Keizaal is a simple modlist that seeks to enhance and expand on Skyrim without compromising Bethesda’s original vision that we all fell in love with back in 2011. The following are the core pillars of this list:
- This modlist intends to maintain the Vanilla feel. I want everything to feel like it belongs in the base game. No new complicated systems or anything that requires a manual to understand. This is a simple modlist, you can experience the content as if it was always there.
- Immersion is paramount. I’m a lore buff and immersion is very important to me. If a mod is not lore accurate or takes me out of the game in any way it will be excluded. Consistency also falls into this category, if a mod has a completely different aesthetic from Vanilla or any of my other mods then it will probably not be included.
- Mods must have decent longevity. This modlist wants to be somewhat relevant, in theory, forever.
- Stability is the most important thing. This rule basically supersedes all the above. If a mod introduces major stability concerns it will be quickly cut.
You can find a full list of the mods included in Keizaal here. If you feel like this modlist is for you, click here to go straight to the installation guide. If you want to know more I have included a brief overview below.
While it may not be obvious on first glance there are a lot of fun new things that you can do in Keizaal. A lot of the gameplay systems have been overhauled and several quests have been given a facelift. Additionally there are a few interesting characters that you can meet and some new mechanics you can use to interact with the world in new and exciting ways.
Speaking of the world, one of the things that I enjoy most about Skyrim is exploration. Even after ten years I still get a lot of joy out of just walking around and seeing the world. So naturally I want to bring more of that exciting feeling into Keizaal. I am generally pretty picky with my location mods, but I think that the ones included in Keizaal are top-notch.
There are a lot of mods that make Keizaal what it is and every mod has a place to contribute towards that goal, but I consider the following to be “cornerstone mods” that will give you a good idea of what the list will be like.
Adamant is Keizaal’s perk overhaul and it aims to expand the perk trees and over some fun new playstyles without growing too bloated and straying away from the feel of the Vanilla system. Every tree has been given a proper facelift and a lot of the new perks push you to try new and interesting things. Whether it be a shout-based or puglist character, Adamant has tons of new builds for you to try!
Vanilla Skyrim combat is pretty easy without much counterplay. Some people try to fix this by turning Skyrim into Dark Souls, I believe this goal is fundamentally flawed. Blade and Blunt seeks to take what is already there and Vanilla and rework it in such a way that it is still Skyrim, but with more interesting and engaging gameplay. Foremost in this goal is to make Stamina more important. Low stamina in Vanilla is usually just mildly annoying, in Blade and Blunt it could be deadly. Resource management is the name of the game in this mod and delicately balancing your Health, Magicka, and Stamina leads to some very interesting combat encounters that you just would not have in Vanilla.
Mysticism is an overhaul of Skyrim’s magic. It make changes to existing Vanilla spells as well as expanding to include some new and exciting spells. The mod does a good job of integrating everything into the game in such a manner that it feels like a natural extension. None of the spells stick out much and it gives you a better progression from Novice to Master. You actually feel like a Master when you get to that level and it opens up a lot of fun and powerful spells you can use that level. In Vanilla Master spells were rather underwhelming, in Mysticism they feel great. Additionally, Mysticism is integrated into Adamant, new spell types are given perks which helps to make the two mods feels nicely integrated and connected to the base game.
The main purpose of Pilgrim is to add some more mechanics to Skyrim’s shrines and to expand them to include a wider variety of deities from across Tamriel. Every culture is represented in some way with the new shrines, each shrine is given a new unique asset and magical effects reflect the god it is representing. Most noticeably though is how Pilgrim is effected by some of the new perks in the Restoration and Conjuration trees. There are perks for “benevolent” and “malevolent” deities in each of these trees, taking the first rank will double your blessing strength and taking the second will give you an additional powerful blessing along with the one you already get naturally. Investing into these second ranks, while not necessary, will lead to some unique and powerful effects that can change your playstyle. I placed this in the “Places to Go” section because Pilgrim adds a lot of interesting new shrine locations to stumble across in the world. This mod really encourages exploration and rewards Players with new and exciting shrines to discover and try out.
Skyrim generally gives you a good amount of choice in morally questionable quests. Usually there is a good route and a bad route, even the Dark Brotherhood questline gives you an optional route to destroy the faction. However, while it does give you this option you are still required to take some morally questionable actions. The kind of things you need to do would generally be something that a lot of good characters would refuse to ever partake in. So while there was a “good” route for the Dark Brotherhood questline it was awkward for good characters to start it which often led to these kind of characters just never doing the quest. This is a shame because destroying the Dark Brotherhood is a great piece of role-play that a lot of good characters would like to do. Dark Brotherhood Rising Revengeance seek to remedy that by giving the Player an alternative path to starting the Destroy the Dark Brotherhood quest. This new path is compatible with good characters and integrated very well in a manner that feels natural with the rest of the Vanilla quest.
Another quest that sorely needed a “good” path was House of Horrors. This quest is one of the worst offenders in this category because it tricks the Player into thinking they are starting a quest suited for good guys and then they are quickly blindsided into a Daedric quest where there is no alternative to being a bad guy beyond letting the quest sit in your journal forever incomplete. House of Horrors - Quest Expansion adds a new route to take that will allow you to spite the evil prince and will unlock use of a brand new follower. The same author also made The Only Cure - Quest Expansion, also featured in Keizaal, which seeks to achieve the same thing but for Peryite’s Daedric quest.
While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong from the Vanilla bounty system I cannot deny that Headhunter does improve it. You will now need to provide proof when you go to a bandit camp and clear it out, no longer will the jarl believe you just because you said so. Proof can be provided in two ways: either by arresting the chief of the camp alive, or bringing their head back in a bag. There isn’t much more to it than that, but this mod does expand roleplay opportunities which is always a good thing.
There are a lot of locations around Skyrim that are inhabitated with bandits and make travel in those places dangerous. You are unable to clear these place permanently, they will always respawn with bandits and the circle of banditry will never end. Lawbringer is a great mod that allows you to claim locations around Skyrim for a faction of your choice, ensuring that it will only respawn in the future with friendly NPCs. It is really enjoyable to claim locations and see a tangible impact on the world around you. Places like Valtheim Keep and Pine Watch Bridge are fun locations because they are bandit camps stationed on the roadway, so claiming feels very impactful. Lawbringer only covers the Skyrim worldspace itself but I have personally expanded functionality to several other worldspaces in my mods House Rule, Wyrm Tamer, and Imperial Law.
It is no secret that the vast majority of followers in Vanilla Skyrim are basically nothing more than a pack mule and canon fodder. Fallout 4 rectified these problems by making every follower in that game interesting with a distinct personality and a special quest connected directly to all of them. Lucien is a mod that feels a lot more like Bethesda’s more recent attempts at followers. Lucien has a distinct personality that is often the opposite of most of the followers that you’d be used to. He is no warrior, he is a young and unexperienced scholar with next to no real-world experience. You get to adventure alongside Lucien and see how his character develops as you travel together. He really feels like a member of your party of heroes as opposed to just a lifeless thrall.
These are mods that I made for my own amusement that other people seem to enjoy. They are two separate mods but they do much the same thing: add a new corgi follower to the game. Both of these dogs are based on my own pet corgis complete with creature audio that was sourced from each of my dogs respectively. The two of them cover different roles. Gladys formerly belonged to a merchant and is good at carrying things in her backpack, she is also very adapt at finding interesting loot in the world to bring back to you. Merlin on the other hand is a combat-focused follower, he is unable to carry anything but he makes up for it due to his effectiveness in combat. He is able to use magic in order to transform between three different primordial elemental forms based on the type of enemy he is fighting, when in this form he will do powerful AOE damage in addition to his bites. While main point of these followers is to be cute, they are also pretty useful in your adventures.
Cities of the North is one of my favorite series of mods. For years I have been annoyed that four of the hold capitals of Skyrim used generic farmhouse architecture, it really ruined the visual identity of these holds and made these places less interesting that the other five cities. Cities of the North aims to replace all of the generic farmhouses in these cities with all-new unique models that do a lot to bring them up to the same level as the major cities. All of the new architecture added by this mod fits Skyrim really well and makes the cities really feel special. The mod doesn’t expand on the cities very much, mainly just swaps what is already there, and I really appreciate that. I am not looking to make these places larger than in Vanilla, I just want them to feel like their own place. Cities of the North does that in spades.
I don’t mind reuse of farmhouse architecture outside of the hold capitals, so I never really considered Dragon Bridge in need of an overhaul, but when I saw this mod I instantly fell in love. Rodryk has overhauled the town in much the same way that JPSteel2 did in Cities of the North: the architecture is changed but the town isn’t expanded. I really like the look at these new buildings, it straddles the a nice line between the grandness of Solitude with the rustic nature of farmhouses. It fits Dragon Bridge perfectly.
Obscure’s College of Winterhold is one of the best single-location overhauls I’ve used. It doesn’t do dramatically different things that change the College of Winterhold, but it does naturally expand what is there and make it feel like an actual academic campus. While the changes in some areas are extreme they just feel right. It indirectly improves the College questline and generally just makes the place more interesting to visit and live in.
I have no issues with the majority of dungeons in Vanilla, but Dungeons - Revisited does something really cool with a handful of places. This mod doesn’t do fundamental design changes that make these dungeons feel like different places. Rather, it simply adds in some more route through dungeons by opening up passageways that were previously locked out by rubble or other natural barriers. All of the new routes still converge on a common path, so getting truly lost and frustrated isn’t something to really worry about. This adds to the feeling of exploring ancient ruins and the expansions feel very seamless and natural.
While expansions of the Vanilla worldspace are fantastic, there is something to be said about exploring a completely new land. Wyrmstooth is one of Skyrim’s oldest New Lands mods and it shows. The world is beautiful and filled with a ton of content and everything feel right at home next to Vanilla. Wyrmstooth doesn’t do anything earthshattering, it feels a lot like More Skyrim, but that isn’t a bad thing.
Beyond Skyrim is one the most anticipated mod projects currently in development. Currently only one piece of released content exists: Bruma. While it is definitely just a slice of a larger whole, what is there is quality. The mod adds the city of Bruma just south of the Skyrim border in Cyrodiil. Beyond the city proper the mod also adds the rest of county Bruma open for the Player to explore and the whole space really maintains the distinct Bethesda feel. The county has a lot of interesting places to explore including a brand new type of dungeon, several new enemies unique to Cyrodiil, and a lot of quests to keep you busy. While this may just be a preview of what is to come in the full Beyond Skrim - Cyrodiil release it is still quality content that can be used for some interesting roleplay opportunities for your character.
Wyrmstooth and Bruma are some fun new lands to explore, but both share a common issue: a lack of new unique map marker icons. In Skyrim several locations get unique map markers, most noticably hold capitals: each get a unique shield to distinguish them as important. In base Wyrmstooth and Bruma there are no new icons to make important places stands out. Bruma just uses a generic City marker and Stonehollow uses a generic Town marker. CoMAP seeks to not only remedy this issue but also to expand the amount of map marker icons substantially. Not only to places like Bruma and Stonehollow get unique markers, but new types are markers exist to indicate different types of dungeons. Forsworn dungeons get a unique skull icon, warlock dungeons get a unique eye icon, and elven dungeons get a unique ruined arch icon. Other miscellaneous icons have been added to better demonstrate what each location is. Sky Haven Temple gets a new Akaviri icon, freestanding taverns like Nightgate Inn gets a new icon, and various factions like the East Empire Company and Thalmor have icons to indicate areas where they exert their influence. I could go on, but you get the idea. CoMap expands map marker icons in a big way and really helps fill out the map more in an interesting way.
I hope this overview of Keizaal was helpful to you. If you like what you’ve read consider giving the modlist a try, click here to go to the installation guide. If you have any specific questions about the modlist, feel free to contact me (Tate Taylor) on my community Discord server to learn more.