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So, I am working on a new playthrough of Skyrim with the two new DLCs and I would like to work in being a vampire lord early into the game. Doing a bit of reading however it seems I have to select to be a dawnguard if I want to be able to craft crossbows and bolts... which I do want..

Can I choose to join the dawnguard up front and then become a vampire lord later down the road or is this the only time this option will come up?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Once you've finished the Chasing Echoes quest you'll be given another opportunity to become a Vampire Lord, even if you originally sided with the Dawnguard.

Details that may be considered plot spoilers:

Before you can enter the Soul Cairn, Serana will tell you that you need to be "dead." At this point, you can choose to let her turn you into a Vampire Lord or let her partially soul trap you. Using the former will (obviously) turn you into a Vampire Lord. In addition, you can choose to ask her to transform you at any point after this quest, regardless of what you choose for accessing the Soul Cairn. However, it's also worth noting that there is a dialogue that will give you the option to convince Serana to cure her vampirism. If you do so, you will lose the ability to have her transform you at later points since she is of course no longer a vampire herself.

I'll also note that this was how I played it, and I hadn't finished some of the Dawnguard sidequests before becoming a Vampire Lord, causing them to become blocked unless I cured myself (so be wary of that).

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Perfect, that will allow me to pursue this avenue and not miss out on the crafting recipes. Thanks! –  James Oct 25 '12 at 21:58
    
@James what crafting recipes? –  shanodin Oct 26 '12 at 3:45
1  
@AliceRees Crossbow and Bolt recipes. –  James Oct 26 '12 at 16:16
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If you join and finish the dawnguard questline you can still become a vampire lord through Serana. However, if you do this, the dawnguard won't help you anymore and tell you to cure yourself.

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Choose the dawnguard because after the main quest you can get serana to bite a infinite number of times, even after you are cured, and you still get the benefits of being a dawnguard.

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