Article #3 in a 5-part series.
- 1 - Skyrim Special Edition Released
- 2 - Convert Old Skyrim Mods for SE
- 3 - this article
- 4 - Convert Black Sacrament Armor to SE Step-by-Step
- 5 - How to Update Meshes for Skyrim SE
This post contains spoilers for those never having played the main quest in TES V: Skyrim. Includes a brief lesson for beginners on using Creation Kit (CK).
Too many dragons
There are too many dragons in Skyrim! Sure, it’s the The Elder Scrolls way of continuing to play and be whatever you want your character to be even beyond the main quest ending. However, the dragon numbers in TES V: Skyrim never made much sense to me. Given that Alduin resurrects dragons from a limited number of burial mounds (and let’s assume other sources) then there should be an end to the dragons. Not hundreds of dragons. There are so many dragons, though, the Dragonborn may battle two or three at once and end up unlocking every shout in short order. The dragons aren’t all that challenging, either, certainly less scary than bears. Fighting dragons start out as exciting, but may become tedious, almost as annoying as Morrowind’s cliff racers.
The story makes more sense to me if the dragons are limited to the named dragons risen from burial mounds, the word-wall dragons, the Labyrinthian dragon, the Soul Cairn dragon, and the dragons in Solstheim. Limited dragons makes the game more exciting, especially if dragons are scaled appropriately for challenge. Dragons would seem more majestic, and less like common birds. Fewer dragons also means managing shout selection early in the game, and there will still be enough souls to unlock all shouts if desired.
Delayed dragons or respite
If you’d like to focus on character development or other quests, hold off on fetching the Dragon Stone to delay dragons. This makes the word walls guarded by other creatures instead of dragons which could seem awkward to some players. There’s a point in the main quest that offers a respite from random dragons when Delphine wants to see proof of Dragonborn ability at Kynesgrove (quest MQ106). The game disables random dragons here, because it would wreck the story if your character and Delphine encounter a dragon before reaching Kynesgrove. Take a break by telling Delphine to meet at Kyensgrove, and do other quests for a bit.
Some players having finished the main quest enjoy playing new characters without dragons to focus on faction quests or role-playing. Never fetch the Dragonstone, and no dragons appear after Alduin in the opening sequence. Not even Alduin if using an alternate start mod.
Disable random dragons
It’s a simple adjustment to disable random dragons by taking advantage of the respite that occurs during “A Blade in the Dark” (MQ106). After agreeing to head to Kynesgrove with Delphine, the game sets a global variable, MQ106TurnOffRandomDragons, to one. At the end of the quest, the variable is reset to zero.
You’ll need the Creation Kit for original Skyrim (found on Steam in tools), or Creation Kit 64-bit for Skyrim Special Edition (Bethesda.net) to create a patch plugin. You may update an existing plugin, or merge your created plugin with another. Only basic installation is necessary for this edit.
- Start Creation Kit.
- Select File -> Data.
- Checkmark Skyrim.esm (double-click) and Update.esm. If modifying a plugin, checkmark your plugin and click “Set as Active File” button.
- Warnings will show. Select “Yes to all” button.
- In Object Window, scroll the list on left to bottom and select All. In Filter box at top, enter: “MQ106T” to filter the list on right.
- Right-click MQ106TurnOffRandomDragons GLOB line and select Edit.
- Change the Value to 1 and check the Constant checkbox. Click the OK button.
- Click the save-disk icon (or File -> Save). Name your plugin something meaningful.
Activate your plugin and play. If in mid-game, some nearby random dragons may still be there. Note that the main quest will spawn several non-random, leveled dragons including the one flying over Karthspire when arriving with Esbern. Notice that setting the value to constant is necessary since MQ106 quest will overwrite the value turning random dragons back on.
For increased challenge, search Nexusmods for dragon mods.
Reduce dragon encounter summary
- Avoid dragons entirely by simply refusing to fetch the Dragon Stone.
- Remove random dragons using CK to create patch plugin setting global MQ106TurnOffRandomDragons to a constant 1.
If using the CK isn’t an option, try “No Random Dragons” by badboyd22 for original Skyrim. It will work fine in Special Edition.