Skyrim: Simple Baseline Gameplay Mod Suite
For PC Legendary Edition (LE)
To set a universal consistent mod list that I can recommend to readers of my builds, as well as to current and prospective builders moving forward — a list designed for a more diverse and engaging gameplay experience. To do so in a manner that is streamlined, easy to follow, and highly compatible.
These ten mods are strongly recommended, as they work well together and vastly improve the potential builds and synergies across all play styles. Install in the order listed below, and refer to my comments and screenshots for recommended options and settings as applicable. Please also download and install SKSE for LE, as well as SkyUI for access to the Mod Configuration Menu (MCM).
- Ultimate Combat: My recommended combat overhaul, as I prefer its approach over the other big combat overhauls. Where others add wounds, fatigue, stunted health, etc., Ultimate Combat makes combat more dynamic and complex without bogging you down in tedious micromanagement. Suggested tweaks: Disable Timed Block: Ordinator’s timed block perks are better balanced and more interesting. Disable Swing Effect: personal preference, but I find it a bit campy and distracting.
- Sacrosanct - Vampires of Skyrim: The vampire overhaul I recommend because it is balanced, well documented compatible, actively maintained, and available on both LE and SE. Includes new perks, powers, abilities, and mechanics that dramatically alter vampirism in both human form and vampire lord form. Recommended version 403; you only need the one file in old versions (or if you choose, the main file v5.10).
- Note: Alternate Start users should not pick the vampire start, as it will fail to trigger the Sacrosanct vampirism properly. Sacrosanct adds a Potion of Embracing that you can use to gain vampirism on a new character if you desire.
- Summermyst - Enchantments of Skyrim: This enchantment expansion adds 104 new enchantments (55 armor enchantments, 49 weapon enchantments) that are fully and seamlessly integrated into the game, and further fixes many prominent bugs with vanilla enchantments. Current version 3.05 as of this guide; you only need the main file.
- Andromeda - Standing Stones of Skyrim: Replaces and enhances all standing stones to be more interesting and balanced, including a passive ability and an active ability for each. Download the main file, currently v1.02.
- Imperious - Races of Skyrim: Adds new passives, abilities, and baseline stats to the player and NPCs, allowing for much more interesting build possibilities and distinct play styles by race. Download one of the main files only (I suggest the most recent, currently v7.24).
- Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim: This spell pack adds 155 spells (31 per school) plus scrolls and staves. Balanced around vanilla magic power. Highly compatible and light on scripting. Current version 9.45 as of this guide. Download the main file, as well as optional file “Ordinator compatibility patch”. Make sure the patch plugin loads after both Apocalypse and Ordinator (it should do so automatically if you sort with LOOT).
- Ordinator - Perks of Skyrim: A comprehensive perk overhaul that allows for much more diverse and specialized builds. Has comprehensive details and compatibility notes on the Nexus page which I strongly recommend reading. Download the main file (currently v9.26) and optional file “Thief Skills Rebalance” file.
- Note: I do not recommend the optional extra perk points.
- Dual Wield Parrying Reimplementation: My recommended dual wield parry mod. I find it is more natively compatible, stable, and customizable than the other prominent options for LE.
- Moonlight Tales Special Edition: My recommended werewolf overhaul. This is the most recent version of the premier werewolf overhaul for Skyrim, and is available for both LE and SE in the same updated form. Adds new perks, abilities, howls, gear, visuals, lunar transformations, and more. Download the main file only (current version 1.35).
- Mortal Enemies - De-aimbot Your Foes: This mod comprehensively retools the “aimbot” damage cone for pretty much every enemy. For human characters, it is even tweaked based on weapon type. A power attack with a warhammer is a full commitment, whereas a quick jab with a dagger leaves some room for adjustment mid-swing. This is essential to allow for dodging and adding some weight to combat. Download main file v1.4 (just the first file on the list).
These mods are not required; however, they synergize well with the core mods, allowing for more combat to be even more dynamic, engaging, and fine-tuned to your desired challenge level. Please take the responsibility of researching compatibility for these mods yourself; several of them may require some knowledge to use together, with the core mods, and/or with other popular mods. For this reason, I will not provide direct links for these. I will give a few pointers below, but I expect you to take an active role in reading the descriptions and understanding conflict resolution if you want to use these.
- SkyTweak: This mod allows you to customize virtually every game setting, actor value, and variable in Skyrim to customize your game to your liking. Examples include jump height, weapon reach, time scale, field of view, merchant gold, sale price scaling, experience rate by skill, damage taken/received, armor rating inputs, and many more options. It also comes with some very useful tweaks such as better crit scaling, bleed damage scaling, customizable trap damage, shout scaling based on held dragon souls, and more. It even comes with some optional scripts for timed block, death alternative, and more, though I do not recommend activated those; let Ordinator’s timed block perks be your option there. It can be manually ported to SE quite easily as well and retains *nearly* all functionality. A few settings I like:
- Weapon reach: 1.20 (I suggest staying in the range of 1.10-1.25)
- Bash reach: 1.08 (I suggest staying in the range of 1.05-1.15)
- Damage taken: 1.60 (I suggest staying in the range of 1.30-1.70)
- Damage dealt: 1.40 (I suggest staying in the range of 1.30-1.70)
- Timescale: 15
- Fast Travel Mult: 4.25
- Trap Damage: 500%
- Jump Height: 85
- Dual Cast Cost & Damage: 2.50
- NPC Magic Cost: 1.0
- Lesser Power Cooldown Time: 0.2 seconds
- NPCs Use Ammo
- NPC Dodge Chance: 0.1
- Crit Scaling
- Bleed Scaling
- Shout Scaling (I like 2.0%, but YMMV)
- ASIS: This is a SkyProc patcher that has several core features: Increased spawns (customized to your personal preference out of limitless options), ability for NPCs to properly use potions, enchantments, and perks (including from the core mods above), and more. You can choose which features you want with the patcher. If you use ASIS, I highly recommend grabbing the separate mod ASIS Improved INI Files. Let the Improved INIs overwrite the default INIs in your mod management tool.
- Weapon Parry Standalone: A very simple mod that adds just one more dimension to combat. If you and an enemy attack at the same time, the blows will cancel, both targets will take damage equal to what they would have taken if blocking.
- Note: Make sure you load this early (before Ordinator) as it contains an outdated version of the Brawl Bug fix which is superseded by the version packaged with Ordinator.
- DSer Animations / Dual Wield Improved Animation / Blocking Animation Pack: My favorite combat animations for LE. Make sure these overwrite any other animation mods you may be using, such as Immersive Animations, Enhanced Animations, Realistic Animation Project, etc. (I recommend Realistic Animation Project as a baseline for movements and idles, for the record.)
- TK Dodge: The definitive dodge mod for LE (also newly available for SE). Very responsive, customizable, and well documented. If you use this, I recommend setting the invincibility window (i-frames) to 0.0, as Mortal Enemies allows you to actually dodge rather than just simulating it.
- VioLens - A Killmove Mod: The best kill move mod around, to my knowledge. This mod adds new kill cams and allows you to customize when and how they are triggered. I particularly recommend the option for disabling enemy kill moves to the player (SkyTweak has an option for this as well, if you do not want to use VioLens).
- Loot & Degradation: This mod adds a mechanic whereby tempered gear gradually decreases in temper level through use in combat, and needs to be retempered to be kept in optimal shape. There is an option for gear to have a chance to break if it is untempered, though personally I do not recommend this. The mod also includes the ability to find tempered loot in the wild, and to pay smiths to temper your gear for you. This mod is highly configurable to suit your own preferences.
- Armor Rating Rescaled: A small but very impressive SKSE plugin that retools the AR formula to be more linear. In vanilla, going from 500 to 550 AR is much more meaningful than going from 100 to 150. This mod fixes that and makes them roughly equivalent.
- Ultimate Dragons: By the author of Ultimate Combat, this dragon overhaul makes dragons more powerful and grants new attacks, without adding the tedious mechanics that several other popular dragon overhauls use.
- Thunderchild - Epic Shouts and Immersion: A Shout expansion by Enai Siaion, author of many of the core mods (Ordinator, Imperious, Summermyst, Apocalypse, Aurora, and Sacrosanct). I opted not to include this in the core as I feel it is not as well balanced as the author’s other mods (adds several shouts I feel are overpowered, and new abilities that further strengthen the Thu’um). However, this opens up many new avenues for making a Dragonborn/Graybeard playthrough more interesting, powerful, and structured.
Thank you for reading! Let me know what mods you think are essential for the best gameplay and character building experience!