*Roll of thunder, flash of lightning*. You thought these Minecraft mod walkthroughs were benign, helpful explorations into the fan contributions to Notch's masterwork, didn't you? Well I've been into the Moria-ish depths of the Minecraft mod world, you fools. I've seen what can be wrought from diamond, moulded with obsidian. You sent me there, with a pickaxe and nothing else! Down, down deeper down I went to the unseen depths, the lava glinting off the fear wrought sweat on my brow. I've stared into the flames and dust, and I brought something back.
The trip there was eventful, enlivened by the discovery of fossils. Fossils & Archeology makes perfect sense in Minecraft's stratified world. Dig down and you'll come across stoney blocks. Mining them will yield bones, skulls, ancient swords, and bio-fossils. What's that? Well, like the impressive documentary Jurassic Park, you're able to analyse the DNA held within, in this case using the analyzer to hunt for DNA then feeding it into the cultivator to... raptors. You bred raptors. And a T-Rex? Movies aren't for your entertainment, you know? If you came out of Jurassic Park thinking: I really want to see the world overrun with dinosaurs, then you took the wrong message. But also: this is the mod for you. A massive compliment of dinos are craftable, controllable, and there's even a hidden lore, told in stone tablets, to unravel. It requires Forge and Modloader. Here's an early look.
At least the dinosaurs were recognisable *things*. I wasn't so lucky the deeper down I went. Someone had decided that playing Dino-God wasn't enough. That person, who may or may not have been a drunker version of me, had installed Genetics Mod and spliced together a Zombie and a Spider lengthways. Oh John's God! In order to understand what I was up against I learned how it works: you load the game and in the inventory is a DNA extractor. Poking creatures with it will drag the creature's DNA. Mixing that with another creature's DNA, got in the same medical manner, in an egg delivers the hideous mongrel into your world. But if you do you're a horrible, horrible person.
I took a breather after an encounter with a Spider with a Creeper's head poking out. If only I had more power to fight the poor confused creatures. Of course! Magic! That's what was needed. I dipped into my backpack and discovered a tome on Thaumcraft 2: I walled myself into a natural cave and started to read up on it. It's an incredibly complex mod about harvesting the natural energy of the world, using the magical force known as Vis to imbue the world with magix, all the while hoping that the negative energy, Taint, doesn't take over: That's bad natural energy that corrupts the world around it. It's a mod that rewards careful crafters: you make a crucible to smelt items you toss into it to release the energy, which is then captured with a series of glass conduits connected to a storage tank. All this is crafted. With Vis you need add it to a Thaumic Infuser, which you use to make amazing magical things: I crafted a magical singularity to toss at those freaky DNA meddled bastards. But you can also use it to craft research tables, magical bores, automated flame throwers. I'd urge you to watch the video below: some will be amazed at the depth it adds to the game; others will be scared and run head first into a wall.
So far my Minecraft world has dinosaurs, mutants, and is now thrumming with inner magical potential. It's time to cleanse it a bit. As I'm about to destroy this ugly, broken, terrifying realm of Hades I might as well have fun. To do that, I climbed out of the mine I'd made, blinking into the bright, crisp morning above ground. I looked around and said my goodbyes, before rummaging in my pack and activating a tornado from Tornado Mod. It could only be more descriptive if someone burst into your room with a portable fan an started throwing straw in your face. Now let's assume I haven't won the Euromillions and arranged for that to happen whenever anyone opens this page: Tornado Mod adds a gun to your craftables that creates giant, world scouring tornadoes. The huge twisters aren't just a visual add-on: they grab animals, blocks, players and yank them into the air: you can tell what terrain it's covering by the swirling colours on the outside of the spout, and you can see a thin line of destruction in the top soil.
With the world scoured, I deleted it and wiped my .jar file to rid myself of the inner demons. But what now? Vanilla Minecraft holds no interest other than the aesthetic delights of wandering lumpen worlds. Then I remember facetiously telling someone that if Minecraft could do what I wanted it to, create infinite worlds, then within them every game would exist. I made such a claim because I'm not very smart, but there are people out there using Minecraft as the basis for recreations of their favourite worlds. WesterosCraft are currently recreating George RR Martin's magnificent fantasy world on their server. While you can't download the world yet, there's at least a texture pack if you want to make your own Wall.
A bit more involved is Skyrimcraft. It adds the crafting, armour weapons from Bethesda's Dragony game. It even has the dragon shouts, but not the dragons, so you can Fus Ro Dah without the worry of being overshadowed by an actual winged beastie.
It needn't be a fantasy RPG reworking: AssassinCraft's goal is to provide a flavour of Assassin's Creed to Minecraft's chunky bum. You can dress as Ezio, which is cool in and of itself: he's reclaimed the hoody. But it's his blades that make it a sharp mod. The Hidden Blade pokes cutely out of your sleeve, and it's frankly not-so-hidder, but not matter as it allows one-hit kills on unsuspecting NPCs. But even more assassiny is the Hookblade: with it extended the player has more freedom of movement, enabling scaling of walls, and even wall-running. There are some distance based weapons, including a gun, a crossbow and a throwing knife.
If you're looking for something that uses the world as a basis for something a tad different, how about a mod themed around Anno 1602? MineColony's schtick is adding a bunch of new buildings and NPCs to the world. You fill your population with Miners, Lumberjacks, er Delivery Men. It's another attempt to create a world within Minecraft, and it uses their output to drive the economy of the settlement. You have to ensure they have the correct tools to function, and provide them with food. In return, your colony will grow. Being an amazing, adventurous type, I soon got distracted by the sunset, but for someone looking to automate and rule, it has the checkboxes for you.
Or you could turn the blocks of Minecraft into a more complete dungeon crawled: Better Dungeons turns the world around for the more violent, adventurous type: adding mobs, weapons, and, of course, Better Dungeons. The themed barracks of evil have the crafted feel that the current Minecraft ones don't: pyramids, castles, trees dungeons, traps. The most amazing is the volcano, though: multi-levelled, lava-filled mountains filled with delicious items.
I'm coming to an end of my, frankly, random selection of Minecraft mods. I've been beaten by the scale and quality of what's on offer, and couldn't possibly offer a complete view of what's out there. While I consider myself a miserable failure, it's only because the Minecraft community's abilities and size make it so. It's not really my fault if you think about it. As a parting gift you should totally download Jetpack, Parachute, Paraglider Mod. If I need to describe it, then you're nowhere close to being my friend: everyone who matters knows what a jetpack is, and if you're in a jetpack you probably should invest in parachute. But I'm a sucker for gliders, and this is why I have it installed. They're all craftable and lovely fun.