If you're looking to start a new game of Skyrim, you've got plenty of options for how to play as different versions of the legendary Dragonborn. You can play as a different race, or different class, or give yourself different motivations or a new backstory. Even playing the same questlines again, you can have a fresh experience.
But better yet, you can ditch the role of Dragonborn altogether. Why not make this next playthrough about a completely different person—not the hero of prophecy but someone else entirely? Here are five great mods for playing Skyrim as a character other than the Dragonborn.
For many, many more ways to play Skyrim, check out our guides to the best Skyrim mods (opens in new tab) and the best Skyrim Special Edition mods (opens in new tab).
This is no news flash: Anyone who's dipped their toe into modding Skyrim will most likely have heard of Alternate Start, even if they haven't tried it. And if you haven't, you really should.
Alternate Start lets you skip the opening sequence and create a character living in Skyrim for a different reason. Maybe you've arrived by boat with a few basic supplies or maybe you're a homeowner with a house and plenty of belongings. Maybe you're a random commoner visiting an inn, or an outlaw hiding at a camp in the wilderness, a soldier in the army, or even a vampire living in a secluded lair. These are just a few of the many intriguing options available in the mod.
The nice thing is, if you do want to start the main quest at some point, you still can. Just start asking around about rumors with innkeepers, and one of them will mention Helgen. At that point you can kick off the main quest.
If you're not the Dragonborn, romping all over the world completing quests and slaying dragons, you're going to find yourself spending more time among the locals. And in the vanilla game, many of them aren't especially fascinating characters—especially if you've met them before in a prior playthrough.
The Interesting NPCs mod adds new backstories, dialogue trees, and custom voice acting to give Skyrim's citizens far more depth and personality. Many even have new quests, and some can become your followers—there are even a few you can marry.
If you're not the brave and mighty Dragonborn, you're going to miss out on a few perks of celebrity, like people giving you houses to live in. Some homes come to you through quests and some you can buy, but the Live Anywhere mod will let you build your own house pretty much wherever you'd like.
It's a humble home, to be sure, but there's something pleasant about not living in a big city and being able to choose any location in the game you find appealing to call your home.
Maybe you won't be slaying dragons, but considering how hostile the wildlife in Skyrim is, you'll probably be slaying something. So, you might want to make hunting and killing animals a bit more immersive than just treating their bodies like containers that hold a few scraps of loot.
Hunterborn adds new actions when you have killed an animal. You can pick up the body, field dress it, or loot it manually. It adds skinning, butchering, harvesting, and carcass disposal. It also provides a skill system by assuming you are not naturally an expert hunter or butcher, plus special weapons and tools, new alchemical ingredients, cooking recipes, and lots more. You won't even miss dragon shouts when you're the Hunterborn.
A big part of roleplaying is imposing restrictions on yourself. Skyrim makes it easy to get around the world via fast-travel, but if you want to feel like a real citizen of the world, you may choose to travel from place to place without shortcuts. This means if you find yourself in need of a particular item and you're far from a town or city, it can be a real undertaking to reach the closest merchant.
NPC Bartering, however, lets you trade with any NPC you meet, which is not only helpful for roleplayers but feels reasonably realistic. You can't buy the clothes off their back, but you can trade for anything else they might have.