Benn's Worldbuilding Collection

Benn's Worldbuilding Collection

This is a big collection of mods that I've compiled over time that each, in some way, help build up the world of Skyrim and make it more compelling. It touches every aspect of worldbuilding: NPCs, NPC dialogue/behaviour, the world-space, quests and object

BadSaladMan
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Description

I have always been into the LARPing aspect of Skyrim. Feeling like I'm existing in a sprawling, lively game world with tons going on around me. Feeling like I'm a part of that world and that it doesn't simply revolve around me. That's always a sensation that I'm trying to enhance through my modding.

This collection focuses on just that. Using mods that make changes to the worldspace, to quests and to interactions that make the world feel more engrossing.

There are other mods that I know that touch on the ideas I've expressed above for sure. Relationship Dialogue Overhaul, Skyrim Reputation, People of Skyrim, etc. But I excluded these and others because with my games I tend to aim for compatibility and stability as a major priority. That said, I don't have any reason to believe that these mods or others would necessarily break this load order, so if they interest you feel free to add them to your own game.

So yeah, most of these mods are relatively subtle. No large-scale civil war stuff. No mods that add hordes of NPCs to cities. No radical expansions and restructuring of cities. These things are cool, but I prefer to worry less about the potential glitches or performance issues they can cause. There's still some big changes made here, I was just pretty selective about what made the cut.


Main features

There are sort of 5-ish main categories of mods that I decided to include in this collection:

  1. Literal world building: Mods that literally build up the world with more building, and people. The base game is really lacking in terms of creating a believable civilization. It's a few small settlements filled with relatively few NPCs surrounded by dozens of bandit hideouts filled with bad guys far outnumbering the civilized.

  2. Story-telling: Mods that alter certain quests to give the player more options in how they resolve things, and more believable transitions between quests, and more believable (and user configurable) starting levels/requirements for major quests.

  3. World interactivity: Mods that give standards NPCs more to do and more to say, and improve their base behaviour. Sometimes this overlaps with point 2.

  4. Bling: Mods that add more unique things to the world. Weapons, items, treasures. Variety in general. Gives the world some personality.

  5. Immersive gameplay: I added just a couple of mods that add entirely new mechanics like Loot and Degradation, Time Flies, etc because I feel like they each add depth to the game without being too intrusive. I also recommend survival mode, but tweaked to your own taste because it can be a chore sometimes.


Further recommendations

There are a GOOD handful of IMPORTANT mods that exist offsite from Nexus that I would really like to include.

  1. So first I need to give a reluctant shoutout to Arthmoor's mods over on the AFKmods website. Anyone well versed in this community knows that he's a controversial figure, but I do love a lot of the stuff that he has made that's no longer available on Nexus. I highly recommend his vanilla + expansions of towns, and the small town/settlement insertions he has created.

Here is a list of all the Arthmoor settlement mods I use currently: -Fall of Granite Hill -Oakwood -Dragon Bridge -Keld-Nar -Ivarstead -Helarchen Creek -Manor Roads -Telengard -Shor's Stone -Whistling Mine -Soljund's Sinkhole

If you have expansions for any of these locations that you prefer to use, or if you feel that adding entirely new small towns is too much, feel free to ignore this, or to mix and match.

  1. Another AFKmods shoutout I must make is to Expanded Towns and Cities (ETaC). It's currently hidden on Nexus, and I'm not entirely sure why, but I once again highly recommend picking this one up. The expansions it makes to what are, in my opinion, very underwhelming villages in vanilla are pretty much essential to me.

Again, if you prefer to use something else, go for it. I really recommend expanding these towns in some way though, because these underbuilt and underpopulated towns and settlements just kill the world for me in vanilla Skyrim.

  1. This is probably my most obscure recommendation here. I recommend a mod called Windhelm Expansion. It's a combination of Windhelm Exterior Altered and a Windhelm Bridge expansion that really livens up the outside of that city. However, as far as I know it's exclusively available in a comment thread through a google drive linked there. So, if this interests you, you'll have to head over to the link I provide below to get it.

The link: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/5824?tab=posts (Shoutout to user Sandman53, who appears to be the author who pieced these mods together and made it available.)

Warning, I think this mod is pretty performance heavy. Not sure, but I experience frame drops in this area

  1. Another mod(s) that I highly recommend is Skyrim Realistic Conquering. This is a mod that makes it so that when you clear many of the bandit-occupied structures around Skyrim's landscape, they are cleaned up and converted into non-hostile guard, imperial, stormcloak, hunter, etc settlements. I think this is really, really cool.

I didn't include this directly, because I have a lot of them installed separately as standalone modules and the load order rule-making for them is a headache that I did not want to impose on anyone by default. However, there is a "complete edition" that includes most of them bundled together. There's a bit of an unusual patching process that I haven't done myself however, so you might need to do some digging / asking around to figure that out.

Link: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/26396

  1. I highly recommend a mod that allows multiple followers and advanced options for those followers.

I don't really have a specific recommendation. Seems like all the big ones are fine and no single one stands out among the others.

  1. A light final recommendation is that I like to unlevel the world. It's pretty masochistic, but it's the ultimate way of feeling that you're part of a game world that doesn't revolve around you. I find it cool knowing that I'm likely to not be able to conquer a dungeon full of bad guys at level 1. That I need backup to clear these places. And I love seeing my progression from a weakling, to someone who can dominate low level bandit camps I come across at higher levels.

To that end, my choice is a Zedit patchet by Daniel UA called True Unlevelled Skyrim (https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/18342). It's not a normal installed mod, it's something that you apply after you have your mod order settled. Please check out the mod's page itself for instructions. You do need need an extra program to use this (Zedit) but the process isn't very complicated.

And as a resource to you, you should use something that allows you to see the enemy's level when playing an unleveled skyrim game. If you don't want it baked into the UI you can use the "more informative console" mod for troubleshooting things. But TrueHUD as far as I know is currently the best option, as it offers a configuration in its menu to show the enemy's level right above their head when you're in combat. Very cool feature, and gives you a better idea of what you're up against.


Before you start

This modlist isn't necessarily "plug and play" ready. I have avoided most of everything related to combat, crafting, and character-building (in terms of stats and gear) because that's not directly related to the goal of this collection. I prefer to keep this focused and let everyone make those further choices for themselves. So add whatever gameplay-focused mods you enjoy on top of this base.

Requirements

Requires SKSE, and its launcher. No other offsite requirements.

Requires survival mode, which I think pretty much all legit Skyrim owners should have by default?

I do recommend things like a good texture replacer, bethini, etc. to make your gameworld as nice as possible. Dyndolod also helps, if your PC can handle it (mine can't lol).

Best practices

Always check to see if all your needed plugins are active. Mod managers engage in some funny business sometimes.

Things tend to play nicer with the bigger, building / terraforming mod plugins as low in the load order as possible. In particular, I've noticed Solitude Docks having some wacky terrain clipping glitches if it's not near the bottom, so give it what it wants.


Recommended specs

Overall, performance hits shouldn't be too hard, even in areas with lots of building and character additions.

I get a solid 60 FPS (or at least upper 50s) almost everywhere with my current PC (specs below), on top of using a combination of Skyrim 202x (2k potato version) and Skyland for landscapes.

The combination of my texture mods and the combination of mods I use for Windhelm make me drop frames at certain points around its exterior. I drop to the low 40's at a very specific location, but there's no stuttering at least and most of the time I only drop to the low 50's. So a word of caution if you're also using the Windhelm Expanded mod on top of the Windhelm Military Enhancement. It might be a little much for mid level systems. I don't consider it a huge deal.

My current specs:

  • GPU = Radeon RX 6600
  • RAM = 32 Gigs 3600 DDR4
  • CPU = Ryzen 7 5700G

Compatible collections

I might make a gameplay-focused mod collection at some point. For now this is my first and only one. However, this was made to not interfere with too many unrelated aspects of gameplay. It only touches NPCs, loot, cities, and dialogue for the most part and should be pretty compatible with any gameplay-centric collections you want to glue onto it.

I guess Morrowloot would be the only possible odd man out in this list. So you can build around it, or drop it completely if there's some incompatibility with whatever you want to use.


Final Notes

If anyone gives my collection a try, thanks for reading.

If nothing else, I'm just making this as a testament to this Skyrim modding hobby that I've put many hours into over the past few years.

Thank you to all mod authors out there for your hard work, Skyrim is still an interesting and ever improving game over a decade later and it's all thanks to this awesome community.

If any issues arise with this collection, do share. The list is pretty solid I think, but it's possible that I forgot to add something. I will make edits, if necessary.

Revision 1 Stats
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4.5GB
Published
Oct 21, 2022
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