I’ve finally done it.
I’ve made a Dragon Follower mod.
Alright, it doesn’t crash my game or eat my save or in any way break anything else in the game. It does kinda screw with the first fight with Alduin, but only because of where I placed my follower dragon. But it works. Hours of tweaking shitty AI packages and trying to figure out Papyrus error messages, and I’ve got five dragons that follow you if you wear their necklaces. And there’s the added bonus that they’re way better than 90% of all dragon follower mods I have tried.
Seriously, I have tried a lot of dragon follower mods. There are always three types of them. The first are dragon followers based on the Call Dragon shout, where a dragon which already exists flies to your location then uses normal dragon-based AI behavior before buggering off home. This is what I originally tried to do, but could not figure out how to get the damn thing to call my dragons, not Odahviing, the normal dragon you call.
The second type is always a summon of some sort – either some sort of summon dragon spell or a should like Summon Durnehviir (from the Dawnguard DLC) which are easier to do but these spells always have a timer on them and your dragon disappears after a certain amount of time. The additional downside is that all summoning spells can only ever be used one at a time unless you have the Twin Souls perk which allows you to have two summoned creatures at once. (Summoned weapons like Bound Bow are separate, you can have a summoned ally and weapon at the same time!)
The third way is the traditional follower way, following the basic follower tutorials that are out there. Many people just give a dragon a nordic voice so they can use the default follower responses, tweak some AI packages and leave it at that, but these always cause issues. A custom AI package is needed so they don’t follow you indoors and so they can actually fly. These have always been hit and miss with me, especially since they get in the way and argue with other followers. And often try to kill them.
My way of doing things is slightly different. Because I’m not a very smart person. Basically, I have two packages – an idle package and a follower package. I wrote a script that checks whether a specific item (in this case an Amulet of Arkay) is equipped or not. When it’s not equipped, the NPC uses the idle AI package (they orbit a predetermined area) and when it is equipped, they use the follower AI package and follow the player, either on foot or by flying, and will ‘guard’ the player.
Of course, not being a properly learned modder, there are probably better ways I could have implemented this, but this is simple and effective and, amazingly, it works. Okay, there IS the downside that the dragons take a while to fly to you, but that’s… kinda supposed to happen anyway. They also continue to help me when I use my dragon form, an issue I’ve found with many other mods, as turning into a dragon makes people aggro around me.
But the thing is, now I’ve made one, I can make as many as I like. Based on Lokmahro, I’ve created four other dragons with their own range of abilities. I can create more if I want. I can build it up into some sort of quest where I fight each dragon and they reward me with a trinket to stop me from stealing their souls.
Or I can just get my favourite multi-necklace/ring mod, make more dragons and reign terror over Skyrim.
The sky’s the limit.