The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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PotatoMan Feb 1, 2014 @ 11:04am
Alternate start mod comparison
I'm in the midst of a modding binge, and the latest class of mods I'm looking at are alternate starts. A lot of mods work best with a fresh character, and doing the Helgen sequence over and over just to test new mods gets tiring.

Here are all the alternate start mods I know of with some stats, descriptions, and impressions.

Alternate Start - Live Another Life[]
> 700,000 unique downloads
Posted 13 July 2012, updated 13 November 2013
Choose from a set of starting scenarios through dialog (you talk to a statue). Example starts include being a patron at an inn, being a fresh recruit at one of the guilds, going through the default main quest prison cart ride to Helgen, and being a vampire in a vampire lair.
The main quest is started by visited the ruins of Helgen, where you'd encounter Alduin at a nearby camp site. There's also a start option that just puts you in the camp site where you first meet Alduin. (From the description.)
This is the "standard" alternate start mod, created by a well-known mod author and listed in just about every Skyrim modding guide. The "prisoner whose life is reset by a magic statue" premise is a bit weird to me though.

Skyrim Unbound (standalone download[])
> 30,000 subscriptions
Posted 14 August 2013, updated 31 January 2014 (it was on the Nexus earlier, but its creator got banned from there)
Setup is done through the MCM menu in the options screen, as in you have to open the options screen before starting the game proper. Pick equipment, magic, and a location through the mod's MCM config menu. Dragons, dragon soul absorption, and word wall learning can be toggled, making it possible to disable the main quest entirely.
The main quest is started by killing a dragon and absorbing its soul, and starts with The Way of the Voice. The Helgen sequence and the quests Before the Storm, Bleak Falls Barrow, and Dragon Rising are skipped entirely (you can still do The Golden Claw).
This is the alternate start mod I've actually tried. It's straightforward, and the options that basically allow you to set whether you're the Dragonborn or not are a nice touch. Having to open the options screen to set this all up instead of going through any in-game setup is a bit annoying though.

Random Alternate Start[]
> 50,000 unique downloads
Posted 12 October 2012, updated 22 October 2012
Pick a loadout, then get placed at a completely random location such as a city, a shack in the wilderness, or at the bottom of a dungeon.
The main quest is started by investigating Helgen. (From the description.)
I figure this would be useful for a challenge playthrough, but that's about it.

A Simple Alternate Start[]
Posted 4 January 1014, updated 15 January 2014
Choose from a small set of locations and start with minimal equipment.
The main quest is started by talking to Jarl Balgruuf in Whiterun. (From the description.)
This mod is new, but also promises to be straightforward and to the point like Skyrim Unbound.

Altered Beginning by Thrymjabjorn[]
> 3,000 unique downloads
Posted 7 April 2013, never updated (apparently used to be on Steam Workshop, Nexus uploader not the original author)
Instead of bypassing the Helgen sequence, this mod streamlines it. You black out as soon as Alduin appears when you're at the chopping block; when you wake up you choose a class, get some starting equipment, then choose a starting location by activating a horse (you get to keep the horse). The entire tutorial portion of Helgen is skipped.
I imagine simply streamlining Helgen instead of cutting it out entirely would lead to the least amount of conflicts with the main quest, and it seems to do a good job of that judging by its video. This mod is apparently abandoned and buggy though.

I'm curious about what alternate star mods you've all tried and would recommend.
Last edited by PotatoMan; Feb 1, 2014 @ 11:05am
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Showing 1-10 of 10 comments
Trigger Feb 1, 2014 @ 12:42pm 
Skyrim Unbound is what i use and have never had any problems with it. Just kill any Dragon and the Main questline starts by telling you to go see the Greybeards. AWESOME mod
Brandybuck Feb 1, 2014 @ 1:04pm 
I've heard great things about Live Another Life, but it bugs out on me, so I used Skyrim Unbound. So far no problems with it.
gnewna Feb 1, 2014 @ 1:23pm 
I like the roleplaying elements of the various starts on LAL (my favourite was starting off in the Thalmor Embassy, although sadly my game got irretrievably bugged before the bit where that would have paid off, roleplay wise, so I ended up going and doing a different questline) but I think SU seems to just kind of... work better, for me. Plus, tbh, I like skipping Bleak Falls and all that (although I ended up going through there after all in this playthrough as I decided I wanted to marry Camilla Valerius) and going straight to the Greybeards, and I find SU seems to have done a better job of removing references to having been at Helgen, which was a bit immersion-breaking unless I was playing a liar who was claiming to have been there.
Incunabulum Feb 1, 2014 @ 2:46pm 
I like LAL - but I always end up using the hunter start anyway. I have found that some of the start locations can be screwy - I couldn't find my way out of the shipwreck on one and definitely don't start Frostfall first if you're taking the 'robbed and left for dead' start.
Skyrimnut Feb 2, 2014 @ 1:57am 
I have the opposite problem, SU bugs out on me while LAL is the most stable, so LAL is the one I have. But I liked the options in SU, so I think it's another really good one, just not for me. I have not tried the others mentioned in the original post. What I like about LAL is that you can actually opt for the original Helgen sequence if you choose to. The role-playing options are very good. When I started as a Redguard, I got Hammerfell garb right away. "Left for dead" is my personal favorite. I got spawned in the sulfur flats, not an easy place to get out of with nothing but flames at your disposal and the very limited magicka of a Nord. You can also start at a property and many of the property mods worth with this too, so you can start in style. Goatk's Hearthfire remodels of the 5 major houses work with LAL. You get Vindrel Hall without doing anything, Proudspire too. :D hehehehe
OZFugazi Feb 2, 2014 @ 2:11am 
i use unbound.. have no issues with it and find it outstanding. simple option set up, and the ability to eliminate dragons or dragon walls all together adds for better sand box play. (should you choose that) . the random start locations are perfect.

the mod itself is extremely well done, easy to use and avidly supported by its creator. good show.

all the best.
Jela'n Feb 2, 2014 @ 2:18am 
I use the Alternate Start-Live Another Life mod and have done since it was released and never had any issues with it..sorrry that some of you do.Although some of the Alternate starts are a worry if you also use the Frostfall mod, freezing to death is not a very good start. LOL
gnewna Feb 2, 2014 @ 3:24am 
Yeah, I started in the shipwreck with the Hypothermia mod on, doubt I'd have survived if I weren't a Nord on that play through! Hadn't even thought about that and just picked a race at random. Is the specific location always the same for each start, or are some of them randomised? Because being shipwrecked North of Dawnstar... yikes!
Wendersnaven Aug 1, 2015 @ 11:46pm 
I've been trying to decide and have come to the fourms. Thanks OP for the writeup, it's been helpful. Ima choose one and report back some time.
Bullwinkle Aug 2, 2015 @ 12:53pm 
Thread dead 18 months.
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Date Posted: Feb 1, 2014 @ 11:04am
Posts: 10