The way most of the needs mods work creates a chore that is meaningless most of the time, can result in unexpected gameover under very specific circumstances, and fails to contribute to the big picture.
This approach (copied from survival games where it made perfect sense) simply doesn’t belong in Skyrim. Not even in misery simulator play style. Nobody (well, this being LL it is not necessarily true) cares about bottles, baguettes and produce to make for an emotional hook like combat (or sex), and I don’t really see it as a potential minigame of its own merit (oh gosh, will the Dragonborn be able to successfully digest this last piece?)
It was never about Dragonborn’s calories intake. Is there any scenario when “PC’s stomach is 67.3% full” would be a relevant piece of data? Most of the time we want entirely different questions answered: is Dragonborn living decadent life in a palace or starving away in a gutter? Is she too tired to say “no” to her devious follower? Was her life lately so harsh that another whipping doesn’t scare her anymore?
So, why don’t we just ask exactly that?
We start with four main stats – Allure, Inhibition, Wear and Self Esteem. Also we have secondary stat – Arousal.
- Allure measures high-ranked NPC (jarls, generals and of course Nazeem) disposition towards you. If your Allure is low no jarl will talk to you, not even about that dragon business. In fact, you’ll be kicked out of palaces unless you are some sort of maid there. It also governs your eligibility for high paying customers. If you decide to sell your body low Allure means you’re stuck in some peasant brothel, sucking dicks for dime per dozen.
Allure is long term measure of your lifestyle: the bed you sleep in, the food and drinks you take, being pampered via YPS mod and such. You lose it by enduring hardships: low quality lifestyle, taking a beating, etc. It is somewhat unique in the sense that it is very hard to raise and very easy to lose (one black eye from your pimp will suffice). It is easier to raise Allure if your Self Esteem is high. Also, whenever you gain Allure, you also gain small amount of Self Esteem. Note that eating and sleeping are not mandatory, but Allure’s natural bias over time is towards 0. So if you want it high you’d better do your homework.
But you don’t necessarily want it high, because it also governs how much Wear you take from challenges, such as sex or beating. Low Allure means that your life so far was harsh and you can endure a lot, whereas a pampered princess would be destroyed by a single slap to her ass cheeks.
In short: high Allure is beneficial for princesses and royal escorts, low Allure is beneficial for slaves and beggars.
- Inhibition measures your own attitude towards sex and related depravities. High Inhibition works as some kind of “nun pheromone”. NPCs respect you, and even rapey bandits will let you go unharmed (they will still take your money, of course). Low Inhibition is a “slut pheromone”: female NPCs lose respect towards you, men expect sex from you. (As to whether how they act on that expectation depends on other stats.) Of course, if your Inhibition is high, you won’t be able to prostitute yourself or otherwise willingly participate in depravities. Romance and marital sex is OK.
You lose Inhibition via sex (of any kind) and depravities, and gain it from religious practices and long term chastity. Also booze and drugs lower Inhibition temporarily. Natural over time bias is towards medium.
In short: high Inhibition makes your life as a free woman significantly easier. However it hinders your hooker career and is hardly a boon for a slave.
- Wear is integral measure of physical abuse you’ve suffered. You gain it from being beaten, from hard labor (think of ponygirls), from sex, from substance abuse and long term lack of sleep. We do not trace its origin, let alone calculate meticulously anal wear versus oral wear – it makes zero difference. You lose Wear by taking a nap (proportional to the bed quality), by eating food, by taking meds. Natural over time bias is towards 0. Booze and drugs do not cure Wear (they cause it if anything), but they temporarily offset its effects.
In general Wear negatively affects your performance in all areas. On the other hands, high Wear reduces you Self Esteem loss from non-compliant depravities - as in “I never surrendered, I was betrayed by my own body”. At the same time low Self Esteem increases your regeneration speed.
In short: Wear an excuse for a PC with high Self Esteem, but at the same time it hinders Self Esteem regeneration when it is already low.
- Self Esteem is self-explanatory. We classify all actions in the game as defiant (starting fights, picking pockets, using Intimidation and Persuasion options in dialogues) or compliant (selling your body or otherwise willingly participating/cooperating in depravities).
Self Esteem is somewhat unique in that is has a slippery slope feedback loop. You gain Self Esteem by taking defiant actions and winning, but you need sufficient base value to even try such action. You also gain Self Esteem by completing quests, earning gold, having a house and anything else that would qualify as achievement. Including orgasms from voluntary non-hooker sex. You get temporary Self Esteem boost from booze and drugs.
If your Self Esteem is low you emit “victim pheromone”: men will demand sex (and at some point you don’t get to say no), vendors will shamelessly scam on you in broad daylight (and at some point you don’t get to say no)… you get the idea. Note, however, that if your Inhibition is high you still get to say “no” to sex demands even with very low Self Esteem. You lose Self Esteem if you take a defiant action and fail or if you take a compliant action. The difference is that in the first case you lose some fixed amount, where as in the second case your loss is proportional to your current Inhibition score. It goes without saying that defiance in most cases will result in some kind of punishment and increased Wear. Loss of Self Esteem from being naked is proportional to Inhibition score. You lose even more Self Esteem by wearing devious devices specifically designed to ridicule, such as Yoke of Shame.
Natural overtime bias is upward, it is negatively affected by Wear and positively by Allure.
In short: low Self Esteem helps you survive in dire situations but severely reduces your options elsewhere.
Finally, Arousal is inhibited by Inhibition (duh!) and Wear. Sex at low Arousal, even technically voluntary, is considered compliant action, and also inflicts increased Wear. Note that high Arousal leads to “slut pheromone” emission, even at high Inhibition score.
Okay, how is this model an improvement over existing needs models?
Food is completely optional. You only need to care about it if you want to play princess (in which case you need quality food) or to heal some damage (go for quantity).
Sleeping is semi-optional. We don’t want to lose it completely (because of all the fun stuff that happens to poor Dragonborn when she tries to take some zzzzs), but realistically you only need to care about a bed when you want to play princess or something really bad happens.
More importantly, you now have a reason to actually take booze and drugs (with all the consequences). Intoxication allows you to get unscathed through stuff that would otherwise lead to mental breakdown. Of course you need to take it in advance rather than as an afterthought.
All in all, it is much better suited for survival/slave breaking gameplay than current “oops, there’s no food around, you’re dead” approach.