The Dishonored game series is one of the best stealth action franchises in recent memory, featuring open-ended levels, engaging characters, and supernatural powers that turn each mission into a memorable experience. With two main installments and one standalone spinoff game, it's no surprise that the series has its fair share of interesting characters, from surly gangsters lurking in back alleys to nobility attending masquerade balls.
But the true stars of the show are, as always, the player characters. Dishonored 2 saw the option to play as either Royal Protector Corvo Attano or as Empress Emily Kaldwin, who previously appeared as an NPC in the first game. Emily, in particular, feels like the true protagonist of the game, and while we may have spent a lot of time with her over the years, there are still things even the most ardent of fans may not know about her. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Empress of the Isles, Emily Kaldwin.
10 Secret Origins
While it is a fact very quickly and decisively confirmed in Dishonored 2, the first game skirted around the notion that Corvo was Emily's father. There were snippets of audio recordings, rumors mentioned by other characters, and even some outright accusations, but Corvo's stoic silence meant that nothing was ever solidly affirmed.
Part of this is due to the nature of Corvo's relationship with Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, Emily's mother. While they were indeed lovers, it was a secret courtship and for much of Emily's childhood, Corvo was not publicly known as her father. Thankfully, this did not stop the two from having a close, loving bond.
9 Training With Corvo
From a young age, Emily and Corvo spent a lot of time together. This was, unofficially of course, due to him being her father, and he took this time with her to teach her what he knew. Emily was never a princess to be coddled or doted upon, and so naturally her father began to teach her how to use a sword.
Others, including the Spymaster Hiram Burrows (who would later become the Lord Regent and a major antagonist of the first Dishonored game) disapproved of these lessons, considering them improper for a young noblewoman. This, however, did not stop Emily from learning the art of combat from her father.
8 Adventurous Spirit
As players might have noticed from conversations overheard at the Hound Pits Pub in the original Dishonored, Emily had a bit of a wild streak as a child. She was less concerned with dull, serious studies and more interested in sailing ships and great battles and magical creatures.
This spirit of adventure has been a constant throughout Emily's life as even before the events of Dishonored, she was an avid drawer with a powerful imagination. This drew criticism from some on how her mother Jessamine was raising her, but evidently, Jessamine decided to encourage this playful rambunctious spark, helping Emily along into the daring hero we know and love.
7 Dreams Of The Outsider
Emily's first contact with the supernatural came not in Dishonored 2, but actually all the way back in the original Dishonored. A full 15 years before she lost her Empire and the Outsider gave her mystical abilities to take it back, she dreamed of him while staying at the Hound Pits Pub.
If the player chooses to explore the central hub area between missions, they can find Emily in her tower after rescuing her from the Golden Cat. Interacting with her will lead to her giving Corvo a rune that should while exploring, telling him that it gave her nightmares and referencing the Outsider.
6 Continuing Studies
While at the Hound Pits Pub, Emily studied the basics of etiquette and education under Callista Curnow. Once the coup was over and she had been restored to the throne, her tutelage under Callista continued, although there were several new faces to guide her learning as well.
Both Anton Sokolov and Piero Joplin, former rivals turned partners in science, aided Emily in her education, teaching her about the world and natural philosophy. These lessons expanded her knowledge and led to her gaining a significant amount of confidence, both in her position and in her interactions with others, as Corvo notes in his travel log that she felt confident arguing with much more experienced natural philosophers.
5 Reforming Dunwall
One of the first major projects Emily undertook after claiming her throne was a complete transformation of Dunwall. As anyone who has played Dishonored knows, the city was something of a dystopian cesspool of misery, full of deadly plague, cruel guards, and violent gangs.
Emily's major projects helped to rectify these situations in many ways. For one, she completely reformed the Dunwall City Guard to eliminate corruption and unnecessary violence. She also encouraged trade with the other Isles and expanded the capital city, helping build a better future for its citizens.
4 Relationship With Wyman
Although only mentioned a few times throughout Dishonored 2, Wyman is of significant importance to Emily as they are romantically involved. A noble from Morley, Emily and Wyman met and developed feelings for each other sometime before the events of the second game, and engage in regular correspondence checking up on one another.
Also interesting to note is that Wyman's gender is, canonically, never specified throughout Dishonored 2 nor any other official materials. The developers have also stated that this ambiguity was deliberate choice on their part. Given the LGBTQ representation already on display with other characters in the series (Billie Lurk, Aramis Stilton, and others), it wouldn't be surprising to see Emily included in their number.
3 Nighttime Escapades
While carrying out her duties as Empress, Emily was still at heart the same adventurous soul she was as a child. As such, the boring and stuffy days of being the ruler of a nation eventually caught up with her and a short while before the beginning of the second game, she began to secretly leave her quarters at night, running across the rooftops of Dunwall.
While she may have thought this was a solitary exercise, in truth her father, Corvo Attano, kept watch over her while she ventured out in order to ensure that no harm befell her. In addition to these nighttime journeys, she also continued to train with her father in the ways of swordplay and stealth.
2 Whale Oil Rationing
While the coup at the start of Dishonored 2 explodes onto the scene, the fuse for this particular catastrophe was lit long ago by a fairly innocuous mandate. The game does address the idea that Emily and Corvo have been framed as the Crownkiller, who has been murdering their enemies, but what it doesn't cover in as much detail is why they have so many enemies to begin with.
The answer to this question lies, as do so many things in the steampunk Dishonored franchise, with whale oil. The substance had become scarcer prior to the events of the second game, and so Emily enacted a rationing plan, eliciting criticism from a great many people. Some formed entire groups dedicated to opposing this law - groups whose leaders were soon executed by the Crownkiller.
1 Travel To Karnaca
In a game that's all about letting you choose how you want to play, it seems odd that there would be canon story beats that negate an entire playthrough, and yet that is exactly the case. While some elements, such as the specific fates of the targets from Dishonored 2, are left undefined, others are not. Canonically, it has been confirmed that Emily was the one to go to Karnaca, not Corvo.
This does make sense, though, as the story absolutely feels more important when viewed through Emily's eyes as she learns a serious lesson about responsibility and attentiveness. Still, it's interesting to note that any playthrough with Corvo at the helm technically never happened - it's always been Empress Emily Kaldwin.