Thousands of mods exist in the wilderness, waiting to be used and enjoyed. The only problem is that many people do not have the time nor willpower to go through page after page of mods to find what is worth their time and what isn't. This post, and thread, has a goal of making mods easy to find for both newcomers and veterans to the modding scene.
This post is divided into sixteen main categories: Helpful Links, Tweaks, & Guides, Atmosphere, Followers, Gameplay, Sounds & Music, Houses, Items, Misc, Modder Resources, Quests, Towns & Villages, User Interface, Visuals, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, and dj_2004's Recommended Mods. By clicking the spoiler button for each category, an easy to read list of mods will display. This was the best way to make the list less daunting and more user friendly.
"*Notes" are designed to provide helpful tips for certain mods or mod categories.
The previous rendition of this thread can be found here: Previous Thread.
If you have a mod you think should be added to the OP, then please post it in this thread and I will add it in when I have time. To make things easier, please provide the name of the mod, a brief description, and its corresponding link. Thanks in advance to any contributors!
Finally, if you run into any problems with mods, don't hesitate to post asking for help.
- First and foremost, a few important things to keep in mind before installing mods (the following applies to esp, esm, and script mods)
1. Unlike Oblivion and Fallout 3, Skyrim saves new scripts created by mods into the saved game rather than the esp. This means you cannot install a bunch of script adding mods, play a bit, save, decide to uninstall 90% of them, and then continue to play happily with that same saved game. In some cases you may be fine but other times instability and other weird issues can occur.
2. Mods created with tools other than the Creation Kit (CK), such as TESVSnip, can cause problems in terms of stability and other problems. While this is debatable, I highly suggest not using esp files made prior to when the CK was released (Feb. 2012) and then never updated since then, as these mods were made using such tools and may contain outdated and problematic data.
3. Adding many esp/script mods at once is usually not the best idea. Add a few mods, test stability, then add some more.
4. And, most of all, read the readme files and description pages of the mods you're thinking about installing!
Due to how Skyrim saves scripts into the player's saved game file, as well as how finicky the game is, I suggest waiting a few days until updating a mod that you are using to a new version. After waiting for a few days, look at what the user comments discuss, specifically if several people mention bugs (CTD, skating monsters, etc.). It is not uncommon for bugs to become bundled with an updated mod version and by waiting a few days you should have enough information to adequately judge whether the update is "safe" or not. And sometimes, due to the way Skyrim handles certain mods, it may be best to simply keep using the old version of the mod until you are starting a new character.
- Skyrim Nexus
The central resource for Skyrim modifications. A Premium account is not required to use the site but it does help keep Nexus going and also includes benefits like faster download speeds and no ads.
- TES Alliance
Another very good site to obtain mods and mod related information from. Their forums contain some excellent CK tutorials.
- UESP Skyrim Wiki
- Skyrim Wikia
- Official Modding Forum
- Console Commands
This is a comprehensive list of in game console commands.
Some common commands are: TCL (allows the player to have no collision and be able to fly; type TCL to go back to normal), TGM (toggles god mode on/off), player.additem <item code and amount here> (adds that particular item to the player's inventory), and help <word here> (brings up all relevant item codes for that word). You can use the Page Up and Page Down buttons on your keyboard to navigate up/down the console dialog.
- Skyrim Mod Manager
This software allows for easy management of multiple mods, and is tightly integrated into the Skyrim Nexus site. Mods can be installed, enabled, and disabled all from within the app. Highly recommended for users who plan to run a multitude of mods simultaneously. Can be used in conjunction with Wrye Bash.
- Wrye Bash
Arguably the best mod manager for Skyrim. While it is complex, causing the user to spend some time reading the readme, it handles much more than Nexus Mod Manager does and is sometimes required to create Bashed Patches for mods, which ensure compatibility between certain mods that cannot otherwise be granted. Can be used in conjunction with Nexus Mod Manager.
This nifty program cleans mods, including official DLC and Update.esm files. It is highly suggested to at least clean Update.esm and any official DLC you are using. Do not attempt to clean Skyrim.esm.
Cleaning Guide: http://www.creationkit.com/TES5Edit_Mod_Cleaning_Tutorial
Helpful Thread: http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1418434-relz-tes5edit-plugin-cleaning-emporium/
- Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE)
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. I highly suggest installing SKSE unless you are 100% certain none of the mods you are using require SKSE.
A "one-click" program for users that quickly optimises and avoids detrimental conflicts in their TES IV: Oblivion, Nehrim - At Fate's Edge, TES V: Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas mod load orders. Basically, it orders your mods in the best possible load order (in most cases).
- STEP - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project
STEP is an extensive, step-by-step and monthly updated guide to enhancing TESV Skyrim with the actual best mods, tweaks and settings; the focus is quality, not quantity. You can use this guide as a template and then work around personal choices of your own, or stick with the basic recommendations for maximum stability / game balance.
- Skyrim GEMS
Skyrim GEMS is a 1-page, quick-reference catalog of lore-friendly Gameplay Enhancement Mods for Skyrim with a focus on mods that create a more realistic, immersive and challenging experience.
- Quick Wrye Bash 'Bashed Patch' Creation Guide:
The bashed patch function that Wrye Bash offers allows greater compatibility between certain mods, which can help with stability too. Instead of one mod winning out (due to being loaded last) over another mod (thus, causing the player to only see the winner's changes) a bashed patch forces these mods to work together so the player will be able to see the changes made by both mods. Here is a basic guide on how to create and maintain a bashed patch:
1. First thing is to have an optimal load order. BOSS will do this for you and does its job quite well so run BOSS and then proceed to launch Wrye Bash.
2. Launching the program you may get a similar error as shown in the image below:
Just hit the Ok button and you will be shown a list of esm and esp plugins that you have installed. This is basically the same thing as what NMM shows.
3. Time to make the bashed patch:
Right click on the white space at the bottom of the list and click on the New Bashed Patch button as shown in the image.
4. Here it is after creation:
5. Now you'll need to get to the menu where you add stuff to the patch:
Click on Rebuild Patch and it will bring you to the next step.
6. This shows what the bashed patch will do:
As stated in the first image, you can skip that area if it is blank. It is for merging esp files into the bashed patch. The second image shows the area that is crucial. There, everything should be automatic so all you should need to do is click the Build Patch button.
7. Once it builds the patch (it does it quickly), you will get a pop up looking like this:
Click Ok and now your patch is built and you are all done. When adding new mods that are tagged with Relev/Delev, you will need to rebuild the patch so the new mods get added to it. Same process as shown except you likely will not need to delete the old patch and make a new one, but, instead, just rebuild the existing patch. You need only one bashed patch so don't make more unless you delete the old one first.
The bashed patch should always be loaded last (BOSS will automatically put it in its proper place for you) but there are some exceptions.
When removing mods, remove them like usual but then rebuild your bashed patch and confirm that the removed mods are indeed gone from the Leveled Lists area in the patch (step 6). If they aren't, then delete your existing patch and do the steps in the guide again to make a new one.
With Skyrim, mods that can bashed are pre-tagged with Relev and/or Delev. This is good as, for the most part, you will not need to manually add/remove tags.
- Quick Wrye Bash Mod Package Creation Guide:
*Note: This is a quick and dirty way to convert mods into a format that Wrye Bash can install as packages. The benefit in doing so is that 1. you will be able to quickly uninstall certain mods rather than manually deleting each file or having to use Nexus Mod Manager, and 2. Wrye Bash has a unique Installer load order management function that is separate from the regular esp/esm load order. More details on this in step 8.
1. Install Wrye Bash.
2. Manually download a mod that you want.
3. Copy the packaged mod file to \Skyrim Mods\Bash Installers. The location of this directory depends where you installed Wrye Bash.
4. Launch Wrye Bash and click on the Installers tab. It may take a little while to load up the mods in this tab.
5. The new mod should have a red box to the left of its name. This means it is not installed. Yellow means some of its files are already present in your Data directory, and green means the mod is fully installed.
6. Right click on the mod's name and a menu should pop up. Click on Install. Note: if the mod has multiple esp versions or and esp/esm combo, then you can select which to install in the Esp/m Filter box to the right. The box next to the mod will now be green.
7. You have now successfully installed the mod and it will be present in your Data directory and Mods tab (assuming it contained an esm/esp else it will just be present in your Data directory).
8. Install orders are assigned to all mod packages under the Installers tab. Ones higher up are loaded later and, thus, will overwrite any conflicting files from a lower package. Not only that, but when a package is uninstalled (right click on the mod package's name and click Uninstall) it automatically goes through an annealing process. This process will automatically reinstall files from lower level packages that were previously obscured.
- Quick ENB Installation Guide:
*Note: If using the d3d9 version of ENB (rather than the Injector version) then make a backup copy of your original Skyrim's d3d9 file if one is present. It is located in your Skyrim directory.
*Note #2: The Injector version of ENB works fine with certain programs, such as Afterburner. The d3d9 version of ENB may not (Skyrim, when launched, automatically shuts itself off).
*Note #3: This quick guide is relevant when you aren't looking to tweak any ENB settings of the preset you install and the preset only contains ENB files. Some presets tack on other mods, such as FXAA injector and esp files.
1. Install ENB from its site: http://enbdev.com/download_mod_tesskyrim.htm. This link is also in the Visual section.
2. Copy over these ENB files to your Skyrim directory.
3. Find a preset you like and manually download it.
4. Copy over the files in the preset to your Skyrim directory and overwrite when asked.
- Detailed Analysis of the Official DLC High Resolution Texture Pack
Contains information on how much the DLC really covers.
- To Turn Off Bethesda Intro Video
This is how to get rid of the Bethesda intro video that shows up each time you launch Skyrim:
Navigate to the Skyrim>Data>Video directory and delete the file "BGS_Logo.bik".
Add sIntroSequence=0 under [General] in Skyrim.ini.
- Ini Tweaks
*Note: Some of these ini tweaks may cause performance loss and/or instability. I will usually inform you which cause instability.
An extensive ini tweaking guide. It is a bit outdated in some areas so keep that in mind ([H] blocks "ge force" so remove the @ between "ge" and "force" in the link):
- To force the game to automatically display a certain FOV:
*Note: Too high of a first person FOV can cause you to see into your arms since Bethesda only includes a small portion of the player's arms in first person view.
fDefaultFOV=90 (or whatever you want the FOV to be)
fDefaultWorldFOV=90 (or whatever you want the FOV to be)
fDefault1stPersonFOV=90 (or whatever you want the FOV to be)
Once those values are entered and the ini's are saved, load your saved game (or start a new game), open the console command window (tilde key) and enter "FOV 90" without the quotations. Then save your game. This will give you a FOV of 90 that should stay permanent until you change the values.
- Skyrim.ini Tweaks:
To remove third person killmoves, and consequently the slow-mo cam during killmoves. This will force the game to only use first person killmoves:
To turn the invisible world borders off:
To allow screenshots to be taken in game with the Prt Sc button:
To increase view distance (increasing uGridsToLoad):
*Note: Once the change is made and you save your game with the change, you cannot lower your uGridsToLoad value and then load up that saved game like you could in Oblivion, as it will crash. However, after loading your saved game, you can open the console and enter the following:
$ setini "ugridstoload:general" 5
*Note #2: Increasing ugridstoload can cause instability.
Under the [General] section, change uGridsToLoad=5 to uGridsToLoad=7, 9, or 11. 9 and 11 are very unstable.
Under this same section, change uExterior Cell Buffer=36 to uExterior Cell Buffer=64 (for uGridsToLoad=7). For 9 and 11 use 100 and 144, respectively.
To decrease the map icon hit box size, add this to the end of your Skyrim.ini:
Cells have memory/reference limits. When an interior cell goes over this limit, it can cause the player to CTD when transitioning from this cell. For example (assuming I understand things correctly): Your house's cell is over this limit. You enter the house and everything is fine; however, if you now decide to exit your house Skyrim may crash. To fix this, add this line under the [General] category:
*Note: I have yet to witness any downside to adding this line so even if you haven't experience this particular CTD it is likely still a good idea to add the tweak.
To Enable Papyrus logging:
I suggest doing this after you install all your mods so you can see if there are any mods causing extreme script logging. Logs are saved to the C:\Users\<USER>\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\Logs\Script directory.
- SkyrimPrefs.ini Tweaks:
To make mid-distant trees look much fuller like the ones a couple feet away from your player:
This will make your game look quite a bit better by giving tree leaves/needles and some other objects shadows:
- Wet and Cold
Dynamic wet and cold related effects. All features related to the visual effects apply to all actors unless otherwise stated.
- Splash of Rain
Provides splash visuals when rain drops hit the ground.
- Shooting Stars
Adds shooting stars in the sky.
Adds rainbows that occasionally show up.
- Transportato: Real Time Ships
As you travel along the coast, occasionally you will see ships sailing along from port to port, trading their wares and waring their trades.
- Transportato: Real Time Trains
In the high mountains, you will see the occasional glimpse and the fornlorn whistle of a dwemer train, its masters long dead but its cargo still fresh and ready to be shipped.
- Animated Dwemer Lift Load Doors
This mod adds a brief animation to the Dwemer Lift Load Doors found all over Skyrim.
- Lanterns of Skyrim - All In One
This is a compilation of the author's previous lantern-placing mods: it contains the "Bridges", "Around Cities" and "Villages" version of "Lanterns of Skyrim" merged in to one. Also it adds other lanterns in most settlements and most main roads.
- Unique Region Names
Instead of seeing "Skyrim" when exiting a dungeon, you will see the hold's name.
- Sincar Barrens- A resting place mod
This mod adds a wide selection of resting areas to Skyrim.
- Smoking Torches
Adds a visual smoke effect to torches used by the player and the NPCs as well as the wall-mounted torches.
This mod adds a few cliffracers to the area near the Morrowind border. You can shoot them down just like hawks, they will fall to the ground and you can collect a food item (cliffracer tail) from them. It also adds a recipe for 'Cliffracer Stew', which will increase your stamina regeneration by 50% for 360 seconds. This mod also includes custom sounds for the cliffracers so they "call out" as they fly overhead.
*Note: These act just like hawks so they aren't enemies and don't have truly dynamic flight paths. Included in Skyrim Immersive Creatures.
- Guard Dialogue Overhaul
This mod alters the way Skyrim Guards speak to your character, enhancing the experience of the game so that guards won’t make such inappropriate comments that break your immersion in the world of Skyrim.
- Dovahkiin Relaxes Too
- skyBirds - Airborne Perching Birds
Adds flying (yes, flying!) birds that are highly interactive with the world and also include new ingredients when looted.
- Birds of skyrim
I hate birds, but you may not. This mod adds many more bird types to the world.
- Pets of Skyrim
This mod adds 16 cats, 11 dogs, 3 rabbits, and one wolf to the world of skyrim. The cats comes in 10 colours. The dogs comes in 4 different colours, and several sizes.
- Tamriel Compendium
Tamriel Compendium adds 176 books that were present in past Elder Scrolls games but not included in Skyrim. They randomly appear in dungeons, homes or any locations where books are spawned.
- The Calendars Shrines
This mod adds 12 shrines all around Skyrim that, when all are activated, grant you a blessing that lasts 12 hours.
- Secluded Cottage
Adds a unique cottage that belongs to an alchemist merchant named Birane Merian. If you decide to kill Birane then ownership of the cottage will pass to you.
- Autumn Cabin
Adds a unique log cabin that belongs to an alchemist and his wife, who happens to be a blacksmith. If you decide to kill them then ownership of the cabin will pass to you.
Adds footprints to the player, NPCs, and creatures.
- Player Headtracking
This mod enables headtracking for the player.
- Touring Carriages
Ride those carriages in real-time rather than them being another method of fast travel. You can skip to the destination at any point of the ride, change speed, travel to holds and villages, and more. Unlike most carriage mods, Touring Carriages is supposed to be safe to install and uninstall at any time.
*Note: Not compatible with some other mods that modify transport carriages.
- Vilja in Skyrim
With multiple quest lines, unique abilities and around 4000 lines of voiced dialog, Vilja should keep you entertained for many, many game-hours to come.
- Companion Valfar
Valfar is a highly customized follower mod. A great warrior, lover of mead and hater of elves! Do you fancy the Stormcloaks over those sissy Imperials? Then look no further my friend, for you have found the ultimate Stormcloak follower!
Hoth is an old bounty hunting adventurer, and a brutal companion to travel with. You see... Hoth has a unique hobby - he wears his most prized kills. He has collected on some of the highest bounties for monsters and men alike in his days wandering the frigid northlands of Skyrim - and he means to show off his work.
A fully voiced adventuring companion with a few thousand lines of unique dialogue.
- BFF Animal Companions
BFF Animal Companions adds two unique followers to Skyrim: a dog and a fox. Each animal features unique character traits and requirements to unlock additional bonuses. Adopt one or both animals to follow you through your journey in Skyrim. BFF uses its own dialog for communicating with the animals, including the option to customize your animal personality and behaviors.
- Amazing Follower Tweaks
An extensive follower overhaul mod that allows the player to manage multiple followers, outfits, spells, combat style, home assignment, level up, and more.
- UFO - Ultimate Follower Overhaul
UFO is a set of tools and enhancements to the followers system that will allow for better control and usability of followers.
- Audio Overhaul for Skyrim
AOS is an extensive sound overhaul aiming to make the soundscape more immersive, clear, responsive, impactful and ultimately fun, while always aiming for maximum compatibility, performance and coherency with the main game.
- Sounds of Skyrim - The Dungeons
Includes 115+ sound effects to add life to the dungeons.
- Sounds of Skyrim - Civilization
Adds 223 new sound effects to cities, villages, farms and remote locations where civilization is present.
- Sounds of Skyrim - The Wilds
With the 115 new sound effects, the purpose of The Wilds is to audibly enlarge Skyrim's fauna with the addition of various animals, birds and insects that play according to weather, time of day and region.
- Fantasy Soundtrack Project
Fantasy Soundtrack Project provides 170+ music tracks (8+ hours) of new music.
- Delarics Conditional Combat Music
It makes combat music only play when you are fighting certain enemies.
- Heart of the Beast - Werewolf Sound and Texture Overhaul
A sound and texture replacement for werewolves that makes them more fearsome.
Jukeboxes and radio can be bought and found throughout Skyrim. Once found, it acts as a music player.
- Muffle Bears
Tired of obnoxious bears? Now you can quiet them down to sound levels that they should've been at from the beginning.