Picture Credit: Powerofthree on the Nexus
Of Skyrim’s three main playstyles, magic-based builds might suffer from some of the most diverse yet most dull gameplay styles in the game. Samey spells, barely helpful effects, and cheesy gameplay have led to an abundance of Skyrim magic mods.
Unfortunately, finding the best mods that Skyrim would benefit from can be a difficult, challenging process given the incredible variety of Skyrim and Skyrim SE magic mods available today. With this in mind, we have narrowed down the list to 6 of the best mods updated in the last year that should improve magic-based gameplay.
One of the new spells featuring new visual effects and elemental combinations. Picture Credit: noptasis
Arcanum really lives up to its name. It is one of the most ambitious magic mods created, mixing new visual effects and gameplay mechanics to dramatically shake up the way the Skyrim’s magic system works. Its creator, noptasis, has been steadily going over and reworking Skyrim’s five schools of magic and has completed everything except Alteration. The changes have made each school viable in their own right and with all of their gameplay shortcomings addressed.
For example, Destruction magic has its elements reworked from their more basic iterations to much more interesting forms. Fire has changed from applying simple damage-over-time effects to emphasising rapid spell casting with a touch of self-healing. This ties in well with Shock magic’s powerful but health draining spells to be more sustainable to cast.
There are some incredible possibilities open in the endgame such as the option for the player to amass magical orbs for self-developed spells a la Invoker from DOTA or the mages from Magika. All of these examples only touch on Destruction magic, to say nothing of the way the player can buff their allies with the new Restoration spells or how Conjuration’s expanded summoning list adds more interesting gameplay.
Picture credit: SimonMagus616
Where Arcanum reinvents the way the game’s magic works, Mysticism is one of the Skyrim Magic mods that instead works within the original set of mechanics. That’s not to say that it doesn’t add anything new to the game. In fact, it adds over 200 new spells to all five Schools of Magic while tweaking the existing spells to encourage more variety in how the player can approach combat and the game in general.
Some of the new spells add some fantastic utility to the game that would make the game much more enjoyable. Alteration’s Pack Mule which raises the player’s carrying capacity by 200 is one example.
Some Schools have new types of spells that make them more interesting in combat. Restoration has new spells added to it that work better against Undead enemies while giving it options for dealing damage over time. Similarly, Destruction has some spells that can steal health similar to vanilla Skyrim’s vampire magic. Overall, this mod works well if you’re trying to add some spice to Skyrim’s magic without changing too much.
Image credit: Phenderix on the Nexus
Phenderix Magic Evolved adds over 170 new spells to the game with new visual effects that look great. It’s easily one of the best magic mods Skyrim has to offer simply because of its Elemental Archetype system.
With the mod installed, spells will represent an archetype as well as their school. For example, some spells from the Illusion tree are also Darkness spells and some spells from the Alteration tree are under the Magnetism archetype. This new system encourages players to mix up the spells they use by giving special effects for mixing elements.
Phenderix Magic Evolved is also part of the Phenderix Magic World mod, a combination of Phenderix’s Skyrim SE Magic mods. While it does have a Skyrim version, it is not as updated as the SE version.
Picture Credit: EnaiSiaion on the Nexus
Odin is one of the few exclusively Skyrim SE Magic mods available on the Nexus. It is similar to Mysticism in that it keeps close to the original magic system found in Skyrim. EnaiSiaion has kept the mod lean, only adding spells that would expand on the existing spell list without simply bloating it for a more impressive spell count.
That is not to say that very little has changed. Spells are simply rebalanced to encourage more diversity in the way that players can approach the game. It’s also worth noting that this mod is part of EnaiSiaion’s wide array of Skyrim Gameplay overhauls which make its changes more impactful when placed in the context of a specially designed environment that it is a core part of.
Picture Credit: Robbie922004
While many Skyrim Magic mods focus heavily on magic-centric builds. “Spellsword”-style builds are often restricted to only using one-handed weapons and are unable to use shields or two-handed weapons because of the need to have at least one hand channeling a spell. This mod opens up options by having its additions in the form of Powers, which can be cast without using a hand to cast the spell.
Many of its spells are designed with spellswords in mind with a good collection of new spells adding special effects to weapons in place of enchantments. Some of these spells add fire and ice effects to weapons and others add health absorption. It also adds prayers, letting the player pray to Tamriel’s many gods for special themed effects.
Picture credit: powerofthree
Strange Runes is unique on this list because it doesn’t add any new spells. Instead, it adds new visual effects while casting spells by creating glyphs that hover over hands while casting. This mod makes casting seem a little more magical and a little more interesting and should work well with the other mods on this list.
There’s a fantastic range of Skyrim and Skyrim SE magic mods that expand on one of the game’s core systems. Any of the mods in this list would be a fantastic addition to your load order and would definitely spice up your next playthrough if you haven’t tried them before.
If you would like to see more Skyrim mod lists, check out our list of body mods and of weapon mods