The Journey Begins...

Before you can get into the fun stuff, you have to go through the not-so-fun stuff. We have a small laundry list of things to finish first - from installing the game, to cleaning the mess that is the original Bethesda files, to installing all of the tools. So the first step of our journey is to lay the foundations of the guide.

Tag Explanations

CAOMods that need to be processed by Cathedral Assets Optimizer.
CLASSICMods that are downloaded from classic Skyrim.
CONVERTMods whose ESPs need to be converted to form 44 in the SSE Creation Kit.
ENBMods that are needed for ENB.
ESLMods whose ESPs can be safely flagged as an ESL to help further reduce the overall plugin count.
EXTRACT THE BSAMods whose BSAs need to be extracted using Mod Organizer 2's BSA extractor.
LOOTMods that need LOOT tags to be set on the Finishing Line page.
MERGEDMods whose ESPs will be merged later using zMerge to reduce the overall ESP count.
NemesisThis tag denote mods that need Nemesis.
SKSE DLLThis tag denotes a mod that contains an SKSE DLL.
TOOLA modding utility to be used during your modding adventure.

Mod Installation Advice

When going through this guide, I strongly advise following it to the letter. For the sake of your sanity, please don't run LOOT until you reach the Merge Page. If you run it before you are instructed to do so, you will find that it throws numerous errors. These errors will be fixed later in the guide.

Note for Special Instructions sections.

Throughout the guide, you will find many places where you are instructed to remove files with a * in the path. For example, helgen reborn.esp\*.tga. In these cases, the asterisk means to delete all files matching this pattern.

There are a few 'best practices' to keep in mind while building this guide:

  • DO NOT run LOOT until directed to do so on the Merge Page as it will also help prevent any confusion that may arise over LOOT sorting errors that will be fixed with custom LOOT rules at the end of the guide. All required custom LOOT rules can be found the Finishing Line page.
  • Main Files: Are installed as normal. If the mod page has more than one Main File to install, each should be installed AS A SEPARATE MOD in Mod Organizer 2.
  • Update Files: Should be installed with its parent files in a single mod. (e.g Merge the files in Mod Organizer 2, allowing the Update or Hotfix to overwrite the original files.)
  • Optional Files: Should be installed as A SEPARATE MOD in Mod Organizer 2.
  • Miscellaneous Files: Should be installed as A SEPARATE MOD in Mod Organizer 2.

A Note On Extracting BSA Files

This guide recommends only extracting BSA files if they are distributed with a dummy plugin or as part of a merge.

To extract a BSA, you will use the BSA Extractor plugin included with Mod Organizer 2. Enable the plugin by following these steps:

  1. Click the "spanner and screwdriver" icon in the top left corner of MO2.
  2. Click the Plugins tab.
  3. Find and select the BSA Extractor plugin.
  4. On the right side, double click the Enabled option and set it to True.

At this point, you will receive a notification during installation for any mod that includes a BSA asking if you want to extract it. If the instructions tell you to do so, click Yes otherwise, click No.

A Note On Converting Old Plugins

Throughout the guide, a few plugins are using the old form 43. These plugins must be converted in the Creation Kit (CK) to work in this guide.

Mods that require converting will show this tag: CONVERT

When converting mods in the Creation Kit, some will have masters that are ESPs, but the CK requires these to be ESMs or flagged as ESMs. Convert these plugins through the following process:

Converting the plugin with the Creation Kit

  1. Ensure the Overwrite folder is empty.
  2. Run the CK from the executable drop-down menu.
  3. Select the File menu and choose Data....
  4. Find the plugin to be converted and select Set as Active File.
  5. Click OK and allow the CK to load.
  6. Once complete, save the plugin (FileSave).
  7. Close the CK.
  8. The plugin is automatically saved over the older non-converted version.

Verifying the plugin with SSEEdit

  1. Run SSEEdit from the executable drop-down menu.
  2. Right-click in the plugin pane and choose Select None.
  3. Double-click on the plugin saved from the steps above and allow SSEEdit to load until the log says, "Background Loader: finished".
  4. Right-click on the last plugin in the left pane (it should be the new plugin), and select Check for Errors.
  5. The check should come back clean reading, "All done!". If there are errors, you will have to correct them before continuing to the next step.
  6. Right-click on the plugin again and choose Sort Masters.
  7. The last step is to run SSEEdit Quick Auto Clean on the plugin.
  8. Close SSEEdit and be sure to save the modified plugin.

A Note On Cathedral Assets Optimizer

Throughout the guide, there are a few mods that use meshes and textures designed for classic Skyrim. These mods must be processed using Cathedral Assets Optimizer to work with Skyrim Special Edition. For these mods, use the following instructions to perform the conversion:

  • Close Mod Organizer 2, as CAO is designed to run outside of MO2.
  • Launch Cathedral Assets Optimizer.
  • Click the Open Directory button and navigate to the folder containing the mod requiring conversion.
  • Select either the Lexy's LOTD SE - BSA or Lexy's LOTD SE - No BSA profile depending on what is listed under Special Instructions
  • Click Run.

Mods that require converting will show this tag: CAO