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Skyrim: Dawnguard: Quests: Main Quest
Choose your side!
Quest Giver: Serana
Location(s): Castle Volkihar
Prerequisite Quest: Awakening
Next Quest: The Bloodstone Chalice or A New Order
Reward: Vampire Lord form (if the gift is accepted)
Home sweet home

Quick WalkthroughEdit

  1. Escort Serana to Castle Volkihar.
  2. Speak to Lord Harkon.
  3. Either join Volkihar or remain loyal to the Dawnguard.

Detailed WalkthroughEdit

Escaping the CryptEdit

After freeing Serana, exit the cavern by crossing the small stone bridge on the opposite side of the room you came in from. You will be ambushed by two gargoyles; once you've dealt with them, find the door to the right and enter a small chamber. The gate to the next room is opened by a lever which also releases a number of skeletons and draugr. Through the gate is a large amphitheater room with several leveled undead (including a boss-level draugr), a boss chest and the Drain Vitality Word Wall. Behind the Word Wall is an altar with a few coin purses and two random enchanted weapons. Head out through the gated door at the opposite end of the room from where you came in and exit Dimhollow Crypt.

Harkon giving the player character his "gift"

Castle VolkiharEdit

Now, you are ready to take Serana to her father at Castle Volkihar. This location is in the northwest corner of the map. You will be able to see it from a great distance away. The easiest way to get there is to take the boat at Icewater Jetty, which is reachable on foot, by fast travel, or by hiring a ferryman to take you there. Activate the boat and you will arrive at Castle Volkihar.

Bone hawks circle overhead and a stone bridge lined with gargoyles is in front of you. Beyond, the castle looms. About halfway across the bridge, Serana will initiate conversation: she wants you to keep quiet and let her do the talking.

The Watchman will open the gate when he sees his lady. Open the door and step into the castle where Serana's father is waiting. A vampire named Vingalmo will confront you; but he backs off when he sees Serana and goes to announce her to the group gathered in the main hall.

Descend into the hall and watch the reunion between Serana and Lord Harkon. After that, Harkon will initiate conversation with you. He will tell you there is only one thing he can give you to thank you: his blood. You now have a choice to make. You can stick with the Dawnguard and you will be allowed to leave the castle in peace for your service, or you can join the Volkihar vampires and take on the mantle of a Vampire Lord. Whichever choice you make will permanently lock your allegiance to that faction with its associated quests. You will not be able to switch sides later, regardless of your vampirism state, and you will not be able to do any of the quests for the other faction without a different playthrough.

Choosing Vampire LordEdit

If you choose to become a Vampire Lord, Harkon will bite you as everything fades out. When you wake up, you and Harkon will be in the Volkihar Cathedral. Harkon will begin teaching you how to use your Vampire Lord powers, which include raising dead and draining life, as well as a claw attack. He also explains a few things, such as his history and that of his family, if you ask him about them. If you are already a vampire, he will say you just contracted a disease and explain that what he offers you is true vampirism. Alternatively, if you happen to be a werewolf at the time, he will state that he can smell it on you, and can purge you of its filth. Once you are done getting acquainted with your new powers, you will be given a quest to fill The Bloodstone Chalice.

One consequence of choosing Lord Harkon's gift is that you will be plagued by attacking Dawnguard scouts and patrols for the rest of the game. These patrols will likely detect you even at significant range, unless you have a very high Stealth skill or are using Invisibility.

A skirmish between the Dawnguard and the vampires

Choosing DawnguardEdit

If you decide to stick with the Dawnguard and refuse his offer, Lord Harkon will cast a spell that will teleport you outside the Castle gate. He also "advises" you to never return. With the castle locked behind you, your only remaining option is to return to Fort Dawnguard and report this new discovery to the Dawnguard. Once you arrive, you will find the fortress under attack by a band of vampires. After defeating the vampire attackers, you should speak to Isran and tell him what you discovered. Following this report, he will give you the duty of seeking out some of his old allies to create A New Order. Following the Dawnguard side of the questline will cause Fort Dawnguard to be rebuilt and refurnished. You will also have access to Crossbow upgrades and Armored Trolls.


  • While in the castle during this quest, you can't draw your weapon, cast spells, shout or do anything aggressive. However, you are free to take anything in the keep without it being identified as thievery, although many of the doors are locked (and can't be picked), and there is very little time to do so – just two gaps in the forced dialogue.
  • You can still become a Vampire Lord if you choose to side with the Dawnguard, though it will not be possible until later in Dawnguard's main questline. If you do, your allegiance to the Dawnguard remains unchanged, though many of the Dawnguard will treat you with hostility and not offer services until you're cured.
  • Siding with the Dawnguard allows access to some unique rewards. Specifically, the Ancient Technology quests allow you to smith crossbows and crossbow bolts, both steel and dwarven, and Lost Relic quests allow you to recover three unique magic items. Similarly, if you join the Volkihar side, the Ancient Power, Amulets of Night Power and Rings of Blood Magic quests help you enhance your Vampire Lord abilities.
  • If you exit the conversation when Lord Harkon tells you to make your choice, and take too long to give an answer, he will banish you from the castle as if you chose to refuse his gift.
  • If you are a werewolf, siding with Lord Harkon will cure your lycanthropy. However, you can become a werewolf again by asking Aela (which will cure your vampirism), and any lycanthropy perks which you had will be restored. You can restore your lycanthropy this way only once. You cannot advance in the Volkihar questline or use any of the vampire clan's services except when you are a vampire.
  • If you try to bring Serana to Fort Dawnguard, she will refuse to go inside it, having "a bad feeling about this place". Isran will tell you to do as she asked in order to discover what it is all about, even if you tell him she's a vampire.


  • If you have already discovered Castle Volkihar, then after speaking to Serana for the first time when she is released from the sarcophagus she will automatically initiate dialogue with you that normally occurs shortly after arriving at Castle Volkihar. This may prevent you from entering the castle and continuing the quest.
    • PC Only This bug is fixed by version 2.0.3 of the Unofficial Dawnguard Patch.
    • You can circumvent this issue by clipping through the wall on the right while standing on the railing. This gets you past the gate and able to access the door.
    • You can glitch through the gate by holding up a large plate/platter against the gate, then using Whirlwind Sprint to sprint into the gate and pass through it. See YouTube for demonstrations of the plate glitch technique.
    • PC Use the command tcl to move through the wooden gate and enter the castle to continue the quest.
    • PC Use the command player.moveto 03003ba8 to meet Harkon inside the castle and that would have you start quest next quest. however, you have to fast travel to complete the quest "bloodline".
    • PC Use the command prid 02017d59 to select the gate, then disable to remove it.
  • Serana may not enter the castle with you. The door will lock (requires key) behind you, and trying to talk to Harkon will display the "this person is busy" message.
    • PC Target Serana with the console when outside, use moveto player command once inside, then resetai.
  • After accepting Harkon's gift and transforming into a Vampire Lord, you may be permanently frozen, unable to move at all.
  • After your vampire induction, the other vampires in the castle will treat you as a mortal. This seems to happen because exiting the Vampire Lord form reverts your race to what you were before being transformed, and you cannot revert back without using Revert Form. Changing into a Vampire Lord for the first time, do not stand too close to Harkon, as the transformation causes damage to everyone nearby, which may make castle vampires hostile.
    • If you are unable to start the quest after you have turned into a vampire and you try talking to Garan Marethi, all he tells you is to go back to Lord Harkon and get changed back to a vampire, and you are unable to start the conversation with him. To fix this on PC, do the following: open the console, and type player.setrace <race>racevampire, replacing <race> with the name of your race (e.g., player.setrace darkelfracevampire if you are a Dark Elf).
  • If you refuse Harkon's gift and are returned to the boat landing, the quest A New Order may fail to start.
    • PC You can fix this by entering either setstage DLC1HunterBaseIntro 20 or setstage DLC1HunterBaseIntro 30, followed by setobjectivedisplayed DLC1HunterBaseIntro 20 1 or 30 1 into the console.
    • PC If the above does not work playerfollowercount's value may be the issue. To fix this load a save from BEFORE you open Serana's sarcophagus. Dismiss any current followers, using set playerfollowercount to 0 if necessary (may as well to be safe) then proceed through the quest as normal.
  • Harkon may equip the Banish spell, but just stand and stare at you if you refuse to become a vampire.
  • After speaking with Harkon about accepting his gift, he may not transform. If you approach him and talk to him again, he will continue to repeat the same introduction dialogue.
  • After speaking with Harkon about accepting his gift, he may not transform, instead simply standing there. If you approach him and talk to him again, he will make noises ("Yeargh") and still not transform.
    • PC Start a new game without Dawnguard installed (don't enable Dawnguard, for users of a mod manager), Save, Exit the game, Install Dawnguard (enable Dawnguard again, for mod manager users), Start the savegame previously made without Dawnguard and the bug will not appear in that save. This procedure will not allow you to remove the bug from other savegames made with Dawnguard installed/enabled. (Tested with Nexus Mod Manager for an easy uninstallation/installation of Dawnguard.)
    • Reload to a save after entering Dimhollow Crypt, wait 30 days, then proceed with the quest. this resets all dungeons, characters, etc... this also fixes the bug where you die after being bitten by Harkon.
  • If you choose to accept Harkon's gift, you may die when he bites you and be forced to go back to your last save.
    • PC Before talking to Harkon, use the console commands setstage DLC1VQ02 40 followed by setstage DLC1VQ02 180. Talk to him and he will say that you have forsaken his gift, but will offer it to you again. Simply accept it and you will gain the Vampire Lord power without dying from his bite.
    • You can also try standing behind one of the tables in the room before Lord Harkon addresses you. From there, he won't be able to lunge at you so you won't die, but you'll receive his gift anyway.
  • When leaving the castle after becoming a Vampire Lord, you may be attacked by the entire castle.
    • PCThis bug may be due to using mods that alter followers behavior. If you can't enter the castle the first time with Serana you can use the console to move in, open the console and type player.moveto 020033b3, prid 02002B74, moveto player and move back to the door. That way the quest remains untouched.
    • You can also change to your human form, go into sneak mode, and type tcl in the console to reach the door to Skyrim undetected. After you exit the castle you may enter again as normal.
    • PCWrite in the console tdetect and they won't attack you but remember when you go out the castle just turn it off by writing tdetect again in the console.
  • If you have a follower along, after you are banished from Castle Volkihar, they may be stuck between the portcullis and front door of the castle when you wake up outside. If you tell them to wait before going in, they may be gone after you're banished.
    • PC Only This bug is fixed by version 1.2.4 of the Unofficial Dawnguard Patch.
    • In the latter case, it may be that the follower is actually inside the castle, rather than simply gone.
  • When Harkon is explaining his gift to the player, Imperial vampires are not recognized due to a missing condition check.
  • Serana normally leaves your service as a follower for a while upon completion of this quest, throughout the following quest A New Order, until after the start of Prophet, but sometimes can remain a follower (and willing to enter Fort Dawnguard after Bloodline). When this happens, it causes a dialogue oddity in Prophet (plus Sorrine and Harkon in A New Order are not coded to have any reaction to you asking them to join Dawnguard while you're also traveling with an obvious vampire), but the glitch is otherwise harmless. ?
  • Sometimes the Watchman will not let you into the castle, blocking quest advancement. ?

Quest StagesEdit

Bloodline (DLC1VQ02)
Stage Finishes Quest Journal Entry
5 While exploring Dimhollow Crypt, I freed a young woman from an ancient sarcophagus. She asked me to guide her home, to a castle off the northern coast of Skyrim.
Objective 10: Lead Serana to her home
Objective 20: Speak to Harkon
20 I learned that the mysterious woman I freed from Dimhollow Crypt is named Serana. Her father Harkon is a powerful vampire lord, and in gratitude for bringing his daughter home, he offered me the gift of his blood. Now I must choose whether to accept the gift.
25 When I brought Serana back home after freeing her from Dimhollow Crypt, her father, a powerful vampire lord, offered me the gift of his blood. I refused the gift, and was banished. Now I must return to Vigilant Tolan and tell him what happened.
30 When I brought Serana back home after freeing her from Dimhollow Crypt, her father, a powerful vampire lord, offered me the gift of his blood. I refused the gift, and was banished. Now I should return to Isran and tell him what happened.
40 When I brought Serana back home after freeing her from Dimhollow Crypt, her father, a powerful vampire lord, offered me the gift of his blood. I accepted the gift and joined his court.
180 Finishes quest☑ When I brought Serana back home after freeing her from Dimhollow Crypt, her father, a powerful vampire lord, offered me the gift of his blood. I accepted the gift and joined his court.
190 Finishes quest☑ When I brought Serana back home after freeing her from Dimhollow Crypt, her father, a powerful vampire lord, offered me the gift of his blood. I refused the gift, and was banished. I returned to Isran and told him what happened.
200 Finishes quest☑
Objective 30: Return to Isran
(This was intended to be displayed at the end of Stage 30, but that stage was instead bumped to A New Order. At the point that stage was abandoned, there was also a scripting error that would have caused this not to be displayed in any event.)
  • The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15.
* Any text displayed in angle brackets (e.g., <Alias=LocationHold>) is dynamically set by the Radiant Quest system, and will be filled in with the appropriate word(s) when seen in game.
  • Not all Journal Entries may appear in your journal; which entries appear and which entries do not depends on the manner in which the quest is done.
  • Stages are not always in order of progress. This is usually the case with quests that have multiple possible outcomes or quests where certain tasks may be done in any order. Some stages may therefore repeat objectives seen in other stages.
  • If an entry is marked as "Finishes Quest" it means the quest disappears from the Active Quest list, but you may still receive new entries for that quest.
  • On the PC, it is possible to use the console to advance through the quest by entering setstage DLC1VQ02 stage, where stage is the number of the stage you wish to complete. It is not possible to un-complete (i.e. go back) quest stages, but it is possible to clear all stages of the quest using resetquest DLC1VQ02.
Prev: Awakening Next: A New Order or
The Bloodstone Chalice