Skyrim Mod List

By Shamus Posted Friday Jan 31, 2014

Filed under: Game Reviews 161 comments

Someone asked on Twitter…

Well, I never pass up a good excuse to fill the blog with easy-to-produce content like lists. So sure. Let’s go over my list of mods.

Note that installing mods in Skyrim is not something you do in moderation. Either you ignore mods and just play the base game, or you’ve got three dozen of the dang things, because once you start it’s hard to draw the line. There are so many aspects of the game that could be improved, and once you’re over the initial learning curve additional mods are basically free.

Here is what I have loading via the Nexus Mod Manager:

  1. Hearthfire DLC.
  2. Reduced distance NPC greetings. Because it’s stupid and immersion-shattering when I sprint by someone at top speed and they respond as if I’ve walked up to them and struck up a conversation. Chatter is good, but incessant absurd chatter is worse than none at all.
  3. Riverwood enhanced. There are about ten of these, so I’m not going to enumerate them all here in this list. Winterhold, whiterun, Windhelm, Markarth, Morthal, etc. You get the idea.

    These mods just increase the clutter density of the stuff in town. More trees, more bushes, more furniture, etc. Makes the place less barren. Not in love with these mods. Once in a while an object is placed so that it screws up the pathing, so NPCs will get caught on new crates or have conversations with a new tree trunk between them.

  4. Sounds of Skyrim – dungeons This adds a bunch of ambient sounds to the dungeons in the game. Howling, echoing wind. Spooky sounds. Dripping sounds. I never realized how flat and lifeless the soundscape was until I installed this.
  5. Natural skin. The name is something of a misnomer. It really just modifies the elves so they don’t have sunken eyes, dark spots on their cheeks, and ridged Klingon noses. While I appreciate the Elder Scrolls moving away from stock fantasy elves, MAN the original look of those guys is ghastly.
  6. Lanterns of Skyrim. There are lanterns placed along the main roads that (somehow) light up at night. Kind of silly and hard to justify, but… eh. I like it.
  7. Sounds of Skyrim – wilds. Like the dungeons one above, this adds a bunch of ambient sounds to the wilderness.
  8. Saturation boost. I think game developers are finally getting over their love affair with those “realistic” washed-out color palettes. Until they’re all cured, I’m glad we have this mod, which makes the world so much more vibrant and interesting.
  9. Ponytail hairstyles. I have no idea what the deal is at Bethesda, but they love to spend MASSIVE textures on dungeon walls that are viewed at a distance and modest-sized textures on faces and hair. This would be tolerable if not for their obsession with making the camera ZOOM IN on people’s faces when you talk to them.

    Also, Bethesda is somewhat notorious for having a dozen haircuts in their games, half of which are Mohawks. The rest are things like cornrows, dreadlocks, and three different levels of going bald. But a ponytail, the most practical and likely hair style for and active person of either gender in a medieval setting? You get one or two of those, both of which are unflattering. This mod has a dozen or so gorgeous, interesting, well-animated ponytail styles. ALL my characters use these styles. I never look at the default haircuts unless I’m going with a shaved head look.

  10. Lush grass and trees. Makes the grass a bit thicker. I don’t know what it does for trees. I forgot I had this installed.
  11. Improved skill books. Instead of instantly auto-reading a book as you pick it up, the game lets you put books into your inventory, and if the book gives a skill point the description lists what skill. This saves you from the stupid and tedious task of quicksaving before you pick up books.
  12. Enhanced lighting. I dunno about this one. Josh runs this mod, and it looks amazing. I’m apparently running it, but the game looks the same as vanilla Skyrim. Don’t know why.
  13. Item recycling. Melt down weapons and armor into ingots, appropriately losing a bit of raw materials in the process. Good for blacksmiths and for people who hate fast-traveling to EVERY. DANG. CITY. to buy out all the shops’ supply of ingots. Because that gets old. It also gives you a loot sink to absorb the gear you find, rather than selling it all to shopkeepers. (See below for more on that topic.)
  14. Hobbit House. My home of choice. Unlike most player homes, it’s not some sprawling doom fortress fit for a king. It’s just a little place with the basics. I don’t want to showcase my loot and display my wealth. I just want to stick my books on a shelf, put my gear away, cook dinner and fall asleep in a bed, preferably without a lot of hiking in between. Note that the “One Ring” on the mantle piece is a bit much, and its 40% stealth bonus is flagrantly OP. But this is still my favorite player home.
  15. Main theme by Lindsey Sterling. This is Lindsey Sterling. Her music is a mainstay for me when I’m coding. Her rendition of the Skyrim main theme is marvelous.
  16. Laintar Dale. This city existed in Skyrim (the place) in Arena, but doesn’t appear in Skyrim (the game) for whatever reason. I added it not because I care about the place, but because I just like having more places on the map where you can spend the night when I’m doing my Frostfall / Hardcore / No Fast Travel games.
  17. Oakwood. Small village. Added just to have another place on the map.
  18. Random Alternate Start Dragonborn? Never heard of him. I’m just some travelling adventurer who pays the bills with grave robbing and bandit slaying. This mod Lets you pick from a fixed selection of starting gear and then drops you into a completely random (and by no means safe) starting location. You’ll never see or hear about the main quest unless you visit Helgen to kick it off.
  19. Auto Unequip Arrows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a game thinking, “THIS time I’ll be a mage”, or “THIS TIME I’ll be a fighter”. But an hour later I’m skulking around with a bow, because that just feels so right to me.

    This mod makes it so that when you switch to another weapon, the arrows vanish from your outfit. It’s basically for people who admire their hero in third-person view. Not that I would know anything about that.

  20. Dragon Priest Mask Quest Markers. Once you get your first dragon priest mask, it shows map markers for all the others so you can complete the set. I installed this thinking I’d actually collect them all, but I never bothered.
  21. Race+ Makes all the various racial features available across all races. So, you can have an elf with red hair or a Nord with dark skin or a Redguard with angled Elf-eyes. It’s nice if you make a lot of characters (maybe because you play hardcore permadeath) and want more variety to keep things interesting.
  22. Barenziah Quest Markers OH MY GOSH is Skyrim annoying about these. Around the world are these eye-catching little stones. If you ever pick ONE of them up, you will end up taking the quest to collect ALL of them, with no reward until you’re done. The quest requires you to join the sodding Thieves Guild just so you can talk to the person who completes the quest. There are twenty-four in all, and getting them all without a guide would be incredibly difficult and time consuming. This mod saves you from alt-Tabbing out to the wiki by putting quest markers on all of them.
  23. Frostfall More than all the other mods in this list, THIS one is the real game changer. It takes into account how much skin your armor covers, the weather, the ambient temperature, and even how wet you are. It makes the entire game very survival simulation-ish. You need to wear fur, stay out of the rain, build fires to keep warm, and generally act like cold weather is a dangerous thing.
  24. Realistic Needs and Diseases. A great companion for Frostfall. Eat and drink to stay alive. Cook food to make stuff that’s more filling for the same weight. Diseases are now a serious threat that will eventually cripple your performance if you let them run unchecked, not a minor nuisance to be taken care of when you feel like it.
  25. Skyrim UI. This is a big one. So big that it requires an external executable to make it work. It basically makes the console-minded UI into something less painful to use on a PC.
  26. More Carriages. It never made any sense to me that I could take a carriage to Winterhold, but when I arrived there wouldn’t be one. Not a big deal in the vanilla game, but when you’re playing with Frostfall and no fast travel, details like this are important.
  27. Rich Merchants. So players can break the economy easily by selling all the loot they get to shopkeepers. And what solution does Bethesda come up with? They give all shopkeepers really tiny bit of money so that you have to visit every merchant in town, then fast-travel to the next town and exhaust all THEIR merchants, and maybe even visit a third town. Brilliant! Players still break the economy, but now it’s super immersion-breaking, tedious, and sends them through dozens of soul-sucking loading screens. I’d say the solution is worse than the problem, but that would imply it was actually a solution. It’s actually just another problem.

    Don’t get me wrong. I understand this is a really tough problem with lots of tradeoffs. But this is an ugly hack that just creates an incentive to play in a really un-fun way. This mod ups all the merchants so you can unload all your loot without making more than one or two stops.

    For my own part, I’ve solved the “broken economy” problem by simply not using fast travel. This cuts down on the number of trips to town for me, which stops me from selling EVERYTHING I find. That solution isn’t for everyone, though, and for another player “no fast travel” is just a different sort of broken annoying time-sink.

Not loaded: Dawnguard. Because screw Dawnguard and its railroady plot, nonsense dialog, and shopkeeper-murdering vampire spawns. What a waste.

Have not gotten Dragonborn. I hear it’s good, but since I tend to avoid the main quest and all things Dragonborn, I know I’d never get around to experiencing the content.

So that’s my mod list. Hope this was useful to you.


From The Archives:

161 thoughts on “Skyrim Mod List

  1. Iunnrais says:

    I couldn’t play Skyrim without the Deadly Dragons mod. I like my dragon encounters to be terrifying boss fights, not lazy safari afternoons.

  2. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Just to be clear however, Spoiler Warning will be playing the base game in all its buggy glory correct?

      1. Benjamin Hilton says:

        I figured as much. You never have used mods so far, and lets be honest…why take away stuff that is such comedy gold.

        1. Zagzag says:

          They used mods in the ME3 season to increase the FOV if I remember correctly.

          1. Right, but I think that was to keep Josh from getting killed more often. The FOV was so narrow that it was laughable for a cover-based shooter.

            The brokenness of the vanilla FOV was referred to many times, especially when characters that were supposed to be out of frame would go into null animations.

      2. Deadyawn says:

        Y’know, at first I was pretty apprehensive about you guys doing Skyrim seeing as how its fairly weak in the writing department but the more I think about it the more the idea appeals to me. It’ll be a broken, buggy, stupid, poorly justified mess. A fun mess to be sure but a mess nonetheless. So basically just Fallout 3 again.

        I mean, there will probably be fewer pants exploded radio DJs but you can’t have everything. Looking forward to it.

    1. Josh says:

      Yeah, I don’t think we’re even going to use the unofficial patches.

      1. KremlinLaptop says:

        You brave crazy bastards. I’ll pour one out for you.

        1. Disc says:

          “I'll pour one out for you.”

          Very much seconded.

          1. Michael says:

            I tried to pour one out, but it seems the beer is actually classed as a war axe in the inventory, so now I’ve accidentally massacred half the village just trying to salute you.

            1. Bryan says:

              Cahmel? Is that you?

              (…The latest incarnation, that is. The earlier ones couldn’t massacre half the village with that axe, of course…)

              1. Michael says:

                Which is funny, because Oblivion is the iteration of the franchise you can be falling down incompetent and still finish. Skyrim will randomly maul you.

                Of course, Oblivion was the home to “I used to be an adventurer like you, until I learned I could be ten levels ahead of everything in the game just by drawing a crappy paycheck” guards.

      2. swenson says:

        You are a brave, brave man. I am delighted for this.

      3. MistahFixIt says:

        Good lord, I wouldn’t even attempt to play New Vegas without Mission: Mojave (Ult. Edition+) installed.

        It’s a good thing you do Spoiler Warning over a stream, else Josh might murder one of you out of sheer, hair-pulling frustration.

      4. Henson says:

        Not even an FOV alteration?

        1. Josh says:

          This I will probably edit in with the ini files.

          1. Friend of Dragons says:

            Think I just did it with a console command.

            1. Josh says:

              It’s slightly more annoying with the fov [number] command because it resets every time you close the game.

              1. A. Hieronymus Bosch says:

                Be sure to show how changing the FOV destroys tree shadows.

            2. James says:

              that what i do when i boot up skyrim every once in a while.

              TILD, FoV 85 (ENTER) Done

              1. Michael says:

                Or go to /Documents/MyGames/Skyrim/Skyrim.ini and under [display] add the line “fDefaultWorldFOV=85.0” without quotes.

      5. mixmastermind says:

        And you’ll be playing?

        My God it’ll be like Fallout 3 all over again.

      6. Mersadeon says:

        What, not even a UI patch? Oh god, I think I could not play the game with its old UI.

        1. swenson says:

          I played about ten minutes with the original UI before downloading SkyUI… I can’t imagine playing it the original way. It’s just so, so bad, and impossible to navigate efficiently.

  3. So what would it take to get you guys to play at least for a little while with the mod that changes the dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine?

    1. Hal says:

      As long as the topic is silly mods, if you’ve never seen PC Gamer’s “Week of Madness” playthrough, it’s really worth reading:

      The author installs a whole bunch of mods, sight unseen, then documents the trip through the Skyrim that Sheogorath would find unsettling.

      1. Silly? Silly? Surely you can’t look at that soulless, steam-driven stare and not feel your bowels turn to water instantly, can you?!

        1. swenson says:

          TOOT TOOT.

          1. DIN aDN says:

            I couldn’t help but wonder what the mod would be like if it also replaced the dragon fight theme with the song from the show.

  4. bucaneer says:

    “This saves you from the stupid and tedious task of quicksaving before you pick up books.”

    I don’t follow. Why would you want to quicksave before reading a skill book?

    1. Kamica says:

      Because skill books always give you +1 skill level in it’s skill, regardless of what level it is, however, the higher your level is, the harder it gets to level up through non-skill book ways, while skill books remain equally useful. So the longer you wait with using a skill book, the more valuable it is.

      1. bucaneer says:

        Oh. Getting more powerful in Skyrim is such a non-issue that this never crossed my mind.

    2. Shamus says:

      A skill book gives you a single level of a skill. If you’re level 10, you go to 11, but if you’re 99, you go to 100. Obviouslly it’s incredibly time consuming to push through those last levels, so you’ll want to save the book for then. But in default Skyrim, you can’t take it with you, so the best bet is to not touch it until you need it.

      1. Mephane says:

        And there goes another bullet point for my personal list of game mechanics that are not only stupid, but completely detrimental to the game as a whole. Thanks for pointing that out.

      2. Michael says:

        If I’m honest, I never cared about the last couple levels of a skill. The only exception was a couple skills like crafting and lockpicking that had horrifically broken final perks. The only time you really need a score over 80 is if you’re trying to get a legendary reset on a skill.

        Though, on that subject, I’d find it really hard not playing with Dawnguard, simply because of the dragonbone weapons.

      3. mixmastermind says:

        Turns out you can’t pick up a book without reading it.

        Because the Dragonborn has obsessive personality disorder.

        1. Michael says:

          Also why he/she has a crippling compulsion to do everything anyone ever mentions to him/her.

          “Oh, you’re a mage.”
          “You should got to the college of Winterhold, and study there.”
          “But, I’m not a mage.”
          *Quest marker appears*
          *Dragonborn wanders off to Winterhold*

      4. Just Passing Through says:

        Just going to plug a mod I really like: Bandolier Bags and Pouches. A nice self contained mod that’s great for pack rats and can give you up to 400 units of extra carry weight.

        1. Just Passing Through says:

          I did not intend for my comment to end up here, my mistake.

      5. Elric says:

        On the other hand, that one extra skill point gained early will accompany and serve you through the entire game, whereas if you wait for when you are above level 80 or more, you have basically wasted a free skill increase through a large part of your adventuring.
        Me, I don’t bother saving skill books. There are also master trainers to gain levels. Gotta do something with all that money.

        1. Bek says:

          But it’s a lot easier to get that skill-up normally when you’re at low level. It’s much more useful to get a +1 skillup when you’re at level 90 Smithing, trying to unlock Dragon stuff, rather than, say, level 25 Smithing, when you could get a skillup just by smithing a few daggers.

    3. Hal says:

      The books give a skill-up, regardless of your skill level. I think it also contributes to leveling up as well.

      On the first point, some players want to save those free skill points for when the skill is at high levels; going from 20->21 is much easier than going from 89->90.

      On the second point, if the skill is in something that you don’t use at all, you don’t want it to contribute to leveling up. That sort of thing can leave you underpowered compared to the monsters around you.

      1. Kereminde says:

        So . . . no Morrowind “let’s break the training with temporary Skill Destruction” spells?”

        That, by the way, was the absolute insanely easy way to break the game.

        1. Decius says:

          Nope. The easiest way to break Morrowind was recursively brewing potions of Fortify Intelligence.

          1. syal says:

            I thought the easiest way was fortifying intelligence with the Soul Trap glitch.

            1. Michael says:

              It’s been a while, but I think recursive intelligence potions were easier to trigger, because reagents were easy to obtain.

      2. All skill level ups in Skyrim contribute to player levels – every 10 skill levels, you gain a character level. Quite simple and also quite unnecessary.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          Actually if I recall, it’s not exactly 10 skillups per level. Each time you rank up a skill it’ll give you ‘EXP’ to the next level, but the amount given goes up as a skill ranks higher. So going from, say, 20-21 will only fill up a little bit of the bar at high character levels… but 99-100 will fill it significantly more.

          1. Lachlan the Mad says:

            Going up levels also requires more EXP depending on which level you are. I’m not sure whether the EXP bonuses you get from resting and standing stones contribute to the level-up EXP or the skill points. I generally just save my level-ups for the middle of boss fights and then I feel fine.

  5. Nick Pitino says:

    Neat stuff.

    I was stuck playing Skyrim on the EcksBawks, but having recently picked up a ‘new’ computer (the best laptop in the pawnshop) I might have a go at seeing if I can get it running.

    And then the glorious modding shall begin.

    1. Hal says:

      Likewise. I bought Skyrim during a period when my gaming PC was a fancy paper weight. Now that I have a gaming rig again, I’m very jealous of the folks who get to play with mods. I had a great time playing through Oblivion over and over with various mods.

      1. Kamica says:

        That’s why you never play an Elder Scrolls game on a console =P. (Also no unofficial patches)

        1. Tizzy says:

          Skyrim is already a terrifying time sink on a console. I shudder to think what it’s be like if the mods actually made the game GOOD!

          1. skd says:

            nonsense, I have been playing with mods since the first ones started popping up on the Nexus a couple of months ago.

  6. KremlinLaptop says:

    For anyone who wants to play Skyrim with mods but finds the MAHOOSIVE amount of mods on the Nexus a bit daunting?

    I can’t recommend the site enough. It’s the Michelin guide to Skyrim mods and a very good way to find interesting ones; particular favorites are the ones that deal with the economy and such.

    Also player homes! I just have to recommend these two: — Elysium Estate. It’s not a massive fortress of DOOM for your character in Skyrim but it isn’t some hidey-hole with a bed, a chest, and nothing else. — Dev Aveza. It’s an airship. A flyable airship. I once FOUGHT A DRAGON from the deck of my airship; it was pretty awesome.

  7. Josh says:

    Well the lighting mod I run isn’t called Enhanced Lighting (and I don’t actually know which lighting mod that is – Enhanced Lighting Effects maybe?).

    I actually run two lighting mods: Climates of Tamriel which primarily overhauls the weather system but also changes outdoor lighting somewhat, and Realistic Lighting Overhaul.

    Realistic Lighting Overhaul is the one that makes all of the interior lighting much more pretty. It removes almost all of the source-less ambient light from interiors and also has thousands of cell edits which add new lights and rearrange existing lights. It really changes the way the game looks.

    1. swenson says:

      Do you run Frostfall? How does that interact with Climates of Tamriel, do they play well together? Or do they not actually affect one another?

      1. Josh says:

        I’m fairly certain Frostfall and CoT are fully compatible, although I’ve never tried them. I thought about installing Frostfall at one point, but I was already halfway through my current playthrough and didn’t want to so thoroughly change the gameplay in the middle.

      2. Henson says:

        I run both these mods, so they’re certainly compatible. Not sure how much they affect each other, since I’ve never played one without the other, or played the vanilla game. I do get occasional messages about wind or snowstorms coming, or the air being warm and pleasant, which do affect how quickly my heat value decreases, if that says anything.

  8. It took me a minute to realize why you were concerned with ingots when I remembered my first (and only, really) win-through on Skyrim was as a mage. Apparently I did it “wrong” as I was destruction-magic based and won through fairly easily, ignoring armor and forging and all of that entirely.

    1. Josh says:

      Destruction magic in vanilla is just weird. It’s not broken so much as to be totally useless, but it’s powerful in ways that you wouldn’t expect and weak in the ways you would expect it to be powerful. In terms of damage it’s left in the dust by both melee trees (and probably archery too, although I’ve never played an archer character before) and there’s fewer reliable ways to improve damage like the other combat professions because it doesn’t scale damage with level and the “Fortify [Magic School]” enchantment reduces cost instead of increasing damage.

      There’s still fortify destruction potions if you’re an alchemist, but that leaves a huge gulf between potential destruction damage and potential weapon damage. And that’s not even getting into the absurd stuff you can do to your weapon damage if you push smithing to the limit.

      So as an “arcane master holding dominion over the elements and turning the fury of nature against any opponent,” destruction magic falls really flat.

      But then there’s the Impact perk, which allows you to reliably knock down any enemy that can ragdoll (read: everything-not-a-dragon). Combine that with the Fortify Destruction enchantment for 0 cost spells and you can win almost any fight by stun-locking everything with dual-cast fireballs, even if it takes you forever because your damage output is pitiful.

      This seems to be a problem in fantasy games in general, at least when the option is presented to the player to play either a magic user or a swashbuckler. It gets a little difficult to balance someone who can stand at range and throw spells that logically should be capable of simply blowing someone up when you also have to account for a version of the player that has to fight the same enemies at melee range (and therefore much more vulnerable to melee attacks all the time) with a weapon that can’t necessarily kill in one hit all the time.

      But Bethesda has never been good at balance in general and Skyrim specifically seems to have been made with a “what the hell, just become as godly as you want” approach to design, so it’s a bit annoying that magic is so weirdly underpowered in all the ways you wouldn’t expect.

      1. I have to admit that I was a sniper more often than not, and maybe my love of guns from the Fallout series let me dodge/backpedal a bit better than most. I’d have to go back and look at which paths I took, but I do remember dual-wielding nearly all of my spells and cranking down the mana costs. I think I also used those wizard masks and other artifacts that boosted destruction and total mana significantly, but beyond that I’ve no numbers to crunch.

        Maybe I got past some of the more combat-oriented stuff via skill checks or using my companions (I think I only took Lydia and then told her to go wait somewhere).

        But yeah, even tabletop RPGs have a problem with spellcasters and game balance. They’re usually crap at low levels and then break the game at mid-to-higher levels, or eventually some spell combo makes them overpowered early on and it only gets worse as you go.

        1. One other tactic I recall was using staffs until they ran out of bulle– um, I mean, power, and then switching over to spells. This basically let me front-load my attacks with a bunch of what might be considered free shots, especially after I could use magic to fill soul gems.

        2. skd says:

          IIRC, back in the days of 2nd edition AD&D spellcasters not only started out extremely weak and easy to kill but also took much longer to gain levels.

      2. Hal says:

        I agree with all of this. It doesn’t help that many of the spells are AoE as you progress, which isn’t always helpful; mostly because they can send small items blasting around the room.

        I always combined summoned monsters with destruction magic. Some of those monsters were weaker than I’d have liked, but they presented a distraction while you whittled at the enemy (or regained mana).

      3. Michael says:

        One of the flaws in Skyrim was getting rid of the spellcrafting alters from Oblivion and earlier. They were a cheesy way to game the progression system (like the “cry for help” destruction training spells in Oblivion), but they meant that even when you hit endgame, you’d still have ways to get superior spells that would actually hurt the things you were fighting.

        Skyrim does away with that, because of the skill cheesing, and it means once you’ve got a very limited range of spells, and none of them scale up. The Fire/Ice/Lighting wall spells seemed to work well enough at endgame, but they were the only destruction spells I remember actually using for damage when I did a mage playthrough.

  9. swenson says:

    Frostfall and RNAD are my favorite mods. The way you play the game really, really changes with Frostfall. The first time I went up to High Hrothgar, I didn’t have a horse, so it was this truly desperate struggle to make it to the top before I froze to death, and it was a pretty near thing. (I did it very early in the game, so I didn’t have any potions/spells to help with exposure, either.) The only problem with Frostfall is that once you discover most places, you don’t have to worry about this anymore because you can just fast travel everywhere. So to get the most out of it, you really can’t fast travel.

    Also, I love cooking for some reason, so the expanded recipes of RNAD are great.

    Re: Dawnguard: I think I discovered a way around the vampire attacks by accident. I installed Open Cities (it links the cities and the “outside” together so there’s no loading screens at city gates) and since then, I’ve had very few vampire attacks. I think it’s because the vampires are spawning in the old closed cities, but I never see them because me and the other NPCs are all in the new versions.

    Has anybody else seen this happen?

    1. Henson says:

      Oddly enough, Frostfall rarely gives me much trouble. I have to find fires everwhere I go, but they are super plentiful. I think I’ve only had to build my own fire twice in total, and only got close to freezing to death twice, too. Then again, I have yet to visit Winterhold.

      RND, on the other hand, really affects things. My character gets tired really quickly and is constantly stopping in the middle of a dungeon to catch eight hours of sleep. You can’t ignore tiredness, since not only does it cripple movement speed, your skills improve at least 25% slower.

    2. that story about high hrothgar is actually pretty cool, I might have to try that mod at some point.

  10. Ben says:

    Soo, say I have never played Skyrim. Let’s say I was in a coma for the last three years, or on an Antarctic expedition, or in space. Because I definitely didn’t simply ignore one of the most popular games of 2011 for over two years; that would be crazy.

    Anyway, would you recommend playing through the stock game before playing with mods? Or would it be reasonable to put in some of the lighting, graphics, audio, book, and merchant mods from the get-go? Obviously I’d probably want to stay away from mods with a profound impact on the gameplay like Frostfall and Alternate Start.

    1. swenson says:

      I’ve never played unmodded Skyrim, but personally, playing through it without at the very least the unofficial patches is insanity. They don’t change the content, just get rid of lots and lots of bugs, so there’s really no reason not to get them.

      If you like good lighting/graphics, again, they don’t affect gameplay or story, so if you think you might want them, I don’t see any reason why not to install them from the beginning.

      As it pertains to stuff that actually does affect the game, like Frostfall… well, I’m of the opinion the Frostfall mechanics should’ve been included in the first place. If you like survival in your RPGs, then again there’s not much reason to not have them.

      A lot of people might say “do vanilla, then you’ll know what you want to change”, but for me, especially when it comes to stuff like Frostfall, I already know I want those changes. Why waste my time with an un-fun first vanilla playthrough when I’m just doing it so I can get around to a second playthrough with the stuff I already want?

      1. Lord Nyax says:

        Don’t sweat it. You don’t need unofficial patches: I’ve never even heard of them and I’ve been playing Skyrim since it came out, no trouble. If you’re the type who doesn’t like tinkering with things then I can certify that playing without the unofficial patches does not qualify you for the madhouse.

      2. Zagzag says:

        Seconding the “you don’t need unofficial patches” sentiment. I’ve never used them, and my playthroughs aren’t exactly that bug ridden (the one time I did install an unofficial patch it actually started *creating* bugs until I removed it.

        Then again, I do have a working knowledge of the console, so can fix most straightforward bugs.

    2. Hal says:

      People fight over this question worse than politics sometimes.

      The most conservative answer I can give you: There are certain mods that will fix things which are broken in the game. You can definitely install those without worrying about getting the “wrong” experience.

      The certain graphical/aesthetic changes are a step further. This won’t change the content, story, or game play, but it will impact how you perceive those things (for better or worse).

      Beyond that, many of the mods either change the difficulty of the game or bring in elements that were never meant to be there. If you want a “genuine” experience first before you play, tread lightly here.

      The bottom line is that, if you’re looking at mods frequently, you’ll eventually figure out when you’re ready to start changing the game. You will know better than anyone what’s fun for you. Just be aware that you can screw up save files if you’re not cautious.

    3. Warrax says:

      The unofficial patches are critical IMO. Without them, you can still get in to some game-breaking situations that can’t be fixed with the console.

      Also, the mod that just increases the saturation levels is probably the single best visual improvement I’ve seen, even better than any of the mods that increase texture size or detail. And it does it with absolutely no cost to performance.

      1. Such as?

        I haven’t played for almost a year (and that was sans DLC), but the only bug I encountered personally was the endless loop of the bard college head running to and from the effigy they were burning for their festival. I missed out on the early bugs where you got to see flying horses and little old ladies sinking into the ground and so forth.

        1. DRAGONS FLYING BACKWARDS. Never saw it personally, but I did see video, and it was amazing.

          1. Right, I saw that, too, but that’s all pre-patching, I think. As I said, I’ve only experienced the one bard-loop bug and that was before the final patch from Bethesda. I fear most, if not all, of the “fun-weird-WTF” bugs may be patched out by official sources and we’ll just get the usual crash-glitch bugs from Josh’s luck stat and overtaxed computer.

        2. Warrax says:

          Had to get my daughter her own Steam account and copy of Skyrim on her own computer after an… incident… involving the disappearance of my maxed-out, all quests finished, level 60+ character (pretty sure she saved over it).

          So she was playing on a vanilla copy of the game with the final official patch, but no mods or expansions. Anyway, turns out she’s a bug-whisperer not unlike Josh (also plays as a kleptomaniac serial killer, not unlike Josh).

          Anything that could go wrong absolutely did go wrong. I had to teach her how to use the console to get unstuck from terrain, recover from falling through terrain, and manually advance a few quests that wouldn’t work right.

          The game-breaker was “Discerning the Transmundane”. That’s where you get the elder scroll for the main quest, but it’s also a standalone for Hermaus Mora’s daedric quest (it can be done out of order from the MQ, but has to be done to advance it). There are a few different ways it can break, and fixing it with the console tends to push the problems farther down the line so it breaks even worse when you do the next phase.

          In the end we were able to get her through it, but the Ogmah Infinium just didn’t work. So I finally just installed the unofficial patch, and we’ve had no problems since then.

    4. Zukhramm says:

      I’d never go in without the mods I wanted first because I know it’s extremely unlikely I will play the game twice.

      1. Tizzy says:

        I was going to say: a single playthrough can sink so many hours, you wouldn’t want to go in without all your essential mods.

    5. Bubble181 says:

      I’ve only gotten a computer capable of playing Skyrim a few weeks ago…The upgraded PC-UI is really really useful, honestly. I haven’t encountered a single bug over “odd stretchy textures, lost a float point somewhere” seriousness, and don’t have any unofficial patches installed, so apparently they’re not critical – but horror stories of unwinnable game conditions may make you install those too.

      As for things like Frostfall – choose if you intend to play it more than once or not. I know I *don’t* like that sort of mechanic, so I won’t install it – if it sounds like something you’de njoy, have fun.

    6. Raygereio says:

      Anyway, would you recommend playing through the stock game before playing with mods?
      Play the game in vanilla for a couple of hours until you have a good idea of what it is you want to change/add/remove and then start downloading mods.
      Thing is with mods that everyone’s idea of “THIS IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL YOU MUST INSTAL THIS!!” tends to be different. The exception to this are the unofficial patches (unless you like having bugs) and SkyUI (I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone say it’s worse then the vanilla UI).

  11. MistahFixIt says:

    Hey Shamus, thanks for being a pal and posting this! I might check out the Hobbit Hole mod, but honestly, I kind of like my sprawling doom-fortress houses. I’m the kind of chumpus who just has to collect at least one of every weapon and suit, and then put it on display somehow.

    Also yay I’m e-famous now! When can I expect my royalties check? ;P

    1. Mintskittle says:

      I’m with ya on the whole “must display my awesome loot” thing. I just wish Bethesda did a better job with the manikins, cause they like to wander off when you’re not looking, or just switch standing poses. It’s really off-putting and creepy.

    2. I tend to display anything unique and anything that I used for any length of time. Usually I won’t bother with displaying iron, steel, or leather, but anything past that, yep totally.

  12. Darren says:

    I liked Dawnguard, if only for the new spells–offensive Restoration, woo!–and ability to forge Dragonbone armor. Dragonborn was fantastic, though, a 20 hour add-on that I enjoyed so much that I didn’t even realize it took a full 20 hours to get through.

    I don’t run a lot of mods, but I remember having problems with Sounds of Skyrim. They’re cool, but know that there’s the potential for serious harm.

    I actually made a simple mod to increase the potency of magic perks so that the game wasn’t so reliant on spamming and potion-chugging. Magic still falls way below smithing and enchanting, but now it feels like a real contender rather than a gimped option.

    1. Michael says:

      Dragonbone Armor was in the core game. Dragonbone weapons were in Dawnguard. But, yeah, they are freakin’ terrifying, and stupidly easy to craft.

      Combine that with the Equipping Overhaul mod, and you can create a really badass looking character, loaded to the gills with dragon gear. (Just… don’t use Equipping Overhaul without the discard mechanic because it causes the game to lose it’s mind after a bit…)

  13. guest says:

    Dragonborn is really quite good, or so I felt originally – Now I’m sure, it’S mostly Morrowind-Nostalgia mixed with the comparatively creative/cthulhu-light design of Hermaeus Mora’s slice of Oblivion…

    No combat-mods or more sensible armours and weapons?
    I couldn’t stand the vanilla melee-combat or the mass of boob-windows, breasts-plates and the weird, spikey, halloween-costume-meets-warhammer fantasy-style of some weapons and armours. Though I realize these are mostly matters of personal taste/nitpicks.

  14. WillRiker says:

    I don’t remember which lighting enhancement mod I use, but the big thing it does for me is remove all the ambient lighting in enclosed areas. This is great because it means that there is actually a purpose to using torches and the various light-generating spells. If I know I’m about to dive into a long dungeon, I have to make sure I’m fully equipped or I won’t be able to see a damn thing! This can be immersion breaking sometimes, though, because you will run into people wandering around a pitch-dark cave as though they can see perfectly fine.

    For me the things I really focused on were realism mods–no fast travel, removing the compass from the screen, food & drink, frostfall, etc. Another one I heartily recommend is the seamless cities mod; it makes the cities actually exist seamlessly as part of the rest of the world instead of having to go through an area transition. It does a lot more than you would expect for the immersiveness of the game.

    1. Michael says:

      On that subject, and with lighting overhauls, I freakin love the Magelight unlimited cast mod, so you can just throw those around as flares, and the previous castings don’t pop.

    2. I remember that being a severe issue with Morrowind, after I patched the heck out of it (including a new lighting system).

      Then I found something with permanent nighteye because morrowind’s cool like that and never noticed this ‘dark’ people spoke of ever again.

      1. WillRiker says:

        I realized after I posted that Josh talked about the one he’s using already, which apparently also adds a lot of appropriate light sources where they’re needed. I haven’t played the game in over a year, so my knowledge of what mods are around is obviously pretty outdated.

  15. TheHokeyPokey says:

    I think rich merchants is essentially obsoleted by a vanilla bug:
    -buy and sell all you can to your favorite merchant
    -quick save
    -attack said merchant until they are hostile
    -quick load
    -Their inventory (money and items) is reset.

    A fully upgraded thieves guild merchant works well for this, as she gets 4000 every time she resets. I suggest getting a batch file to skip the radiant quests required to upgrade her. It is reminiscent of the old “wait a day” shenanigans of Morrowind.

  16. Thearpox says:

    May I ask: If you’re planning to critique Skyrim, and mods are an essential part of playing Skyrim, what is the purpose of playing it unmodded?

    There are a lot of things that you bitch about when you play games. The story, the mechanics, the level design, etc. Some of them obvious, some of them hidden, some of them actually false. (As in the case of Chinese voice acting in DE:HM).

    And I feel it would really detract from your criticism when every second comment you make can be dismissed by saying: “There’s a very popular mod for that that you already use in your actual playthroughs.” And to continue with this, can you really say that you show us the game if you only show us half of it? You played the DLC’s in the Fallout games. Especially since the mods are more important than DLC’s, it seems to me that you should at least at some point show off the mods and talk about them, even if not have them on all the time.

    PS: I also hope that you will spend very little time bitching about the things you have already bitched about. Things like Thieves Guild have already been very well covered on this blog, and need no more screen time.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mods are (mostly) not made by the developers of a game,but rather by the fans,so all criticism toward an unmodded game are fair.However,if mods are easy to make and implement,that means the developer had both humility in admitting that their game would not be perfect,and foresight to implement ways that would let the fans improve on it.But it still doesnt detract from the fact that they made mistakes in core gameplay,especially when those are easily fixable,like the UI in skyrim.

      And now,because Shamoose loves car analogies so much:
      If a manufacturer makes a car with a steering wheel put on backwards,so that turning it left would turn the car to the right and vice versa,and if the problem can be easily fixed just by taking the steering wheel off and changing just a couple of wires,that would still not make this good and safe car.

      1. Thearpox says:

        “Mods are (mostly) not made by the developers of a game,but rather by the fans,so all criticism toward an unmodded game are fair.”

        When these things are treated differently culturally, that distinction makes sense. When they are not treated differently culturally, it does not. That Bethesda does not make unofficial patches official can make them assholes, but they are still essential content.

        “But it still doesnt detract from the fact that they made mistakes in core gameplay,especially when those are easily fixable,like the UI in skyrim.”

        Yeah, but it hardly breaks any new ground, now does it? In fact, it is a culturally known phenomenon. They didn’t play through the entirety of every single Call of Duty game to prove that the campaign is bad. A single special was enough. If the Spoiler Warning crew want to spend a series harping on what is obvious, that’s fine, I just want to understand if that is what they want to do. It feels like the lack of mods right now is simply a nod to tradition and Josh showing off more than anything else.

    2. Josh says:

      I’m sorry, but it seems to me like you’re projecting your own ideas about the importance of mods as if they’re true for everyone. Yes, mods are undeniably an important part of Skyrim – to some people. Indeed, probably a much larger contingent of people than is normal for most PC games.

      But not all.

      Keep in mind that many many more people – probably the majority of people who’ve actually played the game – played it on a console, where there is no chance of having access to mods. And it was phenomenally successful on those consoles despite this lack of customization.

      The core of this problem rears its head when we begin to consider: if we were to utilize mods, which mods would we use exactly? What “version” of Skyrim do we want to be examining, then? With such an expansive modding community, the possible combinations of even the mods considered by many to be “essential” is virtually endless. Our set up will inevitably still be different from yours, but now with us using mods, it also has the virtue of being completely different from everyone else’s, too.

      Furthermore, I do not agree with the reasoning that our criticism of vanilla mechanics would be meaningless because “well there’s a mod for that.” For one, using our own mods would not at all rectify this conflict. If we were to use mods, and then ended up complaining about a particular quirk in the behavior of one of the mods we installed, then the same logic could be applied: “Well, why didn’t you install this mod instead? It does what you want better than that one!”

      I’m not trying to diminish mods, or say that they’re not important or that nobody uses them. Hell, everyone in the cast modded Skyrim for their own playthroughs. But we are interested in critically examining the game of Skyrim, itself, as it was released to the world by Bethesda. The version of the game that most of the people who’ve experienced the game at all have played. The version that Bethesda and Zenimax advertised and endorsed and patched. It does not seem useful or meaningful to me to attempt to do that by examining a particular combination of fan-made mods that have changed the game from its base form in ways the original developers probably never imagined; unless we’re specifically trying to examine those particular mods.

      This is not to say mods are totally out of the question for this season. We might get really bored and decide to fool around with a bunch of mods to show how different you can make the game. But they will never be the primary focus of the show.

      I hope this helps you to better understand our reasoning.

      1. Thearpox says:

        Thanks, it most certainly does. I admit I completely forgot about the consoles, so that is true.

        I still believe that an examination of mods is very important when considering Skyrim, but if you’re going to fool around with them later, it answers that. Some specific (especially game-changing) combination of mods would indeed not be as useful, although once again, if Shamus is only playing the game because of Frostfall, (example, not necessarily true,) it would make sense to include Frostfall at some point in the playthrough as an ingredient vital to Shamus.

        But yeah, you cleared it up.

        1. Lord Nyax says:

          Yeah, I mentioned it earlier the thread, but he’s right. Mods are important to some people but definitely not everyone. I’ve been playing Skyrim on the PC since it came out and I’ve never even heard of the “unofficial patches” until I read this post. I have no complaints about the game in general. Don’t really know why I would need them. I only ever downloaded two mods, and they were pretty trivial (a simple skin mod and one that lets you kill some of the unkillable npcs). The game works just fine and dandy on vanilla, IMHO.

      2. But Rutskarn promised we’d see at least one episode of you showcasing the best My Little Pony mods! It was to make up for you not having time to do “Fallout: Equestria.”

      3. Nytzschy says:

        I’ve always understood Spoiler Warning as a long-form analysis of a text (in the broad sense of the word “text”) as it was produced and released to the world by its authors, so it doesn’t really strike me as particularly useful or interesting for SW to cover a game’s popular mods. Not only are there extensive collections of videos on Youtube dedicated to covering Skyrim mods alone, it wouldn’t really tell us anything new about Skyrim itself for SW to cover them. What would we learn? That Bethesda games are frequently massively improved by fan modifications? That Sithguy69420’s fan-lore is silly, or great, or just about as good as Bethesda’s writing? It would be sort of like writing a review of The Lord of The Rings series and including reviews of fanfiction explaining why the eagles couldn’t just drop the One Ring into Mount Dhoom themselves and the short erotic stories of Sithguy69420 that feature incredible sex scenes just before all the major battles. Sure, that stuff might improve the central work, and it might be very important to many people, but those things aren’t the touchstone, and every time you digress into the fanfiction you’re talking to a smaller and smaller number of people who have the shared interest and experience on which to productively reflect.

        1. Thearpox says:

          I would dispute the idea that Skyrim was intended to be seen without mods by the authors.

          One of the differences between LoTR and Skyrim is that fanfiction isn’t integrated into the text. And when studying mods in conjunction with the game, one can understand how the experiences people actually have in Skyrim are changed and/or correlate with the vanilla.

          “Not only are there extensive collections of videos on Youtube dedicated to covering Skyrim mods alone, it wouldn't really tell us anything new about Skyrim itself for SW to cover them.”

          Same argument can be made backwards. Skyrim is a well covered game, with it’s flaws already known to everyone. What’s the point of covering it?

          “…fan-lore…” I wasn’t suggesting studying fan-lore.
          “…erotic stories…” I do believe that unofficial patches are kind-of sort-of different from erotic stories.

          On the other hand, if you’re studying Tolkien, you should probably study his influence on the many worlds of fantasy that followed.

          1. syal says:

            I would dispute the idea that Skyrim was intended to be seen without mods by the authors.

            All the more reason to do so. Why would you let a company get away with releasing a product they knew wasn’t complete? Did the company make a statement saying “Here’s what’s wrong with the game, could you guys fix this for us?” or is that being inferred? If they never stated that, why should we assume these mods are what they wanted? And if you get away from that then you’re into “The viewer determines the story just as much as the writer” territory, which in my opinion is the same as fanfiction.

            I do believe that unofficial patches are kind-of sort-of different from erotic stories.

            Are we limiting the mod use argument to unofficial patches, then? Because there are a lot of nude mods out there.

            1. Thearpox says:

              I honestly don’t care about the whole idea of letting a company get away. What matters to me is examining the game people play. If 85% of the people playing Skyrim are playing the hacked version from Pirate Bay that breaks the interface, makes you a dragon, and whatever else, then you better not ignore that version. The example falls apart when you enter the legality of examining it, but aside from that, I hope you get my point. Josh convinced me when he mentioned the console gamers, and the fact that it is difficult to nail a specific configuration of mods to play with. The whole part about authorial intent is something I consider deeply irrelevant.

              “Are we limiting the mod use argument to unofficial patches, then? Because there are a lot of nude mods out there.”

              The whole argument about mods in Skyrim is based on the idea that they occupy a different level of changing the original work. Nude mods can be found for just about every game, some of the more unique ones that Skyrim has cannot be. I used unofficial patches as an example because Nytzschy gave a very narrow view of the mods for Skyrim.

              1. syal says:

                So you’re effectively saying you want to examine the Skyrim community itself, instead of Bethesda’s product. I’d rather examine the company’s output than the people they attract (and think Spoiler Warning’s about that too), but that’s perfectly fair.

                But because it’s a peeve of mine:

                I used unofficial patches as an example because Nytzschy gave a very narrow view of the mods for Skyrim.

                Nytzschy gave a narrow view because you’re giving a nebulous one. Talking about “mods” is like talking about “books”. Until someone specifies which books are being discussed, there’s no meaningful conversation. And right now Nytzschy’s talking about Twilight and you’re saying “that’s not the only book”. That’s why I asked if you were specifically talking about patches – to create a workable topic (I used nude mods as an example of a Skyrim erotic fanfic because you haven’t actually ruled them out of the discussion yet).

                1. Thearpox says:

                  “So you're effectively saying you want to examine the Skyrim community itself, instead of Bethesda's product.”

                  I want to examine the game people play, which is ultimately a product of the company. In Skyrim’s case, it could also be considered to have some contributions from the community in the form of mods. I do not think it is entirely fair to use the word “instead”, nor do I see any proof Spoiler Warning’s crew goals are much different from mine. I think you have made somewhat of an arbitrary separation there. What I do not care about, is all the talk about “letting the company get away,” which makes it sound like a revenge fueled pursuit.

                  To address this: “The viewer determines the story just as much as the writer.” How is the story released? If it is released with the fanfiction inside, then it might as well be examined on par with the original material.

                  For the second part: That’s because I have little interest in having a long and tedious discussion of which mods are okay and meaningful, and which are not. Simply a recognition that some of them can be, works for me. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

                  1. Thearpox says:

                    If you’re still planning to reply to this: I think my previous comment can be summed up with a single question: If 99% of the players are playing the Game + ModABC, should the game be examined in conjunction with the mod?

                    If your answer is yes, then our goals are essentially the same, and the disagreements are restrained to our exact position on certain muddy examples, and semantics.

                    1. syal says:

                      If the mod is an official mod from the company, and free, and obvious to someone buying the game, then yes. If it’s a fan mod that the company doesn’t acknowledge, or it costs any amount of money, or you have to know where to look for it, then no.

                      I think the divide is, you’re interested in why people play a game, and I’m interested equally in why people don’t.

                      …I’m assuming “you’re” meant me.

                    2. syal says:

                      …are replies broken or did I just fail horribly at it?

                    3. syal says:

                      …pretty sure they’re broken.

                    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      No,replies work fine,there is just a limit to the number of nesting posts that can exist.

      4. Henson says:

        I’m thinking it might be nice to do a couple one-off episodes in the middle or towards the end of the run, analogous to ME2’s “Probing Questions” episodes, where you just mess around the game with a whole bunch of cool mods to showcase how fans have changed the game to suit their preferences. Then return to vanilla Skyrim and business as usual. So long as the mods don’t completely bork your saves, of course.

        1. Assuming some backup saves could be done, and that it wouldn’t be too much work for Josh, he might make a bit of a game out of it. Call it “Spot the Mod.” Every so often, Josh will announce that he’s running a mod and the first Spoiler Warning cast member to successfully guess what’s been changed gets out of hosting the Diecast or something.

          1. Michael says:

            There’s a couple problems… potentially a lot of problems.

            Any mod that adds scripting will not play nice if you remove it. I get that’s probably what you meant by backup saves, but it means that either, an hour of recorded show, the hour you’re seeing won’t be the “real” narrative for that playthrough. Alternately, it means there will be serious issues going forward in later episodes with the mod disabled.

            If you just keep adding mods together, that can actually take a lot of work. There’s a reasonable gag that half the game with Skyrim is getting all the mods working together and not conflicting. It’s certainly where I’ve spent huge chunks of time with the game, and I know I’m not alone here.

            Some mods can introduce instability you don’t see for dozens of hours. I actually inflicted one of these on Shamus by accident a couple years ago. Fallout 3’s Underground Hideout was a really fun, cool looking mod, and after around 12 hours it would start to generate really vicious crashes. Still don’t know exactly why, or how, and I still feel kinda guilty for recommending it, but this is a real problem, even with Skyrim. I can’t remember what I had installed that was causing instant (repeatable) CTDs outside of Whiterun, but I had to rebuild my entire data folder from scratch to get rid of it.

            Anyway, yeah… as much as I like some of the mods, actively messing with the load order during a season strikes me as a recipe for disaster.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well there are ways to make the player not break the economy,and still have merchants be loaded.For example,make the equipment realistically bulky,so that the players would either have to carry back ridiculously small loot,or hire carriers and donkeys to help them with it.Another way would be to make enemies equipment be in poor shape to begin with,and deteriorate even worse during combat,so they would sell for way less.And another would be to make practically all loot save for precious gems worthless for majority of the merchants,so that you would be able to sell weapons and armor only half way through the game.

    1. Hal says:

      It did always confuse me how the precious gems in the game were practically worthless to the vendors.

      One of the things I did in Oblivion was start “piles” of gems in baskets, as a way of showing off my wealth. The problem there was that the gems and the basket never quite “settled” well, so eventually you had this big pile of gems “dancing” in the basket in an attempt to settle. The end result was a lot of items falling through the floor.

      I’m not sure I ever tried it in Skyrim, but I’m not sure the results would be any better.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      I play New Vegas with jsawyer (designed by the director of the game and you should always play New Vegas with it) which lowers your weight limit and it makes the economy more interesting because you can’t sell all your stuff. I never got far enough in Skyrim to discover if there’s an equivalent to the Gun Runner’s Arsenal- incredibly expensive high-end gear that’s basically just bragging rights. (Pre DLC NV also has implants and a few other money sinks.)

      1. No, there’s not a GRA equivalent.

        Skyrim is peculiar in that you pretty much never buy equipment from vendors. Crafting materials, sure, arrows, maybe (you can loot a lot of those), but armor and weapons? The ones you can make yourself with just a little time are SO MUCH BETTER than anything you can buy, or often even anything you could find.

      2. Elric says:

        I also played New Vegas with jsawyer’s mod (it’s awesome). I suppose the equivalent for Skyrim would be Requiem with Realistic Needs and Diseases and Frostfall. See another comment of mine below for some of my views on Requiem.

  18. kdansky says:

    The problem with fast-travel isn’t that it exists, the problem is that it is without consequence to the player character (and the only consequence it has is that it wastes the player’s time if you don’t use it), and that it is way too powerful, because you can go literally anywhere.

    Also, I find it ironic that people play Hardcore Skyrim, but insist that it needs a quicksave/load button. I call quicksave/load “Dragonborn Shout to turn back time”.

    1. Shamus says:

      I can’t speak for others, but when I’m playing Hardcore I only use quicksave to insure against glitches, crashes, and game-breaking freakouts. If a fight goes against me and I die, then I’m dead. But if I die because I slid through a supposedly solid rock and fell to my death while simply walking around? That’s nonsense and I’m fine quickloading that away.

      1. KremlinLaptop says:

        Ever since this mod: came out I’ve been playing on semi-hardcore.

        No quicksaving to deal with hard fights, and the mod is set to destroy all my items and gold upon “death”. And I have a self-imposed limit of only being allowed to fast travel when I have a gold-diamond necklace in my inventory (One of the only mods I have yet to find is one that limits fast travel so it’s based on having certain items).

        1. If I read the mod description correctly, your items aren’t “destroyed” when you get knocked out, but are in a very difficult place to reach, stolen by bandits. Have you tried retrieving them?

          1. Disc says:

            There’s a whole section of Configurable options further below where it lists the different settings you can have. Gear destruction is an alternative for theft.

          2. KremlinLaptop says:

            Ah, yeah. There’s options for the mod and I have it set so that it destroys whatever gold and items I have on me. Just for the sake of extra punishment.

            The quest to retrieve your items IS fairly difficult too. I prefer more of a punishment for dying, though.

      2. kdansky says:

        Yeah, playing a game that’s very glitchy isn’t ideal for Ironman. I’m not actually advocating permadeath in Skyrim, it’s jut not built for it.

  19. syal says:

    So has anyone tried to solve the broken economy problem with tax collectors? Like, they’ll have stations around the world, and patrol the wilderness, and if they bump into you they’ll charge you X money for their guild/themselves, and you either have to pay them or kill them and antagonize their entire faction?

  20. Joey245 says:

    Huh. That’s so weird. I installed most of the same mods you did.

    Yeah, I’m a huge fan of Lindsey Stirling, too. Her music is definitely the kind of music you blast in the background when doing monotonous-yet-mentally-involved work of any kind (you play it while coding, I play it while doing engineering homework).

    Her main theme of Skyrim is indeed amazing, but I like to change up the main menu theme every now and then so I don’t hear the same couple seconds of the same dang song and get sick of it.

    Currently, I’ve got Malukah’s “Beauty of Dawn” set as the main menu theme. Haven’t gotten sick of it yet, so I guess that’s something. (She wrote the song specifically for The Elder Scrolls Online, but it fits quite nicely with Skyrim’s tone in my eyes.)

    1. there’s also a mod that puts miracleofsound’s (aka Gavin Dunne) excellent Skyrim songs as the tavern background songs. (specifically Sovngarde song (which is amazing) and probably also (and definitely more appropriately) Nord Mead)

      I also have one that replaces the bard’s songs with Malukah’s renditions of them (Dragonborn song, and also ‘age of aggression’ and ‘age of oppression’)

      Lastly, I assume when you guys are talking about Lindsey Stirling’s skyrim theme you’re talking about the one she did with Peter Hollens? Or did she release a version without him and not put it on youtube?

  21. Spongioblast says:

    If you have Frostfall, I’d suggest giving Skyrim Redone a shot. Great mod that improves the combat, over hauls the skill trees and the magic system, and integrates frostfall by giving you a new skill tree that is based around surviving the the wilds.

    1. Henson says:

      It’s worth noting that the most recent version of Skyrim Redone requires Dawnguard (& Dragonborn). You can get an earlier version without that requirement, but said version doesn’t have the skill tree perks for Frostfall. Bummer.

  22. Irridium says:

    I prefer Live Another Life.

    It’s another alternate start mod, but it lets you pick a location/situation. Like for example you can start as a soldier in the Imperial Army/Stormcloaks, start as a new member of one of the guilds, as a newly-arrived immigrant, as a vampire, and some other stuff. It’s pretty neat, and good if you want to roleplay a specific character you have in mind.

  23. Cody says:

    So just a quick question for someone who doesn’t use mods that often. Do I have to use Skyrim(SKSE), Steam, or the Mod manger to open the game properly?

    Also I may have downloaded all your mods plus the unofficial patches.

    1. WillRiker says:

      Keeping in mind that I haven’t played the game in about a year and a half–I used ~50 different mods when I played, and the only one that used SKSE was SkyUI, and it actually worked fine without it (it’s only needed for the inventory search function)
      I used Nexus to manage the mods and load order, but beyond that I would simply launch the game normally.

      1. Cody says:

        Thanks for answering! Having had some difficulty with the NMM I think I have now gotten everything in line and and dying to try these out.

    2. Disc says:

      It’s usually mentioned in the mod description if they need SKSE. If you’ve got even one that requires it, it’s wholly recommended that you keep using it to avoid running into some unexpected trouble further on. The game saves are fragile enough as they are.

    3. Raygereio says:

      So just a quick question for someone who doesn't use mods that often. Do I have to use Skyrim(SKSE), Steam, or the Mod manger to open the game properly?
      If you want to use SKSE, you launch the game through skse_loader.exe. If you launch the game through any other executable, SKSE will not work.
      Most mod managers have a “launch SKSE” button in their UI. Note that if you’re using Mod Organizer as your manager tool, you need to run SKSE through MO.

  24. Alan says:

    Dawnguard is a mixed bag. The vampire attacks in cities are utter bullshit. I wouldn’t have minded nearly so much if merchants would just run away and let me and the guard deal with them, but no, they’ll happily leap to their deaths. The plotline is very linear. On the other hand, there are some interesting sections in the afterlife(?) and the Falmer underground lands where you learn what happened to them. In total, I enjoyed it. My recommendation: don’t enable it until you’re ready to plow through the plotline directly. And save before entering any cities so you can reload if a merchant get ganked.

    I’ve only dug a little into Dragonborn. Despite the name, it doesn’t seem to have much of anything to do with the Dragonborn; it appears to just be a fun little island full of more quests and places to stick my nose into. Since that’s my favorite thing about RPGs, I had fun on my brief excursion and look forward to heading back.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      Dragonborn also adds a ton of dialogue to some characters, most notably Lydia, who gets a ton of contextual lines. So even if you never dip into the main thing itself there some effects.

      Dawnguard does tune up the AI a bit, but I can’t believe there’s not a mod out there to disable the vampire attacks until you actually go somewhere into its plot so everything doesn’t get stomped right away. (The whole ‘being the Dragonborn means you can tell vampires by their glowing eyes’ is kinda neat though).

    2. IFS says:

      I’ve only had a few vampire attacks in Dawnguard (playing on PS3, no fast travel) and mostly at open settlements like Riverwood or Falkreath, so I haven’t had much trouble in that area. It does add a bunch of pretty cool quests to the game that are completely unrelated to the main plot of the DLC though. There’s one I can think of thats exploring four or five different Dwemer ruins you have to track down via a small hand drawn map (no quest markers for the locations) which is a lot of fun. One that I stumbled across that was also a lot of fun that is related to dawnguard is the Redwater Skooma den, my char being a Khajiit I decided to go for the free sample of skooma, sat down and drank it, subsequently passing out, waking up in a cell with vampires talking about stuff nearby and proceeding to escape by picking the key from the guards pocket and stealthing/murdering my way out, was a lot of fun.

      Haven’t gotten around to trying Dragonborn yet, random cultist attacks are a bit annoying though.

    3. Henson says:

      Not liking suicidal NPCs during vampire attacks? As always, it seems, there’s a mod for that.

    4. Michael says:

      Minor Spoiler: Dragonborn’s title actually refers to the DLC’s antagonist. Sort of like Dawnguard if you side with the vampires, come to think of it. So aside from a new shout, and new drops, the biggest changes are on Solstheim.

      That said, Solstheim is the zone for Morrowind’s Bloodmoon expansion, so half the point of the DLC is a nostalgia trip back to the Morrowind era.

  25. Lightningstrike14 says:

    So whose betting on Dawnguard turning into the Honest Hearts of this season?

    1. Cody says:

      Drink offs and hemipenes?

  26. Neko says:

    By the Nine, those damned Barenziah stones. Aside from the automatic quest just from picking one up, the thing I object to is that they’re all flagged as quest items, and thus I cannot drop them until I finish the damned quest, because Bethesda is scared that if I were to leave one at my house somewhere and forget about it it might ruin all the fun I’m having with this stupid thing!

    So the mod I use not only adds quest markers so I can potentially finish the quest one day, it also allows me to drop them off at my house. I’d remove the ‘quest’ flag from everything, but I’m concerned that the Beth quests just aren’t designed with that in mind and would break horribly if I were to stumble into an automatic NPC conversation and didn’t have the item in question can I come back later please.

    My desktop is still in a broken state so I can’t remember the exact names of the mods I’m using, but some of my favourites include a “Rideable Carts” mod that lets me take the slow, scenic route of fast travel without the ‘fast’ part, a “clearer waters” mod that while perhaps not being super realistic does make things look super pretty, horses for companions, and of course SkyUI because fuck everything about that default UI.

    1. IFS says:

      God yes the friggin inability to drop quest items is extremely annoying, the barenzia stones are the worst since they don’t weight that much but there are a lot of them so it adds up, and if you like to hoard items like me then those things occupying some of your carry weight gets rather frustrating. Plus there are bugs where something gets flagged as a quest item even though its not, I remember the Night to Remember quest I talked my way out of helping clean up the temple, swiped the giant’s toe anyways and later found I was unable to drop it (or eat it, or use it for alchemy) until I completed the quest since even though it had no more purpose in the quest it was still a quest item from some stupid reason.

      1. Raygereio says:

        God yes the friggin inability to drop quest items is extremely annoying, the barenzia stones are the worst since they don't weight that much but there are a lot of them so it adds up
        Items flagged as quest items do not add to your carryweight. If you look in you inventory it may say that the Elder Scroll for example has a weight of 20, but if you were to drop all non-quest items from your inventory, your carryweight will be 0.

  27. allfreight says:

    Do people maintain mod packs (eg similar to Tekkit or Feed The Beast in Minecraft)? I like the idea of using mods but I don’t really want the hassle of finding a compatible set.

    Also, I’d be interested in the equivalent list for “Fallout: New Vegas”.

    1. Raygereio says:

      Mod packs aren’t a thing for these games. For various reason, which all basically boil down to “too much effort for something that’s not worth it”.
      Sure, I could zip up my instal of Skyrim and upload it for you. But everyone’s preference when it comes to mods is different. I will undoubtedly use mods that you don’t want in your game. Likewise you might want to use mods that I didn’t include. So you’re back to having to mess around with mods yourself. Now technically I could make a humongous mega-pack of almost every mod made with an installer where you can pick and choose which mods you want. But by the time a project like that would be finished, you could have learned to instal mods yourself and have kicked Alduin’s ass a few years ago.

      Also the big world of modding may look intimidating at first, but installing mods and even making basic mods yourself isn’t hard. I mean I can do it, so unless you’re dumber then me (which I’m fairly sure is medically impossible) you can as well.

    2. Michael says:

      The Bethesda games are unusually mod friendly. Mods can, and do, conflict. But it’s not like Far Cry 3 where you have to compile them together into a patch file and kludge it into the system.

      Skyrim actually lets you control what files the game loads (the same was true with Morrowind, Oblivion, and in the two Fallout games on the engine.)

      Mod incompatibility in these games usually ends up with one mod overwriting the changes another one made. So, even when it does happen, it’s rarely catastrophic.

  28. Elric says:

    After getting all the shiny DLC, I started my all-mods-in second playthrough of Skyrim recently. My base gameplay mods are also Frostfall and Needs and Diseases, then there was the question of which overhaul mod to use: SkyRe or Requiem.
    At first I tried SkyRe, played the whole Thieves Guild questline with it. What I liked about SkyRe are some of the new perks, especially the Wayfarer perk tree, which goes hand in hand with Frostfall. But other than that it suffers from the same problem as vanilla Skyrim: by level 20 I was an unstoppable killing machine, especially armed with a bow, and the game became boring. Also, while some of the new perks are nice, I feel there is too many of them. Really, you have to read through so many descriptions every time you level up, it’s a bit too much. Also, getting SkyRe to work with other weapon and armor mods is a real pain in the ass. You have to use an extra tool to balance the mods for SkyRe and IF you can get it to run, it may not work for everything, resulting in unbalanced stats.

    Then I gave Requiem a shot, and it’s great, but you have to learn how to play. At first you can only handle animals and (a few) bandits, and only by level 20 or so can you hope to survive an encounter against Draugr or other “supernatural” beings. There is a real sense of progression as you start taking on more difficult creatures that you couldn’t handle before, and a real sense of dread when you are confronted by powerful enemies. This makes the world seem more menacing and more realistic. At the beginning you’re really just a below-average fighter and the world out there will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not careful.
    Also, it makes a huge difference what type of weapon you use and armor you wear, and potions are critical for survival. In general, you really have to mind the equipment you take along on your next quest or raid.
    By the way, it’s probably a good idea not to provoke the main quest dragon spawning until you feel up to it. Dragons are tough in Requiem.
    Also nice about Requiem is, it disables the Dawnguard vampire attacks in towns, which seriously suck.

    The one thing I don’t like about Requiem is that bows are overpowered against light armor. An iron arrow fired at short range from a cheap wooden bow will still insta-kill my level 23 character in all elven armor. And as this works both ways, light-armored opponents are so easily picked off, it sometimes feels like cheating. Also, the initial carry weight is something for masochists, but can be customized in the extensive mod menu. Don’t feel bad adding +20 or more to the default value.

    Some other mods I use and can highly recommend:
    + Climates of Tamriel
    + Companion Vilja (especially if you played Oblivion with her)
    I don’t like her voice and she will just not shut up, still it’s probably the most well-made companion mod out there. She will almost never get stuck or lag behind, and you can command her to break off combat and ignore enemies. When her chatter goes on your nerves, leave her at home for a while.
    + Interesting NPC’s – must have
    + Immersive Creatures – but turn of the Dramans (humanoid-dragon creatures) – they are tough as Dragons (very tough in Requiem) and sometimes spawn right on roads or close to towns.

  29. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,now that its out,when can we expect octodad the dadliest catch on spoiler warning?

  30. topazwolf says:

    Just wanted to mention another way that Skyrim is broken. Conjure Dremora Lord + Twin Souls. Never even thought about this combo until I saw my dad using it. Enough damage and sustainability if properly overlapped that basically nothing short of a dragon will ever have to be addressed by the player. My dad basically went around looting while his “body guards” killed everything in sight.

  31. Nick Powell says:

    Thanks, Shamus. Now I have to spend an entire weekend installing Skyrim mods.

    You dick.

  32. Dragmire says:

    Wasn’t there an official High Quality textures patch released by Bethesda? Will that be used for Spoiler Warning or will the game be 100% vanilla? It’s fine either way, I’m just curious.

  33. PersonalMoniker says:

    Given your known hatred of the Thieves Guild and everything to do with it, I feel I should point you towards a pair of mods I learned about after this post and the latest SW season inspired me to re-install and play again.

    Brynjolf doesn’t automatically decide you’d make a great thief and drag you in unwillingly:

    Sell those thrice-damned Stones of Barenziah/Unusual Gems to a Khajiit trader who should know better(nuking the journal quest entry in the process):

  34. Drake says:

    I find Alternate Start to be kind of dumb.Why would you want to have a different start if they all “converge” (from what I know) at the end of the “starting area”.It’s kinda pointless (for ME),because it’s like one of those “fake choices” some videogames gives you just to see something “slightly different” and has no impact later on.No to mention that the whole thing of “absorbing dragons” would make zero sense if you completly avoid the main quest (unless AS has the option to turn off dragons,but you would be missing almost all of the shouts).

    Maybe this works for someone who truly loves RP by themselves,but as for me,it’s just…seems to be kind of dumb.

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