Skyrim Special Edition

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Arctal

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Arctal

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About this mod

Experience gameplay focused on combos and synergy. Lessen the need for menus or hotkeys through a system where swapping spells and weapons is streamlined and rewarding. Continue the fight at 0 magicka by using new spell types. Enjoy a plethora of new sounds and visual effects. Grow in power by playing skillfully, not just from levels and gear.

Requirements
Permissions and credits
Translations
  • Russian
Changelogs
Alternate game editions: XBox | Enderal | LE








Videos from 2021:
(Unedited) endgame gameplay in VR 
(using mods to intentionally extend fights)
And a podcast-style tips and tricks video for those that want to deep-dive (this is long and is not required knowledge)


Design goals

  • Fully support both VR and non-VR. The mod will auto-detect which version you're playing and adapt certain effects to look good in any edition.
  • Complementing vanilla or modded magic, not replacing it. Instead of being yet another pack of spells that can take the place of your old ones, this mod introduces a spell selection that is free of cost. Its damage is tuned below normal magic so you're incentivized to cast your old favorite spells while resources last then switch to Spellsiphon while regenerating then switch back, ensuring the magic you're used to and this new selection both stay relevant. To keep balance in line with vanilla, damage numbers are similar to what a Mage can normally get out of a sword. The idea being that these new spells replace the sword/shield set that you would otherwise be forced to use when magicka runs dry.
  • Skill-based magicka regeneration. A new mechanic causes you to regenerate faster if you use your spells in a certain sequence (perform combos). This creates a kind of magicka-spender/magicka-builder synergy between normal magic and Spellsiphon casting. 
  • A focus on combos and chains. Mage gameplay can often devolve into repeated dual-casting of a single low-cost spell. To change that, Spellsiphon builds upon spell interaction as its core concept, rewarding the player for mixing it up. This spans beyond just the regeneration mechanic above, all abilities in this mod directly interact with others.
  • Streamlined spell-switching. To make use of a combo-focused system you'll have to swap spells frequently which does get clunky with the normal Skyrim method of assigning hotkeys (or worse, using menus), re-equipping and then casting. This mod aims to change that too by adding a whole new hotkey-free way of moving through its ability set as well as 3 custom damage spells of your choosing. It also helps smooth out the transition to other spell casting (e.g. alteration and illusion utility) and back through a new option called "Refocus".
  • Synergies between weapons and magic. Skyrim has weapons too and these two halves of the combat system don't need to be entirely separated. Magic can now assist weaponry if you "imbue" yourself. In this state, you can deflect spells, arrows and melee by whipping up elemental gusts with certain swings (this costs stamina). In the opposite direction, imbued weaponry can assist magic by triggering and setting up spell combos. These synergies are available to any weapon you choose to equip. Even staves trigger some of these effects so pure mages can get in on the action.
  • No forced pausing. Spell-switching is not the only thing streamlined, you'll get convenient access to some weapons and tools as well. Between them, they'll fulfill all your basic necessities like a shield, a ward, a healing spell, a torch and a bow along with a whole lot of other stuff. With that taken care of, your old hotkeys are free to be used for other fun things that make your character unique. Alternatively, if you're on a platform that doesn't have hotkeys, you'll get reliable access to these essential combat functions without ever opening a menu.
  • Few spells, many mechanics. Magic mods normally add tons of spells, where each one has a single specific purpose. This mod takes a different approach. By focusing on a smaller set of special baseline spells and making each one serve a wide array of different purposes, it strives to provide the same variety in mechanics as a large spell selection while minimizing the amount of buttons you need to remember (and reach).
  • Truly unique abilities. Everything in this new set should have its own mechanics and reasons to be used. An ability should never be made obsolete by learning a newer one.
  • Significant depth. Ideally, there should always be more ability interactions and intricacies to discover, even after months of playing.
  • Balanced mechanics that don't break the game. E.g. no paralysis, teleports (that can skip entire dungeons) or insta-kill spells. 
  • Making player skill count. Stats, perks and gear will still help but actually knowing how to fight should be just as important. 
  • Better bound weapons. These go from overpowered early on to useless in the later levels. It's a shame for such a cool category of spells. By tweaking them and giving them a central role in this new system, they can finally become a balanced and fun component of combat at any stage of the game.

Further reading
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Features


Safe and easy to try out

  • Doesn't touch the base game. Cleaned in xEdit. Does not add itself to vendors or loot. If you're not actively using it, it won't interfere with your game at all. 
  • Easily installed. No special instructions and no requirements, not even on SKSE. Can be added mid-save.
  • Easily disabled. Should you decide that you don't like it, there's a one-click menu option to cleanly and completely remove all of its magic, scripts, etc.
  • Minimal performance impact. Optimized scripts (see "Performance" below).


A deep combat system that promotes variation

  • Switch spells and weapons in a brand new way. A new spell called Draw can be aimed at living or dead targets or just at the environment around you to siphon the elements of Life, Death or World. Once the siphoning completes, these elements will become spells that take Draw's place in your hand. A new Shout can also conveniently toggle between Bound Weapons and spells.
  • Everything interacts with everything else within the mod. Perform combos by mixing elemental spells. Attune yourself to an element using a spell and then consume that attunement with a Bound Weapon strike or a special new "Bound Spell" to unleash element-specific effects. Use the new "Bind" Shout to convert your held spell into a new ability unique to that element. Finally, as the capstone of your abilities, you can summon elemental creatures and then fire your spells at them to release an entire array of special creature detonations. All in all, you're looking at 30+ unique effects that you can trigger when fully unlocked.
  • Progressively unlock abilities. The mod will start you off with a basic but still very capable set of fundamental abilities. Increasing your magic skill will then gradually unlock more and more variation, power and tactical options.
  • Learn in your own way. Get guided through how the mod works by an in-game quest and/or read the in-game book, practice and learn on your own terms. You can even just wildly experiment and see what happens. All approaches are supported and equally encouraged. You can turn the guiding quest on and off at any time you wish.
  • A far better Ward spell. This serves all your defensive needs in one package. It's a physical shield, a magical ward, a healing spell and a light-emitting torch, complete with stamina-drain mechanics and timed blocking functions.
  • Customize your character with perks and items. The spells, abilities and weapons in this mod will all level their appropriate skill trees and are affected by perks and item effects. The streamlined comboing system means you will be using many more of Skyrim's skill trees in every fight, giving you far more options for your perk points.
  • Everything available everywhere. Anyone that has visited a Dwemer ruin has seen half their spells and abilities become useless due to resistances and conditions like "can only be used outside". It makes those (major) parts of the game a drag. The spells in this mod have no conditions on them and they separate their mechanics from their damage. The damage can still be resisted or enhanced by weaknesses as with any other spell but their special mechanics like combos and control effects will always apply, ensuring they remain valuable in any scenario.
  • Cooldowns instead of Magicka. Hiding in a corner for a minute or chugging several entire potion bottles in the space of a millisecond just to get your magicka back isn't fun or immersive. With this mod, magicka is useful but not required, much like a warrior's stamina. Each powerful ability instead has an individual cooldown that changes how it acts if you try to spam it.


An immersive experience

  • Never open a menu in combat and free up your hotkeysEach and every ability can be performed during a single fight by using only your Attack/Cast and Shout buttons due to how the Draw and combo systems are designed.
  • Meticulously crafted effects. All features, from spells to weapons to mechanics, are accompanied by carefully picked and modified sounds and visual effects to make them truly unique and impactful.
  • Eating books won't make you master these spells. Feel like a real mage by actually studying and/or experimenting to learn how to use each new ability. You yourself need to figure out (with some optional guidance) how to trigger each effect, how it fits into your larger spell chains and how each ability's unique mechanic can synergize with the rest of your kit to be fully effective.
  • Lore-friendly writing. Get introduced to the new combat art, read about how your abilities work and configure the mod to your liking by using books and quests that keep you within the Elder Scrolls universe.
  • Less immersion-breaking issues when changing equipment. Visual effects have been added so that weapon/shield models don't just *pop* into thin air (like they do in vanilla) when you cycle between the new spells and weapons. The usual clicky and looping noises when swapping magic are removed and replaced for the new spells. All of the added stuff is thoughtfully synced with existing animations to look fluid and fitting.


An expansion, not a replacement

  • Highly compatible. No conflicts with anything else out there. Can be thrown onto practically any load order (see "Compatibility" below). 
  • Can be used alongside all your old favorite spells. Either from vanilla or from other spell packs. You can assign 3 elemental spells of your own choice that can be accessed through Drawing and can trigger Spellsiphon combos (this is called "Entanglement", see "Using other spells" below for details or just play the tutorial). Non-elemental spells stay relevant as well and are conveniently cast using the included "Refocus mode" or alternate casting mods like Wizard Warrior (for SSE) and VRIK/MageVR (for VR). Various abilities in the mod will restore your magicka, which will often be wasted if you don't take the chance to spend it on external spells. The mod's balance expects you to make use of this resource, so don't forget about it!
  • Imbue yourself and your weapons. Your drawn elements can be used to imbue yourself for 1 hour. While the effect is active, your weapon gets empowered with additional abilities that makes it a natural part of your combo rotations as well as granting it a powerful new defensive option (see "The Imbue system" below or play the tutorial). You can switch weapons freely without losing the effect. It will also stack on top of any enchantment and works with any weapon (staves and fists included but with some restrictions, see "The Imbue system" for those too).
  • It's very flexible. You can play this mod as a mage wielding spells in both hands, a spellblade, a traditional mage with a staff in one hand and a spell in the other, a sneaky arcane archer or a berserker wielding a fiery battleaxe, just to name a few. You can even just grab the Ward spell to get a cooler shield and play standard sword & board while ignoring everything else. Your choice!




Reviews

Batch 3:
"The level of polish on this mod is absolutely unreal. From the very clever and well integrated tutorial, to the easy to learn but hard to master skill ceiling. This mod goes the full nine yards and then some. Quite possibly my favorite magic mod to date." -Ijile
"One of the mods I tout as being the only innovative take on spell mechanics ever made and I recommend everyone to try it out." -iRetrospect
"This mod deserves all the praise it gets ... It seems like a lot at first but it's really not and it's intuitive once using it in game. It provides an excellent base for your character and any other spell mods you want to use can just pile on top." -kapxis
"My favorite part is probably the book lol. It just oozes creativity and flavor!" -Ignatius3117
"I will never look at magic the same way again! I actually feel like a Wizard for once. Not easy, not at all. I have died so many times in this playthrough, but every time I reload a save, I have learned something new." -Necro47
"Such an amazing mod, best combat one I've ever used for any game by light years." -thesparks007
"Never leaves the load order. Bridges the gap between weapons and spell combos and adds a whole new dimension to combat." -MIAxPaperPlanes
"A mod worth playing Skyrim all over again." -roperx

More:
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How does it work exactly?

All of the information in this section is also described in-game, through the tutorial quest and book, in lore-appropriate writing. For those that want the info up front or in a more straightforward manner open up the spoiler tag.

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Getting started

NOTE:
The abilities you see in the mod videos will unlock gradually. To use any of the advanced combo effects or summon your bound weapons, you need to unseal and read the related "Elemental" tomes in your inventory. The in-game tutorial will point you towards them.


First off, note that this mod is intentionally very different from standard magic. It's not just a collection of new spells but also a whole new way to access them in combat. Starting with it against difficult enemies without understanding it will most likely get you both confused and killed. Practicing on easier targets first is highly recommended! That said, the system is designed to be intuitive and logical so the time needed to get a basic grasp of it should not be too long.

The mod comes with an optional tutorial quest and an in-game book that will be in your inventory as you load or start your game. It will tell you everything you need through lore-appropriate text and quick references. Books have always been the main way you learn things in Elder Scrolls games, so it felt appropriate. If for some reason you don't find it in your inventory or you happen to lose it, it is also laying on top of the bar counter at the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood.

Don't feel forced to read all of it before heading into combat. The guided tutorial will send you into combat early and if you decide to go the unguided route, you should still do the same. The mod is designed around you slowly learning it while levelling.





Details

The following sections are optional reading material for those that want more details. You don't have to read any of this before you start playing. The short version is that the mod has no special installation procedures, is compatible with practically everything, can be used alongside any other spells or weapons you wish and gets boosted and altered by items and perks (vanilla and modded both work) in logical ways.

Note that the stuff below here is intended as a look-up resource once you have specific questions you want answered (kind of like a wiki). It is not meant to just be read top to bottom. If you want a step-by-step walkthrough of the mod, the Guide under "How does it work exactly?" is what you're looking for.


Progression

Stats and Gear
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Perks
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Unlocks
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How to increase your damage
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Technical

Installation, removal, updating, performance
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Compatibility
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VR Bow Balance add-ons
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Configuration Guide


This part of the page aims to help configure Spellsiphon for various playstyles and to give you an idea of what you can do with the mod aside from the built-in spells and weapons. This is not an exhaustive list of all possibilities but it should cover most of the common playstyles that people tend to use. Just like the Details section, this is optional reading material. You will get an introduction to your options through the tutorial and/or can figure it out yourself in-game if you want (and have the patience). You can also come back here later if you find that the in-game explanations did not answer your questions.

The configuration system is made up of two parts.
  1. The “Spellsiphoning Research” book that gives you options for setting up your character before engaging in combat. You get this book when you open the main "Spellsiphoning" book for the first time.
  2. The 5 toggle Powers that allow for changes in the middle of combat (or out of combat whenever you have use of them). These are learned through the Research book once and are then always available as normal Powers. To use these without requiring menus, check the "Using Powers" section below.

The sections below will show you how to use the book and Powers to adapt this mod to your preferred combat style.


Using only Spellsiphon (recommended when starting out)
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Using normal weapons
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Using other spells
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Using Powers (without needing menus in combat. Required for many advanced playstyles)
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Using Shouts
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The Imbue System (recommended when using normal weapons)
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Complementary mods

  • Ordinator barely needs mentioning, it's the most popular perk overhaul out there. But I wanted to put it here to highlight how much it expands on Spellsiphon's possibilities since you are using almost every single perk tree in the game when doing the various combos. If you want to unlock tons of new mechanics as you level and get a unique combat experience on every new character, this mod is for you. Vokrii or Adamant are also great alternatives for those that want a closer-to-vanilla experience with a less overwhelming amount of options.
  • Forgiving Friends is an extremely light-weight mod that simply makes people very forgiving. If you're tired of your quest allies or followers turning on you when you accidentally hit them with something and don't want to install large follower overhaul mods to fix it, you can use this instead. Alternatively, or in addition, you can also get the Companion's Insight ability from the base game that prevents all friendly fire.
  • Blade & Blunt (or other similar combat mods). Spellsiphon does not touch enemy AI so you may want to grab a mod like this one that makes some improvements on that front.
  • Followers Don't Draw Weapons can be nice to have due to the frequent switching of spells/weapons that you will be doing with this mod. Without it, followers will sheath and redraw their weapons every time you Draw or Bind outside of combat. Just note that it may have some negative effects on AI (according to some mod comments).
  • Spell packs. Just in general. Part of the main Spellsiphon gameplay loop is depleting your magicka bar with normal spells and then rebuilding it with Spellsiphon magic, repeating that throughout combat. You can definitely use vanilla spells for that but mod spells tend to bring a whole lot more interesting mechanics to the table. To sort through the hundreds of spells that these packs tend to add, you may also want Spellforge.
  • Longer fights. Spellsiphon thrives in extended engagements. It still does work fine if you're running an LO where everyone dies in less than 5 hits but i would personally recommend that you at least try playing with lower damage values and see if you like that combat style better. Before the introduction of combos and build/spend phases, Skyrim combat had to be short to not get mindnumbingly boring. But with mods like Spellsiphon, that is no longer the case. You can read more details on my thoughts about this here. And to try it out easily (without revamping your whole LO), i would recommend you grab Simply Balanced and just reduce your global outgoing and incoming damage. This will extend combat as a whole without simply nerfing yourself.

Non-VR specific:

  • Combat Gameplay Overhaul (CGO) is a great complement for people looking to play Spellblades. It allows you to block (with an assigned button) while holding a spell + weapon and then bash to summon the Spellsiphon imbued warding effect (which is more practical than using power attacking for that). It also allows you to cast, swing and move at the same time (vanilla roots you in place). In addition, you get the ability to use 2-handed weapons in 1 hand so they can be combined with spells (though only in 1st person, see Warning below). Finally, unrelated to Spellsiphon, you can attack while jumping/falling which is just cool.
  • WARNING: This mod does have quite a few known bugs. You may need to adapt your playstyle a bit to account for them if you want to use it. E.g. using 2 handed weapons in 1 hand and then using spells in the other hand only works reliably in 1st person. In 3rd person, switching spells while they are being channeled will put you in a state where you can't attack or cast. Since Spellsiphon's main ability "Draw" is a channeled spell that forcefully switches to another spell during the channel, you are guaranteed to trigger this bug.

VR specific:
 
  • Optimized Button Layout for Oculus Touch is my personal Oculus Touch controller mapping that is optimized for quick and comfortable combat. It includes access to all 8 built-in hotkeys which (with Spellsiphon) are freed up to be used for shouts, powers, potions, food, etc. It also allows shouting by gripping either the left or right controller which feels a lot better when summoning Bound Weapons as you'll be literally gripping and pulling them out of the void.
  • Weapon Throw VR need I say more? This one lets you throw your weapons with real swings of your arm and recall them to your hand at will like Thor. Completely compatible with Spellsiphon so you can use Imbued thrown weapons to produce combos and you can throw Bound swords and axes to trigger a Discharge. You can even throw weapons simultaneously as you're drawing/releasing spells but catching recalled ones will interrupt you (that is just how Skyrim works when things re-equip) so take that into account. You can see this playstyle in action in this video.
  • No Stagger Mod makes you immune to stagger. In original Skyrim this would cause the screen to shake and your character to recoil slightly. In VR, your movement is locked down, the screen gets a white tint and your weapons and shield get greyed out and disabled. It feels very unnatural and annoying. Sure, being immune to stagger makes the game slightly easier, but most people find playing it in VR harder so I'd say it evens out.