There are aspects of “Frostfall - Hypothermia Survival” that should have been in the original TES V: Skyrim. Frigid air means dressing warm. In a blizzard, but too far out from Winterhold? Make camp and wait out the storm. After swimming in near-freezing water seek a fire to avoid hypothermia. “Frostfall” created by Chesko adds survival skills along with some gear and spells to help endure the journey.

Now this is Skyrim!

SkyrimWC WiC

Immersion vs realism

Skyrim is an RPG. Even though combat is action-oriented and characters freely move about, dice rolls and movement turns take place. Time is compressed in game not just so day and night pass quicker, but also to scale the land. Have you noticed how indoors seem bigger than outside of the buildings? The land is compressed. It’s about 12 miles between Whiterun and Rorikstead if measured by characters traveling just over 2 hours (game-time) at a quick-pace. Outside of combat, a minute in real-time is 20 minutes in game-time. Picking berries becomes less time-consuming and tedious. This also implies that conversations actually last longer than the voice-overs and limited response choices, details left to the imagination.

Improving immersion doesn’t always mean making the game more realistic. This is a fantasy world for one. Secondly, some things we want to compromise on, such as landscape sizes and time. Things that jolt the player out of the moment, are out of character, or seem too unnatural are contenders for immersive updates. We can imagine our characters doing extra details within the time-scaled world such as removing the hide from a wolf, eating, or stopping to tinkle. It’s tougher to imagine a guard sleeping in bed clothes when the visuals show him sleeping in armor, helmet and all. Weather doesn’t need to be realistic. It should enhance the mood for the story.

Sometimes realism could be called just making sense to the player. Let’s take for example how the lanterns and braziers across Skyrim remain lit during the day. It seems to make sense using a mod to turn off all braziers and outdoor lanterns at sunrise. Not so fast! Notice how characters warm their hands near braziers? Windhelm is notable for this. It’s cold in Skyrim, and braziers keep citizens warm. One problem with being disconnected from the environment is that common sense doesn’t come as easy. Before considering immersive changes, the player should try to think like a character living in Skyrim.

Immersive mods should maintain consistency with the lore and support the fantasy feel of the game within reasonable limitations of game mechanics.

Improving immersive behavior, items, and atmosphere helps hold the role-playing mood. Fixing things that break continuity also improves immersion. Characters commenting on the cold is fine, but that character dressed in basic clothing while calmly holding a conversation during a blizzard breaks continuity. As does sleeping or swimming dressed in full plate-male armor. These little details remind us something isn’t right.

Let’s look at some mods created by the community to improve immersion in the environment.

Survival immersion


Back in 2011, my first reaction to Skyrim was how badly it needed a basic cold experience. So much dialogue about cold harsh Skyrim, so much snow and ice, yet nothing about Skyrim felt cold. At the very least the character’s skills should take a hit for swimming in frozen water. Letting Skyrim actually feel cold is Bethesda Game Studios biggest miss of the game. Mod creator, Chesko, addressed this missing feature with “Frostfall” mod. For more than a year, this was my only user-created plugin.

Survival mods improve immersion and add new challenges. I generally agree with most game designs in that basic necessities like eating is assumed, and let eating foods add other benefits. However, for extra extra challenge and detail, there are mods that add eating requirement to your character’s survival needs. On the other hand, extreme weather conditions need to be addressed, especially in the harsh environments found in Skyrim. Several mods work well together to add survival challenge and improve travel immersion.

At the core is “Frostfall” and “Campfire” by Chesko, which require (optional in legacy v2.6) SKSE and SkyUI. A number of other mods work well with “Frostfall” including “Climates of Tamriel”, “Wet and Cold”, and “Winter is Coming - Cloaks.” Carry a lantern with Chesko’s “Wearable Lanterns” mod. Since “Campfire” is also a framework, other mod creators can add more to the camping system such as “Tentapalooza” by Rusey.

With SKSE, there may be infinite loading condition when exiting an area. As suggested on, install SSME or set your skse.ini in Data/SKSE folder to the following:


Don’t forget to make safe the campsite so a wolf doesn’t interrupt relaxation by charging through the tent! The tents don’t clip so followers (and wolves) can easily enter and leave, but beware that tents may burn if hit by flame (optional in MCM). Sit around the campfire, cook a meal, or recline on a bedroll. “Campfire” makes traveling across Skyrim more enjoyable.

Frostfall v3.1+

“Frostfall” v3 split the campfire component into its own mod, “Campfire - Complete Camping System” so players may choose to enjoy immersive camping without hypothermia survival. If using legacy v2.6 then do not install “Campfire” mod.

“Campfire” uses kindling and tinder (ingredients) to start a fire and improve the fire by adding more kindling or wood. Depending on skill and conditions, it may take several tries to get the fire started. There are also perks available by choosing “skills” on the campfire which may include skills from “Frostfall” (endurance) and other supported mods by selecting the torchbugs on the left or right of the campfire to scroll through skill trees. A warm feature: player character and followers may sit around the campfire.


Vampires: In the MCM, you may configure your vampire character to suffer as mortal, supernatural, or immortal. Even immortal will suffer some penalties. Naturally, Vampire Lords and werewolves are highly resistent to the cold. A fourth setting for pure immortal would be to disable Frostfall.

Custom armors: Adjust or assign warmth and coverage for your custom armors as you see fit. Your character should put the clothing on first before opening the MCM. Follow descriptive choices or assign values directly. Note that only 1 item may affect the body position, so if your custom armor comes with separate top and bottom then try assigning the bottom to accessory category and split up the warmth and coverage to each appropriately to add up to what you intend for the body. See my updated post for details and an example.

Frostfall 2.6-to-3+ upgrade notes

The safest upgrade is uninstall 2.6, install 3, and start a new character. Upgrading on existing character may leave some loose scripts.

See Chesko’s quickstart guide for details found under the upgrade section.

The esp-file is a different name. Check existing mod dependencies or patches. Create a backup of your save in case anything goes wrong.

Before disabling Frostfall, remove a backpack from your character so carry active effect doesn’t stick with your character. It’s fine if backpack is within inventory. Your character should be indoors and free of frostbite effect. Remake backpack or tent after starting up v3 in game before venturing into the cold. And collect fire-starter ingredients (fuel like cotton, mushroom, straw, or oil)!

If using “Dual Sheath Redux”, you may need to re-install and select the “Campfire” mod instead of “Frostfall” (chosen automatically), otherwise “Dual Sheath Redux” will point to wrong master file and may not function properly. Don’t forget to rebuild the patch.

Get started

Frostfall and required mods:



To begin the Frostfall Survival Mode, look up at the night sky for a minute (or enable in MCM). This way you don’t have to start right away at first level or when in a blizzard. Accessing survival skills as a power allows your character to harvest firewood, build a campfire, or craft new items. Pitch a tent by drop/use. Besides sleeping, your character may sit on the bedroll or lie down while waiting out the storm. Since extra survival gear comes in handy, your character may craft a fur backpack which may also include an amulet to confer extra power at half power. Cloaks may be enchanted, too, allowing for a broader range.

With experience comes improved chances of survival shown with current rank.


Wet and Cold” adds cosmetic elements, two of which duplicate Frostfall. Characters drip when wet, and their breath shows vapor in the cold, both of which may be disabled for player or all other characters. NPCs will don cloaks or seek shelter when it rains or snows. When a snowstorm hits Windhelm you may not find the vendors outside at their carts until the weather improves. Some features may be disabled in SkyUI MCM. “Winter is Coming - Cloaks” adds more craftable cloaks and option for guards to wear in cold locations.

Before installing “Wet and Cold” consider other mods you want to use that may compete for resources or have compatibility issues. Note that “Frostfall” also includes wet dripping and snow speckles, and will recognize “Wet and Cold,” but with overlapping features you may wish to trim your plugins. Realize that keeping track of breath vapor, hoods, or go-home status, especially in cities, use script events which may compete in Skyrim’s limited resource space or clash with other scripts updating same NPC. If stability becomes in issue later in the game, turn off more features or disable all. Some custom armors, such as “Merta Assasin”, may have troubles. Review the “Wet and Cold” posts page for player reports on possible conflicts.

For alternatives to “Wet and Cold” choose “Frostfall” drip effects, and an improved go-home feature in “Immersive Citizens” lite or full.

Note: “Wet and Cold” go-home feature may cause Roggvir’s execution scene to become stuck waiting on a missing NPC to speak a line. On the first visit to Solitude, you may want to temporarily disable NPCs “Go Home” in the MCM, or if it’s raining, keep busy around Dragonbridge until the rain stops. A similar problem may happen on first Markarth visit. Also, Faralda may have trouble lighting the path up to the college - not a problem, but funny to watch.


Skyrim’s weather is fairly routine. Adding variety makes “Frostfall” more interesting. Listen to the rumble of a distant storm, or loud cracks of thunder with bright flashes of light when the storm arrives. Better fog helps you feel like you’re in the dank of it all. Several mods offer different weather improvements. Try “Project Reality - Climates of Tamriel” (CoT) version 3 by JJC71 for a fantasy-inspired variety of weather, atmospheric sounds, and fog. Some of the effects may appear a bit off such as bright sun showing through clouds, so also grab the patch by prod80 which includes better fog and colors meant for use with an ENB. The patch for CoT v3 includes fog options for high-performance rigs. The newer CoT V works best with “Vivid Clouds and Fogs” by MangaClub with the CoT patches.

The cost of more weather variety or prettier clouds is possible side-effects with mods expecting only the base weather system, and sometimes weather may seem to change too frequently.

CoT offers darker nights options making nights more atmospheric helping light sources stand out, and making those torches actually useful. Seriously, nights shouldn’t be like daylight. Not pitch-back, either, due to moons and ambient light off snow. It’s easier to spot approaching guards carrying torches, or light from towns, too. If using “Vivid Clouds” CoT patches then it’s necessary to manually patch for darker nights using TES5Edit.

You might also like to see some actual “Lightning During Thunderstorms” rather than just flashes. The default lightning is a bit overzealous with too many nearby strikes. Change settings with a spellbook or MCM. I adjusted fork lightning range up to medium-far. Don’t forget to include the CoT patch. See “Real Rain” for thinner-looking drops if you don’t like the fat ones with CoT.

I haven’t tried “Purity” yet, but after reading the comments and looking over the screenshots, I must say it could be the most natural looking weather system. Also includes water and lighting enhancements. Option 1 below is still one of my favorites combined with ELFX and RealVision ENB.

Option 1:


Above: choices for details offering increasingly dark nights and fog type.

Option 2:


Option 3:

Lighting atmosphere

Good lighting isn’t just pretty, it improves atmosphere and authenticity. Sure, those unlit passages between burial chambers are darker than lit passages, but in the original game plenty of light somehow still reached the dark depths. I rarely ever needed a torch or light spell. Night is too bright. It shouldn’t be too dark, either, with two moons to consider. The game engine doesn’t support light from the moons, and you’ll notice all shadows extend away from the sun even at night.

Add “Enhanced Lights and FX” (ELFX) for better light and shadow along with smoke effects. Candlelight is more realistic in amount of light, and now expect to use torches or nightvision in dark areas. ELFX also adds a few more candles and road-side torches in places for more ambience and needed light. Alternatively, you may try “Realistic Lighting Overhaul” (RLO). Combined with an ENB preset to improve haze, fog, reflections, and other effects improves the atmosphere. Also look at ELE working with “Relighting Skyrim” for less dramatic improvement.

Try adding an ENB preset after choosing lighting enhancements. “Seasons of Skyrim” and “RealVision” work with either ELFX and or RLO.

I’m using ELFX with the Enhancer and Exterior options. If Breezehome has been modified (or you may plan to later), choose the no-Breezehome option during ELFX installation. ELFX v3 also includes options for the other homes if modified. However, no changes made to Hearthfire home interiors.

ELFX combined with CoT darker nights level 1, distant campfires, towns, and torches now stand out in the darkness as they should. Give a spare torch to your follower.

Choose one lighting overhaul:


The screenshots above show Dead Man’s Drink with the default lighting on top and with ELFX v2.0 on the bottom. Below is Dawnstar at night with CoT-3 and ELFX 2.0. The lighthouse stands out in a darkened world. Although, this could be a bit brighter.


Dark nights levels

Just how dark should the night in Skyrim be? The two moons are bright, and considering adaption, one should see reasonably well on a clear night with less detail. Looking into light should cause the distance beyond light’s reach to become darker as eyes adjust to the brightness. The default nights are nearly as bright as day, but thankfully we can improve the beauty and immersion. A weather mod like CoT increases darkness during cloudy skies, day and night, and may offer night-level darkness choices. Visual adaption can be obtained using ENB (default in Special Edition) so that looking directly into a torch or campfire will make everything beyond reach of the light appear darker. Keep in mind on a moonlit night, and away from bright city lights, a person can see the dark shapes of distant mountains and see well enough not to be concerned with stumbling about. The two larger moons over Tamriel should allow a character to cross the tundra without a torch.

Monitor brightness makes a difference, so take advice of others as a starting point. Your ENB may also contribute to darkness levels and allow in-game refinements such as adjusting ambient lighting intensity under Environment. Test night levels under clear skies and cloudy.

Nightvision and vampires

With more realistic lighting, the default nightvision (Night Eye and Vampire Sight) may not work as well with lighting mods and ENB. It doesn’t really look like nightvision, either. Your vampire character has two choices: “Better Vampire Sight and Night Eye” (best without ENB), or “Enhanced ENB Night Eye” if using ENB. “Better Vampire Sight” enhances existing skylight only, so torches or a candlelight spell may be necessary for shadows and dungeons. A detect life spell comes in handy, too. If using ENB, I recommend the second choice, “Enhanced ENB Night Eye” which adds ENB values to your existing ENB preset. Note, though, it may not work with all presets.

Have you noticed vampire’s weakness to sunlight seems to begin long before sunrise? This may be intentional for balance or lore. The first embers of dawn burn on the horizon just after 5:00 and begin to harm the vampire’s night-adjusted body. After sunset, the vampire begins to re-condition to the night. There are mods to set weakness right at sunrise, but I don’t mind the way it is.

Choose one:

ENB Night Eye with RealVision ENB looks like this:



Sadly, seasons have been missing since TES II: Daggerfall. Tamriel has several seasonal holidays (elderscrolls.wika) including Sun’s Height to celebrate Summer and Hearthfire for Autumn harvest time. In Daggerfall, townsfolk would do special celebrations on these days and the player character could earn extra rewards. Seeing more snowfall in High Rock during winter made the game memorable. So, naturally, Tamriel experiences seasons and with Skyrim sitting just east and a bit north of High Rock, characters in Skyrim should experience changing seasons. If nothing more, I’d be happy with just shorter daylight hours during winter along with seeing snowfall in Skyrim’s southern holds.

Skyrim, Daggerfall, and The Elder Scrolls are trademarks of Bethesda Softworks LLC. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.