Table of Contents
1. Before we begin…
6. Armors, Weapons and Similar Gear
7. Gameplay Tweaks/Overhauls
1. Before we begin…
Before we delve on this monstrous list of mods, let me say a few things. First off, it is not the intent of this to be a complete list of the best mods ever. It is instead a list of my personal list of mods. Therefore there will be a few here and there that may not fit neatly with the game’s lore or other tastes. So if there is anything here that isn’t to your tastes just ignore it, please. Also, a good chunk of my mods is based on the S.T.E.P. guide. It is another list of mods as well as performance optimization tips. As of this writing it is a little behind the times as it hasn’t been updated to patch 1.6.80 yet but almost all of the mods and tips there are still around and are still pretty good at what they do. So if you don’t see popular mods like SkyUI or the Unofficial Skyrim Patch on my list it is because it was already included in the S.T.E.P. guide. That guide is also pretty good if you are new to installing mods as it gives you instructions on how to install them.
Lastly, all of my links will be for the Skyrim Nexus. Yes, I know there is also the Steam Workshop to download mods now and I have nothing against it. It is just that I am starting to be in the mental age of an old man now, which means being grumpy and suspicious of anything that wasn’t made “back in my days”. Usually mods that have a Steam Workshop version usually post the link to it in their description so if you prefer that alternative just check it there.
Oh, eventually I intent to put some screenshots/thumbnail/something-like-that here for each mod so you can have a more visual idea of what you get. For now just bear with it, please! Now on to the mods!
To begin with a divergence with the S.T.E.P. guide. On the S.T.E.P. guide they recommend another retexture mod for the Dragon Priest masks but I prefer this one. Not only it is a pretty good retexture of the masks but it also adds the ability of crafting non-enchanted versions of them. So if you like any of the masks but doesn’t like the enchantment that comes with it, you can craft it and slap your own preferred enchantments on the mask. The craftable ones also comes with some tusk versions for those orcs who don’t want to lose their teeth just to use a mask!
Despite the name there isn’t anything naughty about these mods! They are just retextures of the towns to give it a little more color and vibrancy. I must admit I was a little hesitant at first (I am still unsure about the Whiterun one!) but then I decided to give it a try with the Sexy Solitude one and just love it! It makes the cities feel more unique in terms of colors and feel. Most of them don’t break too much with the original looks too, the biggest exception being the Whiterun one.
One of my biggest pet peeves when I started playing Skyrim was finding the ore veins. Even during the day it was easy to miss them as they looked just like regular rocks. Glowing Ore Veins 300 solved that and more. Not only it is very easy to spot the ore veins now even in dark ambients but it is also easy to see at a glance what each kind of ore vein it is.
Followers in Skyrim can bring a lot of love-hate with them. They can be pretty useful to help in some tough fights and helping carrying the loot. But if you are not a warrior though they can also be a pain in the backside. If you try to sneak and avoid traps they will be sure to trigger every trap in the place alerting your enemies and getting themselves hurt. If you are a mage or archer they will make sure to always stay in front of your target so you hit your follower instead of whoever you are trying to kill.
Amazing Follower Tweaks (AFT for short) seeks to solve all those problems. They won’t trigger traps, won’t go into a murderous rage whenever they see an enemy (unless you attack first), they will ignore friendly fire, can be immortal (no more accidental murder because they were in front of your fireball!) and probably the most useful to the intrepid adventure: they can be pack mules, carrying up to 1000 in weight!
Those are the main features. But there are a few more, like being able to have up to 5 followers at the same time, turning any of them to werewolves or vampires and so on. All options are configurable so you can pick the options you prefer.
One of the things that always annoyed me with followers is they would always use whatever equipment had the highest attack/defense. Even if it made absolutely no sense for them. They also all felt very much alike with each other with only changes being usually if they would nuke of if they would try to smack someone in the face. Better Followers attempts to change that. Followers will use weapons and armor that makes more sense for them. So if you have a mage follower they won’t just equip the heavy armor you just gave them to carry. It also tries to make each one more unique by giving them perks and powers that fit with each follower’s background.
There are two options of the mod. One where it changes the looks of the followers and one where it just adds the mods features. Just pick whichever you prefer. It should also be completely compatible with Amazing Follower Tweaks just make sure it comes after AFT.
If you like the idea of going adventuring in your mighty steed but found the vanilla horses being… well, a tad useless then this is the mod for you! As the name makes it pretty clear it is a mod that allows you to customize your horse in many ways. You can change their run speed, their appearance, add cosmetic armor to them, make them invulnerable and much more. Definitely a must have for anyone who wants to own a horse in Skyrim.
The Leveler’s Tower is a house/cheat mod. For those who want a house mod it is a big, rich looking place with all types of convenience like auto-sorters for your items, crafting stations, mannequins, lots of storage, quarters for yourself and guests, vendors and even an arena when you feel like seeing others fighting to the death for a change. The cheat part can be ignored but for those who want to use it, it can be useful to test a new mod features (for example a mod that requires rare crafting materials) or to remake an old character and get it back to the level he or she was. Regardless of which part you want to use it is a great mod with lots of thought put into it.
Unfortunately Skyrim doesn’t have the option to just buy a plot of land and build your own house. This mod though comes pretty close to it. Basically, it allows you to build your own house with crafting materials. It doesn’t give you completely freedom to build the house as you see fit but it is very modular, allowing you to build only the parts of the house that interests you and has different options for decorations. It is also located in a very beautiful location, out in the wilderness.
Niire is a relatively new modder that has been doing some amazing revamps of the vanilla player houses. Not only the decoration looks much better she also added the conveniences of the General Stores mod to them. That means they all have auto-sorters for materials and storage that is shared between the houses. She also added forges to all the houses too which is another nice convenience. No idea if she will tackle the other player houses but even these ones are already enough to make anyone spoiled by their beauty and convenience.
Dwemer Flying Ship that serves as a house. That is all you need to know. Ok, I should talk more about it. Despite how it may look, it is actually a pretty lore friendly house as it is related to a quest back in Morrowind, the Bloodmoon expansion to be more precise. Like all house mods listed here there was a lot of thought given to it making it easily one of the best house mods out there. The only bad part is that you can’t actually fly around with it but I blame that more on the limitations of the engine (as any solution would be rather clunky) than anything else.
If you want the conveniences of the General Stores mod there is a version of the Asteria on its page.
6. Armor, Weapons and Similar Gear
Immersive Armors is a compilation of lore-friendly armor sets. Some of the pieces are a mix of vanilla armor pieces while others are original models. All of them are pretty good looking though and there is a lot of variety in the mod to suit anyone’s taste. Want to have a more a barbarian look? You got it there. Paladin is more to your tastes? It got it covered too. Prefer a pirate outfit? You can find it on this mod too. They are all craftable and some are added to leveled lists too, meaning you can find it being worn by enemy NPCs.
Anyone who has been playing the Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind, and been dabbling in mods for just as long, will probably recognize the name “Bob”. No, it is not because it is a very generic name. It is because he has been doing a set of of excellent medieval-inspired gear for the Elder Scrolls games since those days. In Skyrim he is only tackling weapons though (and some hats). There are a few weapons inspired by video-games that he made by request too. They are all craftable as well.
Nicoroshi Creations is a compilation of weapons created by Nicoroshi that were used to be released as separate mod. With this pack you will find some pretty good fantasy-inspired, elven-looking weapons. It includes a few swords, a couple daggers, a couple bows and one war axe.
Anyone who has played any RPG for more than 5 minutes certainly has the affliction I call “Compulsive Looting Disorder” or CLD for short. It is basically a need to loot anything that isn’t nailed down to the floor or on fire. The consequences of this disorder varies from game to game. In Skyrim the usual problem is finding yourself walking really slowly after a certain threshold. In the most extreme cases it might end up with the character in the wrong way of the law too but that is a discussion for another time. Anyway, unfortunately there is no cure that I know of for this disorder. There are ways we can deal with it. One of them is by raising our carrying capacity and that is exactly what these two mods do. They allow the player to craft backpacks and pouches that they can then equip and it will increase the amount of stuff they can carry. It is all very lore friendly and can add a bit more of immersion to the game. Plus more loot to carry!
If you play mods that makes things more dark, carrying a torch or lantern around becomes pretty much a necessity. The only problem is once you draw your weapon you go back to not seeing anything. With wearable lanterns there isn’t that problem since it is a nifty mod that allows you to equip lanterns on your belt. You can also use torchbugs to make a lantern that can be used underwater too so you don’t have to worry about swimming in some cave either. The mod is configurable and you can give the lanterns to your followers too who will use it only in situations that makes sense (like during the night).
This is another one for those who use mods to make the nights and caves more dark. Or just for those who wants a more steam punk look to their characters. It works both ways!
Anyway, it adds craftable goggles and scouters to the game that upon equipping allows you to choose to have a night eye effect, detect life effect, both or none of it. To turn off the effect just unequip it. It can be pretty handy when a torch doesn’t cut it and you don’t have any appropriate spell to deal with the problem. Not to mention it looks pretty cool!
7. Gameplay Tweaks/Overhauls
Skyrim’s start/tutorial is certainly one of the best in the series. It keeps the tradition of the Elder Scrolls series of starting as a prisoner, sets the mood right for the rest of the game, gives all the information you need to know about what is going on and gets you right in the action!
Some times though we just want to cut to the chase or if you are a roleplayer wished that things started in a different way. This mod does exactly that. It gives you a set of options of where to start and what kind of life you lead in the beginning of the game. Do you want to start already as a member of the Companions? This mod does it. Prefer to start already as a vampire? Entirely possible too. Or maybe just a regular farm is more your thing? There is that option too. All you have to choose is what option suits you better and the mod will take care of the rest, even giving you appropriate gear for your choice. Then if you feel like it you can pick up the main quest whenever the mood hits. Or completely ignore it and let someone else deal with the dragons.
Although I like the crafting system in Skyrim I always felt it would be cooler if we could just choose what kind of material we use for each craft. For instance, I might like the looks of a dwarven waraxe but necessities of survival requires me to eventually get a better weapon, with a different style and a different material. I can’t craft a dwarven wareaxe with better materials than dwarven metal ingots. Thus it makes those kind of gear completely obsolete after a certain point.
With Armoury of Tamriel this isn’t a problem as it adds recipes to craft vanilla weapons with types of materials. Thus I could have a dwarven war axe made out of ebony ingots for example and it will look like it was made out of ebony. The smithing perks then become a matter of unlocking only the materials and the styles can be unlocked by books added by mod. It may seem like a small, insignificant change but it increases a lot of the variety in weapons.
Eventually the author intents to also adds armour and shields to the mix. When that happens it will be smithing paradise!
One of my disappointments while playing my warrior was that there was very little incentive to use any of the artifacts I got along the way. My crafted daedric war axe was enough to dispatch pretty much anything that was thrown in my way. And the only enchantment I put on it was a soul-trap enchantment in case I decided to eventually raise my enchantment skills. It was the same thing with armor and similar items. Artifact Balance Overhaul intents to change that. It makes all artifacts a lot more desirable and able to rival the most powerful enchanted gear. It also allows to upgrade them in the grinding stone or workshop table like any crafted gear.
Combat in vanilla Skyrim is one of those things I do feel it does well enough but like all things modding, ACE makes it much more interesting. Basically it aims to rebalance the skills and perk systems of Skyrim so each style of combat feels different from each other. Combat is a lot more deadly with ACE and you have to learn how to play to your strengths and who to take out first. For instance, the bane of my mage has been archers. Those buggers can easily kill him if I don’t deal with them fast enough.
As with all mods of this type, it is pretty modular, allowing you to choose only the options you want to use. It also has a lot of compatibility patches with other mods that affect perks so you don’t have to worry about incompatibilities.
– First version of this list. Still pretty raw!