Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Skyrim - How to Set Up a New Game

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - How to Set Up a New Game

Skyrim obviously came out a long time ago, but now is actually a good time to get into the game. DLCs are out and mods have stabilized. Some complex mods are out as well -- basically, tons of resources from the modding community are available and in their final release.

This post is NOT going to talk about what mod to get, but rather how to set up a new Skyrim game. We'll talk about some unconventional things to do that you may not have thought of before.

The Community Uncapper is highly recommended, but we'll talk about that in another, more comprehensive post on setting up your game and how to play Skyrim.

Clean New Save Game

The purpose of this step is to basically skip the long cart-ride scene and give you a save game you can re-use whenever you want to start a new game. Also, the cart ride is actually quite fragile. Mods that change Nav Mesh entries have a chance of screwing it up.
Deactivate all mods. Start a new game with just vanilla Skyrim. Meshes and textures and other overrides do not have to be removed -- just don't load any .esm and .esp files other than what shipped with Skyrim.
Start a new game and let the scripted scene run until the game makes an Autosave. This happens shortly before the roll call. If you look in your save game directory, it indicates that the save game is for a "Prisoner" -- the game has NOT yet done character generation.

Exit the game and look for your save game directory. Make a copy of this autosave and keep it safe somewhere. Use a copy of it whenever you want to restart Skyrim, so you can skip the cart ride and go straight to character generation.
Now, you can enable all your mods and load the Autosave to proceed.

Initial Skill Settings
There are many tips on how to quickly level your crafting skills to 100 in order to start exploiting the crafting system. My recommendation is NOT to do that. Instead, just give yourself a 100 skill in certain non-combat skills. The two mains reasons are:
  • To not waste your real time doing tedious, repetitive tasks and instead focus on getting ahead in the game.
  • To not inflate your level too quickly and thereby miss out on the experience of level progression and its effects on the game world.
If you are serious about doing everything manually, then once you get to Riverwood, you can just stay there and level Alchemy, Pickpocketing, Smithing, and Speech to 100. The key to this is chopping wood. You can chop firewood indefinitely, making it an unlimited source of income. From this, you can buy all the supplies you need and pay off any bounty you may incur from practising your pickpocketing. It will probably take you several days of real time, however.
Instead, just short cut the whole process with the console: E.g., player.setav speechcraft 100
While you are at it, you may want to give yourself a lot of money and focus on the things money can't buy, like making your own potions or improving your weapons and armour.

Using SetAV changes the skill level without contributing to your level progress. Here are some considerations and alternatives to setting skills to 100:
  • Alchemy
    • You obviously start with the ability to make better potions. But without Alchemy Perks yet, this is actually not too bad since:
      • The basic potions (Restore Health and Restore Magicka) are already at the higher end and there are lot of them.
      • Frostbite Venom poison you can get from Frost Spiders, which are everywhere anyway, are on par with what you can make at Alchemy 15 and no Alchemy Perks.
  • Lockpicking
    • Levelling lockpicking to 100 will only help you pick locks but it is still very time consuming. In lieu of setting your skill to 100, you can instead get this mod to show you where to put your lockpick and then avoid needlessly picking locks to level up.
    • You may still want to set the skill to 100 anyway so you won't inflate your character level with Lockpicking skill levels.
  • Pickpocketing
    • You can save yourself the frustration of fines, jail, or reloading when you practice pickpocketing to level it.
    • Instead of going crazy and stealing from everyone you meet with your 100 skill, you should instead NOT steal from anyone unless it is quest related to do so -- again, focus on progressing in the stories of Skyrim rather than uselessly sneaking around.
    • An alternative to giving yourself 100 skill is to tweak the game settings and ensure that pickpocketing never fails. That way, you can occasionally get a level contribution from pickpocketing and still stay focussed on advancing quests.
  • Smithing
    • This probably has the most visible impact since you can cheaply add a big bonus to your weapon or armor. You will either have to avoid doing that, do it in moderation, or ignore it. I recommend just ignoring it, especially as none of it will help you against elemental effects anyway, and it won't be long before you are being fried by mages and dragons and anyone with an enchanted weapon.
    • You could theoretically open up the whole crafting tree, and if you can get your hands on the proper ores or ingots, you can start crafting vastly superior gear--You just won't have the perk points to do that right at the very start. And probably you won't have the superior metals for quite a while before you can craft higher-tier gear even if you did have perks.
  • Speech
    • You will obviously do better with merchants, but since money is basically free from chopping and selling firewood, that is actually inconsequential. Want money? Use a console command to give it to yourself. You have the side effect of not having to bother sifting through a lot of loot.
    • Some quests require Persuasion checks, but there is invariably another way to do it, such as Bribery or doing a minor task. In most cases, the task is more interesting than just passing a Persuasion check. In some cases, Persuasion checks automatically fail anyway.

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