This serves as a constantly evolving guide to what standards we are following while reviewing mods for the Legacy guide.
What is Lore-Friendly?
Since we are putting a massive emphasis on maintaining a lore-friendly guide, before we can discuss what mods belong in the guide we must define lore-friendly. I'm currently thinking through a more in-depth article on what I consider lore-friendly, but in the simplest possible terms, it looks something like this:
In terms of races and non-playable species, I define lore-friendly as anything which exists within accepted lore or is a reasonable extrapolation of an existing race or species. By "reasonable extrapolation," I mean anything akin to M'rissi; while no other Khajiit looks like her, the way Khajiit are defined as a species in existing lore allows for the possibility of a Khajiit appearing as she does. Similarly, while there are few species of dogs in the Elder Scrolls series, the existence of dogs is an indisputable fact in Skyrim, and dogs are commonplace in the real world throughout history. As such, while there are no Basset Hounds in existing lore, they can be considered a reasonable extrapolation of existing lore (no, I'm not currently planning on adding a Basset Hound to Skyrim, it's just an example).
Architecture is a fairly straight-forward comparison with a twist. I define architecturally lore-friendly as anything which could reasonably be expected to exist given accepted lore and real-world parallels. What this means is that while overall styles should feel natural within the Elder Scrolls universe, I'm also taking a few liberties based on real-world history. An example of this principle would be when I added HQ Cozy Farmhouses to LOTD Plus. This decision resulted in a surprising number of users commenting that brick isn't lore-friendly. I disagree. It's true that there aren't any real examples of brick buildings in vanilla Skyrim, but there are examples in ESO. Even discounting the cases seen in ESO, the architectural level demonstrated in the Elder Scrolls series is indicative of a sophistication that necessitates the existence of brick construction. In 12th Dynasty Egypt (roughly 1900BC), a massive fortress called "Buhen" was built on the west bank of the Nile in Wawat, now Lower Nubia. Buhen was built predominantly of brick and maintained a relatively consistent population until 1964 when it was flooded and eventually submerged by Lake Nasser. Even the most conservative definition of the middle ages (roughly 500CE) puts the invention of brick significantly before the advent of medieval architecture.
Weapons & Armor
Similarly to architecture, weapons and armor are based on a fantasy-derived variation on high-medieval equivalents. Simply put, this means that anything that could have existed during the height of the middle ages would probably exist in some form in Skyrim. Unlike most categories, this doesn't really narrow down our list much. The vast majority of the mods out there fit this general theme, though a few mods adding things like modern firearms are obviously non-starters.
One quick note before we get into the nitty-gritty stuff. Historically, LOTD Plus has been designed to be fairly SFW despite our use of nude base models. With the Legacy overhaul and the announcement of our FO4 guide, Heritage, I have done a LOT of soul-searching and had numerous discussions on where we as a community should draw the line when it comes to NSFW content. Skyrim itself is rated M by the ESRB for, among other things, sexual themes. This means that anyone playing Skyrim, in theory, should be 17+ or have parental consent.
While I realize that's not how it really works in the real world, it does provide us with a relatively solid starting point. Regardless, in an effort to make as much of the community comfortable as possible, I am choosing to explicitly disallow any mods that are explicitly designed to provide sexual content for the sake of sexual content. However, my standards are a bit looser than they have been when it comes to reasonable sexual content. In other words, Tamriel is a war-torn world derived from a stylized parallel to what we would consider generally medieval society. In such a world, it's unreasonable to expect city guards to wear "bikini armor," but it's also borderline unreasonable to expect to spend any time in a major hold without coming across someone wearing something that could be considered revealing... be it a tavern wench, prostitute, or simply a destitute citizen who can't afford proper clothing. As such, simply containing a sexual theme or revealing clothing is no longer an immediate disqualifier for the guide. Instead, each mod that fits our other criteria will receive a proper review and, if I decide it fits our standards, it may be included.
If you would prefer an entirely SFW experience due to personal beliefs, the presence of children in your house, a desire to stream the guide, or whatever other reason you may have, simply choose the "Streamer" option when the Legacy guide goes live, and any questionable mods (including base textures) will be flagged and alternative, SFW mod options will be provided.
Followers & NPCs
Followers must be lore-friendly or believable within established lore
Followers must be custom-voiced (e.g.: not vanilla or remixed vanilla voice assets)
Followers must include unique content (e.g.: a proper questline, locationally aware, etc)
Followers must not be intentionally "slooty" or over-sexualized
Followers may include sexual content if such content is lore-appropriate and not the point of the mod (e.g.: I may choose to include a follower whose back story includes prostitution - It's a completely reasonable occupation at any time in history)
Armor must be lore-friendly
Armor must not be intentionally "slooty"
Armor must be armor (e.g.: the armor description and appearance must reasonably coincide)
Weapons must be lore-friendly
Content that adds dialog must be voiced
Content that adds new world-spaces must be unique and well built
Content must feel natural
Textures are judged on quality and in-game size (e.g.: The texture for the broad side of a barn should be high-resolution if at all possible, but the texture used for a flower doesn't have to be 4K as long as it is high-quality and not pixelated)
Mods from authors who are explicitly hostile or toxic towards the community will not be included
Mods that require patching equal to the size of the mod to make compatible will not be included