Since I’m canceling Harrowhark’s playthrough, I’m taking the time in this post to review her final list of mods, and decide which of them I want to keep and which ones I will not be revisiting for future modded runs.
As of her last sessions, I had 91 total mods being run, with a handful of others being ones I’d tried to ditch mid-playthrough. As I’ve written about before, compared to a lot of Skyrim players out there, this honestly is kind of amateur hour. And since this was my first fully modded run, I’m also honestly not surprised I eventually ran into trouble. Like I said in my post about canceling her run, I’ve learned the hard lesson that fucking around with your mods in the middle of a playthrough is really not a good idea.
So this post is for thoughts about which mods I will ditch and which ones I want to keep for future reference. Since this is going to be long, let’s put this behind a fold, shall we?
Overall favorite mods
- Lucien, on the grounds that he was the most entertaining follower I’ve ever had in a Skyrim playthrough
- Bards Reborn, for making the effort to go through the Bards College actually more entertaining and useful
- Convenient Horses, for giving me the ability to CALL MY DAMN HORSE on demand <3
- Immersive College of Winterhold, because of a whole bunch of things, but primarily ability to train my magic better with the college trainers, and also the ability to fix the bridge into the college <3 <3
- Immersive Citizens, for making a lot of quality-of-life changes to NPC behaviors
- Dawn of Skyrim, for some really nice changes to the city layouts
Mods I definitely want to keep
- Lucien: Lucien is wonderful and I didn’t get a chance to finish his personal storyline before I had to bail on Harrow’s playthrough.
- Bards Reborn Student of Song: This was mostly fucking amazing, though I need to take a harder look at the problems I had with books falling off of shelves in the college, and not being able to store some of the mod’s own created books on my shelves. If there are fixes for these, or known incompatibilities with other mods that might be causing these issues, I want to account for that in my next mods list.
- Beyond Skyrim: Definitely keeping this one, I didn’t even get to reach Bruma before I had to kill Harrow’s playthrough. So exploring this is still pending.
- Campfire: I only barely started getting the hang of this one, I feel, but I definitely want to keep it for future playthroughs. It made setting up camps an actually useful thing to do. And if I do a mods-based version of Survival Mode, this will be a critical part of that.
- Convenient Horses: OMG yes I’m keeping this one. The ability to summon my horse on demand is worth the effort of installing all by itself. 😀
- Cutting Room Floor: I think I want to keep this one, just because it added enough new interesting things that I didn’t get to fully look at yet. And I need more time to look at those interesting new things.
- Dark Brotherhood for Good Guys: I didn’t get to finish this, so yeah, I gotta try it again!
- Dawn of Skyrim: I really, really liked the changes to Whiterun in this one. But I also saw it causing some problems, mostly due to installing it on top of the Anniversary Edition. So next load order I make, I’m definitely going to have to scarf all appropriate patches.
- Ethereal Clouds and Ethereal Cosmos: I’ve had more than once instance of being struck breathless by the sky with these two mods, even more so than vanilla Skyrim. So keeping these for now.
- Guard Dialogue Overhaul: Yeah, this is good. Making guard dialogue more immersive for the win.
- Happy Little Trees: I liked the look of the trees with this brought in. Keeping it.
- Hearthfire Dolls Are Ugly: Didn’t get a chance to really utilize this given that Harrow didn’t get to the point of adopting children. So I’ll keep this in rotation for now.
- Hearthfires Display Case Fix: Keeping this too just for the sake of making display cases more useful in the Hearthfire homes.
- Hedge Mage Armor: Since this turned into Harrow’s go-to armor, definitely going to keep this around for any future playthroughs that are female characters. Which, since I am me, is likely to be most if not all of them. I may skip this for Khajiit or Argonians, though. The hood seems to be only sorta kinda friendly to the those races.
- Hide SkyUI: Definitely need to keep this in the toolbox because of several mods I want to keep requiring SkyUI, and as I’ve written before, I don’t like SkyUI’s interface all that much.
- Immersive Citizens: Absolutely keeping. I really liked the tweaks this did to NPCs all over the game. There are a couple of patches I’ll need to remember to grab for it, though.
- Immersive College of Winterhold and all relevant patches: FUCK YES I’m keeping this.
- Innocence Lost Alternative: Keeping this on general grounds of liking that you can sic the Riften guards on Grelod the Kind with it.
- Ish’s Souls to Perks: Yes please, let me spend the extra dragon souls I rack up on perks! Didn’t get to use this as much as I wanted to due to the aborted playthrough.
- Menu Maid 2 (and by extension powerofthree’s Tweaks: Keeping this just because I want to make damn sure I don’t have any recurrences of my Mysterious Missing MCMs issue in future playthroughs.
- Practical Female Armors and Practical Female Hide Armors: Definitely keeping. But I will need to doublecheck settings on it, since I did notice it breaking vampire armor.
- Realistic Water Two: This was definitely good. Though I may need to consider available patches for it.
- Relationship Dialogue Overhaul: Gonna keep this for now, just because I really liked being greeted happily by characters I’ve done favors for.
- The entire “Rustic” series of texture mods: By and large pretty happy with every one of those that I installed, though I didn’t get them all.
- Serana Dialogue Edit: Didn’t get a chance to try this properly, so definitely keeping it around.
- Simply Knock: Useful. Keeping.
- Realistic Animals and Predators: This mod is I think a pretty big performance hit on the Steam Deck, but on the other hand, I was actively delighted by enough of its changes that I’m going to keep it around. <3
- SkyUI and patches: Required to keep around for other important mods.
- The Paarthurnax Dilemma and voiced dialogue patch: Definitely keeping. I didn’t get Harrow’s playthrough to the point of taking advantage of these changes, and I definitely want to see them!
- Thieves Guild Alternate Routes: Keeping this, but will probably punt to a later version of the same mod. The version I had installed in Harrow’s run had some highly frustrating bugs in it, regarding breaking of Bedlam Jobs when getting jobs from Delvin.
- Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch: NATURALLY. Not doing a modded playthrough without it.
- Warmer Bandit Armor: Yes. Because half-naked bandits running around Skyrim’s snowy, snowy mountains is stupid. Nords are hardy but not immune to frostbite!
- Weapons Armor Clothing and Clutter Fixes: Required for other mods I want to keep to work.
- Assorted other performance-improving mods from previous playthroughs: Keeping those too, things like address library fixes, project optimizations, engine fixes, etc.
Mods I’m ambivalent about but will have to consider further
- Bosmer Armor Pack: I wanted to like this one more than I did. The armor and weapons it provided looked cool. But I didn’t like it breaking Jenassa like it did. Possibly revisit this one if I can also get an appropriate patch for it installed at the same time. (Or, I may also just install Immersive Armors since I think this armor set is included in that anyway.)
- Armor and Clothing Extension: Keep… maybe? I liked some aspects of this but wasn’t a fan of the patterns on the mage and priest robes. Kind of wondering if those would look better if I used higher resolution graphics options? Worth exploring.
- Quality World Map: Maybe this was just a function of the particular map style I chose, but I was fairly indifferent to this mod. But I’ll doublecheck the other styles maybe and see if I like them any better before deciding whether or not to ditch this one completely.
- Noble Skyrim: Maybe keep this one? I liked a bunch of the visual changes it did, though I found myself doing a bit of a double-take every time I walked into Lakeview, Windstad, or Heljarchen. I’m not entirely convinced I like this mod’s version of those houses.
- Ars Metallica: I need to think about this one. I really liked this mod’s ability to let you smelt stuff into ingots, the closest thing I’ve found in Skyrim to deconstruction of stuff in ESO. But I’m not really a fan of the changes it makes to the damage on various types of arrows, and I think it makes leveling Smithing almost too easy. I need to doublecheck this mod and see if it has any ability to toggle the bits you don’t like back off.
- EVLaS: Need to think about this one too. I really liked the idea of it, and it did amazing things to lighting during daylight hours. But I also found myself struggling to see things any time I was out journeying during nighttime hours. Which is a problem if you’re playing a vampire. I should doublecheck this one and see how configurable it might be.
- Sounds of Skyrim: I liked some of the stuff this mod did, but I think I’ll need to take another look at its MCM and dial back hard on a bunch of its options. A lot of the additional noises I found actively distracting.
- Tidy Up: May keep this if I can’t find an appropriate patch for the buggy book behavior in the Bards Reborn mod. Need to confirm.
Mods I am definitely ditching
- Vilja: She pissed me off too much for me to want to have her in another playthrough. And I couldn’t safely uninstall her, because her mod actually makes significant changes to the worldspace in certain parts of the game.
- Anna NPCs SSE: Ditch. I wanted to get this working but never did figure out how to fix the problems I saw at the start of Harrow’s run. Nuking that mod out of her playthrough may have contributed to worldspace corruption that ultimately broke me, too. It’s possible that this mod may work correctly if I have it active while actually starting a brand new game, but right now I’m not feeling inspired to try it again.
- Cloaks of Skyrim: I liked the idea of this. But on the whole I found myself mostly unimpressed by this, and not bothering to wear what cloaks I had available to me after a while.
- Female Imperial Guards and Soldiers: I feel guilty about ditching this one, but as I saw in Harrow’s playthrough, it’s got game-breaking bugs at the start of the game in Whiterun. And from what I see reading its page on Nexus, it also possibly breaks the Forsworn Conspiracy. I don’t want to have to fuck around with forcing a male guard to spawn just to run Dragon Rising. But I’ll keep an eye out. If this mod updates, or gets a useful patch, I’ll add it back into my rotation.
- Moonpath to Elsweyr: I’m glad I ran this once, but given that Harrow’s playthrough broke after I finished this, I am still highly suspicious that it was possibly involved in the eventual game-breaking fuckage of that playthrough. I don’t want to risk it breaking any future playthroughs. Plus, as I wrote about during Harrow’s run, I felt like a lot of aspects of this mod really showed their age and didn’t fit in well with what’s been established in lore since with the Anniversary Edition and ESO.
- Scout Armor and patch: Ditching, I think. I liked the weapons a lot more than I liked the armor, but I also felt like the entire gear set was weirdly OP. And while I did sorta kinda like most of the armor, I definitely didn’t care for any of the helmet and hood options, and was decidedly meh on the capes.
- Skyrim Flora Overhaul: I was seeing a notable drop in FPS in Harrow’s playthrough compared to what I had in Shenner’s, which was very lightly modded. This mod is a performance hit, and I’m not wedded enough to its visual changes to keep it around if it means I can get better performance back.
- Starsight Eyes: Meh. Liked the idea, but when I installed it in Harrow’s run, I didn’t see any obvious impact from it when I sent her to the Face Sculptor. This thing may require RaceMenu to run and I’m not feeling motivated to poke at this further. Plus, playing on the Steam Deck, I don’t really get a lot of screen real estate to spare for the detail work going into these eyes.
- The Forgotten City and its music patch: I’m really glad I ran the Forgotten City once, but I’m not feeling motivated to return to it, now that I’ve had some distance from that part of Harrow’s playthrough. I found the overall story really strong, but certain aspects of it were also actively off-putting, as I wrote in the in-depth review of the mod. Plus, the breaking of the game’s vanilla music was super, super distracting.
- Inigo: I really like the interplay between him and Lucien. But Inigo did piss me off with his constant harping on my taking dragon souls, and his personal storyline is not yet actually implemented properly. I’ll revisit Inigo when a later version of him is released. Ditching him for now.
Other mods considerations
I’m still not entirely sure which mods I want to invoke in a new playthrough, besides the ones I have listed here. More thoughts on this to come.