Skyrim: Dawnguard Level Requirement (& Best Level To Start the DLC)

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Vampires in vanilla Skyrim were pretty badly done. Acquiring vampire disease meant only that you will fast travel to Morthal as soon as possible to start the Rising at Dawn quest to cure yourself of vampirism as soon as possible. Everything changed with Dawnguard DLC. Vampires were given some cool new powers, a deep storyline, and pretty interesting antagonists in the form of a new faction called Dawnguard. No matter what side you’re leaning towards, the general requirements for starting the DLC are the same, as well as the first few quests. So let’s see what is the Dawnguard level requirement as well as the best level to start it in general. 

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Dawnguard’s minimum level requirement is 10, but you can start the quest much earlier than that by traveling to Dayspring Canyon without a map marker.
  • Although the recommended level requirement is 10, you should probably wait until you’re at least level 15 to 20 for optimal performance during the quests. 

How to start Dawnguard DLC?

You start Dawnguard DLC by hearing about it from the guards around various cities in Skyrim. If you’ve just started a new playthrough, you might hear about the newly reformed Fort Dawnguard or how vampire activity is at an “all-time high,” and something needs to be done about it. 

One of the most common dialogues that you will hear is: “Heard they’re reforming the Dawnguard. Vampire hunters or something, in the old fort near Riften. Might consider joining up myself”. After you hear this line, a map marker should appear on your map, and the quest will be added to your journal. 

After you’re level 10 or above, if you haven’t heard any rumors about Dawnguard at all, an orc NPC called Durak will approach you and recommend you join Fort Dawnguard. He will tell you this line: “You there. The Dawnguard is looking for anyone willing to fight against the growing vampire menace. What do you say?”. In that case, your miscellaneous quests section should be updated with the objective “Find Fort Dawnguard.” 

Dawnguard objective

From here, it’s best you follow the map marker until you reach Fort Dawguard, where you will meet Isran, who will assign you the first solid quest in Dawnguard DLC. The quest’s name is Awakening, you are sent to explore Dimhollow Crypt to find out why vampires are snooping around that area. 

RELATED:

Skyrim: The Main Quests Order (& When To Do Them)

What is the level requirement to start Dawnguard DLC?

The level requirement to start Dawnguard DLC is to be at least level 10. But you can go around that by traveling to Isran in Fort Dawnguard without any kind of quest in your journal of map marker. Even though, generally, that is not recommended. Dawnguard DLC involves some long and difficult quests, filled with exploration that relies on sustainability that you will not be able to build up until later in the game. It’s possible to start Dawnguard at level 1, but it is highly inadvisable and you will probably not have much luck completing it.

Fort dawnguard
You can locate Dayspring Canyon & Fort Dawnguard without waiting for the map marker and official journal entry

Can you start Dawnguard as a vampire? 

You can start Dawnguard as a vampire. Both the Dawnguard side and the vampire side of the DLC have unique dialogues if you start the factions while being a vampire. 

If you decide to join Dawnguard as a vampire, nothing will be referenced until the quest New Order. After returning to Fort Dawnguard you will see Isran having a conversation with a couple of initiates, he will then tell them he needs to “make sure they aren’t vampires”. That includes you as well. As soon as you’re hit with a sunlight spell, your vampirism will be obvious to Isran.

He will tell you, somewhat threateningly, that you have one chance to redeem yourself and cure yourself of your vampirism. A map marker to find Falion in Morthal will appear in your journal, and the quest Rising at Dawn will start. 

After you’ve cured your vampirism, you might continue with the Dawnguard storyline as usual. 

If you decide to start Dawnguard as a vampire and decide to join the Volkihar vampire faction, Lord Harkon will have a unique dialogue as well. He will notice that you are already a vampire of course and he will still offer you to become a vampire lord. Or as he says, an improved vampire. Since the vampire lord is objectively a much more powerful and useful form of a vampire in Skyrim, that’s a good thing. 

Should I choose Vampire or Dawnguard? 

Dawnguard faction is objectively better due to having better rewards. Joining a Dawnguard faction is the only way to get your hands on some rare artifacts that cannot be acquired any other way. Except for that, whether you will join the Dawnguard or Volkihar factions depends entirely on you and your personal preferences. 

RELATED:

Vampire or Werewolf in Skyrim: Differences & Which Is Better?

Can you have Serana as a follower without Dawnguard DLC? 

You can’t get Serana as a follower without Dawnaguard DLC. She is one of the assets installed with the DLC and doesn’t exist at all in the vanilla Skyrim. You will not be able to find her in the Dimhollow Crypt as well since it doesn’t exist without Dawnguard being installed. 

We’ve now cleared up what are the actual prerequisites for starting Dawnguard DLC, and as you can see, nothing is set in stone, and you can truly play however you want as long as you come prepared. Generally, though, we would advise you to wait until you’re at least level 15 to 20. 

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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