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Welcome to the Skyrim Modding Guide. This topic was made for the sole purpose of guiding those new and experienced in modding Skyrim. In this topic I will share my list of recommended mods, with some suggested by GameFAQs' Skyrim message board users. I will also provide a short guide to quickly get started in modding Skyrim to your heart's content. Please note that I will not provide any in-depth installation tutorials because they’re already on their specific mod pages.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Modding Tools, Getting Started [ModStart]
You can use these tags in brackets to quickly jump into a chosen mod category. Use CTRL + F then copy the tags into the search bar.
<< Modding Tools, Getting Started [ModStart] >>
Where do I find mods?
You can find them on various websites, the most well known site being [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com] which hosts a huge selection of mods. Nexus allows for free registration and also hosts the Nexus Mod manager, allowing newcomers and veterans alike to get into modding easily. There are also other alternative websites like steam's workshop, however steam workshop limits number and size of mods (not to mention Steam's dreaded auto-update) with a more limited selection than you can find on other modding websites. You can also find other mods in sites such as japan's own Skyrim modding blog site [http://dragonporn.ldblog.jp] (which has no dragon porn whatsoever, so don't let the name fool you). All in all, Nexus is probably the most reliable site for Skyrim modding. For more, check the Useful Links section.
How do I get started in modding?
First things first you will (optionally) need a mod manager to organize mods, install them easier, and can also download mods via that manager. Not every mod out there can be installed with a mod manager, but conveniently the mod author will usually put in instructions on how to manually install these types of mods. There are a couple of mod managers like Nexus Mod Manager, Wrye Bash, Mod Organizer, or subscribing via steam. Some better, some worse, or you can use multiple managers at once. Below, we'll get further into mod managers, modding tools, and important aspects of Skyrim modding such as load order and script extenders.
// MOD MANAGERS //
NEXUS MOD MANAGER [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/modmanager/]
One of the easiest to use managers, you only need a few clicks to install mods you have downloaded from nexus. You can rename mods, manage load orders, endorse, easy installation, updating, and most importantly checking for mod updates.
NMM VIDEO TUTORIAL by GophersVids
WRYE BASH [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/1840]
Wrye Bash is a more extensive mod manager for Skyrim. It has more complex features that you won’t find on NMM (Nexus Mod Manager). The interface is certainly not noob-friendly, however once you get past learning to use it, you might come to find that this may be the best mod manager for Skyrim. Some of the features you don't see in NMM is able to merge mods and leveled lists (known as Bashed Patches) which could allow you to get past the 255 mod limit, or finding missing master files. You can take a look at the ReadMe posted on the mod's page for further info.
SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) [http://skse.silverlock.org/]
From the official ReadMe: The Skyrim Script Extender, or SKSE for short, is a modder's resource that expands the scripting capabilities of Skyrim. It does so without modifying the executable files on disk, so there are no permanent side effects. SKSE is a script extender that allows advanced scripting to make more extensive mods for Skyrim. SKSE is essential, with a lot of the better mods using it to implement features to their mods that normal scripting doesn't allow. Installation is mind-numbingly easy. It's a matter of copying and pasting the files to your Skyrim folder. However if you still have trouble trying to install it, here are some installation videos.
SKSE VIDEO TUTORIAL by GophersVids
BOSS (Better Oblivion Sorting Software) [http://code.google.com/p/better-oblivion-sorting-software/downloads/list]
Boss is a load order organizer designed to avoid conflicts between mods that may produce bugs and errors to the game due to the arrangement of the load order of mods. It's a one-click tool that automatically sorts your mods' load order. It will also show warnings, dirty edits, and other important information about your installed mods that you should know. Basically, all you need to do is to run BOSS (and update the masterlist occasionally) every time you install a mod for Skyrim. It also allows users to set their own user rules for further load order management.
BOSS VIDEO TUTORIAL by GophersVids
A tool that allows you to edit plugins from mods (ESPs, ESMs, that sort of stuff) and to clean dirty mods. It can also merge patches or plugins just like Wrye Bash does. Main use for this tool is obviously for cleaning mods with dirty edits, but you can also use it to get rid of some of the stuff you didn't like from a particular mod. Like deleting armors from an armor mod pack, leaving the ones you like and removing the ones you don't.
TES5Edit CLEANING TUTORIAL
CREATION KIT [http://www.creationkit.com]
The source of Skyrim modding, the Creation Kit is used for creating, viewing, and extensive editing of Skyrim mods. Mostly used for creating, but has it's uses for fixing and adjusting mods that you can't do with other modding tools.
Now that you're ready with the essentials of modding Skyrim, you can start scouring for mods. You're free to look for mods on your own will, or you can view the recommended mods below. One last thing, if you liked a mod you've installed, be sure to endorse the mod on their respective pages. It's always good to encourage a mod author to improve and appreciate his work.
I will also include my personal opinion below each mod with POP: (Pyro's Opinion) in case you'd like to listen to a personal opinion and experience with a mod.
// RECOMMENDED MODS LIST //
Unofficial Skyrim Patch [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19]
Unofficial Dawnguard Patch [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23491]
Unofficial Hearthfire Patch [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25127]
Unofficial Dragonborn Patch [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/31083]
First, you are suggested to install these unofficial patches as they are essential to fix several bugs and glitches present in Skyrim. Only install patches you need. That means, you don't have to install Dawnguard or Hearthfire patches if you don't have them on Skyrim.
NOTE: I recommend turning on the “clickable URLs” setting on your message board settings and setting your board display to 50 posts per page for better viewing.
<< User Interface [UImods] >>
SkyUI is a mod that changes the default Skyrim User Interface (menus) into a much more PC friendly design, notably the inventory menu. The reason for this is because the original UI is just unpractical for PC users. It feels like the original UI was designed around consoles, which used gamepads for navigating menus. It includes the MCM Menu, a greatly useful configuration menu for mods that utilize it. Requires SKSE.
POP: No reason to not get this. I have nothing else to say, it's great.
Customized Categorized Favorites Menu [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/34150]
This mod replaces the horribly small favorites menu with a better larger one with new features added. Each type of equipment and item or skill are categorized into different categories for easier access, infinitely better than the original favorites menu. It now supports every DLC and a lot of popular mods. Requires SKSE.
POP: I'd be surprised if nobody used this. Really no reason to use the old favorites menu.
Immersive HUD (iHUD) [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/3222]
Immersive HUD or iHUD, is a mod that hides the player HUD (crosshair, compass, health, magicka, and stamina) when you don't need them. The compass for example, can be hidden with a press of a button. You can then also set the crosshair to activate depending on what weapon you use (melee or ranged), or your target. Requires SKSE.
POP: If you use A LOT of script heavy mods like I do, you can get some lagging issues with this mod
Better MessageBox Controls [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/28170]
Enchant this item? *clicks directional keys* Nothing happens. A really convenient mod for those that use the keyboard much more than the mouse. Basically it gives gamepad controls to message boxes that allows you to navigate choices with your keyboard. It's compatible with any mod that has message boxes to configure settings or options.
POP: If you like using your keyboard a lot (or generally anyone that use KB+M) there is absolutely no reason to not get this.
Better Dialogue Controls [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27371]
Ever experience when you click using the confirm key during dialogue choices, instead the WRONG dialogue gets selected? Well FINALLY someone created a mod that fixes this small but really annoying issue.
POP: Same as the mod above, it's a small fix that makes a big difference.
Skyrim Configurator [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/814]
Remember when people suggest tweaks to your Skyrim ini files? If you want to avoid editing text configuration files, you can take a more convenient route using this handy tool. Skyrim Configurator basically makes tweaking Skyrim easier by creating it's own menu to adjust several hidden options you will not find on the normal Skyrim launcher. Complete with previews and short explanations when you hover over an option.
POP: Even if you're used to manually editing the ini files, this mod still comes in handy. It does not list every ini tweak, but it's immensely useful.
A Quality World Map - With Roads [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/4929]
Adds a better world map with high res textures and hand-drawn roads and paths. Also with options to remove the clouds from the map, and a classic map version (a work in progress) that changes the map into a classic paper map look. Has options on high or normal resolution maps, so performance isn't an issue.
POP: Great, but don't get the classic version until all of it's issues are fixed. Stick with the other versions or get Warburg's 3D Paper World Map instead.
Player Home Map Markers [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/2723]
Adds landmark markers to player homes to allow you to fast travel right to in front of your house. A really convenient mod to fast travel users wanting to avoid the short walk to their door house.
POP: Along with fast traveling to your house, it also allows faster access to other sections of a city/town like Solitude's Blue Palace.
More Hotkeys Please [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23416]
A mod that allows you to add and configure more hotkeys than the basic 1 to 9 number keys. Requires SKSE
POP: I don't really use it much because I have a lot of mods that have functions hotkeyed, so there's little room for me to place any new keys.
The Paarthunax Dilemma [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18465]
Allows an alternate end to a quest near the end of the Dragonborn quest line. SPOILER WARNING
POP: Some reported this mod no longer working. Use Recruit More Blades - SkyHavenTempleEnhanced as it has implemented a similar feature.
Enable Local World Map [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25901]
This mod removes the ownership of items of NPCs when the said NPC dies. For example, if you kill an NPC, everything in his/her house no longer has the "Steal" option. It becomes a free item laying around for anyone including the player, to take.
POP: Yeah, definitely get this if you have a character that doesn't mind taking stuff from the dead. (looking at you Draugr Tombs)
Face to Face Conversation [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/30533]
Camera will automatically switch to first person and lock on to the target NPC when talking. You can also switch back and forth between first person and third person during a conversation at will. Requires SKSE.
POP: Kinda like Oblivion, but I wish it not only just switch the camera, but also zooms in to the character a bit like Oblivion does. A pretty useful mod regardless.
Kace Auto Loot [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/30408/]
A mod that auto loots enemies you killed. An MCM configuration menu is also available if you want to change settings like which items you want to auto loot and stuff you don't need. SKSE is optional, but you'll need it if you want the MCM menu.
POP: First I thought "this will make the game pretty boring" but I was absolutely wrong. It's brilliant. It instead gets rid of tediousness while maintaining immersion. You can only auto loot once you get close to the body, so it only removes the need to navigate menus (even then you'll still have to manually loot specific items). Another great touch is those little sparkling effects the author put to tell a looted corpse from an un-looted one. Definitely consider getting this.
Modifies the character creation menu to add more options and fixing some problems like the default menu not keeping your character's skin tone when using showracemenu. It doesn't add any new stuff like face/body mods. It simply optimizes and fixes the creation menu with the use of SKSE. You will no longer need Extended Slider Colors because this mod has already integrated it with more extensive color sliders.
POP: I can't go back to the vanilla menus anymore now that I've used this. It's simply much better than the original character creation menu.
World Map Min_Max Height Pitch Tweak [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/26998]
Allows you to view the world map closer and adjust the zooming speed with some ini tweaks. This mod is meant to be used with A Quality World Map with Roads. With it, you can view roads and paths more closely and accurately.
No Boring Sleep Wait Menu [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12625]
Replaces the wait and sleep menu so that you can now wait or sleep longer than 24 hours. The maximum limit has been increased to up to 31 in game days.
Block Steal [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24713]
Nausicaa-s Tweaker [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/32977]
A handy utility that allows you to execute console commands using options that gets rid of the hassle of finding the appropriate command and ID for your targeted NPC. Through an MCM menu, it allows you to do a lot of useful stuff like adding NPCs to a list, then from that list you can view NPC attributes, edit them, teleport to NPCs, have them teleport to you, or resurrect dead NPCs anytime and anywhere. Requires SKSE.
POP: Really useful. Especially when sometimes followers can get lost, you can bring them back easily without having to look up console commands. Also, animals and monsters also classify as NPCs.
Simple Crosshair [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/26387]
Replaces the default crosshair with a simple dot, with an option to have Oblivion-style sneak eye. Works with Immersive HUD as well.
Main Font Replacement [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/95]
Replaces the word font of most of the UI with a selection of different fonts of your choosing.
POP: I recommend getting the Fertigo font. It looks nice and simple, easy to read, classic-looking feel you would expect from an RPG.
Warburgs 3D Paper World Map [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25501]
Replaces the Skyrim world map with a high quality 3D paper-style world map. Several different paper map styles are available to choose from.
POP: Great looking, and essential for player looking for deeper immersion of the game. It looks pretty amazing compared to the original GPS-styled map. Also, a reminder that you need to carefully read the mod descriptions if you have any issues with SkyUI, and make sure this mod is always at the bottom of the load order.
Forge Menu Overhaul [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/37003]
Groups smithing forge recipes depending on their name to get rid of cluttering of the forge menu, mainly for those with multiple weapon or armor mods. For example, if you have the Imperial Mage Armor mod, now under IMPERIAL crafting, you will be able to see "Imperial Mage". At which when you select it, it opens a secondary menu that will display the related armor pieces like Imperial Mage Gauntlets, Boots, Cuirass, and so on. You can open and close this menu, allowing for easier navigation of the forge menu.
POP: It takes a bit of effort to get it working, but it really is useful. Sometimes fixing freezing issues for some people thanks to having to scroll a lot of armor models. Requires TES5Edit.
Predator Vision - Vampire, Werewolf, and Khajiit [http://www.skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/22274/]
Changes the nightvision power and adds in a new predator vision for vampires, werewolves, and Khajiit. No longer you will get the ugly original night vision with washed away colors and intense radial blur. The nightvision power, now has adaptive nightvision which adjusts the brightness and saturation of the nightvision dynamically. It also adds in predator vision. A sort of thermal vision that detects the heat of nearby living creatures for werewolves and vampires. This mod also features a configurable MCM menu that allows you to adjust all that to your liking. Requires SKSE.
<< Graphics, Visuals, and Environments [GVEmods] >>
WATER - Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/13268]
Replaces the terrible vanilla water textures ( jelly rivers and oceans...) from the game into a far more realistic one. Now added with optional new water lilies-like plants that are placed near lakes and rivers. Performance impact is little to none because this simply replaces the texture without raising the texture resolution too much. That's Ice mod is now incorporated into WATER, however it doesn't have the optional ice textures as the original mod. Here is an alternate link to the original That's Ice mod [https://mega.co.nz/#!0pxWhCrC!TKyywxi22lGBcDrrQH-T1CruDaUk_Db1p0lfwgzOm5Q].
POP: You simply cannot play Skyrim without it once you try it. The original textures are THAT bad.
Climates of Tamriel - Weather - Lighting - Audio [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17802]
A weather, sound, and lighting mod that overhauls the look, sound, and feel of Skyrim's weather. The mod adds a new weather system, new sound effects, and visual effects to simulate a more realistic Nordic climate. It also adds optional lighting adjustments for interiors like dungeons and houses. Best used along with an ENB. Compatible with Enhanced Lights and FX and compatible with Realistic Lighting Overhaul. Performance impact, none because this mod alters instead of adding stuff.
POP: Great mod, especially with the final version that adds little details like twinkling night stars, ambient sounds, and even better compatibility with ENBs. I recommend using it along with Enhanced Lights and FX, but use CoT's Interiors instead of ELFX's. Don't use CoT Dungeons if using an ENB.
Enhanced Lights and FX [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27043]
Adds more light sources and special effects in interiors. Some of them being indicating time with visible light from windows that changes depending the time of day. It also adds new light sources that was missing in the game (I.E candles now truly emit light and can cast shadows). It is also compatible with Project Reality - Climates of Tamriel, Realistic Lighting Overhaul, Realistic Lighting with Customization, and any ENBs. Performance impact should be very little unless you have a really weak PC.
POP: Simply brilliant. The lighting and effects are beautiful and look great. Here's a small sample of what it looks (with ENB) [http://i.imgur.com/2gM5l.jpg]
Better Dynamic Snow [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10383]
Replaces the flat dull snow textures of Skyrim with much better looking snow textures. Performance impact, none.
POP: No reason not to get this really [http://i.imgur.com/MRZgopm.jpg]
Skyrim Flora Overhaul [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/141]
An environmental overhaul that changes textures and adds more plant life that gives Skyrim's landscape a more varied and lush look.
POP: Shouldn't affect performance on higher end machines, so if you have say around 1GB VRAM only on your GPU, get the lower res version.
Skyrim Lush Overhaul [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/32106]
This mod increases the density on branches and pine leaves in tress. Creating an overall more dense and realistic look to the trees scattered around Skyrim. Compatible with Skyrim Flora Overhaul (install this first). Performance impact depends on how weak your rig is, but generally very little performance impact.
POP: Really makes trees look a lot better. I recommend trying it and see if your PC can handle it.
Immersive Grass [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/22582]
Increases the grass density in various areas throughout Skyrim. The mod author also lists really helpful tips to tweak grass and performance.
POP: The grass tweaking tips are worth checking out, even if you're not getting this mod. Compatible with Skyrim Flora Overhaul.
SkyRealism Grass [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25370]
If you want to have lush grass fields and dense forest floors more but not stupid amounts that kills too much fps, then look no further. SkyRealism Grass adds more grass density than Immersive Grass, but it won't put too much strain as with mods like Dat Grass [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/31070] on your fps. Compatible with Skyrim Flora Overhaul.
POP: Here's a small preview on it [http://i.imgur.com/q4jiYnL.jpg]
Skyrim Bigger Trees [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17168]
Makes trees larger in various sizes to give a more “forest” feel to areas with a lot of trees like Riften or Falkreath. Performance impact should be minimal, a good PC can handle this pretty easily.
POP: I recommend only getting the Riften version if you only have a decent PC.
More Rain [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/8562]
You can pick different options to adjust how windy, dense, or your view distance when rain occurs in game.
POP: Aside from looking great, it’s also looks fantastic if you add WATER to the mix. Rain droplets splashing on rivers and lakes have never looked much better in Skyrim.
Supreme Storms [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27022]
Rain not enough for you? This adds more realistic rain and snow storms to the game.
POP: Not much to say, except that it looks really nice.
Wet and Cold [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27563/]
Allows people to get wet with water droplets falling from them from rain or after swimming. Plus additional features that allow NPCs to wear clothing corresponding with the weather. A plugin for Dragonborn DLC is also available as Wet and Cold - Ashes [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/31968] that adds effects for Solstheim's ash climate. SKSE is optional.
POP: Also to note that Frostfall has the same wet drip effect, but you can use these mods together.
Supreme and Volumetric Fog [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24460]
Adds volumetric fog to the environments of Skyrim, near docks and morning fogs depending on the time of the day (I.E you will see fog more on early mornings). It truly enhances the feeling you get on foggy mornings and areas and of course, immersion as well.
Better Distant LOD Waterfalls [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/6161]
If you played Skyrim for a while, you may realize the terrible looking frozen waterfalls on the distance. This mod doesn't make it move (animated). It just replaces the LOD textures to make it less noticeable and blend in more with the backgrounds better.
POP: Great if you don't want to mess with uGrids.
Adds footprints for humans, beasts, and creatures. Walking through snow will also give the effect of kicking up dust.
POP: Have you seen those people using this mod? They have footprints. Foot. Prints.
Lanterns of Skyrim [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18916]
Adds lanterns to house exteriors and the main roads near cities and towns. More or less it functions as roadside lamps to guide travelers on night times. Now includes a MCM menu to configure the mod's settings. MCM Requires SKSE.
POP: Really nice for those using lighting mods
Realistic Smoke and Embers [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/836]
Improves smoke and ember textures, replacing them with a better looking one (with optional resolution sizes) than the original textures.
POP: If using Ultimate HD Fire Spells, install this first.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod – SMIM [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/8655]
This is a graphical mod that replaces some of the static (non-moving) textures and models with better quality meshes and textures. Small example would be barrels and tables that are rounder with better textures, 3D ropes, 3D chains, and more that increases the overall quality of textures and meshes of objects. Performance impact is average. Recommended to those with medium-high to high end PCs to avoid performance drops.
POP: Brilliant. You'll never look at a barrel the same way anymore.
Deadly Spell Impacts [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/2947]
A texture replacer for spell impact effects (special effects when you cast magic on a wall or object), this mod replaces the original textures to higher quality ones.
POP: Haven't tried it myself, but some people reported crashing with this mod enabled. Use the low resolution textures to avoid crashes.
Ultimate HD Fire Spells [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/28642]
A retexture for the fire effects in Skyrim. Best used along with an ENB.
POP: Looks especially nice for fire spells. May look a bit too bright without ENB.
Gildergreen Reborn [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12254]
Allows you to see the Gildergreen sapling grow into a full grown tree should you go with the peaceful route of the Blessings of Nature quest.
POP: No reason not to get this really. Unless you prefer a old dead tree in the middle of Whiterun.
Enhanced Blood Textures [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/60]
A blood retexture and mod that adds more dynamic blood splatters, drips, pools of blood, and high res blood textures.
POP: There's also several texture resolution options to pick from.
Glowing Ore Veins 300 [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/193]
The ore veins in vanilla Skyrim is stupidly very hard to see. It just blends too easily with the surrounding rocks. What this mod does is make it glow so that you can find it easier. It may not be very immersive, but certainly helpful for those just in it for the game.
POP: Unless you bother mining ores than buying ingots from smithies, you won't need it.
Destructible Bottles Extended [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/26017/]
Allows bottles an some items to be breakable. Also affects your surroundings with the breaking sound able to make enemies aware. NPCs will become angry when you break too much bottles.
HD Enhanced Terrain [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/29782]
Improves distant terrain LOD by adding more noise to simulate grass patches.
POP: No performance impact and looks pretty great. Get the Type 1 version.
Improved NPC Clothing [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/2674]
Retextures NPC clothing with high res textures and edits to make them look better.
POP: There's not that much difference between the 2048x2048 textures to the 1024x1024 ones. I recommend the medium res version for extra performance
Alduin's Wall Retexture [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/32635]
Replaces the Sky Haven Temple Alduin's Wall with higher quality textures from the concept art.
POP: Sky Haven Temple isn't filled with a lot of stuff, so it should be fine performance-wise for any machine.
Better Rocks and Mountains [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/2906]
Tweaks the UV and bump maps of rock textures to make them look more like actual rocks. Compatible with any texture mods, because it only modifies UV and bump maps.
POP: Shouldn't have any performance impact. Terrain Bump also does the same thing (IIRC), so you should pick between which looks better to you.
Vanilla HD Rocks 4K2K [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/29802]
High res textures for vanilla rocks, mainly for mountain rocks that Bethesda didn't touch for their official HD Textures. For those who like the look of vanilla rocks, but want a higher res version of it.
POP: If you want to use this with Better Rocks and Mountains, install this first, then overwrite.
Terrain Bump [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/4964]
Replaces the normal bump maps for roads, floors, and terrain to uncompressed ones (see mod page for comparisons). Making them look much clearer and not a blurry mess like the original bump maps. Small performance hit, depending on your PC.
POP: Great mod, and recommended to install this last if you used any texture mods that edit the same thing.
Better Shadowmarks [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10056]
Retextures the Shadowmarks across Skyrim with better looking textures. Making them looked carved, instead of looking as if they were drawn with chalk.
POP: I thought at first that this will only make them harder to spot, but really the opposite. I can find them easier than I used to.
Blacksmith Forge Water Fix [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18818]
Replaces the fake looking water on blacksmith forges with actual water. Only affects existing vanilla forge waters.
POP: I hated how the original forge water looks. This makes them look miles better, but may not be compatible with mods that alters towns or villages.
Burn Freeze Shock Effects [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/14692/]
Adds special effects to corpses or enemies the player or an NPC kills. Enemies killed with fire spells burn, enemies killed with ice spells freeze, and so on. Even burnt animals earns you cooked meat.
POP: Awesome mod, the effects are well made too, especially the burn effects looked really nice.
Natural Grass Texture Floor [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/30164]
Retextures the grass "floor" on fields and grassy areas.
POP: Note that Skyrim Flora Overhaul also has it's own grass floor retextures. If you want to use this with SFO, install SFO first before this.
Skyrim HD 2K Textures [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/607]
If you didn't like Bethesda's official HD retexture, this mod is a great alternative to it. It retextures a lot of stuff in the game to 2k (or 1K for the LITE versions) resolutions for better visual clarity and clear textures in the game. Obviously you will need a good PC to run high res textures properly.
POP: I prefer this to Beth's textures, and you'll need at least 2GB VRAM to run the full textures. Those with around 1GB VRAM should consider getting the LITE versions.
Warmer Magic Lights [http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/4419]
Modifies the look of Candlelight and Magelight spells to look warmer, whiter, or modify the radius of these magic lights.
POP: Especially useful for those using mods that use lighting mods that makes things darker. I recommend the 2x radius for people with dark games.
Animated Dwemer Lift Doors [http://www.skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/34399]
Gives Dwemer lifts a short ascending and descending animation when you go through them.
POP: A small but nice touch to the game.