Easily the best thing about Skyrim, and the one thing keeping us playing years after its release, is immersion. And one of the greatest benefits of mods is being able to go beyond the limits of the vanilla game, and create a vastly more immersive world. So for those of you new to modding, here is a quick list of some of the mods I use to do just that.
These mods have an overall low impact on performance, so even if you're using a potato like me you should be able to run these just fine. Without further delay, here is my list broken down into categories.
Its no secret that Skyrim feel a bit lacking in detail. This flaw is most apparent within the major cities, where its clear the cities don't live up to what is established in lore. Gone are the many cities and forts of TES: Arena, and many holds and settlements lack a distinctive feel to them. If you've ever felt that "been there, done that" feeling while traveling through Skyrim, these mods will make exploring exploring fun again.
- Legendary Cities - TES Arena - First up is a treat for old school TES Arena fans. Lore buffs and Arena fans alike will no doubt notice the number of prominent cities and forts missing from the world of Skyrim. Legendary Cities remedies this issue by faithfully recreating these cities, while also taking historical events of the previous eras into a account. All of these newly re-added cities are radiant quest enabled and are perfectly compatible with any other city overhaul mod you may have.
- JK's Skyrim - A lore-friendly and script-free overhaul of the cities and towns of Skyrim. Jk's Skyrim changes and expands the main vanilla cities of Skyrim, giving each city its own distinctive feel. This mod is the perfect companion piece to Legendary Cities. Both mods together will make the game feel new again. Don't be surprised if you find yourself stopping to take in all the new sites. For those of you who only wish to modify some but not all the holds, there is a stand alone version for each individual hold available on the Nexus.
- Holds the City Overhaul - This city overhaul mod goes a step beyond even JK's Skyrim and rebuilds many of the major holds from scratch. Each hold now has a distinct yet lore friendly new appearance. The mod also expands upon the cities of Skyrim and adds more settlements, architecture, outfits, books and named characters with their own backgrounds, homes and daily routines while ensuring they feel natural and realistic. Currently this mod is not compatible with JK's Skyrim, but the author has confirmed he is working on a compatibility patch.
- Expanded Towns and Cities - ETaC makes many aesthetic changes to every city while also greatly expanding them. Each hold and city has been redone with new houses, shops, and NPCs. The mod goes as far as making small improvements to the AI of all NPCs within the cities. The mod is not inherently compatible with JK's Skyrim, but the author has made compatibility patches for every major city overhaul mod, so you wont have to choose between this city overhaul and another. The mod also comes in a modular version, so you can pick and choose which cities you want overhauled by ETaC.
- Skyrim Sewers - Sewer systems have always been a prominent part of previous TES titles, so its natural to be disappointed that the Ratway in Riften is all we get to explore. This mod adds traversible sewer systems underneath the four major holds (Windhelm, Solitude, Markarth, and Whiterun) complete with multiple exits to each city's exterior. Each sewer system is unique in its appearance and some come with minor quests and hidden secrets to discover. This mod provides a great role play device for rogues looking for alternate entrances into the major cities.
- Solitude Dock District - Its no secret Skyrim's docks are a bit of a disappointment. What is supposed to be the bustling heart of Imperial trade in Skyrim, is nothing more than a sparsely populated dock with all of 2 ships present. This mod greatly expands the dock area of Solitude with more ships, shops, docks, and NPCs.
- Raven Rock Expanded - For those of you who feel Raven Rock is a bit bare, you may find this mod to your liking. This is an expansion to Raven Rock, making it closer to town rather than settlement. It adds well fitting Buildings and NPCs with unique schedules and AI, Morrowind style Banners, Ashlander camp, Travelers visiting etc. It pairs very well with the mod 'Populated Solsthiem' which is linked below under the list of population mods.
Vanilla Skyrim has a population so small, one is left wondering how its holds manage not to be overrun by the considerably larger number of bandits in the wilderness. Each hold feels almost like a ghost town but these mods aim to fix just that, and when combined the holds will actually look and feel vibrant and populated.
- Populated Cities - Populated Cities spawns up to 10 extra NPCs in larger holds and up to 5 in the smaller holds and villages. These NPCs will walk around and interact with various objects and locations. They can be anything from nobles, commoners, farmers, and even adventurers and mercenaries. They're also randomized so you'll never encounter the same NPCs twice.
- Inconsequential NPCs - 'Inconsequential NPCs' aims to add more NPCs to Skyrim in un-intrusive ways that allow them to blend immersively into the social fabric of the land. They are all 'unique' and are intended to fill 'gaps' in the the various social environments of Skyrim. Just as lighting mods aim to subtly enhance the 'visual ambiance' of the game, 'Inconsequential NPCs' aims to enhance the 'social ambiance'.
- Randomly Generated NPCs - This mod adds 236 generic townspeople and sets them to spawn randomly in certain places throughout the cities of Skyrim to add to the atmosphere of a bustling urban area. They will walk around and interact with their surroundings, and are grouped by class, so lower-class people will be more likely to spawn in poorer areas of the city and nobles will appear more often near the castles. In addition, Windhelm has its own lists to ensure that Dunmer will only spawn in the Grey District and that Argonians will not spawn at all.
- Populated Solsthiem - It's said the Nords relinquished Raven Rock because of the large masses of Dark Elves that migrated there. Yet, in the vanilla game it hardly looks like more than a dozen Dark Elves took up the offer. With this mod over 20 new NPC's are added to Raven Rock and other isolated areas of Solsthiem. These NPCs are all inconsequential and made to provide immersive filler to the virtual ghost town we're presented with in the vanilla game.
- Populated Lands, Roads & Pathways - Skyrim is a dull place when you're literally the only person traversing its many roads. This mod aims to fix that by adding a plethora of new NPC's to traverse the roads. You'll encounter adventurers, merchants, pilgrims, soldiers, and even less than savory characters like bandits, thugs and cutthroats.
Isnt it strange how little fighting actually goes on in a province locked in a bloody civil war? One can go from one end of Skyrim to the other and never encounter even a minor skirmish. You wont even see the aftermath of any battles in your travels. Nope, just pristine fields from one end to the other. Its as if the civil war exists only as a distant after thought. Here are some mods that aim to bring a much needed sense of realism to the the civil war.
- Civil War Overhaul - I personally havent used this mod only because I rarely do the civil war quest line. But 20k+ endorsements on the Nexus couldnt possibly be wrong, right? The Civil War Overhaul completely revamps the civil war questline, effectively expanding the size of the quest line by well over 200%. The battles are bigger, the paths and strategies are far more varied, and best of all your hand is no longer being held. That's right. With this overhaul it is now very possible to lose battles and ultimately lose the civil war. Best prepare yourself for a challenge, because this overhaul takes what used to be a cake walk and makes it a grueling challenge.
- Immersive Patrols - This mod adds fully functional, scheduled patrols of almost every major faction across all DLCs, including Stormcloaks, Thalmor, Imperials, Dawnguard, Travelers, Merchants, Bandits, Skaal, Redoran, Reavers and Rieklings without cluttering the world. Rival factions will fight each other to the death if they encounter each other, and those battles can be potentially massive.
- The Honored Dead - This mod adds many encounters and reminders that you are in a province plagued by war. While you are traveling you will encounter many reminders of war and carnage. You will encounter groups of dead men that were fighting for their ideals. The mod adds spots of carnage with lots of clues that tell the story of how these men died. No longer will you be able to go the whole game without even thinking about the civil war.
- Immersive Hold Borders - Its strange how despite the fact there is a war going on, the jarls are content to leave their borders completely unguarded. With Immersive patrols borders are now guarded by each hold's respective guardsmen, complete with fences, guard towers and barricades.
- Skyrim Battle Aftermath - Massive battlefields are now found throughout Skyrim. It's foremost an aesthetic mod, meant to reinforce the grim reality that Skyrim is locked in a bloody civil war. You will be able to see the aftermath of huge battles which occurred in the province not so long ago. Nothing is explained on how these battles unfolded but, if you pay attention to the details, you will be able to deduce how some of the fights ended.
One issue I have with vanilla Skyrim is how detached the player character appears to be from the world he inhabits. For those deeply invested in roleplay and immersion, I have no doubt it bothers them to watch their characters stare blankly ahead while conversing with NPCs. Its just hard to feel like your character blends in with the world when they stare dead ahead like an emotionless killing machine at all times. Here are some of the mods I use to help my character blend in more.
- Player Headtracking - Like I mentioned above, if you're bothered by the utter lack of attention your character pays to people talking directly to him, this mod is you. Player Headtracking causes your character to turn their head to face people talking to him. As your character walks around his head will turn to glance at objects or people of interest. Your character's facial expression will even change depending on the relationship he has with whoever he's facing. You can change various parameters of this mod through SkyUI and even disable it all together at any time.
- Player Voicesets - Tired of the silent protagonist? If your answer is yes this mod is for you. Player Voicesets allows your character to actually speak. No, you wont get spoken dialogue out of your character, but you will hear your character taunt enemies in combat, react to pain and near death, and even express joy when picking up high value items. You can program your character to use a wide variety of voices through the SkyUI. My explanation hardly does this mod justice, so rather than listen to me, watch this video instead
- PC Head Tracking & Voice Type - This mod combines player voice and head tracking functions all in one. You can select from dozens of voice options & head tracking can be set to follow your cursor. I prefer this mod over Player Head Tracking and Player Voice Types. Needless to say this mod cannot be used with those two aforementioned mods.
- Animations - If you're bothered by your character interacting with objects seemingly by telekinesis, you may like this mod. This mod adds scripts to the game that cause your character to go through various animations depending on what object he's interacting with. So when picking a lock, for example, your character will actually bend down and interact with the lock. Doors will no longer be opened as if by magic, but instead your character will actually reach out and push the door open. Again, my explanation sucks to the point where I wonder why even I bother. So watch this video instead.
- Khajiit Speak - For all you Khajoot fans out there, here is a mod that completely overhauls all player dialogue so your khajiit stops sounding like a run of the mill imperial. Khajiit have a particular way of talking. They address themselves as "khajiit" or "this one" and often talk in the third person. This mod aims to allow your khajiit to do just that. This mod comes complete with optional files that will alter player dialogue for all major unofficial expansions and quests.
- Dovahkiin Relaxes Too - This nifty mod gives you greater ability to interact with the world around you. It does so through a simple power that causes your character to assume various idle animations, depending on what your cursor is pointing at. So for example if you'd like to warm your hands by a camp fire, dance and drink the night away at the tavern, or even pray at an altar, now you can. You can easily tailor this mod to your liking via the MCM menu.
- FNIS PCEA2 - Player Character Exclusive Animations - One problem with animation mods is that every NPC is programmed to use the same animations, meaning your character cannot stand out. For those whose role play is predicated on being different (ie: your character has an uncommon style of sword play) this mod is for you. Without having to go through the headache of using a custom race, PCEA2 allows your character to execute animations unique to him/her. It comes with 10 animation mods preloaded, and you can switch between any combination of them in game. Even better, you can load animations from other mods for your character to use exclusively.
The base game leaves so much to be desired in terms of interaction with NPCs, and this typically makes it difficult, if not impossible, to truly step into the role of various archetypes. NPCs themselves act in many immersion breaking ways. One would not expect a farm hand to go head to head agains an elder dragon or master vampire, yet they and other far from qualified citizens will brazenly throw their life away. The mods here are aimed at giving the Speech skill actual uses and reprogramming NPCS to act more realistically.
- Interesting NPC's - This mod really deserves its on discussion just to properly convey how amazing it is. If you've ever felt like most of Skyrim's NPCs and followers are completely 1 dimensional, you NEED this mod in your life. Interesting NPCs is a mod intended to add color and life to Skyrim through three-dimensional characters. Each NPC is integrated into the world, with a backstory and an extensive dialogue tree to explore. Many of these characters are fully voiced by a talented team of over 80 voice actors. The dialogue choices allow you to role-play, providing humor and depth to each conversation. You can be a jerk or a jester, a white knight or an assassin, as the most important character is you. Almost all of the followers added by this mod come with their own unique quests to pursue, and these quests are as memorable as the NPCs you'll encounter.
- Immersive Speechcraft - The intent of Immersive Speechcraft is to add some value to the Speech skill and give the player the ability to interact with NPCs in interesting ways. Based on your character's speech skill, you might be able to convince an NPC to follow you for a bit, barter, help you in combat, or even goad them into fighting with you! So perhaps you're role-playing a beggar and need a few coins. Perhaps you're a highwayman and want to rob travelers. Maybe you're the malevolent type who enjoys manipulating their victims. Or, maybe you'd just like to make small talk. All these things and more can now be accomplished thanks to this mod! The best part about this mod is that it will even work with NPCs added by many other mods such as Populated Cities and even the Randomly Generated Townsfolk mod.
- Immersive Citizens - Greatly improves the AI of all friendly NPCs in order to make them react like normal humans in relation to their environment or to aggressors (including you), thereby greatly increasing immersion. So, for example, ranged NPCs will seek cover and fight from afar rather than mindlessly pursue enemies. And, NPCs who realize they are clearly not a match for their enemy will run, rather than throw their life away. In addition, many previously cut dialogue lines are now available in the game, and many NPC schedules have been overhauled to more closely resemble normal daily schedules, and reflect their relationship to other NPCs. There are so many changes, it would take me an entire separate thread to outline all of them, so be sure to check out the mod's page for additional info. The mod even features a Lite version for those running any incompatible mods. This mod is an absolute must have for immersion nuts, so do yourself a favor and download it.
- Simply Knock - This light-weight, simple mod that allows you to knock on locked doors of houses and businesses. If anyone is home, they will answer the door. You can then flex your speechcraft skills in order to get them to allow you inside. If someone inside is a friend of yours, they will almost always permit you to enter. If you need a quiet place to stay the night, or want to visit someone you know at odd hours, just knock on the door like a normal civilized person. This mod is also very useful for those playing thieves, as it allows you to know whether anyone is inside a locked building before you attempt to break in.
- Face-to-Face Conversations - Reintroduces the zoomed in conversations seen in Oblivion and previous Fallout games. Roleplayers will enjoy this mod because zooming in on an NPC engaging in conversation allows for more intimate focus on that particular character. This mod works for both 1st and 3rd person view.
Despite their flaws, one thing Bethesda is quite good at is creating a superb sense of atmosphere. In my own adventures I often find myself sitting back and watching a sunset or a snow storm. These mods aim to increase your sense of immersion by making climate and weather effects even more epic.
- Climates of Tamriel - This mod is an absolute must have. It is an overhaul of Skyrim's climate, weather, and lighting for both outdoors and indoors. It comes with many installation options, allowing you to set your lighting and climate effects exactly the way you'd like. Perhaps your computer isnt nearly good enough to run those Hi-res graphical overhauls. This mod will make your game a whole lot more beautiful without placing a lot of strain on your system
- True Storms - True Storms improves both the sound and visual magnitude of Skyrim's heavy rain and blizzards. Now you can truly experience the harsh, unforgiving climate of Skyrim like never before. This mod is a must have if you're using survival mods like Frostfall, and iNeed.
- Supreme and Volumetric Fog - This mod tweaks the fog weather patterns by making them more dense and well...volumetric. This mod is perfect for making the various dungeons and locations around Skyrim feel more dramatic.
Playing a survivalist or hunter in Skyrim can be a rich and immersive experience. Unfortunately the vanilla game's limitations hamper one's ability to truly feel like they're truly surviving out in the harsh wilderness. One could commit their character to eating and sleeping regularly, but the experience hardly feels genuine given the fact that none of those things are essential to staying alive. One can go the entire game without so much as a quick water break, and nothing's more immersion breaking than that. These mods aim to insert some much needed survival mechanics into the game.
- Campfire & Frostfall: The former adds a robust camping system to the game. You can make campfires and put down tents anywhere outdoors (illegal to camp in settlements, though). There are also portable tanning racks, enchanting tables, and a mortar and pestle for crafting on the road! Frostfall builds on this by adding hypothermia mechanics to the game. What you wear and how well prepared you are for the extreme cold make the campfires really important. If you run, you just might make it from fort to bandit camp to cave without having to chop firewood, but one bad decision not to gather and carry some wood from where it's safe and warm...
- Hunterborn adds hunting mini-skills for processing game and foraging for things out in the wilderness. There's a large amount of stuff you can craft with the Scrimshaw system, and selling animal meat is a great, immersive way to make money as a lowbie! There are also many semi-hidden (and powerful) features for a really fun hunter-gatherer playthrough.
- Realistic Needs and Diseases is still the king of basic needs mods, in this wizard's humble opinion. Even at a timescale of 6, iNeed is too intrusive on gameplay, the amount of satiation from foods is not intuitive based on their real-life resemblances, and RND has the most amazing drunkenness mechanics. Plus it's very well integrated with Hunterborn. Delicious!
- Diseased - Disease System Overhaul - This mod introduces an overhauled disease system to Skyrim. Before this, diseases were merely minor annoyances that you instantly acquired and instantly got rid of with a potion of cure disease. Now diseases progresses slowly and grow stronger or weaker, depending on several factors. You can learn how to cook home-made medicines (after reading a book on how to do it), craft potions to cure a specific disease (or a poison to cause their effects), get sick eventually when exploring infected places, try a cure by resting or die by leaving a fatal disease unattended.
- Disease Descriptions for the Immersive Adventurer - Normally, in Skyrim, diseases are only described by their mechanical effects, which does little to help explain what the disease is doing to the character's body. This mod introduces detailed descriptions for each and every disease one may contract during their adventures.
Crafting is seen by many as a chore, and rightfully so. When one considers the tedium of Skyrims crafting system, its no wonder no-crafting builds continue to be so popular. Tedium aside crafting lacks a sense of immersion, as anyone whose made 10,000 iron daggers in pursuit of daedric armor could tell you.
Field Alchemy - This mod is for the alchemists out there who would like to practice alchemy at any time during their travels. Now you can create potions and poisons at any time as long as you have your trustworthy mortar and pestle with you. The mortar and pestle can be bought in any apothecary, and the efficacy of concoctions made without the use of a full alchemy lab can be adjusted via the MCM.
Alchemists Have Ingredients - Alchemy shops are seriously under-stocked with ingredients making it next to impossible to actually craft a handful of potions you want. This mod changes the level lists so all ingredients that are normally for sale are always for sale and in much larger quantities depending on which version you use.
Honed Metal - NPC Crafting & Enchanting Services - It has always bugged me to no end that blacksmiths & enchanters are nothing more than glorified vendors. Skyrim is a land of Blacksmiths. The Nords are praised for their legendary crafting skills and yet, for all of this, not a single smith in this game will bother to craft a shoehorn for you. The College mages say enchanting services are among the few things that keep them in touch with the rest of Skyrim, yet they offer you no service. This mod makes these services available and the quality of their work will be based on their crafting skill and not yours.
Harvest Overhaul - Have you ever wondered what happens to the other two Deathbells after you harvest it, or five Nightshades, or a dozen of Mountain Flowers? Where do they go if you only harvest one, does the Dragonborn throw them on the floor and walks away? Do you want to get an appropriate amount after you harvest flora, but at the same time keep the game balanced? If yes, then this is the mod for you.
Chances are you're nowhere near as good at Skyrim as I am, which means death will catch up with you eventually. Even at this grim moment, there's no reason why the immersion should be broken. Rather than simply reloading your last save when you get killed (how very video game like), these mods aim to greatly expand upon what happens to you when you're defeated in battle.
- Death Alternative - Your Money or Your Life - In the author's own words, this mod aims "To offer a narrative of the player character's adventures that include defeat and failures, and increase the active role of the NPCs that populate Skyrim". This comprehensive mod does away entirely with reloading your last save upon defeat. Instead, multiple scenarios will play out depending on the nature of the enemy that defeated you. Bandits will loot valuables from you, some factions may even capture you in an attempt to collect a ransom, and dragons will harvest any unspent dragon souls from you - This list goes on. There's a lot more to this mod than what I can describe in one paragraph so I highly recommend reading up on this mod and downloading it.
- Death Alternative - Captured - This mod adds 5 new scenarios to Death Alternative. These scenarios focus on capture and enslavement of the player character with different escape mechanics in each case. Included in this add-on is capture by the Thalmor, Falmer, Forsworn, and more. Much like serving a prison sentence, escape is possible. And given the nature of your captors, escape is highly recommended.
Lets face facts here. Crime and punishment are implemented very poorly in the vanilla game. A bounty of 1000 gold for cold blooded murder? Are you kidding me? Either 1000 gold is actually an obscene amount of money, or the province of Skyrim places very little value on the lives of its citizens. In any case there isnt anything remotely immersive about how crime is dealt with in the vanilla game. These mods aim to change all that.
- Suspicious City Guards - Have you ever wondered why city guards don't react when you start acting shady right under their nose? With this mod the guards will become suspicious when they see you sneaking around town, or see your weapon/magic drawn. They won't arrest you right away but they will follow you and watch more closely what you are doing.Now thieves and thugs have to look out for guards while sneaking. No more entering sneak mode and waiting for the guards to leave the area.
- Realistic Crime Radius - A simple mod that drastically reduces the distance from which bystanders may witness a crime. By default the game's crime radius is set to about 4000 or so feet, so essentially there's no getting away with a crime unless you're perfectly hidden. This mod reduces the crime radius to a far more reasonable 300 feet, so the armed robbery you're committing right now wont be witnessed by someone on the entire other side of the city.
- Life in Prison - No more slaps on the wrist for your crimes, buddy. Now when you cross the law, you're going to serve some serious hard time. Life in Prison does away with the "serve time" option present in the vanilla prison system. Instead you're going to live out every day penny of your bounty behind bars. Not only does this mod make serving time in prison more realistic, it also drastically increases the bounty incurred for violent crimes. It also adds a unique stand alone cell to each prison called the prison courtyard to each city's prison. There you can interact with other inmates and guards. You can still attempt to make an escape, and with the option to auto serve your sentence now gone, that's a pretty good idea.
Bethesda does a relatively good job with sound effects and music. But as always, anything Bethesda can do, some kid in his basement can do better. These mods aim to increase immersion by overhauling Skyrim's sound effects and musical scores. The result is a far more realistic and enjoyable experience. Don't be surprised to find yourself sitting back and taking in the awesome new music tracks and ambient sounds.
- Improved Combat Sounds - The overhauls all combat sounds to make combat feel a little more solid and realistic. Blows feel heavier and direct hits to the body feel meatier and bloodier. The mod even includes new and improved archery sound effects for firing and arrow impacts.
- Immersive Sounds - Magic - One problem with magic in Skyrim is how homogenized the sound effects are. In this mod magic and spell sounds have been dramatically reworked to help emphasize the differences between each school of magic. For example conjuration spells will sound darker and more sinister while restoration spells have a harmonic ethereal vibe. This is a must have for any mage play through.
- Thundering Shouts - If you're disappointed by the fact that your shout will never sound as epic as the dragonborn in the trailer, this mod is for you. Thundering shouts adds and epic booming thunderous echo to all your 2 and 3 word shouts. The effect is similar to what high level draugr sound like when using Fus Ro Dah.
- Sounds of Skyrim ( Dungeons, Civilization, Wilds) - Sounds of Skyrim is an amazing three part mod that adds immersive ambient sound effects to the game. Cities will now feature sounds such as people conversing, dogs barking, and children playing. The dungeons and crypts will now feature eerie sounds like draugr screams and spirits. The sounds used are dynamic and will always be tailored to your surroundings. Essentially the sounds you hear will always make sense based on where you are. Be sure to wear your headset since the sound effects are quite subtle. This mod is a definite must have so do yourself a favor and download it.
- Fantasy Soundtrack Project - If you've grown tired of vanilla Skyrim's music then you definitely want to check this out. Fantasy Soundtrack Project provides over 12 hours (That's over 3 times the amount of music in vanilla) of new music for TESV: Skyirm. 235+ orchestral and instrumental fantasy/epic music tracks for exploring, towns, taverns and castles. The mod also comes with an optional combat music update to replace or add to the vanilla combat music.
- Immersive Music - Immersive Music is another stellar music overhaul that adds a whopping 18.5 hours of new music to Skyrim. All the music here is heavily inspired by music from the Witcher series and has been hand picked for a purpose, be it the ambiance of outdoor exploration, the intense heat of battle, the mysterious calm of night, or the nerve racking twists of a dungeon. Unfortunately we cant have the best of both worlds and plug in both this and the Fantasy Sound Track, so you'll have to choose.
I've always felt certain visual effects in Skyrim were lacking, particularly those surrounding combat. My greatest disappointment lies in the vanilla enchanted weapon effects, which were no where near as visually appealing as I thought they'd be the first time I tried enchanting. Aside from prettying up enchantments, these other mods aim to make battles look bloodier and more brutal.
- Enchanted Arsenal - This mod gives you full control over the visual and animation effects of your weapon enchantments. Dozens of other visual FX mods have been incorporated into this mod, giving you access to countless visually stunning combinations. The customizable features of every enchantment are broken into 5 categories: enchantment shader, enchantment art, hit shader, hit art, and lingering FX. This is one of those mods too awesome to describe in a single paragraph so take a look at this vid
- Enhanced Blood Textures - Get ready to run the streets red with the blood of your enemies! This mod offers so much more than its name suggests. In addition to higher res blood textures, it also features varied blood spillage based on damage done, dripping blood when low on health, and enemies felled by kill moves will spasm. This mod pairs very well with the mods 'No Spinning Death Animation' and 'More Blood and Gore'.
- Burn Freeze Shock Effects - This mod applies a realistic burnt, frozen, or calcinated body effect to the remains of enemies killed by destruction magic/effects. The effects appearances and chance of propagation depend on your skill level in the destruction skill tree. So a powerful destruction mage will be able to apply more gruesome burns, and even encase enemies in ice. The mod even applies discolorations of the skin from poisons and boiled skin from steam.
- Footprints - This simple mod does wonders for immersion. As the name suggests, footprints are now left behind whenever anything walks in the snow. Even more awesome is the loose powdery snow that gets kicked up as the snow is tread upon. An assortment of footprints in the snow can tell a very interesting story. The author has plans to add the same feature for muddy terrain and sand, so definitely keep track of this mod.
- No Spinning Death Animation - This must have mod removes the infamous spinning dance animation enemies do as they die. Instead they will now just ragdoll based on where and how hard they're hit when killed. Works for normal deaths as well as deaths from high falls.
New and improved Arch-Mage quarters from the Immersive College of Winterhold mod
Factions are a large contributing factor to a solid role play experience. The factions your character chooses to join is in large part a representation of who that character is. Unfortunately one of the major vanilla complaints is the lack of immersion in many quests, particularly faction quests. Some have terrible pacing. One shouldnt be able to go from whelp to harbinger in a single week. Other quests just lack any real choice along the way. These mods aim to fix all that by changing some key aspects of the major faction quests. The Civil war wont be included here since it's already been covered.
- Immersive College of Winterhold - ICoW brings some much needed grandeur to what is supposed to be the most prolific school of magic in all of Tamriel. The interior of the college is completely reworked, the student and faculty schedule has been overhauled, and you now have the freedom to relinquish the title of archmage to Tolfdir - And those are just the basics this mod offers. My own explanation for this phenomenal mod wont do it justice, so here instead is the author's own words:
This mod attempts to bring some of that missing grandeur, magic and mystery to the College by adding a variety of new objects, activators, locations and books as well as improving the magical aptitudes of the faculty members and introducing a tutoring system through which you may learn directly from the masters as they teach; now the Mages of Winterhold really do "gladly share knowledge amongst themselves".
- Save the Dark Brotherhood - The DB questline never fails to leave me wondering how a band of elite killers get slaughtered by rank and file soldiers. What makes this worse is that my one man murder machine can do nothing but watch his brothers die. This mod aims to fix all that by allowing you to fend off the legion and save each member of the brotherhood, with the exception of Astrid. Once you relocate to the Dawnstar Sanctuary, every member you managed to save will be available as a follower.
- Dark Brotherhood for Good Guys - This mod provides dossier's and hidden clues that allow you to understand the reasons behind a contract and allow you to be less of a sociopath and even semi-moral character while still going through the Dark Brotherhood quest. Even if you don't want to be a good guy, you can use this mod to get more out of the quest line and understand the reasons behind everything, including the Emperor's murder. Uncover a complicated conspiracy with clues hidden all over Skyrim as you go through the main Dark Brotherhood quest line.
- Enhanced Skyrim Factions - Companion's Guild - Skyrim's Companions guild quest-line suffers from being too short and too linear; it is possible for a low-level character, and/or one with minimal combat skills, to quickly accend to the highest ranks of this famed guild of warriors. Moreover the questline railroads the player, denying them the opportunity to make several key choices. This mod aims to fix these flaws in several key ways by giving players more choices during key points in the questline. It also forces players to gain proficiency in warrior skill trees and complete radiant quests to advance the quest line.
- Thieves Guild Requirements - There's nothing I hate quite like being approached by Brynjolf in Riften despite looking nothing like a professional thief. How Brynjolf arrives at the conclusion that my heavily armored do-gooder has never done an honest day's work is beyond me. Luckily, there is a solution. This mod places criteria you must meet before Brynjolf even bothers talking to you. Basically, if you havent done any actual dirty work, don't count on getting into the guild. But this mod does much more than just that. Much like the Companions quest mod above, the pacing of the Thieves Guild questline is dramatically improved by making the completion of radiant quests a requirement to advance. Another new feature are actual penalties for messing up major guild missions. You will be forced to do twice the required number of radiant quests to advance the quest line every time you fuck up a major mission.
- Aldmeri Dominion Strengthened - Join the Thalmor - The roleplay potential with this mod is huge. No longer do you have to pretend to be a member of the Thalmor, now you can actually join them! Be advised, the thalmor will only accept High Elves, Wood Elves, and Khajiit into their ranks, and joining means being unable to join the Stormcloaks. You can find a thalmor recruiter in Castle Dour near Tullius in the war room. After completing an assignment for the recruiter, you're in. This mod also adds NPCs to the once empty Thalmor Headquarters.
Nothing breaks immersion quite like your character being forced to make decisions that go against his morals. Being forced to into a single choice is an unfortunate reality that pushes you away from quests that would otherwise be quite valuable for your character's personal progression. Worse is being forced to begin as a prisoner bound for execution. While the Helgen start is far from the most restrictive beginning, one is stuck having to reconcile their character's backstory with how the game begins.
- The Choice is Yours - Do you ever hesitate to speak to NPCs out of concern that you're just going to get another quest added to your ever growing journal? With this mod that will no longer be an issue. Rumors and eaves dropping will no longer trigger quests. No longer will they prompt a new quest, breaking immersion by making you feel obligated to complete them - If only to clear them out of your journal. In addition, there are times when you are given a choice to refuse a quest, but the quest will automatically start regardless of your decision or you are forced to agree to do a job before hearing the details. Now quests won't start until you agree to them.
- Timing is Everything - If you're like me, you hate the fact that everyone and their mother is bombarding you with quests as soon as you're level 10. Timing is Everything gives you full control of what levels and/or events trigger the start of every level initiated quest in the vanilla game. The mod serves many role play functions. Perhaps you want a wider gap between the start of vampire attacks and when the Dawnguard begin recruiting to increase the sense of crisis. Perhaps you'd rather not visit the Greybeards to initiate the Dragonborne quest line. WIth this mod you can easily trigger the appearance of cultists upon completion of Dragon Rising if you so choose. Whatever you decide, the choice is yours. And speaking of choice, this mod pairs very well with 'The Choice is Yours.
- Alternate Start - Live Another Life - Live Another Life provides an alternative means to start the game for those who do not wish to go through the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. You will be given the opportunity to choose your race and then choose a new life for your character to lead. A wide variety of choices will be available. There are even starting choices exclusive to certain races. What you choose will have a lasting impact, so choose wisely.
- Miraak - Dragonborn Follower - This mod injects some much needed choice in the Dragonborn questline. The ending of the Dragonborn main questline is altered, giving you the option to kill Miraak, or bend him to your will. If you choose the latter Hermeus Mora will be understandably pissed off, and send wave after wave of his minions to kill you both. All the dialogue has been shifted around to make this change in quest progression seem natural. Miraak is a powerful ally who will use a variety of shouts with reduced cooldown time.
- The Paarrhurnax Dilemma - If you've ever been frustrated by the Blades forcing you to kill Paarthurnax, you will definitely enjoy this mod. This mod is a simple, yet badly needed modification to the post-MQ quest the Blades give you to kill Paarthurnax.
- The Notice Board - Prepare to have your freetime taken and your social life destroyed. This mod adds new and alternative radiant quests in the form of buletin notes in each major city. It was inspired from other good games like The Witcher which make use of notice boards in their gameplay. There are two kinds of notice boards which are quest boards and message boards. The quest board is where you will pick up bounty quests etc. These quests greatly expand upon the bounty quests available in the vanilla game. You may find requests to investigate disappearances, delve into ruins to find items of value, or even track down and arrest fugitives and you'll find much more than even that. On the message board you will find information about local people, love letters, pranks, non-senses missive, story letters, etc. Many of these stories are funny as well as informative. Overall they add a bit of humor to the game and some insight into the lives of various NPCs.
This list will keep growing over time, so check back periodically for updates. You can help me by referring me to other immersive mods I may have missed.