fates)||Center of Melancholy/Laboratory of Sorrow|
In Royal, the protagonist possesses his own palace known as the Thieves Den. It is not meant to be explored and possesses no shadows; however it acts as the game's gallery room and can be entered without affecting the time of day.
- Palaces are somewhat similar to the personalized dimensions in the TV World of Persona 4, as each dungeon typically reflects the mentality of the one who created it. However, while the TV world is made of hidden thoughts and secrets of people and do not always represent corruption, Palaces are exclusively made of corruption or negative desires.
- DLC Costumes in Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal do not work outside Palaces.
- If the security level is high enough, that Palace's map will become a BGM visualizer.
- In Persona 5, after sending a calling card, the Palace's security level will always rise to 99%. In Persona 5 Royal, this is changed to 100%, as the security level rising to maximum now no longer ejects you from the Palace.