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23 July 2013 @ 04:09 pm
SKYRIM MODS HOLY SHIT  
Rather than spamming up Haz's journal EVEN MORE, I'm posting it here so I can link to it. :)

Oh hey, if you're interested in mods and have the machine to run them, I've got a massive list, really. That said, I've had a really good time picking mods out from the Skyrim Revisited project by Neovalen (he has a Legendary edition he's working on that's not completed -- I used that, even though it says not to, and simply cherry picked what looked good and dropped a few texture mods; game is amazing).

Something to keep in mind that was throwing me for a while is that even if you have an extremely beasty machine, Skyrim /does/ have an upper limit when it comes to mods, especially graphical mods. You can never go over 4gbs of RAM usage (actually, I believe it's slightly lower, maybe 3.5), and this includes VRAM, which HD texture mods will eat up like it's candy. I was actually getting a ton of crashes just because the game, not my computer, couldn't handle so many high res textures.

That said, a few more graphic/script heavy mods that I would highly recommend:

Frostfall - I'm hit or miss on realism mods; I like them when they're enjoyable, hate them when they add so many things to keep track of that it's no longer fun. This is a mod that adds temperature to the game, as well as a nice set of craftable camping gear. Basically, when I go on to Inle about camping on a mountain, I'm talking about this mod. I like to walk everywhere (I'm insane), so I tend to turn down the exposure rate since it was balanced with running all over in mind, and it works great. The WEAR system seems to be really nicely implemented, though since I'm already running a ton of script heavy mods, I leave it off.

Wet and Cold - Works very very nicely with Frostfall; this mod gives you visible breath in cold areas, alters NPC behavior and clothing (to a point) to respond to weather conditions, will have NPCs carrying backpacks and things if you're running Frostfall, and also has optional effects like blizzard blindness, support for ash storms, and so on. Just make sure that you follow the compatibility instructions for Frostfall if you're running both (often the game will do it for you, but if you have Frostfall turn off drips for the player). This guy has done a lot of mods like this, I'd pretty much recommend most of them rather than listing them individually, but this one is the best.

Realistic Needs and Diseases - As I mentioned above, I've got a very picky line when it comes to realism mods. Most mods that add sleep, hunger and thirst drive me batty because they're just too complex -- I really don't want to worry about caloric intake when I'm playing a game where I kill dragons, for instance. This one is simple and reminds me of New Vegas's hardcore mode. Recommended with a mod like Hunterborn or Realistic Wildlife Loot where killing a deer doesn't just give you a single meal. Happily, it's also very popular, so compatibility patches with other mods are abundant.

Footprints - Does exactly what it sounds like. You and NPCs, as well as animals, now leave footprints in the snow and in Dragonborn's ash. This /can/ overwhelm an already script heavy/graphic heavy game, but I make room for it because it's simple and awesome.

Skyrim Flora Overhaul - I use the full version, but there's also a standard version for better compatibility with other mods if you run into trouble (or the full version is just too much). Makes plants and trees awesome, pretty much.

SkyTEST Realistic Animals and Predators - Modifies animals so that they have much more complex AI, move in groups, hunt each other, etc. Also adds new animals such as geese and pigs to farms, with appropriate sounds. This mod doesn't use scripts, but the bulk of AI changes may still be a bit much for a computer with low end processing power. There's an optional version that only makes the AI changes and doesn't add any new animals as well.

Inns and Taverns - Realistic Room Rental Enhanced - Changes Inns and Taverns to, ah, work more like Inns and Taverns. You can rent a room for more than a day, rent one indefinitely, there's storage in the inn rooms, and you won't get the same inn room every time. Also adds a general vendor to some of the more out of the way inns. This doesn't add any scripts or graphical enhancements beyond a few things to make inns look a little different from each other.

Duel - Combat Realism and/or Deadly Combat - Two combat mods that do different things and work nicely together. Both do come with scripts that happen in combat, so be aware this might make your combat lag or crash if your computer is lower end. If you must choose one, I'd go with Duel, as the AI changes are noticeable and make you strategize just a little more.

Convenient Horses - Exactly what it says on the tin. Adds a variety of changes to horses to make them awesome(er) and not a nuisance. Recommended for the AI changes alone, which will stop your horse from trying to kick a dragon to death, and has bad guys ignore it instead of constantly trying to murder your horse over you, but also contains the ability to whistle for your horse, summon him (especially if he gets lost, this is invaluable), the option to make him invulnerable, saddle bags, and more. Recommended addition is Convenient Horse Herding, which will let you put all your horses in one place, and (my favorite) give them actual names. I turn off autoloot because it annoys me, and because I want to lessen the script load; be aware that harvesting from horseback is AMAZING, but may also give you script lag if a lot of other things are going on at the same time, so watch for that so you don't overwhelm the game.

Dual Wield Parrying - I've got a mouse with a lot of buttons, so I just assign this to the middle one. Very simple mod, parrying may be impacted by script overload.

Deadly Dragons and/or Dragon Combat Overhaul - Dragons in this game are...wimpy. It's understandable, because they're such a big focus, and if you're a console player and can't handle the vanilla dragons, you're kind've out of luck. These two mods, however, will make them into the nightmares they really should be. I use the Lore edition of Deadly Dragons (neat as they are, I wasn't all that into the ten billion different kinds of dragons the regular addition adds), which is nicely customizable with regards to just HOW tough you want dragons to be, don't use the extra event system, and turn off special abilities (because I don't like the collateral damage, for the most part). Deadly Dragons also gives you the option to convert dragon souls into perk points, a thing I was using a separate mod for before that change, so it freed up a mod slot for me. Dragon Combat Overhaul uses a lot of scripts to make dragons smarter, make them interact with the world better, and make them much, much more dangerous. It plays very nicely with Deadly Dragons (for instance, if you use the regular version, it has special limit breaks for the additional dragon types). These two mods basically make dragons into seriously terrifying boss battles--you will absolutely want to invest in resistance gear--without making them impossible to kill.

Run for your Lives - Absolutely necessary companion to the above two mods. If you use them without this mod, you are probably going to end up with ghost town villages and empty cities. This mod makes all non-combat oriented NPCs run away from dragons and go inside, rather than trying to rambo it up with what amounts to a minor, firebreathing god. Guards, followers, the Companions, etc will all still fight dragons as before. Note that this doesn't always entirely work; I'll still have Alvor trying to punch a dragon in the face sometimes, for instance, but it definitely reduces the chance that a dragon is going to munch all your favorite NPCs for dinner.

Civil War Overhaul - Keep an eye on this one. By the same guy who did Dragon Combat Overhaul, this vastly changes the Civil War quests to be more engaging and live up to their original promise. The best part is that he's mostly used content and assets that the developers originally intended but dummied out because they didn't have time to finish it. This means that all new dialogue is voiced by the original voice actors, and that he's mostly doing restoration work. However, it's still new, WILL require a new game (though that's recommended for every major mod), and still might contain bugs (he hasn't done a bug fix in a while, however, which tends to be a good sign with this author as normally he's putting them out every other day as necessary). I have it installed but haven't done the civil war quests, so I can't comment on how functional it all is yet, but all reports are good.

Random Vampire Attacks in Towns Disabled - Again, exactly what it says it does. If you have Dawnguard and are over level 10, you start getting random vampire attacks in the cities at night. This is extraordinarily annoying, because chances are high that they'll murderface all your favorite merchants before you even know anything is happening. This completely eliminates the attacks altogether, so that city NPCs are safe (from the vampires, anyway...). Alternatively, if you don't want to disable these attacks, but still want your merchants to stop trying to take on the elder vampire and all his friends, the same mod author that did Run For Your Lives has also made a mod that does the same thing for vampires that it did for dragons; IE, make all the non-combat NPCs run away and go inside during an attack.

W.A.T.E.R. - Makes the water much betterer, and Skyrim's water is already amazing. Highly recommended if your computer can handle the graphical changes. I don't use the Plants esp because with Flora Overhaul the lake already felt just fine, plantwise, and I was reducing the number of ESPs my game had to load.

Enhanced Blood Textures - Sooo...Skyrim's violent, right? You get a decapitation in the opening scene, after all. This makes all that violence, uh...prettier? Well, definitely bloodier. The blood looks better, there's more of it, blood pools when things die (or ichor or oil if you're fighting, say, spiders or dwarven constructs), appropriate wounds show up on bodies, and so on. Mind the INI edits, so you get the full experience (obviously turn them down if your computer can't handle it).

Burn Freeze Shock Effects - And on the subject of violence, this does terrible things to bodies if they die to magic effects rather than weapons. I turn enchanted weapon effects off, myself. Basically, if that newly buffed dragon toasts a guard, the guard will actually be toasted.

The Dance of Death - Adds a bunch of new or unused kill animations, and lets you choose just how often they go off. Optionally, you can tie them into your perk progression, so that you can't do the more amazing moves until you've put a number of perks into that weapon type, for instance.

SKREEE - Less Frequent Dragons - There are reports that this mod is no longer working, but so far I haven't seen that. You may want to load it into the Creation Kit and save it, just in case (this is what I did). Basically, if you make your dragons into the Hulk, you probably don't want to be fighting them quite as often as the vanilla game would have you doing so. The devs said they wanted dragon fights to be boss battles, but dragons show up reeeeeeally often, to the point of annoyance after a while. This simply reduces the chance of a random dragon attack (I use the 10% version, because I want them to be pretty rare). This doesn't affect quest dragons or dragons that spawn near word walls, just the random wilderness fights.

Your Market Stall - Lets you sell things! It's not actually a stall, just a blanket and a chair, but hey. I find this bizarrely addicting, there's probably something wrong with me. Can get a little buggy if you have a lot of game load. Will absolutely let you sell stolen goods (tsk tsk).

Inconsequential NPCs - Adds a bunch of NPCs that are meant to be background, so that cities feel a little more lively and things feel a little more real. This includes non-Thieves guild fences, urchins, tavern patrons, a town crier in Solitude, skooma addicts, and more. Also gives some people family members, adds voiced 'scenes' to Jarl courts, and more. Also, these people will shop at your stall if you install the above mod.

Populated Cities - Does the same as the above, except that the NPCs are random, and no extras are added. Likewise will work perfectly with the Market Stall mod, which really should have at least one mod adding more NPCs to cities to really let you enjoy it. A caveat; running this with Inconsequential NPCs may end up being too much for your computer in taverns, as both mods will send their NPCs there when it gets dark. I was experiencing crashes for a while because the Bannered Mare was just too full of STUFF, but I solved this by switching from Realistic Lighting Overhaul to ELFX (mentioned above) which performs better and which I prefer. I also merged Populated cities into Inconsequential NPCs -- I don't know if this contributed to the crash prevention or not, but it did solve my issue.

Radiant and Unique Potions and Poisons - I use this with the booze addon, and I also merged it with Silly Level of Detail - Potions and Poisons, because I couldn't choose and decided to use a little of both. Both mods are really great and highly recommended for making potions just look awesome.

101BugsHD - So there are bugs in this game, and they're pretty awesome. This adds a whole lot more variety to them, especially the butterflies, with their own alchemy effects and everything. I use the lower res version because the high res seemed unnecessary and I was watching my VRAM.

Skyrim Coin Replacer - It doesn't actually make much sense that Septims show up as loot in old Nordic tombs, does it? This adds two more coins to the game (which can be sold OR melted down for their metal), that show up in Nordic ruins or Dwarven ruins, respectively, where the original Skyrim money would have shown up instead. I find that it often takes into account skeletons of adventurers as well, which will contain Septims rather than the new coins (usually). Very small but very nice change, pun intended.

Localized Guild Jobs - The Radiant quests in the Thieves Guild are kind've annoying in that they send you to entirely random locations. Why is this annoying? Well, if you're like me, you never really realized your first time through that they're tied to actually improving the guild itself; do enough quests in one city, and you get a special mission for that city as /well/ as a new merchant in the guild. There's also a reward for doing all of the special missions. But in vanilla, the only way to choose which city you want to do the quests in is to constantly go through the dialogue, get the quest, go back into dialogue and abandon it, then repeat until you get the location you want. This lets you straight up ask for a quest in a specific location.

No NPC Greetings - This name is somewhat misleading; I use the Reduced version. Basically all this does is make it so that the NPCs practically have to be on top of you to say things to you, rather than shouting at you about the Cloud District from across town. I find this has a very nice effect; it reduces the annoyance of hearing the same thing constantly every time you get remotely near an NPC, but it also makes it feel more like you're walking through an actual city, rather than a quest hub; the NPCs have things to do that are more important than talking to you; coupled with Guard Dialogue Overhaul (another one I'd put on here, but Haz already mentioned it), it results in far less annoyance and far more atmosphere.

Skyrim Performance PLUS - Hey, a mod that will /reduce/ your lag. See, there are these little particles in various areas that flutter around. Pine needles, seeds, leaves. They're really neat. But they're also really laggy on lower end machines (or higher end, if you, like me, have a lot of texture mods). This mod reduces the size of those textures. While there's a quality loss that's obvious in the screenshots, I honestly have not noticed it in-game--these things are small and go by your screen rather fast, so you aren't going to be scrutinizing them for any length.

Automatic Variants - I love this thing. Love it. It allows you to use multiple textures for creatures and animals at the same time. What does that mean? It means that when an animal or creature is spawned, and you have textures for them that have been set up in a package for AV, it will pick randomly from those textures, rather than simply have the same texture on the same creature type all the time. It also allows you to pick and choose which textures you want it to pick from, so if a package has textures you don't like (one of mine has a pink Skeever, for some reason) you can tell it not to use that one. Using this means my wolves have different fur varieties other than the three set out by vanilla, my foxes may be red, black, white, or a silver phase, my trolls can look slightly different from each other, and so on. This does make the game load more textures than it usually would, however, so you may want to avoid using the high res versions of said textures, and it may be too much for low end machines. But if you can run it, do, it's fantastic.