[Note! I wrote this column on Wednesday due to having a shortened week. So, this was written before all the recent controversy over paid mods for Skyrim. And, it just so happens, the creator of this mod is Chesko, same creator of the now-removed paid Art of the Catch mod. Do I have great timing or what? Anyway, this is still a neat (and free) mod. You can grab it from the Nexus.]
There's something oddly enjoyable about camping in a game. Walk off into the woods, erect a tent, build a campfire, and sit and gaze at the flames as the world around you slowly grows dark. It's serene, comforting, and a nice change from all the dragon slaying and dungeon crawling.
Skyrim has a few camping mods already, most notably Frostfall, which brings a harsh and challenging survival theme to Skyrim. The Campfire mod, however, is more about simply creating an immersive and enjoyable camping experience.
Through the use of some new survival spells, you begin by gathering materials like deadwood, branches, and stones (bring a woodsman's axe with you). You don't have to manually hunt around for materials—I kinda wish you did, actually—but you select the item you want to gather, and then you're told how much you found. A little time passes each time you search, to represent your gathering efforts.
Once you've done some gathering, you can place your campfire on the ground in front of you. It'll be a fragile campfire, which won't last long, but by adding kindling to it, it'll level up into a better campfire, suitable for a few hours of cooking. Feed some more fuel to the fire and it'll grow bigger, providing a comforting warmth that will give you a bonus to skill gains for the next several hours. Your followers can also join you in sitting by the fire.
In addition to campfires, the mod comes with some camping gear, like tents and tanning racks (these were in Frostfall as well, I believe). Campfire also has backpacks that dynamically represent your camping gear. For instance, if you have a bedroll, cooking pot, and axe, you'll see these items on your back. How cool is that? While Campfire is not currently compatible with Frostfall, it sounds like the next version of Frostfall will support it.
You can use Campfire without SKSE and SkyUI, but as always, those two mods will enhance your experience and allow you to customize your settings. Interestingly, you can also download a devkit for Campfire if you're interested in creating your own custom camping gear. There's even a few tutorials to help you get started.