A quick word

Warning

Do not skip this page!

Before we get started, we need to have a quick but essential chat.

Your game MAY APPEAR BROKEN, and LOOT will not sort correctly:

  • Until you complete the entire guide.
  • If you add or remove other mods before completing the guide.
  • If you do not carefully read and follow every word of the guide. Do not deviate. Trust the guide!
  • If you are not willing to teach yourself how to use all of the modding tools used in this guide.

If you choose to disregard this warning, you will see many errors in LOOT. You should expect these errors, at least until I tell you to run LOOT, as they are due to how drastically this guide changes the game.

Please, for Talos' sake, read the Nexus description of every mod you install.

Many mods contain multiple parts or several downloads. These individual downloads should be handled according to the following guidelines unless otherwise specified:

  • Files downloaded from the "Main Files" section should be installed as separate mods in MO2.
  • Files downloaded from the "Updates" and "Hotfixes" sections should be merged with their parent mod in MO2. This is accomplished by entering the same name for the update file that you gave its parent, then selecting the Merge option when prompted.
  • Files downloaded from the "Optional Files" and "Miscellaneous Files" sections should be treated as main files and installed as separate mods in MO2.

This guide contains many custom patches. These patches are necessary to make several hundred mods play together nicely. As such, attention to detail is crucial if you want to end up with a properly-working game.

Official Bethesda Content

Skyrim Special Edition

   

Steam Overlay

The Steam Overlay is known to cause issues while playing Skyrim Special Edition, and you are advised to disable it; to do this perform the following:

  1. Load Steam.
  2. In the toolbar at the top of the window, click Steam.
  3. In the dropdown menu, click Settings.
  4. Then in the popup box select the In-Game menu item.
  5. Uncheck Enable the Steam overlay while in-game then click OK.

Alternatively, if you would just like to disable the Overlay for Skyrim Special Edition you may:

  1. Load Steam.
  2. Click LIBRARY.
  3. In your games list, look for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition and right-click on it.
  4. In the dropdown menu, click Properties.
  5. Then, in the popup box, uncheck Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game.

Update Proofing Skyrim

Bethesda regularly (roughly every three months) updates some of the base Skyrim files in support of their Creation Club content. This means that SKSE (and a bunch of mods that use it) will no longer function. In order to prevent STEAM from updating these files, it is required that you make the following selections:

  1. In STEAM, right click on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition.
  2. In the menu that appears, click on Properties.
  3. In the popup window, select the Updates tab.
  4. In the selection box under "Automatic Updates", select "Only update this game when I launch it".
  5. Close the window.

Despite the wording, no update to the game will occur UNLESS you launch the game via STEAM. Since we will be launching Skyrim via MO2 and the SKSE launcher, no trigger event will occur and your Skyrim install will remain in the same state as it currently is until you force the update yourself.

In the event that it still updates, it is possible to roll back to an earlier version. Rather than detail this procedure, we recommend reading this article for details on how to do so.

Configure Skyrim

Before we can start doing any modding, we need to set up Skyrim Special Edition, so we have a starting base configuration.

Start The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition through the Steam context menu to open the default Skyrim Special Edition launcher.

  1. Click Options.
  2. Click the Ultra button.
  3. Set Aspect Ratio and Resolution in the drop-down box. These should be set to your monitors' optimal resolution.
  4. Set Antialiasing to Off in the drop-down box. This is in preparation for the ENB Install.
  5. Ensure that Windowed Mode is unchecked.
  6. Click the OK button to close and save.
1
2
3
4
5
2

Click the Ultra button.

3

Set the Aspect Ratio and Resolutions to your monitors' optimal settings.

4

Set Antialiasing to Off.

5

Ensure Windowed Mode is unchecked.

Creation Kit

   
Note

If you use Windows Defender Firewall, you may find the CK crashing when trying to launch it for the first time. If this happens, try adding an outbound rule in Windows Defender Firewall.

New to the Creation Kit? There's a great installation video available by Darkfox127!

The Creation Kit is the official Bethesda tool for creating and editing mods. It has been available in one form or another through the release of the last several Fallout and Elder Scrolls games and is invaluable if you have any interest in working with mods for modern Bethesda games.

Beyond allowing users to build their own completely original mods, the Creation Kit (or CK) can tweak and change things throughout both mods and official content in ways not possible through other tools.

Much like with Skyrim itself, the Creation Kit doesn’t ship with a pre-configured .ini, and the “default” configuration generates when the tool runs for the first time.

While you won’t be building new mods in this guide, you will be importing mods originally designed for Skyrim LE, and the Creation Kit will allow you to re-save (and thus, update) them to work with Skyrim SE.

  1. Download and install the Bethesda.net Launcher.
  2. Run the Launcher and sign in (create an account if you don't have one).
  3. In the left pane, expand options to show "All Games" via >>
  4. Select "Creation Kit: Skyrim" and select "Install"
  5. After completion of the installation, click on "Play"
  6. Select "Yes" in the "Script Source Extraction" box
  7. Close the Creation Kit program.

There are a few edits that need to be made before you can use the CK to port mods.

  1. Download the premade CreationKitCustom.ini here
  2. Extract it to Steam\steamapps\common\Skyrim Special Edition.

The custom ini file sets up the CK to allow multiple masters and properly load DLC content.

SSE CreationKit Fixes

    TOOL

Various patches and bug fixes for the Creation Kit to make life easier.

Main Files — CK64Fixes Release 2.9
Special Instructions
  • Manually extract the mod and place in the main Skyrim Special Edition directory.

Tools

7-Zip

    TOOL
7-Zip is a free, multi-format compression program capable of handling virtually any archive.
Main Files — 7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64 (Intel 64 or AMD64)

LOOT

    TOOL

LOOT is a utility for load order optimization and is critical for any modded Skyrim run, especially with a list as long as ours.

Note

You will need to run LOOT Once Outside of Mod Organizer 2 and sort your Load Order to ensure the Masterlist updates properly.

Main Files — LOOT.Installer.exe
Special Instructions
  • LOOT, on first load, has no Masterlist data or default mod groups. (Colored Text indicates the color of the node (default).
  1. Shut down Mod Organizer 2, if open.
  2. Run LOOT from its installed location.
  3. Once LOOT has loaded, sort the load order by pressing the icon featuring three lines over each other. This is in the top right corner.
  • The guide requires the addition of new LOOT Mod Groups to properly sort the load order.
    1. Run LOOT (if it's not still loaded from the last step. If you closed it, you can load it through MO2 at this point if desired.)
    2. Locate and click on the Options button in the top right corner (identified by 3 dots over each other).
    3. Open Groups Editor
    4. In the Add New Group box, type “Merge Patches”, then the plus button.
    5. Left-click the Late Loaders node to select it.
    6. Left-click and drag a line from Late Loaders to the Merge Patches node that you created. Merge Patches should turn green.
    7.  Create a new group called NPC Retextures.
    8. Connect Merge Patches to NPC Retextures. NPC Retextures should turn green.
    9. Create a new group called Conflict Resolution.
    10. Connect NPC Retextures to Conflict Resolution. Conflict Resolution should turn green.
    11. Connect Conflict Resolution to Leveled List Modifiers. Conflict Resolution should turn grey.
    12. Create a new group called Arthmoor's Villages.
    13. Connect Low Priority Overrides to Arthmoor's Villages. Arthmoor's Villages should turn green.
    14. Connect Arthmoor's Villages to High Priority Overrides. Arthmoor's Villages should turn grey.
    15. Verify all of the newly added groups are showing as grey. Press Apply to exit this interface.
For the more visually oriented, this handy video may be helpful. Click here to see a picture of the LOOT groups in their final configuration.

xEdit

    TOOL

This program is an essential Tool that will help with cleaning mods of dirty edits and enable the creation of patches required by this guide.

Notice

xEdit is often used interchangeably with the term SSEEdit, both in this guide and in forums and Discord channels. These are both in reference to the same program: xEdit is the program, with the 'x' replaced with the game it is designed to work with (e.g. SSE for Skyrim Special Edition, FO4 for Fallout 4, etc). For the purposes of this guide, xEdit refers ONLY to the SSE version, SSEEdit.

Note

SSEEdit will create a Cache Folder which will be found in the Mod Organizer 2 overwrite folder. I recommend creating a mod out of this and having it active in the left pane; this will help speed up SSEEdit load times.

Main Files — SSEEdit 4.0.3
Special InstructionsOnce installed, run SSEEdit and perform the following:
  1. Right-click on any plugin.
  2. From the popup menu navigate, to Other→Options; a new popup box should appear.
  3. Uncheck Simple Records LAND, NAVI, NAVM, CELL, WRLD (requires restart).
  4. Click OK.
  5. Exit SSEEdit.

TES5EditScripts

    TOOL

Bunch of useful xEdit Scripts.

Main Files — TES5EditScripts
Special InstructionsExtract the contents of the archive to the Edit Scripts folder found in the SSEEdit main installation folder.

Cathedral Assets Optimizer

    TOOL

Cathedral Assets Optimizer is a tool aiming to automate asset conversion and optimization for Skyrim Special Edition.

Main Files — Cathedral Assets Optimizer
Special Instructions
  • Download these premade profiles.
  • Extract the contents to your Cathedral Assets Optimizer/Profiles directory.

Wrye Bash

    TOOL

The function of this tool is to manage mods and create Bashed Patches. Bashed Patches merge the leveled lists from the installed mods and has some limited functionality to merge mods and tweak game values. For this guide, you will only use the Bashed Patch functionality.

Notice

WINDOWS 10 USERS: Ensure that your O/S has installed the Windows 10 1809 Update or higher. This will ensure that Wrye Bash is able to properly load, as the 1803 update creates a situation where WB attempts to load itself, which it can't because it's already in use.

Notice

WINDOWS 10 USERS: When using Wrye Bash, a 'Docs' folder will be generated and appear in your Overwrite folder. This is not needed for Skyrim to run properly, and can be safely deleted between sessions.

Main Files — Wrye Bash 307 Beta 6.1 - Standalone Executable
Special Instructions
  1. Download the file manually.
  2. Extract the contents of the file to a location of your choice. It is advised not to install it into any UAC controlled locations. It CAN be installed into the Skyrim main directory, if you so choose, with no detrimental effects.
  3. WINDOWS 7 USERS: A 'docs' folder needs to be created in Skyrim Special Edition\Data. WIN10 users do not need to follow this step, as it will be auto-created and placed into your Overwrite folder. For additional info, see Notice above.

zEdit

    TOOL

This tool is similar to SSEEdit.

Main Files — zEdit_v0.6.5_-_Portable_x64.7z

Script Extenders

Skyrim Script Extender

    TOOL
Note

The scripts archive in the DATA folder can remain in place after the script extraction done during installation. They cause no harm, have no additional affect on the game itself or the Creation Kit, and can be safely ignored.

SKSE is absolutely essential. It extends the scripting capacity of the game to allow mods to do things that would not normally be doable in the base Skyrim Engine. Many Mods depend upon it.

Main Files — Current SE build 2.0.17 (runtime 1.5.97): 7z archive
Special Instructions
  • Install ONLY the following files in the main Skyrim Special Edition directory:
skse64_1_5_97.dll
skse64_loader.exe
skse64_steam_loader.dll

zEdit Modules

zEdit allows for the application of patches to large portions of the game in a single location, without having to run individual xEdit scripts in multiple sessions of xEdit. The following modules are installed now, but will not be used until the Finishing Line portion of the guide. Again, pay attention to the special installation instructions, as failure to install them correctly will mean they are not available when they are needed.

Experience Mod zEdit Patcher

   

This mod adds compatibility to Experience so the kills function will work on all NPCs.

Main Files — ExperiencePatcher
Special Instructions
  • Extract into the modules subdirectory of zEdit.

UPF No Dragon LODs Patcher

   

This mod applies the No Dragon LODs effect.

Main Files — hishy-no-dragon-lods
Special Instructions
  • Extract into the modules subdirectory of zEdit.

hishy-npc-enchant-fix

   

This mod is a simple port of ASIS' NPC Enchant Fix that will work with zEdit.

Main Files — hishyNpcEnchantFix
Special Instructions
  • Extract into the modules subdirectory of zEdit.

UPF Khajiit Ears Show Patcher

   

This mod will allow all Khajiit to show their ears when wearing helmets.

Main Files — hishy-khajiit-ears-show
Special Instructions
  • Extract into the modules subdirectory of zEdit.

zEdit patchers warehouse

   

This mod is a small collection of zEdit Patchers.

Main Files — zedit-spell-absorb-fix
Main Files — zedit-visual-transfer
Main Files — zedit-water-damage
Special Instructions
  • Extract into the modules subdirectory of zEdit.

Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable

Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2019

    TOOL

This tool is required for Mod Organizer 2 to function properly.

Main Files — Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2019 x86
Main Files — Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2019 x64

Mod Manager

This guide was written specifically for use with Mod Organizer 2 and it's in-built functionality. Any attempts to use alternative mod management systems are unsupported. Some users have had success doing so, but any support will be unofficial and from other users only.

Note

The paid for version of ccleaner is known to break Mod Organizer 2's Virtual Filing System (VFS). Unchecking the 'windows event logs' option under ccleaner's advanced tab will help ensure this doesn't happen. Also make sure the Profile Folder Remains in the same location of Mod Organizer 2 as all the base files.

Mod Organizer 2

    TOOL

This is the tool we'll actually be using to download, install and manage the mods. Don't worry if it looks daunting, we'll set you right shortly.

Main Files — Mod Organizer 2 (Archive)

Installing Mod Organizer 2

Warning

Mod Organizer 2 MUST be installed in portable mode. The Script ReLinker functionality of zEdit requires this management method to complete it's work. There are no workarounds for this requirement.

For the more visually oriented, the guide suggests watching this to help you become familiarized with the install procedure. Skip to 10:27 for the relevant portion.

Install Mod Organizer 2:

  1. In the root directory of the drive where you have installed Skyrim, create a new folder. It can be called anything you wish, but should be easily recognizable to you. It will appear something on the lines of E:\Mod Organizer 2 - Lexys LOTD SE.
  2. Extract the contents of the file downloaded above to the folder you just created.
  3. Run ''Mod Organizer 2''. If you desire, you can also create a desktop shortcut for MO2 at this time, as you will likely be using this program quite a bit.
  4. In the pop-up that appears, you will be prompted to "Choose an Instance". Select Portable.
  5. In the next pop-up that appears, select Skyrim Special Edition from the drop-down menu.
  6. A third pop-up will appear, asking if you want a tutorial on the tool's use. Those who have never used any version of Mod Organizer (including MO1) should select Yes for a quick run-down on the features of the program. All others can select No.
  7. A fourth pop-up will appear with the notice Mod Organizer is not set up to handle NXM links. Associate it with NXM links? This is recommended to be set to Yes, as this will allow MO2 to handle all downloads possible from the NEXUS file links.
Idiot Check

Ensure that you do not move the mods folder out of MO2's install folder at any time. This is needed to ensure that MO2 can see the mods you are about to install.Similarly, do not move the profiles folder out of MO2's install folder at any time. This is needed to ensure that the Script ReLinker functionality of zEdit works as intended.

Configuring Mod Organizer 2

With Mod Organizer 2 now properly installed, there are additional settings that will be required to ensure full integration with the NEXUS and user comfort.

Special Instructions:

Mod Organizer needs to be connected to the NEXUS for account logins and download management.

  1. Full integration with the NEXUS requires that you have a NEXUS account. If you do not have one, you can create one here. This will also be required for large file downloads, and is free of charge (though a free account will also be very limited in bandwidth). A Premium subscription with no bandwidth cap is available. Details can be found on the NEXUS website.
  2. In the toolbar of Mod Organizer 2, locate the 'Settings' button (it will have a spanner and screwdriver icon on it... wrench and screwdriver for you Americans).
  3. At the top of the window that appears, press on the Nexus tab.
  4. Click on the Connect to Nexus button.
  5. A new window will open in your browser, and the Nexus will request permission to link Mod Organizer 2 with your Nexus Account. After allowing this, you can close the browser window.
  6. In the Mod Organizer 2 settings menu, press OK.

Some users may find the default MO2 theme overly bright or harsh.

  1. In the toolbar of Mod Organizer 2, locate the 'Settings' button (it will have a spanner and screwdriver icon on it... wrench and screwdriver for you Americans).
  2. At the top of the window that appears, press on the General tab (if not already selected).
  3. In the upper right corner of the Settings window, locate the Theme dropdown (possibly with the word "None" in it currently). Any theme may be selected, based on user preference. Most users report the most comfort with the 'dark' or 'Paper Dark' themes.
  4. After selecting a theme, press OK to close the window.
  5. In the pop-up window that appears, allow Mod Organizer 2 to restart to apply the theme change.
Notice

Depending on your specific download practices, the downloads for the mods can well over 100 Gb of data. If you have installed MO2 onto a relatively small drive (such as a small SSD), you should consider changing the location of MO2's download storage to a larger location. This can be done by creating a file folder in the desired location, opening the MO2 Settings interface (as above), selecting the Paths tab, and altering the Downloads path to match the newly created file folder.

Base Profile Creation

With Mod Organizer 2 installed and correctly configured, it is time to introduce the creation of Profiles, one of the signature features of Mod Organizer 2. Profiles are used to create mutiple 'versions' of your mod installs, which allows for anything from multiple versions of an install to shorter installs in support of merges (one of the primary things this guide will use it for). This step will familiarize you with the creation of profiles for later in the modding process.

Special Instructions:

Mod Organizer 2 is currently using a "Default" profile. A "Vanilla" profile needs to be created to establish a working game baseline and for troubleshooting purposes.

  1. Locate and press the Configure Profiles button (most MO2 themes show this as an icon that looks like an ID card, but can vary).
  2. In the Profiles Window, select Create.
  3. In the pop-up, type Vanilla Skyrim SE.
  4. Ensure that the Default Game INI Settings checkbox is unchecked.
  5. Select OK.
  6. Verify that Vanilla Skyrim SE appears in the list on the left.
  7. Verify that the Use profile-specific Game INI Files is checked.
  8. Click on and highlight the Default profile.
  9. Click on Remove.
  10. In the pop-up that appears, select Yes.
  11. Exit the Profiles Window by pressing Close.
  12. Verify that Vanilla Skyrim SE appears as the selected profile (shown above the mod list aka "the left pane").

Setting up Base Tools for Mod Organizer 2

The last major step is to setup some of the previously installed tools to work from within Mod Organizer. Running these tools via Mod Organizer 2's launcher will allow the other tools to make use of the Virtual File System and see the files from the installed mods as the game, itself, will when it is loaded.

Notice

Some programs that have been installed will be automatically detected by MO2, including SKSE, Skyrim, the Skyrim Launcher, LOOT, and the Creation Kit. These will appear in the MO2 Launcher (just above the right-pane) and are pre-configured.

Special Instructions:

xEdit, Wrye Bash, and zEdit need to be setup with Mod Organizer 2.

  1.  Locate and press the Executables button (most MO2 themes show this as an icon that looks like a gear, but can vary).
  2. A Pop-up box should appear press the + (Add an executable) button.
  3. In the Pop-up box select "Add from file.."
  4. In the Windows folder that opens, navigate to and double-click on SSEEdit.exe in its installed location.
  5. Ensure no optional checkboxes are checked.
  6. Select "apply" at the bottom right of the pop-up.
  7. Repeat steps 2 through 6, selecting "SSEEdit – Quick Auto Clean.exe" file from the installed location. This second instance will be used only for cleaning of plugin files, and will be explained further later in the guide.
  8. In the Argument field of  "SSEEdit – Quick Auto Clean" add -Dontcache
  9. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for Wrye Bash and zEdit, selecting the appropriate executable file in each case. No arguments are needed for these entries.
  10. After all programs have been added, click on "Okay" on the bottom right of the Modify Executable window.
Notice

xEdit will create a "xEdit Cache" folder in your Overwrite files in MO2. Adding -C:"(Drive letter):\Skyrim SE Tools\SSEEdit\Cache" (using the appropriate actual folder structure you use) will redirect these files to the xEdit folder you installed earlier. Alternately, you can also make those a separate mod in MO2 and keep it activated... the cache is there to help speed up xEdit load times, and has no effect on your game.

Initial Mod Ordering

Mod Organizer 2 will have automatically detected the three official DLC files for Skyrim, but will have them ordered alphabetically, which is not desired. Note also that they will be listed as "Non-MO" under the Category heading - this is an indication that the files are located in the Skyrim base directory. These should be the only files with this listing through the entire guide... if you see it again, you have incorrectly installed a mod.

Special Instructions:

Initial detection of Skryim DLC will place them in an incorrect order.

  1. In the left pane, drag-and-drop the three DLC files into the following order (top-to-bottom): Dawnguard, HearthFires, Dragonborn.

The loading order of Skyrim DLC is incorrect and needs to be correctly sorted.

  1.  From the drop-down Executables list (right-side, above the plugins list), select LOOT.
  2. Press the Run button.
  3. Once LOOT has finished loading, locate the "Sort" button in the top right corner and click on it. Its icon is three horizontal lines above each other.
  4. LOOT will automatically download any updates to its masterlist. It will then compare the files it sees (which is only the DLC at this point) to this masterlist files and sort them into a proper order. Additional messages will be displayed after sorting that indicate that there are ITMs and Deleted References in these files. See the notice below for an explanation of these two terms.
  5. Click Apply to accept LOOT's generated load order. If no changes were made (which happens on occasion), the Apply button may not appear. This is normal, and of no concern.
  6. Close LOOT by using the X button in the top right corner of the LOOT window.

This process has taught you two processes:

  • Loading of LOOT via Mod Organizer. This same process applies to all programs loaded via MO2, and will not be repeated in other steps during the modding installation process. If a tool needs to be loaded in any other fashion, those instructions will be noted when needed.
    *Sorting of a load order using LOOT. This will only be done once more (officially) in the guide, near the end of the process. However, this process is universal to ANY mod list, and can be applied in many other circumstances.
Idiot Check

The DLC in the right-pane (the plugins list) should match the order of the DLC files in the left-pane (this will usually not be the case once we start the installation process, but will in this instance). These three files should also be below (in order) Skyrim.ESM and Update.ESM.

The Vanilla Skyrim SE Profile is now properly set up. This profile should be kept for possible troubleshooting purposes, but otherwise left alone.

Creating Legacy Of The Dragonborn: Special Edition Profile

So far we installed and set Mod Organizer 2 up to work with all of the required tools, and to load with a Vanilla profile. You now have the ability to load Skyrim SE with a single click, which can be useful for troubleshooting, but isn't much good for playing a modded game. The next thing to do, then, is to create a new profile where we will install all of the mods.

First, however, a few things to note.

  • When you create a new profile, Mod Organizer creates new copies of the Skyrim.ini and SkyrimPrefs.ini for use by that profile and that profile only. If and when you make changes to these files through MO2, you will be making changes to the profile specific versions of these files, not the ones that are in your Documents directory.
  • You may recall that in the SKSE installation earlier, we only installed three files directly to the Skyrim main directory. We did not install all of the scripting files. We will be using this to show how to install a mod from an archive, which will be a needed skill for a small number of mods we will be installing later.

New profile for Lexy’s LOTD:SE

  1. Using the directions provided previously to create the Vanilla Profile, create a new profile with the name "Legacy of the Dragonborn - Special Edition" (or another name of your choosing).

SKSE is not fully installed.

  1. Ensure that the newly created "Legacy" profile is selected at the top of the left pane in Mod Organizer 2.
  2. In the MO2 toolbar, locate and click on the "Install a new mod from an archive" button (will look like a file folder in most themes).
  3. In the window that opens, navigate to the location of the SKSE file downloaded earlier. Click on it to highlight it.
  4. Click on Open.
  5. In the next window that appears, replace the text (if any appears - sometimes there isn't any) with SKSE Scripts. This is the name that will appear in the left pane of Mod Organizer 2 after installation.
  6. Another window will appear, as the SKSE archive is not properly set up for an automatic installation. If this is the first time you've seen this window (and we assume it is), MO2 will give you a quick tutorial on how to use this tool. Read it to help with understanding the following instructions.
  7. In the file tree, navigate to and highlight the Data folder inside the archive.
  8. Right-click on Data.
  9. In the right-click menu, select Set Data Directory. The display should change to show only a Scripts folder, which should be checked. A green "Looks good!" will appear at the bottom of the window if you have done this correctly.
  10. Select OK.

A new entry should appear in the left-pane with the name given it above and an empty checkbox next to it. This indicates that it has been installed but not activated. Also note that MO2 does not have a version number or category set for this mod - neither are required, but if you wish to fill these in, you can do so.

SKSE does not have a version number or category set.

  1. Right-click SKSE Scripts (or as appropriate).
  2. In the right-click menu, select Information.... Alternately, you can also double-click the mod name to achieve this as well.
  3. In the Categories tab, locate and place a checkmark next to Utilities.
  4. In the NEXUS Info tab, set the version number to the installed version of SKSE (as annotated in the SKSE download earlier).
  5. In the NEXUS Info tab, set the Mod ID -1. This tells MO2 that the installed files were not provided by the NEXUS, and will prevent MO2 for searching the NEXUS for data and update information (among other things).
  6. Click Close to save and exit the window.
Notice

In addition to the files installed by a given mod, all file trees will also show a meta.ini file that is added by MO2. This is generated and used by Mod Organizer for its VFS - even if you delete it, the file will be regenerated. It is otherwise safe to ignore.

Notice

Any mod downloaded directly by Mod Organizer 2 from the NEXUS will have one of more of the data fields filled in automatically, based on NEXUS server-provided information. This data can be changed to suit personal tastes, if desired, with no other affects.

For future reference, version numbers for mods hosted on the NEXUS can be checked for updates. These will then display as:

  • Green for any up-to-date mod.
  • Red for any mod that has a version mis-match. This generally means (but does not always mean) that an update has occurred.
  • White for any mod that is not hosted on the NEXUS.

As noted earlier, the SKSE Scripts are now installed, but are not yet active files, and thus will not be visible to the game on launch.

  1. Activate the SKSE Scripts by checking the box next to its name in the left pane. Nothing will change in the right-pane listing - this is normal and expected.
  2. For future mod installations, it will be assumed that a mod should be activated after installation, and this direction will not be repeated.

The files inside of the SKSE Scripts folder are now visible to the MO2 VFS, and on game launch will act as if they have been placed in the Skyrim/Data folder. File conflicts between mods will be handled by Mod Organizer 2 in order of installation - files installed later will override the files that came before.

Installation Verification:

SKSE is needed to run many mods this guide uses. Proper installation needs to be verified.

    1. Run Skyrim:SE by using the SKSE Executable in MO2.
    2. After the game has loaded into the main menu (listen for the Skyrim Theme to play), open the console with the ~ key (by default). This is the key directly above the TAB key on most keyboards.
    3. In the console that opens, type getskseversion and press enter.
    4. Verify that a new line appears in the console, indicating the version of SKSE you have installed. If there is no output, or a version other than the one you installed appears, reinstall SKSE with the correct files or verify correct installation against the instructions provided above.
    5. Exit Skyrim.
Notice

DO NOT continue past this point unless you are certain that SKSE is correctly installed.

Mod Organizer 2 Plugins

Merge Plugins Hide

   

This is a plugin for Mod Organizer 2 that allows you to hide merged plugins easily.

Main Files — Merge Plugins Hide
Special Instructions
  1. Extract everything except LICENSE and README.md to your Mod Organizer 2 plugins directory.
  2. Load Mod Organizer 2 and press the screwdriver and spanner icon.
  3. Navigate to the Plugins tab.
  4. Scroll down until you find Merge Plugins Hide.
  5. In the right-hand box change hide type to optional.
  6. Click OK.
Merge Plugins Hide is now set up and will move merged plugins to the optional directory within Mod Organizer 2. It can be accessed via the puzzle icon within Mod Organizer 2.
Idiot Check

Make sure the o in optional is lowercase.

Clean the Bethesda ESMs

We begin the modification process by altering some of the vanilla game files. Bethesda, like a number of modders, have created unintended duplication of records in their DLC files. These records are referred to as Identical to Master records, or ITMs. In most cases, these are not inherently game-breaking, and usually can be ignored if one is playing a mostly vanilla game. For a heavily modified game, however, they can have undesirable effects.

Another issue, and one that is far more serious, are deleted records. These can cause Crash to Desktop (CTD) errors, and should always be cleaned from plugin files.

Both ITMs and UDRs exist in the Bethesda DLC content files, and will need to be cleaned. Note that the below process is universal to this process, and will not be repeated for other mods that require cleaning.

Cleaning Instructions:

Create a backup of the original files.

  1. Navigate to ...\Skyrim Special Edition\Data.
  2. Copy-Paste the following files to your desktop or other readily available location: Update.esm, Dawnguard.esm, HearthFires.esm, and Dragonborn.esm.

The games files contain ITM and UDR records, and require cleaning.

  1. Start Mod Organizer 2, if not already running.
  2. From the drop-down executables menu, select SSEEdit - Quick Auto Clean. Ensure this is the xEdit version with Quick Auto Clean, as this is the one that will handle the removal of ITMs and UDRs.
  3. Press Run.
  4. In the file selection menu that appears, check the box next to Update.esm and no other files. If any additional files need loading, xEdit will automatically load them.
  5. Click OK.
  6. xEdit will now run the cleaning process automatically.
  7. Wait for the process to complete, indicated by the appearance of the message Quick Clean Mode finished.
  8. When the message has appeared, close xEdit by clicking on the X in the title bar of the application ("X-ing out").
  9. Repeat steps 2 through 8 for Dawnguard.esm, Hearthfires.esm and Dragonborn.esm.
Notice

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN SKYRIM.ESM. This will result in a corrupted file, as it will be compared to itself and all records would be deleted.

Dawnguard.esm requires manual xEdit cleaning in addition to the Automated cleaning:

  1. From the drop-down executables menu, select SSEEdit. Ensure this is the xEdit version without Quick Auto Clean.
  2. Press Run.
  3. In the plugin selection window, right click.
  4. In the right-click menu, select Select None.
  5. Place a check mark in the box next to Dawnguard.esm.
  6. Select OK. Dawnguard will now be loaded into xEdit, along with any other required files.
  7. After all plugins are fully loaded, click on the "+" next to Dawnguard.esm. Its file tree will expand.
  8. Locate and press the "+" next to Cell. Its sub-records will appear.
  9. Locate and press the "+" next to Block 5. Its sub-records will appear.
  10. Locate and pres the "+" next to Sub-Block 3. Its sub-records will appear.
  11.  Locate and click on 00016BCF. The right pane will now display all records associated with this cell record.
  12. In the right pane, scroll down and locate the XEZN sub-record that refers to RiftenRatwayZone [ECZN:0009FBB9.]
  13. Right click on the above record in the "Dawnguard.esm" column and select Remove. A window may appear warning you that you are making a change to the file – when able, allow the change.
  14. Do the same for Block 2 -> Sub-Block 1 -> 0001FA4C  CWGuardTempates (the entire record).
  15. Block 8 -> Sub-Block 1 (the entire sub-block).
  16. Close xEdit and save by clicking the "X" in the program's title bar.

Create a new Mod in MO2

With all cleaning now completed, we will make these cleaned files into their own separate modification and restore the original files to the Skyrim directory. This will assist in 'future-proofing' your cleaned files for the inevitable Bethesda CC updates that would overwrite your cleaned files with the original versions.

  1. In your ...Mod Organizer 2\mods folder, create a new folder called Cleaned Vanilla ESMs.
  2. In the Skryim\Data folder, Cut and Paste the following files FROM the Skyrim\Data folder TO the Mod Organizer 2\mods\Cleaned Vanilla ESMs folder: Update.esm, Dawnguard.esm, Hearthfires.esm, and Dragonborn.esm.
  3. Cut and Paste the backup files you created earlier into the Skyrim\data folder.
  4. Start Mod Organizer 2 (if not already active).
  5. A new mod should appear called "Cleaned Vanilla ESMs". If it does not appear, Right-Click -> All Mods -> Refresh.
  6. Activate the new mod.

With this process complete, we are now able to:

  • Run Skyrim through Steam, resulting in a completely vanilla experience.
  • Run Skyrim through MO2's "Vanilla Skyrim" profile using Skyrim in the drop-down, resulting in a completely vanilla experience.
  • Run Skyrim through MO2's "Legacy of the Dragonborn - Special Edition" profile using SKSE in the drop-down, resulting in a SKSE enabled Skyrim using cleaned vanilla assets.

From this point forward, unless otherwise noted, it will be assumed that you will always start Skyrim using the third option.

BethINI

BethINI

    TOOL

This program was created by DoubleYou (The S.T.E.P. resident INI Master). BethINI (pronounced "Bethany") is an attempt to restore decency to the INI configuration files for games created by Bethesda.

Main Files — BethINI Standalone Version
Special Instructions
  1. Run BethINI.exe outside of MO2 and make sure MO2 is closed or changes won't take effect!
  2. Under the Setup tab:
    1. Select the profile you wish to use via the INI Path setting.
    2. Make sure the Modify Custom INIs option is unchecked.
  3. Under the Basic tab:
    1. Click the DEFAULT button. This will refresh your INI files to the default settings for your system, with minimal tweaks.
    2. Click the HIGH preset.
    3. Make sure the BethINI Presets option is checked.
    4. Make sure Recommended Tweaks is checked.
    5. Make sure Windowed Mode is checked.
    6. Make sure Borderless is checked.
    7. Make sure FXAA is checked.
    8. Make sure Antialiasing is set to NONE.
    9. Make sure VSync is unchecked.
    10. Make sure Lock Frame Rate is unchecked.
  4. Under the General tab:
    1. Make sure Intro Logos is unchecked.
    2. Make sure Post-Load Update Time is 2000
  5. Under the Gameplay tab:
    1. Make sure Over-Encumbered Reminder is set to 60
    2. Make sure NPC Use Ammo is checked.
    3. Make sure 1st Person Arrow Tilt-up Angle is 0.7
    4. Make sure 3rd Person Arrow Tilt-up Angle is 0.7
    5. Make sure 1st Person Bolt Tilt-up Angle is 0.7
  6. Under the Interface tab:
    1. Make sure Bethesda Modding Platform is unchecked.
    2. Make sure Mouse Settings → Lock Sensitivity is 0.0125
  7. Under the Detail tab:
    1. Make sure Field of View is set to 85.00
    2. Make sure Particles is set to 2000
    3. Make sure Depth of Field is checked.
    4. Make sure Lens Flare is unchecked.
    5. Make sure Reflect Sky is checked.
    6. Make sure Ambient Occlusion is Checked.
    7. Make sure Shadow Resolution is set to 2048
    8. Make sure Shadow Bias is set to 0.47
    9. Make sure Sun-Shadow Transition is Checked.
    10. Make sure Sun-Shadow Update Time is set to 0
    11. Make sure Sun-Shadow Update Threshold is set to 2.0
  8. Under the View Distance tab:
    1. Make sure Grass Fade is set to 18000
  9. Under the Visuals tab:
    1. Make sure Grass Density is set to 60
    2. Make sure Grass Diversity is set to 15
    3. Make sure Improved Shader is unchecked.
Under the Basic Tab, click the Save and Exit button.

Post BethINI Tweaks

While BethINI does handle the vast majority of the tweaks needed to the INI files, a few need to be changed manually. This will be done via MO2's INI Editor. To access the viewer, click on the Tools icon in MO2's toolbar, then select the INI Editor. Once open, make the following changes (if the option does not appear, add it):

Notice

The Skyrim.ini and SkyrimPrefs.ini files can be edited using the ini editor built into MO2. From the toolbar, click the Tools icon, then select INI Editor.

Skyrim.ini

[Grass]
bGrassPointLighting=1

[SaveGame]
bDisableAutoSave=1
bAllowScriptedForceSave=0
bAllowScriptedAutosave=0

SkyrimPrefs.ini


[Display]
bSAOEnable=1

[Main]
bSaveOnPause=0
bSaveOnRest=0
bSaveOnTravel=0
bSaveOnWait=0

Due to the heavily modded nature of this guide, it is advised to have autosaves turned off and to create fresh new saves every time and not overwrite old pre-existing saves.

SkyrimCustom.ini

SkyrimCustom.ini is created by BethINI and can be used to overwrite settings placed in Skyrim.ini. For the purposes of this guide, we will use a blank copy of this file placed in the Legacy Of The Dragonborn - Special Edition profile that you will use to actually play the game.

SKSE.ini

Before you can edit the SKSE.ini file, you will have to create it.

  1. Right-click SKSE Scripts in the Mod Organizer mod list.
  2. Select Open In Explorer.
  3. Create and enter a folder named SKSE.
  4. Create and open a text file named SKSE.ini. Make sure you are showing hidden file extensions.

Once this file is open to be edited, paste in the following:

[General]
ClearInvalidRegistrations=1

[Display]
iTintTextureResolution=2048

This enables self-healing of rogue updating scripts in saves.

Save and close SKSE.ini then exit explorer.

xLODGEN

xLODGEN

    TOOL

This is a utility used to generate LOD meshes and textures "exactly" like the CK.

Note

Make sure to Install xLODGEN outside of the main Skyrim and Mod Organizer 2 mods folders.

Main Files — xLODGen-63
Optional FilesSSE-Terrain-Tamriel.esm
Special Instructions
  1. Download and install the SSE-Terrain-Tamriel.esm file as a mod in Mod Organizer 2.
  2. Download the main xLODGen-63 archive.
  3. Extract the contents to a new folder called xLODGEN but DO NOT PUT THE FOLDER INSIDE the main Skyrim Special Edition OR Mod Organizer 2 folder.
  4. Create a folder called SSELODGen_Output At the ROOT of a drive.
  5. Once the above is done, open Mod Organizer 2 and add xLODGenx64.exe as an executable.
  6. In the Arguments field enter -sse -o:"Drive Letter:\SSELODGen_Output"

DynDOLOD

DynDOLOD Standalone

    TOOL

This is a utility used to create a mod based on the load order, which adds custom, distant LOD for objects to Skyrim.

Main Files — DynDOLOD
Special Instructions
  1. Download the archive file.
  2. Extract the contents to a new folder called DynDOLOD Special Edition.
  3. Once the above is done, open Mod Organizer 2 and add TexGenx64 and DynDOLODx64 as executables.
  4. In the Arguments field, enter -sse for each executable.

zMerge Setup

In this section you will set up zMerge so that you can create merged mods later on.

  1. Open zEdit and select zMerge from the drop-down menu.
  2. Press Start Session.
  3. Click on the cog in the upper-right corner and a new popup box should appear.
  4. Navigate to Integration Settings.
  5. Under Mod Manager select Mod Organizer 2.
  6. Under MO2 Instance select Portable.
  7. Under Mod manager path, fill in the file path to your main Mod Organizer 2 folder.
  8. Under Mod manager mods path, fill in the file path to your Mod Organizer 2 mods folder.
  9. Navigate to Merge Settings.
  10. Under Merge output path fill in the file path to where your Mod Organizer 2 mods folder is.
  11. Uncheck Disable plugins.
  12. Navigate to Archive Creation Settings.
  13. Under Advanced change Minimum files per archive to 999999.
  14. Under Advanced make sure Create texture archives is unchecked.
  15. Click OK.
  16. You can now close zMerge.

Check these pictures on how to set up zMerge if you're having trouble.

ENB Series

ENB Series

   

This is a graphics modification library designed to allow gamers to configure their games to their liking.

Main Files — ENBSeries v0.427 for TES Skyrim SE
Special Instructions
  1. At the bottom of the page, click the link for the specified version.
  2. At the bottom of the new page, click the download link.
  3. When the file has downloaded, open the Wrapper Version folder enclosed in the archive and extract ONLY the files d3d11.dll and d3dcompiler_46e.dll.
  4. Place the d3d11.dll and d3dcompiler_46e.dll into the main Skyrim Special Edition directory.

ENB PRESET

Ljoss - Semi-realistic performance preset with Nighteye and ENB Light support

    ENB
Main Files — Ljoss V5.1 AIO
Update Files — Ljoss Ultra Bright surface and smoke fix for Interior (Need main files)
Special Instructions
  • Install Ljoss into MO2 using the FOMOD then copy paste all installed files to the Main Skyrim Directory.
  • Once installed open Skyrim.ini and change the following, if value doesn't exist add them :
[Display]
fGlobalBloomThresholdBoost=5.0000
fSAOBias=0.5000
fSAOExpFactor=0.220
fSAOIntensity=12.0000
fSAORadius=850.0000

[weather]
fSunBaseSize=100
fSunGlareSize=133
Special Installation: Once installed Open Skyrimprefs.ini and change the following, if value doesn't exist add them :
[Display]
bEnableImprovedSnow=0
fGamma=1.0000
bFXAAEnabled=0
bUseTAA=0
bIBLFEnable=0
bIndEnable=0
bSAO_CS_Enable=0
bSAOEnable=1
bTreesReceiveShadows=1
bDrawLandShadows=1
bShadowsOnGrass=1

Setting up HDMI Full Range:

A Special Step is required for users that connect their GPU and Monitor Via a HDMI Cable.

For Nvidia users:
Go to your Nvidia Control Panel (right click on your desktop)
Then go to "change resolution" and find "Output Dynamic Range" and change it to "Full". (if it is grayed out press "Use NVIDIA color settings" first)

For AMD users:
If you're using a AMD/Radeon graphics card you need to do a similar tweak, but you have to change the display pixel format instead. This can
be done by selecting "RGB 4:4:4 Pixel Format PC Standard (Full RGB)" instead of the default "RGB 4:4:4 Pixel Format Studio (Limited RGB)" inside of the AMD Catalyst.