Dawnguard,  Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Finds Recruits for the Dawnguard

Three main themes to this session: dragon killing, bear killing (a perfectly ridiculous number of bears!), and moving the Dawnguard plot along! Recruited Sorine and Gunmar, and had the reunion with Serana that leads to the quest to find a Moth Priest!


  • Play date: 3/18/2022
  • Session number in this run: 53
  • Boinged from Fort Dawnguard to Harmugstahl to get within Dragontooth Crater range
  • Dragon at the crater a Blood Dragon (fire breather) but an Ancient Dragon (frost breather) also showed up, so I had to kill both of them! Took them out with lightning + atronachs + Jordis
  • A couple of hunters also briefly got in on the fight, but not sure if they ran off or if the Ancient Dragon killed them? Couldn’t find their bodies afterwards
  • Got the word for Elemental Fury off the Word Wall and raided the loot chest
  • Headed northward and found Sorine; gave her one of her gyros out of her sack, and got her to agree to go to Fort Dawnguard
  • Meanwhile, decided to go trade with the orcs since I got way overloaded with two dragons’ worth of loot and bits
  • Killed two sabre cats en route to the stronghold, which did not help the overloading situation
  • Traded with the alchemist and smith at the stronghold
  • The smith had an ebony shield, bought that for Jordis <3
  • Boinged back to Heljarchen to drop off stuff in various places in the house, and do more building in the storage room
  • Headed down to Honningbrew
  • Passed a guard of the Pale on the road (right, because Heljarchen is on the border of Whiterun and the Pale)
  • Passed farmer with painted cow
  • Reached Honningbrew and sold a bunch of stuff to Mallus
  • Realized Gunmar was not at Clearspring Tarn, he was at Brood Cavern, so kind of had to boing back the way I’d come
  • Talked to Gunmar at Brood Cavern, but then had to fight ALL THE BEARS
  • Convinced Gunmar to sign on with the Dawnguard though, then boinged back to Fort Dawnguard to meet him and Sorine there
  • Isran played out his “I’m a paranoid bastard and am going to doublecheck you aren’t vampires” greeting, then took me to see why Serana had shown up to talk to me
  • Time to go find a Moth Priest! And okay fine, Isran, you paranoid bastard, we’ll take care of this ourselves
  • Also, this is probably one of those times when I should arguably have armor! So hey Gunmar, armor me up, let’s compare your stuff with the Nightingale armor, shall we?
  • Got outfitted and saved for the night


I probably said it before, but it’s worth saying again: if the game’s going to bother to have Sorine ask me if I’ve seen a satchel with gyros in it lying around, and I have in fact just seen that satchel and taken gyros out of it, it’d be nice if I could then actually tell Sorine, “Yeah I totally found that, here you go, here’s your gyros.”

(Which, given that game mechanics don’t let me pick up a filled satchel, seems like the next best option.)

Meanwhile, it was nice to remember that I do have the option of trading with the Orcs. Since i was super overloaded after a double dragon battle, I didn’t have far to tromp over to Mor Khazgur!

However, I’m going to have to be careful even visiting the Orcs. From what I saw on the wikis double-checking just now, the Traveler can be encountered in cities or settlements, and I should think that the Orc strongholds count as settelements? Guess I’ll have to see!

And apparently the game was bound and determined to throw me all the bears when trying to recruit Gunmar. By which I mean: six. Two outside Brood Cavern, four inside. Goddamn, that was a ridiculous number of bears. :O

After that, once I got to the point of Serana showing up at Fort Dawnguard, I got to thinking more about the events playing out with her at the beginning of this plot. Some interesting questions boinging around in my head here:

  1. How much does she know about how batshit her father is, when her mother locks her up with the Elder Scroll?
  2. How the hell did she get back out of the castle again?
  3. And here’s a fun question: how did she know where Fort Dawnguard is?

From previous playthroughs, and specifically from the argument she has with Valerica in the Soul Cairn, I have the strong implication that Serana didn’t exactly have a choice in the matter when her mother locked her up in that obelisk. She has dialogue that indicates she was at least in on the plan to a degree so it’s not like Valerica slapped her in there completely by surprise. But given that she yells at Valerica later about not being consulted on her opinion, I think it’s safe to assume that Valerica pressured her into it.

And it’s also probably safe to assume that as of when she was sealed away, Serana had incomplete information. Likewise when the player finds her. The real interesting question for me here is: was Harkon already obsessing over the prophecy when she was sealed away? If he was, did Valerica actually tell Serana that? Or did she pitch it to her more along the lines of “your father is going to kill you, I have to put you into this obelisk right now, don’t ask questions, just let me do it”?

But then she shows up at Castle Volkihar, however many hundreds of years since her disappearance. (How many? Unclear. The wikis refer to members of the game team saying she was sealed up at some point in the mid-to-late Second Era, so that’s a minimum of 600 years, but could maybe be as much as 800?)

And her father’s had all that time to get even more batshit. So the next interesting question here is, how fast did Serana find out what her father was wanting? Did he go straight to “yay, you’re home, now let me have your blood so I can destroy the sun?”

Side question: how the hell did Serana know how to find Fort Dawnguard? Because the player doesn’t take her there at first.

But Volkihar vampires do attack the fort after the player comes back from dropping her off at the castle. Which explicitly means, clearly the Volkihar in general know where the fort is.

So I can envision a scenario where Harkon started pontificating at his daughter about her role in his grand design, Serana went “uh, that’s fucked up right there” and decided to bail. She probably realized that she had zero allies in the castle…

Or did she? Did she actually convince somebody to help her? She could have remembered that the player said they were affiliated with the Dawnguard, so she could have leaned on others in her father’s court to tell her what they know about the Dawnguard and how to find them.

Or she could have spied around the castle and listened in on conversations to find out what she needed to know. According to the wikis vampires do have the ability to go invisible every so often. So it’s absolutely plausible that Serana might have just parked herself somewhere convenient, found out what she needed to know, and vamoosed off right out of the castle as soon as she had a chance.

She could also have used the ability to turn invisible to just get the hell out of the castle. Though I expect that that would have required her also not getting close enough to any other vampire that they could smell her.

All in all, so many interesting narrative questions to consider here. It’s one of the many reasons I really like Serana as a character, and really, the entire plotline of Dawnguard. Even if it’s kind of fucked up that you wind up being sympathetic to two members of a family of Molag Bal worshippers who let him turn them into vampires. 😀

Language commentary

Interesting terms observed:

  • Prêtre de la Phalène: Moth Priest (lit. “Priest of the Moth”)

In the English build of the game, Sorine shares her voice actor with Lydia: i.e., Colleen Delaney. It’s not quite clear to me though whether the same French voice actress voices the two characters. They do sound pretty similar to my ear, but I couldn’t guarantee that they’re performed by the same person.

Sorene’s French performer seems to do a fine job getting the character’s friendliness and chattiness across, though!

Next time

Time to see about hunting down that Moth Priest. So I’ll probably take the mage college route for that, because I am after all the Arch-Mage. (And maybe sell some of the enchanted jewelry I’m carrying around while I’m at it!)

And I’ll see how far along I get finding Dexion and safely returning him to the Dawnguard! With the dremora at my beck and call along with Serana, I’m not anticipating too much trouble getting into that lair where Dexion is captive. (Side note to self: but don’t get cocky!)


Editing to add

  • 11/21/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.