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About this mod

Implements a trait system that affects enemy creatures' resistances and weaknesses to magic (fire/frost/shock), physical damage (blade/blunt/axes/arrows), poison and disease.

Permissions and credits

Classic version available here.

Key points

Script free and safe to install/uninstall at any time
Rebuilt (v4.0) to maximize compatibility, installer includes patches where conflicts are unavoidable
Covers all enemies from the base game and DLCs, except dragons, vampires and playable races
Increases variety of enemy resistances and weaknesses to encourage more strategic play


Know Your Enemy fixes Skyrim's repetitive combat by changing the resistance and susceptibility of different creatures to different types of damage. No longer will you 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.

Here's how it works: Know Your Enemy includes a series of traits that affect how much an enemy is damaged by different kinds of attacks. Weapons are broken down into blades, axes, blunt weapons and bows. Magic damage is broken down into fire, frost, shock, poison and disease. Each enemy type is given as many traits as are applicable and the traits stack to determine their eventual resistances and weaknesses.

Here's an example:
Draugr have four traits (1) undead, (2) vile, (3) cave dwelling, and (4) weak willed. The effects of these traits are as follows:
Undead: Resistant to shock (-50%), resistant to blade (x0.75), weak to axe (x1.5), resistant to blunt (x0.25), resistant to arrows (x0.25), immune to poison and immune to disease (-1000%).
Vile: Resistant to disease (-50%).
Cave dwelling: Weak to fire (+50%), resistant to frost (-25%), resistant to poison (-50%), weak to disease (+50%).
Weak willed: Weak to magic (+25%)

These traits combine to give draugr the following overall effects:
Immunities: disease, poison.
Resistances: frost (-7%), shock (-38%), blade (x0.75), blunt (x0.25), arrows (x0.25).
Weaknesses: fire (+87%), axe (x1.5).


Part of the fun is not knowing what the traits are and instead experimenting with different approaches to figure out good strategies. All the traits have corresponding loading screens that will give you tips too. But, if you really want to know exactly how each trait works and which enemies they apply to, open the spoiler below:


Again, I suggest you play the mod and try to figure out enemies for yourself, but if you really want to know how different races are affected see below.

Silver weapons

In addition to the above this mod changes the effects of silver weapons. I felt the vanilla +20 damage was a little bland so went for something more interesting. Because these effects are quite powerful I would actually suggest against adding mods that make silver weapons more widespread. Full details below.

Future plans

I consider this mod to be more-or-less complete. That said, I can create new patches and extensions if there's demand and I'm open to new ideas if they fit within the scope of the mod. Feedback on the design and balance of traits is always welcome.


Download and run the installer. Note the AAE patch must be downloaded separately. Safe to install at any point in a playthrough, though it might not affect any enemies already loaded at the time of install.

Skyrim Special Edition (skyrim.esm, update.esm, dawnguard.esm, hearthfires.esm, dragonborn.esm)
Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

Deactivate the esp and remove it from your load order. There are no scripts and so it is safe to uninstall at any point, although it may continue to affect enemies already loaded at the time of uninstall


Know Your Enemy is as compatible as I could make it and as of v4.0 no longer involves any race record edits which greatly increases compatibility. That said, because of how Skyrim works, any mod that edits enemy NPC records is likely to run into conflicts and, without a patch, you will be forced to choose between the effects of KYE or other conflicting mods. Also, any new NPCs added by other mods are likely to be missing KYEs traits and so although they won't conflict in a strict sense, you will end up with a watered down experience. To help you navigate these issues, here are some mods I have personally tested.

100% Compatible:
Arrows and bolts tweaks
Audio overhaul Skyrim 2

Birds and flocks -  the birds added by this aren't NPCs
Combat evolved

Diverse dragons - KYE doesn't touch dragons
Genesis - Dynamically increased spawns
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
Increased Enemy Spawns
Moonlight Tales
Mortal Enemies

Racial body morphs
SidePannel's Leveled Skyrim - comes with a patch for KYE
Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy Overhaul - just remember to use the KYE version

Compatible with a patch (included in installer):
Advanced Adversary Encounters - as another enemy mod AAE conflicts a lot with KYE. Nonetheless a patch is provided in the installer. This strips out the resistances added by AAE and replaces it with KYE's trait system. /u/TendiesForBreakfast helped a lot with the patch.
Animal tweaks - makes various changes to animal NPC records so a patch is necessary. Patch uses all of animal tweaks' tweaks except for resistances which are handled by KYE.
Cloaks of Skyrim - minor conflict over dragon priests, patch not essential, nor is load order.
Cutting room floor - has a single conflict over the Spirit of the Ancient Wanderer, I consider the patch optional and load order unimportant.
Morrowloot Ultimate - conflict over draugr - MLU edits their inventory, KYE give them traits. Patch is strongly recommended.
SkyTest - conflict over various wild creatures, patch strongly recommended.
SidePannel's Leveled Skyrim - makes lots of changes to NPC records, the patch makes sure KYE's traits are forwarded. Patch kindly provided by SidePannel.
Wild World - conflicts over various wild creatures. Patch strongly recommended. File kindly provided by sasnikol.

Mods that add new NPCs which inherit KYE's traits via a patch (included in installer):
Beyond Skyrim: Bruma - lots of new kinds of NPCs, and the patch applies KYE's traits to them in the spirit of Skyrim's native fauna. Patch kindly provided by sirjesto.
Forgotten dungeons - adds a fair few new NPCs, patch kindly provided by thelegg77
Hammet's Dungeon Pack - adds new NPCs to various dungeons. Patch provided by thelegg77.
High level enemies - the expansion in the installer extends KYE's trait system across the new enemies added by HLE.
Project AHO - adds a variety of new dwemer machines, the patch gives them KYEs traits. Patch kindly provided by thelegg77.
Skyrim Immersive Creatures - adds loads of new NPCs. Because these are added to vanilla lists I wouldn't recommend using it and KYE without the patch - you'll continually encounter a mix of enemies with and without KYE's traits. Patch kindly provided by thelegg77.
SkyTest - adds a bunch of new creature types (cubs etc). The patch will give them traits too.

Mods that add new NPCs that don't inherit KYE's traits
Birds of Skyrim - new birds wont have traits, but doesn't matter as you probably (hopefully) don't attack them.
Cats of Skyrim - none of the cats will have KYE's traits. Not a problem though as hopefully you aren't attacking the cute kitties.
Elemental Destruction Magic - the newly added atronachs don't have traits.
Monster Mod SE -  no KYE traits will be applied to the new NPCs added by MM.
skyBirds - the new birds won't have traits, but not a problem as you shouldn't be attacking them.

Mods that add new attack types that aren't affected by KYE's traits
Elemental destruction magic - the new kinds of destruction magic (wind, earth etc) are ignored by KYE's traits and so if you play as a mage who specializes in these new types then you will notice very little impact from having KYE installed.

Minor conflicts:
Better Vampire NPCs - conflicts over death hounds and gargoyles (though not vampires as KYE does not touch them). Which ever you load last will "win".

Major conflicts:
Equilibrium - Rogue-like encounters - conflicts with KYE over many NPC records.
Revenge of the enemies - lots of conflicts. If you want super tough enemies go for RoTE, if you want a more varied experience without radically changing difficulty go for KYE.

For technical details on how the mod is implemented open the spoiler below.

I'd be happy to include user created patches in the installer. If you're interested in making a patch for KYE and another mod, but not sure how, open the spoiler below.


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. Similarly, some enemies end up with crippling weaknesses.

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 use the spoilers above to see each species weaknesses you will probably find the game a little easier (though only a few enemies have crippling weaknesses and some have none at all). 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. The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for figuring out how to take advantage of enemy weaknesses.

This said, NPC AI does not take this sort of stuff into account so sometimes NPCs will have a very hard time. For instance, in one of the companion quests you are accompanied by Aela and Farkas etc and must fight ghosts. However, the weapons carried by these NPCs don't damage ghosts with KYE installed and so it will basically be up to you to kill the ghosts while the companions simply distract them. In another quest, you and Neloth (an NPC who mostly knows shock spells) fight dwarven automata, however, with KYE these are immune to shock so Neloth won't be much help. Nonetheless, these moments are few and far between, and when NPCs are your followers you can change their equipment strategically yourself. As such this shouldn't be a major problem.

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. So you could combine blunt weapons with offensive restoration spells (from Apocalypse for instance). Or you could combine shock magic with poison and bows. You can certainly go for a pure magic or pure physical build though; combining swords and hammers should work well too. That said, depending on which skills you favor you might still encounter a few really tricky enemies. If you really want to remain a specialist, then another option is to use a complementary follower, someone with strengths against enemies you struggle with.

Synergistic mods

Rather than recommending my favorite mods, I thought I'd suggest some mods that specifically work well with Know Your Enemy, so here goes:

Know Your Enemy overhauls enemy defenses, but why stop there? For a more complete experience you should consider upgrading enemy offenses too. Advanced Adversary Encounters is a popular approach (patch in the KYE installer), but a worthy newcomer is Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy Overhaul (has a patch for KYE), these give enemies new spells and so on, making them more dangerous. You might also consider fixing up enemy combat AI, with smilodonwildcat or combat evolved (all fully compatible with KYE). Finally, I would strongly recommend Mortal Enemies which places reasonable limits on how enemies can move in combat, it's so sensible its practically a bug fix.

Although KYE covers most enemies, it doesn't touch the playable races, so consider mods like imperious and diversity for those (both fully compatible with KYE). Neither does KYE affect dragons, so mods like deadly dragonsdiverse dragons, and so on, are always good choices. Finally you might want to think about a vampire mod as well.

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


Thanks to tx12001 and sirjesto for their work on Advanced Adversary Encounters which was a major inspiration for this mod. Thanks also to the folks over at r/skyrimmods who offered feedback and encouragement on an early sketch of this mod. Thanks to Sthaag, /u/ TendiesForBreakfast, Takahirn, sirjesto, sasnikol, SidePannel and thelegg77 for help with compatibility patches. Finally, thanks to Bethesda for making such an easily modded game that I can't put down.