Introduction

"Not Your Father's Skyrim..."

NOTICE

Lexy's LOTD (The Guide) is not a set of mods that can't be quickly installed. It is a long, long list of mods with complicated interactions. The Guide is complex and requires a few advanced modding skills to successfully install. It is best suited for players who have moderate to heavy experience with the modification process.

WARNING

Installing this guide has been known to cause severe intestinal discomfort, brain hemorrhages, broken bones, loss of family, improper diet, malnutrition, death, PC malfunctions, broken monitors, stupid questions, death (we like death), and anal leakage. Do not mod if you are pregnant or intend to be. Stop modding if you are allergic to mods. Inform your Help Desk Minion if any other side effects persist. This Guide is known to the state of California as a possible cause of cancer.

Welcome to Lexy's Legacy of the Dragonborn: Special Edition, the Skyrim SE version of my previous and popular SRLE Extended: Legacy of the Dragonborn guide. This is designed as a full installation guide, taking you from a fresh Vanilla Skyrim SE installation to a fully modified (and stable!) game.

The guide is actively maintained and in a constant state of flux. It is usually updated once a month (when circumstances allow), usually over a weekend, though some of the larger updates can take upwards of three or four months to plan, test, and release. Depending on your skills and knowledge of the tools used, installation can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks.

As noted in the first "NOTICE" above, this guide is designed for experienced modders. These instructions are, however, written for as much clarity as we can manage and assume a certain level of comfort and familiarity with the tools. If, after reading this, you feel you might be looking for an easier guide, one better suited to learning the basics of Mod Organizer 2 and the other tools, I recommend looking at STEP, or The Phoenix Flavour by Phoenix to learn the basics a little more, then come back and give this another go.

The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim

Special Edition vs. Anniversary Edition

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our Lord and Savior, Todd Howard, there can be a great deal of confusion regarding the various versions of Skyrim. Since it's release in 2011, it has had multiple upgrades, releases, new platforms (including, somehow, Amazon Alexa...), and all of that can lead to a good deal of confusion. Let's try to clear that up first.

What is SE, AE, and LE?

The nomenclature is pretty straight forward:

  • Skyrim Legacy Edition ("LE") - This is the original 2011 release of the game, where the three official DLCs were released one at a time over the course of about a year or so. Commonly referred to as "LE", it uses an older, less advanced version of the game engine and is generally considered to be the most inferior version of the game (though there are still a fair number of players who still swear by it and think the new versions are worse).
  • Skyrim Special Edition ("SE") - This version is widely considered to be the Gold Standard of the game and included all three DLCs on release. Bethesda also released an upgraded version of the engine with a 64-bit executable, which made the memory problems of LE a... well, a memory.
    • SE can refer to two different things, depending on the context.
      • It can refer to version 1.5.97 of the game, the last stable release before the game was updated to the "Anniversary Edition". This is most often the case when talking about ONLY THE VERSION OF THE GAME.
      • It can also refer to any version above 1.6, but without the paid Creation Club add-on mods (meaning that the game will only use the four free mods Bethesda made available). This is the common usage when talking about MOD COMPATIBILITY on sites like the Nexus.
  • Skyrim Anniversary Edition ("AE") - The latest version of the game includes a small number of bug fixes, but mostly was released to encourage the purchase of the Creative Club DLC pack. It is, for all intents and purposes, the same as Skyrim SE.
    • Like SE, the term AE may be used in two different contexts.
      • It can refer to any version above 1.6 of the game. This is most often the case when talking about the VERSION of the game.
      • It can also refer to the same as above, but only when the entire Creation Club DLC pack is also included. This is the most common meaning when seeing the term on sites like the Nexus and when dealing with MOD COMPATIBILITY.

Referring to the above descriptions, if you bought the Creation Club DLC pack, you would be considered to be on the "Anniversary Edition" for the purposes of this Guide.

Can I still install and use this guide if I bought the Anniversary Edition Upgrade?

In short - yes.

However, the additional DLC items are NOT a part of the Guide. There are two reasons for this:

  1. These DLC items are behind a paywall. If they were major DLC additions akin to Dawnguard or Dragonborn, then we would likely use them. However, each is a relatively small addition that adds little. That being the case, we don't require the Guide Users to have them. Additional to that...
  2. To be honest, most of them are pretty bad quality. There are better-quality versions that are freely available on the Nexus, and we would just prefer to use them and save money while we're at it.

If that's the case, then how can I get rid of these extra DLC mods?

Mod Organizer 2 - the mod management program the Guide uses - has the ability to have the CC Content extracted from your Data Folder and placed into its own mod structure, where you can disable them without deleting the files properly.

This is done via a plugin which can be downloaded from:

https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/60552

While it is POSSIBLE, with a lot of work, to incorporate these mods into the Guide's build, it is something that will not be covered in this Guide. Additional assistance with this topic can be found on our Discord server in the #off-guide-skyrim channel.

A Little Chat

A Not-So-Quick Dose of Reality

Before you start, you should know what you are getting into.

A full Guide install will generally take you a good chunk of your free time over the next several days. It also eats up a significant portion of your free drive space - the current version of the Guide is over 180 GB of additional data downloaded, generated, and manipulated, and that doesn't even include the base game installation through Steam. It involves the use of more advanced modification tools, concepts, and processes that you may not have seen or used before.

I suggest that you give the guide a complete read-through... EVERY SINGLE PAGE OF IT... prior to starting. Apart from being a good idea for anything similar to this guide in general, it will also make you more fully aware of the scope of this guide and what you will be shown how to do to complete it. The "End Goal" of this guide is to actually PLAY the game (though there is a solid belief among many of the guide's regulars that "modding IS the game") and to ENJOY it. You can't do either of these if you rush through this guide.

Done properly, it will require several sessions to install from scratch. Don't go into this thinking you are going to be able to install and play this in a couple of hours. Take the time to do it right. Read every instruction, then read it again. If you don't understand them, feel free to drop into the Discord and do a quick search for your question and, if you still can't find an answer, ask the Help Desk Minions, Moderators, and the Community at large for some help.

The end-result is a very different Skyrim than the original release... or as I put it a long time ago, "This ain't your father's Skyrim, kids." It is designed to be a mostly de-leveled game world that is far more difficult than the vanilla game. Major game mechanics have been altered, changed, added, removed, and generally scrambled. Enemy difficulty is far higher. Prior to PC Level 30, you will be unlikely to complete quests and quest lines that you could attempt immediately on game start unless you are a very experienced solo player or have a large number of followers trailing along behind you.

Even the most hard-core solo player has been known, on occasion, to enlist Followers in this Guide. Even if you hate followers with a passion, you might still want to drag one or two around just to carry that glorious LOTD loot to the Museum in Solitude anyhow.

For this process to work, it is IMPORTANT... nay, VITAL... that you pay attention to every single line and word written. Follow the posted instructions EXACTLY AS SHOWN. Experiences of the Help Desk Minions and other Staff Members on the Discord server have shown that about 98% of the reported "bugs" are either the result of user error -OR- not knowing what modifications are being made to the game.

The other two percent are generally attributed to "Lexyisms"... sets of instructions that made complete and total sense in Lexy's head when she wrote them, but have missing letters, words, or even entire phrases that just never transitioned from brain to keyboard. These, once identified, are quickly corrected in the guide.

For this process to go as smoothly as possible, you should have at least a general knowledge of the following tools prior to starting the install:

Mod Organizer 2 (MO2)

Cathedral Asset Optimizer (CAO)

LOOT

Nemesis

The Creation Kit

xEdit (aka SSEEdit)

zMerge

Wrye Bash

zEdit

xLODGEN

DynDOLOD

It is possible to use this Guide as a base to build or remove from. That said, I advise in the strongest possible terms that you install and play-test the entire Guide - AS WRITTEN - before you make any changes or deviations. As listed, the install is very stable. Having that stability as a base to build from will help you far more than trying to "save time" by making the changes as you go. If you make such changes, be aware that the Help Desk on Discord WILL NOT (and, really, cannot) give you official support with troubleshooting - the Guide is simply too large and complex to be able to isolate problems when mods are added or deleted from the list.

There is a Discord Community, as has been mentioned several times now, that has an unwritten rule of tolerance towards those new to modding. If you are in this category, you can still get help with the install from the Community, but self-help is preferred and appreciated. The Discord is friendly, helpful, and has a knowledgeable staff. All of that said, the Staff simply cannot devote the time to helping you with every single step of the process.

Since the Guide is usually updated relatively frequently, you will have to - at some point - stop modding the game and actually start playing. Otherwise, you'll end up in a never ending cycle of updating, testing, getting ready to play, then realizing the next update is around the corner and stopping to wait for the new version. Many of the experienced members of the Community will have two seperate installations of MO2 - one for playing the game and one that is kept fully updated for the next adventure. If you are one of those OCD types, this has been found to help sooth that itch that comes from knowing that "it's not fully up to date".

Finally, the Guide is very demanding on your PC Hardware. If your computer has only the barest ability to run the base game, you will have a great difficulty in running this version of the game in a playable state. My system specs (which I use for testing and playing both) will be listed later on - these can be considered the recommended system specs for this Guide. Even so, if you are smart about the texture resolutions you use and scale back some of the settings (or just flat don't use) xLODGEN, DynDOLOD, and ENB, it is possible to get a working install. The current recommended 'benchmark' is a video card with 8GB of VRAM, though more would be helpful. 6GB of VRAM should be considered the absolute minimum specification.

Now that all the dire warnings are behind us... welcome to the wonderful (and frustrating) world of Skyrim Modding. Good Luck... and we'll be there to help if you need us.

DarkLadyLexy’s System Specs

The Dark Lady's Testing Rig

DarkLadyLexy's system specifications are listed below. These should not be viewed as a "Minimum Requirement" listing, but more as a "Recommended Requirements" to have a smooth game experience. Lexy tests the Guide updates on this system, and if her system can't handle it, we either dial it back or remove the mod causing the problem.

Processor

Motherboard

RAM

GPU

OS Drive (Windows 10)

Steam Drive

Game Drive

Game Backup

Mod Organizer 2 Drive

Monitor

INTEL i5 10600K @ 4.8 GHz.

Gigabyte z490 Aorus Pro AX.

 Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 64GB (4x16GB) @3600MHz.

 ASUS TUF Gaming OC RTX 4070 TI 12GB.

Samsung 850 EVO 256GB SSD (Steam).

 Samsung 870 EVO 2TB SSD (Steam).

WD Blue M.2 SATA 1TB SSD (GOG and Origins).

WD Blue HHD 4TB.

WD Black SN770 SSD 2TB.

BenQ RL2755 27" 1080p @60Hz