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SlimeSire and Kosorsomesaykosm

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About this mod

Reworks the vanilla Dawnguard Reaper boss fight into an epic battle with an elaborate mini-quest, taking place in a separate realm of the Soul Cairn. This fight is fully repeatable, with scaling difficulty, randomized enemies, and dozens of pieces of custom loot.

Permissions and credits

Introduction to G.R.I.M.

In the Dawnguard DLC, as you navigate the winding pathways of the Soul Cairn, you might come across a handful of strange Reaper Gem Fragments hidden underneath the giant floating crystals of the Ideal Masters. You’ve heard the souls of the Cairn speak of him in hushed tones, the boogeyman, they whisper, who every denizen of the Soul Cairn fears. If you bring the pieces of this shattered gem to a stone sepulchre located at one side of the map, the Reaper’s Lair, you can place these gem fragments on an altar, where they will float in the air and reform. And as you stand there, awed by the spectacle and the creativity and unique design of this unmarked side quest, as the gem is in the air shooting out a barrage of lightning, the Reaper makes his entrance at long last…

This was the single most disappointing experience for me in all of my time playing Skyrim. So much hype, and for what? A skeleton that Bethesda couldn’t even bother to rig properly. He looks like utter garbage and is a horribly unfun boss fight. The vanilla Reaper’s AI is so screwed up that he never even attacks you, just stands at range and spits afflicted poison. All that work collecting the gems, all that anticipation and awe from the narration of the souls, and for what? 

In a way, the Reaper is just the most egregious example of a broad pattern across Skyrim, epic quests and adventures with horribly underwhelming climaxes. Remember sticking a laser pointer at a superball in the mage’s questline? What exciting combat. Granted, there are some genuinely great bosses in Skyrim - The Gauldursons, Harkon, Miraak, and Karstagg all come to mind - but for every one of those there’s two dozen oversized bandits calling themselves king of the world. 

I’ve always wanted to fix that, and make the reaper as frightful and terrifying as his reputation implies. Nothing about Skyrim’s engine really precludes good boss design, as encounters like Harkon and Miraak prove, and I wanted to create a boss on that level, a fight that forces the player to adapt and think and wouldn’t feel out of place in a Dark Souls or Zelda game. 

As the mod evolved, I realized that the Reaper’s Lair itself was a constraining space to work around, and that it gave players little room to maneuver and explore. Furthermore, the boss turned out really, really fun, so much fun that I wanted to give players a way to repeat it and incentivize them to fight it over and over again. So, united by the love of Bloodborne and horror, I teamed up with Slimesire (The Tale of Tsatampra Xiros, Identity Crisis) to design a new map, the size of a small DLC, and a mini-quest that would give the player an arena to face off against the Reaper in a multi-phase battle of immense proportions, complete with assets and unique loot, both custom-made for this mod, as well as contributed generously by some of the best armor and weapon modders on the Nexus! 

In his realm, the Reaper can be defeated, revived by going back to the Soul Cairn, and then the quest can be repeated over and over. Difficulty as well as the number and quality of rewards increase with each fight, and past a certain point other variants of the Reaper can spawn. Enemies also shift randomly, as do rewards, giving the quest a certain roguelike quality, as you’re never sure what to expect when you fight the Reaper. Learn to fear the unknown. A giant skeleton knight with a deadly scythe may be scary, but nothing frightens me more than going into a boss fight with a fire enchanted weapon, only for the Infernal Reaper to spawn instead. 

This is the Gratuitous Reaper Improvement Mod. Or G.R.I.M. for short. 

If you enjoy my mods, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

And Join my discord if you wanna offer feedback or suggestions!

Getting Started: 

Starting the quest is the same as it would be in Vanilla. The Reaper is accessed in the same way, by collecting all three Reaper Gem Fragments and placing them on the altar in the Reaper’s Lair. Obviously you’ll need Dawnguard, and need to have progressed to the point where you can enter the Soul Cairn. If you need help, information on where to find the fragments can be accessed here.

However, be prepared for a vastly, vastly different fight. After you beat him the first time, the reaper will teleport you into his own realm, a pocket of the Soul Cairn known as the Mausoleum.

The Reaper: 

The Reaper possesses a variety of moves, spells, and abilities, and his attacks and strategies will vary based on what strategies the player use against him. That is to say, he adapts to some degree and his combat style is dependent on your own. Defeating the Reaper requires you to understand your own weaknesses, and come prepared. The following is a list of all of his abilities and attacks. 


Master of Mortality: A passive ability. The Reaper takes reduced damage from all undead units. 

Death’s Approach: Some of the Reaper’s abilities inflict Death’s Approach, a curse that reduces attack damage and movement speed for 10 seconds. If the Reaper strikes a target under the effects of Death’s Approach with his scythe, that unit instantly loses all of their health except for 1. Consume a Soul Husk to dispel Death’s Approach.

Reaper’s Torment: The Reaper spits a flaming skull at its target, with an arc. It summons a boneman where it lands, and deals magical damage in an area around it. Living units struck by the blast are cursed with Death’s Approach.

Scythe Fling: The Reaper’s forward power attacks throw a spinning scythe projectile in a long line in front of him. Units hit take damage and are cursed with Death’s Approach. 

Death Comes: In the Mausoleum, striking the Reaper from range with spells or arrows builds up a counter on the Reaper, increasing the chance that he will perform a teleport attack. The Reaper vanishes from the world after a short delay, leaving a random Soul Cairn skeleton in his place. After a random amount of time, the Reaper reappears behind you, cursing you with Death’s Approach and attempting to slice off your head with a power attack. 


Soul Consumption: After defeating the Reaper for the first time in the Mausoleum, he keels down and begins to regenerate his power. He absorbs the power of the four Gravewakers around the Mausoleum if they’re still alive, killing them and empowering himself for each one killed. The Reaper revives at full health, and gains an additional 25% of his max health and bonus armor and magic resistance for each Gravewaker he consumes as he respawns.

The Mausoleum

The Reaper's grim corner of Oblivion where the bones of countless lost souls are piled high and a host of frightful entities serve their master with deathless zeal. These include the Gravewakers, from whom the Reaper extracts an obscure form of power power. 

In this parched waste, the intrepid adventurer is faced with a unique choice: confront the Reaper in a battle of mounting odds, as the Mausoleum's master conjures overwhelming numbers of skeletal minions, or seek out the Gravewakers, eliminate them, and sever the Reaper from its source of power. 

Elsewhere, at the far margins of the Mausoleum, an all but forgotten denizen of the realm sits in ruin and neglect, and an unlikely alliance might be forged in the crucible of combat…

Grave Robbing

Upon defeating the reaper, he will drop some unique and powerful weapons, armors, or spells. Furthermore, chests will spawn randomly around the map containing sizable amounts of loot. These are all custom assets, with unique enchantments seen nowhere else in the game, or any other mod. The loot is entirely randomized, ranked, and will improve the more times you beat the Reaper. Instead of weapons and armor, the Reaper may also drop some amount of Grim Voidshards, which are a potent alchemy ingredient that’s also necessary to temper the items that the Reaper drops. Perhaps, if you collect enough, you might be able to unlock a secret item that waits somewhere in the corner of the map...

For those who want to tear away the mystique, and learn the specifics of how the loot system works...


The loot the reaper drops is influenced by its Terror level. When it dies, it will drop some generic loot, along with either a piece of unique Reaper armor, weaponry, or some Grim Voidshards. Rewards are divided between common and rare. Rare items are more powerful and usually have unique enchantments, but also appear less often and require more voidshards to upgrade.

Additionally, some items are exclusive to the Reaper Variants, Infernal and Pale. 

Live, Die, Repeat

Upon defeating the Reaper in his realm, the exit to the Soul Cairn will be unlocked. You may travel through it to return to the Soul Cairn. Exiting the Reaper’s Lair, you may notice two unique structures. The first, the Deathless Shrine, can be activated when the Reaper is dead to spawn three shades of the Reaper. Kill them to retrieve the fragments of the Reaper’s Gem, and return to the lair to fight the Reaper all over again. However, each time you do this, the Reaper’s Terror Level will rise. 

With higher Terror Levels, more powerful enemies will spawn in the Mausoleum, at greater numbers, but the number of loot chests will also increase. The Reaper himself will spawn with improved stats based on your Terror Level, but will also drop better loot in greater numbers. If the Terror Level gets high enough, the Reaper might spawn in another aspect, another form with entirely different abilities. Defeating those will yield a chance to receive unique and different rewards, like an Infernal Scythe.

Your Terror Level maxes out at 7. Near the Deathless Shrine, you may also notice a candlelit well. This is the Well of Obols, where you can offer gold to the spirits of the dead to reduce the power of the Reaper, dropping his Terror Level by 1. The amount of gold required scales with the player’s Level, but this gives a way to customize the difficulty of the boss for players to toy with. 

Difficulty Rank 5, for example, is where the first guaranteed rare item will always drop, but its also where the more difficult aspects of the Reaper begin to spawn. 

Future Plans: 

Slimesire and I had a blast working on this mod together, and we will definitely keep it updated. We might also work on improving other bosses, or maybe collaborate on some other future projects together. Who know? For now, Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to drink plenty of milk! 


A big heartfelt thanks to every modd author who contributed their time and effort on this project! 


And an extra special thanks to 


For their dedicated effort on this project.

And the members of my discord for offering feedback on the early beta versions of this mod.