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.
Except for Lexy’s guide, there is no guide quite like this one. Between work done by Lexy, her development team, and my adjustments, 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.
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.
LOOT is a utility for load order optimization and is critical for any modded Skyrim run, especially with a list as long as ours.
You will need to run LOOT Once Outside of Mod Organizer 2 and sort your Load Order to ensure the Masterlist updates properly.
customMain Files — LOOT.Installer.exe
Once LOOT is installed, you need to sort your plugins outside of MO at least once so everything updates before setting up some Mod Groups that will be used throughout this guide. These groups are created by:
Perform an initial sort to get things started.
Navigate to the 3 dots in the far right of the interface.
Select Open Group Editor.
In the Add a new group box Add “Merge Patches”
Left-click the “Late Loaders” node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “Late Loaders” to “Merge Patches” (Merge Patches should turn green)
In the Add a new group box Add “NPC Retextures”
Left-click the “Merge Patches” node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “Merge Patches” to “NPC Retextures” (NPC Retextures should turn green)
In the Add a new group box Add “Conflict Resolution”
Left-click the “NPC Retextures” node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “NPC Retextures” to "Conflict Resolution" (Conflict Resolution should turn green)
Now Left click the “Conflict Resolution” node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “Conflict Resolution” to "Leveled List Modifiers" (Conflict Resolution should turn grey)
In the Add a new group box Add “Arthmoor's Villages”.
Left click on the "Low Priority Overrides" node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “Low Priority Overrides” to "Arthmoor's Villages" (Arthmoor's Villages should turn green)
Now Left click the "Arthmoor's Villages" node and Drag the line with the arrow and link “ Arthmoor's Villages" to "High Priority Overrides" (Arthmoor's Villages should turn grey)
By the end, all the newly added groups should be grey.
Watch this handy Video to see how to create the Mod Groups.
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.
SSEEdit will create a Cache Folder which will be found in the Mod Organizer 2 overwrite foIder. I recommend creating a mod out of this and having it active in the left pane; this will help speed up SSEEdit load times.
customMain Files — SSEEdit 4_0_3
special instructionsOnce installed, run SSEEdit and perform the following:
Right-click on any plugin.
From the popup menu navigate, to Other→Options; a new popup box should appear.
Uncheck Simple Records LAND, NAVI, NAVM, CELL, WRLD (requires restart).
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.
This tool is required for Mod Organizer 2 to function properly.
customMain Files — Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017 x86 Main Files — Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017 x64
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.
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.
customMain Files — Mod Organizer 2 (Archive)
Installing Mod Organizer 2
MO2 should be installed in Portable Mode!
Once Mod Organizer 2 is downloaded, some manual setup is required. I suggest watching this to familiarize yourself installation procedure (Skip to 10:27).
Create a new folder called Mod Organizer 2 in the root of a drive. You should have something like D:\Mod Organizer 2.
Extract the contents of the downloaded zip file to the folder created in Step 1.
A popup box should appear asking you to “Choose an Instance” pick Portable.
A second popup should appear; from the drop-down menu pick Skyrim Special Edition.
A third popup should appear asking if you want to see the tutorial. Those who are new to Mod Organizer 2 should select Yes. Those who are very familiar with it should select No.
A fourth popup should appear stating that “Mod Organizer is not set up to handle nxm links. Associate it with nxm links?” The recommended response is Yes, as this will allow Mod Organizer 2 to handle Nexus file links.
Congratulations Mod Organizer 2 is installed. Now we need to configure it properly.
Configuring Mod Organizer 2
Now that you have installed Mod Organizer 2, you need to set it up correctly.
From the toolbar click the spanner and screwdriver icon.
Under the Nexus tab, click the Connect to Nexus button.
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.
Congratulations, Mod Organizer 2 should be properly configured!
Base Profile Creation
Now you need to create a base profile for MO2.
Click the Configure Profiles button at the top of the window. The icon looks like an ID card.
Click Create and type Vanilla Skyrim SE in the text box.
Verify that Default Game Settings is unchecked, then click OK. The Vanilla Skyrim SE profile will appear in the list.
Exit from the Configure Profiles window and change to the newly create profile.
Reopen the Configure Profiles window and then select the Default profile and click Remove.
Select Yes when prompted.
Close the dialog by clicking Close.
Verify that Vanilla Skyrim SE is the currently selected profile in the Profile drop-down above the left-pane of the Mod Organizer window.
Setting up Base Tools for Mod Organizer 2
To set up the tools’ UI and other such settings, follow the steps below.
Click the Executables button at the top of the main Mod Organizer window. The icon looks like a pair of cogs.
In the Title text box, type SSEEdit.
In the Binary text box, type \SSEEdit.exe or select it using Windows explorer by pressing the ... button.
Do not select any of the optional check boxes.
Click the Add button. SSEEdit should appear in the list.
Add a second Instance of SSEEdit by repeating the process above call this second instance SSEEDIT - Quick Auto Clean.
In the Binary text box, type \SSEEditQuickAutoClean.exe or select it using Windows explorer by pressing the ... button.
Repeat this process for Mator Smash, Wrye Bash and zEdit, replacing the appropriate fields, then close the dialogue by clicking Close.
Next, you will need to fix the left pane order. Drag and drop the files in the left pane until they look like this:
You now need to run LOOT to organize the right pane so it is in the correct order. Perform the following steps:
Select LOOT from the drop-down list of executables.
Click the Run button.
Towards the top right-hand corner is an icon that looks like three horizontal lines. Mousing over it should say ‘Sort Plugins’. Click it.
LOOT will now download any updates to its master list file and compare the files it sees to this master list file. LOOT will display warning messages about the ITMs and deleted references the 3 Bethesda ESMs contain. Don’t worry about them at this time, they will be dealt with later in the Clean the Bethesda ESM’s step.
The calculated load order is then displayed. Click Apply to accept this order. If no changes are necessary there may not be an Apply option.
Close LOOT by clicking the X.
This process has loaded LOOT via Mod Organizer. This enables LOOT to act upon any of the ESM and ESP files in the MO2 virtual file system. It compares what files it sees to the master list of all ESM and ESP files and suggests tweaks as required. Some files need to load before or after others for their effects to be fully noticeable; LOOT helps this to happen. If you look at the right pane of Mod Organizer, you should see that the files are in the same order that you just sorted them into on the Left pane, with Skyrim.esm and Update.esm above them. This is the correct formation.
Congratulations, the Mod Organizer 2 Base Profile should now be properly set up. Next, we need to set up a Modding Profile.
Creating Legacy Of The Dragonborn: Special Edition Profile
Earlier, you made a Vanilla Skyrim profile. This means you can play vanilla unmodded Skyrim via Mod Organizer at a single mouse click. Now you’ll make the profile you will use for modding Skyrim.
Click the Configure Profiles icon at the top of the main Mod Organizer window. The icon looks like an ID card.
Select Vanilla Skyrim SE then click Copy.
Type Legacy Of The Dragonborn - Special Edition in the text box and hit OK.
A couple of things to note before moving on. First, when you make a new profile, MO2 makes copies of Skyrim.ini and SkyrimPrefs.ini. If you make INI file changes, you will be making them to these files. Second, you installed the base files of SKSE earlier but didn’t install the script files. You will do this now to show you how to install a mod through Mod Organizer. Ensure that your newly made profile is active and perform the following steps.
Click the small CD and Box icon adjacent to the Search nexus network for more mods drop-down and select Install Mod….
Navigate to the downloaded SKSE archive and click Open.
Replace the default text, if any, in the Name text box with SKSE Scripts. This is the name that will be displayed in the left pane post-installation.
In the file tree, navigate to the Data folder inside the archive, right-click and select Set Data Directory. Only the Scripts folder should be visible and checked.
The mod will now be displayed with an empty check-box in the mod window. This mod is now installed but not yet enabled for use by the game. Also, note that Mod Organizer does not have a version number or category set for this mod. To resolve this, perform the following:
Right-click the mod and select Information....
In the Categories tab, check the box next to Utilities to add that category to this mod.
In the Nexus Info tab, set the version number to the installed SKSE version number but set the Mod ID to -1.
This has set the proper version number and category for this mod. The color of the text also indicates that SKSE is not available on the Nexus. Look at the File Tree tab to see the contents of the folder that will be virtually placed inside the Skyrim Special Edition/Data folder. Note the meta.ini file is shown which Mod Organizer uses to store all the related data for the mod; it will not be visible to the game when executed.
Any mods downloaded directly into Mod Organizer from the Nexus will have one or more of the data fields automatically filled based on Nexus server-provided information.
Mods version numbers that can be verified by the Nexus will be either Green (Current+) or Red (Out Of Date). To make the mod visible to the game, check the box adjacent to the mod name.
The files located inside this mod folder will now be visible to any programs executed through Mod Organizer as if they were inside the Skyrim Special Edition/Data folder. Mod Organizer handles any conflicts in priority order (higher priority overwrites lower priority). Give this a try now:
Select SKSE in the drop down above the right pane then click Run.
Running SKSE will execute the game through Mod Organizer using SKSE_Loader.exe. The Mod Organizer window will close as SKSE is automatically configured to do so. At this point, SKSE is now properly installed with all included script functionality. There is also a way to check you have SKSE loaded and working; when the game loads to the main menu, open the console by pressing the key directly above the Tab key. It’s often the ` or ~ key. A small command prompt will open in the lower left corner. It may be hard to see, but it should be there. Type the command getskseversion. It should give output as to the version you have installed. If it’s anything other than 2.0.17, recheck the original SKSE install, and the scripts install just performed.
Exit the game, and if needed, ensure SKSE is correct again after checking install. Do not continue until you’re sure you have correctly installed SKSE.
You now have set the profile up we will use for mod installation. You also have a Vanilla Profile. Either a modded game or the vanilla game can be played just by changing the profile. Additionally, should you wish to make any other profile, you can copy that Vanilla Skyrim profile, rename it and start with that new profile.
This is a plugin for Mod Organizer 2 that allows you to hide merged plugins easily.
customMain Files — Merge Plugins Hide
Extract everything except LICENSE and README.md to your Mod Organizer 2 plugins directory.
Load Mod Organizer 2 and press the screwdriver and spanner icon.
Navigate to the Plugins tab.
Scroll down until you find Merge Plugins Hide.
In the right-hand box change hide type to optional.
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.
Clean the Bethesda ESMs
Now that you have your profiles correctly set up, you can begin modding some vanilla game files. To increase stability, SSEEdit will be used to clean ITMs and UDRs from Bethesda’s ESMs. This improves compatibility between the various DLCs and lessens the chance of instability in Skyrim.
Before you start cleaning the ESMs, you need to back-up the original files. Navigate to the Skyrim Special Edition\Data directory and back-up the following files:
Once you have cleaned and created a mod from the Cleaned ESMs, you can restore the original UNCLEANED ones backed up earlier to the Data folder.
This preserves an absolutely clean Skyrim Special Edition/Data directory and also allows our modded profile to run with the modified, cleaned vanilla ESM files. To finish up the cleaning, perform the following:
Start Mod Organizer.
Verify the Legacy Of The Dragonborn – Special Edition profile is currently selected.
Drag the newly created mod Cleaned Vanilla ESMs above the SKSE Scripts mod in the left pane and activate it by checking the checkbox.
Now to start your modified game, always start Mod Organizer, select SKSE and press RUN.
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 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.
Start NVIDIA Profile Inspector. On the Profile Inspector's toolbar there should be an icon of a box with a green arrow pointing down. Hovering over the icon should display Import user-defined profiles.
Once the profile has been installed, use the search bar and navigate to LOTD Plus.
Double check that the following has been set in the installed profile:
2 - Sync and Refresh
* Frame Rate Limiter 58 (From the drop down menu select 58)
* Maximum pre-rendered frames 1
* Vertical Sync Force On (My game seems more smooth with these setting this may not be the same for you, but remember one rule, you must have Vsync enable somewhere either through the game, your ENB or the driver.)
3 - Antialiasing
* Antialiasing - Mode Enhance the application setting
* Antialiasing - Setting 4x [4x Multisampling]
4 - Texture Filtering
* Anisotropic filtering mode User - defined/Off
* Anisotropic filtering setting 16x
* Texture Filtering - Anisotropic Sample Optimization On
* Texture Filtering - Negative LOD bias Clamp (Leave at clamp)
* Texture Filtering - Quality High Quality (You can lower if needed)
* Texture Filtering - Trilinear optimization On (will be ignored if using high quality)