At the beginning of Skyrim, you’re presented with an important choice – which race to choose for your Dragonborn. Each race has different perks and abilities – for example, Nords get 50% resistance to frost, courtesy of growing up in Skyrim’s often intemperate climate. However, one modder has now taken this further and completely overhauled races to make your choice “more meaningful.”
The Aetherius Skyrim mod by creator Simon Magus is described as a “Vanilla Plus overhaul that aims to make races more meaningful without making them more restrictive.” The way it works is by setting all starting skills at five, down from 15, but then adding a “major skill” to each race beginning at level 20, plus five “minor” skills at 15, meaning that your experience of the game’s early stages will differ more visibly depending on which race you choose.
In assigning these, Magus has paid close attention to the Elder Scrolls lore and also the “mechanical bonuses” from previous titles in the series, though aims to prevent “pigeonholing any race into a single build”.
The modder provides a breakdown of how the ten playable races will work with the mod installed. For example, Nords will now have a Major Skill (+15) of two-handed, plus Minor Skills (+10) of block, heavy armour, one-handed, smithing, and speech. They’ll keep the frost resistance, and also have “Nordic Heritage”: “Nords are born with 50 more Health than other races.” Each race gets their own detailed set of attributes.
One thing to note is that, for all the perks you might introduce for your Dragonborn, you’ll also be adding these to enemies in the game (though with a few exceptions). For example, with the mod Nord, Orc, and Imperial foes will start to display some serious defensive know-how, courtesy of their own races’ skills.
The mod also reworks the standing stones which can be found scattered throughout Skyrim and add benefits to your character if activated, altering most of them so as to “offer compelling choices for early, middle, and late game characters.” The full list of their effects is included on the mod’s page.
If you’re keen to download the mod for your game, head over to Nexus mods to grab it, plus you can check out in detail how each race will be reworked. For more mods we think you should try out, see our guide to the 100 best Skyrim mods.