Dawnstar Sanctuary is an old, abandoned Dark Brotherhood sanctuary. It is said to be one of the oldest Dark Brotherhood sanctuaries in Skyrim, and hasn't been occupied in over a century.


Cicero flees to the sanctuary during the quest "The Cure for Madness." At the end, the Dragonborn has the choice to spare or kill Cicero, although the latter is more dangerous, for when attacked, he drops his wounded facade and fights back with surprising ferocity.

The Cure for Madness must be completed before the sanctuary can be used.

The pass phrase to the question "What is life's greatest illusion?" is "Innocence, my brother." If an attempt is made to enter the sanctuary before the pass phrase has been obtained from Cicero's Journal, Final Volume, the option for the correct phrase is not available and the door will reply, "You are not worthy.", similarly to the original Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary.




Notable items

Skill books



  • Leveled weapons – on a weapon rack in the round room just beyond the bottom of the stairs.


Sanctuary upgrades

After moving to the Dawnstar Sanctuary, several upgrades can be purchased from Delvin Mallory in The Ragged Flagon. If purchased, the total upgrade cost is 19,000 GoldIcon. The following upgrades are available for purchase:

  • Master Bedroom (in the westernmost end of the Sanctuary) – contains a mannequin, bookcase, bureau, a chest, and a usable weapon rack.
  • Torture Chamber (east of the dining hall with the stained glass window) – contains four prisoners who, if tortured, reveal the locations of their treasure (each of which becomes a Miscellaneous Quest). Each location yields between 1,000 and 2,000 GoldIcon. The prisoners can also be used for combat training.
  • Secret Entrance – creates a secret entrance through the stained glass window in the main hall. The exit leads to the south end of Dawnstar near the Khajiit traders.
  • Alchemy Lab with a poison garden (up the stairs and then to the left from the dining hall) – creates an Alchemy lab and a small garden with poison oriented flora. See "Where You Hang Your Enemy's Head" for more details.



  • With high Pickpocket and Sneak, large numbers of arrows can be looted from the Sanctuary Guardians; however, they cannot be looted once slain.
  • After completing the Dark Brotherhood quest-line, two Daedra Hearts can be purchased from Babette inside the Sanctuary. These hearts restock every three days.
  • The stained glass window of Sithis is broken when first entering the Sanctuary, and a path leads to a tunnel system. When the Sanctuary is restored, a "secret entrance" is added, which uses the newly replaced stained glass as a door (though this is never seen; activating the door simply transports the player to where the Khajiit caravan sets up), so it is possible that the secret entrance uses some of the tunnel behind the window.
  • When visited during "Hail Sithis!," but before fixing it, the broken stained glass window no longer leads to the ice cave; it shows only a pillar and the corner of the chamber. It is not explained how this came to be.


This section contains bugs related to Dawnstar Sanctuary. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  ,  NX  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to reveal Bugs
  •  PS3   Equipment placed on the mannequin in the master bedroom will not appear until after leaving and re-entering the Sanctuary. When apparel is added or removed or the Shrouded Armor is removed from it, equipment may not be able to be added to those spots without the arms, legs and torso disappearing. The head remains, however.
    • Solution: The Dragonborn should add the armor that is desired to be shown on the mannequin, as well as a necklace. The mannequin menu should be left, and then opened again. Once the necklace is removed, all pieces of armor will be visible again upon exiting the menu. The necklace trick can be repeated as desired if the armor is changed.
  •  PS3   If the mannequin isn't on the pedestal, attempting to activate it directly may freeze the game. The stand should be activated instead.
  •  360   PS3   The Worn Shrouded Boots and Worn Shrouded Gloves in the master bedroom do not appear in the inventory when picked up. Their weight, however, is added.
  •  360   PS3   Sometimes after entering the Dawnstar Sanctuary, it will be impossible to get back out as the door has no exit highlighted.
  •  PC   360   Plants next to the Alchemy table never seem to regrow, even after being away from the Sanctuary for long enough to refresh the master bedroom tribute chest.
  • Sometimes, Cicero's dead body will remain in the torture chamber after the quest is complete and the upgrades have been purchased.
    • To solve this he should be resurrected, brought somewhere where an ash pile will be inconspicuous, and then killed again. Alternatively, console commands can be used to remove the body.
  • Placing stolen items in the Dark Brotherhood Initiate's inventory and retaking them removes the stolen flag.
  • When doing the quest "The Cure for Madness," a courier may run in, get hit by a Sanctuary Guardian and run back out.
  •  PS3   It is possible to become stuck in the icy area that must be ventured through to reach the torture chamber after "The Cure for Madness." If the Dragonborn stands in front of the door next to the bedroom that the male Dark Brotherhood Initiate is in, they may be pushed through the wall and fall into the icy chamber underneath the Sanctuary. The only way out is to continue through the path to a torch floating in the air. Just past it, the path emerges back in a hallway in the Sanctuary. Looking back, the floating torch will be seen on a wall (it cannot be gone back through).
  •  PS3   360   It is possible to fall through the floor, in the master bedroom, and land in the Icy Caves below the sanctuary. This only happens in some parts of the room. This can also happen next to the bed in the master bedroom.
  • If any of the torture victims is hit with the Wabbajack and they transform, when they transform back, they will not move, and give off groaning sounds as if they were still shackled.
  • Torture victims hit with the Ice Form shout may also be unshackled but will remain standing.


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