Corvo Attano is the protagonist of Dishonored. Previously an agent and bodyguard to Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, Corvo is stripped of his title of Lord Protector and imprisoned by the usurper, Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows, on the pretense of having murdered the Empress and abducted her daughter, Emily Kaldwin. After escaping from confinement on the eve of his execution, Corvo becomes an assassin or masked vigilante for the Loyalist Conspiracy, eliminating Burrows' confederates to clear his name, avenge the Empress' death, and restore Emily to the throne.
Corvo originally hails from Serkonos, the southernmost nation of the Empire of the Isles, and is the first Royal Protector born outside of Gristol. Not much is known of his early life; he was "assigned to serve the Empress as a diplomatic gesture," but the specifics of this assignment, and the age at which it began, are unknown. It has also been noted that Corvo is not high-born, and attained his social status through the Royal Protector position. He is described as being mysterious and quiet, with Wallace Higgins and Treavor Pendleton claiming that despite his high social standing, little is known about him by those at court.
Corvo has a strong bond with Emily, and often interacts with her in a familiar and affectionate manner—for instance, Emily asks him to play hide-and-seek on his return to Dunwall, which Corvo can oblige, and he was apparently teaching her climbing and defensive techniques prior to the events of Dishonored. Corvo will also occasionally hug Emily or hold her hand, further displaying their closeness.
It is believed by some citizens of Dunwall that Corvo was Jessamine's lover as well as her Royal Protector. While several characters in the game address these rumors (Lydia starts to ask about the supposed affair on one occasion, and Pendleton makes disparaging remarks about their relationship during the high chaos version of The Light at the End) they remain unconfirmed. However, Corvo's initial interaction with Jessamine, a letter found in her secret room, Anton Sokolov's comments to Corvo after The Royal Physician, and assertions by the Outsider suggest that the two were close.
It is speculated in Farley Havelock's journal that Emily may be Corvo's daughter. Emily's behavior toward Corvo suggests that she sees him as a father figure, but any biological relation between the two is deliberately left ambiguous.
Following his escape from Coldridge Prison with the help of the Loyalists, Corvo readily joins their group. Whether Corvo's primary goal (after rescuing Emily) is to restore Dunwall or exact revenge is determined by player choice and style.
In Dishonored 2, Corvo had to restore order on Dunwall once again after Delilah Copperspoon steal the throne from Emily. He won't do this alone however, as Emily, now an adult woman whom trained as assassin as much as himself, would aid him in his quest.
As a hero, Corvo won't choose to kill any humans whom stand in his way, whether they were civilians, guards or those whom wronged him (this includes Hiram Burrows). The following heroic choices that he could take:
- Avoid lethal forces against guards or civilians.
- Deal with assassination targets in a non-lethal manner. This method would led the targets, includes Burrows himself, gained their proper comeuppances for their crimes. However, Corvo's scheme in doing this not above blackmailing those whom works closely with the targets. For example, he tortured Bunting, a man whom works for the Pendelton brothers, until he cooperate with him that led Slackjaw had his men to punish the Pendelton brothers for their crimes.
- Save Geoff Curnow from Thaddeus Campbell's assassination attempt.
- Save Berthold and his sister from zealous Overseers.
- Rescue a woman from a swarm of rats in an abandoned factory on the north side of Kaldwin's Bridge.
- Release Anton Sokolov's test subject from confinement.
- Save the plague survivors in Creating a Safe Haven.
- Use the Arc Pylon to incapacitate/K.O. hostiles.
- Maintain Overseer disguise, leaving no evidence behind.
- Stop the Execution of the Guard who helped Corvo.
- Restore Water to the Canal.