The staff can be obtained in the quest "Waking Nightmare", which begins in Dawnstar. Vaermina orders the Dragonborn to kill the priest Erandur, while Erandur is in the process of banishing the staff. Allowing Erandur to banish the skull does not make obtaining the Oblivion Walker achievement impossible as it is possible to get one more Daedric Artifact by taking advantage of a bug. There are seventeen possible artifacts to collect (but the Skeleton Key does not count towards the Oblivion Walker achievement).
Once the quest is complete and the staff has been sold, it is possible to retrieve it as a dropped item from guards in Whiterun.
The dreams needed to power the staff can be collected by casting it on a sleeping person. This is not counted as an aggressive action, thus targets do not become hostile. Five dreams are received from each person.
The College of Winterhold is a good place to harvest dreams due to the large number of sleeping members and the ease of access. The same is true for Jorrvaskr Living Quarters. Sleeping draugr are also a good source of dreams, as most burial chambers have a number of draugr lining the walls.
Another effective location for harvesting dreams are soldier barracks in a hold capital, as there are often guards (usually 3–4) sleeping inside. When dreams are collected or used in an attack, the number of dreams in the staff will be shown.
Soul gems are still needed to charge the weapon.
The Skull of Corruption can damage multiple targets at once. This is useful when faced with multiple opponents. However, it can also injure followers that are nearby, which might not be very good for a follower with low health if they are in the battle when the Skull of Corruption is used.
This section contains bugs related to Skull of Corruption (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- This weapon (like some other Daedric artifacts) has an unstable physical model which causes it to disappear, delete, move, and fall when placed upon weapon plaques, weapon racks, and on any surface. Thus, it may disappear when placed in a home. However, it is not affected when placed in a storage container or while in the Dragonborn's inventory. However, the Housecarls may also retain the lost items, which can be traded or pickpocketed back.
- Autosaving after breaking the barrier will sometimes cause the game to freeze.
- Occasionally, the staff does not work, and will not harvest dreams or do damage, even though the animation is displayed.
- After defeating Erandur, the Skull of Corruption may still be unobtainable as the barrier will remain unbroken.
- If the Skull of Corruption is given to Delphine before entering the Thalmor Embassy during the quest Diplomatic Immunity, she will not give it back upon completion of the quest. It cannot be retrieved by stealing or pickpocketing.
- After Erandur is killed in Waking Nightmare, if the Dragonborn gets a bounty in Dawnstar, goes to jail, and picks the door's lock, the guards may draw out a duplicate of the Skull while searching for the perpetrator.
- Initiating combat on a character that dreams have been stolen from in the past can sometimes cause the staff to collect dreams. Even just using Unrelenting Force on a guard will work.
- Sometimes, if Serana is a follower, harvesting dreams from a sleeping person or attacking an enemy will damage her, even if she is not in field of view.