Adding a Follower NPC to Skyrim

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This tutorial shows all the main steps you need to follow to add a follower NPC to Skyrim.

Required tools

  • Creation Kit: available on Steam (Menu option View -> Tools and then select Creation Kit)

Add a Follower NPC

The main steps for adding a follower to Skyrim are:

  1. Create the NPC's appearance
  2. Set the NPC statistics
  3. Assign the right factions to your NPC
  4. Create the follower - player relationship
  5. Place the NPC in the world

Create the NPC's appearance

Importing an existing face
Fixing the NPC face colour

The easiest way for adding new content, including new characters, for Skyrim with the Creation Kit is to copy an existing object and that is what we are going to do in this tutorial. So, we are going to use an existing NPC as a template for creating the new one.

  1. In the Object window expand the menu Actor and choose any of the existing NPCs.
  2. Double click on the selected NPC and a window will pop-up like the one shown in picture Importing an existing face.
  3. Change the NPC ID, Name and Short Name (the fields at the top left of the window) and type new values for your follower.
  4. Press the OK button, the CK will ask you if you want to create a new form: answer Yes.
  5. Now look for the NPC you've just created, and double click on it to open the NPC details window again.

Use the face of your player character for the NPC

I've decided to use the face of one of my player characters for my follower, to do this:

  1. Launch the game and load a savegame of the character whose face you want to use.
  2. Open the console and type spf + the name of the file where you want the face to be stored (for example, spf MyPC).
  3. This will save a file in the Skyrim main folder with the name you've typed + the extension .npc (in the example, it will create a file called MyPC.npc).

Back to the Creation Kit:

  1. Open the NPC details window again and go to the Character Gen Parts tab as shown in picture Importing an existing face.
  2. Press the Import button and select the face of your PC you've saved before. You'll see that the face of your follower NPC will be now the one of your player character.
  3. In this tab you can adjust some of the features of the NPC like hair style and colour, eye colour, etc. You can see the changes in the preview window (check the Head flag to see them). In the Character Gen Morphs tab you can change also other characteristics of your NPC's face.
    Note: The preview window doesn't work if your mouse is set for the left hand. You won't be able to rotate the face. To be able to do that change temporarily your mouse settings to work for the right hand and once you are done you can revert the mouse settings to the left hand.

Using a custom hair for your NPC

To use a custom hair for your NPC there are two available methods:

  1. Make your plugin dependant on the mod that contains the hair you want to use
  2. Add the hair you want to use directly on your mod making it standalone

Note: Be aware that if you want to redistribute your follower mod and you don't have the original author permission to use his hair assets, you must always follow the first method.

Make your plugin dependant on the other mod
Convert an esp to an esm
Edit master files
Edit master files II

If the mod that containes the hair you want to use is not an esm the first thing is to make it into one. If it is already an esm file, then you can skip this part. To do that you can use TESVSnip and follow these steps:

  1. Open the hairs esp file in TESVSnip (Select the menu option File -> Open and then select the hairs esp file)
  2. Expand the file
  3. Double click on the TES4 record and a window like the one shown in picture Convert an esp to an esm will pop up.
  4. Check the 0x00000001 (Esm file) flag and press the button Save.
  5. Save the hairs plugin as an esm by selecting File -> Save, enter a name for the modified plugin and select type Master file (.esm)

Now you can go back to the CK:

  1. Load into the CK both your follower esp file and the hairs esm file, setting your followers esp file as the active file.
  2. Edit your character and select the hair from the list of available hairs. You'll see that now the hairs added bu the hair mod are available for selection.
  3. Press the OK button to save the changes on your NPC and closing the NPC editor window.
  4. Save the plugin

Once you have completely finished editting your esp file, if the original hair mod was an esp file, you will want to make your follower mod dependant on the original esp file (and not on the esm file you've created as nobody will have that file but you!) To do that:

  1. Open your follower esp file in TESVSnip
  2. Expand the file
  3. Select the TES4 record as shown in picture Edit master files. In the example you see my plugin depends on three master files: Skyrim.esm, Update.esm and TemptressVixen.esm
  4. On the bottom right section, select the Plugin dependencies node of the file you want to change (in my example it was TemptressVixen.esm, so I chose the node MAST 19).
  5. Double click on the node and a window like the one shown in picture Edit master files II will pop up.
  6. Change the name of the esm master file to the original name of the esp that contains the hair (in my example it is TemptressVixen.esp), and press the Save button.
  7. Save your follower mod by selecting File -> Save.

Now your follower mod depends on the original hair esp file.

Fix the NPC face colour

If the CK didn't had a bug related to new NPC faces (their face colour doesn't match their body colour) your work will be ended here. But until the CK is fixed there is still another step to do.

The only way of making your NPCs face look right is to follow this steps:

  1. Load your esp plugin into the CK and wait until the CK has finished loading everything.
  2. Locate your follower NPC and open his details window.
  3. Go to the Character Gen Parts tab and change something there, for example the hair used by your character. Then you can change it again to the previous hair.
  4. Press the OK button to close the NPC details window.
  5. Locate your NPC again in the Objects window, select him and press Ctrl + F4. The CK will ask you if you want to export the face gen data for your NPC, answer Yes and wait until it is done.
  6. This will have generated two texture and one mesh file:
    1. The textures will be located in the folder: \textures\actors\character\facegendata\facetint\MyPlugin.esp\ (with the name of your esp file instead of MyPlugin.esp). One of them is a .tga file and the other a .dds file. You can delete the .tga
    2. The mesh will be located in the folder: \meshes\actors\character\FaceGenData\FaceGeom\MyPlugin.esp\
  7. Close the CK without saving the changes as you only wanted the texture and mesh files that have already been generated.

Now your follower's face will have the same colour than his body.

You will have to repeat this process everytime you change something about your follower's appearance, like the hair he uses, to fix his face colour again.

Set the NPC statictics

NPC Disposition
NPC Statistics
NPC Combat behaviour
NPC outfit and inventory
NPC daily routine

Some useful parameters that you can adjust for your NPC are:

On the Traits tab:

  1. Select the follower's voice
  2. Set the follower's height. This value indicates a percentage of the standard height of the NPC race. This means that if your NPC is a female nord and you set her height to 1.10, her height will be 110% times the standard height of nord females.
  3. Set the follower's weight. This value is equivalent to the weight slider used for creating your player character in game.
  4. Set the follower's disposition: set this to 75 or higher (as shown in picture NPC Disposition) as this is the minimum required value that displays the dialogue line that allows you to recruit him.

On the Stats tab:

  1. Defining if he can be killed or not:
    1. If you check the Protected flag, nobody will be able to kill your follower except the player character.
    2. If you check the Essential flag, nobody will be able to kill your follower not even the player character.
  2. Defining if he will level up with your character:
    1. On the Stats tab check the PC Level Mult flag if you want your follower to level up as shown in picture NPC Statistics. You can also set the minimum and maximum level he can reach (from 10 to 0 in the picture). If you set the maximum level to 0, your follower will level with your character without any level cap.
  3. Set the Health, Magicka and Stamina Offset values. I've set them to 50 as those are the values set for the player character, but you can set them to any values you want.
  4. Set the NPC class. The class you choose will determine the points your follower has in each skill, so choose the class taking into account what kind of combat style you cant for him. In the example I've chosen the CombatScout class as I want my follower to be good at archery, sneak and two-handed.

On the AI Data tab:

  1. Set how your follower behaves when in combat as shown in picture NPC Combat behaviour.
  2. Set the Agression level by selecting one of the available values. Choosing Unaggressive your follower won't engage combat most of the times and if you set it to Frenzied he will attack everything on sight. An average level is recommended.
  3. Set the Mood: this only affects the default expression on your follower's face.
  4. Set the Confidence level: if set it to Cowardly your follower will fly combat very easily, and if set it to Foolhardy he won't leave combat even when heavily wounded.
  5. Set the Assistance level: this indicates when your follower will engage in combat. Here I recommend to set it to Help Friends and Allies.
  6. Set the Morality level: set it to Any Crime if you are going to commit crimes and you don't want to have your follower turning against you ;)
  7. Choose the Combat style: the combat style you choose will determine the favourite combat style of your follower: ranged, melee, magic, and so on.

On the Inventory tab:

  1. Set the outfit your follower is wearing the first time you meet him:
    1. Select the Default Outfit from the drop-down list: these are the clothes your follower will be wearing as shown in picture NPC outfit and inventory.
  2. Add anything you want to his inventory by dragging and dropping objects from the Object window to the Inventory list.

On the AI Packages tab:

  1. Set your follower's daily routine:
    1. Add the packages that containe the daily routine for your follower . These packages will tell him when and where to eat, sleep, walk, and so on.
    2. To add a package just select it from the Object window (they are all under Character -> Package) and drag and drop it into the AI Package list. As I want my follower to stay always at the same place to be easy to found him in game I've given my NPC the DefaultSandboxCurrentLocation1024 package as shown in picture NPC daily routine.

Assign the right factions to your NPC

Follower factions

The most important thing you have to do is to assign the right factions to your NPC or you won't be able to recruit him. You assign the factions to an NPC by dragging and dropping factions to the Factions and Ranks list of the Factions tab.

There are two factions that any follower needs to have:

  • CurrentFollowerFaction: this indicates if the follower is now part of your team or is waiting to be recruited. Set the Rank to -1 as shown in picture Follower factions.
  • PotentialFollowerFaction: this will allow your NPC to be recruited.

You can add other factions to your follower. For example, if you want him to be marriageable you can add the PotentialMarriageFaction or if you are going to place him in Markarth it is good to add some of the Markarth related factions to avoid him having problems with the locals ;)

Create the follower - player relationship

Create a new relationship
Follower relationship

Another important thing to add when creating a follower is to add his relationship to the player and set it to Ally, or the recruiting dialogue line won't show up. To do that:

  1. On the Relationships tab, right click on the Relationships box list and select New. A window like the one shown in picture Create a new relationship will appear. On this window:
    1. Enter a new ID that identifies this new relationship
    2. In the Parent NPC box you should see your follower's ID: leave it like this.
    3. In the Child NPC box select Player.
    4. In the Relationship Level box select Ally.
    5. Leave the Associtaion Type box to NONE.
    6. Press the OK button and you'll see that the new relationship now appears on the relationship list box as shown in picture Follower relationship.

Place your NPC in the world

Editting the NPC location

The next step is to place the NPC in the world. To do that:

  1. In the Cell view window select the cell where you are going to place your follower. I decided to place it in the Silver Blood Inn, in Markarth, so I chose the MarkarthSilverBloodInn cell.
  2. Double click on the name of the cell you've selected and wait while the CK loads it in the Render window. Once it is loaded, select an object in the Render window (just select it, don't move anything!) and move around the cell until you find the place where you want to put your container. To move around the cell:
    1. Use the mouse wheel to zoom in or out.
    2. Press the Shift key and move the mouse (without pressing any mouse button) to rotate the view.
    3. Press the Space bar and move the mouse (without pressing any mouse button) to move the cell up, down, right or left.
  3. Select your NPC in the object window and drag and drop it into the cell in the Render view window: now your NPC is in the world but him will be most likely floating above the ground or in a position you don't like. To fix that, the easiest way for me is to:
    1. In the Cell view window, select the copy of your NPC from the list of objects at the right side of this window.
    2. Left click on this copy of your NPC and select Edit from the pop up menu. This will open a window like the one shown in picture Editting the NPC location
    3. In this window, in the Position section change the X, Y o Z values to move your NPC around the cell. Or change the X, Y o Z values of the Rotation section to rotate him. You can see the changes in the Render view window.

After placing your NPC in the world you can always edit his statistics, outfit, factions, face, and so on. You won't need to place him in the world again: any changes you do to the NPC charactersistics will be automatically replicated to the NPC copy you placed in the world.

Save your plugin.