The Elder Scrolls

My mod picks for a lightweight, ultra-minimalist survival setup.

I've tried a handful of survival mods over the years (ugh, it's been that many years?) and while I did enjoy the classic, most popular setups (Campfire, Frostfall, and iNeed namely, as well as peripheral mods like Hunterborn), as time went on I realized, I don't really need all 10,000 changes included in these giant overhauls.

What I really wanted was just something to support what I was doing back when I played Vanilla. I'm a roleplayer – I do things I think my character should want to do. I would occasionally eat some food to simulate a meal when I thought it made sense to do so. I would sleep at night just because it seemed like what my character should do. I hopped over the ice floes in the Sea of Ghosts because it made intuitive sense that I shouldn't want to fall in (plus, I like the challenge). I knew it didn't make much difference during gameplay back then. But I didn't want to be punished for not doing it – I wanted to be rewarded for doing it.

So, after a lot of sorting through my tracked mods on Nexus, here's what I ended up with. Sharing in the hopes that if there are others with mod tastes like mine – the types that want survival for roleplay reasons over challenge reasons – you might discover a new gem.

Campfire/Frostfall are superbly made mods – every other camping and cold mod is standing on the shoulders of giants here. However, with Chesko's hiatus from modding, and continued updates both the Skyrim and the modding scene as a whole, they have started to run into compatibility issues and must be patched by others to work. Not to mention, their complex, in-depth systems require a lot of player time investment and commitment.

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For a much easier approach to wilderness camping and braving the elements, I went with Camping Lite and Frostbite.

Camping is now the easiest thing in the world to do. Use a power, and set up a campfire in front of you. If you have some wood, it lights up. If you don't have wood, walk up to a tree, use the power, boom you got wood. Then find a good spot, use the same power again, boom there's your tent. You can craft some upgrades for it if you want. You even get a nice sittin' log in front of your fire. No more worrying about the time you spend lighting it or how good you are at finding wood.

Frostbite is real simple. You get a lil widget telling you how cold you are (or you can hide it). Being too cold gives you some debuffs. It only uses weather type, whether you're in water, your clothing, and proximity to heat sources to determine cold levels, but not your region – which turns out is okay because Winterhold is usually snowing anyway. This also maximizes compatibility, which is a huge plus for me.

For food and rest, I had very simple criteria in mind – I want something that reminds me that my character is hungry or tired, but isn't super punishing. I specifically DIDN'T want a thirst mechanic, because that usually involves messing with water records and having some contrived way to gather water – I said you know what, there's plenty of water in Skyrim, let's just assume I sip from the river every so often and I'll be fine. (If Bethesda makes a game set in a desert, maybe then a thirst mechanic will make sense)

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I used to use iNeed, which is still a good mod, but got tired of needing to configure every little thing to my liking. I decided on Super Simple Needs instead. It checks all my boxes. Some time passes, and it reminds me to eat or sleep. There's a penalty for getting too hungry or tired but the timeframe is forgiving enough that I'm okay with it and I don't have to micromanage what kinds of foods I eat. You can even play the bread eating animation if you want but I turned it off. Also, no thirst. Sweet.

To add onto this, I wanted to search for mods that gave me a reason to cook better food, giving them longer term effects, but again, without adding entire game mechanics around food or giving them GIGANTIC buffs or adding 10,000 recipes for me to figure out. Let me tell you, there's a LOT of food mods out there. Almost like Vanilla food is useless. I would have been okay with a few new lore-friendly recipes, even slight changes to gameplay like reducing vanilla health regen, but apparently doing that causes issues with other regen mechanics like potions.

I finally stumbled across a newer, lesser known mod – Slightly More Interesting Food. Doesn't mess with any vanilla mechanics like health regen. Doesn't add new recipes. Just makes Skyrim's existing food… better.

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I also wanted more salt since so many good recipes require it. I know there are mods to remove that requirement, but hey, salt is important, especially for preserving stuff and adding any flavor at all to things, so I just wanted more sources of it. I used to have a mod for LE called More Salt Please that literally just added more to the world – the closest thing I could find on SE is, simply, More Salt. Other honorable mentions that I'm still trying to decide on include Sea Salt Deposits and Salt Mines of Skyrim. Haven't tried these yet, but I may go for all three, why not.

TLDR: Just click the links and check out some mods for a minimalist approach to Skyrim survival. Thanks for reading!


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