Skyrim has been with us for over a decade now, yet players continue to boot up Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls franchise title in record numbers.
There are many reasons why fans of Skyrim have stayed so loyal over the years, why people like me continue to play through the game long after seemingly experiencing everything the game has to offer, time and time again.
I have completed Skyrim more times than I can count and have consistently loved my experiences within the world, whether my playthroughs are standard or modded for a little extra flavor.
However, as amazing as Skyrim is, once you complete the game a couple of times and have explored the majority of the map more than once, the game can begin to feel very monotonous. Monotonous enough that I even considered playing another game from time to time. Silly, I know.
To keep Skyrim feeling new and exciting then, players like myself have taken to changing the game slightly by inputting our own meaning to our characters, playing distinct roles that determine our character’s actions, resulting in different playstyles, decisions, and experiences right from the very beginning of a playthrough.
Whether players do this via their own head cannon or with the help of some mods, these extra layers of the storyline can be amazing.
In this Elder Scrolls Skyrim Roleplay Ideas guide, I will take you through some of the best roleplaying ideas you could try during your next Skyrim binge. So, without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff.
As Skyrim has been out for so long with an uncountable number of players over the years, there are a lot of great roleplaying ideas that we could cover in today’s article. Therefore, to ensure that you get the best possible recommendations, I constructed this list with a set of rules in mind. Let’s take a look.
- Every idea on this list has to be one that I have played with myself to ensure that the entire experience is worth your while.
- Each roleplay idea on this list must be possible from the very beginning of the game, in principle at least.
- No idea on this list can be similar or in the same vein as others.
- Skyrim wants the player to play a certain way. Therefore, any roleplaying ideas that are somewhat similar to the base game will not be included.
- Some of these roleplaying ideas will require mods. However, I will segment these ideas into their own section.
- Some items on this list will help the player roleplay rather than be an entire roleplaying idea in itself.
So, with all the admin done and out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff and list off some roleplaying ideas you can try out in Skyrim.
Ideas Requiring No Mods
We all know the legend of Robin Hood, a famous folk story about a renegade hero who rebels against the Sheriff of Naughtingham in order to steal from the rich and give to the poor.
To play as Skyrim’s version of Robin Hood, you can start from the very beginning, soft roleplaying that you found yourself on the prisoner cart as you were caught on one of your many missions.
After this, your character can begin their work in the shadows, inflicting pain and justice on the rich and lordly members of Skyrim’s elite class. After you steal some of their riches, you can help out the poor of Skyrim by regularly donating to beggars or planting money on their persons via reverse pickpocketing once you acquire this skill.
- Skill Focuses: A great Robin Hood-inspired character will excel in the Lockpick, Sneak, Archery, Light Armor, and pickpocketing.
- Faction Interaction: The player could get involved with the Thieves guild, only undertaking jobs wherein the victim is rich or in a position of power.
- Only acquire money from people of the ruling class and donate as much of that money to the poor beggars that wander around the towns.
- The player can only use a Bow and arrow or a dagger when in close.
- Limit work taken for the ruling class; instead, focus on doing chores and quests for the less fortunate.
- As a member of the Thieves Guild, you are routinely given missions wherein you steal from both the poor and rich. Turn down missions that only allow the player to steal from the poor.
The Happy Idiot
This playstyle is a little harder to pull off and get your head around in the base game, as Skyrim has no Intelligence skill like the Fallout series. Therefore, you’re going to need to take responsibility for this one on yourself, actively choosing to be the most brain-dead Dragonborn you could possibly be.
The challenge here is to see just how idiotic you can be and yet still become one of the most proclaimed heroes in the history of Nirn.
I loved this playthrough as it allowed me to consent to all the crazy and silly thoughts you get while playing any RPG. Would you like to ride your horse off the throat of the world? An idiot would.
Alternatively, you could try and fight Alduin with a fork or take on the entire Jarl’s guard of Whiterun with only Lydia and a loincloth at your disposal.
- Skill Focuses: Not to play into stereotypes, but you could go down the clueless tank route, skilling up two-handed and heavy armor.
- Faction Interaction: Join any faction you want but make sure to complete every mission in the silliest way possible.
- An idiot wouldn’t know the first thing about Alchemy or Smithing, so neither should you. No Smithing or Alchemy allowed.
- Would an idiot have a stance on the sociopolitical doings of Skyrim? I don’t really think so. Therefore, you should not engage any either side of the civil war. Doing so would only enquire some hard ethical judgments.
- A typical DnD bezzerker build would suit here; no magic or stealth allowed, only brute force.
- A smart Skyrim player will stack their enchantments so that their character plays optimally. However, in this playthrough, your equipment cannot be cohesive.
If you really want to change up your playstyle in Skyrim, try completing the game as a pacifist. This will turn more into a challenge than a playstyle but trust me, the feeling of completing the main campaign with as few deaths on your conscience will be worth it.
Of course, there were many instances in the game where I ran into issues that only murder could solve. However, one way around this would be to have a great companion by your side who can deal with some of those pesky monsters. Technically your hands are clean in these situations.
- Skill Focuses: Spend a good deal of time skilling up your Speech, Pickpocket, Alchemy, and Alteration. Basically, anything that doesn’t involve that horrible fighting thing.
- Faction Interaction: All the factions have points of concern for pacifist runs. You could try them all, except the Dark Brotherhood may be a bit far.
- This one should be obvious, but no killing of any kind when you can get around it. Sometimes the game requires you to kill to progress the story.
- A pacifist should also be someone who works toward peace and healing. Therefore, the only spells this character can cast are Restoration types.
- Membership in places such as the Companions or the Dark Brotherhood must only be considered abhorrent to someone like you – no engaging with such people. In fact, why don’t you disrupt their efforts when possible? Steal from them and generally be a non-violent stone in their path.
- Pacifists do not have to be good people, you can earn your money from stealing, potion crafting, etc., but you cannot loot anything off of corpses.
Naturalist Hunter Gatherer
A great thing about Skyrim is the amount of flora and fauna that populates the world around you. This allows the player to specialize in the pastime of early man if desired.
Why not ditch the fast-paced life of a destined hero and slow down, focusing on stalking deer through beautiful forests and making wonderful concoctions to either sell or improve your hunting acumen?
- Skill Focuses: Your going to need Archery, Sneak, and Alchemy for this playstyle to work well. Perhaps some speech for when you go to sell your kills.
- Faction Interaction: You could join the companions as an extension of your play style
- Once you begin this life, you cannot engage in the main quest; you must live your life as a hunting hermit, avoiding the destiny that fate provided you with.
- Earn your money selling animal goods in the small towns near your base camp.
- Live outside of large settlements; no good hunter would live so far away from their prey.
- You can also interpret this role play as being self-sufficient, eating and surviving off of things you grow and cook yourself.
The Daedric Cultist
In this list, I have tried my best to keep the ‘evil’ character-style ideas out simply because everyone who owns an RPG has already explored that route. However, I really do think running down the line of Daedric worshiper or cultist is a unique twist on the idea.
While Daedric cultists are not exactly embodiments of evil, they skirt the edge of evil and mischievous fairly well.
This is where a skilled and knowledgable Skyrim player could come in, completing Daedric-specific quests and becoming their champions, all the while journeying through the world, contorting the world around you in a manner that your favorite Daedric Prince would adore.
This playstyle requires a lot of lore knowledge and general Skyrim quest insight; therefore, I recommend trying this one out if you are well-versed in the Daedric world that runs throughout the Elder Scrolls franchise.
- Skill Focuses: I like to think of Daedric agents as characters who could charm their way out of situations just as easily as fighting their way through them. Therefore, I recommend focusing on certain combat skills to your preference, Speech, and Destruction.
- Faction Interaction: You can engage with any factions in the game but always pursue an angle that might benefit your Daedric lord.
- Only use weapons or spells that can consume or store souls. Fill up your soul gems and donate them to Daedric shrines, such as the chests inside the Shrine of Mehrunes Dagon.
- Daedric princes adore anarchy in every regard. Therefore, you should become a figure of anarchy. Disrupt the Isle of Skyrim as best you can. Whenever the game requires you to go left, you go right.
- No companions are allowed in the game save for Barbas. Instead, make use of the Summon Dremora Lord spell and others of this type to help with battles.
- Wear and use armor/weapons given as part of Daedric’s quests only.
This role was inspired during a recent Bannerlord binge wherein my starter character was being continuously swept up by bandits as I tried to travel solo across the map. I thought to myself; these guys live a pretty good life.
While Bannerlord was not the game to try this role out, I thought Skyrim might be the perfect fit, and boy was I right. The Bandit is a unique playstyle with tonnes of rules to follow and a sheer disrespect for anything pertaining to the main quest or honor, for that matter.
- Skill Focuses: I like to think of bandits as rogueish antagonists who could just as easily take your money with their words as with their steel. Therefore, build a character with great One-Handed ability and some Speech skills. However, a bandit is anything you think they are.
- Faction Interaction: It only makes sense to join the Thieves Guild and possibly the Dark Brotherhood.
- As a bandit, you have a great deal of knowledge about plants and other flora/fauna. Use this knowledge for Alchemy, as you aren’t allowed to use magic.
- Stick to the outskirts of towns, making all your money from people wandering the roads.
- Live out of bandit encampments that you have cleared out and taken over. Live here until the nearby roads run out of traffic.
Modded Role Playing Ideas
We cannot begin this list without talking about the king of roleplaying mods for Skyrim, especially considering that some of the later editions to this list are included to help flesh out this mod. The Alternate Start mod does what it says on the tin, allowing the player to mercifully skip the beginning cart scene and build their character’s back story for themselves.
Instead of the Dragonborn life that you have countlessly played over and over again by this point, this mod allows the player to start life as one of many different character types, including guild members, soldiers, and many more.
Specific character builds for this mod are pretty pointless to outline, considering the variety of choices available to the player via this new mod.
- You have a different life here with this mod. However, it is not perfect, and plenty of the game’s dialogue options and missions will reference the player as the Dragonborn. Resist this in any way you can.
- Dress for your chosen start. If you were a lumberjack, then get those overalls on and get to chopping wood.
- You’re not the Dragonborn anymore; therefore, as sad as it is, you have lost your ability to speak the Dragon tongue. You may not use Shouts in these playthroughs.
- Interesting NPCs: As this titular mod requires giving up the mantle as Dragonborn, it is wise to add a little spice to the default NPCs in the game to help fill some of the gaps left by your lost destiny.
- Live Anywhere: A lot of the houses we are given in Skyrim depend on the character-building relationships with the landed gentry on the basis of being Dragonborn. Without this key personality component, getting a good house, especially in the starting locations, will be hard. This mod allows the player to literally build their home in a more suitable and realistic location.
Another pillar of the Skyrim roleplaying mod genre is the Requiem project, a mod that has been in constant development since 2012. This mod takes the base game and turns everything on its head, changing almost every aspect in some way to ensure the player gets the most realistic and roleplaying-centric experience possible.
This mod is billed as the perfect partner for D&D players who want to bring a bit of their favorite tabletop game into Skyrim, and I can see why.
While this mod doesn’t change your character’s overall role in the game, the entire way you play the game is changed, forcing you to immerse yourself in the role from the very beginning.
- Play on the hardest difficulty. If you have the recently released special edition of the game, you should be playing in Survival mode here.
- Aspects such as followers and their undying loyalty in the base game have not been changed by this mod. Therefore, you should pay your companions for their time. Set a daily price for their help and ensure you pay it.
- NPC Bartering: As Skyrim is set in a quasi-medieval world, it only makes sense that you can barter with members of the public, not just traders; this mod allows this.
- The Choice is Yours: This mod allows the player to turn down almost every quest in the game if it simply does not appeal to you or your roleplay.
This mod is one of my all-time favorites due to its simplicity and effectiveness. This mod helps the player deal with one of the main things that stops a good roleplaying run in its tracks – ideas.
After playing as a certain character for a period of time, it is only reasonable that you run out of things to do that would make sense for that particular character. This is where this mod comes into play, giving the player a list of possible objectives and tasks that would suit a particular roleplaying idea.
The mod comes with suggestions for eleven distinct roleplay types, fleshing out the character’s path for you right from the start.
- Alternative Start
- Take Notes – A Dragonborn Journal: This mod allows players to type up their own notes that they keep on their character.
In this mod, the player starts the game playing on the side of the base game’s secondary antagonist – a Thalmor agent.
Instead of waking up in the prisoner cart on the way to your execution, you will begin your life as a newly minted Thalmor Justiciar who has been sent to Skyrim to continue your guild’s work of enforcing the White-Gold Concordat.
When you arrive in Skyrim, you will find a home waiting for you, along with several soldiers and servants under your command. This mod is a splinter of the much bigger ‘Roleplaying Abodes’ mod, which inserts homes like this all over the isle of Skyrim. However, this version is the only one I consider a true roleplaying experience.
- Skill Focuses: To excel as a member of the Thalmor empire, you must have great Speech skills, strong magical abilities, and One-Handed ability.
- Faction Interaction: As a member of the Thalmor empire, you should ignore all other factions.
As an agent of the Aldmeri Dominion, your goal is to uphold the White Gold Concordat. Therefore, any danger to the empire’s rule in Skyrim is a threat to you. Side with the Empire in all things here and stamp out all Stormcloaks you find.
Only wear the robes and weapons provided for you by your superiors in this mod. This is the uniform of your position, and nothing else will do. The Thalmor hates anything to do with the worship of Talos. Therefore, you must kill or stamp out any Talos worship you come across.
- Take Notes – A Dragonborn Journal
- The Choice is Yours: As a member of the Thalmor, this mod will help you turn down quests that would hurt your empire’s interests.
One of the worst things about Skyrim and how it allows the player to turn into a Warewolf or Vampire is that you have to progress so far through the main story before you get to play as one of these creatures.
With this mod, you get to start off your life as a vampire, learning how to deal with the world as the newly awoken bloodsucker Raphael. In this mod, the main storyline is disabled, and there is no mention of the Helgan incident or the player’s part in it. Instead, you wake up in a tomb near Morthal.
Your stats and history are determined by Raphael’s past life as a human and his vampire origins. Explore the world to find out the answers to your past.
- BVFE – Better Vampire Fangs and Eyes
- Vampire No Sun Damage – Cloaks Helmets and Hoods
- As a newly awoken vampire, this mod places a lot of constraints on the player already which you will have to follow.
Question: Can you roleplay in Skyrim?
Answer: Many veteran Skyrim players wonder if they can roleplay in Skyrim, having played the base game consistently for years. I think Skyrim is straightforward to roleplay in as something other than the Dragonborn.
The game has so many little mini-games and side quests that any player can choose alternate paths for their characters whenever they get bored of slaying Alduin for the 100th time.
Question: Why do people keep playing Skyrim?
Answer: While a lot of new players continue to pick up Skyrim for the first time, it is true that many players who got the game on release day back on 11/11/11 are still playing the title, including myself.
The main reason for this is that a new Elder Scrolls game is yet to come out, and people still need their fix of this amazing and fascinating world. To keep themselves interred in the game, a lot of people begin roleplaying as different characters.
Question: How many hours are there in Skyrim?
Answer: If you want to complete the main story in Skyrim, you are probably going to have to spend upwards of 35 hours in your first run-through. If you are looking to complete the entire game, including all possible side quests and DLCs, you are looking at a figure closer to 260 hours.
Question: How to download mods for Skyrim?
Answer: Do download mods for Skyrim on the PC; you are going to need access to the Skyrim Nexus, a site that acts as a host for all the best mods that third-party creators have poured hours of work into for the communities enjoyment.
On the console, there is a curated list of mods created by similar people that you can access. While this is better than nothing, the extent of mods available to console players is severely reduced compared to PC gamers.
Elder Scrolls Skyrim Roleplay Ideas: Conclusion
Many great mods have been produced to help players explore their roleplaying desires and extend the life of Skyrim. However, if you are a console gamer, there are so many different avenues you can go down without the need for mods.
I really hope that whatever means of roleplaying you wish to travel down, this guide has given you some interesting suggestions or hints to help your next playthrough feel truly different and fun.