Skyrim Special Edition
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About this mod

Uses a trait system to change the resistances and weaknesses of creatures and armors to magic (fire/frost/shock), physical damage (blade/blunt/axes/arrows), poison and disease.

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*** Know Your Enemy 2 has been released ***
It is split separate creature and armor modules, with a patch to integrate the two.
It is the successor to this mod, with more damage types and MCM difficulty configuration.
KYE1 will remain up, but is unlikely to be the focus of further development

LE version here. Redux creatures version here. Redux armors version here.


Know Your Enemy fixes Skyrim's repetitive combat by changing the resistance and susceptibility of enemies and armors to different weapons and spells. The end result is that you will no longer be able to slaughter your way through Skyrim armed with only a single weapon or spell, instead you will need to flexibly adapt your strategy to the current foe.

  • Enemies and armors are given traits that affect their resistances and weaknesses.
  • Weapons are split into blade, axes, blunt and arrows (fists count as blunt).
  • Spells are split into fire, frost, and shock. Poison and disease damage are affected too.
  • All vanilla enemies and armors (except dragons and playable races) are affected, as well as thousands of others added by mods.
  • The player is given a spell to reveal a target's traits (an optional patch makes it a Lesser Power instead)
  • You can see the effects of your own armor in your active effects list.
  • A series of books are hidden throughout Skyrim that when read enhance your abilities against certain targets.
  • Installs through patchers, allowing for extreme compatibility and avoiding the need for dedicated patches, but if you are not comfortable with patchers you can use the redux versions (creatures, armor) instead.

Creature Traits

There are 21 possible traits that reflect aspects of a creature's nature, including its size, habitat, body type and mental capacity. Each creature is given a few traits and they stack to determine their overall resistances and weaknesses. The full list of traits is:

Water protects crabs, fish and even lurkers from fire, but conducts electricity.
Resistances: Fire (50%).
Weaknesses: Shock (100%).

Armor protects against physical damage and can be natural in the case of invertebrates like crabs and chaurus, or even worn by trolls, huskies and skeletons.
Resistances: Blade (x0.5); Blunt (x0.75); Arrows (x0.25).

Large creatures ranging from bears and trolls to giants and mammoths benefit from thermal inertia and general bulkiness.
Resistances: Fire (25%); Frost (25%); Axes (x0.75); Blunt (x0.5); Arrows (x0.75).

Brittle creatures, like invertebrates, skeletons and those made of ice, will shatter when struck with blunt weapons or arrows.
Weaknesses: Blunt (x1.5); Arrows (x1.25).

Dwarven machine
Being made of steam powered metal gives dwarven machines many resistances, but also a key weaknesses to frost.
Immunities: Shock; Poison; Disease.
Resistances: Fire (50%); Blade (x0.25); Axes (x0.75); Arrows (x0.25).
Weaknesses: Frost (25%).

The thick insulation of trolls, horkers and other wild animals provides ample defense.
Resistances: Fire (50%); Frost (50%); Axes (x0.75); Blunt (x0.5).

Fire elemental
Creatures affiliated with fire are immune to fire, but weak to frost.
Immunities: Fire.
Weaknesses: Frost (25%).

The fur coats of many wild animals protects against the cold.
Resistances: Frost (50%)

Ghosts are immune to most physical damage.
Immunities: Physical attacks, except silver, daedric, dragonbone, stahlrim, dawnguard, bound and ghostly weapons.
Note that this only applies to the player: NPCs deal half physical damage to ghosts. This is to get around issues where quests trap you and a bunch of NPCs in a room full of ghosts, and also to stop the player abusing ghostly summons.

Ice elemental
Creatures affiliated with frost are immune to frost, but weak to fire.
Immunities: Frost.
Weaknesses: Fire (25%).

Spriggans' wooden bodies are resistant to shock and blunt blows, but weak to fire, axes and disease.
Resistances: Shock (50%); Blunt (x0.5).
Weaknesses: Fire (25%); Axes (x1.5); Disease (50%).

Creatures made from living rock or ash are highly resistant to physical damage.
Resistances: Fire (25%); Shock (50%); Blade (x0.25); Axes (x0.75); Arrows (x0.25).

Having no flesh provides a multitude of resistances.
Immunities: Poison; Disease.
Resistances: Fire (75%); Shock (75%); Blade (x0.5); Axes (x0.75); Arrows (x0.1).

Small creatures are physically frail and vulnerable to temperature changes.
Weaknesses: Fire (25%); Frost (25%); Arrows (x1.5).

Shock elemental
Creature affiliated with electricity are immune to shock.
Immunities: Shock.

Creatures not of this plane are immune to all worldly poisons and disease.
Immunities: Poison; Disease.

Strong willed
The mental fortitude of spriggans, hagravens, vampires and other magical beings protects against spells.
Resistances: Fire (25%); Frost (25%); Shock (25%).

Troll kin
Trolls have a crippling weakness to fire.
Weaknesses: Fire (50%).

The undead have many resistances, but can be dismembered with axes.
Immunities: Poison; Disease.
Resistances: Shock (50%); Blade (x0.75); Blunt (x0.25); Arrows (x0.25).
Weaknesses: Axes (x1.25).

The powerful hearts of predators like trolls, bears and sabre cats quickly spread poisons throughout their body and make them vulnerable to bleeding.
Weaknesses: Poison (100%).

Venomous creatures are naturally immune to poison.
Immunities: Poison.


A series of 21 books are added to loot lists that unlock new enemy weaknesses that the player can exploit. Eighteen of them concern the above traits, while the remaining three reveal "hidden" traits that otherwise have no effect. The books can be found in boss chests across Skyrim, and are categorized as basic, magical or advanced. Any book can be found anywhere, but bandit, Imperial and Stormcloak chests are more likely to contain basic or advanced books, while mage, forsworn, hagraven and vampire chests are more likely to contain magical books. The books are rare though, so happy hunting!

Vol. 1: Furred creatures are 25% weaker to fire.
Vol. 2: Fat creatures take double damage from arrows.
Vol. 3: Big creatures take 25% more damage from blades.
Vol. 4: Small creatures take 50% more damage from blunt weapons.
Vol. 5: Armored creatures take 25% more damage from blunt weapons.
Vol. 6: Dwarven machines are 25% weaker to frost and take 50% more damage from blunt weapons.
Vol. 7: The undead take 25% more damage from axes and blades.
Vol. 8: Venomous creatures lose their poison immunity.
Vol. 9: Fire and ice elementals are 25% weaker to their opposing element, shock elementals lose their shock immunity.
Vol. 10: Plants are 50% weaker to frost.
Vol. 11: Unlocks hidden trait "vile", disease carrying creatures are 25% weaker to frost.
Vol. 12: Skeletons lose their shock resistance and take 25% more damage from blunt weapons.
Vol. 13: Trolls are 50% weaker to fire.
Vol. 14: Unlocks hidden trait "weak willed", domesticated creatures, the undead and summons are 25% weaker to all elements.
Vol. 15: Strong willed creatures take 50% more damage from blunt weapons.
Vol. 16: Unlocks hidden trait "cave dwelling", creatures that live underground are 25% weaker to fire.
Vol. 17: Vascular creatures take 25% more damage from blades.
Vol. 18: Aquatic creatures are 50% weaker to frost.
Vol. 19: Brittle creatures take 50% more damage from axes.
Vol. 20: Supernatural creatures are 50% weaker to shock.
Vol. 21: Rocky creatures are 50% weaker to frost.

Armor Traits

There are seven possible armor traits, four concern an armor's material, the other three concern its construction. Each armor is given appropriate traits - between one and three depending on the piece - and they combine to determine its overall resistances and weaknesses. The magical effects multiply the magnitude of incoming spells and the physical effects multiply the target's armor rating. The traits are:

Material: Fur
Fur is common in early-game light armors, but is included in many late-game armors too.
Resistances: Frost (x0.5 magnitude).
Weaknesses: Arrows (x0.5 AR).

Material: Leather
Leather is a typical early-game light armor material.
Resistances: Fire (x0.75 magnitude).
Weaknesses: Arrows (x0.75 AR).

Material: Metal
Metal is characteristic of early and mid-game heavy armors.
Resistances:  Blades (x1.5 AR), Arrows (x1.5 AR).
Weaknesses: Shock (x1.25 magnitude).

Material: Nonconductive
Nonconductive materials like glass, moonstone, ebony and bone, are typical of late game armors.
Resistances:  Shock (x0.25 magnitude).
Weaknesses: Fire (x1.25 magnitude), Frost x1.25 magnitude), Blunt (x0.75 AR).

Construction: Layered
Layering reduces the penetration of arrows and is common among light armors.
Resistances:  Arrows (x1.5 AR).

Construction: Thick
Thick plates resist arrows and blades, but can weigh a lot.
Resistances:  Blade (x1.5 AR), Arrows (x2 AR).

Construction: Deep
Plate armors with padding between armor and wearer are resistant to axes and blunt weapons.
Resistances:  Axes (x1.5 AR), Blunt (x2 AR).


The player is given the spell "inspect target" to see an enemy's traits, but some examples, including the combined effects of different traits, are shown below, with hidden traits in parentheses:

Ash spawn: rocky, supernatural, (weak willed).
Immunities: disease, poison, 
Resistances: fire (-25%), shock (-50%), blade (x0.25), axe (x0.75), arrows (x0.25), 
Ash spawn are tough - unless you find some books - and ash guardians are big too, so even harder.

Bear: big, furred, vascular.
Resistances: fire (-25%), frost (-75%), axe (x0.75), blunt (x0.5), arrows (x0.75), 
Weaknesses: poison (+100%), 
Most predators are furred and vascular. Many snow varieties are fat, but some, like wolves, are not big.

Chaurus: armored, brittle, venomous, (cave dwelling, vile). 
Immunities: poison, 
Resistances: blade (x0.5), arrows (x0.3125), 
Weaknesses: blunt (x1.125), 
Reapers are big, and fledglings small. Note chauruses have two of the hidden traits.

Draugr: undead, (vile, cave dwelling, weak willed). 
Immunities: disease, poison, 
Resistances: shock (-50%), blade (x0.75), blunt (x0.25), arrows (x0.25), 
Weaknesses: axe (x1.25), 
Note that aside from undead, all draugr traits are hidden. Hulking draugr are also big.

Dwarven sphere: dwarven machine.
Immunities: Shock; Poison; Disease.
Resistances: Fire (50%); Blade (x0.25); Axes (x0.75); Arrows (x0.25).
Weaknesses: Frost (25%).
Centurions are also big, so tougher, while spiders are small and so frailer. The forgemaster is a fire elemental.

Falmer: vascular, venomous (cave dwelling, vile).
Immunities: Poison.
Finding the books will unlock many potential weaknesses for falmer.

Flame atronach: fire elemental, supernatural, (weak willed).
Immunities: fire, disease, poison, 
Weaknesses: frost (+25%), 
All atronachs are supernatural and weak willed. While flame atronachs are quite frail, frost atronachs are big, and storm atronachs are rocky.

Skeleton: skeletal, brittle, (weak willed).
Immunities: disease, poison, 
Resistances: fire (-75%), shock (-75%), blade (x0.5), axe (x0.75), arrows (x0.125), 
Weaknesses: blunt (x1.5), 
Variants like bonemen are not weak willed, while some skeletons are armored.

Spider: armored, venomous, brittle, (vile).
Immunities: poison, 
Resistances: blade (x0.5), arrows (x0.3125). 
Weaknesses: blunt (x1.125), 
Spiders are typical of many invertebrates, though some, like mudcrabs, are aquatic.

Spriggan: plant, strong willed.
Immunities: shock (-100%)
Resistances: frost (-25%), blunt (x0.5), 
Weaknesses: fire (+25%), axe (x1.5), disease (+50%), 
Spriggans have mixed effects, burnt spriggans are fire elementals.

Troll: troll kin, furred, vascular.
Resistances: frost (-50%), 
Weaknesses: fire (+50%), poison (+100%), 
Trolls can be armored, and frost trolls are ice elementals.

Vampire: strong willed, undead, (cave dwelling).
Immunities: disease, poison, 
Resistances: fire (-25%), frost (-25%), shock (-100%), blade (x0.75), blunt (x0.25), arrows (x0.25), 
Weaknesses: axe (x1.25), 
Vampire beasts are big.


The player is given the spell "inspect target" to see a target's armor's traits, and you can see the effects of your own armor in your effects list, but some examples, including the combined effects of different traits, are shown below:

Leather: Leather.
Resistances: Fire (x0.75 magnitude).
Weaknesses: Arrows (x0.75 AR).
Note that the arrow weakness is offset by the armor rating, meaning it is still better than wearing nothing.

Studded: Leather, Layered.
Resistances: Fire (x0.75 magnitude), Arrows (x1.125 AR).

Elven: Nonconductive, Layered.
Resistances: Shock (x0.25 magnitude), Arrows (x1.5 AR).
Weaknesses: Fire (x1.25 magnitude), Frost (x1.25 magnitude), Blunt (x0.75 AR).

Glass: Nonconductive, Thick.
Resistances: Shock (x0.25 magnitude), Blade (x1.5 AR), Arrows (x2 AR).
Weaknesses: Fire (x1.25 magnitude), Frost (x1.25 magnitude), Blunt (x0.75 AR).

Iron: Metal, Thick.
Resistances: Blade (x2.25 AR), Arrows (x3 AR).
Weaknesses: Shock (x1.25 magnitude).

Steel: Fur/Metal, Thick.
Resistances: Frost (x0.5 magnitude), Blade (x2.25 AR), Arrows (x3 AR).
Weaknesses: Shock (x1.25 magnitude).

Dwarven: Metal, Deep.
Resistances: Blade (x1.5 AR), Axes (x1.5 AR), Blunt (x2 AR), Arrows (x1.25 AR).
Weaknesses: Shock (x1.25 magnitude).

Ebony: Nonconductive, Deep.
Resistances: Shock (x0.25 magnitude), Axes (x1.5 AR), Arrows (x1.5 AR).
Weaknesses: Fire (x1.25 magnitude), Frost (x1.25 magnitude).

Technical Information

Know Your Enemy installs via two zEdit patchers (one for creatures, one for armor) that create esp files custom to your load order. This avoids compatibility problems with other mods and lets you install one module or both. The patchers are bundled in the download, and you will need to run them for the mod to work, here's how:

  • Download and install the mod. Make sure know_your_enemy.esp is active.
  • Install zEdit. You can get it here. If using MO2 make sure to add zEdit as an executable within MO2 and always run it from there.
  • Install the patchers manually (automatic installation is bugged in zEdit 0.6.6). First locate and extract the zipped patchers that installed with the mod, they are within Skyrim/Data/zEdit patchers. Then copy the folders "KnowYourEnemyPatcher" and "KnowYourArmorPatcher" into zEdit/Modules. Then restart zEdit.
  • Run the patchers. Start zEdit and load your full load order. Click the "jigsaw" button in the top right to see your installed patchers. Build them both individually (do not use the build all button). Then exit zEdit, saving the newly created esps. Note that if your load order includes more than 254 plugins, you will need to use this tool to load the relevant subset.
  • Play. Activate the patch esps and load your game.

For those who use synthesis instead of zEdit, synthesis patchers are available. However, I did not create them so cannot vouch for them or provide assistance with their use.

In zEdit, click the jigsaw button to see the installed patchers list and then use the left hand menu to access the patcher configuration menus. Both patchers let you adjust the effect intensity to scale how dramatic the effects are (1=default, <1=weaker, 0=nothing, >1=stronger, <0 will break your game). The creatures patcher also includes the option to edit the effect of silver weapons to set undead on fire, but it can cause compatibility issues with other mods. To change how traits are allocated, or to add traits to new mod added creatures or armors you need to edit the patcher files creature_rules.js and armor_rules.js. Both files start with simple instructions about how to make changes.

Delete the esps created by the patchers, install the new version of the mod (including the patchers), and re-run the patchers. Updating mid game won't cause the mod to reinitialize, so the player won't get the inspect spell or armor effects in your active effects list if updating from v8- to v9+. You can give yourself the spells through the console though, they are called "inspect creature", "inspect armor" and "armor effects".

Deleting the patches is safe, and will remove traits from all enemies, but the player's armor will retain its effects. Removing the base esp will remove all effects of the mod, but may cause issues as spells added to the player and books added to leveled lists will be missing.


Performance impact


Thanks to the patchers, Know Your Enemy automatically incorporates changes made by other mods and so it is (technically) compatible with everything. It also automatically recognizes thousands of mod added armors and creatures and gives them appropriate traits. Nonetheless, it does not recognize everything so some armors and creatures may not get traits. Nonetheless, unless specified, you should assume it is compatible with whatever other mods you are using. Still, open the spoiler below to see a list of mods for which I have confirmed compatibility.

Advanced Adversary Encounters - the patcher removes AAEs resistance system and replaces it with KYE's
Animal tweaks
Armor Rating Redux

Arrows and bolts tweaks
Artifact - The Breton Paladin

Audio overhaul Skyrim 2
Beasts of Tamriel
Better Vampires
Beyond Reach
Beyond Skyrim: Bruma

Birds and flocks
Birds of Skyrim
Carved Brink
Cats of Skyrim
Cloaks of Skyrim
Colorful Magic

Combat evolved
Complete Alchemy and Cooking overhaul
Complete crafting overhaul remade
Cutting Room Floor

Diverse dragons - KYE doesn't touch dragons
Draugr Upgrades and Improvements
Forgotten Dungeons
Genesis - Dynamically increased spawns
Hammet's Dungeon Pack

Heavy Armory - the added weapons use vanilla keywords and so will fall into the following categories.
                             Blade: shortswords, glaives, spears, shortspears, daggers, tantos etc, tridents
                             Axe: halberds, battleaxes, hatchets
                             Blunt: clubs, maces, warhammers, quarterstaves, mauls, long maces
Height adjusted races
Helgen Reborn
High Level Enemies
Hunt of Hircine
Immersive Armors
Immersiver Horses

Increased Enemy Spawns
Konahrik's Accountrements
Magic Tweaks
Mihail's various mods
Moonlight Tales
Morrowloot Ultimate
Mortal Enemies

Paint it Blackreach EXTREME

Project AHO
Racial body morphs
SidePannel's Leveled Skyrim
Simply Balanced
Skyrim Immersive Creatures
Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy Overhaul
Skyrim Sewers
Skyrim Underground
Skyrim Unleveled
- KYE will tweak some of the spells so they are affected by the appropriate resistances
True Armor - see FAQ below
Ultimate Combat
Vanilla Creatures and Bosses Tweaked

Weapons, Armor, Clothing and Clutter Fixes

Wild World

Mods to be careful with
Bring Your Silver - the effects of BYS will stack with those from KYE making creatures like undead extremely powerful.
Daedric Entity Restoration Project - NPCs in the new races will not be affected by KYE.
Elemental Destruction Magic - you will need the mod 'Know Your Elements' for the new elements to be affected by KYE
Monster Mod SE -  no KYE traits will be applied to the new NPCs added by MM.
Revenge of the enemies - effects will stack with KYE making even tougher enemies.
Shadow Spells Package - you will need "KYE Light and Shadow" if you want the new spells added by SSP to be affected by KYE.
Ultimate Deadly Encounters/Sands of Time - the patcher will probably skip some of the new enemies


1) Why use traits instead of just giving each species its own specific resistance and weaknesses?
Two reasons. First, traits that affect multiple species allow you to use past experience with enemies to guess at likely strategies for similar enemies. Second, traits combine in interesting and fun ways. Sometimes a creature ends up with an immunity, not from a single trait, but from how all its traits work together.

2) Does this make the game harder?

Yes and no. If you try to play like vanilla Skyrim and use a single strategy for all enemies you will probably find some enemies extremely difficult. If you play the way I intend and experiment with different approaches you will find new enemies tough at first, but as you learn strategies to deal with them they will become more manageable. As you discover the books new approaches will open up too.

3) Will this mod force me to play as a jack-of-all-trades?
No, however single weapon builds are less viable with this mod. Instead you should invest in two or three different attack types. For instance, blunt weapons and offensive restoration spells, frost magic with poison and bows, and swords and hammers will all work well. If you really want to remain a specialist, then followers and summons can provide breadth.

4) Do I need a bashed patch?
No. The books are added to leveled lists at runtime via a script and so will be added to lists without the need of a bashed patch.

5) Where can I find the books?
The armor book is sold by all blacksmiths, but the creature books are much rarer. They can be found in boss chests associated with human(ish) enemies (bandits, imperial legion, stormcloaks, forsworn, hagravens, vampires and mages).

6) What's the difference between KYE's armors module and True Armor? Can I use both?
True Armor is a great mod, but you probably don't want to use it and KYE's armors add-on at the same time. For this reason, I made KYE's armors a separate esp so you can use True Armor with the KYE creatures module no problem. That said, I do think KYE's armors module is good! In general I think KYE's armors module is simple and stripped-down compared to True Armor. Here are some specific differences between the two:
- KYE affects damage dealt between NPCs, True Armor only affects damage dealt to or by the player.
- KYE is script free, True Armor uses scripts.
- KYE has no MCM, True Armor has an MCM.
- KYE's effects are flat resists/weaknesses, True Armor's effects are more complex and stochastic.
- KYE's effects are based on the cuirass and weapon type only, True Armor takes all armor pieces and the weapon material into account as well.

Synergistic mods

Know Your Enemy overhauls enemy defenses, but you'll probably want an enemy offense mod too. Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy OverhaulRogues 'n' Raiders and Draugr Upgrades and Improvements are all great options.

KYE favors breadth, but my character building mods Master of OneLegacy and Curse of the Firmament all favor specialization. Put them together and you get a fun challenge.

KYE gives you more reason to carry around multiple weapons, so why not show them off with a mod like Immersive Equipment Displays? You can also get a greater variety of weapons with a mod like heavy armory.

My other mods

Building Your Character - diverse and fun builds with strengths and weaknesses
Master of One - A perk overhaul that transforms perks from generic character progression into a means to craft unique and specialized builds.
Curse of the Firmament - A standing stones overhaul that emphasizes tough choices.
Legacy - A race overhaul that bring strengths and weaknesses to each race.
Acolyte - A progressive-yet-unobtrusive religion overhaul with a long path to divinity.

Enemies and Combat - challenging, varied and fair combat
Know Your Enemy (armor modulepatcher version) - A resistance and weakness overhaul for enemies and armors.
Know Your Enemy 2 (armor moduleintegration patch) - An upgraded resistance overhaul: more damage types, more configuration, more polish.
NPC Stat Rescaler - A patcher that adjusts player and NPC stats for faster, fairer, and less spongy combat.
Enemy Releveler - A patcher that adjusts NPC levels to truly delevel the world.

Stats and stat growth - drawing out character growth to stave off premature godhood
Exhaustion - Incremental Fatigue - An ultra-lightweight injury/fatigue system.
Exercise - Incremental Growth - An add-on for Exhaustion that converts fatigue into stat growth.
Geometric Stat Growth - Stats grow by a configurable percentage on level up, instead of a fixed value.

Challenging Spell Learning
 - Spell Tomes trigger a costly ritual you must pass to learn spells.
Trainers Galore - An expansion of the training system designed for "training only" leveling.
Pick Your Poison - An alchemical handbook to support strategic foraging.
Configurable Perks Per Level - An MCM to edit how many perk points you get on level up.
XP Editor - A patcher that adjusts xp gain and leveling.
Sightseer - Standing Stones - Guidebooks for the standing stones, collectibles to find, and a hidden quest to unite them.

Mod Lists
Thoughtful Skyrim - A small, gameplay-focussed modlist that rewards preparation and planning.


Thanks to Mator for creating zEdit and it's patching framework.

Special thanks to mooglerampage who created Know Your Elements and KYE Light and Shadow.

Special thanks to Sthaag, /u/TendiesForBreakfast, Takahirn, sirjesto, sasnikol, SidePannel, thelegg77, SpaceOden, purplepharaoh, theCeige, novastark, OriginalDint and FeelTheBerne who contributed to the development of this mod by providing patches prior to the development of automated patchers. Extra special thanks to thelegg77 whose support was tireless.

Thanks also to tx12001 and sirjesto for their work on Advanced Adversary Encounters which was a major inspiration for this mod; the folks over at r/skyrimmods who offered feedback and encouragement, particularly Arindel who helped with adding books to leveled lists via a script and the 340 users who completed a questionnaire that helped me balance KYE; and, finally, thanks to Bethesda for making such an easily modded game that I can't put down.