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[www.nexusmods.com]
> 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
> 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[www.nexusmods.com]
> 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[tesalliance.org]
> 10 downloads
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[www.nexusmods.com]
> 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.