The Elder Scrolls

Rewriting and reworking the Dawnguard questline?

To be clear, I’m not an expert or even someone who is experienced in game design and story telling. I’m just throwing out ideas that I think would make a more compelling experience in what is meant to be a role playing game. I am speaking out of my proverbial ass, and it’s entirely possible that my suggestions are impossible, unoriginal, or bad for reasons I haven’t forseen, or that there are obvious and much more interesting ways to do things. Do point it out if that is the case. My main aim with this is to get a discussion going, and maybe even inspire a mod that takes some of these things into consideration. Though I realise implementing this sort of thing is a tremendously complex and time-consuming undertaking.

As we all know, Skyrim in some ways doesn’t quite live up to the RPG genre. It’s main problem is arguably its very linear, one-route quest design.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the shortcomings of the Dawnguard questline in particular. It’s very straight forward, leaving the player with little choice besides whether they want to be a vampire or a member of the Dawnguard. And the former isn’t possible unless you begin the quests for the later first.

To mitigate this a “Join the vampires” objective could be set up in the way Bethesda sets similar objectives.

In the vanilla game, guards have a chance to say “heard they’re reforming the Dawnguard, might consider joining up myself.” Upon hearing this line the player gets a map marker for fort Dawnguard, which they can go to in order to join them.

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For a Vampire version of this, there could be some dialogue from citizens that would trigger a marker for the Vokihar castle. Something simple along the lines of “You ever seen the castle on the island just north of Solitude? People who go there are never heard from again.”

If the player travels there, they are intercepted by Vampires and taken to Lord Harkon. (perhaps in a similar manner to how the player is taken before Astrid in the Dark Brotherhood questline?)

From here, they player may have to rely on skill checks to survive and make Harkon See something in them, and offer to spare their life or allow them to become a vampire in exchange for retrieving something important to him from Dimhollow crypt. Or perhaps he sends the player to destroy the hall of the vigilant first to be sure he can rely on the player.

This of course brings us to Serana.

As a disclaimer, I like Serana quite a lot. She’s my favourite follower outside of mods. That being said, a lot of people don’t like her. As I’ve seen on this subreddit, some even find her to be very irritating.

In any case, it doesn’t make a lot of sense the way this encounter plays out in the vanilla game, and it isn’t very conducive to a role playing experience.

The player should have options. If they are a vampire hunter looking to exterminate all vampires, it doesn’t make sense to help her. Even if they aren’t so zealous, it also doesn’t make sense to completely trust her either.

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If the player feels it’s in their character to kill Serana, they should be able to at least attempt this.

It’s here that there could be a potential boss battle of sorts. Going down a certain dialogue path would trigger this event. Maybe something as simple as an option that reads “Die, Vampire! (Attack)” would suffice.

Ideally, this would be a fairly difficult encounter, with Serana having a more varied and powerful arsenal of spells at her disposal in comparison to what she has when she’s a follower. Nothing too ridiculous, not a Harkon level of difficulty, but not a pushover either.

I think it helps that Serana has a lot of combat barks that would be appropriate for this fight.

If the player character wins, Serana desperately makes one last attempt to make them see reason, which the player can choose to listen to or ignore, finishing her off for good in the latter, and continuing the questline with a much more icey and distrusting Serana in the former.

If Serana wins and depletes the player’s health to zero, perhaps it could trigger the knockdown state on the player (think essential characters) and She gives the player a second chance to help her. Refusal, or an inability to convince her with skill checks results in death and reloading the previous save.

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If there was a boss battle that resulted in Serana winning or losing but surviving, there would be some different dialogue. She’d take on a more icey demeanour and if you wanted to, you’d have to work to win her trust.

Or if you wanted to, even make a second attempt on her life somewhere down the line.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten thinking about it. If you have ideas, suggestions, or if you need to point out this is stupid, please do so.

Again, If this even would be possible at all, I understand it would be no small endeavour. So I don’t expect anything to come from this other than an interesting discussion.

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