How to Give Skyrim a Medieval Makeover With Just 5 Mods
Skyrim lives up to the high fantasy elements featured by previous Elder Scrolls games.
Nirn, the known world as explained in the lore, is a place endowed with magic. The inimitable characteristics of high fantasy in the Elder Scrolls can be seen in the very morphology of its races on the character creation screen. Besides men and seas, there are felines and reptiles in the civilized world.
Yet the unmistakable mark of Scandinavian landscapes and surroundings pins Skyrim, the homeland of the Nordics, to a semblance of reality. For players looking for a more low-key, realistic medieval experience like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a simple five-mod arrangement can go a long way.
Five mods to turn Skyrim into a realistic medieval experience
1) Nordic and Slavic music
Music is a crucial element that determines the tone of a game. Skyrim’s soundtrack, composed by Jeremy Soule, is heralded as one of the best orchestral pieces to accompany a role-playing game. It’s almost twice the playtime compared to Oblivion, and Soule tries to bring some diversity to it.
Reasonably enough, the Fourth Era marks a time of racial diversity in Skyrim, as the very nature of the province as a homeland of the Nords is contested by the ruling Empire. In doing so, however, Soule’s music tends toward parity with Oblivion’s idyllic Cyrodiil tunes, making the overall tone more seamless.
Nordic and Slavic ktomaczas music replaces most Soule works in Skyrim with Baltic music. Taken from the works of artists like Warduna and Percival, these tracks use period-appropriate medieval instruments for a more Nordic feel.
2) True medieval economy
In keeping with their attempts to make the Elder Scrolls experience more accessible, Bethesda has made Skyrim’s economy exploitable and player-forgiving. A race through a beginner’s area like Embershard Mine nets enough players to lend them the prize of a horse. The dip-breaking flaw here is the item price inconsistency.
While areas like The Pale may not be cultivable, fertile sprawling farms like Rorikstead, it is implied, make up for that. True Medieval Economy tries to turn traditions into game practice.
Items are now priced in a more reasonable and intuitive way. True to medieval times, food, drink and unskilled labor are incredibly cheap, while horses, arrows and similar equipment are significantly more expensive.
Cutlery and jewelry are also reasonably priced to reflect both material and craftsmanship. Additionally, the mod also makes blood money high through severe bounties.
A lycanthrope dragonborn can no longer easily walk away from mass killings.
3) Vaultman30 Extended Armor
Skyrim’s arsenal is far more stylized and heterogeneous than its Oblivion counterparts. Some of their early variants, such as hide and fur armor, are even practical in their crafting.
In this aspect, the design team goes back to the drawing board to strike a balance between the distinct personality of the pavilions and the recognizability of the material.
It’s a laudable achievement, but at the cost of sacrificing consistency with any historical age. Vaultman30’s Armor Extended eschews some of the vanilla design ideas, but in return it introduces an armor replacement strip drawn from historically realistic inspirations.
These are byrnies, gambesons, hauberks, brigandines and breastplates from the early Middle Ages, as seen in games like The Witcher 3 or Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
4) Credible Weapons + Real Bows
In the same vein as its coat of arms, Skyrim’s weapons stick to its high-fantasy stylization. Iron and steel weapons retain their realistic, well-worn look, while Imperial weapons are inspired by real Augustine weapons like the Gladius.
However, when it comes to Orcish, Elven, and high-level weapons, Bethesda respects its artistic license for unrealistic bulky or sleek designs for the sake of variety.
Those looking for a good balance between realism and affinity with Skyrim materials will find Believable Weapon as a lightweight solution. The mod does not interfere with normal textures or maps at all.
Instead, it replaces weapon meshes with the proportions and scales expected in the actual forge. ‘Real Bows’ does a similar job of mesh replacement for bows.
For true historical accuracy, “Relatively Historically Accurate Viking Weapons and Equipment” can be used to add additional real-life medieval weaponry.
5) Less or no magic
The Elder Scrolls universe was created in the 90s, the first era of role-playing games with a closer connection to its DnD roots and the mysteries of Tolkien. First-hand experience of using magic and a distinct class of mages mark its basic design and balance.
In a more realistic medieval model list, however, the magic takes a back seat. It would not be possible to put aside the deep roots of magic in the mystical world of Tamriel.
Instead, the use of magic can be limited to a handful of mystical sources. These exceptions include magical creatures like vampires and dragon priests and scholars of the College of Winterhold.
This is exactly what ‘Less or No Magic’ sets out to do by eliminating the use of magic in the game in an unscripted way.
Note: This article reflects the opinion of the author.