Ultimate Skyrim Collection: Gate to Sovngarde

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It’s rare for a mod collection to come along that's been constructed with utmost care and attention to detail, where each mod serves a very specific purpose and contributes to a magnificent game experience. Gate to SovnGarde, the Skyrim SE total overhaul by JaySerpa, is just that.

Carefully crafted by modder and content creator JaySerpa, this collection brings together 980 mods to expand and deepen your Skyrim experience. Anyone that follows Jay on Twitch has seen this collection come to life and evolve through careful testing, tweaking and community interaction. The collection is heavily focused on immersion, roleplaying and building a dynamic world that changes over time and responds to the actions you take.

I managed to catch up with Jay and get his insights into his modding journey and the development of this special collection. Enjoy the chat!

Hi Jay, it’s been a few years since you first prostrated yourself before the gods of Tamriel! Let’s start with your modding journey, how did it all begin?

Hi Mat! I started modding Skyrim almost 10 years ago, back when I thought “it’s just a few mods, I don’t need a mod manager tool for this”. Needless to say, I quickly realised my mistake when I completely wrecked my Skyrim installation. It’s been quite the journey since then until now. Around 3 years ago I decided to stop waiting for the mods I wanted to see in the game and I started learning how to make my own mods.

It was quite tough at the beginning as I didn’t really have a background in game development or anything like that, but I must say it’s super satisfying to make your own creations and share them with the community. Also, most mod authors are super helpful and will lend you a hand, so I encourage everyone to give mod making a try and reach out if you get stuck!

This collection feels like the distillation of a lot of time spent immersing yourself in the world and scratching your own itch to build the game as you want to see it. Are there some general principles that guided your approach?

I approached Gate To Sovngarde the same way I tend to approach the rest of my mods: the mods I included should feel like a natural extension of Skyrim, while giving the player more agency and having the world react to your choices. Roleplaying is at the heart of the collection and I think it’s certainly needed as most of us have been playing Skyrim for pretty much a decade now, so it’s always fun to play different types of characters.

I’ve tuned into your stream quite a few times and really enjoyed the interactive and curious approach you take to playing the game. How much has engagement with your viewers helped to mould this collection?

The community has helped me immensely in terms of choosing this or that mod, helping track down bugs and offering mod suggestions. It’s really been a group effort in that regard.

But also… a lot of the mods I’ve created over the years have come straight from the streams! Most of my mods have a funny story behind them and are a result of interactions with other community members. I’m playing the game and suddenly someone might notice something that is missing or not as cool as it could be, and 10 minutes later we’re making the mod come true in Creation Kit. The streams can be a lot of fun in that regard. You also have fellow mod authors popping in and out and offering their expertise, helping users, etc.

The mods you have chosen range from small visual tweaks like Better Butterflies and Smoking Torches and Candles, right up to full city overhauls and full UI updates. Are there any specific mods that you want to point out as most influential in this collection?

I think the most influential mods of the collection are those that add more player choice (Check out the mods by Parapets, SomethingObscure, Andrealphus, Abramcf and my own Quest Expansion series!) But also mods that turn Skyrim into a more dynamic world (Environs, Lawbringer, Skyrim Realistic Conquering, Reputation and my own NPCs React mods).
These are, I would say, the core aspects of the collection. This does not mean the rest of the game is left untouched though.

The collection improves pretty much everything from cities, retextures, NPC visuals, gameplay, etc. I find, however, these other aspects are ultimately very much up to the user and they might want to tweak them to their liking, which is totally possible and encouraged. Everyone should feel free to mod my collection and improve upon it!

The Community Shaders plugin from Doodlum feels pretty performance friendly and the collection runs well on a mid-level machine. Can you talk about how you settled on this graphical modification over alternatives?

I always like to put user friendliness first when it comes to my mods, so I knew from the start I wanted to have a “1-click installation” process for the collection. 

I also wanted to find a good balance between amazing visuals and good performance. With these two things in mind, the choice to go with Community Shaders was an easy one.

Ultimately, the user still has the choice to install something more graphically demanding like Reshade or ENB on top if they wish to do so, and the process for this is super simple.

(Also worth mentioning the recent Light Limit Fix from Doodlum, a new and exciting fix which allows for unlimited dynamic lights).

In fact, every mod you have added to this collection is probably a trade-off in terms of performance or leaving something else out. What were some of the more difficult decisions you made?

Indeed! Another factor was the weight of the collection, as I wanted the collection to stay within a manageable size. 
There are SO many amazing retexture mods out there… and I sort of wanted to add them all. “4K cheese? Sure!” - We’ve all been there. But in the end I figured the smartest thing would be to offer a strong base with the incredible Skyland AIO and a couple of other mods and then let the user decide how crazy they want to go with textures depending on their hardware and personal taste. 

Textures are one of the few mod categories you can hardly break your game with, so I encourage everyone to install as many texture mods as they like!

Looking back, we previously discussed some of the challenges and resistance you faced when first getting into modding. Are there any insights you can offer to new modders, or specific resources that helped you accelerate your learning?

Just sit down and start messing around with the tools! There are fantastic tutorials out there, (Shoutout to DarkFox, GamerPoets and the recently released SkyrimScripting series!) but for me personally… Nothing beats just playing around in Creation Kit and making your own plugins and learning from your mistakes. Those are the lessons you never forget. In my case, I never wanted to make more than one mod. But making that first mod I ended up learning a lot of things that I ultimately used in another mod. And making that new mod led me to learn new things, which ended up in a third mod. And the cycle continues until today! And like I mentioned previously, if you get stuck, just reach out to someone who has already done something similar to what you want to make! I’m always happy to help out and so are most mod creators out there.

Will the allure of Skyrim modding hold your attention over the coming months? Any plans you might want to share in terms of new projects, new games, new direction?

So right now… I need a small break. I usually stick to 1 mod a month, which is fairly manageable considering I have an actual boring “real life” job.  But this Summer, I’ve published 8 mods just so I could finalise the collection and I’m completely beat haha.

I guess you could say now is the perfect time to play a new game and relax a little. Bethesda, if you’re reading this, hook me up with a code for Starfield. Those space mods ain’t going to make themselves.

There can often be a conflict for modders, between the need to commercialise their work and earn a buck, at the same time wanting to keep modding free and accessible. I’m a big advocate for our DP system and we continue to look at other ways to help modders benefit from their efforts. Do you have any thoughts on this, or anything you would like to see from Nexus Mods to further support mod authors?

I think many of us share the same dream of earning a living doing what we love. I can relate to that. However, I personally struggle with the idea of paid mods or Patreon-locked mods, as it feels disrespectful to all the thousands of mod authors that spend their time creating mods and making them available for free. Right now most people think “it’s just $5 dollars, I’m going to get that mod”, which is fair, but most of us tend to use hundreds of mods. Could you afford to pay $5 for each of them?

I think the NexusMods’ approach is the right one. Mods remain free for the user and mod authors are encouraged to keep doing what they love. As the Donation Points program keeps expanding, we’ll get to see more and more mod authors leave their 9 to 5 jobs for full-time modding. Thanks guys for everything you do!

Any other shoutouts?

I’ve mentioned a lot of mod authors already throughout the interview, but I cannot say no to more shoutouts! Shoutout to everyone who puts up with me on Twitch, shoutout to all the users who stop to drop a positive comment on every new mod (after 3 years you end up recognizing all the avatars!), shoutout to my friend RacoonDance (creator of the classic “Hunters Not Bandits”), shoutout to TheCyclist (I think I have all of their mods installed), shoutout to TateTaylorOH and EpicCrab (for encouraging me to start making mods), shoutout to MissileMann for always being kind, and shoutout to….... Mat! Hello?

No! I’m not done, I have a list of 100 others!

Mat, I-... *beeeeeep*

Ahem, looks like Jay dropped off the call. Time to go and check out his latest stream!

In conclusion, if you want to reignite your passion for Skyrim, while maintaining the vanilla experience you love, this is the collection for you. I thoroughly recommend tuning into the JaySerpa stream and also supporting him on Patreon if possible.

JaySerpa is one of the true community gems driving to maintain an open and positive modding community. As well as checking out this collection, please go and send some love to the amazing mod authors whose work is featured in this collection. Enjoy the fruits of their labours!

Get the Gate to Sovngarde collection here.

Hopefully you enjoyed this discussion with JaySerpa and his insights into the building of Gate to Sovngarde. We will continue our series of interviews with collection curators and mod authors. If there are any other collections or authors you want to share with the community, please do get in touch.


  1. skyrimmdderlexi
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    I love you JaySherpa :')
  2. dibble201bty
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    Rumour has it that Elder Scrolls VI is still 'at least' five years away.
  3. Adamrjw332
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    Really great collection man, enjoying it a lot!.
  4. ZboxPops
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    The hud doesnt work, no compass and my marker wont show on the map. frusterating
  5. Anatsu2
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    wondering if gate to sovngarde has support for 32:9
  6. RagadashDrago
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    Gate to Sovngarde is a great piece of work. I like it. It will be a good place to be till Bethesda release the new Elder Scrolls 6.

    Bethesda has confirmed that its highly anticipated role-playing game The Elder Scrolls 6, which was officially announced in 2018, has entered early development.

    Speaking to Vandal about the imminent release of Starfield, Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines confirmed the Skyrim sequel has completed the pre-production stage and moved into the development phase.
    Hines was asked if fans will hear more about The Elder Scrolls 6 once Starfield launches. "We have put all of our studio's focus on making this game the best it can be," he said, translated by ResetEra user Shoot.
    "And yes, there are people working on The Elder Scrolls 6, but this is what the studio has focused on. So no, you are not going to hear soon about The Elder Scrolls 6. Starfield is our focus for now, and it's going to remain our priority for a while before we talk about anything else."
    When asked to confirm if The Elder Scrolls 6 was still in pre-production, Hines said: "No. It's in development, but it's in early development."

    Source -
  7. pmurnion
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    Is there a reason that Creation club content is not working with this collection.  I want to use the Gallows Hall creation.  The Hall is not there in the skyrim map.  When I look  at the creation club contant in the skyrim main menu (using the gate to sovngarde profile)  it has all been blanked out with Xs, very strange! in the Gate to Sovngarde profile in Vortex i cant see anything in the modlist, when I look in plugins I see the necrohouse.esl file but I dont know what to do with that item in the list.
    Whats happning with cc content?
  8. Dee1975
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    Hey my name is Dee and I love Star wars and a big fan of the mods for Skyrim and now we're I can only play on PS4 there really isn't that many Star wars mods like for Xbox one so I was hoping the people that made the mods here could maybe and some to Bethesda for PS4 because they are cool to us and there more for Xbox one and vampires mods too I understand if you guys don't because they are great mods and better vampire mod too plus my son loves the mods too
    1. daywalker03
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      Sadly, a lot of the good mods for PC or Xbox can't be made available on PlayStation if they use a lot of custom content, and that's not something we can do much about.
  9. Spain
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    Awesome. I've no played Skyrim in a while but it cost me a lot to make my current mod list. But for sure I will look into this one in the future. Thanks JaySerpa!!
  10. vaultyvlad95
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    GTX 1650 here and I haven't run into any crashing issues and can even swap reshade and ENB for Community Shaders. Visually the game looks great and it's a nie mix of performance and fidelity. 2-3 hours in and problems on the side of scripts and animations have been pretty apparent. So far coming across the vanilla and RP opening scene along with a lot of the immersive animation mods that can break the game with glitches such as locking the player controls when exiting the Wait menu. Don't really feel like disabling any mods that take away from the experience so gonna keep on trekking forward. For a first time Vortex install, not damn bad at all.