User:Darkladylexy/Lexys LOTD SE
GUIDE SUPPORT: Support and assistance in the installation and troubleshooting of problems related to this guide are available in two locations - either will eventually get you the help you need. The first is located on the STEP Forums. The second, more real-time, location is on Lexy's LOTD Discord Channel. MOD SUGGESTIONS: Don't see a mod in the list that you think needs to be included? Check on Lexy's Suggested Mods Trello board to be sure it hasn't already been suggested, is in testing, or has been previously rejected.
Page 1: Introduction and Prerequisites. YOU ARE HERE. Page 2: The Mod List Page 3: The Merge Page Page 4: The Finishing Line Page 5: Recommended MCM Settings Page 6: Troubleshooting Page 7: Changelog
This guide is designed for experienced modders. If you are new to the Skyrim Modding Experience, it is highly suggested you watch videos, read forums posts, and other such activities to ensure you are familiarized with all of the tools used in this mod build. It is also advised that you attempt a less technical mod guide, such as TUCOS, to become comfortable with the use of these tools.
First time installers of this guide are advised to install everything listed in the guide in their initial installation, and deviating from it ONLY after verifying a working build.
Introduction and Summary
- 1 Introduction and Summary
- 2 The Journey Begins...
- 3 Prerequisites
- 3.1 A Quick Word From Lexy
- 3.2 Official Content
- 3.3 3rd Party Tools
- 3.3.1 Skyrim Script Extender
- 3.3.2 7-Zip
- 3.3.3 LOOT
- 3.3.4 Mator Smash
- 3.3.5 xEDIT
- 3.3.6 Cathedral Assets Optimizer
- 3.3.7 Wrye Bash
- 3.3.8 zEdit
- 3.3.9 zEdit Modules
- 3.3.10 Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017
- 4 Mod Manager
- 5 Cleaning the Bethesda ESM Files
- 6 BethINI
- 7 xLODGen
- 8 DynDOLOD
- 9 zMerge Setup
- 10 Reshade Installation
- 11 GPU Driver Settings
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 to be a full installation guide, taking you from a fresh Skyrim SE installation to a fully modified game.
The guide is actively maintained, and is a constant state of flux. As of this writing, it is updated once a week (when circumstances allow). This NEXUS Hosted guide is usually updated on Monday, installation can take anywhere from a day or two to a full week or more, depending on how much time you dedicate to it.
As noted in the warning above, this guide is designed for experienced modders, and the instructions, though they are written for clarity, do assume a certain level of comfort and familiarity with the tools. If you are looking for an easier guide, one better suited to learning the basics of Mod Organizer 2 and the other tools, I recommend looking at TUCOGUIDE by ponurymazepa.
There is a video series (special thanks to PheonixSunstar001) that shows the entireity of this guide's installation. It can be found here.
A Little Chat
This guide will take a substantial amount of time and a large amount of hard drive space (approximately 100 Gb of data, not including your base Skryim install). It also involves the use of more advanced modding concepts. Prior to beginning the installation, I suggest giving the entire guide a read-through to be fully aware of everything you will need to do to complete the instllation. Remember that the end goal of the guide is to actually PLAY the game and enjoy it. This will take several sessions to install from scratch.
This is not your father's Skyrim, kids. Be warned: it is a much more difficult game, especially from start to level 30. The quests you used to do at level 1 aren't going to be doable until much later on unless you are a very experienced solo player or have a number of followers trailing behind you. Even dedicated solo players have adopted follower usage trying to play this guide. You'll likely want a follower or two to carry all the glorious LOTD Museum loot around anyhow.
To have a fully working install of this guide, you MUST pay attention and follow the posted instructions TO THE LETTER. Experiences on both the Support Forums and the Discord have shown that 98% of reported problems are the results of user error, with the remaining portion mistakes on Lexy's part (and are quickly corrected). It is imperative that you have at least some knowledge and familiarity with Mod Organizer 2, LOOT, FNIS, the Creation Kit, xEdit, zMerge, Wrye Bash, Mator Smash, zEdit, xLODGen, and DynDOLOD prior to starting the guide. The mod list can be used as a base to build or remove from, but it is strongly advised that you install and play-test the entire guide (with nothing omitted or added) to ensure it is stable before doing so. The guide itself is very stable, and rivals Requiem in scope since the inclusion of the OMEGA and Experience mods. Again, if you complete the installation and the game isn't working, it is far more likely that you made an error in installation than that Lexy made a mistake in her instructions.
There is a Discord Community that has an unwritten rule of tolerance towards those new to modding (within reason), but self-help is preferred and appreciated. The Discord is friendly, helpful, and has a knowledgeable staff. Link: Discord
As the guide is frequently updated, you will, at some point, have to stop modding it and just play or you will be caught up in a never-ending loop of restarting new characters. Most users create two separate installations of MO2, one for playing and one for updating. Those who are OCD about maintaining things up to date will find this helps sooth the itch.
The guide is very demanding on hardware. You can use it, though, if you know your computer system, are smart about what texture resolutions you use, how many of them you use, and scale back some of the settings of (or simply just don't use) xLodGen, DynDOLOD, and/or ENB/ReShade. The guide has been bench-marked, and currently uses an approximate max 4.7 Gb of VRAM on Darth's and Lexy's system during the Cart Ride to Helgen. The system specs of these computers is found below.
With that said: It's time to get into the wonderful world of Skyrim Modding. We hope you'll find it pleasant, and good luck.
Lexy's System Specs
The specs listed below are those of Lexy's computer. They are NOT a minimum specs listing, just a point of reference for what is being used by Lexy to test this guide.
- Processor: i5 4670K @ 4.2 GHz
- Motherboard: ASUS z97-K
- Ram: Corsair Vengeance Pro 32GB (4x8GB) @2133MHz
- GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080Ti 11GB
- OS: (WIN 7) WD Green 2TB
- Game Drive: Samsung 850 EVO 256GB (Steam)
- Game Drive: WD Blue M.2 SATA 1TB (GOG and Origins)
- Game Backup: WD Blue 2TB
The Journey Begins...
Before you can get to 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.
Most mods in the guide will usually have at least one (if not more) of the following tags. These are placed for easier management of the guide. Explanations of these tags follow:
- : A Core mod is considered essential to the full guide build and should always be included.
- : Tools are, as their name implies, tools used in the modding process. Instructions for their use can be found either on the Prerequisites Page or elsewhere on the internet. Special Use instructions will be presented as they are needed.
- : These mods are considered optional to the overall build. However, because of the nature of this guide, it will likely affect the rest of the guide's install process in some way. Removal of these mods can be done but may require more work to either remove dependencies (IE, cleaning masters from Conflict Resolution patches later) or to simply not install related files (iNeed patches wouldn't be needed if not installing iNeed, for example). No alternate instructions are provided for cases where you choose not to install these mods. If this is your first install of the guide, again, it is strongly advised to install these first and only remove them later after you have verified a working and stable install.
- : These mods are a 'high-quality' visual modification aimed at users with a higher-end system. It can be used by those with lower-end systems, but the visual improvement may not be worth the performance hit.
- : Mods with this flag need to have their BSA assets extracted via the Mod Organizer 2 BSA extractor. This is often because these mods are involved in a merge later, which requires the assets to be loose files instead. Instructions for this process can be found in the "BSA Extraction" section later on this page.
- : These mods were designed and intended for use with Skyrim: Legacy Edition (AKA, LE or sometimes Oldrim). They still work with the Special Edition but may require some file manipulation to make it work as intended with the guide.
- : As a follow on to the tag, some ESP files need to be converted in the Creation Kit to the newer record forms of the Special Edition. This tag denotes those mods. The instructions for doing so are located later on this page.
- : These mods have textures and meshes that need optimization and will be run through the Cathedral Assets Optimizer. Instructions for this process will be found in the "Cathedral Assets Optimizer" section later on this page.
- : These mods are part of a merged mod that will be created late in the guide. It is informational only and does not require any additional actions until instructed to do so on the Merge Page.
- : Some mod's ESP files can be flagged as ESL files instead, effectively saving one of the 254 available ESP slots in the load order. This tag notes a mod whose ESP can be so flagged. Instructions for this process can be found on the Mod List.
Before starting to install any of the mods in the list, it is first important to put the game into a stable state and make a few quick changes to the main Bethesda files to ensure no conflicts in the vanilla game exist - yes, Bethesda's own DLC creates some conflicts. If you are a long time Bethesda game player, this should not surprise you.
But before we get started...
A Quick Word From Lexy
Before we get started a quick word from your friendly neighborhood mad lady.
- Your game MAY APPEAR BROKEN and Loot will not sort correctly until you complete the entire guide.
- Do not add or remove other mods before completing the guide.
- Do carefully read and follow every word of the guide.
- Do not deviate.
- Trust the guide!
- You have to be willing to teach yourself how to use all of the modding tools used in this guide.
- This guide will completely change your game, and it may appear broken at times.
- Read each mod’s Nexus description so you know what you are installing!
- This guide is unlike any other guide because it has many custom patches to make hundreds of mods work together.
Trust in the madness that is Darkladylexy...
Bethesda Main Files
Needless to say, you need to actually have the game downloaded and installed. Additionally, you will need the Creation Kit, which will require an account on Bethesda.net if you don't have one already.
DO NOT install this in any UAC controlled folder structure. This includes x:/Program Files, x:/Program Files(x86), and the main Windows directory. It is, instead, advised to install the game (and, really, Steam itself) ANYWHERE other than there. Idealy, it would be on a separate SSD drive from your Operating System, but if that's not feasible, at least ensure that UAC is either turned off completely (not recommended for basic users) or installed outside of it's control. This also applies to ANY tools or programs other than the base game, with the important note that they SHOULD NOT (despite what some old tutorials may say) be installed into the Skyrim: SE base folder unless specifically directed to do so.
- Skyrim Special Edition v1.5.80
- Creation Kit v2.0 (This is to create your account, if you do not have one. The actual download link will be provided later on.)
Some users have reported issues between the Steam Overlay and Skyrim:SE. For this reason, the guide recommends disabling the Overlay. Note that this will also disable Achievements in Steam, as the Overlay is the portion of Steam that monitors for these events in-game. If you want Achievements, skip this step, but be aware that there may be unexpected issues.
- Special Instructions:
Disable the Steam Overlay by: 1. Load Steam. 2. In the Tool bar at the top of the left hand side Click Steam. 3. In the Dropdown menu Click Settings. 4. Then in the popup box find where it says In-Game. 5. Uncheck Enabled the Steam overlay while in-game then click OK. Alternately, if you wish to disable the Overlay for Skyrim:SE only: 1. Load Steam. 2. Click LIBRARY. 3. On your Games list look for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Editon and Right Click. 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.
Initial Skyrim Configuration
With Skyrim now installed to a proper, mod-friendly location, we now need to set its initial settings as a base to build on. The next step is very important... in fact, it's vital - without taking these steps, Skyrim will not truly be fully installed, as it is only at this point that the Windows Registry entries for the game are created, which allows it to be seen by other programs, such as Mod Organizer 2. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
1. Open Steam. 2. Start Skyrim: Special Edition through the Steam launcher. 3. In the Skyrim:SE launcher that appears, click on OPTIONS. 4. In the menu that appears, click on the [ULTRA] push button. 5. Set the Aspect Ratio and Resolution through the drop-down menu. For best results, these should be set to your monitor's native resolution and aspect. 6. Set Antialiasing to [OFF]. This will be set up through the nVidia Profile that will be setup later. If you use an AMD card, there should be equivalent settings, but you will have to determine this on your own. 7. Set Full Screen Mode by ensuring that Windowed Mode is not checked. 8. Click on [OK] to close and save the settings. 9. Close the Skyrim:SE launcher.
These base settings will be further modified later in the Prerequisites when we use BETHIni.
Creation Kit Configuration
If you are using Windows Defender Firewall and find that the Creation Kit crashes during initial load, try adding an Outbound rule in Windows Defender Firewall. This has allowed normal loading for most users.
For those who are more visually oriented, check here for a video demonstration of the CK installation by Darkfox127.
Bethesda's Creation Kit is a valuable tool for Skyrim:SE, as it allows users to create and/or edit mods. It is possible to fix or change things in the CK that are not possible with 3rd Party tools. Similar to Skyrim:SE, the Creation Kit does not have a default INI file until it is started for the first time and requires some basic setup to work properly with the intended guide purposes.
For this guide, the Creation Kit will only be used only for mod conversion from older Skyrim:LE mods that are in form 43 to the newer form 44 used by Skyrim:SE. This process will be described later, on the same page as the main guide list for easier reference.
1. Download and install Bethesda.net Launcher. 2. Run the Launcher and sign in. If you did not create an account earlier, do so now. 3. In the left pane, locate the icon for "Creation", which should look greyed-out. 4. Click on the "Creation" icon and select Install. 5. After completion of the installation, click on launch. 6. In the pop-up that appears, select YES. 7. Close the Creation Kit program.
Some users have reported that the Creation Kit hangs (goes unresponsive) during shutdown. This is semi-expected, and once Windows reports it as unresponsive, you can safely shut down the program via a forced shut-down with no side effects. This applies to any process that involves the CK.
A few additional edits need to me made before the Creation Kit is ready to be used for the conversion process. Fortunately, we've made things a little easier for you.
1. Download this custom replacer file for CreationKitCustom.ini. 2. Extract the file to Steam\steamapps\common\Skyrim Special Edition -OR- the installed location of Skyrim:SE if different.
NEXUS policy forbids us from directly linking to version 1.5.3 of the Creation Kit, which is needed to properly convert the files. Refer to either the STEP version of the guide here, or inquire on the DISCORD channel linked at the top of this page.
No settings will be changed in the Creation Kit after this point. The changes noted above allow for:
- The loading of mods that have multiple master files.
- The proper loading of all DLC content.
The scripts archive in the DATA folder can remain in place after the script extraction done during installation. They case no harm, have no additional affect on the game itself or the Creation Kit, and can be safely ignored.
SSE CreationKit Fixes
1. Manually extract the contents of this file. 2. Move the contents just extracted into your main Skyrim:SE installation folder.
Author's notes: Various patches and bug fixes for the Creation Kit to make life easier.
- Make sure you have v1.5.3 of the Creation Kit. This can be verified by opening the Creation Kit, selecting Help -> About, and looking at the top of the window that opens.
3rd Party Tools
With the official content (with small alterations) now installed, it's time to start getting the rest of the needed tools. Pay attention to all special instructions, as these are vital to proper operation of these tools.
Skyrim Script Extender
- Install only the following files to the main Skyrim Special Edition:
1. skse64_1_5_80.dll 2. skse64_loader.exe 3. skse64_steam_loader.dll
- DO NOT delete the main archive at this time.
DO NOT install the script files of SKSE at this time. These will be installed as part of the set up for Mod Organizer 2 as a demonstration of how to install a mod from an archive.
Lexy's Notes: 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.
Lexy Notes: Most mod authors save their mod packages using 7Zip files. This will allow your system to open and extract the files.
Mod notes: The programs allows you to sort and optimize your Load Order.
- 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. Select 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.
The placement of groups in relation to each other in LOOT can vary somewhat. So long as the arrows are connecting the proper nodes with arrows pointing in the proper direction, the setup is correct.
Author's notes: Mator Smash is a tool that generates conflict resolution patches, similar to Wrye Bash's Bashed Patch.
- xEdit needs to be setup for proper usage with the guide.
1. Open xEdit from it's installed location (setting it up for use through MO2 will be covered later.) 2. On the plug-in selection screen, select OK. 3. Allow xEdit to completely load (indicated by the phrase "Background Loader: Finished" at the bottom of the screen). 4. Right-click on any plugin shown. 5. In the right-click menu, select Other -> Options. 6. In the window that appears, uncheck Simple Records LAND, NAVI, NAVM, CELL, WRLD (Requires Restart). 7. Click OK. 8. Exit xEdit.
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.
xEdit will create a Cache Folder which will be found in Mod Organizer 2's overwrite folder (located at the very bottom of the left pane, below all installed mods). It is recommended to create a mod out of this and having it active in the left pane, as this will help speed up SSEEdit load times. This can be done by right-clicking on the Overwrite entry and selecting Create Mod and providing an appropriate name.
Author's notes: 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.
Cathedral Assets Optimizer
Author's notes: Cathedral Assets Optimizer is a tool aiming to automate asset conversion and optimization for Skyrim Special Edition.
Lexy notes: Instructions for set up and use of this tool will be provided on the main guide list page for easier reference during mod installation.
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 below.
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.
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.
Author's notes: The function of this tool is to manage mods and create Bashed Patches. Bashed Patches merge the leveled lists from the installed mods, among other functions. For the purposes of this guide, only the Bashed Patch functionality will be used for game settings management.
Author's Notes: This tool is similar to SSEEdit.
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
- Extract 'experiencePatcher' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod adds compatibility to Experience so the kills function will work on all NPCs.
UPF No Dragon LODs Patcher
- Extract 'hishy-no-dragon-lods' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod applies the No Dragon LODs effect.
- Extract 'hishyNpcEnchantFix' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod is a simple port of ASIS' NPC Enchant Fix that will work with zEdit.
UPF Opposite Animation Disabler
- Extract 'oppositeAnimationDisabler' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: A Unified Patching Framework (UPF) patcher that disables the 'Opposite Gender Anim' flag on all affected NPCs.
UPF Cell Encounter Level in Name Patcher
- Extract 'hishyCellEncounters' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod adds the Encounter Zone's level to the text you see before you enter the zone.
UPF Khajiit Ears Show Patcher
- Extract 'hishy-khajiit-ears-show' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod will allow all Khajiit to show their ears when wearing helmets.
zEdit patchers warehouse
- Extract 'zedit-spell-absorb-fix' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
- Extract 'zedit-visual-transfer' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
- Extract 'zedit-water-damage' into the 'modules' sub-directory of zEdit.
Author's notes: This mod is a small collection of zEdit Patchers.
Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017
C++ Redistributables are commonly installed alongside programs that require them, but on the off chance that the particular files you need have not been installed, a link is provided here.
[Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017]
Lexy Notes: This tool is required for Mod Organizer 2 to function properly
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.
Mod Organizer 2
Lexy notes: This is the tool we'll actually be using to download, install and manage mods.
- 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 by:
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.
- 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.
- 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). Premium account, with no bandwidth cap, are availible. 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 Geneal 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.
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.
Mod Organizer 2: 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.
- 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.
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.
- xEdit, Mator Smash, 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. A New executable should have been added to your current list click on it. 4. In the Title line, enter SSEEdit. 5. In the Binary line, click the [...] button at the end of the line. 6. In the Windows folder that opens, navigate to and double-click on SSEEdit.EXE in its installed location. 7. Ensure no optional checkboxes are checked. 8. Click the Add button. SSEEdit should appear in the list at the top of the window. 9. Repeat steps 2 through 5, entering "SSEEdit - Quick Auto Clean" as the Title. This second instance will be used only for cleaning of plugin files, and will be explained further later in the guide. 10. In the Arguments line, add -quickautoclean. 11. Repeat step 6. SSEEdit - Quick Auto Clean should appear in the list. 12. Repeat steps 2 through 6 for Mator Smash, Wrye Bash, and zEdit, selecting the appropriate binary in each case. No arguments are needed for these entries. 13. After all programs have been added, click on Close on the Modify Executables window.
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.
- 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.
- 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
To this point, we have installed and setup Mod Organizer 2 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.
- No profile for "Lexy's LOTD:SE" exists.
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.
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 system - even if you delete it, the file will be regenerated. It is otherwise safe to ignore.
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.
- 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.
DO NOT continue past this point unless you are certain that SKSE is correctly installed.
Mod Organizer 2 Plugins
To make some of the processes easier when we get to merging plugins late in the guide, deorder has created a plugin for MO2 that will hide unneeded mod plugins after merge creation. We will use this to clean up the load order significantly after all downloads are completed. Additional instructions will be provided for its use when we get there, but for now we will simply install it.
Merge Plugins Hide
- Merge Plugins Hide needs to be installed to a proper location and setup to work with the guide.
1. Manually download the above linked file to an easily accessible location. 2. Extract all files in the archive to the plugins folder inside your Mod Organizer 2 install folder. 3. Load Mod Organizer 2 (or reload, if it was running prior to installing the files). 4. Press the Options button in the main toolbar. 5. Select the Plugins tab. 6. Scroll down the list until you locate Merge Plugins Hide. 7. In the right pane of the window, change Hide Type to optional. 8. Click on OK.
This change to the setup alters how the plugins will be hidden from the Virtual File System of MO2. In the default setting, the plugin will change the extension on the file to .mohidden, which is a native change that MO2 itself allows for. By changing it to optional, the plugin will instead create a new folder inside the mod's file structure called optional and then move the plugins into that folder. This makes it far easier to retrieve if, for some reason, the plugin can not be restored to use through the plugin itself. Additionally, it prevents any potential problems relating to the changing of file extension names, which can corrupt files on occasion.
Author's notes: This is a Plugin for Mod Organizer 2 that allows you to hide Plugins easier after they have been merged.
Cleaning the Bethesda ESM Files
Ensure that BOTH VERSIONS of the xEdit executables directed earlier have been created, as they will be needed for this portion of the process. This step is important to ensure as close to an error-free base version of Skyrim as is possible.
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 if playing a mostly vanilla game. For a heavily modified game, however, they can have a non-desired 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.
- 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 area: Update.esm, Dawnguard.esm, HearthFires.esm, and Dragonborn.esm.
- Bethesda 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.
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, 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 (the entire record) and Block 8 -> Sub-Block 1 (the entire sub-block). 15. Close xEdit by clicking the "X" in the program's title bar.
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 (pronounced "Bethany") was developed by DoubleYou of the STEP Forums to clear out, organize, and make changes to the default Skyrim.INI files.
Author's notes: BethINI (pronounced "Bethany") is an attempt to restore decency to the INI configuration files for games created by Bethesda.
BethINI should never be run from MO2's executables drop-down. Run BethINI only from its installed folder.
Run BethINI and verify/change the following selections in the noted tabs. If a setting is not mentioned, then leave it in its default condition.
- In the Setup Tab
1. Select the profile you intend to use (the profile we set up earlier) via the INI Path setting. Your profiles should be auto-detected. 2. After profile selection, BethINI will require a restart.
- In the Basic Tab
1. Click on the button labeled Default. This will refresh the INI files to default settings for your system, using minimal tweaks. 2. Click on the button labeled High. Users with more powerful computers can use the Ultra setting, if desired. 3. Verify that BethINI Preset is checked. 4. Verify that Recommended Tweaks is checked. 5. Verify that Windowed Mode is checked. 6. Verify that Borderless is checked. 7. Verify that FXAA is checked. 8. Verify that Antialiasing is set to None. 9. Verify that VSync is not checked. 10. Verify that Lock Frame Rate is not checked.
- In the General Tab
1. Verify that Intro Logos is not checked. 2. Verify that Post-Load Update Time is set to 2000.
- In the Gameplay Tab
1. Verify that Over-Encumbered Reminder is set to 60. 2. Verify that NPC Use Ammo is checked. 3. Verify that 1st Person Arrow Tilt-up Angle is set to 0.7. 4. Verify that 3rd Person Arrow Tilt-up Angle is set to 0.7. 5. Verify that 1st Person Bolt Tilt-up Angle is set to 0.7.
- In the Interface Tab
1. Verify that Bethesda Modding Platform is not checked. 2. Verify that Mouse Settings -> Lock Sensitivity is set to 0.0125.
- In the Detail Tab
1. Verify that Field of View is set to 85. This assumes you are using a 16:9 monitor setup - if you are using ultra-wide or other aspect ratios, set as appropriate. 2. Verify that Particles is set to 2000. 3. Verify that Depth of Field is checked. 4. Verify that Lens Flare is not checked. 5. Verify that Reflect Sky is checked. 6. Verify that Ambient Occlusion is set to Full. 7. Verify that Shadow Resolution is set to 2048. 8. Verify that Sun-Shadow Update Time is set to 0. 9. Verify that Sun-Shadow Update Threshold is set to 2.0. 10. Verify that Improved Shader is not checked.
- In the View Distance Tab
1. Verify that Grass Fade is set to 18000.
- In the Visuals Tab
1. Verify that Grass Density is set to 60. 2. Verify that Grass Diversity is set to 15.
- In the Basic Tab
1. Save and Exit.
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):
- In Skyrim.INI
Under [Display] 1. fShadowDirectionalBiasScale=0.47 Under [Grass]: 1. bGrassPointLighting=1 2. iMaxGrassTypesPerTexure=15 (The 't' missing from texture is intentional, and NOT a typo.) 3. iMinGrassSize=60 Under [SaveGame]: 1. bDisableAutoSave=1 2. bAllowScriptedForceSave=0 3. bAllowScriptedAutoSave=0
- In SkyrimPrefs.INI
Under [Controls] 1. bMouseAcceleration=0 Under [Display] 2. fInteriorShadowDistance=3000 Under [Grass] 3. b30GrassVS=0 Under [Main] 4. bSaveOnPause=0 5. bSaveOnRest=0 6. bSaveOnTravel=0 7. bSaveOnWait=0
You may have noticed that these settings disable all automatic saving features of Skyrim - due to certain odd choices by Bethesda, it is advised that you NOT use Quick Saves or Automatic Saves, and instead create new saves every time... especially in a heavily modded lineup such as this one. Again, to be clear, this is NEW save games... do NOT overwrite old ones.
- In SkyrimCustom.INI
The SkyrimCustom.ini is a creation of BethINI, and can be used to overwrite settings in the Skyrim.INI. This guide does not make use of this functionality. With this in mind, delete all entries in this file (make this window completely blank.)
One additional file must be created to ensure that all works as it should. SKSE needs an INI as well, and it does not exist by default - therefore, we will make it.
- No SKSE.INI File exists.
1. In the Mod Organizer 2 left pane, locate and right-click on the SKSE Scripts mod. 2. In the right-click menu, select Open In Explorer. 3. In the window that opens, create a new folder called SKSE. 4. In the SKSE folder, create a new text file called SKSE.INI. Ensure that you are able to see file extensions in Windows, or you may inadvertently create a file called SKSE.INI.TXT, which is less than desirable.
- SKSE.INI is blank.
Paste the following into the blank SKSE.INI file: [General] ClearInvalidRegistrations=1 [Display] iTintTextureResolution=2048
These two lines will allow for the self-correction of rogue scripting updates in save games. Save and close the SKSE.INI file, and then close the Explorer window.
Although mentioned early in the guide, it is VITAL that xLODGen NOT be installed in the main Skyrim SE directory or the Mod Organizer 2 Mods folder to ensure that the program can run correctly.
- Install SSE-Terrain-Tamriel.ESM as its own mod entry in Mod Organizer 2. This file will be used only once in the entire guide (during xLODGen's run) and will be otherwise ignored. Activate the mod, but ensure that the ESM file (in the right pane) is DISABLED until it is needed. Instructions will be given when it is needed.
- Extract the contents of the xLODGen-51 archive to a location that is NOT the main Skyrim SE folder or the Mod Organizer 2 mods folder.
- Using the earlier provided instructions, add xLODGenx64.exe as an executable in Mod Organizer 2. In the Arguments line, enter the following: -sse -o:"<Drive Letter>\SSELODGen_Output"
As an example, if your intended outputs path is "E:\SSELODGEN_Output\", than the arguments line would read -sse -o:"E:\SSELODGen_Output"
Author's notes: This is a utility used to generate LOD meshes and textures "exactly" like CK.
- Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to a folder of your choice. Note that, as with all other tools, this SHOULD NOT be in the Skyrim main directory or the Mod Organizer 2 directory system. This folder's name should be easily recognizable to you, but otherwise does not matter.
- Once extracted (installed), open Mod Organizer 2 and create executables (using the previous instructions) for TexGenx64 and DynDOLODx64. Each executable should have -sse entered into its arguments line.
Author's notes: This is a utility used to create a mod based on the load order, which adds custom, distant LOD for objects to Skyrim.
In a previous step, we installed zEdit. zEdit is a mini-suite of tools, only two of which we will actually use in the guide - zEdit itself, and zMerge. The tool you use is selected on the first window interface when loading the program, so be sure to note which portion of the program you need when you load up zEdit.
We will now setup zMerge to properly create merged mods late in the guide process.
1. Run zEdit from the MO2 executables drop-down menu. 2. In the window that opens, select zMerge and the profile you wish to use (should always be Skyrim: Special Edition, unless otherwise directed). 3. Click on Start Session 4. In the window that appears, locate and click on the cog (gear) icon in the upper right corner. A new popup window should appear. 5. In the left pane, click on Integration Settings. If this option does not appear, you have likely opened zEdit instead of zMerge. Close out of the program and reload in zMerge mode. 6. In the right pane, under Mod Manager, select Mod Organizer 2. 7. In the right pane, under MO2 Instance, select Portable. 8. In the right pane, under Mod Manager Path, fill in the file path to your MAIN MO2 install folder. 9. In the right pane, under Mod Manager Mods Path, fill in the file path to the mods folder (which should be located inside your main MO2 install folder). 10. In the left pane, click on Merge Settings. 11. In the right pane, under Merge Output Path, fill in the file path to where your MO2 mods folder is (this should match the file path in step 9). 12. In the right pane, uncheck Disable Plugins. 13. In the left pane, click on Archive Creation Settings. 14. In the right pane, under Advanced, change "Minimum Files Per Archive" to 999999. 15. In the right pane, under Advanced, ensure that "Create Texture Archive" is not checked. 16. Click on OK. 17. Close zMerge.
For the more visually oriented, here is a series of pictures that may help you to setup zMerge if you are having problems.
The guide currently employs portions of the ReShade suite instead of an ENB for reasons of system impact. If you prefer to install an ENB, you may do so with NO IMPACT on the overall guide installation by skipping this section. If you need assistance with ENB installation or tweaking, there is a channel on the Discord server (linked at the top of every page of this guide) where you can find any assistance you need.
- The ReShade Suite has a slightly unusual installation package. Install ReShade by:
1. Run the ReShade installation executable file. 2. In the window that appears, click on Select game to install.... 3. Navigate to and select your SkyrimSE.exe file. This will be located in your Skyrim SE main folder. 4. In the original window, select Direct3D 10+. It will already be selected by default, but will need to be clicked on again to advance the process. 5. When asked if you wish to download a standard set of shaders, select Yes. 6. In the window that appears, place checkmarks beside the following items: Finesharp.fx, LevelsPlus.fx, LumaSharpen.fx, and Vibrance.fx. 7. Close the shader selection. In the original window, the word "Succeeded!" should be visible in the upper left corner.
BTS - Beautifully Textured Skyrim ReShade Preset
- This file is a preset for the previously installed shaders, but requires manual install.
1. Extract the archive to your Main Skyrim SE Folder.
Author's notes: The aim of this preset is simple: to boost texture detail, while preserving Skyrim Special Edition's original colours and lighting - or those of whichever mods you're running.
Manual INI Editing Required:
- In the files indicated, make the noted changes:
Skyrim.ini [Display] fGlobalBloomThresholdBoost=5.0000 (Add new entry). SkyrimPrefs.ini [Display] bSAOEnable=1 (Verify this value).
- With ReShade and a Preset installed, setup ReShade to use the Preset.
1. Run Skyrim. 2. When the main menu appears, press the 'Home' key (default) to load the ReShade GUI Menu. 3. In the 'Home' Tab, choose BTS ReShade.ini in the drop-down menu at the top of the GUI. 4. Press the 'Home' key again to close the ReShade GUI. 5. Exit Skyrim.
GPU Driver Settings
The settings below assume you are using a nVidia based GPU. Users with Radeon or other GPUs will need to seek additional information on how to set similar settings.
The settings below are very system-dependent. They are based on Lexy's system, and may need tweaking or alteration to accommodate your own system. Further information can be obtained by asking on the Discord Server.
The final portion of the setup for this guide will lock in some graphics-related settings for best use with the game and guide. There are two ways to make these changes - either by downloading a provided profile or making the changes manually. The latter selection is recommended for those who have made changes to these settings in other games before and wish to keep those changes. If this is a first time install, downloading the provided profile will likely be easier.
NVIDIA Profile Inspector
Extract the download to any convenient location - this does not include (nor require) an installer, and can be run from any location on your system.
- FOR INSTALLING VIA THE DOWNLOAD:
1. Download the provided profile at this location. 2. Load nvidiaProfileInspector.exe. 3. In the window that appears, next to the line beginning with "Driver Version" is a square button with a green icon in it. Click this button (this is the Profile Inspector). 4. In the new window, in the toolbar at the top is an icon of a box with a green arrow pointing downwards. Click on this button, then "Import Profiles" in the drop-down that appears. 5. In the window that appears, navigate to and select the profile you downloaded in step 1. The profile is now installed. It is a good idea to verify that all settings are correct, but it is not required. Settings can be found in the manual settings list below.
- FOR MANUAL SETTINGS CHANGE:
1. Load nvidiaProfileInspector.exe. 2. In the window that appears, next to the line beginning with "Driver Version" is a square button with a green icon in it. Click this button (this is the Profile Inspector). 3. Use the search bar and navigate to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. 4. Set the following options as indicated: Under 2 - Sync and Refresh Frame Rate Limiter to 58. (Select 58 in the drop-down menu.) Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames to 1. Vertical Sync to Force On. NOTE: Setting VSync here appears more stable on most systems, however it can also be set in both the game itself and (if installed) the ENB settings. It must be set in one of these three locations for the game to function properly. Under 3 - Antialiasing Antialiasing - Mode to Enhance the Application Setting. Antialiasing - Setting to 4x [4x Multisampling]. Under 4 - Texture Filtering Anisotropic Filtering Mode to User-Defined/Off. Anisotropic Filtering Setting to 16x. Anisotropic Sample Optimization to On. Negative LOD Bias to Clamp. Quality to High Quality. This setting may be lowered, if needed. Trilinear Optimization to On. This setting is ignored if using High Quality.
The Journey of a Thousand Steps begins...
Congratulations - you've completed the tool installation and setup for the guide, and hopefully picked up a few bits of new knowledge along the way. Now, it's time to actually start downloading all of the mods required by the guide.
On to the actual mod list...