Metaliturtle

The Elder Scrolls V: SKYRIM

1,290 posts in this topic

Cadian managed to put down the fledgling Summerset Shadows guild after all, through a combination of sneaking around and superior bladework.  The final battle against the Shadows leader was a bit hairy as he had a few more of his guild members sitting with him than she had expected.  Luckily that area of the their lair had some tight corridors and only one or two of them were able to get to her at the same time.  If all of them had been able to attack at once then she wouldn't have lasted long.  She was very grateful for her recent alchemy pursuits though, as a couple of poisons that slowed down her opponents so she could catch her breath a bit were quite handy.

Cadian doesn't particularly care to strip the clothing off of her fallen foes, preferring to primarily take lower-weight/higher-value items and occasionally quality weapons, though occasionally boots and gauntlets are okay.  But the Shadows leader had some very nice magical armor and she relaxed her normal practices.  It doesn't fit particularly well since the Shadows leader was a man, and she most definitely is not.  But she is working on honing her smithing craft and hopes to one day mold it to fit her a little better once she learns how to craft with magical equipment.  Even if ill-fitting she still prefers it to her thieves guild gear since that didn't really fit correctly either.

The experience did teach her that she needs a bit more training in the art of stealthy movement, as most of the Shadows guild managed to find her quickly before she was able to line up any bow shots from the shadows.  Since returning to Riften she has spent all of her newly gained gold on an intense training regimen with Delvin Mallory to improve her ability to remain unseen in the shadows.

She recently accepted a few jobs in Whiterun from Delvin and Vex in order to fund more training with Delvin, so she's about to head out there soon.  The guild leader Mercer has been a bit surly that she hasn't tried to infiltrate Goldenglow Estate yet, but she is determined to do it the right way and is trying to hone her skills with smaller jobs and training with Delvin first.  Goldenglow will come later.

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On 11.10.2017 at 11:12 PM, Rhoth said:

Regarding the Green Pact, I think that might be fun to roleplay, but if I want her to be an alchemist that would be a bit limiting.  Skirnir if I remember correctly you played a Green Pact Bosmer a while back; did you do any alchemy?  I think it would be difficult to do a decent amount of alchemy while limiting to no plant life.  So I think she'll be a non-Valenwood Bosmer, maybe she grew up in Cyrodiil, the daughter of a trader or something before ending up in Riften.

I sure did. It's limiting, yes, but there are means through it anyway. There's lots of teeth, skins, feathers, horns etc. to be had through hunting, and fish and insects to be harvested. You can already do some (very limited) alchemy with that, but if you play it not completely hardcore and add funghi to the mix (after all they're not plants), you're golden.

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Also don't forget eggs to be harvested and all kinds of butterflies/moths/glowworms. Sometimes you find pearls. There are mods to produce powdered mammoth tusks and charred skeever hides, IIRC by cooking. There's definitely enough ingredients even without plants. You may or may not take funghi; IIRC I did because they're not plants and not green either (it's called Green Pact after all).

A field alchemy set is a good thing to have for a nature lover (several mods for this). A green pact bosmer should be a cannibal too.

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I went ahead without the Green Pact roleplaying.  I wasn't particularly interested in roleplaying the cannibalism aspect anyway.  She eats a lot of venison (good with a bow) and some bear, but prefers to cook it first, etc. (with the Realistic Needs and Diseases mod I have, eating uncooked food or drinking non-boiled water can give diseases, though she does have her Bosmer moderate resistance).

I decided to roleplay that she grew up a wanderer in Cyrodiil, daughter of a somewhat light-fingered Bosmer merchant, not a Valenwood Bosmer.  She knows of the Green Pact, but does not follow it.  Even though she is a thief, because of all of her wandering when younger she is quite comfortable in the wild and hunting for her own food, and has no issue using plants in her alchemy. 

One of the things I do mostly stick with though is that she refuses to strip dead (human/mer) bodies most of the time.  She'll take weapons and occasionally boots or helmets (for sale, if it's something worth a lot, not for personal wear), but only once so far has she stripped a body completely (for the Linwe's Gear, which has become her go-to set of armor in the wild).  For the most part she is not a fan of taking things where she actually has to touch the body.  She washed Linwe's armor quite thoroughly before starting to wear it. ;)

One of her other main things is that she does not wear the same clothing when doing things where people may remember her.  In Riften she is known to be a commoner and wears commoner clothing.  In some other cities she is known as a huntress and adventurer and wears the Linwe's Gear (it doesn't look like a guild style armor, it looks like something one would wear anywhere), but in those cities if she does any thieving she changes to something else and covers her rather distinctive hair.  It means carrying multiple sets of clothing, but I find it to be just a touch more distinctive rather than just wearing the same thing no matter what she's doing.  Wearing thieves guild armor isn't quite as bad as the Dark Brotherhood armor, but I still feel like it's something that should not be worn in public.

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Cadian has been spending her time traveling throughout Skyrim for her jobs for the Thieves Guild as well as her tasks from the temple of Mara.

While headed to Markarth to meet with Calcelmo (and conveniently with two thieves guild jobs in that city), she took the high road south of the Throat of the World, with the intention of meeting with the Jarl of Falkreath to discuss his letter to her.  While passing through Helgen though she discovered the city was ruined and a dragon was the culprit (remember she started in Riften, not Helgen).  Though she considers herself a guild member she does not want to see a lot of people slaughtered by dragons so she took the time to travel to Whiterun to warn the Jarl, as well as helping his court wizard with a task that culminated in killing another dragon.  She's not sure about this whole "Dragonborn" thing though.  Maybe it's a gift from Mara.  In any case she has no intention of meeting the Greybeards.

((basically I activated the dragon encounters because I wanted to get the Aura Whisper shout.  It's tougher to sneak around if you don't know where your enemies are.))

After that little diversion she headed back to Falkreath where she declined that Jarl's invitation to be his clean-up girl.  While there though she came across a kindred soul in the thief Arissa.  Arissa was tired of life in Falkreath and the two headed off to Markarth together.  A whirlwind of travel and training later and the two had also been back to Whiterun and then Solitude for the Guild.  People are starting to take notice again, not that anyone else in the Guild seems to be doing much more than sitting around in the Flagon, or the Cistern.  They're kind of lazy that way, but at least it's leaving more jobs and more coin for her.  Not that it stays in her pockets very long since she spends all of her time training when not traveling on guild business.

Finally she felt competent enough to take on that infiltration of Goldenglow for the guildmaster.  It...didn't go quite as she planned.  Despite her much greater abilities and some magical stealth equipment, the mercenaries that were hired by the owner of Goldenglow still knew she was there almost as soon as she entered the building, and she and Arissa were forced to fight and kill them all.  Somehow when she entered the second floor, Aringoth himself immediately knew she was there from four rooms away and charged after her before being shot down.  It was actually kind of depressing 

((out of character I'm actually quite annoyed since I spent all that time working her abilities with small jobs just so she could work the main quest with great stealth, as I think it was intended, instead of killing everything.  Instead it went just as it has in past playthroughs where I was forced to fight everything.  I'm actually annoyed to the point of not wanting to play her anymore for a while.  Not sure right now))

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So are you guys getting this game for the Switch? ;) 

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No.  I have 120+ mods setup on my computer.  Not going to even try to replicate that for a console.  Not even sure it's possible.

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Alright so my irritation with the lack of being able to sneak to complete the THIEVES GUILD quests boiled over (despite having high sneak stat, multiple sneak perks & magical sneak buffs, and muffled movement, everyone still knew I was there almost from the moment I stepped into the manor...including a guy four rooms away who had no business knowing I was even in the building) and so I decided to start a new character.

My new character is an Altmer priest of Auri-El and demon hunter named Lanaandir.  He despises vampires and atronachs (fun fact, he was born under the sign of the atronach, and has latent magicka absorption...well, once I head over to the atronach stone) and hunts them down when he finds them.  He will eventually be joining the Dawnguard, which should prove interesting when he meets Serana.

For gameplay he is a crossbow archer and bladesmer and wears heavy armor (yep, not one of those receives a bonus from being an Altmer).  He avoids stealth completely, though he knows how to pick a lock.  Magically speaking he mostly sticks to Restoration and Alterations spells.  He is a healer primarily, but will use offensive sun spells once he learns them.  He encourages his followers whenever possible, but that is the only Illusion spell he uses, and he doesn't use much Destruction except the occasional flame spell on the undead.  He completely eschews Conjuration since that involves atronachs and the undead, and is very leery of the morality of soul stones (he also will be avoiding Enchanting for the most part, though he might use purchased soul stones to recharge weapons, not sure yet).  He does practice some alchemy, but primarily for healing potions, but he avoids any poisons that directly damage another.

If you're wondering why I chose an Altmer for my Dawnguard knight when he doesn't have any starting skill boosts with the primary skills he uses...it's all about the magicka.  With the Altmer bonus, the eventual Atronach stone, and an Adept hood (currently have a novice hood) he will have 250 magicka without ever putting a single level-up into it.  Plus it's kind of fun to play an Altmer against type.

As a priest he is somewhat leery of looting those who he has killed, but he is also practical enough to know that the dead do not care any longer, and he can make better use of certain items than a random bandit who may happen upon the dead body.  Still he prefers to leave them with their dignity, even if they were enemies, and prefers to avoid removing their clothing.  He will not meddle with the interred dead at all, nor loot any burial urns or pots.  He practices no thievery and will also avoid taking anything beyond maybe some food from the residences of friends (I've always thought it was a little weird that you can make, for example, a 5 second delivery to Arcadia's Cauldron and she will let you take almost all of her stores of alchemical goods in return).

I used the Live Another Life mod to start out as a Dawnguard member, but it removes the acts of finding Serana in Dimhollow Crypt as well as meeting Harkon for the first time, so I decided to restart and just go through the standard Helgen start, and then join up with the Dawnguard later.

So far he has warned the Jarl of Whiterun about the dragons, found the Dragonstone for Farengar, and helped defeat Mirmulnir.  Throughout that he has managed to put together a new set of steel armor and a crossbow and crusader sword, after losing his previous gear because of being mistakenly captured by the Imperials.  He finally feels back to his old self and has recently offered to help Danica Purespring to restore the Gildergreen (though once he gets there he will choose the new tree option, not cutting into the elder tree).  He would like to train his healing arts with her, but she is too distracted by the Gildergreen's impending death to be up to that right now.

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Been busy so haven't had too much time to play Lanaandir, but I have gotten some time in.

He helped replace the Gildergreen with a new sapling (and embraced his atronach sign heritage at the atronach stone) and during the return managed to find Amren's sword in White River Watch.  He also put down a few vampire attacks.  They are getting worse and he has heard of the new Dawnguard and their quest to kill vampires, so he has decided he wants to join them.  Through all that he put together enough gold to seek out Faendal for archery training (I wanted to get him at least closer to 50 for the stagger perk). 

Everything pointed east for him after that.  The Dawnguard were located in a fort east of Riften, and though he was unsure about whether or not he was actually Dragonborn, as in the histories it was a gift for Nords, not Altmer, he is determined to seek out the Greybeards as well.  Lanaandir is a priest of Auri-El, and Auri-El is known as Akatosh by the humans.  Since in the histories it was Akatosh who gifted the Voice to the Nords, how could he do anything else but seek out the answer to this conundrum.

On the way east he came across a bandit den in Nilheim with a great view of the Rift, that would make a good home base (I have no plans to purchase a house, and I don't believe the Dawnguard have a safe storage area in Dayspring Canyon) and managed a few good deeds for others before finding his way to meet the Dawnguard leader Isran.  Isran seemed mildly impressed with Lanaandir's accomplishments and immediately sent him out on a quest to determine what the vampires were up to in a cave near the now burned Hall of the Vigilant south of Dawnstar.

While heading back west to Ivarstead for a priestess of Mara (Book of Love quest) he also climbed the 7000 steps to meet the Greybeards, who do indeed believe he is the Dragonborn.  An elven Dragonborn?  He is still not sure what to think about that, but he will continue to follow up on it as the Greybeards asked him to retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller which is somewhat near Dimhollow Crypt, the place he is headed for Isran (convenient, that...actually the main quest and the Dawnguard DLC have a lot of things that line up fairly well, especially since they both need the same Elder Scroll from Blackreach).  He made it back to Whiterun for training in healing with Danica right before she went to bed for the night, and is currently about to set out north for Dimhollow.

Currently all of his extra money is going for training.  I wanted to get Archery up to 50 as quickly as possible for the stagger perk.  He is primarily a crossbow archer (not a stealth archer though).  He currently adventures with Lydia and actually hasn't taken too much damage yet (even on Expert, probably need to go to Master difficulty now) so training in Restoration is necessary if I want to be able to cast the Dawnguard sun spells when they come available.  Lydia is not really too interested in fighting vampires though, so he will probably let her go sooner or later once he can bring a Dawnguard follower along (or Serana).

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The people of Dragon Bridge are hardcore.  Lanaandir just saw a guy chopping wood with his bare hands.

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Sure you didn't accidently move over to a Minecraft Realm? 

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Heh, pretty sure since I don't play Minecraft. ;)  My son loves it, but I just never really wanted to try it.

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The travels of Lanaandir continues on.

He and Lydia discovered the secret the vampires were looking for in Dimhollow Crypt.  Another vampire.  He's not sure entirely why, but he didn't immediately kill this new vampire Serana.  It couldn't be love as he is too old for that, and a priest besides.  Maybe it's because she doesn't act much like a vampire at all.  She was even willing to take a quick detour to help him attempt to recover the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller while nominally headed west to her home.  While they were unable to actually recover the horn since someone else had already been there and left a suspicious note, Lanaandir was successful in delivering Serana to her home, which turned out to be an ancient castle off the coast of Haafingar...a nest of powerful vampires.

Lanaandir definitely felt his crossbow trigger finger beginning to itch, but there were so many vampires he knew he would never survive.  Discretion sometimes must trump the desire to hunt, for a suicidal charge would serve no one.   If Lanaandir died then Isran and the Dawnguard would never learn of this vampire nest and the attacks would continue.  Better to live now and fight another day than die now and accomplish nothing.

Lanaandir headed back east toward Isran, but stopped in Riverwood to find out what was going on with the mysterious note left in Ustengrav.  Turned out the innkeeper there was a former Blade who then asked him to follow her to Kynesgrove where she believed a dragon was about to rise from the dead.  And she was correct as the big black dragon that was present when Lanaandir was almost executed at Helgen was the one raising the dead dragons.  It raised another just as they arrived, before it winged off elsewhere.  Lanaandir and the innkeeper (and Lydia) fought and killed the newly raised dragon, and the innkeeper then headed back to Riverwood with the promise to call on Lanaandir for help when she had formulated a plan.

Meanwhile Lanaandir returned the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller to the Greybeards where he was officially proclaimed the Dragonborn.  He was told to go out into the world to hone his powers though and was not allowed to meet the Greybeards leader yet.

He soon returned to first Riften to speak again with the priestess of Mara about her request to promote love across Skyrim, before continuing on to meet with Isran at Fort Dawnguard once more.  Isran was not happy about what Lanaandir discovered at Volkihar Castle, but he agreed that it was best that Lanaandir returned to inform the Dawnguard about what had happened.  Isran decided they needed more help and sent Lanaandir out to Ivarstead and then the Reach to recruit some old colleagues.

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Lanaandir's level is around 30 and his core skills are all around 50-60 right now.  His Archery skill is the highest at just above 60, but his One-Handed (used nearly as much as Archery), Heavy Armor and Restoration are all hovering just above 50 right now (thanks in part to training for the latter two as they are more difficult to level for the playstyle).  His minor skills of Smithing and Alteration are also up in that range as well.  He still uses unenchanted gear, though his Dawnguard axe seems especially effective vs. vampires despite it being unenchanted.  The only enchanted gear he uses is a circlet that improves his Archery damage and a robe that he wears as the padding under his dwarven armor (I installed a mod that allows one to wear both robes and armor at the same time since he will otherwise be using no enchanted armor since once he is fully accepted into the Dawnguard he will be wearing their armor, and there is no enchanted Dawnguard armor beyond the helmet).

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Lanaandir continues to kill vampires throughout Skyrim.  All except one.  They attack him quite a bit, though still not quite as often as those damn cultists of Miraak. Those guys are everywhere (and yes I know I could get them to stop if I went to Solstheim, but I haven't wanted to do that).

He managed to recruit Gunmar and Sorine for the Dawnguard (along with another step in helping spread Mara's love) before returning to Fort Dawnguard and finding Serana had stolen the Elder Scroll and escaped her father's clutches.  Lanaandir's gut reaction when he met Serana, that here was a vampire that wasn't actually evil, proved true as she not only defied her father and is actively looking for a way to stop his plotting, she's also turned into a decent traveling companion. 

The two headed off to Winterhold to visit the College to try to find out the location of a moth priest so he could read Serana's scroll (could have done it another way, but I also needed to purchase some Restoration spells that were only offered at the college).  They proceeded to find the moth priest and rescue him from vampires near Dragon Bridge, before looping up north of Solitude to kill a master vampire and then exploring the depths of Nchuand Zel in Markarth for a crossbow schematic, before returning once more to the fort.

He was also finally able to suit up in the heavy Dawnguard armor that the rest of the recruits had access to but was denied to him for some reason until Gunmar joined the team.  And he purchased an armored troll follower (the last was a mistake caused by some lag forcing a misclick, but the troll hasn't been half bad...better than one of the huskies as those never stop freaking barking every few seconds).

The moth priest was able to read the scroll, which has led to more Elder Scroll hunting.  One may be located back in Castle Volkihar while there may be a lead to another back in the College, but Lanaandir is torn as to which to do first.  He does not feel he is worthy of hunting for Elder Scrolls as yet.  In the meantime he has helped rescue the strange priest Florentius from a vampire, and gained some more powerful sun spells in which to fight them, and begun crafting Paladin armor in the style of the once great elven hero and deity Trinimac, though again he is not sure he is worthy enough to wear it.

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The Paladin armor is part of the Immersive Armor mod and functionally the same as Ebony armor, just thematically different.  It's obviously quite a bit better than the Dawnguard armor which is functionally the same as Dwarven armor, but it also has a bulkier look to it.  I like the Dawnguard armor because it just looks like it's easier to move around in, which is part of Lanaandir's combat style (kind of the same conundrum I had with my Companion character a while back and why I didn't want to move out of the Wolf armor to something that protected better but was bulky).  The Dawnguard armor also fits much better with his preferred hood and magical circlet (slipping on the full helm only when fighting vampires).  The Paladin armor pretty much demands that you use the accompanying winged helm or it just looks silly. 

Though I have been considering just going with the full helm for the Dawnguard armor and abandoning the hood and circlet.  I haven't yet only because the circlet adds a considerable +30% to his crossbow damage, and the hood adds +50 magicka, whereas the helm only offers better armor rating and a reduction of damage when fighting vampires.  Since there is no enchanted Dawnguard (or Paladin) armor to be found and I'm not doing any enchanting for this character it means giving up two of the four potential enchantments I have (the other two being an amulet of Akatosh, as he is a priest of Auri-El, the elven equivalent deity, and a ring of magicka regeneration, both of which combined counteract his lessened magicka regen from being born under the sign of the Atronach...or rather the Skyrim equivalent of using the Atronach stone).

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Also has anyone else ever noticed how the Dawnguard DLC just absolutely destroys the functionality of the Vigilants of Stendarr?  In the base game they have their Hall of the Vigilant and their base at Stendarr's Beacon, and you'll see wandering Vigilants around.  The only black mark was Tyranus, the Vigilant who gets possessed by Molag Bal in the house in the Markarth.

Then comes the Dawnguard DLC.  As part of the storyline, first the Hall of the Vigilant is destroyed, and all of its occupants killed (also removing one of the Restoration trainers in Keeper Carcette).  Then when you go hunting for Serana you find Vigilant Tolan killed by vampires in the first chamber of Dimhollow Crypt, as well as another Vigilant later on who is being tortured by vampires and is then killed.   When you attempt to rescue Florentius Baenius in order to gain access to the powerful sun spells you find a whole host of Vigilants (well over a dozen, including two that were named) have been charmed by a powerful vampire and you have to kill them all in order to get to the vampire and rescue Florentius.  There is also a random roadside encounter that can happen more than once where vampires have killed some Vigilants and taken their clothing in order to pretend that they are Vigilants in order to lure you closer.

The Vigilants still have their Beacon, but other than that there is nothing good that happens to them as a result of the Dawnguard DLC.  They become completely incompetent and if you do every quest that is related to them then every named Vigilant ends up dead.

 

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I was never happy with Dawnguard.  It felt clunky compared to their usual high quality work.  

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When you're playing Skyrim again and you get jumped by vampires in Whiterun...

...except the master vampire decides that the local chicken is the biggest threat and kills it, while you're disposing of his thralls...

...then the master vampire decides that raising the chicken as a zombie would be better than raising one of his thralls...

...so now you're facing a vampire accompanied by his undead chicken.

 

Ah, Skyrim. :lol:

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Probably going to be playing this again.  I always come back to it.

I was trying to see if I could get into Morrowind again.  I loaded up some graphics mods that seemed to work okay.  Loaded up some gameplay mods, such as one that adjusts leveling, one that makes combat more like Oblivion (where if you hit an opponent then they take damage), one that adjusts walk speed, and one that delays the stupid assassin guy.  And none worked.  Don't know why they aren't working as they show up as being installed correctly, and I'm already not feeling overjoyed trying to play it without those mods, after only an hour or two of gameplay.  After many years of Skyrim, Fallout, etc., I can't stand hitting an opponent and them taking zero damage.  I died four times in the starter dungeon next to Seyda Neen because my character kept missing his attacks against the mage. 

So, back to Skyrim for my roleplaying fun.

The character I'm thinking of playing will be either a Bosmer or an Altmer with a bit of a twist.  I already like playing elves in Skyrim more than the other races, thanks to the graphics mods I have loaded that makes the elf races look more exotic, with stranger eyes and longer, sharper ears.  Sadly it doesn't change any of the elf NPCs, but it makes my characters look really cool.  In any case, the character will be a ranger/survivalist type who was cursed to be the host of a malevolent spirit.  In-game, the character becomes a vampire, and uses the Become Ethereal shout and Bound Weapons to simulate the control of the spirit.  In a contrast to the way I usually play vampires (as evil trying to become good), the character is good, but being influenced to become more and more evil by the host spirit; using magic to influence others (Illusions), raising the dead, etc.  The stronger the character gets the more they are influenced by the spirit (which helps roleplay that I don't have access to bound weapons or strong magics initially).

Haven't fully decided on race yet.  Bosmer would fit the early ranger part better, but Altmer fits the later mage part better.  Sort of leaning Bosmer right now, even though the extra 50 magicka from the Altmer would certainly be very useful.

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I've just restarted Skyrim Special Edition. Seemed enough time for most of the mods I want to use to have migrated.

First problem was that Nexus Mod Manager only appeared to install half the mods. No idea why and manual installs didn't help. NMM seems to have been abandoned by Nexus but their replacement (the name of which escapes me) is getting generally negative reviews. Some fans have picked up NMM but even with newer versions it was a bit hit or miss. 

In the end I when with Mod Organiser which also seemed to have been abandoned and then picked up. So far as I can tell all the mods are now installing.

Aside from the usual graphical upgrades I've focused on the economy and real world mods. Not gone full survival but I do need to eat, drink and sleep. Also raised the difficulty. The main effect is that everything is really expensive and hard to kill. Spending most of my time travelling between Riverrun (Riverwood?) and Whiterun collecting plants, ores and cooking things. My main source of income is chopping firewood. It's quite grindy but also feels quite realistic. I'm basically being a hunter/gatherer until I get some better equipment and one or two more levels before exploring the local mine. I can't afford to stay at the inn (modded) so a large part of the daylight is spent fishing to find food and improve my bargaining skills at the local shop. The owner keeps going on about some claw he's lost but my initial trip into the hills ended abruptly when I ran into bandits at an old tower.

I've also decided to play try play a mage for the first time but its very easy to end up developing your armour and sword skills as you try to stay alive. I think I might need some help on my quest(s). There's an amiable bard wandering around Riverrun who might be persuaded.....

Edited by Standup

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:b:

Vortex is the name of the new mod manager from Nexus.  I'm not sure I like it too much either.  I tried it with Morrowind and it didn't seem to load mods correctly.  Luckily my Skyrim mod setup is already done and I didn't have to mess with it in Vortex at all.  Though I have around 130 mods loaded, the game is mostly stable (I get an occasional CTD here and there).  I'm not using Special Edition though as I don't want to try to load all that stuff again and get it all positioned correctly etc., just for some slightly better graphics.  Especially now that Vortex has taken the place of the NMM.

As for my game it's going well.  I have an ALT start mod loaded, but I ended up just going with the standard Helgen start, as it seemed to work the best for the character I want to play.  I ended up going with an Altmer named Jaazlehna (Yohz-LAY-nuh), but she's still a ranger, survivalist bow-mer type (not a sneak archer though).  She used Restoration and Alteration magic, along with her wolf familiar, but after the fight with Mirmulnir she started feeling odd, as if she was possessed.

As time has gone on she has started to manifest ethereal weapons, and has recently been able to become ethereal herself for a time.  She knows it is because of the "thing" possessing her.  She feels different, especially after her second time in Helgen, when she was drawn to a strange stone in teh castle.  Though she has still been trying to do good, it feels like she is slowly being sucked into a vortex of evil.

In game terms, I've been playing through the main quest so far in order to get shouts, and the Become Ethereal shout from Ustengrav.  On her way back from talking with the Greybeards I activated the vampire stone in Helgen (a mod that gives Sanguinare Vampiris without having to find a vampire).  Her ethereal weapons are a bound waraxe and sometimes paired with a bound shortspear in her off hand (a mod for lots of extra bound weapons).  She still uses her trusty crossbow for long range as she hasn't been able to manifest an ethereal bow without great concentration (meaning its an adept spell and still costly at the moment).

She's currently on the way to Kynesgrove with Delphine, but afterwards she's planning on returning the Horn to the Greybeards and then joining the Dawnguard (a mod that allows one to join the DG as a vampire) to see if maybe they will be able to help her with her problems.  Of course, I don't intend to stick with the Dawnguard, as once she finds Serana and Harkon the thing possessing her will make sure she chooses the path of the Vampire Lord.

I did up the difficulty a bit.  Normally I start on Adept difficulty and after 20 or so levels I change to Expert, and then Master around level 40 or so.  This time I started directly on Expert, which was a bit more challenging in the early going.

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Oh and regarding playing a mage, my character will become more of a mage than ranger (including going through the College questline), but she's not a pure mage in that she doesn't use Destruction magic and prefers to wear light armor rather than using only the Alteration armor spells.

I've played a pure mage before and it's not easy going it alone.  You definitely need a meat shield to keep the enemies from keying on your squishy self while you blast them from afar.  When I worked my way up to area effect fireballs instead of firebolts I discovered I needed a meat shield that couldn't die from an accidental blast radius, so I ended up choosing the overly chatty paladin girl from Riften since she can't accidentally die (this was before Dawnguard came out, with Serana, another NPC who can't die).

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2 hours ago, Standup said:

Aside from the usual graphical upgrades I've focused on the economy and real world mods. Not gone full survival but I do need to eat, drink and sleep. Also raised the difficulty. The main effect is that everything is really expensive and hard to kill.

If you could list the mods you've used, that would be awesome. Winter is coming to NZ and I'm feeling the itch to immerse myself in something to pass the long cold nights. Thinking about giving Skyrim another try, but I'm not particularly interested in the high fantasy storyline, rather the life of a journeyman making his way in the world.

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Frostfall and Realistic Needs and Diseases might be up your alley. 

Frostfall is the one that requires survivalist tactics.  When you're in the frozen areas you can't just wear your best armor, you need armor that can protect you against the elements, such as fur.  You can also camp in the wilderness and craft your own tent, bedroll, set up your own campfire, etc.

Realistic Needs & Diseases makes food, drink and sleep necessary or you start getting some penalties.  It's more immersive.  No more ignoring all the food, no more staying awake for a week, etc.  You need to actually stop in an inn for example.  Salt becomes necessary to keep around to cook your food.  Alcoholic drinks will make you sway around if you drink too much.  Once you use them though you can fill the empty bottles with river water and then boil it to make it safe to drink.

If you're interested in making the wilds more difficult there is also Immersive Creatures.  It adds a ton of new creatures that aren't necessarily leveled to where you are.  The Dramans can be wildly difficult, as well as the Blood Cultists that summon difficult creatures.

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Here are all the mods I use currently.  And my game is pretty darn stable.  The only mod I've ever found that was wildly unstable was the Civil War overhaul.  It messes things up greatly (just ask Skirnir).

Mods Used :

Patches and mod organizers:

Unofficial Skyrim patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/19/?

Unofficial Dawnguard patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23491/?

Unofficial Hearthfire patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23491/?

Unofficial Dragonborn patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31083/?

Skyrim High Res texture pack http://store.steampowered.com/app/202485/

Unofficial High Res patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31255/?

Skyrim Script Extender (some mods require it) http://skse.silverlock.org/

SkyUI (user interface, some mods require it) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/3863/?

Nexus Mod Manager http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/modmanager/?

Possessive Corpses (remove corpses and save bloat) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/4528/?

 

 

Overhauls:

Frostfall http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11163/?

Compete Crafting Overhaul remade (My personal favorite of the ones I saw. Can craft faction armor, upgrade leveled quest rewards, etc.) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49791/?

Weapon and Armor fixes including DLC (compatible with CCO) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34093/?

Clothing & Clutter fixes (compatible with CCO) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/43053/?

Smithing Perks Overhauled remade (compatible with CCO) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/33959/?

Trade and Barter (adds a lot of variables to the way merchants charge you, such as faction based, your race, etc.) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34612/?

Lock Overhaul http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/29979/?

Immersive Patrols (more factions patrols around Skyrim, from all factions, not just the Imperials, Stormcloaks and Thalmor) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/12977/?

Stealth Skills Rebalanced http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/28418/?

Climates of Tamriel (threw it in because it seems to be popular) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/17802/?

Belua Sanguinare (vampire overhaul) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/17077/?

The Power of Blood Passive Vampire Lord Perks: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22313/?

Amazing Follower Tweaks: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/15524/?

 

 

 

Magic Overhauls:

Acquisitive Soul Gems (forces petty souls into petty gems only, etc) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/5312/?

Bound Armory (bound weapons of every type) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/45042/?

Night Eye Spell and Potion (for use with a realistic lighting mod) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/21127/?

Spell Crafting for Skyrim (create your own spell mixes like Oblivion) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/33598/?

 

 

Alchemy Overhauls:

Immersive Potions http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/30073/?

Cook Charred Skeever Hide http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49009/?

Craftable Powdered Mammoth Tusk http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35782/?

Clams Drop Pearls http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/9037/?

Dangerous Skooma http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27201/?

Learn Alchemy from recipes http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34795/?

Better White Phial Effects http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14607/?

 

 

City Overhauls

Expanded Cities and Towns (increases the size and scale of some of the smaller towns so it looks like there are more than just 3 people living in an entire city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/13608/?

Dawn of Whiterun (makes it act more like a city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/37460/?

Dawn of Windhelm (makes it act more like a city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/43701/?

Dawn of Riften (makes it act more like a city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50336/?

Dawn of Soliltude (makes it act more like a city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/58110/?

Dawn of Markarth (makes it act more like a city) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/58151/?

Immersive College of Winterhold http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/36849/?

Glorious Fort Dawnguard http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/52340/?

Bannered Mare Inn http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/54198/?

Skyhaven Temple Redo: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/41626/?

Immersive and Customizable Castle Volkihar: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/41447/?

Raven Rock Expanded: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31582/?

Solitude Docks: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22821/?

 

 

 

 

Survival and Extra Crafting Overhauls:

Realistic Needs and Diseases http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/26228/?

Cloaks of Skyrim (compatible with Frostfall) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/12092/?

Immersive Armors (more craftable armors) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/19733/?

Jaysus swords (more craftable swords) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/1002/?

Bandolier http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22119/?

Katana Crafting http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/8489/?

Craftable lockpicks: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/885/?

Potion of Blood Recipe: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/45790/?

Light Bonemold Armor: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34138/?

Bonemold and Chitin Weapons: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51002/?

 

 

 

Factions:

Enhanced Skyrim Factions - Companions http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22650/?

Thieves Guild Requirements (Brynjolf doesn't auto-contact you) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14157/?

Thieves Guild quest locale chooser (allows you to choose which town to do your radiant quest in) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14509/?

Enhanced Skyrim Followers - Aela the Huntress http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11450/?

Dark Brotherhood Resurrection quest line: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25941/?

Dawnguard Radiant Quests (increases likelihood of good ones): http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/32681/?

 

 

AI upgrades:

Convenient Horses (cowardly horses means I might keep one beyond 3 days) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14950/?

Guard Dialogue Overhaul (not as much "I used to be an adventurer until...) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23390/?

Run for your lives (sends citizens inside during dragon attacks) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23906/?

When Vampires Attack (same thing for vamps) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/28235/?

 

 

House mods:

Breezehome fully upgraded (more additions for Breezehome) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11158/?

Hearthfire Display Case Fix (adds activators for ease of displaying) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/40400/?

Proudspire Manor Refurbished http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14630/?

Nightingale Hall Restored http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/13632/?

Player Home Map Markers (pre-Hearthfire) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/2723/?

Nilheim as Player Home: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/40056/?

Heljarchen Farm: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50992/?

Heljarchen Pool and Hot Bath: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/36776/?

Windstad Pool and Hot Bath: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35359/?

Lakeview Pool and Hot Bath: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/28515/?

Windstad Mine: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/57879/?

Dracos Hearthfire Homes Upgrades: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/61979/?

Heljarchen Hall Lights: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25658/?

Windstad Manor Lights: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25387/?

Lakeview Manor Lilghts: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25708/?

Dark Brotherhood Reborn Dawnstar Sanctuary: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/20700/?

Severin Manor Improvements: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31167/?

Severin Manor Guard: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/32777/?

 

 

 

 

Misc mods:

Quality World Map with roads http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/4929/?

Left Hand Rings http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/21720/?

Lore Worthy Nettlebane (does extra damage to spriggans now and makes the quest reward more worthwhile) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/26450/?

Lore Worthy Bandits (changes up and randomizes the armor they have so its not always the same and they have armor that looks like it was scrounged) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/42855/?

Lore Worthy Quartermaster (gives unique outfits and respawns if killed) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/36797/?

Lore Worthy Hagravens (makes them tougher with better spell selection) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27385/?

Stone of Barenziah droppable plus quest markers http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14525/?

Fishing In Skyrim http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/16139/?

Brawl bugs patch http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/24020/?

Arissa http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/53754/?

Higher Magic Vampire Stones (become a vampire in Helgen): http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/10276/?

Join Dawnguard as a vampire: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/58727/?

Dark Brotherhood Calling Card: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/12422/?

Sneaky Serana: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25131/?

Vampire Lords can loot and activate: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/21631/?

Purchaseable Telvanni Robes: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31482/?

Dawnbreaker and Rune Shield Fixes: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22658/?

Immersive Creatures: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/24913/?

Paarthurnax Dilemma: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/18465/?

Cidhna Mine Expanded: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59277/?

Lanterns of Skyrim: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/18916/?

Hearthfire Multiple Adoptions: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/29249/?

Inconsequential NPCs: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/36334/?

Moonlight Tales: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35470/?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graphics and sound:

Unique Dragon Priest Masks (they look pretty awesome instead of just the exact same as all the other masks, with a different color) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35117/?

Skyrim Flora Overhaul http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/141/?

Realistic Lighting http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/30450/?

Sounds of Skyrim the Wilds http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/10886/?

Sounds of Skyrim the dungeons http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/8601/?

Sounds of Skyrim civilization http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/20193/?

XCE Xenius Character Enhancement http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/2356/?

XCE Dawnguard http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/21839/?

Celtic Music In Skyrim http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/53689/?

aMidianBorn Caves and Mines http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39190/?

aMidianBorn Solstheim Landscape http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50013/?

aMidanBorn Wolf Armor and Skyforge Weapons http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34147/?

aMidianBorn Imperial Forts http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49710/?

HiRes Legible Road Signs http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/436/?

Book Covers of Skyrim http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35399/?

Horns are Forever (Argonian horns show through hoods) http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/20861/?

Dark Brotherhood New Look: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/3471/?

Reapers Dark Brotherhood Robe: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11942/?

Dawn of the Dawnguard Armor: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/64559/?

Dawnguard Hoods: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/57745/?

Insanity's Dragonbane: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/19180/?

aMidianBorn Blades Armor: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/41731/?

Vampire Lord Collision Fix: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22132/?

Mage Robes of Skyrim Retexture: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50445/?

Mage Equipment Retexture: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/40592/?

Death Hound HD: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/65033/?

aMidianBorn Bonemold Armor: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/42310/?

Morag Tong and Chitin Armor Enhancements: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/31444/?

Eyes of Beauty: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/13722/?

Apachii Skyhair http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/10168/?

Show Race Menu Precache (for Apachii Skyhair): http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/33526/?

Belt Fastened Quivers http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35717/?

 
 
additional Skyrim mods
 
Quality World Map with Roads - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/4929/?
Alternate Start, Live Another Life - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/9557/?
Immersive Citizens AI overhaul - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/65013/?
Craftable Clothes and Robes - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/20586/?
Wear Robes Over Armor (manual DL) - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39591/?
 
 

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OMG, all those mods! I'll have a look through when I get back from vacation in three weeks. Thanks. :)

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Yep, but still probably 95% stable.  I've been collecting them over the past few years, adding to the list as I find something interesting. 

I think the only one on the list that I don't actually use is Nephilim, which is a new magical powers and questline-type of mod.  I don't usually go for those much, but I had seen it in an LP and added it to my link list.  I also can't use some of the major overhaul mods like SkyRe because they mess with some of the same things that my other mods do, and I don't want to push it.  Adding one of those probably would wreck the stability of my mod setup.

I have a lot of graphics and sounds mods that add some nice stuff.  The various Sounds of Skyrim mods add things like a bunch of extra chatter in inns, for example.

I'd highly recommend adding the "Dawn of..." mods and the Expanded Towns mod.  Those go a long way in enhancing the feel of Skyrim by adding new shops, new people, etc. to make the land feel more alive.   It also makes it so that most of the towns will have at least a general merchant and the various smithing equipment.   Morthal in the base game, for example, only has a wizard and an alchemy shop.  You can't make Morthal your homebase without being forced to travel somewhere else to sell stuff or do any smithing.  With Expanded Towns you can make any of the towns your homebase if you want to stay in one area for a while.

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Did a search for some realism-type mods.  I've never used any of these, but you can try them out if you want. 

I think the one that would interest you most is Scarcity.  It greatly reduces the amount of magic items and other stuff that are just lying around, or available from merchants.

You can also play without using any magic too.  No spells.  Unlike Oblivion, Skyrim is a game where you can get by without really needing any magic items, though it might be more difficult on the higher difficulty levels.  Though you might want to be an alchemist so you'll have some way to heal yourself.

You can also just avoid the main quest entirely if you want.  That means you won't ever activate dragons or dragon shouts, so that part of magic is easily avoided.

 

Scarcity - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49496/?

Balanced Quest rewards - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/57573

Realistic Gold Rewards - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51479

Hardcore Carrying Capacity - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/66154

Vulture's Dynamic Realism - https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/63077
 

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