Main Quest Walkthrough
Choosing to either become a vampire or hunt them will grant you a couple of differing quests, but the vast majority of the main questline is the same no matter which side you choose, including the beginning, the end, and your new vampire companion, Serana. As such, we’re showing you the path of one who chooses to become a vampire, with short asides in italics for when the quests or choices differ for Dawnguard members.
Also note that there are multiple points during the main questline where you can become a Vampire Lord, including any time after you’ve completed it (just speak to Serana). If you were previously a werewolf but chose to convert to vampire, you can switch back by speaking to your follower (the one you had prior to Serana).
Once inside Fort Dawnguard, speak to Isran. Agree to help him hunt vampires (again, don’t worry, this doesn’t cement your allegiance). He’ll give you a crossbow and the next quest will automatically begin. Don’t miss that Isran can train in heavy armor.
It’s time to visit Dimhollow Crypt, a dungeon just south of Dawnstar. It will appear on your map, but since it is ‘undiscovered,’ you’ll have to fast travel to the nearest location and leg it the rest of the way. Since it is halfway up a mountain, we recommend fast traveling to a location such as the Lord Stone and heading north, since it’s easier to tactically fall down a mountain that climb up one.
In the first large room of the crypt, clear out the vampires then ascend the short tower and look for a chain on the wall. This unlocks the gate and allows you to proceed. Work your way through the crypt until you reach the circular platform. Press the button at its center to begin a puzzle.
Simply push each Brazier until they are touched by the path of purple flame, which will extend the flame. There’s no real thinking involved. Once all the Braziers are lit, activate the monolith that appears and speak to the woman inside to complete the quest.
Take Serana and exit the crypt. Don’t forget to stop by the word wall in the giant stadium-like room on your way out. The boat leading to Serana’s home is in the northwestern most corner of the map. Fast travel to the nearest location and walk the rest of the way.
Once in Castle Volkihar, Harkon will offer you a choice: his blood, which will turn you into a vampire, or exile, which will drive you to join the Dawnguard.
If you choose not to become a vampire here and prefer loyalty to the Dawnguard, you will be allowed to leave, though you can no longer return safely to Castle Volkihar.
Harkon will show you the ropes of being a Vampire Lord. Follow his instructions to begin your first quest as a vampire.
The Bloodstone Chalice (Vampire Only)
The first task is to speak to Garen Marethi. If you’re wondering how to change back into human form, select revert form in the powers menu or you can put it into your favorites menu, then use that power.
Your next major task is to take a chalice to Redwater Spring. This area is northwest of Riften, and marked on your map when the quest is active.
Once inside Redwater Den, you’ll find a locked door (adept) at the back. Pick it yourself or pickpocket the key from the dealer behind the counter. Just know that once you unlock this door, everyone around you will become hostile. This is perfect time to turn into a Vampire Lord and clear this place out.
You’ll eventually reach what appears to be a dead end, but if you look, there’s a chain right next to a stone wall that will open up a secret passage.
You’ll then enter a new area where you can hear to Vampire’s chatting about skooma. To open the gate to your left, you’ll have to circle all the way around via the room below, where the enemies are hanging out. When you confront them, beware of the large trapdoor in the floor. Falling through means almost certain death by spike pit.
Work your way up the spiral planks and continue along the path until you reach the chain, then proceed through the gate that was previously shut.
Eventually you’ll come upon an enemy named Venarus Vulpin, who’s corpse you’ll need to loot for the Redwater Wellspring Key. Use it to proceed through the master-locked iron door (or just pick it if you want the exp) and to the spring.
Fill the chalice at the Bloodspring but be prepared to get ambushed by two familiar faces. Again, switch to Vampire Lord to gain the upper hand. Be warned, however, that Stalk is a powerful mage and can still end things for you quite quickly with his magic. Once the attackers are dead, fill the chalice with their blood as well then head back to Castle Volkihar to finish the quest.
A New Order (Dawnguard only)
If you refuse Harkon and stay loyal to the Dawnguard, this is your next quest. You’ll have to defend the fort from a vampire attack, then go out and recruit two NPCs for Isran. Once this quest is complete, you will move on to “Prophet” no matter your allegiance.
Speak to Harkon and listen to his speech to begin this quest. Serana will quickly track you down and begin speaking to you. She offers her services as a follower but doesn’t like to be the third wheel, so you’ll have to ask your current follower to scram if you want Serana’s help. She is quite powerful and you can always reunite with your other companion later, so we recommend bringing her along.
There are a lot of optional objectives in this quest which point you toward the Moth Priest, but you can cut through them all if you wish by simply heading to Dragon’s Bridge, found southwest of Solitude. You can speak to the kid there or look for an overturned cart just to the south. Check the body of the dead vampire for a note and read it to discover your next objective.
Forebears’ Hideout is just southeast of Dragon Bridge. Make your way through the dungeon and follow the self-explanatory objectives. When the Moth Priest attacks, defeat him, then use your Vampire Seduction power (under the ‘powers’ menu) then feed on him to make him your thrall. After that, speak to him and command him to go to Castle Volkihar.
Return to the castle yourself and command the priest to decipher the Elder Scroll. After he does so, speak to Harkon and your next two quests will start up (Seeking Disclosure and Chasing Echoes).