Vampires have had a rough few years since the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Those Twilight books have corrupted the myths surrounding the legendary bloodsuckers. You'll be pleased to learn then that Skyrim's vampires don't sparkle in the sunlight, nor do they spend their days acting emotional and pining for marriage.
In fact, longtime Elder Scrolls fans will be pleased to learn that vampirism hasn't changed too much since its appearance in Oblivion and Morrowind before it. The same strategies you used to survive as a blood-sucker in the older games will still be useful in Skyrim. This Skyrim vampire guide will help you come to terms with your newfound gifts, a valuable aid for Elder Scrolls newcomers and longtime fans looking for a bit of a refresher.
Embracing The Darkness
The first step you'll need to take if you desire a life of dwelling in the shadows and feeding on the blood of the living is actually afflicting yourself with the disease Sanguinare Vampiris. The easiest way to do this is to fight with a vampire. Get in close and let it land some attacks. You'll eventually see a message alerting you to your diseased status.
You're not there yet though. Once the disease is in your system, you've got a three day grace period to root it out using the normal means. "Normal" in this case being a Cure Disease potion or a trip to your local Shrine. Once those three days are up though, you are officially a Skyrim vampire. Finding a cure becomes more tricky at this point, but I'll cover that later.
Keeping The Monster At Bay
Playing as a vampire in Skyrim becomes a tricky balancing act. The longer you go without blood, the weaker you become in certain fundamental respects; fire does greater damage and your health, magicka and stamina totals all take a hit (and stop regenerating) when you step into the sunlight. However, the more advanced stages also offer some unique abilities that make going without blood for a few days an attractive prospect.
There are four basic "stages" of advanced vampirism. Stage 1 is where you're at when you've recently fed; you advance to the next stage for each full 24 hour period you go without blood, up until the fourth and final stage.
The most advanced stage of the disease offers the widest assortment of dark powers, but it also hits you with the harshest penalties. What's more, stage 4 sufferers must avoid cities and other civilized areas at all costs, as you'll earn a bounty and be attacked on sight if you're spotted.
In order to feed, you'll need to first find a sleeping human. Inns and faction headquarters' are good for this, as are guard barracks and other large structures that house multiple people. Approach your sleeping target and activate it to feast on their life juice, immediately reverting your disease to its stage 1 state.
Living With Undeath
The picture that's been painted so far is a grim one. Weakness to fire and sunlight, constant blood cravings, universal hatred from the civilized world... it's hard out there for a Skyrim vampire. Fortunately, you'll also have some helpful tools to tap into, compliments of the disease.
All vampires possess certain abilities regardless of what stage the disease has reached. You'll be 100 percent immune to all other diseases, as well as all poisons. You'll also get a 25 percent boost to the power of your Illusion spells and a 25 percent boost to your sneak attempts.
At stage 1, you'll be able to access three vampire abilities: Vampire's Sight (improved sight in the dark, no limit on use and no magicka cost), Vampiric Drain (Destruction spell that absorbs 2 health per second from a target) and Vampire's Servant (reanimate a dead creature of level 6 or lower once per day to aid you). You'll also always possess a base 25 percent resistance to frost damage, though that number rises with each new stage you progress into.
All subsequent stages unlock additional abilities while allowing you to continue to access any that became available in the previous stage. At stage 2, you get: Vampire's Seduction (creatures and people up to level 8 can be made to flee or stop fighting for 30 seconds) as well as a boost to your Vampiric Drain (3 health per second absorbed) and Vampire's Servant (affects creatures level 13 or less).
Stages 3 and 4 continue to bump up the power level of Vampiric Drain (4 and 5 health per second, respectively) and Vampire's Servant (level 21 or lower and level 30 or lower creatures, respectively). The fourth stage also adds an additional ability, Embrace of Shadows, which allows you to turn invisible for three minutes, but only once per day.
Ridding Yourself Of The Curse
Curing vampirism is no easy feat. You have the option of trading it for another disease, Lycanthropy, but that's only part of the Companions questline and it sticks you with another affliction to manage.
A total cure is possible, but only with the help of a Morthal mage named Falion. Visit him to take on a quest which involves finding a Black Soul Gem and filling it. The thing about Black Soul Gem over others is that they can only contain human souls. Bear that in mind; you'll need to take a life if you hope to rid yourself of vampirism. Of course, if you're a Dark Brotherhood assassin and already receiving a steady stream of "kill this human" quests, that's probably not such a big deal.
If you can't get enough of monsters in Skyrim, we'll be posting a Werewolf's guide to Skyrim soon, and check out our Skyrim Evil guide for more badness.