Before You Start
Before you get started installing or playing Living Skyrim, it’s important to note a few things:
Sections labeled important like this one will tell you when you need to pay extra attention to something.
Warning blocks like this one will warn you when you absolutely must not forget to do something. Failure to heed warning blocks is cause for disaster.
- You are not required to have Nexus Premium to install Living Skyrim, however, it is highly recommended. Nexus Premium will cut your install time to a fraction of what it would be by automating both the mod download and mod install processes of installing the list.
- As of version 3.5.0, Living Skyrim requires 257GB of hard drive space on top of the ~11GB Skyrim: Special Edition base files. Installing to an SSD/NVMe is not required, but also highly recommended. Download and installation times vary based on your computer and internet speeds, but expect the entire process to take a few hours. If you are installing the list without Nexus Premium, expect the process to take a couple of days of 8+ hour sessions downloading mods.
- To maximize performance, both Skyrim: Special Edition and Living Skyrim should be installed on the same hard drive, ideally an SSD/NVMe. This is not required, just recommended if you want the smoothest gameplay experience.
- If you are not familiar with the contents of this modlist, a complete documentation of every mod in the list including links to the mods is available on the LS3 Modlist Spreadsheet.
- If you instead only wish for a brief overview of the major changes this modlist makes, you should refer to the Important Mods You Need to Know About of this document.
- Autosaves for Living Skyrim 3 are disabled. You should make your quicksave button your best friend (usually, the F5 key).
- Continuing the last point, it is always better to save before entering a loading screen instead of after. After a loading screen it is very likely that scripts will be running for at least 30 seconds, so if you must save after a loading screen, at least wait that long before doing so.
- Wabbajack does support updating an existing installation of a modlist. However, as part of this process, it does delete files that don’t match with what it is installing. This includes RaceMenu presets, mods you’ve added/changed, and possibly even save files. It is a good practice to keep backups of your save files so that you can update safely. Saves are stored within the folder you install Living Skyrim to.
- Living Skyrim 3 has been updated such that NPCs and player characters are never nude. Underwear is worn by all NPCs and the player character and cannot be unequipped.
- Adding to, changing, or removing from Living Skyrim is not supported. See the Adding to Living Skyrim section of this document for more details.
- As many common issues as I could find have been documented in the Common Issues section of this document. Refer to this before asking for support.
- If you want some tips related to getting started playing the list, refer to the Getting Started in Living Skyrim section of this document.
- By default, Living Skyrim has the game running in exclusive fullscreen mode to assist with game performance.
Living Skyrim v3.0.0 has been cut back severely from the performance hog it was in v2.0.0 and on. Textures range from 512x512 to 4K and everything in between. The following system is ForgottenGlory’s personal computer and is able to run the list at a constant 60FPS including ENB at 1440p monitor resolution.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X @ 4.2GHz
- RAM: G.Skill TridentZ Neo 32GB DDR4 3600MHz CL16
- GPU: nVidia RTX 2080 Super 8GB (8192MB actual)
- Monitor: Dell S2716DGR 2560x1440 @ 144hz
- Storage: Sabrent Rocket 2TB M.2 NVMe 2280; Samsung EVO 860 250GB; SeaGate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM
In general, it is recommended that you have a processor with a clock speed of at least 3GHz and a graphics card with at least 6GB of VRAM. 4GB graphics cards may be able to run the list if you do not use ENB, but it is not guaranteed.
As for RAM, 16GB is the minimum recommended specification for running the list. 32GB is the ideal amount, and anything more than that is honestly overkill for this list.
If your PC is struggling to run Living Skyrim, see the Performance Optimizations section of this document for tips and tricks to receive better performance.
- The Modlist Spreadsheet
- LS3 Default Keymap
- Living Skyrim Bug Tracker
- Living Skyrim Discord
- Living Skyrim Patreon
The Population Mods
Living Skyrim includes a number of mods that increase the population of both creatures and characters in the world. The two primary mods that contribute to this are Inconsequential NPCs and Increased Enemy Spawns.
Next is OBIS, which adds a ton of mid to high-level bandits to the world. In general this covers most of the overworld locations.
Organic Factions and its Extension adds groups of NPCs that dynamically expand, recruit, and find new leaders. They will spread to conquer new territory and if left unchecked can take over entire holds. Keep an eye on the notifications for this mod, as it will keep you up to date on who is in control of what regions. You can also stumble across battles between factions if their territories overlap.
What does this mean? Well, to put it simply, there are a lot of NPCs to find and interact with now. Silent Moons Camp for example now has somewhere in the range of 30 enemies to fight. It is impossible to go more than 5 minutes without coming across an NPC of some kind be it bandits, a patrol, or an animal. Getting a follower or two (or four) is highly encouraged. You will have to revisit some dungeons once you are stronger or have more followers. The Take Notes mod is included to chronicle your adventure and also to help you remember what places you need to revisit.
The Quest Mods
Very few quests are untouched by Living Skyrim. Whether it’s a location revamp like Bleak Falls Barrow Revisited, or a quest rewrite like Finding Helgi and Laelette, it’s unlikely you’ll play most quests the same as you would in vanilla. This isn’t even to mention all of the new quests added by Living Skyrim. See below for a complete list of quest-related changes and the new quests added by this list.
It would take a tome to cover every single mod here, but there are a few to be aware of in particular: At Your Own Pace (Main Quest & Mage Guild), Timing is Everything, and Legacy of the Dragonborn. The first introduces an optional break into the main and mage guild questlines, giving you time to go do other things if you want a break from them. You’ll need these breaks as there’s a significant difficulty spike between Bleak Falls Barrow and your first dragon fight as well as between the First Lessons quest and the expedition to Saarthal. Timing is Everything delays the DLCs (Dragonborn and Dawnguard, specifically) and various other quests until you are strong enough to take them on.
Legacy of the Dragonborn of course requires no introduction, but if you’re somehow unaware, it adds a museum in Solitude that allows you to proudly display the various items you’ll find in Skyrim. It has a home for almost every unique item (and many non-unique items) as well as introducing its own questline, a new guild you can be the leader of, and its own player home. While Legacy of the Dragonborn is not a focus of Living Skyrim, every applicable patch has been included as well as The Curator’s Companion so you can easily identify items that go in the museum and you can reasonably expect to have a home for any and all items you come across. If collecting and hoarding items is your thing, Legacy of the Dragonborn is for you.
The Magic Mods
Smart Cast has supplanted Sustained Magic in Living Skyrim 3 for a multitude of reasons, the primary being that it works with every other magic mod out of the box. With Smart Cast you can set up specific rules and conditions under which spells will be cast for you - assuming you have the magicka to cast them. It also lets you combine spells into a single cast, again, assuming you have the magicka to cast them both at the same time. This mod has quite a few features available, reading its mod page is highly recommended.
Spell Tutor completely changes how your character learns new spells. Instead of “eating” the book and learning the spell, you now have to spend time studying the spell to learn it. The amount of time it takes to learn new spells is completely configurable through this mod’s MCM menu, so feel free to tweak it to your liking. It also places a restriction on how high your skill needs to be before you can even attempt to learn more powerful spells. This mod’s inclusion is intended to help balance magic as the combination of magic mods included in Living Skyrim make magic significantly stronger.
Odin, Triumvirate, and Elemental Destruction Magic make up the mods adding new spells to Living Skyrim. Between all of these and the additional options found below, it is possible to have multiple mage playthroughs and never do the same build twice.
Thunderchild, Summermyst, and Wintersun, and Mundustar are all included to make magic as diverse as possible with a huge breadth of options. Wintersun covers the religious aspect of the game, Summermyst covers enchantments, Thunderchild covers shouts, and Mundustar covers the various standing stones of the world.
The Combat Mods
The core combat package of Living Skyrim is Blade & Blunt, The Ultimate Dodge Mod (more details below), and VioLens. Assuming a fair fight this generally means that combat will be fast-paced and somewhat deadly. You won’t get one-shot unless you’re fighting an enemy that is significantly higher level than you (10+ levels above your own).
Archery Gameplay Overhaul completely revamps the archery system in Skyrim. You’ll find it now has much more realistic gameplay including arm fatigue, the ability to spread poisons across multiple arrows, stamina drain while the bowstring is pulled, and so on. This mod is highly configurable via its MCM menu, so feel free to tweak it to suit your playstyle.
Also for your consideration: SkyTEST, Deadly Dragons, and Arena - An Encounter Zone Overhaul. Enemies in general will be smarter and stronger across the board, and will dynamically update their levels to match or surpass you as appropriate.
The Ultimate Dodge Mod
The Ultimate Dodge Mod is a very simple but powerful mod: it allows you to dodge while in combat.
By default, TUDM hijacks the vanilla sneak key in order to have no delay or script lag when dodging. Living Skyrim by default uses the following keybinds for TUDM:
- Sneak Key: Left Shift
- Dodge: Ctrl
If you would like to change these keybinds, keep in mind that the Sneak Key you set in the vanilla controls menu will be the key you press to dodge, and the Sneak Key you set in the TUDM MCM will be the key you press to sneak.
A couple of minor notes about TUDM:
- You cannot dodge in the Alternate Perspective starting room, you must leave that cell first before being able to dodge.
- The first time you press the dodge key, you’ll be stuck in a weird position in the air. Press your \ | key twice to become unstuck.
- It is recommended to set TUDM to sidestep OR roll only in the TUDM MCM, not both.
The Perks & Leveling Mods
Vokrii is the perk overhaul of choice for Living Skyrim. It is a lightweight but still complete overhaul of the perk trees allowing for an incredibly diverse amount of character customization and specialization. Experience is included to control the rate at which your skills and levels progress. By default, only clearing dungeons and completing quests will provide XP. The optional skills XP and kills XP modules should not be turned on - Living Skyrim isn’t set up to use these by default and can therefore cause issues. Achieve That is an achievement mod which gives you XP and achievement points. The XP given is almost equivalent to that of main quests, and is a great way to level up your character as the game progresses. The achievement points can be spent on rewards that permanently benefit your character which normally come as a stat boost or perk.
The Economy & Loot Mods
There are two sides to the Skyrim economy: Loot, and trade. Loot is your primary source of income, and trade your primary source of expenditure. To address this, Living Skyrim seeks to overhaul both sides of this coin.
On the loot side, you’ll find that chests and enemies are fairly abundant loot thanks to GOLD, Dynamic Dungeon Loot, and Lock Related Loot. In general, chests have been overhauled such that no two chests are ever the same and contain a fantastic assortment of things you can find. You may also find powerful items significantly earlier than normal due to Dynamic Dungeon Loot. Normally this would be cause for concern, but you will also find that the amount of just randomly placed objects in the world has been significantly decreased by Iris. The removal of most of the items placed in the world shifts the focus of loot from picking up everything in a dungeon to seeking out and opening every chest you can find.
Opposite the loot side, we have the economy side of things. Naturally, because of the increased amount of loot you’ll find, the price of many items has been increased drastically. No longer will a set of steel armor cost just a couple hundred gold - instead, you’ll find it costs well over 1000 gold, and higher level armors only get even more expensive. The same is true of just about everything you can purchase from a vendor. This is due to the combination of Trade & Barter and Eve. Items will sell for less and cost more to buy across the board. This is necessary to make looting feel significant while also keeping some semblance of balance. In general it will be more difficult to obtain obscene amounts of gold, but it is still possible - that’s just how Skyrim works without going completely overboard modifying the loot/economy. Also, for the more kleptomania-inclined among you, you’ll find some helping hands in Khajiits Steal Too.
The HUD Mods
Living Skyrim includes a completely different UI and HUD experience than what you’re used to, probably even if you’ve played modded Skyrim before. Less Intrusive HUD II is 100% customizable through an in-game menu, allowing you to change the position, size, opacity, and anything else for any HUD element. EZ2C Dialogue Menu changes the dialogue menu to be easier to read and use and is also 100% configurable. See the mod description pages for EZ2C and Less Intrusive HUD II to see how to configure these to your liking. Immersive HUD keeps pesky HUD elements out of the way when you don’t need to see them. Lastly, Favorite Things greatly expands the SkyUI Favorites menu to make it larger, easier to use, and more customizable.
Living Skyrim includes a fairly diverse selection of player homes that are suitable for a number of different character styles. See below for a complete listing.
Additionally, several of the quest mods included with Living Skyrim have player homes associated with them. Namely, Legacy of the Dragonborn, Helgen Reborn, and Project AHO. Make sure to investigate all of your options!
|The Scarlett||The Raven’s Breezehome|
|Riverside Shack||Mornfallow Manor|
|Redspire Manor||JK’s Riverfall Cottage|
|Winking Skeever Loft||Niflholm|
|Mona Alta||Pinewood Manor|
Nether’s Follower Framework
Nether’s Follower Framework has too many features to list, but what you need to know is this: You can have multiple followers, you can configure just about anything about them, and you’ll have a lot more flexibility with controlling your followers. You can also import followers added by mods to be able to use NFF’s features on them.
Do NOT import standalone followers (Inigo, Lucien, etc.) into Nether’s Follower Framework. It will 100% break them. The notable exceptions to this are Auri and any of the Interesting NPCs followers.
Adding to Living Skyrim
Many Skyrim modders ask the question: “Can I add mods to Living Skyrim?” (Or, “Can I remove mods from Living Skyrim?”, or, “Can I change the mods included with Living Skyrim?”)
If you are asking this question from a perspective of just installing the mod and expecting it to work, then the answer is a resounding, unequivocal NO.
The longer and slightly more technical answer is: “I don’t know, can you?”
To expand on this: nobody knows whether you can add a certain mod or not. Adding to, changing, or removing from the list isn’t a yes/no question. In 99.9% of cases, the answer is, “Yes, but…“
The “but…” part of that answer refers to the process of installing any mod and stems from a deeply rooted belief that mods are either compatible with each other, or they are not. Assuming that any mod is (or is not) compatible with any other mod is absurd. Every mod can be made to work with every other mod, the real questions you should be asking are: “How much work would it take to add this mod?” and “Do I have the knowledge, tools, and skills to add this mod?”
And unfortunately, the answer to those questions is a resounding, unequivocal, “It depends.” And it depends on the answers to these questions, which you, and only you, can answer: Does it require compatibility/consistency patching in xEdit? Does it require modifications in Creation Kit? Does it require that it be loaded in a certain place in the load order? Does it need additional mods (which also require answers to these questions) to function?
Lastly, I (ForgottenGlory) and the Living Skyrim development team do not support this in any way, shape, or form. If you’re going to add a mod to Living Skyrim, you need to be prepared to do it on your own. I understand this isn’t an ideal answer for people relatively new to modding, but you need to understand that hundreds of hours have been spent putting together Living Skyrim, making it as stable as possible with all the mods working in harmony. Adding a bunch of random mods on top of it and then expecting it to “just work” is naive at best.
“Can I add a mod to Living Skyrim?”
I don’t know, can you?