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From the very beginning of the game, Emily Kaldwin refers to Corvo Attano as "father", while Corvo refers to her as "Majesty", "Princess", and "my daughter".

From the first Dishonored, it is revealed that Corvo and Emily's mother — the late Empress — had a relationship that was much closer than that of an Empress and her Royal Protector, implying that they were lovers. However, I don't remember seeing any allusions that Emily was in fact Corvo's daughter.

What is the relationship between Corvo and Emily, really? Are Corvo and Emily actually related by blood, or did Corvo simply adopt Emily after her mother's passing?

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    So: 25 year old Emily saying "father" to Corvo—who refers to her as "daughter"—is insufficient evidence, but a drawing she made when she was 10 of someone who might be Corvo with the word 'daddy' above it, is? What exactly were you hoping for (7 years ago :)?
    – Joachim
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 8:17
  • @Joachim, fair enough. I have unaccepted the accepted answer. A picture of Corvo saying "daddy" is not sufficient evidence that he is her biological father, and "you were more to her than Royal Protector" does not necessarily imply blood relations.
    – Nolonar
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 16:58
  • Maybe there's some lore regarding just how much of Corvo's and Emily's abilities that are learnt and how much (if any) that is genetical.
    – Amarth
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 17:31

4 Answers 4

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There is nothing to suggest that Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin are not blood-related.

Apart from them referring to each other as "daughter" and "father" respectively, Emily can be heard asserting it in the intro video to Dishonored 2:

They would have succeeded, but my father, Corvo Attano, hunted them down and cut their conspiracy to pieces.

Given that this is a preamble directed at the player, which serves to acquaint us with the facts (and the canon choices of the first game), I see no reason why she would lie about it, or use vague or distracting terms.

It is distinctively only alluded to in the first game, through many references: a drawing made by a young Emily found its way to another answer here, and its direct counterpart in the The Brigmore Witches DLC; Farley Havelock speculates it in his log; the Outsider hints at it in the Low Chaos epilogue; the Heart that Corvo carries is suggested (and later confirmed) to be Jessamine's; it is no secret that Corvo was the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin's secret lover; rumours can be heard and read throughout the game of people making the connection.
While these don't prove blood ties, taken together they strongly suggest what was to be confirmed in the second game. It also makes sense that the illicit relationship was not made public in those very uncertain times.

In some previews and interviews with the developers leading up to the release of Dishonored 2 it is bluntly stated, e.g. here, here, and here.

Any article about either character also confirms it (Fandom Dishonored wiki on Corvo and Emily; a Fandom Hero wiki on Corvo; Corvo's Wikipedia entry; TVTropes; a Charactour entry; &c.).

Finally, there is this reply to the question how Jessamine and Corvo fell in love, written by Dishonored 2's director Harvey Smith a week before the game was officially released, as part of a Reddit AMA:

At first dedicated soldier and bratty teen, taunting openly, but admiring in secret; then friends, with Corvo almost like family; as they aged, suddenly aware of a growing sense of fondness; eventually gripped by an intense "can't keep their hands off one another" moment alone; then "what just happened," haha. Check the timeline in the Dunwall Archives for their ages. I see Corvo as a romantic at heart. So I am certain his eyes teared up when Em was born.

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It was hinted in the first game, such as if you play on low chaos Emily draws a picture of Corvo with the word daddy. Corvo had a large drive to rescue her and there is also a few other notes, like in the lord regents mission there is an audio file which hints to this. In all yes, Emily is Corvo's biological daughter

enter image description here

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    Where appropriate, could you include a link to some sources please?
    – Mano
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 15:26
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    i.imgur.com/lz9UG.jpg Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 15:29
  • thats the pic the other two main things which hint will take forever to find but thats the biggest hint in 1. also some charcters you kill hint at it such as the guy who gets hit by a stray bullet in the last mission Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 15:31
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    There's also an endgame voice-over that heavily implies a familial relationship, though it is actually ambiguous whether "more to her" refers to Emily or her mother. about 2:00 ( youtube.com/watch?v=u3oahQ-mGJo )
    – Yorik
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 20:56
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In Dishonored 1, in the intro, if you keep talking to Emily before the Empress, you'll hear that Emily has a crush on Corvo. Corvo was probably just the Empress's protector. Emily will say something like: "If you don't marry the Empress, will you marry me?"

I believe Emily probably found a boy her age though and he might've ruled with Emily.

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    He was more of a father figure for Emily because she grew up without a dad, her real dad might've been killed during a war or rat plague Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 2:46
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    Hi, RJ. This is hardly an argument in any direction: to young Emily, Corvo was an important male presence and paramour of her mother. As for your second paragraph, that's pure speculation and doesn't add anything of relevance. This is not a forum; please take the Tour to see how this site works. Welcome to Arqade!
    – Joachim
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 7:53
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I would say that Corvo is not Emily birth father because if you look in the empress's room you can find a bone charm and if you read the book about bone charms it says that they stop pregnancy

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    This is not sufficient evidence, though. First, we don't know when the Empress got that charm. For all we know, she could've gotten it after Emily's birth. Second, we don't know if the Empress ever had contact with that charm in the first place. Somebody else could've misplaced it there after the Empress died. Third, all it proves is that Emily isn't the Empress' daughter. It doesn't prove whether or not she's Corvo's daughter.
    – Nolonar
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 20:31
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    And if Emily wasn't Jessamine's daughter, you'd think that'd come up more. Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 22:07
  • @Studoku-ReinstateMonica I was surprised it wasn't used as justification for the start of Dishonored 2.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 11:26

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