The crossbow is a powerful weapon, with a slower reload speed than most bows. All crossbows have 50% stagger chance, 75% if power shot is unlocked. Crossbows also make much more sound than bows when firing. For this reason, the crossbow is not suited to be used in conjunction with Sneak. With Legendary improvements and the correct enchantments, Dragons can be killed with a few shots. The crossbow is not intended for long-range use, so it is more effective in close quarters.
During the quest "Dawnguard," Durak, an Orc vampire hunter, is outside Fort Dawnguard practicing with his crossbow. When asked about the weapon, he will give the Dragonborn one, along with 45 steel bolts. If Durak is not conversed with, then at the end of the quest, Isran will reward the Dragonborn with a normal crossbow and 45 steel bolts. If the Dragonborn chooses the vampire pathway, a crossbow will be lootable from one of the Dawnguard. Crossbows are tied with the Daedric and Nightingale bows for second highest base damage, with dragonbone having the highest.
Several can be found in Fort Dawnguard:
- Lobby, atop a crate.
- Rooftops, on a table.
A crossbow can only be created after the quest "A New Order" and asking Sorine Jurard how to create them, at which point both a crossbow and steel bolts will be available for smithing. It may be smithed with the Steel Smithing perk, and can only be crafted at the forge in Fort Dawnguard with the following components:
It can be upgraded with a steel ingot at a grindstone and benefits from the Steel Smithing perk, which doubles the improvement.
- All Dawnguard crossbows utilize a "Goat's Foot Lever" as a means of spanning the bow, unlike the more recognizable windlass. In the Goat's Foot Lever, two bars are slid over pivots on the crossbow's handle, which are in turn in front of the bowstring. When a middle handle is pulled back, the bowstring slides back with the bars. This system is used for smaller, less powerful crossbows.