Skyrim Mods, Tips, and Recommendation Guide [1.2]

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  2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  3. Skyrim Mods, Tips, and Recommendation Guide [1.2]

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#1
Welcome to the Skyrim Mods, Tips, and Recommendation guide. This topic was made for the sole purpose of guiding those new and experienced in modding Skyrim. In this topic I will list useful and some recommended mods, some suggested by gamefaqs users and myself. I will also provide a short guide to quickly get started in modding Skyrim to your heart's content. Please note that I will not provide any in-depth tutorials because they’re already on their specific mod pages.

Modding Tools, Getting Started [ModStart]
User Interface [UImods]
Graphics, Visuals, and Environments [GVEmods]
Character Enhancements and Animation [CEAmods]
Weapons, Armors, and Miscellaneous Equipment [WAMEmods]
Gameplay Overhauls and Changes [GOmods]
Combat and Crafting [CACmods]
Immersion and Realism [IRLmods]
Beasts and Creatures [BCmods]
Worlds and Locations [WALmods]
Quests and Adventures [QAmods]
Sounds and Music [SMUmods]
Followers and NPCs [FNmods]
Other Suggested [OSmods]
ENB Presets [ENBmods]
Useful Links [ULINKS]
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
Special Credits and Thanks [SCredits]
Notes [NOTE]

You can use these tags in brackets to quickly jump into a chosen mod category. Use CTRL + F then copy the tags into the search bar.


<< Modding Tools, Getting Started [ModStart] >>

Where do I find mods?
You can find them on various websites, but the most well known site is which hosts a LOT of great mods. Nexus allows for free registration and also hosts the Nexus Mod manager, allowing newcomers and veterans alike to get into modding easily. There are also other alternative websites like steam's workshop, however the files in the workshop are very limited in numbers and size (not to mention Steam's dreaded auto-update). You can also find other specific mods in sites such as loverslab (which mostly has NSFW content, mind you) or japan's own modding blog site dragonporn (which has no dragon porn whatsoever, so don't let the name fool you). All in all, Nexus is probably the most reliable site for modding Skyrim. For more, check the Useful Links section.

How do I get started in modding?
First things first you will need a mod manager to organize mods, install them easier, and can also download mods via that manager. I also need to remind you that not every mod out there can be installed with a mod manager, but conveniently the mod author will always put in instructions on how to manually install these types of mods. There are a couple of mod managers like Wyre Bash, Mod Organizer, or subscribing via steam. Anyway, I will list some easy starter tools you'll need to get started in modding.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#2
This is a modding tool you can find on the Nexus website for free (like any other mod manager). One of the easiest to use managers, you only need a few clicks to install mods you have downloaded from nexus. You can rename mods, manage load orders, endorse, check for updates, download mods, and most importantly install and uninstalling mods without any hassle. There are detailed instructions on how to use it on it's site (even though it's already really easy to use to begin with).


SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) []
From the official ReadMe file: The Skyrim Script Extender, or SKSE for short, is a modder's resource that expands the scripting capabilities of Skyrim. It does so without modifying the executable files on disk, so there are no permanent side effects. In other words, some mod relies in having the user have SKSE installed for it to function properly. With the number of mods depending on SKSE increasing in numbers, it is recommended that you always have SKSE installed. However there are also lot of mods that also does not require SKSE. Even so, having SKSE installed on your Skyrim doesn't hurt, especially when some of the best mods use it. As of now, SKSE can be considered essential now that a lot of great mods are using it.


BOSS (Better Oblivion Sorting Software) []
Boss is a load order tool designed to avoid conflicts between mods that may produce bugs and errors to the game. It's a one-click tool that automatically sorts your mods' load order. It will also show warnings, dirty edits, and other important information about your installed mods that you should know. basically, all you need to do is to run BOSS (and update the masterlist occasionally) every time you install a mod for Skyrim. This is an essential tool for anyone modding Skyrim.


Wrye Bash is another, more powerful mod manager for Skyrim. It has more complex features that you won’t find on NMM (Nexus Mod Manager). It might be daunting for newcomers at first glance, however once you learn how to truly use this mod manager, you might come to find that this is the best mod manager for Skyrim. Some of the features you don't see in NMM is being able to install more than 255 mods, increased compatibility, and being able to merge mods and leveled lists (known as a Bashed patch). To learn more how this mod manager works, you can take a look at the ReadMe posted on the mod's page.

TES5Edit []
A tool that allows you to edit plugins from mods (ESPs, ESMs, that sort of stuff) and also to clean mods that are "dirty" if you find them when using BOSS. It can also merge patches or plugins just like Wrye Bash does. Main use for this tool is obviously cleaning mods, but you can sometimes choose to get rid of some of the stuff you didn't like from a particular mod. Like for example, stripping a hair mod with 50 hairs to a select few you'd bother using, so that you can avoid crashes or memory issues.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#3
Now that you're ready with modding tools, you can start modding. You're free to look for mods on your own will, however I will list some useful and recommended mods that may improve your Skyrim modding experience. These mods are both from my own personal picks, along with user suggested mods. One last thing, if you liked a mod you've installed, be sure to endorse the mod on their respective pages. It's always good to encourage a mod author to improve and appreciate his work.

I will also include my personal opinion below each mod with POP: (Pyro's Opinion) in case you'd like to listen to a personal opinion and experience with a mod.


Unofficial Skyrim Patch []
Unofficial Dawnguard Patch []
Unofficial Hearthfire Patch []
Unofficial Dragonborn Patch []
First, you are suggested to get these and install unofficial patches as they are essential to fix several bugs and glitches present in Skyrim. Only install patches you need. That means, you don't have to install Dawnguard or Hearthfire patches if you don't have them on Skyrim.

NOTE: I recommend turning on the “clickable URLs” setting on your message board settings and setting your board display to 50 posts per page.

<< User Interface [UImods] >>

SkyUI []
SkyUI is a mod that changes the default Skyrim User Interface (menus) into a much more PC friendly design, notably the inventory menu. The reason for this is because the original UI is just unpractical for PC users. It feels like the original UI was designed around consoles, which used gamepads for navigating menus. Now it includes the MCM Menu, a greatly useful configuration menu for mods that utilize it. Requires SKSE.
POP: No reason to not get this. I have nothing else to say, it's great.

Categorized Favorites Menu []
This mod replaces the horribly small favorites menu with a larger one with new features added. Each type of equipment and item or skill are categorized into different categories for easier access, infinitely better than the original favorites menu. Requires SKSE.
POP: I'd be surprised if nobody used this. Really no reason to use the old favorites menu.

Immersive HUD (iHUD) []
Immersive HUD or iHUD, is a mod that hides the player HUD (crosshair, compass, health, magicka, and stamina) when you don't need them. The compass for example, can be hidden with a press of a button. You can then also set the crosshair to activate depending on what weapon you use (melee or ranged), or your target.
POP: If you use A LOT of script heavy mods like I do, you can get some issues with this mod

Better MessageBox Controls []
Enchant this item? *clicks arrow keys* Nothing happens. A really convenient mod for those that use the keyboard much more than the mouse. Basically it gives gamepad controls to message boxes that allows you to navigate choices with your keyboard. It's compatible with any mod that has message boxes to configure settings or options.
POP: If you like using your keyboard a lot (or generally anyone that use KB+M) there is absolutely no reason to not get this.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#4
Better Dialogue Controls []
Ever experience when you click using the confirm key during dialogue choices, instead the WRONG key gets selected? Well FINALLY someone created a mod that fixes this small but annoying issue.
POP: Same as the mod above, it's a small fix that makes a big difference.

Skyrim Configurator []
Remember when people suggest tweaks to your Skyrim .ini files? If you want to avoid editing text configuration files, you can go for a more convenient route using this mod. Skyrim Configurator basically makes tweaking Skyrim easier by creating it's own menu to adjust several hidden options you will not find on the normal Skyrim launcher. Complete with previews and short explanations when you hover over an option.
POP: Even if you're used to manually editing the ini files, this mod still comes in handy. It won't list absolutely everything, but it's immensely useful.

A Quality World Map - With Roads []
This mod adds a better quality world map with roads (obviously). Also with options to remove the clouds from the map, and a classic map version (a work in progress) that changes the map into a classic paper map look. Has options on high or normal resolution maps, so performance isn't an issue.
POP: Great, but don't get the Classic version until all of it's issues are fixed. Stick with the other versions

Player Home Map Markers []
Adds landmark markers to player homes to allow you to fast travel right to in front of your house. A really convenient mod to fast travel users wanting to avoid the short walk to their door house.
POP: Along with fast travelling to your house, it also allows faster access to other sections of a city/town like Solitude's Blue Palace.

More Hotkeys Please []
A mod that allows you to add and configure more hotkeys than the basic 1 to 9 number keys. Requires SKSE
POP: I don't really use it much because I have a lot of mods that have functions hotkeyed, so there's little room for me to place any new keys.

The Paarthunax Dilemma []
This mod gives an alternate option to a quest near the end of the Dragonborn quest line. SPOILER WARNING It allows you to choose whether you want to kill Paarthunax or not SPOILER WARNING.
POP: Paarthunax is my bro, so I get this. If you don't like him, don't bother.

Enable Local World Map []
Pure freaking genius. No longer must you wander special zones like the Soul Cairn or Forgotten Vale without a map. Now you get a map and can even fast travel around within these areas.

Fast travel timescale fix []
Speaking of fast traveling, normally the time it takes to move is significantly higher than if you're just walked. This fixes that for players who care about the time of day. Posted by: SushiSquid

Owned []
This mod removes the ownership of items of NPCs when the said NPC dies. For example, if you kill an NPC, everything in his/her house no longer has the "Steal" option. It becomes a free item laying around for anyone including the player, to take.
POP: Yeah, definitely get this if you have a character that doesn't mind taking stuff from the dead. (looking at you Draugr Tombs)
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#5
Face to Face Conversation []
Camera will automatically switch to first person and lock on to the target NPC when talking. You can also switch back and forth between first person and third person at will.
POP: Kinda like Oblivion, but I wish it not only just switch the camera, but also zooms in to the character a bit like Oblivion does. A pretty useful mod regardless. There's a small issue where the mod stops working after a while, but the latest update should've fixed it (said the author).

Kace Auto Loot []
A mod that auto loots enemies you killed. An MCM configuration menu is also available if you want to change setting easily like which items you want to auto loot and stuff you don't need. SKSE is optional, but you'll need it if you want the MCM menu.
POP: First I thought "man, this will only make the game pretty boring" but I was absolutely wrong. It's brilliant. It instead get rid of tediousness while maintaining immersion. You can only auto loot once you get close to the body, so it only removes the need to navigate menus (even then you'll still have to manually loot specific items). Another great touch is those little sparkling effects the author put to tell a looted corpse from an un-looted one. Definitely consider getting this.

RaceMenu []
Modifies the character creation menu to add more options and fixing some problems like the default menu not keeping your character's skin tone when using showracemenu. It doesn't add any new stuff like face/body mods. It simply optimizes and fixes the creation menu with the use of SKSE. Along with this mod, you will no longer need Extended Slider Colors because this mod has already integrated it with more extensive color sliders.
POP: I can't go back to the vanilla menus anymore now that I've used this. It's simply much better than the original character creation menu, and with the mod now aiming for the ability to fine tune the sliders (I.E adjusting stuff like width down to 0.01) for a more acurate character creation.

World Map Min_Max Height Pitch Tweak []
Allows you to view the world map closer and adjust the zooming speed with some ini tweaks. This mod is meant to be used with A Quality World Map with Roads. With it, you can view roads and paths more closely and accurately.
POP: Definitely get this if you have a mod that improves the world map quality.

No Boring Sleep Wait Menu []
Replaces the wait and sleep menu so that you can now wait or sleep longer than 24 hours. The maximum limit has been increased to up to 31 in game days
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#6
<< Graphics, Visuals, and Environments [GVEmods] >>

WATER - Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux []
Changes the terrible original water textures ( jelly rivers and oceans...) from the game into a far more realistic one. Now with dome added new flora/plants like water lilies as optional plugins. Performance impact is little to none because this simply replaces the texture instead of enhancing it into some high res texture that eats up your VRAM.
POP: You simply cannot play Skyrim without it once you try it. The original textures are THAT bad.

Project Reality - Climates of Tamriel []
A weather and lighting mod that overhauls the look, sound, and feel of Skyrim's weather. The mod adds a new weather system, new sound effects, and visual effects to simulate a more realistic nordic climate. It also adds a new optional lighting for interiors like dungeons and houses. This mod is best used along with an ENB. Compatible with Enhanced Lights and FX and partially compatible with Realistic Lighting Overhaul. Incompatible with Realistic Lighting with Customization or RCRN. Performance impact, none because this mod alters instead of adding stuff.
POP: Great mod, if only for the weathers. Not a really huge issue, but some ENBs may look not as intended with this mod (that's why you get ones built specifically for CoT).

Enhanced Lights and FX []
Adds more light sources and add effects in interiors. Some of which are indicating time with visible light from windows changing depending the time of day. It also adds new light sources that was missing in the original game (I.E candles now truly emit light and can cast shadows). It is also compatible with Project Reality - Climates of Tamriel, Realistic Lighting Overhaul, or Realistic Lighting with Customization, and any ENBs. Get the patch if you use Static Mesh Improvement Mod. Performance impact should be little to none unless you have a really weak PC.
POP: Simply brilliant. The lighting and effects are beautiful and look great. Here's a small sample of what it looks (with ENBs, without will just look less colorful)

Better Dynamic Snow []
Replaces the flat dull snow textures of Skyrim with a much better more varied looking snow textures. Performance impact, none.
POP: No reason not to get this really.

That's Ice []
Changes vanilla ice textures to something more realistic, with several variation of looks and resolution to choose from.
POP: Looks great, no performance impact thanks to the optional resolutions.

Skyrim Flora Overhaul []
An environmental overhaul that changes and adds more varied plant life and environmental changes that gives Skyrim's landscape a more varied look.
POP: Shouldn't affect performance on higher end machines, so if you have say around 1GB VRAM only on your GPU, get the lower res version.

Lush Trees []
This mod increases the density on branches and pine leaves in tress. Creating an overall more dense and realistic look to the trees scattered around Skyrim. Compatible with Skyrim Flora Overhaul (install this first). Performance impact depends on how weak your rig is, but generally no performance impact.
POP: Really makes trees look a lot better than before. Great mod to have.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#7
Skyrim Bigger Trees []
Makes trees larger in various sizes to give a more “forest” feel to areas with a lot of trees like Riften or Falkreath. Performance impact should be minimal, a good PC can handle this pretty easily.
POP: I recommend only getting the Riften version if you only have a decent PC.

Lush Grass []
Like Lush Trees, this mod increases the density of grass in Skyrim's terrain by adding more patches of grass. Performance impact range from 5-10fps with a decent PC.
POP: Not needed if you have Skyrim Flora Overhaul, since SFO already increases grass density

Immersive Grass []
An alternative to Lush Grass, but can also be used in conjunction with Lush Grass to even make grass denser. The mod author also lists really helpful tips to tweak grass and performance.
POP: The grass tweaking tips are worth checking out, even if you're not getting this mod.

More Rain []
As the title says, it adds more rain. Just not any rain though. You can pick different options to adjust how windy, dense, or your view distance when rain occurs in game.
POP: Aside from looking brilliant, it’s also looks fantastic if you add WATER to the mix. Rain droplets splashing on rivers and lakes have never looked much better in Skyrim.

Supreme Storms []
Rain not enough for you? This adds more realistic rain and snow storms to the game.
POP: Not much to say, except that it's really nice.

Wet and Cold []
Allows people to get wet with water droplets falling from them from rain or after swimming. Plus additional features that allow NPCs to wear clothing corresponding with the weather. SKSE is optional.
POP: Also to note that Frostfall has the same wet drip effect, but you can use them together.

Supreme and Volumetric Fog []
Adds volumetric fog to the environments of Skyrim, near docks and morning fogs depending on the time of the day (I.E you will see fog more on early mornings). It truly enhances the feeling you get on foggy mornings and areas and of course, immersion as well.
POP: Morning fogs feels comfy.

Better Distant LOD Waterfalls []
If you played Skyrim for a while, you may realize the terrible looking frozen waterfalls on the distance. This mod doesn't make it move (animated). It just replaces the LOD textures to make it less noticeable and blend in more with the backgrounds better.
POP: Great if you don't want to mess with uGrids.

No Stretching []
This fixes bad stretched meshes/textures on the default Skyrim walls, caves, buildings, and other rocky places. It’s not a high res texture replacer, but just corrects stretching on several areas like caves or forts.
POP: May not be compatible with mods that alter the same meshes as this mod.

Footprints []
Have you seen those people using this mod? They have footprints. Foot. Prints.
POP: Footprints.

Lanterns of Skyrim []
This mod adds lanterns to house exteriors and the main roads near cities and towns. More or less it functions as roadside lamps to guide travelers on night times.
POP: Really nice for those using lighting mods
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#8
Realistic Smoke and Embers []
Improves smoke and ember textures, replacing them with a better looking one (with optional resolution sizes) than the original textures.
POP: If using Ultimate HD Fire Spells, install this first.

Static Mesh Improvement Mod – SMIM []
This is a graphical mod that replaces some of the static (non-moving) textures and models with better quality meshes and textures. Small example would be barrels and tables that are rounder with better textures, 3D ropes, 3D chains, and more that increases the overall quality of textures and meshes of objects. Performance impact is average. Recommended to those with medium-high to high end PCs to avoid performance drops.
POP: Brilliant. You'll never look at a barrel the same way anymore.

Deadly Spell Impacts []
A texture replacer for spell impact effectss (special effects when you cast magic on a wall or object), this mod replaces the original textures to higher quality ones.
POP: Haven't tried it myself, but some people reported crashing with this mod enabled.

Ultimate HD Fire Spells []
A retexture for the fire effects in Skyrim. Best used along with an ENB.
POP: It's really good, but may not fit those pot torches near buildings.

Gildergreen Reborn []
Allows you to see the Gildergreen sapling growing into a full grown tree should you go with the peaceful route of the Blessings of Nature quest.
POP: No reason not to get this really.

Crimson Tide – Blood []
Crimson Tide is a blood mod that enhances how blood looks in Skyrim. Everything from stab wounds, cuts, critical health, dripping blood, pools of blood, and many more will turn Skyrim into a much bloodier game than it ever was.
POP: Those with weaker PCs may experience stuttering.

Enhanced Blood Textures []
Another blood mod to enhance your bloody experience. Also has multiple resolutions to pick from.
POP: Not as good as Crimson Tide, but said to run better.

Glowing Ore Veins 300 []
The ore veins in vanilla Skyrim is stupidly very hard to see. It just blends too easily with the surrounding rocks. What this mod does is make it glow so that you can find it easier. It may not be very immersive, but certainly helpful for those just in it for the game.
POP: Unless you bother mining ores than buying ingots from smithies, you won't need it.

Destructible Bottles Extended []
Allows wine bottles an some items to be breakable. Also affects your surroundings with the breaking sound able to attract enemies, and the ability for NPCs to become “angry” when you break too much stuff.
POP: The author also made a related mod that you should check out too

HD Enhanced Terrain []
Improves distant terrain LOD by adding more noise to simulate grass patches.
POP: No performance impact and looks pretty great. Get it.

Improved NPC Clothing []
Retextures NPC clothing with high res textures and edits to make them look better.
POP: Being able to run it is affected by how much VRAM you have, like all texture mods out there.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#9
Better Rocks and Mountains []
Tweaks the UV and bump maps of rock textures to make them look more like actual rocks. It's compatible with any texture mods, because it only modifies UV and bump maps.
POP: Shouldn't have any performance impact. Terrain Bump also does the same thing (IIRC), so you should pick between which looks better to you.

Vanilla HD Rocks 4K2K []
High res textures for vanilla rocks, mainly for mountain rocks that Bethesda didn't touch for their official HD Textures. For those who like the look of vanilla rocks, but want a higher res version of it.
POP: If you want to use this with Better Rocks and Mountains, install this first, then overwrite.

Terrain Bump []
Replaces the normal bump maps for roads, floors, and terrain to uncompressed ones (see mod page for comparisons). Making them look much clearer and not a blurry mess like the original bump maps. Small performance hit, depending on your PC.
POP: Great mod, and recommended to install this last if you used any texture mods that edit the same thing.

Better Shadowmarks []
Retextures the Shadowmarks across Skyrim to not look like it was drawn using some chalk. What are Shadowmarks? Play through the Thieves Guild questline to find out, or just google it.
POP: I thought at first that this will only make them harder to spot, but really the opposite. I can find them easier than I used to.

Blacksmith Forge Water Fix []
Replaces the fake looking water on blacksmith forges with actual water. Only affects existing vanilla forge waters.
POP: I hated how the original forge water looks, this is a mod truly worthy of being on your load order.

Burn Freeze Shock Effects []
Adds special effects to corpses or enemies the player or an NPC kills. Enemies killed with fire spells burn, enemies killed with ice spells freeze, and so on. Even burnt animals earns you cooked meat.
POP: Awesome mod, the effects are well made too, especially the burn effects looked really nice.

Natural Grass Texture Floor []
Retextures the grass "floor" on fields and grassy areas.
POP: Note that Skyrim Flora Overhaul also has it's own grass floor retextures. If you want to use this with SFO, install SFO first before this, then overwrite.

Skyrim HD 2K Textures []
If you didn't like Bethesda's official HD retexture, this mod is a great alternative to it. It retextures a lot of stuff in the game to 2k (or 1K for the LITE versions) resolutions for better visual clarity and clear textures in the game. Obviously you will need a good PC to run high res textures properly.
POP: I prefer this to Beth's textures, and recommend at least 2GB VRAM to run the full textures. Those with around 1GB VRAM should consider getting the LITE versions.

Warmer Magic Lights []
Modifies the look of Candlelight and Magelight spells to look warmer, whiter, or modify the radius of these magic lights.
POP: Especially useful for those using mods that use lighting mods that makes things darker. I recommend the 2x radius for people with dark games.
...for Tony Redgrave...

User Info: pyro_bunta

4 years ago#10
Realistic Lighting Overhaul []
Similar to Enhanced Lights and FX, this mod modifies light sources and lighting in interiors. It doesn't use any post-processing effect and it also removes bloom and ambient interior fog which makes for no performance cost at all (some even reported performance increase, though I'm not sure). As of now it modifies interiors, dungeons, and added in an optional plugin that makes readied spells give off light. The mod is also compatible with Enhanced Lights and FX through a compatibility version of the mod. Compatible with Climates of Tamriel, but you cannot use CoT's Warm/Cold Interiors or Dungeon plugins or they will conflict.
POP: Things may look a lot different if you use this along with ENBs. Those with colorful ENBs, I recommend sticking with Climates of Tamriel's interiors or dungeons. Sometimes this mod makes stuff a tad too orange-reddish with ENBs.

Moss Rocks []
Adds moss to rock surfaces across Skyrim. No performance impact.
POP: A small addition, but it's the little things that makes things look really great.

Distant Decal Fix []
Fixes the issue where at a certain distance, details like bricks, cracks, vines and more disappears. This small mod simply fixes that. Barely to nonexistent performance hit.

Immersive Saturation Boost []
Those with PCs that couldn't afford ENBs and also don't want the issues you get from similar color enhancing mods can try this out. Adjusts vibrancy and a bit of contrast. Also compatible with nearly every lighting mod out there. To name a few, it's compatible with Climates of Tamriel, ENBs, RCRN, Realistic Lighting Overhaul, and more.
...for Tony Redgrave...
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