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Vampires are a terrifying enemy to encounter in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Dawnguard DLC. Just a bite from a physical attack or their blood magic can infect the player with Sanguinare Vampiris. The Dawnguard DLC ups the ante in vampiric horror; all across Skyrim, vampires attack cities at night. But one Pure Blood Vampire has captured the hearts of Skyrim players.
Serana is by far one of the best followers in Skyrim and, if not my favorite. She has a unique perspective on the world, not conforming or living by a faction or guild rules that so many characters in Skyrim live by.
Her story is tragic and heartbreaking, and she adds depth to the Dawnguard DLC storyline making it more than just vampires versus vampire slayers. Narrative aside, Serana is a fantastic follower that always has something interesting to say, passing through cities. She’s fierce in combat, and her unique skills offer a breath of fresh air for traveling with a companion.
Key Serana Details Up-Front
Vampire Lords? Daughters of Coldharbour? Vampires and vampire slayers, there’s really a lot to cover. However, I’ve cut down key information regarding Serana here in case you’re in a hurry:
Serana is a Pure-Blood Vampire follower first encountered in the Awakening Dawnguard DLC quest. Serana will become the Dragonborn’s follower regardless if they choose to join the Dawnguard or the vampire faction.
Serana is a Stealth Mage with high stats:
|· Health: 541||· Stamina: 148||· Alteration: 52||· One-handed: 93|
|· Magicka: 468||· Sneak: 100||· Conjuration: 88||· Light Armor: 100|
|· Destruction: 52|
- Although a Stealth Mage, Serana’s high health stat and max Light Armor skill, along with her Conjuration and Alteration skills, make her a surprisingly good tank in battle.
Serana can become a follower as soon as she is freed from Dimhollow Crypt but will leave the Dragonborn’s service, returning at the start of the Prophet quest and rest of the Dawnguard storyline due to her playing a major role in the story.
Serana: The Friendly Vampire
Although Serana’s story is tragic, she remains upbeat and kind. Serana is a Pure-Blood Vampire meaning that she was transformed into a Vampire not through the conventional biting on the neck way. But instead, she gained Vamprific powers along with her mother, Valerica, after her father offered them to Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Vampirism.
Serana and Valerica are unique Pure-Blood Vampires unique, even in the Volkihar clan, being dubbed the Daughters of Coldharbour. In return, Lord Harkon has granted Vampire Lord powers from Molag Bal after Valerica turned him into a vampire.
Serana is not your typical vampire as a Pure-Blood Vampire. She can be exposed to the sun and has restraint over her blood-sucking urges. Lord Harkon (Serana’s father) wishes to fulfill a Snow Elf prophecy to block out the sun and allow vampires to roam freely in the world. Willing to fulfill the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy by any means necessary, Lord Harkon planned to sacrifice Serana.
However, Valerica, upon discovering the plot, hid Serana away in Dimhollows Crypt, and the Elder Scroll was required to fulfill the Tyranny of the Sun Prophecy. That is until the Dragonborn wakes Serana from her slumber.
Related Quests: A Vampire Family from Hell
I believe that Bethesda made a point with the Dawnguard DLC to create an impactful story with Serana at the heart of the player’s choices. Serana’s story is tragic, and her quests make the player second guess whether all vampires are monsters that the series so heavily implies.
Because Serana is a follower and a major character in the Dawnguard DLC, she can accompany you on many of the Dawnguard quests. Therefore, I’ve only included quests where Serana plays an integral role.
- Chasing Echoes
- Beyond Death
- Unseen Visions
- Touching the Sky
- Kindred Judgment
Awakening: Serana’s Introduction
- “Awakening” is the first Dawnguard DLC quest the player will venture on after traveling to Dayspring Canyon and joining the Dawnguard.
Isran, the leader of the Dawnguard order, will inform the player that he has caught wind of an active group of vampires near Dimhollow Crypt. The same group of vampires responsible for destroying the Hall of the Vigilant, the headquarters for the Vigilants of Stendarr in Skyrim. (a faction that I wish was expanded upon more in the TES lore as they were founded after the Oblivion Crisis in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Dimhollow Crypt is a unique dungeon introduced in the Dawnguard DLC, and it’s where the Dragonborn will first meet Serana. However, not before fighting through numerous vampires, Draugrs, Frostbite Spiders, hellish Deathhounds, and even a Master Vampire.
Navigating through Dimhollow Crypt, the player will eventually end up in a huge open room where Serana is located. However, before the player can release her from the cold tomb, they will encounter Lokil, the leader of the vampire group interrogating Vigilant Adalvald for information regarding how to retrieve the Vampire Artifact from the crypt before killing him.
Once the Dragonborn has killed Lokil, they must open the Dimhollow Crypt by interacting with the pedestal in the center of the stone platform and solving a torch puzzle. Each torch surrounding the center of the platform can be moved within four spaces.
All the player needs to do to beat the puzzle is move each torch until it is alight with a purple flame. Each time a torch alights, a purple blanket of energy will run along the floor, guiding you to the next torch.
Bloodline: Traveling with Serana
- Bloodline is a short major Dawnguard quest revolving around taking Serana back home to Castle Volkihar.
Unlocking the tomb frees Serana from her thousand-year slumber. Talking to Serana, the Dragonborn learns that she is a Pure Blood Vampire and owns an Elder Scroll. She is confused, stating that the crypt looked very different when she entered it. She will ask the Dragonborn to take her to Castle Volkihar, her family home, becoming the Dragonborn’s follower.
- Nearing the end of Dimhollow Crypt, the player will discover a Word Wall containing the Drain Vitality Dragon Shout.
To complete the Awakening Dawnguard quest, the player must accompany Serana back to Castle Volkihar, accessed by rowing the boat at Icewater Jetty located on the northwest coast, directly north of Northwatch Keep.
At the end of the “Bloodline” Dawnguard quest, the player will be asked if they would like to become a Vampire Lord as a gift from Lord Harkon for bringing Serana back home.
No matter if the player decides to become a Vampire Lord or stay human, they can acquire Serana-related quests and gain her as a follower by the end of the main storyline. Moreover, the Dragonborn can return to Fort Dawnguard, to which Isran will order the player to find a cure for their Vampirism. If the player rejects the Vampire Lord gift, they will be banished from Castle Volkihar but can return in the “Chasing Echoes” Dawnguard quest.
Regardless of which faction the Dragonborn works for, the player will acquire the Prophet quest. In this little adventure, the player must seek a Moth Priest so that either faction can better understand Serana’s Elder Scroll.
Serana will appear at Fort Dawnguard and explain that her father wishes to use the power of the Elder Scroll and sacrifice Serana to enable vampires to walk in daylight. A terrifying proposition that makes Isran reluctantly allow the Dragonborn to work alongside Serana.
The quest states that the player must ask tavern owners or travel to the College of Winterhold to find out where the Moth Priest may be. However, you can skip all that by fast traveling to Dragons Bridge and traveling south across the bridge.
You can enquire further with the Dragons Bridge locals about the Moth Priest. However, this is optional, and you can travel south of Dragons Bridge to discover that the priest has been attacked by vampires and taken hostage in Forebears‘ Holdout.
Serana and the Dragonborn must kill Malkus, an Orsimer vampire of the Volkihar Clan, to free Dexion Evicus, the Moth Priest, from becoming a Vampire Thrall. The Dragonborn can free Dexion Evicus by using the Weystone Focus looted from Malkus.
Serana and the Dragonborn must travel back to Fort Dawnguard to hear Dexion Evicus read the Elder Scroll and piece together the Dawnguard’s next steps.
- In this quest, Serana and the Dragonborn travel to Castle Volkihar and enter via a secret back door entrance hoping to find answers about where Valerica Serana’s mother fled.
There are all kinds of nasty critters in the Undercroft. You’ll fight your way through a pack of Death Hounds, a Feral Vampire, and even a Giant Frostbite Spider to get to the courtyard.
Once in the courtyard, a giant Moondial will be presented before the Dragonborn. To activate the Moondial, the player must find the missing Crests scattered around the garden. You can find the crests in the following places:
- Full Moon Crest: Found resting against the wall in the Nightshade area of the garden.
- Half Moon Crest: Found in the pool of water.
- Crescent Moon Crest: Found on the balcony floor to the right of the East Tower Door.
Placing the Crests on the Moondial will reveal a hidden staircase leading to the Volkihar Ruins. A part of the castle that Serana herself never knew existed. Gear up and get ready for a fight for your life. At the end of the ruins, you will encounter a pack of Gargoyles; on Legendary difficulty, you’ll want to fall back, split them up, and take them one by one.
- The Drain Vitality Dragon Shout is brilliant for wearing down Gargoyle’s health as it counters their health regeneration.
In Valerica’s laboratory, the player will have to gather Soul Gem Fragments, Purified Void Salts, and Finely Ground Bone Meal and place them in the vessel located on the balcony.
The Dragonborn will have to make another big decision before the end of the quest.
To travel to the Soul Cairn, the player must either:
- Become a vampire.
- Have their soul weakened, trapped inside a Soul Gem.
- Traveling to the Soul Cairn, Serana and the Dragonborn meet with Serana’s mother, Valerica, hoping she has the second Elder Scroll.
This is the part of the Dawnguard DLC where things get a little crazy. The Soul Cairn is a desolate realm of death and decay. It’s the realm where souls are taken to after being captured in a Soul Gem. Yep, this place makes you second-guess all those times you juiced your Steel Battleaxe of Fiery Souls charge with a Soul Gem.
Exploring the Soul Cairn is tedious as there are no fast-travel locations, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back! If you want to complete the quest and get the hell out of dodge, then travel to all three of the giant Sauron towers with spinning rocks around them and kill the Keeper that resides there. Start with the tower to your right.
After reuniting Serana with her mother, Valerica explains that the Dragonborn and Sarena need to kill three Keepers to unlock the barrier to set her free. Keepers are giant undead creatures resembling Draugr. They are powerful enemies on Master and Legendary difficulty, so approach with caution.
- You can find the Keepers at the three giant towers with swirling blocks around them.
Once this is complete, and the Dragonborn has returned to Valerica, the player must defeat Durnehviir in the Boneyard.
Elder Scroll (Blood) in hand, Serana, and the Dragonborn leave the Soul Cairn in search of the next Elder Scroll (Dragon). But not before encountering Durnehviir, who is impressed with the Dragonborn teaching the player the Summon Durnehviir Dragon Shout.
- “Unseen Visions” is a short quest that reveals the location of Auriel’s Bow.
Unseen Visions takes place after the Dragonborn has completed the Beyond Death and Seeking Disclosure quest. At this point in the story Serana and the Dragonborn now hold both Elder Scrolls.
Dexion Evicus reveals that he has gone blind from reading the previous Elder Scroll. Still, Dexion reveals that the Dragonborn can read the Elder Scroll using an ancient technique called the Ritual of the Ancestor Moth, which can only be performed at Ancestor Glade.
To perform the ritual, the player must:
- Obtain the Draw Knife to cut bark from the Canticle Trees within Ancestor Glade.
- Attract seven swarms of Ancestor Moth.
- Walk into the pillar of light and read the Elder Scroll (Blood).
The Elder Scroll sequence reveals the location of Auriel’s Bow. Still, before Serana and the Dragonborn can leave Ancestor Glade, they are attacked by a pack of vampires, accompanied by Vampire Thralls and those darn Gargoyles! If playing alongside the vampire faction Serana, the player must fight two Armored Trolls!
Touching the Sky
- By the end of the Touching the Sky quest, the Dragonborn and Serana will have obtained Auriel’s Bow.
Touching the Sky is the most challenging Dawnguard quest so far in the storyline. I suggest stocking up on Health and Magicka Potions, Frost Resist Potions are not a bad idea either. The Dragonborn and Serana will have to fight a vampiric Snow Elf called Vyrthur, not to be confused with the grotesque Falmer, otherwise known as “the Betrayed” by Knight-Paladin Gelebor. Another surviving Snow Elf and Vyrthur’s brother. Gelebor will trade information on Auriel’s Bow if the Dragonborn and Serana promise to slay his brother.
The Touching the Sky Dawnguard quest takes place in Darkfall Cave, located in The Reach southwest of the Mor Khazgur Orc Stronghold. It’s revealed that Vyrthur is hiding within the Inner Sanctum of the Forgotten Vale. However, to get access to this area, the player must fill a jug name the Initiate’s Ewer with water from the following Wayshrines:
Now all the player has to do is kill Vyrthur and retrieve Auriel’s Bow. Auriel’s Bow deals triple damage to Undead creatures. It has the unique ability that allows the use of Bloodcursed Arrows for blocking out the sun and Sunhallowed Arrows that cause a sunburst explosion on the target.
- Kindred Judgement is the final Dawnguard quest. By the quest’s endwwww, the Dragonborn will have defeated Lord Harkon and stopped the Tyranny of the Sun Prophecy.
The player must kill Lord Harkon whether they’re a vampire or Dawnguard member. Therefore, it’s just another reason I believe the Dawnguard is the superior faction choice in the game.
Once the player has retrieved Auriel’s Bow, they must return to Isran at Fort Dawnguard, where he is planning an all-out assault on Castle Volkihar. The Dragonborn, Serana, and the Dawnguard siege the castle fighting through vampires and Gargoyles before reaching Lord Harkon.
No matter your dialogue decisions, a fight will break out between Lord Harkon and Serana.
After killing Lord Harkon, I returned to the Soul Cairn and informed Serana’s mother that Lord Harkon had been killed, prompting her to return to Castle Volkihar’s Laboratory. I also sold the two Elder Scrolls to Dexion Evicus for six thousand gold!
- Although the Dawnguard storyline is over, the Dragonborn and Serana’s adventure has only just begun, as Serana will become a permanent follower.
Serana as a Follower
Serana is a favorite fan follower in The Elder Scrolls: V Skyrim, and it’s no surprise being a Vampire Lord, Serana has powerful necromancy abilities and, despite being a Stealth Mage, is highly aggressive in combat and can frequently be found dual-wielding Vampiric Drain and Ice Spike spells. from enemies and resurrect the dead. Her Ice Spike spell makes her formidable at ranged combat too. This makes Serana a fantastic follower when playing on Master and Legendary difficulties.
Serana is such a useful companion to have in Skyrim. Ever get tired of mining ore in Skyrim? Serana will help share the work and mine from ore veins if within her vicinity! You can then trade the ore from her inventory.
As a Pure Blood Vampire Lord, the player can ask Serana to bite them to turn themselves into a Vampire Lord in the “Chasing Echoes” quest. Moreover, Serana’s story doesn’t end with the main Dawnguard storyline, as the player can cure Serana of her Vampirism. However, this is noncannon and goes against Serana’s character, in my opinion.
Serana in the vanilla Dawnguard DLC has much better interactivity with the world than regular followers in Skyrim. Serana feels alive as she interacts with Grindstones and Tanning Racks, comments on radiant locations, and meditates at High Hrothgar, and thats without introducing mods to the game.
Improving Serana with Mods
Serana can become the Dragonborn’s follower early in the Dawnguard DLC, appearing in the “Awakening” quest and reappearing in the “Prophet” quest. If you plan on having Serana as a follower, I highly recommend the Serana Dialogue Add-on mod. This mod has over three and a half million downloads, so it’s a part of the game now.
The mod introduces more radiant dialogue and improves her combat significantly by expanding the number of spells in her arsenal. The mod has a lot of detail and turns Serana into a major character and companion for Skyrim’s main storyline. With the mod enabled, Serana will banter with other NPCs and follower mods, such as Inigo, allowing the player to fuse elements of the Dragon Age series into Skyrim.
The mod significantly improves Serana’s utility and immersion, enabling her to ride horses and allowing the player to teleport Serana to their location. This is super handy when followers get stuck in dungeons or bug out. Moreover, the mod allows her to train the Dragonborn in the following skills:
- Light Armor
Serana’s Equipment and Stats
Serana wears the female variant of the Vampire Royal Armor by default. However, she has a unique hood that she pulls up when exploring Skyrim during the day to protect herself from sunlight. The player can upgrade the Vampire Royal Armor at a workbench with Leather and the Arcane Blacksmith perk. The armor grants Serana 125% Magicka Regeneration to Serana. Hence, it only makes sense to swap out Serana’s armor until you can craft and enchant armor better than the Vampire Royal Armor.
Serana is one of the most powerful Stealth Mage followers in the game, and her stats and top skills back that claim up:
- Light Armor: 93
- Sneak: 100
- One-handed: 93
- Conjuration: 88
- Alteration 52
- Destruction: 52
Despite having a high One-handed skill, Serana rarely uses One-handed weapons, using a default Elven Dagger as a last resort for when her Magicka runs out. So, adding a powerful One-handed weapon to her inventory doesn’t hurt. I recommend an enchanted weapon that will sap Magicka from her enemies. Moreover, I recommend equipping Serana with Light Armor since her skill level is so high, and she has a max Sneak skill level.
- Why wouldn’t you be safe there? “Awakening” quest: “Let’s just say that my mother and father had a bit of a falling out. Don’t worry; I’m not in any danger or anything like that. It’ll just be more unpleasant to run into my father.” –
At this early stage in the Dawnguard storyline, Serana has no idea of the grim plans Lord Harkon has for her.
- Do you regret becoming a vampire? “Nobody’s ever asked me that before. I… I don’t know. I think… mostly I hate what it’s done to my family.”
Serana’s Vampiric origins are tragic, to say the least. However, I prefer this short quote as it shows that she’d rather have her family stay mortal than become vampires. Note that the player will permanently lose the ability to cure Serana of Vampirism if they ask Do you ever think about curing yourself? Before completing the “Kindred Judgement” quest
The Dragonborn can gain Serana a permanent follower after the “Kindred Judgement” quest by saying:
- What will you do now? “I’m not sure. I’ll probably stay with the Dawnguard, for as long as they’ll let me. They’re respectable fighters, and I think they see the benefits of having a vampire on their side, now. Of course, if you’ve got any more adventures planned…”
- I’d love to have you along. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”
Serana, while talking to Valerica during the “Beyond Death” quest: “So to protect me you decided to shut me away from everything I cared about? You never asked me if hiding me in that tomb was the best course of action, you just expected me to follow you blindly. Both of you were obsessed with your own paths.
Serana’s relationship with her parents is ropey, to say the least. Caught in the crossfire of her mother and father, Serana didn’t enjoy her childhood stuck inside Castle Volkihar. While her mother showed her love by spending time with her in Castle Volkihar’s garden. Her father saw Serana purely as a stepping stone to fulfill the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy, even if it meant spilling her blood.
Learning that her father planned to kill her for his own benefit. Serana understood that she would have to kill her own father to stop the Tyranny of the Sun prophecy and save her own life.
The Serana Dialogue Add-on mod explores this issue further, allowing the Dragonborn to ask Serana after the Beyond Death quest about what she would do if she had to kill her father. Serana explains that it’s something that she has come to terms with, implying that she understands that it’s for the greater good. For herself, for Valerica, and for Nirn itself.
When asked about her relationship with Valerica, Serana shares fondness and care for her mother. However, she makes it clear that Valerica is no saint and is the lesser of two evils. Valerica’s hate for Lord Harkon indirectly destroys her relationship with her daughter, and Serana cannot forgive Valerica for locking her away in Dimhollow Crypt without consulting her first.
In Conclusion, Serana’s pragmatic, intelligent and playful personality makes her one of the most loved followers in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Although Serana is a vampire, her story and relationship with her family are relatable. Trapped in her parent’s crumbling relationship Serana seeks to free herself from her family’s ideas to live her own life.
The story of Serana and the Volikhar vampire clan explores the idea that although immortal, the vampires still struggle with common mortal issues. After thousands of years, Lord Harkon is barely connected to her daughter, only seeing her as a tool for his Tyranny of the Sun plan. A plan created purely by ego could never work, as stated by Valeica. I think the Dawnguard storyline is one of the greatest in the game and is well worth the purchase.
In the gameplay aspect, Serana is a gifted stealth mage who greatly enhances the player’s Skyrim experience. Serana offers significantly more interactivity within the TES world and is very strong in combat. The Skyrim community loves Serana and, as a result, has improved this aspect of Serana, further allowing her spells and AI to be customized. There really is no excuse for not modding The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2023.
Whether you’re a Vampire Lord or a vampire slayer, you can guarantee that Serana will have your back launching Ice Spikes and draining the life of your enemies.
Question: How Can I Cure Serana of Vampirism in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Dawnguard?
Answer: You can cure Serana of her Vampirism by bringing her to Falion in Morthal or simply convincing her in dialogue to be cured. If successful, Serana will leave the Dragonborn for a few days before returning to Fort Dawnguard. Serana will continue to talk as though she is a vampire.
Do not ask Serana if she’d like to be cured of Vampirism during the Dawnguard storyline, as she will state that she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, and you’ll permanently lose the dialogue option.
Question: What Happens if you Give Lord Harkon Auriel’s Bow in the Kindred Judgement Dawnguard Quest?
Answer: Lord Harkon will attack the player regardless of their decision. Therefore, it makes sense for the story’s sake to side with Serana and the Dawnguard.
Question: Can the Dragonborn Marry Serana in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard?
Answer: No, the Dragonborn cannot marry Serana even if she is cured of Vampirism. Serana will state that she feels uneasy being around the Nine Divines temples. However, before you weep, a tear Serana can be married by installing the Marry Me Serana mod. The Serana Dialogue Add-on mod introduces new romance options and dialogue for Serana.
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