The Imperial Palace is located in the city of Vector, and it is where Gestahl reigns over the Empire in Final Fantasy VI. The player first sees Vector in a flashback at the beginning of the game. The player can enter the Imperial Palace's outer region during their first visit to Vector after Setzer Gabbiani joins the party and provides his airship, but they are attacked by the Guardian and are forced to flee when they are unable to defeat it.
The palace itself lacks the finery and grandeur of what is expected from an Imperial abode and is instead highly industrialized and more akin to a factory; rooms divided by pipes and venting; dark metal walkways with safety railings; patchy cobbled together walls of scrap metal. The only remotely opulent aspect of the palace is the regal red carpets that partially obscure the dank hallway. The choice of design style is reminiscent of the real-world post industrial revolution where coal burning and iron forging became the norm and hailed the decline of the rural agricultural era.
After the Returners open the Sealed Gate, the espers emerging from within raze the imperial capital. The Returners enter the palace to discuss the current state of affairs over a banquet. Gestahl appears to have surrendered and asks the Returners' help in negotiating peace with the espers, and supplies a Magitek Armor Transport Ship. Terra and Locke heads on a goodwill mission to Crescent Island under the command of General General Leo to find them. Kefka Palazzo is locked within a dungeon in the palace at this time. After Leo and the others find the espers Gestahl frees Kefka and sends him to obtain more magicite from dead esper remains, while he himself abandons the palace to venture to the Esper World and find the Warring Triad.
After the end of the world, the palace, along with the rest of Vector, is integrated into Kefka's Tower. Various chambers in the tower still boast imperial banners from the palace. The palace's prison remains intact and contains the boss Ultima Buster.
When the Returners are invited to dine with Emperor Gestahl, they are given two challenges: the first is to speak to as many soldiers in the palace as they can within four minutes, and the second is to correctly answer Gestahl's questions during the dinner. Depending on how well they accomplish these tasks, the player earns an unseen number of points towards receiving one to five rewards after the banquet.
There are twenty-four soldiers to speak to. The two Elite Soldiers in Gestahl's throne room and Kefka in his prison cell do not count. Four of the soldiers attack the player and must be defeated in battle. Speaking to a soldier earns one point, defeating a soldier who attacks earns five points.
The locations of the soldiers is as follows:
- Four soldiers in the hall outside the throne room.
- Six soldiers in the barracks up the stairs to the left of the throne room. One of the soldiers attacks as a Sergeant. There is a seventh soldier, also a Sergeant, in the bathroom in the barracks.
- One soldier at the top of the stairs outside the barracks.
- Five soldiers at the top of the palace. A sixth soldier is inside the room at the top of the stairs here, and attacks as a Sergeant.
- Three soldiers in the library up the stairs to the right of the throne room.
- Three soldiers outside the Imperial Palace. One attacks the player as a Mega Armor.
During the dinner with Gestahl, he asks various questions, and the player's answers reward them with additional points. The amount of points earned for each response is noted in brackets after the answer.
- Gestahl offers a toast:
- "To the Empire" (+2 points)
- "To the Returners" (+1 point)
- "To our homelands" (+5 points)
- Gestahl asks what to do with Kefka:
- "Leave him in jail" (+5 points)
- "Pardon him" (+1 point)
- "Execute him" (+3 points)
- Gestahl apologizes for the poisoning of Doma:
- "What's done is done" (+1 point)
- "That was inexcusable" (+5 points)
- "Apologize again!" (+3 points)
- Gestahl asks about Celes:
- "Was she an Imperial spy?" (+1 point)
- "Celes is one of us!" (+5 points)
- "We trust her whether she spied or not" (+3 points)
- Gestahl wishes to know if the party has any questions. All of the available responses count for +2 points the first time they are asked, but the player loses points for asking the same question more than once. It is also important the player remember which question they ask first.
- "Why did you start the war?"
- "Why do you want peace now?"
- "Why did we have to talk to your men?"
- Gestahl asks permission to speak about the espers. The player can choose to accept, or to ask one of the previous three questions. The player must ask all three questions once each to earn the maximum amount of points, before speaking about the espers.
- Gestahl says the espers will tear the world apart:
- "They have gone a bit too far" (+5 points)
- "You're the one who brought them here in the first place!" (+2 points)
- Gestahl asks which of the three questions the player asked first. A correct answer earns +5 points.
At this time, Cid offers a break. Should the player accept, they can speak to the soldiers at the table to battle them as three Imperial Elite. Defeating them within the time limit earns +5 points. Returning to the center chair at the bottom of the table will begin the dinner again.
- Gestahl asks if there is anything else they wish to hear him say:
- "That you really want peace" (+3 points)
- "That your war is truly over" (+5 points)
- "That you're sorry" (+1 point)
Gestahl asks the player to accompany the Empire to search for the espers. Answering yes the first time he asks earns +3 points. The player must answer yes to proceed with the game, but refusing the first time they are asked will not earn them any points when they accept.
Assuming the player speaks to all the soldiers and answers of all Gestahl's questions properly, they can earn up to 93 points.
After the banquet, they are rewarded based on how many points they earned:
- 1-49 points: The Empire withdraws from South Figaro.
- 50-66 points: The Empire withdraws from Doma Castle.
- 67-76 points: The armory at the Imperial Observation Post is unlocked.
- 77-89 points: The party is given a Tintinnabulum.
- 90-93 points: The party is given a Ward Bangle.
- Holy Water
- Alarm Earring
- Gale Hairpin
- Ward Bangle (as a reward in the banquet)
- Tintinnabulum (as a reward in the banquet)
- The outside appearance of the Imperial Palace is similar to that of a typical Mayan pyramid.