Dawnbreaker bears a unique enchantment called "Meridia's Retribution" that works similar to soul trap in that each hit infects the target for ten seconds. If the target is killed within that time, it may explode. Over the course of ten seconds, the chance to trigger an explosion is 1 - (.75 ^ x), where x is the number of strikes. In other words, the more times the target is hit, the more likely the explosion is to happen. The explosion only happens if the target is undead. It is not actually necessary for the killing blow that triggers the explosion to be dealt with Dawnbreaker. A second enchantment deals 10 to 15 points of fire damage with each hit. The fire damage depends on the Augmented Flames perk, dealing 12 points of damage for the first rank and 15 points for the second. Ahzidal's MaskDR can further increase the fire damage to 17.
This blast will damage any nearby undead, including turning undead followers such as Serana and dead thralls, depending on level, and can cause any survivors to flee for a short period of time. Undead killed in the blast will crumble into ash piles. The fiery explosion has the same visual effect and functions as the Bane of the Undead spell, and thus benefits from Necromage. If one is a vampire and is quick enough when the blast goes into effect, they can see this unique version of Bane of the Undead, is in fact named "Meridia's light." Note that this can affect Serana as she is a Vampire Lord. If the player is a Vampire or Vampire Lord, the explosion will damage and can kill the player if one is on low health, the same way it affects other undead.
In addition, this weapon has a very high number of charges; much higher than most enchanted weapons. Since soul gems restore a fixed number of charges, this weapon will require more than a single grand soul to recharge it fully.
While other swords possess higher damage, the special enchantment Dawnbreaker is imbued with makes it very useful for dealing with draugr, especially when confronted by a group of undead in a small space. High-level enemies, such as a Draugr Deathlord, almost always attack alongside several lower leveled ones that can be killed in a few hits. The resulting explosion instantly kills low-level undead and causes the high-level draugr to flee. Furthermore, investing perks into the One-Handed skill would increase the base damage which the weapon inflicts.
It is also an effective weapon against vampires. In addition to being very vulnerable to fire, they are also undead, therefore they are affected by the fiery explosion. However, if the Dragonborn is a vampire, the resulting explosion will affect them as well. Members of the Dawnguard may want to obtain it, as it will be helpful while fighting vampires, and especially helpful during the siege of Castle Volkihar.
The blast will also trigger by and affect the ash spawns in the Dragonborn DLC location of Solstheim, making it useful against them as well. However, they will resist the fire enchantment, diminishing the weapon's damage potential to that of the actual physical damage it deals.
Two copies of Dawnbreaker can be obtained. This is achieved by casting a spell or using a shout with significant kinetic force, such as using Fire Storm, Fireball, Fire Rune, Ice Storm, beside the sword altar after defeating Malkoran and his shades. This will cause a copy of Dawnbreaker to fly across the room, while the original still stays where it is. Find and pick up the copy before obtaining the original from the altar, because doing so ends the quest and transports the Dragonborn outside the dungeon. This appears to work on all versions, but is inconsistent and not guaranteed.
This section contains bugs related to Dawnbreaker (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
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Click to show Bugs
It is not unusual to find another copy of the sword in the inventory of Malkoran's Shade, if he was killed in close proximity to the altar, which can be exploited to obtain up to three Dawnbreakers in total.
PS3 Occasionally Dawnbreaker will glow brightly as if it is constantly being drawn.
PS3(Fix) Sheathing and redrawing will return the blade to normal.
PC 360 PS3 Dawnbreaker will sometimes glow very brightly when entering a new zone. This can be fixed by changing weapons.
PC 360 PS3 Dawnbreaker does not get recharged by the perk Soul Siphon.
PC 360 PS3 This weapon seems to be able to accidentally equip itself to the same hand as another weapon at the same time. This may be due to using the item duplication glitch above.
PC 360 PS3 If equipped with a weapon of a different kind in the left hand, Dawnbreaker may take the form of the weapon in the left. Confirmed with Daedric sword. To fix un-equip and then re-equip Dawnbreaker, the weapon should now be displayed properly.
PC 360 PS3 It is recommended to save before collecting the sword after told to do so. This is because, when the Dragonborn is dropped back down to land by Meridia after being summoned, they may be killed upon landing.
PC Entering the TCL console command can prevent this, but only if it is done beforehand.
PS3 It is possible to escape this glitch by running towards the water after the conversation with Meridia. Also try restarting the PS3 and attempting again, as it is a matter of loading out of falling before hitting the ground. If the load is too slow or the Dragonborn is positioned too far uphill, they hit the ground and die.
360 Use Kinect to Quicksave before collecting the sword. If the above bug should occur, use the Quickload command before hitting the ground.
360 It is possible that, if the Dragonborn stays completely still during the entire cutscene with Meridia, they may avoid this glitch completely.
PC 360 PS3 When summoned to the sky, a dragon may follow and attack during the dialog with Meridia, making returning to the ground impossible. Reloading and killing the dragon before placing the beacon will work, as will backing away from the conflict in the sky and waiting for several hours. The dragon will disappear and conversation with Meridia will resume.
PS3 Placing Dawnbreaker on a weapon rack can cause it to float to the ceiling directly above the rack it was placed on.
Placing Dawnbreaker on a weapon rack may cause it to disappear.
360 If an enemy uses a shout of Disarm, Dawnbreaker may vanish.
360 PS3 There is a small chance that while fighting Malkoran and hitting Dawnbreaker with a frost shout before seeing it will cause it to have a frost enchantment instead of fire.
PC 360 If Dawnbreaker gets knocked off the pedestal during the fight, it can be picked up off the floor. Another one can then be received by activating the pedestal. It is recommended to get this one second, as the Dragonborn will be pulled into the sky at that point.
360 If the Dragonborn has Sunhallowed Elven Arrows in their inventory and views them, Dawnbreaker will glow brightly. This can be fixed by unequipping and re-equipping it.
NX If the Dragonborn is Dual Wielding twin Dawnbreakers through one of the duplication glitches above, transforms into a Vampire Lord, and uses Revert Form while in magic mode, the Vampire Lord's Drain Life spell will stay equipped to the Dragonborn's right hand in their normal form. The Dawnbreaker that it replaces will still be visible but perpetually sheathed until re-equipped.
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