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About this mod

A complete game-play overhaul that attempts to transform Skyrim into a harsher, more "Requiem-style" old-school role-playing experience by tweaking nearly every setting of the game, from combat and abilities to enemies, audio/visual tweaks, and more. All in just a 1 MB download without any external scripts or assets.

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---   DIRGE  ---
THE ROLEPLAYING OVERHAUL












Concept

DIRGE is a complete game-play overhaul that attempts to transform Skyrim into a harsher, more realistic old-school role-playing experience by tweaking nearly every setting of the game, from combat and abilities to enemies, audio/visual tweaks, and more.

This mod sets itself apart from other hardcore overhaul mods by emphasizing compatibility and unobtrusivity. DIRGE packages all of its magic into a 1 MB download consisting of nothing but a single .esp file. The lack of external scripts or assets allows DIRGE to fit comfortably in the upper segments of almost any load order without causing crashes or broken games resulting from incompatibilities.

Oldrim fans of Requiem will notice that DIRGE takes many cues from it, as well as other classic hardcore RPGs, and even some other Skyrim mods. The work put into this mod is not mine alone, but also the work of many other modders who have granted permissions to borrow elements from their mod with credits. After the following installation description and summary of this mod's major features, I'll provide a list of mod authors whose works contributed to this mod in some shape or form. If you enjoy this mod, I simply ask that you go and endorse the mods listed in the credits.





Installation


PC users should use the Nexus Mod Manager to download the mod, or simply copy-paste the .esp file into your /Data folder in your Skyrim directory. PS4 and Xbox One users should simply download through Bethesda's mods options. Set this mod as an early-loader in which ever load-order optimization tool you use. This mod should be loaded right after your unofficial patches and other massive game modifications like Beyond Skyrim, and no later than that. This mod overhauls many features of the game, so loading it early allows you to overwrite this mod's features with any other mod that addresses similar features if you so wish.










Skyrim Intensified

At its core, DIRGE intensifies the world of Skyrim by partially decentralizing it from the player, through the modification of encounter zones, leveled actors, loot leveled lists, enemy placement, damage multipliers, and more. As you walk outside of the cave, you are entering the world as a novice fighter. You are not expected to be able to take on more than one armed combatant at a time, and the difficulty of your foes shall reflect that. Only as you gain better gear, levels, and experience should it become noticeably easier to tackle more than one foe.

The leveled world in DIRGE increases in difficulty the further north you go, with dungeons being considerably more difficult than the over-world. The beginner zones are holds of Whiterun, Falkreath, and the Rift, with the difficulty of the enemies in dungeons increasing the further north, east, and west you go to the extremities of Skyrim.

Loot has also been partially de-leveled, and largely relegated to boss chests at the end of dungeons. The only way to get higher level loot is to craft them or chance upon them at the end of a difficult dungeon. The loot pools are also more appropriately distributed based on the in-game context.

Enemies have been strengthened through modifying their leveled-actor settings. Although the each dungeon is given its own minimum "level" based on its relative location, enemies continue to level with you as you exceed the dungeon's minimum level, so the world never becomes a cake-walk once you hit a certain level. Even the easiest of enemies are only 10% below your level, while the average foe is generally 10% above your level. Hard enemies are at least 30% above your level, and bosses are at least 80% above your level. In many dungeons, additional enemies have also been placed in areas where you would least expect them, requiring even veteran players of Skyrim to be on alert.





Combat and Mechanics

Combat in vanilla Skyrim feels like two armored combatants whacking at each-other with Styrofoam straws. DIRGE seeks to combat this by greatly increasing the the speed and deadliness of combat, balancing safe play-styles and opening up more high-risk/high-reward play-styles.

This is accomplished firstly through the modification of difficulty damage multipliers. Specifically, damage multipliers are allotted to each difficulty level as follows:

Novice: Player Damage 3.0x - Enemy Damage 2.0x
Apprentice: Player Damage 2.0x - Enemy Damage 2.0x
Adept: Player Damage 2.0x - Enemy Damage 3.0x
Expert: Player Damage 2.0x - Enemy Damage 4.0x
Master: Player Damage 1.0x - Enemy Damage 4.0x
Legendary: Player Damage 0.5x - Enemy Damage 5.0x

Novice difficulty is the recommended starting point for those coming out of vanilla Skyrim's standard difficulty levels. Adept difficulty is recommended for most Skyrim veterans, and Master difficulty is somewhat similar to the difficulty of Requiem. Legendary difficulty is recommended for high-level power-gamers who feel the game is getting a bit easy. These settings ensure that both you and your enemies are hitting hard, putting an emphasis on the need to position and time attacks smartly.

Timing and Positioning-based combat has now been made possible by de-aimbotting your enemies. Now, swings can actually be dodged through proper positioning. This applies to both your enemies and you, meaning that your attacks now carry a more magnitude of weight and commitment towards the direction of your aim and movement, allowing for new combat tactics involving dodging and positioning without having enemies magically realign to your new position. These tactics will be essential for survival in a world where attacks of all types do a realistically magnified amount of damage.

The effectiveness of attacks is now dependent on the state of your enemy; Attacking an enemy in the midst of their attack does increased damage, attacking an enemy from the back, or while they have low HP, also does increased damage. This applies to both you and your enemies, making attack-timing and blocking a lot more crucial.

To encourage a more high-risk/high-reward style game-play, enemy-initiated kill-moves have been disabled wherever possible. This way, it becomes possible to engage enemies closely under low-health conditions without fearing an unstoppable kill-move animation.  

Health and Stamina resources have also been overhauled. Passive health regeneration has been disabled, making HP loss in between engagements more impactful, and encouraging most play-styles to invest some points in either restoration or alchemy early. The instantaneous regeneration of potions has also been replaced with a 5-second regeneration over time effect, preventing players from using the menu-pause as a means of cheating through combat engagements.

Stamina in combat now regenerates three times as fast in comparison to vanilla Skyrim, ie. at the same rate as outside of combat. This allows for it to be a more usable resource in combat scenarios. More combat actions - such as blocking - now require stamina and stamina usage numbers have been tweaked to more realistic levels.





Enemies and NPCs


Enemies possess unique weaknesses and resistances to various different weapon types and elemental magic. Each of the traits are logically assigned based on reasonable natural assumptions regarding the nature of the enemy. Frost trolls have been made resistant to blunt weaponry but weak against fire, while metallic automatons are resistant to fire and bladed weaponry, but weak against shock magic. Unique traits can be discovered through experimentation or through information provided in the loading screens.

Epic-sized enemies have also been increased in difficulty, with giants and centurions becoming four times tankier, and dragons becoming over eight times tankier compared to vanilla Skyrim. The dragon spawn rate has also been decreased by 90%, to prevent encounters from becoming tediously stale too quickly.

The AI of non-playable characters and enemies has been improved by editing combat styles and game-play settings. Enemies are now smarter and more likely to block your hits when not attacking, flank you, and attack in groups when possible. NPCs also react more like human beings, who talk to each-other more frequently, express emotion in their faces, and don't suddenly stop to greet you when you're still miles away. Guards will now actually come to your assistance when you're attacked by a hostile bandit.










Skills and Perks

The ability tweaks in DIRGE are designed to retain the balance of the vanilla game while patching up some of its flaws. The perk edits in DIRGE borrows primarily from the edits in PerkUP and Better Vanilla Perks, tweaking them to match the balance of this overhaul. The main default perks of the game have been buffed with some additional features, and a several new perks have been added to the game's various skill trees.

The Thief skills in vanilla Skyrim were quite effective in making sneak-archery the definitive way of breezing through the game, so not too much has been buffed with respect to its perk trees. Rather, the Thief play-style has been made more engaging by making the effectiveness of sneaking less reliant on skill-level and more reliant on positioning, movement, and surrounding lighting. This added challenge is offset by the reward of improved sneak-attack executions for those who manage to pull them off.

The Mage skill trees have been tweaked rather uniformly. Each of the Mage skills now offer perks that optimize Magicka consumption and additional synergy with staves, which were largely pointless in the vanilla game. The Mage play-style has also been diversified with the addition of dozens of new spells from Phenderix, as well as perk and ability changes improving summoning, necromancy, and rune-based game-play.

New spells incentivize risk-reward prioritization and ability synergy, opening up new choices such as choosing between long-range low-DPS sprays and close quarters high-damage nukes. Do you choose to freeze enemies with ice only to instantly melt them to death with your flaming touch, or do you shock enemies with a wall of storms after drenching them with a water spell for extra shock damage? Or would you rather watch as your enemies fall under your control and fight their former allies after stepping on your mind-control runes, only to reanimate the corpses of the fallen to further add to your army of minions?

The most radically overhauled skills were the combat and crafting skills. Crafting skill-trees such as alchemy and enchanting have been tweaked to add further benefits to combat, for those who invest in them early at the expense of combat or magic skills. A poison-specialist can now focus entirely on strengthening their combat through the creation of more potent poisons, and applying them to be effective over a multiple number of weapon swings. An enchanted-weapons specialist can now focus on re enchanting their weapons and soul-gems with every swing of their weapon.

Combat skills has seen the greatest number of additions in perks, expanding combat maneuvering options and allowing for weapon specialization. The direction of movement while performing power-attacks determines their overall applicability in combat. Forward power attacks knock enemies to the ground, backwards power attacks knock them in the air, and sideways power attacks hit all enemies in front of you.

The type of weapon also determine their applicability in combat, with swords increasing critical-hit chance, axes causing increasing bleeding damage, and blunt weapons rendering armor meaningless. Light-weapon users now have additional perks increasing weapon speed and spell-sword options, while heavy-weapon users have perks allowing specialization against specific enemy types.

The armor perks have been tweaked to play on the strengths of each armor type. Heavy armor feels heavy, block a lot of damage, and slows movement speed. Whereas light armor feels light and increases agility and evasiveness.





Races


DIRGE modifies racial bonuses around a vanilla-oriented balance. Each race has a primary skill that starts at level 15, five secondary skills that start at level 10, and the rest of the skills start at level 5. All races have passive racial bonuses that match their lore descriptions. Additionally, Nords, Imperials, Khajiit, and Wood Elves have special racial abilities based on vanilla Skyrim’s racial powers. The racial stats are as follows:

Nord
Primary Skill: Two-handed
Secondary Skills: Block, Light Armor, One-handed, Smithing, Speech
Atmoran Physique: Nordic blood grants a 50% increase in starting Stamina and resistance against Frost.
Battle Cry: [Ability] Once per day, Nords can make nearby enemies flee for 30 seconds.

Imperial
Primary Skill: Restoration
Secondary Skills: Block, Destruction, Enchanting, Heavy Armor, One-handed
Imperial Talent: Natural Imperial talent grants a 10% increase in starting attributes, skill leveling rate, and loot gold.
Voice of the Emperor: [Ability] Once per day, Imperials can pacify nearby people for 60 seconds.

Breton
Primary Skill: Conjuration
Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, Restoration, Speech
Magic Resistance: Breton blood grants 25% resistance to magic.
Dragonskin: Breton blood grants a 15% chance to absorb an incoming spell into magicka.
Additional Starting Spell: Conjure Familiar

Redguard
Primary Skill: One Handed
Secondary Skills: Alteration, Archery, Block, Destruction, Smithing
Resist Poison: Redguard blood grants 75% resistance to poison.
Adrenaline Rush: In combat, Redguards regenerate Stamina 20% faster for each nearby enemy.

Wood Elf
Primary Skill: Archery
Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak
Natural Resistance: Bosmer blood grants a 75% increase in resistance against diseases and poisons.
Command Animal: [Ability] Bosmer can spend 50 points of magicka and stamina to make an animal an ally for 120 seconds.

High Elf
Primary Skill: Illusion
Secondary Skills: Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Restoration
Aldmeri Gift: High Elves are born with 50 extra magicka.
Highborn: High Elves regenerate magicka 50% faster at all times.
Additional Starting Spell: Fury


Dark Elf
Primary Skill: Destruction
Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, Light Armor, Sneak
Resist Fire: Dunmer blood grants a 50% increase in resistance against Fire.
Ancestral Wrath: Dunmer ancestral spirits increase weapon and elemental damage as Health decreases, by up to 40% at quarter health.
Additional Starting Spell: Sparks

Khajiit
Primary Skill: Sneak
Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Archery, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, One-handed
Claws: Khajiit claws deal 20 points of damage. Claw power attacks deal bonus damage equal to 25% of stamina.
Feline Agility: Khajiit move 10% faster.
Night Eye: [Ability] At will, gain improved night vision for 60 seconds.

Argonian
Primary Skill: Sneak
Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Archery, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, One-handed
Resist Disease: Argonian blood grants 75% resistance against diseases.
Histskin: While in water, Argonians can breath indefinitely, swim twice as fast, and regenerate health.

Orc
Primary Skill: Heavy Armor
Secondary Skills: Block, Enchanting, One-handed, Smithing, Two-handed
Berserker Rage: Orcish blood grants 50 additional Health and up to 50% increased weapon damage as Health decreases below half.









Standing Stones

Standing stones were originally Birthsigns; they aligned with who you were, and determined your entire play style for the early parts of the game. DIRGE restores that dynamic and brings Standing Stones back to the center of your play style. Each of the stones have been buffed around their respective play-style focuses, and changes have been made to allow for more endgame options apart from The Atronach and The Lord. The tweaked standing stone bonuses are as follows:

The Warrior
+50 Health
+15% Warrior Skill Effectiveness
(Two-Handed, One-Handed, and Block)

The Thief
+20% Thief Skill Effectiveness and Leveling Rate
(Speech, Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocketing)

The Mage
+50 Magicka
+15% Spell Magnitude and Duration
-15% Spell Magicka Costs

The Apprentice
Tripled Magicka Regeneration Rate
+50% Weakness Against Magic

The Atronach
+200 Magicka
+50% Spell Absorption
Magicka Regeneration Disabled

The Lord
+100 Armor Rating
+25% Magic Resistance

The Lady
Health Regeneration Restored
Doubled Stamina Regeneration Rate

The Lover
+33% Skill Leveling Rate

The Steed
Armor Encumbrance Reduced to Zero
+100 Carry Weight
+100 Stamina
+10% Movement Speed

The Tower
Once per day, unlock any one pickable lock automatically.

The Ritual
One per day, reanimate all dead corpses around you to fight on your side for five minutes.

The Shadow
Once per day, erase your presence and become invisible for 2 minutes. Activating an object, performing an attack, or touching another person will break the invisibility spell.

The Serpent
Once per day, fire a venomous shot of poison that paralyzes one enemy for 15 seconds and deals 300 poison damage over that duration. Only dragons are immune to paralysis.












Visuals, Audio, and Auxiliary Tweaks


DIRGE also includes some audio/visual tweaks, primarily to cater to the PS4 audience who suffer from a lack of relevant mods due to asset restrictions. DIRGE overhauls the weather, lighting, water, grass, and background music in an unobtrusive manner, such that it may be cleanly overwritten in case someone doesn't fancy the changes included. Maximum effort has been given to visually improve the game without the involvement of external assets. The sunlight has been brightened, shadows and interiors darkened, light-sources added to appropriate locations, water rendered more calm and reflective, the grass of the plains rendered more green and pleasant, and trees added to various cities of Skyrim. Additionally, the Morrowind soundtrack from Dragonborn has been added to the over-world of Skyrim.

Progression through Skyrim has also been streamlined and made more believable. Upon level-up, players only gain 5 attribute points as opposed to 10. Dawnguard vampire attacks no longer occur until you are a higher level, and Dragonborn cultists no longer hunt you down until you've fought Alduin and earned the fame to warrant it. You gain more rewards from bounty-hunting quests, and you earn higher bounties for committing crimes throughout the holds. And allied followers are now marked as essential for the duration of your stay, so you no longer have to fear reloading a save after misfiring a powerful spell.





Compatibility Notes


Loading it early renders this mod compatible with most others. However, this mod does add trees and light objects to various locations, rendering it incompatible with mods that overhaul lighting placement, or mods that add other objects in the same location as the trees. Also, due to borrowing from the mechanics perk, DIRGE is not compatible with Smilodon without the patch provided for PC and Xbox users. PS4 users should choose one mod or the other, knowing that the one installed later with determine the features retained.

For any other incompatibilities, I give open permissions for people to edit this mod in xEdit to suit your own specific mod setup. This mod should not be uploaded on any other site apart from Nexus and Bethesda. All the contents of the mod have open permissions to be used and modified as you see fit, just remember to credit and endorse with use. And please don't forget to leave constructive criticisms in the comments if you see something that could use improvement.





Credits


The following mod authors contributed in some shape or form to the contents of this mod, whether it be forming the foundations for this mod’s tweaks, or simply inspiration for this mod’s direction. Please don’t forget to leave them endorsements!

Ogerboss - For Requiem, my first inspiration for this mod

Enai Siaion - For Smilodon and Morningstar, the foundations of my racial and combat tweaks

Center05 - For Mortal Enemies, which inspired the movement speed and rotational changes in my combat tweaks

Ice885 - For No More Passive Health Regeneration

Trainwiz - For Morrowloot SE, the foundation of my leveled list and loot tweaks

Tjhm4 - For Know Your Enemy, the foundation for the unique enemy resistances in this mod

Tonycubed2 - For Populated Dungeons Caves and Ruins, destroying controllers and monitors since 2016

Slayerjerman - For PerkUp, which contained some neat perks that inspired my perks tweaks

Phenderix - For letting me use some of his spells from his mod Phenderix Magic Evolved

Kojak747 - For Dolomite and Obsidian, the mods that formed the foundation of my weather and exterior lighting changes

JonnyWang13- For Luminosity, the mod that formed the foundation of my interior lighting changes

JawZ - For letting me incorporate his lights-placement changes from Relighting Skyrim

Laast - For Pure Waters, the mod that formed the foundation of my water changes
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