One of the major cities in Skyrim and located in the aptly named Pale Hold, there may not be a lot going on inside Dawnstar’s walls, but there is certainly a lot of reasons to visit this bustling city, located in the frozen wastelands of Skyrim. Although Dawnstar is most well known for its mining operations, it is also one of two Holds, alongside Winterhold, with one of the highest dragon spawn rates in the game.
Despite being a relatively unguarded settlement, with very little in the way of walls and protection from attack, it does have the terrain advantage, walled on most sides with either high cliffsides the ocean, forcing would-be attackers to come through the main gates, or risk braving the stormy seas of Skyrim’s north.
Although Dawnstar is considered a major city, there isn’t a lot here in the way of merchants. There is, of course, the local blacksmith, Rustlief, that works out of his house with his wife, Seren, and is spitting distance from both the Quicksilver Mine and Iron-Breaker Mine, meaning players can easily make use of whichever ore they require for their armor and weapons. The only other store in Dawnstar is the apothecary, The Mortar and Pestle, run by Frida, the widow of the previous store owner.
The local inn, Windpeak Inn, is run by Thoring, a Nord whose daughter is also the bard of the establishment, though the only reason to visit the inn is to either find radiant quests or begin the Waking Nightmare Daedric Artifact quest. Madena, the court wizard, also sells spell books and various other magical items, such as robes, staves, and Soul Gems.
Although it should have been patched out long ago, there is a secret chest in Dawnstar, to the left of the Iron-Breaker Mine, that is connected to the Khajiit caravan that stops just outside of the city. If you get into the right position, you are easily able to steal everything that the Khajiit would otherwise force you to pay for, and is a good way to quickly find Soul Gems and enchanted items for leveling your Enchanting skill, as well as potions and poisons that are always useful in battle.
There is also a chest inside Beitild’s house that contains randomized items, though you are unlikely to encounter this unless you have undertaken the Dark Brotherhood questline, as she is one of several targets given to you by Nazir. Irgnir’s house also contains a similarly randomized chest, though they have no quest associated with them and their house will have to be broken into in order to loot it.
Inside Silus Vesuvius’ house, which also doubles as a museum dedicated to the Mythic Dawn cult from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you can obtain the Mythic Dawn Robes, Boots, and Gloves by picking the locks on the display cases, though this is best done once Silus is dead after completing the Daedric Artifact quest The Pieces of the Past.
Like most cities, there are several different skill books hidden among the houses and shops in Dawnstar, though there are quite a few Destruction skill books in particular. In The Mortal and Pestle, 2920, vol 09 – Hearthfire, a Conjuration skill book, can be found behind the counter where Frida normally stands. Inside Brina’s house, you can find the One-Handed skill book, The Importance of Where, in a basket left of the chest at the end of her bed. The Lockpicking skill book, The Wolf Queen, Book 1, can be found inside the jail cell of the Dawnstar Barracks and is most easily obtained by spending the night in prison.
The White Hall has two skill books, one for Destruction and one for Enchanting. Catalog of Weapon Enchantments, the Enchanting skill book, can be found on the floor in the room to the left, while The Art of War Magic, the Destruction skill book, can be found in the second-floor room on the right, sitting on a table.
Both the Quicksilver and Iron-Breaker Mines also have skill books. Inside Quicksilver Mine, the Smithing skill book, Cherim’s Heart of Anequina, can be found in a crate on the bottom level next to two veins that are side-by-side. Besides the only bedroll inside Iron-Breaker Mine is a Destruction skill book, Response to Bero’s Speech, on top of a barrel.
There are several quests and errands that can be completed in Dawnstar, though the most notable are the two Daedric Artifact quests: Pieces of the Past, where you will be rewarded with Mehrune’s Razor, and Waking Nightmare, where you can either obtain the Skull of Corruption or destroy it. Should you chose to destroy it, you will instead gain Erandur as a follower. There is a similar choice in Pieces of the Past, but it isn’t recommended to take the option to spare Silus, as he will only give you 500 Septims and he won’t become a follower, unlike Erandur.
If you are doing the Dark Brotherhood questline, you will eventually end up in Dawnstar to take over the abandoned Dawnstar Sanctuary, as the Falkreath Sanctuary is destroyed during the last few quests in the questline. Dawnstar is also home to one of the assassination targets, Beitild, though her death happens much earlier in the questline than the move to Dawnstar.
You can begin a short quest for Captain Wayfinder aboard the ship, Sea Squall, Salty Sea-Dogs. Wayfinder will ask you to find fine-cut void salts, which he will reward you with a leveled amount of Septims if you return them to him. Unlike most other fetch-quests, this one can be done multiple times and each successful completion will reward you with a leveled amount of Septims. Another short quest can be found inside the Mortal and Pestle, where Frida will ask you to find the Ring of Pure Mixtures for her as a memento of her late husband. Once this ring has been retrieved and returned to her, however, it can be bought back from her through her regular shop menu.
There aren’t that many secrets inside Dawnstar, though there are some notable interactions that can shed some light on what it’s like to live in Dawnstar. While many miners working in Dawnstar claim that Quicksilver Mine is the better of the two, the mine itself only has five ore veins, whereas the Iron-Breaker Mine has six and is located much closer to the smelter. However, Iron-Breaker Mine only has one bedroll for all of its workers, indicating that the owners don’t expect their workers to rest at any point.
The Nightcaller Temple also has some interesting facts surrounding it, which should be no surprise considering it is the location for worshipping a Daedric Prince. Unlike most other buildings, followers of any kind aren’t allowed inside the temple, including permanent summons from the Dead Thrall or Atronach spells. The temple itself is also claimed by Erandur to have been abandoned for many years before the priests used it as a temple, which indicated that it may actually be the fort that was historically destroyed in the Second era.
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Callum Archer is a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia. He is an avid gamer, Nintendo fanboy, and lover of weird sci-fi novels, who also dabbles in manga from time to time, usually dark and twisted work like Uzumaki and Death Note.
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