Hello, folks, Uncle Geekly here. Skyrim Special Edition has been out for a few years and that means that console players have the same joy of Skyrim mods as those of us who play on PC. Your uncle Geekly has played Skyrim Special Edition a lot on both PC and console, so I’ve found some mods that I like to play with whenever I fire up this almost eight-year-old game.
Sounds like a good time for a Skyrim Mod 3 Lists of 3. There are a few mods that come standard in Skyrim Special Edition like realistic weather effects and improved graphics–I’ll have to remember which ones I don’t have to load for Special Ed—and I’ll try not to include any of those. The other hard part will be determining how to split up each mod type. Let’s see if Geekly’s up for the challenge.
Ordinator and Apocalypse Magic
It’s our first mod in the first section of this write up, and I’m cheating by combining two mods. For shame!
It’s my list; I do what I want.
Ordinator and Apocalypse Magic come courtesy of the same modder Enai Siaion, and they’re available in a download bundle, so I’m putting them together because I seldom play Skyrim without both and I see them as two branches of the same limb. Ordinator increases the perk pool by over 400, while Apocalypse Magic adds 155 spells across all magic families.
With 400+ new perks gamers can customize their play style to a point where no two Skyrim builds are the same. One of my favorite builds is a dream master where I unlock as many Illusion perks in that branch of the magic tree as I can, but there’s more than the “dream master” branch within Illusion. There are so many paths to take that gamers can find their character’s story within the story and craft their own journey. Why is my hero drawn to dreams instead of creating pandemonium?
And that’s just one magic school. The magic schools have as many branches and the other perk trees specialize gameplay. Now it matters which one-handed weapon a player chooses. One may gain bonuses and special attacks for maces and not axes.
Apocalypse Magic further differentiates the magic families. I don’t know how many times I used to begin Skyrim with every intention to play a pure magic user only to have the game devolve into a spellsword—emphasis on the sword—but Apocalypse Magic adds so many play options and cleans up many issues with Skyrim’s magic system that a pure magic user is an option, and a fun one at that. I can be a Thalmor who only cares to explore the reaches of the magic school Alteration.
I picked Alteration in this example because the added spells for this school in this mod are amazing. I can control the weather. I can sap armor from my attackers and give it to me and my companions. I can entomb one character and free them when I want. Yep. I am a Thalmor wanting to learn everything I can for a few schools of magic.
Let’s face it. Race specific abilities have gone downhill in recent Elder Scrolls games. Fortunately, Imperious Races aims to make each Tamriel race unique.
Wow! I just realized that this is another mod by Enai Siaion. If you’ve liked what you’ve read so far, you may want to check out some of their other mods. I could make a list of just Enai Siaion’s mods, but I’d like to share the love—after Imperious Races of course.
Imperious Races adds race specific quests, bonuses, and powers. The quests play into the game’s lore. For example, Bosmer (Wood Elves) go on a great hunt to unlock their bonuses and power, while Altmer (High Elves) pluck the wings off butterflies—there’s a whole transformation or rebirth belief for High Elves that I won’t get into here, but butterflies play a key role. Each race has their own specific requirements or quest that adds another layer to character creation and world/lore immersion.
The race bonuses kick Elder Scrolls back to an age where it mattered to which race your character belonged. Altmer are naturally gifted mages, Redguard are fantastic warriors, and so on.
The race powers can, at times, play well with Elder Scroll lore as in Dunmer (Dark Elves) calling on their ancestors or Bosmer converting wild animals into allies, and other times these race powers create wrinkles for the different races. Anyone who’s played Skyrim knows that Nords can be xenophobic—to put it kindly—or downright racist. Their “Purge” ability allows them to choose a race at levels 10, 20, and 30 and deal bonus damage to members of that race. I don’t usually play human characters in Elder Scrolls games, but I’d consider playing an elf-hating Nord.
Again, this plays into character building as there may be a reason why my Nord is an elf-hater. There are so many new roleplaying options with each race.
Live Another Life
Finally, we come to a mod by a different creator Arthmoor. Live Another Life does exactly what the title states: players can change their past as a wrongfully accused prisoner awaiting execution and skip the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. With this mod players can start the game as a landowner or a marooned sailor or a highway robbery victim. Heck, players can begin the game already a member of one of the guilds or as a bandit.
Most of these new beginnings come with small bonuses and/or disadvantages (bandits begin the game with a bounty), but the true bonus of Live Another Life comes in the form of roleplaying. Players can literally rewrite their past. Live Another Life, like other mods in this section, add character and player choice to Skyrim.
One note: Live Another Life may have some minor compatibility issues that the previous two mods, or three mods, don’t.
Added Story and/or Content
Most, if not all, the mods in this section will center around new areas to explore and/or new stories to experience. Let’s begin this section with a relatively new mod (released in late March 2018) by Haem Projects, Project AHO.
The content for this mod pans out to a medium-sized DLC, so a little less than Dragonborn or Dawnguard, but significantly more than Hearthfire. Players are treated to a hidden, Telvanni settlement Sadrith Kegran that’s built from the ruins of a Dwarven city. The player characters start as indentured servants and must uncover the area’s secrets as well as determine the fate of this closed off society. I won’t spoil the story here, but there are many ways for players to resolve Sadrith Kegran’s conflicts, based on character build and personality.
Project AHO comes close to full-fledged Skyrim DLC. Over 20 fully voiced NPCs have unique problems and quirks, each character acts out a daily routine, the quests and locations work and stay lore-friendly, and the DLC even has its own music by German composer Forhir. There are even reactions from these new characters that derive from the player’s choices in the main game and DLC. Project AHO does a great job of showing how some Dark Elves have carved out their own corner of Morrowind.
Beyond Skyrim: Bruma
I couldn’t leave out Beyond Skyrim: Bruma from this section. If Project AHO is a medium-sized DLC, Beyond Skyrim: Bruma is living large, about the size of Dragonborn or Dawnguard.
Players can travel to Cyrodiil’s northernmost county Bruma that borders Skyrim. Similar features to Project AHO await as NPCs have their own voice actors with dialogue options, quirks and routines, and the player character can meddle in the affairs of Bruminians (or is it Brumans?). If you’re an Elder Scrolls fan and you miss Cyrodiil or want to know what happened to Bruma’s residents after the events of Oblivion, give Beyond Skyrim: Bruma a try.
Beyond Skyrim may not be as prolific a modder as the others I’ve mentioned so far, but they do great work and have some plans for future Skyrim content. With Elder Scrolls VI years away from release Elder Scroll fans won’t say no to future mods of this caliber.
The Tools of Kagrenac
While Beyond Skyrim: Burma went large, The Tools of Kagrenac is a much smaller mod (perhaps even smaller than the Hearthfire DLC), but it’s a rewarding experience that’s done as well as any other in this section. The titular Dwemer Lord Kagrenac crafted three enchanted artifacts: Keening, Sunder, and Wraithguard. If those names sound familiar to Elder Scroll fans, they should. All three played a key role in the events of Morrowind.
So, The Tools of Kagrenac is lore-friendly—perhaps the most lore-friendly of all the mods in this write up so far—and it even suggests a cause for the Dwemers’ disappearance. In short, it’s a must play.
Beautiful Little Extras
Immersive World Encounters
We’ll start this section with a mod that’s almost a necessity. Immersive World Encounters makes all those random encounters players experience in vanilla Skyrim worthwhile.
The following scenario may sound familiar to Skyrim veterans. You run into a random thief, he hands you something to hold onto for them (something they stole), and then you make a choice to turn him in or throw his pursuers off his trail. But what if that character had more of a past or the encounter changes depending on who they are or there are multiple outcomes depending on what the characters chooses?
Immersive World Encounters adds a lot of that to Skyrim. It functions like “Wild Wasteland”, but the encounters are more unpredictable than wacky. Just because you’ve picked the same option before during one of these encounters, doesn’t mean you’ll get the same result. I’ve encountered an injured bear in the road and had the option to help it. The first time I helped a bear, I ticked off a hunter who then attacked me because I robbed him of his kill. The second time I helped a bear, it ran off and attacked another person; I had to kill the bear because it was headed toward a town. Maybe I should stop helping bears.
Regardless, kudos to Sette Lisette for this great mod.
Lucien: Fully Voiced Follower
I don’t usually care for follower mods and I’m not the biggest fan of Imperials, but Lucien must be one of the best follower mods, and he happens to be an Imperial. He owns so many unique strands of fully voiced dialogue that he has an opinion on just about everything in Skyrim. The fact that Lucien is an Imperial is important too. He provides the player with an Imperial’s viewpoint.
Even better, Lucien has a dynamic personality system where he adapts to the player character’s choices; just because he’s your follower doesn’t mean that he agrees with everything you do. Players can alter how he fights, so he can complement the main character and Lucien’s training system can be adjusted as well. He has his own quest and storyline and can interact with other follower mods like Inigo, Hoth, and Auri. I almost want to play with these additional followers just to hear them banter with Lucien.
A small point, but one that makes me smile, is that Lucien has a small pool of in game books that he can read aloud to the main character, so long as the book is in the player’s inventory. I don’t know how long it took Joseph Russell to create Lucien, but this follower is well done. Wow!
As the name suggests, Holidays adds Tamriel holidays to Skyrim. If the player character walks into a town on the holiday in question, the villagers will be celebrating the appropriate holiday in a manner according to Elder Scroll lore.
I feel like I’ve said this a lot during these three lists, but Holidays is another mod I can’t see playing Skyrim without. Isoku has a done an excellent job of getting these celebrations right. Small details like Saturalia decorations won’t appear on Whiterun’s Gildergreen unless it’s fully grown and healthy, and Winterhold not celebrating any holidays due to the state of their town are nice touches.
There are so many other mods I could’ve included like Andromeda or Wild World or Open Civil War that nine—or technically ten—Skyrim mods don’t do the subject justice. There’s a reason Skyrim is a relevant game eight years after its release; it owes its prominence to some phenomenal modders. What are some of your favorite Skyrim mods? Let us know in the comments.