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About this mod

Tired of pseudo-nights? Want something more believable? Something more fun? Something much darker? Want to make Skyrim's nights beautiful yet scary as hell? You, my friend, have come to the right place. Now with ENB support and brightness levels!

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Tailored for use with ENB, COT, RLO, and Vanilla Skyrim

If you're looking for a darker, more immersive nighttime Skyrim experience, you've come to the right place. I want something where you're actually scared to travel at night, where the woods of Skyrim are crawling with hidden beasts, and where the player can truly blend in wtih the shadows at night. The goal of this mod is to make Skyrim's nights realistic, fun, lore-friendly, role-play friendly, and beautiful.

This mod goes about bringing realistic, dark nights to Skyrim using the actual lighting of the game engine. I wanted something that made nights dark and scary but still completely functional, where you could still play at night so long as you used a torch. I created this mod since the only options I could find simply forced the player to essentially don tinted sunglasses at night, which darkens everything (including torchlight), rather than what should be. This mod takes the long route of using the game engine's lighting mechanics rather than going the quick and dirty route of simply dimming the entire screen.

  • Multiple levels of brightness. Make your own experience! Choose a darker option to exprience realistic nights like those in our own world, or a brighter one to simulate living in Skyrim under the watch of Tamriel's massive moons. There is also a casual option available for those not looking for dark nights- this option preserves the beauty of this mod, as the land fades out realistically in the distance and nighttime colors are more subtle, while preventing the need to have a torch or light source.
  • Varied night lighting according to the weather. On a clear night, Tamriel's massive moons will provide enough light to make things out in the open, so long as you're close. Aurorae will realistically reflect off water, snow, and other materials when present and paired with the right weather. On the other end of the spectrum, you won't be seeing much of anything in the middle of an all-out blizzard.
  • Torches and lights work. Changes to torches and magic lights are boxed in with this mod. Survival at night becomes a game of its own - navigation is challenging without a light source, but opportunities are available to conquer the darkness. Light magic spells are now the most coveted form of light in the game with their supreme illumination capabilities, but a torch will do just fine.
  • Eye adjustment. When you're standing in or looking into bright light at night, everything else will become realistically pitch black. Move out away from the light and your eyes will adjust. (Of course, it still might be pitch black depending on the weather, your surroundings, the region you're in, etc.)
  • Realistic NPC reaction and sneaking. For once, it actually makes sense to carry out covert operations at night. Since the actual lighting is changed, NPCs will react realistically. No more being assaulted at all turns by enemies you can't see who can see you. Now, if you're outside at night and away from any light sources, you really can blend in with the shadows. (That being said, enemies can still locate you by noise - which is quite easy if you're running through the dead silence of night wearing armor- so make sure you still remember to sneak and tread carefully.)
  • Differences in region. Snow reflects a heck of a lot of light. As such, on a night with a full moon and clear skies, you'll actually be able to see comparatively decently in a snowy area. Move to a forested region or under a rocky outcrop and you'll have a lot more trouble seeing anything.
  • Overall appearance. All of the aspects of Skyrim's nights have been meticulously balanced to ensure everything blends well, looks simultaneously realistic and beautiful, and reacts to changing conditions correctly. Water, for example, reflects a very different intensity and color depending upon weather situations.
  • Custom Night Eye/ Vampire Hunter's Sight. My take on the night eye effect is boxed in with the mod, since vanilla night eye isn't useful when nights are darker. ENB users, please see the "Tuning for ENB" section.

Please be sure to have your monitor or screen at the correct viewing angle when using this mod. The lighting is fine-tuned; you might not be seeing subtle changes you're supposed to if you have a bad viewing angle going.

Finally, there are versions of this mod for users of Climates of Tamriel, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, and cut-and-dry vanilla Skyrim. (Hearthfire works with any version.) I HIGHLY recommend you go and get yourself Climates of Tamriel if you haven't. That beauty will add hundreds of different weathers and thousands of unique days, nights, sunrises, and sunsets to Skyrim and allow you to experience hundreds more unique nights from this mod. As of version 3.0, it is required that users of Climates of Tamriel also install Climates of Tamriel Weather Patch, Supreme Storms for COT, and Expanded Snow Systems for COT, all located at the bottom of this page. These mods are simple installs which add tremendously to the atmosphere.

  • This mod requires Skyrim version
  • Download the main file. Note that any file will work with or without Hearthfire.
  • Enable with NMM, Mod Organizer, or Wrye Bash, or follow the included readme to install manually.
  • LOAD-ORDER: I recommend you use LOOT; just ensure that this mod's files are loaded after any files they patch.


  • If you'd like, view the changelog through the link at the top of the page to see what's been added.
  • This mod can be updated without issue, just uninstall the old version, and install the new one. As with any mod, there is a chance that other mods can be broken if one changes their load order mid-game; but this is rare; please always keep a backup save handy and test when updating/installing/uninstalling mods mid-game.
  • Uninstallation
  • (AUTOMATIC) Disable the mod with NMM, Wrye Bash, or Mod Organizer.
  • (MANUAL) Go into your Skyrim/Data folder and simply delete all files beginning "RealisticNights...".
Tuning for ENB

As of version 3.0, this mod is tuned for ENB out-of-the-box. However, several possible additions:

To tune the brightness levels of this mod for your particular ENB, open up your "enbseries" .ini located under the Skyrim folder. Scroll down to Environment and adjust "DirectLightingIntensityNight" and "AmbientLightingIntensityNight". This mod was built using values of 1.0 for both, so you may want to try starting there.

Enhanced ENB Night Eye by scegielski-Night Eye is deactivated with ENB; use this mod to bring it back and fine-tune it. Works with Gopher's excellent Predator Vision.

Remove Camera Attachments by BluemaxDR-Night Eye fix: some fog clouds are attached directly to your character and can be blinding when using Night Eye. BluemaxDR has created a fix.

Should be compatible with all lighting mods; generally, load this mod's files after lighting mods (i.e. RLO, ELFX) Weather mods are incompatible and need patches. (Patches for COT/COTWP and RLO Weathers are included in the download)

Merging Patches
Depending on which options you select, you might end up with a several different plugins from this mod. All plugins from this mod are completely mergeable with TES5Edit and the Merge Plugins script available on the Nexus. (if you want to save plugin space, reduce clutter etc.) Here are instructions to do so:
  • Download TES5Edit version 3.0.32 here
  • Download TES5Edit Merge plugins script here
  • Open TES5Edit. Right click in the box that appears showing all of your plugins and click "Select None".
  • Find all plugins beginning "RealisticNights" and check the box to the left of them.
  • Click OK
  • Wait for TES5Edit to load the files. In the messagebox, it will read "Background Loader: Finished" when it is ready.
  • Hold control down and click all Realistic Nights files to highlight them all.
  • Right click on one of the files and select "Apply Script."
  • Select script "Merge Plugins V1.65"
  • Click OK
  • Ensure only the Realistic Nights plugins are checked. Select "Copy intelligently" and"Renumber FormIDs"
  • Click OK; Create New File, Enter "RealisticNightsMerged" or whatever file name you'd like
  • Wait for the script to finish.
  • Right-click the resultant plugin and click "Check For Errors." If it throws any errors (which it shouldn't), retry merging the plugins, see if you can figure out what went wrong, or comment here for help.
  • Click the red exit button on TES5Edit. Only check the box for the plugin you made to save it.
  • You're done! Now, you can enable only the merged plugin and get rid of the rest! Sort this plugin where the lowest one would have been (or put it at the bottom of your load order/right above a bashed patch for convenience.
  • Go give the fine folks who made TES5Edit and the Merge Plugins script an endorsement, and enjoy the game.

Q: My game crashes on the main menu screen!
A: This is due to missing master files. Please make sure you have all the masters you need to use for any files from my mod, and are loading the masters higher in your load order than the files from this mod. To do this, you can use Wrye Bash (click on the mod and look at the box on the right which displays the file's masters) or TES5Edit (load up my mod's files, click the plus sign next to the file, click on header, and look at the masters) to view the masters of each of my files.

Q: The landscape flickers when I look around - i.e. the ground will be dark when I'm looking one way and bright when I'm looking another way.
A: This is a game engine limitation on the number of lights allowed to be activated at once in a scene.

Q: Will this mod lower my FPS?
A: This mod uses existing vanilla lighting to achieve its effect and will not affect performance.

Q: Waterfalls and whitewater glow at night. Fix it!
A: This is a vanilla issue. Another modder already has fixed it! :D Go here to download this fix. Note that this "particle patch" will greatly alleviate the issue, though not fix it entirely, as doing so would mess up how water looks in the daytime.

Q: Some small plants and grasses do not light up, even when next to a light source.
A: This is another game engine limitation. Procedurally generated grasses do not respond to point lights (i.e. torches, light spells). Changing the meshes of these plants results in immediate crashing.

Q: Where to put optional files in the load order?
A: Below one of the main files and any mods the optional file patches address.

Complimentary Mods

Realistic Lighting Overhaul by The Realistic Lighting Team
Wearable Lanterns by Chesko
Climates of Tamriel by JJC71 with Climates of Tamriel Weather Patch by prod80, Aiyen, and Saerileth
Supreme Storms for Climates of Tamriel by MannyGT
Expanded Snow Systems Climates of Tamriel Version by JonusL2D
Lanterns of Skyrim by MannyGT
Monster Mod by Dogtown1 and Ironman5000
Equipping Overhaul by DragonDude1029 - Allows you to drop lit torches without a clumsy power. Also, can be configured so that when you unsheathe a weapon, you automatically drop your torch.


Click here to play video

Thanks to Gruntlock for this video! It gives a nice quick overview of the visuals of the mod.

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Thanks to StarduskLP for this one! This is an excellent, comprehensive 15-minute in-depth review of the mod which explains it extremely well.

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Thanks to SkyttsTV for this vid! Review starts at 5 minutes into the vid. Great explanation of many features of the mod.

I hope you enjoy the mod. Happy adventuring!