Arwen's Skyrim Journal

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(updated September 09, 2013)

Arwen's Skyrim
tweaks & tips
Index to Arwen's Tips
Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
- My Need to Tweak
- My Gaming Computer (opens a new page): What I'm now playing my games on. (This is a MUCH faster computer than what I initially ran Skyrim on).

Changing The Timescale
- For longer game days . . . highly recommended when using survival/Needs mods.

MODs 101 - The Basics
- What Exactly Is a MOD?
- How My Skyrim Journal Can Help
- My Goals

Using the Nexus Mod Manager (NMM)
- Some of my tips on how to safely use this utility to manage your mods. (Including how to launch the game if you have the SKSE installed.)

How to Do a Clean Save

Skyrim.ini & SkyrimPrefs.ini Edits
- Some edits that I'm using in my own game.

Console Commands
- A few command that can improve your game play.

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands

My Need to Tweak

When you run Skyrim for the first time, the program automatically sets the graphics for you, based on your PC. If you're actually happy with the way the program set things up graphically, then just play the game and don't change anything . . . and you're probably in the wrong place right now, because that's 90% of what this section is about. But if you want to find some ways to tweak up the graphics AND still get acceptable FPS, then you might want to try out some of my tweaks (Oh, I should probably point out that "my" doesn't mean that I come up with all these tweaks, although I did come up with a few of them on my own . . . "my" refers to my collection of tweaks, that have helped improved both the appearance and the performance of Skyrim on my previous computer.  Even Oblivion never ran very well, especially after adding all the mods I wanted to use.

I've included some basic graphic and performance tweaks in the Skyrim.ini & SkyrimPrefs.ini Edits section. 

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
Changing The Timescale (for longer game days)

The default game speed is 20:1, meaning that a game day lasts 72 minutes in real time (24/20 = 1.2 hours; 1.2 * 60 = 72 minutes).

The default game speed is too fast to use survival mods that add eating, drinking, and sleeping needs . . . you'll soon begin to feel that all you character is doing is eating and sleeping (as these needs will be popping up every few minutes). This is why you need to change your timescale settings.

I'm currently using a game speed of 8:1. So a game day will last 180 minutes (24/8 = 3 hours).

A Timescale of 10 (10:1) also seem to work well, where a game day lasts 144 minutes (24/10 = 2.4 hours.

Warning: You should NOT set your Timescale lower than 8, as that will likely break some of the quests.

Changing the Timescale

Open the console (~ key)

Type the following in (to set game speed to 8:1):

set timescale to 8

Exit the console. The new game speed will be saved with your game.

To reset the default speed (of 20:1), open the console and type:

set timescale to 20

To view current game speed setting, open the console and type:

show timescale

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
MODs 101 (The Basics)

What Exactly Is a MOD?

One of the best things about Skyrim a program called the Creation Kit (which Bethesda should be releasing soon), which is used to create, modify, and edit data in the game. And these changes and additions are added to your installed game through MODs. (Note: you do not have to use the Creation to install and use mods that were made by other people.)

So MODs are used to modify your game (the term "MOD" is just short for "modify").
- MODs can make graphic changes, like the ones that change the appearance of the characters in the game.
- MODs can even add new characters, and change or add new buildings, plants, clothing, weapons, wildlife, and many other types of items.
- MODs can even add new characters, and change or add new buildings, plants, clothing, weapons, wildlife, and many other types of items.
- MODs can even add entire villages, cities, and even new land masses to the game.
All that is pretty amazing, but MODs can do way more than just make graphic changes/additions. MODs can also change the way the game plays.
- MODs can change combat, and the behavior of the wildlife, and slow down the speed that you level up, and change how healing works.
- MODs can add alternative starts (allowing you to skip the tutorial).
- MODs can also reduce the amount of blood and gore in the game.
And that's just the beginning.
- MODs can also make it so your character needs to eat food, drink water, and sleep.
- MODs can change the weather and lighting in the game - and make nights and interiors darker - so you will need a torch to see.
- MODs can add and change sound effects, voices, or add background music.
- In the very near future, there will be MODs for Skyrim that do all that and even more.

There will soon be thousands of MODs available for Skyrim.

Ok, so how do you even begin to know which ones to use?

How This Site Can Help:

You see, my skyrim Journal is meant to be a role-playing guide, since Skyrim is a Role-Playing game (or RPG).

Adding the right combination of mods to your game can change Skyrim into a much better RPG (of course, everyone has their own ideas about what is "better" in a RPG, so you might not want to install all the mods that are my Skyrim Mod List).

Customizing Skyrim with mods is a slow process for me, since I am also be working on my Skyrim Tweaks (which will a just a small mod with a few of my own game play tweaks . . . and NOT a huge overhaul like my Realism Tweaks are for the two Fallout games).I have spent many, many hours researching the available mods (which increases every day).  Then I download and installed the ones that I feel might improve my game.  Then spend more hours play testing them in my own game. If the mod passes my play testing, I then add it to my mod list (which is a very slow process for me, because of my language issues).

I'll have to spent a great deal of time trying out a large number of mods in order to improve this game. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience at doing this (see my Oblivion Journal), so I'm much faster than I used to be.

My Goals:

My main goal in adding MODS has always been to make the game more fun!

The MODs that I'll be using all have to do at least one of the following:

1.) Made Skyrim more balanced (Rebalancing and Leveling Mods)
2.) Correct or improve the game quests (Quest Fixing Mods)
3.) Made Skyrim a better Role-playing game (my Skyrim Tweaks and Realism Mods)
4.) Improve the way information is presented to the player (Interface Mods)
5.) Improve the appearance of the game (Graphic Mods)
6.) Add some new things to the game (Expansion Mods)

I want Skyrim to be a Role Playing Game that will be a real adventure for me, so I'll work at putting together the best possible combination of mods that give me that.

I also have my own ideas about what is wrong with Skyrim (and what needs to be fixed), so my preferences in selecting mods might be very different from what others might want in their game. So look at this more as a mod review (for a very small percentage of the mods that are available for Skyrim).

Are you new to TES Games?

Do you need some help with mods (or with anything else)?

Or do you just have questions or comments about this journal?

I've put together a place called Arwen's Realm,

and you're invited to stop by and become a member of our group

For the mods that I am using, along with their download links, my reviews on them, and an occasional screenshots, check out my Skyrim MODs Page.

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) Tips

This NMM is a utility program that you install on your computer, which makes it much easier to manage mods.  Mods that may be easy to install can often be very difficult to remove, and this is where the NMM really shines.

Warning! If you use the NMM to download and automatically install mods posted on the Skyrim Nexus site, make sure that the the mod has been packaged for the NMM. The problem is that many mods are not packaged correctly, or there are optional files that you can download (that you will likely miss). I examine all the mods that I download before using the NMM to install them (by viewing the archive before activating it).

This is how I manage my own mods and use the NMM:

1.) I always open the mod's archive file and make sure that it is packaged correctly. If the download contains optional files (in non-standard format), such as an Optional directory, I remove those files (and if I plan to use them, I zip them into separate archives).  Then I rezip the remaining files into an archive.

2.) Then I move the new archives into my Skyrim Mods Download folder (which is a new folder that I created)

3.) Then I use the NMM to install the mod (by pointing it to the mod in my Skyrim Mods Download folder), and to later uninstall it (if and when I decide to do so).

This takes a bit more effort, but I know exactly what I am installing, and I rarely miss any optional files.

Arwen Note: Even when the mod's author states that their mod has been packaged for the NMM, you should still open the archive and take a look at it (and read its ReadMe) before activating it.

The NMM and the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE):

If you have mods that requite the Skyrim Script Extender, you can no longer just use the NMM's "Launch Skyrim" button to start Skyrim.  If you do that, then the SKSE will not run, and any mods that require it will not work correctly.

What you have to do is:

1.) click on NMM's "Settings" (the gears icon at the top)

2.) click on the "Skyrim" tab

3.) In the "Custom Launch Command" section (near the bottom), find the box the is right after the "Command:" text, and

4.) Put the following text in that box: skse_loader.exe

5.) Then click on the "OK" button, and close the NMM (as you have to restart it for your changes to take effect)..

6.) Restart the NMM and use the little pull down arrow, which is just to the right of th "Launch Skyrim" button, to select "Launch Custom Skyrim"

Then you will be able to just click on the "Launch Custom Skyrim" button to launch Skyrim, along with the SKSE.

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
How to Do a Clean Save

Some mods require a clean save when you uninstall them or when you upgrade to a newer version.

Follow these steps:

1.) It is generally best to go to an interior cell, and smaller cells are best. An interior cell is apparent because you have a loading screen when you "open" the door from the outside (such as when you enter most buildings).
2.) Save your game to a new save slot (do not overwrite an earlier save) and quit the game.
3.) Uninstall the mod.
4.) Start the game and load your last saved game.
5.) After the game full loads, make a SECOND new save (do not overwrite an earlier save) and quit the game.
6.) If you're upgrading the mod that you uninstalled, you can now install the new version.
7.) Start the game and load your previous saved game.
8.) Just to be safe: make one more new save (do not overwrite an earlier save).
9.) That's it!

Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
Skyrim.ini & SkyrimPrefs.ini Edits
You may also want to take a look at NVidia's Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tweak Guide and The Top Five Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tweaks for more on how to tweak your game.
Arwen Note: These two files are located in your \Documents\My Games\Skyrim folder by default.  PLEASE make a backup copy of these files before you make any edits to them.

I use Notepad++ to do edits to ini files (since I have it installed to write my mod's scripts on), but you can just use the default Windows notepad it you want.

The following is just a collection of edits that I'm using in my own game.


SkyrimPrefs.ini Edits:

Erratic Pointer in Menus

(Caused when the X and Y mouse speeds are different.)
Try adding the following lines under [Controls]:

(Arwen Note: you many want to use a different value than 0.0200 . . . just use the same value for both. Also leave bMouseAcceleration=1, which is the default setting, and works fine for most users, since the first patch)

V-sync Laggy Mouse

Add (or change) the following line under [Display]:

(Arwen Note: This can also improve a low frame rate.  If iPresentInterval=1 already exists, change the 1 to 0)

Compass & Compass Markers

Deactivate quest-marker:
Add (or change) the following line under [GamePlay]

(Arwen Note: Place icons & enemies will still be displayed. The easiest way to remove those is to turn off the compass.)

Deactivate compass:
Add (or change) the following line under [Interface]

HUD Opacity

To reduce the opacity of the HUD.
Change the following line under [Main]
fHUDOpacity=1.0000 to fHUDOpacity=0.5000

(Arwen Note: Try my suggested value of 0.5000 first, and then either increase it or decrease it until you get the look that you want.)

Disable Always Run

Change the following line under [Display]:
bAlwaysRunByDefault=1 to bAlwaysRunByDefault=0

(Arwen Note: I found it annoying that my character always ran by default, when I wanted her to run unless I held the Shift key down, or toggled the Caps-Lock.)

Disable Grass Shadows (available since v.1.6 patch)

Change the following line under [Display]:
bShadowsOnGrass=1 to bShadowsOnGrass=0

(Arwen Note: This can improve your FPS, but will not look quite as nice.)


Skyrim.ini Edits:

Change the 1st Person Field of View (FOV):

Add the following line under [Display]:

(Arwen Note: The default FOV is 70 degrees, which might be fine for an X-Box, but it can make the1st person view feel too close, particularly if you have a wide screen monitor.  You can try out different fov setting in-game, by using the console and entering:
fov 85
The above changes the FOV to 85 degrees, but console FOV changes will apparantly revert to default eventually.)

Definition of Shadows

Find the following line under [Display]:
; (defautlt setting)

To make shadows sharper, change the 3 to a lower value (try 2, and if that is still not sharp enough for you, try 1).
To make shadows softer, change the 3 to a higher value (try 5 to 7).

(Arwen Note: I personally found the shadows to be too sharp/harsh, so I'm using iBlurDeferredShadowMask=5, which I like much better. But I also increased the resolution of shadows, as shown in my next tweak.)

Resolution of Shadows

Find the following lines under [Display]:


(Arwen Note: the above were my default settings, yours might be different. I doubled the default resolution as shown below.)

I changed the lines to:

Arrows: More realistic flight arc.

Add the following lines under [Combat]

(Arwen Note: this will disable the semi-auto aim on the arrows.  Arrows will now arc, and drop more realistically, with corrected crosshair aiming.)


Page Menu: | Introduction | Timescale | MODs 101 | Clean Saves | Skyrim ini Edits | Console Commands
Console Commands

To open the console from within the game: used the ~ key (above the TAB key on my keyboard)

Disable Fast Travel

enablefasttravel 0

(Arwen Note: I NEVER use Fast Travel, so I always have this set to 0.  But if you later decide that you want to be able to Fast Travel, just enter: enablefasttravel 1)

To Modify the Health Regen Rate

player.modav healrate 0.X
(replace the X with a positive value to increase the health regen rate, and a negative value to decrease the rate)

Arwen Notes:

1.) The default Health Regen Rate is 0.70.  I found this to be way too fast, so I entered: player.modav healrate -0.45
which is 1/3 the defautl rate.

2.) To check your current Health Regen Rate, enter: player.getav healrate

3.) If you want no Health Regen Rate at all, you need the healrate to = 0; so to go from the default 0.70 rate, enter: player.modav healrate -0.70

Open the Skyrim FaceGen


and then close the console (you won't be able to make any changes while the console is open)

Arwen Note: this will often also causes your stats to reset . . . so use this with caution (see below). 

You can safely used this to alter your character's appearance as long as race is not changed. But all temporary active effects will be removed.  To restore them, save your game and then load that save from the main menu.  Any enchanted items will have to be re-equipped for their active effects to be displayed again.

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April 20, 2002
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