The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Modder: Mara (and a small army of voice actors and helping modders)
Released: December 2015 (Original), August 2017 (3.0)
Played: March 2018
So it’s pretty awesome being the Dragonborn. Yes, there is the uncomfortable responsibility of saving Tamriel from Alduin, the World Eater, but you have the inborn ability to Shout, no one in Skyrim can stop talking about you, and if your playthrough was anything like mine, you’re not only the Dragonborn, you’re also the Archmage of the College of Magic, the Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, you own property in every region of Skyrim, and have more gold than you know what to do with. Also, depending on which DLC you have purchased and played, you’ve built up to three impressive manor houses, adopted a couple kids, defeated an ancient cult, and maybe became a vampire or werewolf.
I suppose I should have stated that there might be spoilers in that opening paragraph, but the game came out in 2011, I apologize for nothing. Also, Darth Vader is Luke’s father and Dumbledore dies.
Anyway! The one thing I never did was get married. Because the marriage options were stupid. Courtship consists of putting on a special necklace, then walking up to someone you’ve had a couple interactions with and asking, “Hey, are you interested?”. If that person says yes, you go find a priest, and boom. They live in your house and maybe open a little shop so that they’re not bored. And presumably help raise your adopted children while you’re off adventuring. It’s not exactly satisfying. Also, as someone playing a female character whom they wanted to see in a more heteronormative relationship for this particular playthrough, the male marriage options are slim and sad. Is the hunky bear of a man from the weapon shop in Whiterun available? No, but the old drunk from Solitude is! I can’t imagine why I wasn’t more excited about this.
At about the time I had decided my Dragonborn was going to die alone and leave her adopted daughters in the care of one of her numerous housecarls, I heard about Skyrim Romance. Thank Talos the mod community continues to save Bethesda from itself. Skyrim Romance is written by Mara, and introduces a new follower character named Bishop – a handsome, brooding ranger and his wolf companion. The mod also includes a number of NPC’s to discover and interact with, as well as a few new quests. The mod is large, ambitious, and takes this romance problem head on. For the record, it only works for a heteronormative romance featuring a female player character. When asked why the mod didn’t cater to male player characters, Mara pointed out that there are dozens of mods already in existence for your typical heterosexual male. As to why there aren’t options for LGBTQA+ characters, well, Mara started making a mod to fill the void she, personally, wanted filled. I feel like modders don’t owe the world a lot of explanation for not catering to everyone. I mean, it’s not like they were hired by Bethesda or something. This is a project they picked up in their spare time, for the hell of it.
Moving on, this review is going to be broken up into two parts – the installation, and the actual game play. I understand that might seem odd to have an article largely devoted to how a mod is installed, but believe me, we have things to discuss here. Also, make sure the children have left the room, it gets NSFW/K from here on out.
So, Skyrim Romance requires several other mods to operate. This is not unusual – a lot of mods are based on you having other mods installed. The most important one seems to be the Skyrim Script Extender, which almost everything needs in order to work. If you have ever modded a Bethesda game, you have probably used one of Silverlock’s script extenders. Anyway, here is the entire list of mods “Skyrim Romance” needs:
- Skyrim Romance 3.0
- Sexlab (18+)
- SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) also (Steam download, not recommended)
- Realistic Ragdolls with Force
- Fores New Idles in Skyrim (FNIS)
- XP32 (XPMSE)
Schlongs of Skyrim (SOS)
Shape Atlas for Men (SAM)
DIMONIZED UNP female body
Caliente’s Beautiful Bodies Edition -CBBE-
Enhanced Character Edit and NetImmerse Override
So let’s go through this list together, hand in hand, cringing when necessary. All right, obviously you need Skyrim Romance, which you can find at Nexus Mods. I use the Nexus Mod Manager. I’ve also heard of something called Mod Organizer, which many people have said is superior, but I’m pretty happy with Nexus so I’m sticking with them. Nexus is pretty easy to navigate, it’s set up like your standard message board site, make an account and welcome to mod wonderland. I also use them to mod the older Dragon Age games, but we’re not falling down that rabbit hole right now. Anyway, right, back on topic – Skyrim Romance, it’s a mod, go grab it.
Next on the list is Sexlab. Yup. Now, this one cannot be found on Nexus. You have to go to a site called LoversLab which made me feel a little like the first time I ever went into an adult novelty store – slightly embarrassed but curious as hell, and praying no one saw me. You will need to make an account, swear you’re at least 18, and then, finally, they will let you download this rather large mod which does pretty much exactly what you think it’s going to do.
Skyrim Script Extender, SKSE, is (as previously mentioned) vitally important. It is also worth mentioning that this is NOT for Special Edition. I did some reading and it looks like a script extender for Skyrim SE fell through, so if you want to go down this mod infested rabbit hole, you’re stuck with regular Skyrim. ALSO, and I feel like this should go without saying, but NONE OF THIS IS POSSIBLE ON CONSOLE. It’s PC or GTFO. Also, while it says it doesn’t recommend the Steam download of SKSE, I totally just use the Steam download. It’s never been a problem, Steam is smart enough to link the two programs together so that you can start start Skyrim from either the normal Steam page or the SKSE Steam page, and this way it still tracks all your achievements. Which I care about. I need validation, dammit, don’t judge me.
SkyUI is amazing even if you’re not interested in Skyrim Romance. It makes the inventory system infinitely easier to navigate, and saves you time scrolling through your lists to find that bit of armor you just picked up which will probably turn out to be not as good as what you’re already wearing. SkyUI will also allow you to turn on the SexLab mod from the menu, which is why it’s necessary for this adventure. Seriously, though, even if you don’t care about anything else, get SkyUI. You’ll need SKSE to run it, so get them both. Super useful. Much wow. 10/10, would mod again.
I have no idea what Realistic Ragdolls with Force, Fores New Idles in Skyrim, or XP32 do for the mod, because I am not a person who is familiar with the ins and outs of programming, but they’re on this list, so in they go! I mean, I understand what the mods do, I can read their descriptions, I just can’t point out instances of them working because, again, don’t understand enough about modding and programming to pinpoint things here. You need them. Go get them.
Now then, here’s another one of those adult store moments. You can choose either Schlongs of Skyrim, or Shape Atlas for Men. I chose Schlongs of Skyrim for two reasons – the primary reason being that both of these mods need to be downloaded somewhere other than Nexus, and SOS can be found on LoversLab, where I was already forced to make an account for the SexLab download. The second reason was their logo:
Seriously, that’s brilliant. Like, from a marketing and design standpoint. It’s a perversion of the Standing Stones, which are ubiquitous in the game. It’s a clean, easy, even elegant design. You can definitely tell what it’s trying to do. It’s fantastic. They should partner with someone and release a line of sex toys. The branding is already done. I’d buy them for the novelty of it. They could go next to my weird alien toy that I TOTALLY DID NOT BUY AT THE SEATTLE EROTIC ART FESTIVAL TWO YEARS AGO HI MOM!
Ahem. Moving on.
I went with DIMONIZED UNP because I’ve used Caliente’s Beautiful Bodies Edition before and I didn’t love it. Also, versions of DIMONIZED UNP actually had body hair, which felt more accurate to the setting for me. It’s Skyrim, I don’t think the ladies are making it in every three weeks for a Brazilian, ya know what I mean? As you may have inferred by now, this is the mod that makes you hot and busty and naked instead of being in your ragged northern underoos every time you strip down. Although, just to warn you, when you get rid of your ragged northern underoos, you get rid of everyone else’s as well. So when you loot that armor off that corpse, you’re going to be left with a naked corpse. Just so you know.
Finally, Racemenu is what allows for finer tweaking of your character’s appearance, and presumably finer tweaking of the appearance of the NPCs in the game. I’ve used Racemenu before, found it to be adequate, and since it was recommended I went ahead and went with that.
So now that you have all the mods, there is actually a method to their installation. Thankfully, the nice people at Skyrim Romance have put together a handy guide for what order you should be installing all of these mods in. The order is important, trust me – I did it wrong the first time and bad things happened. Things like overturning the cart from the beginning of the game so that you can’t progress forward and just sit there milling around with the other prisoners who for some reason don’t take the opportunity to flee. After everything is installed, you will need to run FNIS (the guide will help you, no worries). Then, turn the game on, go into the menu, and activate SexLab. Then you just need to go find Bishop’s surly, broody ass outside the tavern in Riverwood and your sexy adventure can begin!
Tune in next time to hear exactly what I thought of that sexy adventure. We’re going to go deep, dear readers. So deep. (Ha! Innuendo! How clever!)