The Elder Scrolls

Hermit Mountain Cottage: a perfectly-sized house for loner PCs

Hermit Mountain Cottage has an odd congruence going between its in-game design and its status as a mod. If you're not looking for it, it's easy to miss.

That's not to say that it has flown under the radar, exactly. It's sitting pretty on a pile of 574 endorsements on Nexus, and you only have to dig down five pages on the top player homes of all time (by endorsement) to find it – but with the level of quality and polish in this mod, it deserves all that and more.

Before I really get going in a write-up, the mod page linked above has a couple video reviews embedded – so if you're visually inclined for your mod reviews, click on over and watch those – or just take my word for it, download the mod, and enjoy what it has to offer.

The cottage is nestled in the Pale near Heljarchen – or, for players not using Cutting Room Floor, near Nightgate Inn. Locating it isn't too strenuous, as the mod author has thoughtfully provided a map icon from the outset. I'm on the fence about that decision, honestly; it's useful for a scatterbrain like me with too many player home mods installed, as it removes the guessing game and/or flipping back and forth to their Nexus descriptions to find them, but it certainly isn't very buzzword alert immersive, especially for a home billed for hermits.

Once I got over that, though, my problem became how to get to the thing. There are a couple options here, but neither is straightforward – and that's satisfyingly on-brand for the mod. You can do a little rock-climbing from the immediately adjacent location, Ironbind Barrow, or explore further up the mountain a little ways to find an entirely unmarked path that requires no spacebar-mashing. In either case, you pull up to a flat little clearing with some debris to tidy away; activate it, and a Hearthfire-style workbench pops up for you to use.

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The crafting recipes are more or less what you'd expect from a Hearthfire-alike, full of iron bars, stone and firewood, but with some pleasant surprises. Want an alchemy station? Better find some Fire Salts, chief. Enchanters will need to go troll-hunting and then scrounge through the back shelves of their local alchemist's – or find and slay an elusive wispmother – to put together the ingredients that their precious table requires.

The house and its surrounding pieces – including every type of crafting nook, all thoughtfully sized and placed to avoid feeling like the circus that other houses can become – are an aesthetic delight. The custom workbench has ingot storage tucked underneath it, a beautiful shiny array of metals stacked in neat little rows. Step into the tiny cottage after building each part of it and enjoy the compact practicality of it, from the bedroom-nook with storage bunked over top of it, to the hyper-compact weapons/wardrobe area. Build the scouting platform and park your butt on a cushion to while away the hours watching snow dancing down out of a grey sky to dust the road that stretches west to pastures greener. Effortlessly toggle the campfire in the center of the clearing on and off by activating a storage basket full of rocks. You can change the color of your sitting-blanket in the scouting spot, toggle various lanterns on and off with a button press, and a good bit more besides to make the home feel your own.

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It has, in short, every feature you would reasonably expect from a house this size, and a handful of personal touches that really put it over the top. On the technical side, everything just worked when I was building it. I had a grand old time copying recipes into my journal (if you aren't using Take Notes, get on it) and going hunting for ingredients in the surrounding snowy wastes.

It's not perfect and it's not for every character. If you want your gremlins adopted kids to live with you, or for your horse to have a roof over their head, well, your friendly Breton real estate agent will gently back you out the low door and suggest you put in a call to the Jarl of Falkreath. Collectors who are fond of putting things on display will find little to like as well – rack space is precious at best and confining at worst, and there are no mannequins to make you slightly uneasy about what they might be doing when you aren't looking directly at them. And anyone with a taste for the finer things in life – a little bit of splendor, a tower from which to ponder the mysteries of the Aether as you watch peasants snailing along a nearby road, a perch for your pet dragon, a brisk thirty-second walk to the nearest general store – well, it is hopefully self-explanatory that this mod is not for you.

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It is, however, a delightful piece of the Skyrim modding scene. With a handful of minor gripes set aside, it stands at a level of quality, finish and thoughtfulness that exceeds most vanilla content. /u/Orin_linwe has given the quiet and indrawn Dragonborn the sort of abode that perfectly suits, and I look forward to checking out more of their work.


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