My plan for modding Skyrim on the Steam Deck

This is a post to compile my overall plans for how I’m going to mod Skyrim on my Steam Deck! This will include a compilation of the various recommendations for mods I’ve already gotten, as well as some stuff I’d like to see if I can find mods for.

This will be a long post, so here’s a More tag!

Reference video

First and foremost, here’s a video I’ll be using for reference, for getting Mod Organizer 2 set up on the Deck. This makes it clear that yes, with just a little effort, I should be able to prep the Deck for modding without even having to install Windows.

Mods I installed on PC

With the recommendations of my friend John, who gave me initial guidance on how to mod Skyrim, I set up a small number of mods on my PC. This is where I did the majority of Shenner’s playthrough before moving her over to the Deck.

Those mods include:

  1. USSEP (Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch) – Comprehensive bugfix patch
  2. SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) – Vortex insisted I install this when I installed some of the other things, I don’t think I had to pull it off of directly
  3. SSE Engine Fixes for
  4. Engine Fixes – skse64 Preloader and TBB Lib (same link as previous)
  5. Address Library for SKSE Plugins – All in one (Anniversary Edition) (pulled off the Files tab for this)
  6. eFPS – Exterior FPS Boost and eFPS – Anniversary Edition – Didn’t get great improvement off of this but actually did improve my exterior frame rates at least a bit
  7. Skyrim Project Optimization SE – Improvements for interiors, seemed to actually help my PC interior frame rates pretty well
  8. Skyrim Script Extender 64 (SKSE64) – This came in by default I think when I installed the SKSE?

For playing on the Deck I don’t think I’ll need all of these. #1, #2, and #8 are critical, but the rest of them less so, just because the Steam Deck is much more powerful a device than my old PC laptop.

Everything after this point in this post is stuff that’s either been actively recommended to me, or stuff which I’ve found looking up articles about what various gaming sites recommend for Skyrim mods. I do not necessarily mean to install all of these, but I do want to explore whether I want them. I may do test installs to see if I like them! I may not! But it’ll be fun to find out.

Other recs from John

All of these other recs also came from my friend John. (Hi John!)

  1. SkyUI – Highly recommended overhaul of Skyrim’s general UI
  2. A Quality World Map – Various options for how to improve the in-game map
  3. RaceMenu – Overhaul to the character creation UI, this seems to be of a similar style to SkyUI
  4. Cutting Room Floor – SSE – Implements content originally intended to be included in Skyrim but which was cut before final release
  5. The Paarthurnax Dilemma – Gives you the ability to actually tell Delphine and Esbern FUCK NO when they demand you kill Paarthurnax
  6. Alternate Start – Live Another Life – SSE – Gives the ability to choose amongst several different ways to start the game, with different hooks to start the main quest
  7. Realm of Lorkhan – Freeform Alternate Start – Another alternate start mod
  8. Amazing Follower Tweaks SE – What it says on the tin, lets you do several things with followers, including having more than one
  9. INIGO – Khajiit follower mod, will interact with other follower mods (like Vilja) and Lydia
  10. Jaxonz Smart Looter Continued SE – May or may not install this, this automatically picks up loot you want and leaves the rest
  11. ENB Alternative – A color reshader

Graphical mod recs from eFPS Discord

Folks on the eFPS Discord server have a screenshots channel, and when I asked what mods they were using to create some of the gorgeous screenshots I was seeing, this is the list I was given. Credit to user Bălegar on that Discord server for these recs:

  1. Picturesque ENB
  2. Happy Little Trees
  3. Origins Of Forest
  4. Folkvangr Grass
  5. Majestic Mountains
  6. Ethereal Clouds
  7. Ethereal Cosmos
  8. Enhanced Volumetric Lighting and Shadows
  9. Noble Skyrim

Recs from Skywind Discord

These recs are courtesy of the user Lacuna_of_Light on the Skywind Discord, who very kindly gave me quite the extensive list of mod recs via DM:

  1. Mod Organizer 2 – Already mentioned above, but the video above is specifically pointing at a Linux-based installer for this, this link is just for the Nexus Mods download for PC; notable thing about MO2 is that you can keep a vanilla Skyrim install separate from a modded install
  2. LOOT – Sorts your mods into the correct load order for you, which is essential if you have more than a couple. If you use MO2, you will run LOOT through MO2 so that it can recognize your mods
  3. Valdacil’s Item Sorting – Renames some items so that they are grouped more logically in inventory
  4. Better Dialogue Controls – Not sure if I’m going to need this one just because its target audience appears to be people who play by keyboard, and I’ve been preferring playing by controller? But this one’s idea is to make dialogue choices work better
  5. Interesting NPCs SE (3DNPC) – Adds a lot of new quests and characters
  6. The Forgotten City – Adds a whole new adventure you can run
  7. Beyond Skyrim – Bruma SE – Extends the map into the city of Bruma in Cyrodiil, with additional quests to run
  8. Realistic Water Two – Improves behavior and appearance of water
  9. Skyrim Flora Overhaul – Visual overhaul of plants
  10. Vivid Weathers – Overhaul of weather
  11. Relationship Dialogue Overhaul – Improves behavior of NPCs as they interact with you, based on what kind of a relationship you have with them
  12. Ars Metallica – Smithing Enhancement – Smithing improvements! Interested in this one
  13. Immersive Citizens – AI Overhaul – Improves behavior of NPCs in relation to nearby aggression, i.e., less likely that every single citizen NPC in the immediate area will try to attack the Traveler or a surprise dragon or what have you
  14. Dawn of Skyrim (Director’s Cut) SE – Overhaul of the major cities, may possibly have issues with Immersive Citizens
  15. Immersive College of Winterhold – Definitely interested in this one, lots of tasty additions to the College of Winterhold
  16. Skyrim Perk Enhancement and Rebalanced Gameplay SE – This one rejiggers how getting perks works

Rec from Skyblivion Discord

SomeGamer34 on the Skyblivion Discord recommended this one:

  1. Enderal: Forgotten Stories – this is less “Skyrim mod” and more “entirely different game built on Skyrim’s engine”, and it’s available for free on Steam for anybody with a legit owned copy of Skyrim.

Other mods I want to investigate further

These are all ones I’ve found reading various articles with mod recommendations.

  1. Bards Reborn – This one overhauls the Bards College, highly interested in this one
  2. Innocence Lost Alternative – This one lets you take care of Grelod without having to actually murder her yourself, and instead report her to a guard (which prompts her to attack said guard and get killed anyway)
  3. Thieves Guild Alternate Routes – Some potentially interesting alterations to the Thieves Guild quest line, not the least of which is being able to either not intimidate the Riften shopkeepers, or else make amends to them later
  4. Renounce the Daedra (Epic Restoration Lite) – Gives you a Restoration spell that lets you actively renounce Daedra to terminate their quests if you happen to get pulled into ones you don’t want
  5. Dark Brotherhood for Good Guys – What it says on the tin, interested in this one just because the Dark Brotherhood is one of the few things I haven’t done in Skyrim yet, but the vanilla plotline for it does not appeal to me and I won’t do it
  6. Total Character Makeover – Not sure if I’ll like this or not, most of the character redesign mods I’ve seen make the characters seem too homogenous, but I’ll at least take a look at this one
  7. Simply Knock SE – Gives you an option to knock on locked doors rather than go straight to breaking in, may sometimes be useful?
  8. Souls to Perks SE – Gives you a way to spend extraneous dragon souls on perks
  9. Realistic Animals and Predators SE – Improved behavior for animals, also adds young that can follow their mothers around
  10. Diverse Hold Guards – Diversifies the guard forces in the Holds, adding female guards to the Imperial Holds, and also adding guards of other races in cities where the population mix makes it appropriate
  11. Guard Dialogue Overhaul SE – Reworks guard dialogue and lets the guards transition from giving you shit at low levels up to you making them actively nervous at higher levels, sounds potentially fun 😀
  12. Legacy of the Dragonborn SSE – This one seems big and complex and lets you do, among other things, a museum in Solitude of artifacts you acquire in your travels
  13. Moonpath to Elsweyr SSE – A quest that can actually take you down to Elsweyr, cool
  14. Hearthfire Dolls Are Ugly – Makes some nicer dolls and teddy bears for adopted children
  15. Book Covers Skyrim – Prettier book covers
  16. Sounds of Skyrim Complete SE – Adds a lot more sounds and ambiance to various parts of the game, and makes them dependent upon time of day as well
  17. Lucien – Follower mod, this is another complex follower mod
  18. Hearthfires Display Case Fix SE – Because it sure would be nice if all the display cases in the built homes were actually, y’know, usable

I was going to try to find a mod to improve horse behavior, but I think the Anniversary Edition has already solved that problem for me with the Wild Horses content. See all of my gushing about having a unicorn in Shenner’s run. <3

And I really wish there was a mod for a questline to rebuild the city of Winterhold. There apparently used to be one, but it got pulled off of Nexusmods!

I think this’ll be more than enough to get started though. Anybody else got any mod recs you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments!

Editing to add

Forgot a mod rec! This one is courtesy of my friend Shanti:

  1. Anna’s NPCs – Another NPC/follower mod, with several new fully voiced potential followers, and I feel like I am obliged to check this one out on general grounds of it being called “Anna’s NPCs” 😉

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.