Ah, farming. Tilling soil, planting seeds, spreading irresponsible quantities of bug- (and bee-) killing pesticide over the field – it’s months of tough labour and persistence, but there’s nothing quite like watching your crops grow from little buds in the ground to tall stalks with a bounty of grain. Thankfully, to shortcut the process for us, we have games like Stardew Valley.
And yet, as fantastic as Stardew Valley is, there is only so much you can experience on a 2D plane. A first-person perspective is ideal for immersing yourself in a living, breathing digital world, and many’s the time that I’ve wished for exactly such a view of my farm as it comes to life all around me. Fortunately, there’s a highly moddable first-person game out there. It just so happens that Skyrim has plenty of perfect mods to bring the Stardew Valley experience to Tamriel.
The purpose of this list is to recreate a farm management setting, complete with meaningful NPC interactions and romance, within Skyrim. That means you’ll get to own a farm, grow and harvest crops, hunt, sell your items, and so much more. It’ll take some imagination and self-restraint in order to succeed as a peaceful farmer in Skyrim’s somewhat more hostile world, but if you can pull it off, its beauty is an at-times breathtaking complement to Stardew’s famously tranquil gameplay.
Everything from spouse pregnancy to seasons are all moddable in what is still the latest main sequence Elder Scrolls adventure. Check out this list of mods in order to build a Stardew Valley experience with crops, love, and everything else your wannabe small town farmer’s heart could desire.
Anybody who’s anybody knows that Stardew Valley (and Harvest Moon to some extent) begins with you ditching your desk job in the bustling city in order to take over the family farm in the countryside. Skyrim starts a bit differently, with a wagon full of prisoners heading to their death. The Alternate Start mod lets you live another life in the fantasy epic.
You’ll start out in a dungeon, left behind to rot, with the ability to choose a path unlike anything in Skyrim’s main storyline. Choose Owned Property: Shoal’s farm in order to start with your ‘grandpa’s’ land.
While you’re at it, throw in Campfire and Hearth Craft for a camping system, furniture and house crafting, storage, and a bundle of other things that every good handyman and farmer needs. You’ll also need a way to obtain raw materials, so install Order My Items to keep your supply shelves stocked – for a (configurable) fee, of course.
Crops and livestock are the central source of income in Stardew Valley; revenue from their sale lets you build more infrastructure for your farm, expand your house, and buy items needed for other systems in the game. To imitate this loop, you’ll want to install the Harvest overhaul and More Growable Plants mods for more immersive harvesting of a wider range of crops.
You’ll also want to install Herds for livestock, Wild World for meaningful animals to hunt, and Hunting in Skyrim for more robust systems through which to do so. To convert all this produce to cold, hard cash, add Your Market Stall for a place to sell your wares. Suddenly plundering draugr-infested dungeons and paid acts of life-threatening physical danger are no longer the only viable career choice in Tamriel; you can support yourself with a bow and watering can. Praise Zenithar.
A life away from war
The farming, animals, and money is all fine and nice, but it’s merely a means to an end, not an end in itself. The thing that made Stardew Valley special was the freedom to fall in love, build relationships, and experience the seasons as they pass through your quaint slice of life.
To get a semblance of this life in Skyrim, install People are Strangers to replicate the need to introduce yourself and actually invest a little in those around you. Immersive Citizens and Realistic Conversations both add realism to NPC social behaviour, and Amazing Follower Tweaks gives you more interactions with them. You can already get married and (with the Hearthfire expansion) adopt kids in Skyrim, of course, but there’s even a pregnancy mod if you’d like to raise a family the old-fashioned way.
Making it just right
We’ve enhanced Skyrim’s rural economy and its relationships, but there’s a lot more that makes Stardew Valley like Stardew Valley. Time for some finishing touches: use Holidays to have NPCs celebrate seasonal events through fireworks and alcohol, Weather and Seasons to get the full force of mother nature, and Convenient Horses to enhance every farmer’s essential allies.
There is also a ton of room for experimentation. Mod compatibility permitting, feel free to add something that you’d like to see in a Skyrim and Stardew Valley crossover. For me that meant adding Immersive HUD so I could vanish the UI and admire nature, Ranger Cabins for more lonely living, and, of course, Fishing.
You can also try out other properties and game enhancements to make the whole experience a lot more dynamic. Just remember to put your helmet and sword away – you’re beyond that life now. Imagine you’re a retired Whiterun guard, eager for a life where phantom pains from that old arrow in the knee are your only troubles.