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MODDING SKYRIM - The Best mods for Skyrim+How to install them
This guide is for modding Skyrim with the best, most essential, must have mods. The guide will cover how to install them, and what mods are the best for almost every category of the game (house mods, magic mods, graphic mods, texture mods, User interface mods, weapon mods, armor mods, and more)
This post is meant to help new and old players alike, and feel free to share the link of this post with anyone else that has questions about Skyrim mods. Especially those that are switching from the Xbox/PS3 to the PC .
To install most of these mods - get the [Nexus Mod Manager - NMM] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/modmanager/ . It's an easy-to-use program to download, install and uninstall mods with a click of a button although with certain script intensive mods, you NEED to read their individual uninstallation procedure .
If you don't like the Skyrim Nexus, a majority of the mods in this post are also available on the Steam Workshop.
Then, get [BOSS] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/6 - to keep your mods properly "load-ordered", to improve performance and reduce CTDs due to improper mod load order. Install your mods with NMM, then after that run BOSS to sort the mods.
*Please remember to endorse any mod you download and if you enjoy it - its a way of giving thanks to a modder's hard work. I bookmark the pages of the mods I download, that way I remember to endorse the mod after a hour.*
User Interface Mods (absolutely essential!)
At the very least get these mods, even *before* you play Skyrim for the first time.
Please watch see video and/or see the video's description for the mods you'll need to get to really enhance the User Interface (UI) of Skyrim for the best possible experience.
Included mods are SkyUI, iHUD, CFM, Better Quest Objectives, and more.
Unofficial Skyrim, Dawnguard and Hearthfire Patches
These all are community made patches for fixing bugs/issues with Skyrim, Dawnguard and Hearthfire. May increase performance and reduce crashes. Strongly Recommended.
Crimson Tide http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12798 - A mod that that overhauls blood within the game, better textures, on-hit blood spray effects, blood pools on the ground, and more, makes melee combat more visceral.
Climates of Tamriel http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17802 - Weather system overhaul mod for Skyrim, with hundreds of new weather patterns/systems. Also makes dungeons darker. If you use this mod, I'd recommend using a CoT themed ENB or just imaginator+dynavision.
Skyrim Mod Collection: Enhanced Distant Terrain and other Distant Detail Mods - This video is like the UI collection one, but enhances the distant LOD/view objects and details of Skyrim to look a ton better than the vanilla game.
Clanking Armor http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24352 - Adds a metallic "clanking" noise when you walk/run/sprint, when you are wearing heavy armor or heavy armor boots like iron, daedric, dwarven, etc.
No Spinning Death Animation http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17214 - removes the unnatural spinning death animation that happens when you or NPCs die, and replaces it with a realistic ragdoll.
Player Headtracking http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23600/ - Your character turns his/her head to look at other NPCs when they are talking, passing by, and more. Great immersion mod when in 3rd person.
Wet and Cold http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27563 - NPCs will equip rain hoods when its raining and head for cover, when NPCs are out in cold climates their breath has a "steam" effect, they wear gloves and hoods, and more. Check out isoku's SkyrimNexus profile for more cool immersion mods, such as his Rainbows and Shooting Stars mods.
Frostfall http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/11163 - Ultimate survival roleplaying mod. Recommended for hardcore realism players. Basic premise is that you'll need to prepare yourself for the cold, extreme climates of Skyrim - making fires, keeping warm, and not freezing to death. Frostfall 2.0 video coming soon.
Alternate Start - Live Another Life http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/9557 - This mod gives you a variety of choices for a new playthrough. Instead of starting in Helgen - You'll start in a cell where you'll customize your character (race,gender,face,etc), then you'll choose an unique start other than the Helgen/vanilla intro sequence.
Apocalypse Spell Package http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/16225 - My favorite magic mod. Adds over 170+ fair and balanced spells across each school of magic. A must have for mages and spellswords. Well, any class really.
Dance of Death http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10906 - Dance of Death adds many new killmove animations across almost all weapon types. You can also configure the killmove chance to 100%, only beheading killmoves, and enable killmoves even if its not the last NPC alive, and more.
Convenient Horses http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/14950 - Tons of new awesome features for horses, including armor, mounted looting+talking, mounted combat for NPC followers, and more. Video coming soon.
Best Armor and Weapon Mods
Immersive Armors by hothtrooper44 http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19733 - Tons of great lore friendly armor items are added by this excellent mod, by hothtrooper44 who is very well known for his great armor mods.
Xenius Armor Compilation - XAC http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23231 - XAC adds several armors that are non-skimpy and look amazing on females, this mod is perfect for those that play as a female character, but want protective, feminine looking armor.
Bandolier http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/16438 - Increase your carry weight capacity by crafting various bags and pouches that you can wear. Great for hoarders, or people that want to personalize their character model.
Immersive Weapons http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27644 - Adds over 200 new lorefriendly weapons (most of them are from other smaller weapon mods, so consider this a "community weapon mod compilation").
Best followers (only use one or two though, not all):
Hoth - A Follower by Hothtrooper44 http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24666 - Hoth is a grizzly, old bounty hunter bad♥♥♥♥♥ and my favorite follower mod. He has custom voice acting, and can give you quests too (Bounty Quests), so there's always something to do with him.
Grey Ledge Manor http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18112 - Great medium-sized player home located in the worldspace so no loading doors or interior cells to load. Simply walk right into your house! Also includes a blacksmith merchant and all the player home essentials.
Alternative to this post, mainly for graphics/visuals. I haven't used it, but heard many positive things about it.
Thanks for reading!
This list will also be updated from time to time, but this post should keep you busy for a while =)
Note: I don't personally use the Steam Workshop - hence the lack of Steam Workshop mods/links, but most of the mods listed here can be found on SteamWorkshop. I think the Nexus Mod Manager is easier and it let's you have greater control over your mods.