STEP:2.2.8

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STEP v2.2.8


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Changelog   |   Release Date: February 2nd, 2014

Info-Logo.png Notice: This is the Current version of the STEP Guide. Don't forget to visit STEP on the Nexus to download the STEP Patches and to endorse STEP if you are a returning user. Thanks and enjoy the guide!

Contents

- Visit the forums and provide feedback related to STEP.
- Also visit the STEP Facebook page maintained by TheCompiler (Daniel).
- To support hosting and maintenance of the STEP Community Project, contributions are welcome.

Interim Release #2

STEP 2.2.8 marks the second release in bridging our move to a new paradigm that will officially be unveiled as STEP 2.3.0. Thus, this marks our second interim release with a more strict STEP:Core.

The 2.2.8 Guide is more streamlined now. We have set our users onto a fast-track to configuration and installation by trimming out many of the setup details that existed in previous guides. The more detailed information is now linked from within each section, and each section now has a quick-setup blurb applicable to all users, whether upgrading from a previous 2.2.5+ release or installing STEP for the first time. This guide is reliant more on the vanilla configuration in order to get all STEP:Core mods installed as simply and efficiently as possible to achieve a stable and working game. Performance and stability are the focus and quality is secondary. For those interested in polishing STEP (or any modded setup) to optimal quality, be sure to click on the prominent links to the ancillary guides underneath each applicable heading.

Also, STEP now recommends Mod Organizer as the preferred mod manager for modding, as it not only has features that simplify installation and maintenance, but it is the only mod manager that isolates profile-specific mods and configuration files from the actual game resources. This means that there is no chance of the user contaminating or breaking Skyrim game or configuration resources. All mods and altered files are effectively isolated from the default game directories using virtualization (mods) and profiles (configuration). The interface is also intuitive, and the application is under active development. The software is open source, and extensible via third-party plugins.

Finally, STEP:Packs to be installed after a STEP:Core install (all mods flagged by the green indicator) will be linked at the end of this guide for users wishing to add user-contributed functionality to the STEP:Core build. So far there are a few Packs created for STEP, but we expect this number to grow in the near future. Full Pack integration will be rolled out with STEP v2.3.0.

About STEP

A Foreword

Created by TheCompiler, STEP is a collaborative project with input from the modding community, technical volunteers, and project administrators. The goal is to provide tested and validated methods for establishing and maintaining an enhanced modded Skyrim. Thus, the Guide provides detailed, well-tested build instructions for a solid modding template. New modders can follow STEP explicitly, or more experienced modders may use it as general guide.

The STEP team collects information from the modding community through extensive mod testing, detailed reviews, feedback, and suggestions exchanged on the STEP Community Forums. Posting rules apply, so be sure to read and follow them and enjoy a warm welcome and plenty of high-quality support from a large community of experienced STEPers. Check out the comparison screenshots on the Nexus.

Minimum System for STEP:Core

It is tentatively planned that STEP:Core (and Extended, by proxy) will continue to provide a performance-friendly version in tandem with a standard version. Given what we know about the memory limits for 32-bit applications (aka the "3.1 GB limit for Skyrim"). This will most likely entail installation options associated with many of the Core mods and possibly even two performance patches (TBD).

For this release, we recommend the following as a minimum hardware configuration for running STEP:Core (installing "Baseline" versions of "Core" mods only). For those wishing to use higher-quality options and/or to install the non-Core mods (tentatively, STEP:Extended Beta), be advised that a more powerful system is likely necessary. The Baseline install that we recommend will provide the best quality-performance trade-off.

Hardware Minimum Recommended
Windows OS Windows XP Windows 7 or 8
CPU Intel Core i3 (dual core) Intel Core i5/i7 (quad core)
System RAM 4 GB >=8 GB
GPU 1GB VRAM >=2GB VRAM
Monitor Resolution 1366x768 1920x1080



A Brief Note: Chapter Heading Layout

A link to more information related to the heading for users wishing to use a more meticulous route to installing STEP is provided right up front underneath the section heading:

Detailed Information --> Link

Brief, quick-setup instructions follow for users wishing to blow through the guide afap ... that's it!




Info-Logo.png Notice: Baseline (referenced throughout this guide) is the STEP:Core 'Baseline' mods install (see mod tables) and adherence to all of the instructions in this guide, nothing more, nothing less.


NOTE: It is particularly important that novice modders begin with clean installations of Steam & Skyrim in order to be successful with the 'quick' setup first time around, so PLEASE READ EACH SECTION CAREFULLY, as no information included in this guide is irrelevant!

STEP 1

Pre-Installation Setup

1.A. Install Steam & Skyrim

Detailed Information --> Skyrim Installation Guide

This guide assumes that the user is beginning with a clean Skyrim installation. If necessary, please take some time to properly set up and configure Steam and install Skyrim as recommended by the Skyrim Installation Guide before continuing.

1.B. Skyrim Launcher Options

Detailed Information --> Skyrim Launcher Guide

As a quick-start to installing STEP, simply launch Skyrim from Steam to initialize the auto-detection process, accept the preset, and continue to 1.C. Make certain that the preset Antialiasing is no greater than 4x (4 samples); otherwise, keep the preset. This is a conservative preset that will facilitate a smooth game once STEP is configured initially according to this guide (i.e., what does not tax performance now may be burdensome later). More extensive INI tweaking can be done after STEP is set up and verified as running smoothly.

1.C. Install Utilities

1.C.1. Better Oblivion Sorting Software

Better Oblivion Sorting Software (BOSS) is an essential utility for managing mod plugins for Skyrim. The primary function of BOSS is to reorder esp/esm plugins based on a master plugin order list. In addition, BOSS identifies plugins (ESPs/ESMs) that need cleaning with TES5Edit or other special treatment (more on this below), and adds Bash Tags to plugins that are later used by Wrye Bash when creating a bashed patch. Download BOSS and install according to the instructions provided by the author.

1.C.2. Wrye Bash

Detailed Information --> Wrye Bash Guide

Although Wrye Bash is a mod manager, STEP recommends that it only be used as a helper application to Mod Organizer exclusively for the functionality of the Bashed Patch. The reason for the limited support of Wrye Bash is due to simplicity of this guide. Users who wish to use Wrye Bash can easily use that mod manager to install and maintain STEP.

Navigate to the Wrye Bash Nexus page and install "Wrye Bash xxx_x - Installer". Be certain to use the "Standalone Executable" option when prompted during the install.

1.C.3. Mod Organizer

Detailed Information --> Mod Organizer Official Documentation

While mods can be installed manually, it is not recommended. A mod-management utility is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in order to keep track of a complex setup like STEP. These utilities also make it exponentially simpler to deconstruct a STEP install in order to update to a new STEP version, and to update versions of the mods. This is impossible to do simply or efficiently (or even correctly) otherwise.

There are several utilities that may be used to manage the STEP setup; however, STEP now officially supports only Mod Organizer for reasons stated in the guide introduction. For this reason, only Mod Organizer setup will be addressed briefly here. Wrye Bash users can use the Wrye Bash Guide for detailed instructions on setting up that exceedingly excellent modding utility package.

To properly install and setup Mod Organizer for the first time, please do the following:

  1. Download and install the Mod Organizer (MO) installer version (use default settings, but install to your Skyrim game directory).
  2. Run the ModOrganizer application. If you installed Skyrim to a protected directory (e.g., Program Files), you may have to Run as Administrator.
  3. When first started, MO will present a window asking for input to select the game to manage. Select Skyrim, or use the browse function to find the Skyrim game folder if necessary.
  4. First time users will receive a message to show a tutorial. It is highly recommended to do so.
  5. Click the wrench icon Wrench MO.png in the toolbar, and select the Nexus tab.
    • Check "automatically log in" box, insert your Nexus username and password, and click OK.
    • Optionally go to the General tab in Settings and change the style to a theme of your choice (dark.qss is currently the most popular).
  6. Click the globe icon Globe MO.png in the toolbar. This allows MO to download mods when the Download with Manager button is clicked on the Nexus.
  7. If the update icon Update-MO.png is lit up, click it to update Mod Organizer to the latest version.
  8. Click the profiles icon Profiles MO.png in the toolbar and click the Create button.
    • Call the new profile STEP Core, do NOT check the Default Game Settings, and click OK. (STEP Extended and Pack users: Do NOT create the STEP Extended or related Pack profiles yet. Create these after installing STEP Core successfully and by using the Copy profile function. This will save you the hassle of rearranging all your installed mods again.)
  9. Activate the STEP Core profile from the drop-down menu and proceed to 1.D.

1.D. INI Tweaks

Detailed Information --> Skyrim INI Guide

The Skyrim INI files are located in %USERPROFILE%\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\. As in the previous section above, it is highly recommended that no other INI settings be configured at this point, because the conservative presets are a good starting point for accommodating a performance-friendly initial STEP setup. The detailed INI guide can be referenced once a stable setup is verified after completing this guide.

Mod Organizer Guide
Users: The INI configuration files can be accessed directly from within MO by clicking on the Tools icon and selecting either [INI Editor] or [Configurator]. These tools point to the INIs located under <Mod Organizer>\profiles.

The following INI tweaks are recommended for all users and affect gameplay without impacting performance (except minorly where indicated). Create the following at the end of each of the indicated INI sections. Sections are marked by names within square brackets '[ ]', and some of these sections may already exist, but for those that do not, create the section. Carefully check that ...

  1. ... no duplicate entries are created,
  2. that all entries are placed into the correct section, and
  3. that all sections are properly defined
Mod Organizer Guide
Users: Using the Tools > [Configurator] tool prevents any editing mistakes. Open the tool, click [Basic] to get the Advanced options, and choose the applicable section from the combobox. Then find the applicable setting and alter as indicated below. Click the [Save] button after each change and close the dialog when finished.

1.D.1. Skyrim INI

Each of the following entries can be pasted directly into the INI (if editing manually). The entry descriptions are commented, so they will not be interpreted by the game at startup. Alternatively, these descriptions can be omitted.

[General]
sIntroSequence=    ;Disables the intro sequence for a faster startup
fFlickeringLightDistance=8192    ;Helps prevent lighting pop-in
[Display]
;Improves shadow changes as the sun moves through the sky
fSunShadowUpdateTime=0.25    ;Transition time of sun-shadow movement
fSunUpdateThreshold=1.5    ;Time between sun-shadow movement
[Grass]
iMaxGrassTypesPerTexure=3    ;increase grass diversity with a small cost to performance (yes, 'texure' and not 'texture'). Consider setting to 7 if using Skyrim Flora Overhaul.
[Combat]
;Shift the point of aim to the center of the aiming reticule for arrows and crossbows.
f1PArrowTiltUpAngle=0.7 
f3PArrowTiltUpAngle=0.7 
f1PBoltTiltUpAngle=0.7 
f3PBoltTiltUpAngle=0.7
[Actor]
fVisibleNavmeshMoveDist=12288.0000    ;allows arrows to hit objects as far as the appear to fly.

1.D.2. SkyrimPrefs INI

[Display]
iMaxAnisotropy = 0    ;Anisotropic Filtering - set this to zero, as it should be controlled via the graphics driver.
iMultiSample = 4    ;Antialiasing - keep the value set by the Skyrim Launcher for now
iPresentInterval = 0    ;disable vsync! - vsync should be handled in enblocal.ini (see ENBoost mod instructions)
bTreesReceiveShadows=1    ;Enables shadows rendering on trees (insignificant performance impact)
bDrawLandShadows=1    ;Enables shadows rendering on land (insignificant performance impact)
bFloatPointRenderTarget=0    ;Set to 'one' if using deferred shader rendering ENB lighting (NOT supported by STEP). 
NOTE: ENB lighting (not supported by STEP) is not the same as using ENBoost (supported by STEP)!
[Controls]
bMouseAcceleration=0    ;Disable mouse acceleration

1.E. Display & Video Card Settings

Often under-appreciated, display and driver settings have a huge potential impact on graphic quality of Skyrim and anything else that is displayed on the monitor in 2D or 3D. So it is important to get this done correctly. Below are the essentials, and no further tweaking is necessary; although, people will do what they must. Again, it is highly recommended that the bare minimal tweaking be done until after STEP is installed and configured according to the Baseline dictated by this guide.

Update Video Drivers

If there is any reason to believe that the latest drivers are not the latest available or that they are not already installed correctly ...

  1. Download the latest beta or stable AMD drivers / Nvidia drivers.
  2. If installing/re-installing new drivers, download DDU and install it (DDU forum Page).
  3. Boot into safe mode by repeatedly pressing F8 once the boot check initializes and before the OS begins loading (no need to uninstall the current drivers, but it will not hurt at all).
  4. Launch DDU, and select the appropriate driver from the drop-down combobox.
  5. Note the recommendations in DDU and initialize the cleanup.
  6. Reboot normally and install the latest drivers.
Info-Logo.png       Notice:This guide (and the corresponding section in the STEP Guide) assumes that users will not be running ENB (at least not during initial setup of STEP). If ENB will be used after verifying a functional setup, driver-based graphics settings should not invoke ANY of the settings described below. Simply let the application handle everything, as driver-based settings will conflict with ENB.

1.E.1. Configure Driver Settings

Please configure STEP graphics settings without ENB until STEP is configured according to this guide.

STEP has more detailed information in both the AMD-CCC guide as well as the Nvidia Inspector guide, and other AMD-CCC and Nvidia Inspector / Control Center guides exist for the inquisitive user. The following information is minimalistic, sound advice, and users are encouraged to add their own 2 cents for consideration via the AMD-CCC Talk and Nvidia Inspector Talk pages.

In Short - The graphics software should only be forcing max Anisotropic Filtering (AF) (and Supersampling Anti-Aliasing (SSAA) for higher-end cards). All other settings should be left to the Skyrim configuration and ENBoost configurations.

Info-Logo.png       Notice:This guide (and the corresponding section in the STEP Guide) assumes that users will not be running ENB (at least not during initial setup of STEP). If ENB will be used after verifying a functional setup, driver-based graphics settings should not invoke ANY of the settings described below. Simply let the application handle everything, as driver-based settings will conflict with ENB.
Info-Logo.png       Notice:ENBoost-ONLY users (NOT ENB graphics users!) should NOT use AF in enblocal.ini (set ForceAnisotropicFiltering to false ). For some reason it is more costly than setting AF via CCC and there is no difference in the effect.

1.E.1.1. AMD Users

Detailed Information --> Catalyst Control Center Guide

The AMD driver configuration utility, Catalyst Control Center (CCC), is installed along with the graphics drivers by default.

  1. Within CCC , select |Gaming| > |3D Application Settings|.
  2. Click |+ Add|, then browse to and select TESV.exe, and click on this new profile (these settings will only apply to Skyrim now).
  3. Set Anti-Aliasing Mode to "Use application settings" (driver-side AA has no impact on Skyrim, as it is a function only of iMultiSample in SkyrimPrefs.ini). If set to "Override application settings", AA will be turned off in Skyrim, regardless of the Skyrim INI setting!
  4. Set Anti-Aliasing Method to "Multisampling" (for better performance), or set to Supersampling if your video card can handle it (for better quality). For some reason, driver-side AA method does work, just not sample rate.
  5. Force Anisotropic Filtering Mode by setting Anisotropic filtering to "Override application settings". NOTE: this provides a slight frame-rate gain over using ENB to handle AF with no difference in quality; however, ENB can also be used to handle AF, and so can SkyrimPrefs.ini for that matter (but using SkyrimPrefs.ini will conflict with ENB graphics if that will later be used). If using ENB, set Anisotropic Filtering Mode to "Use application settings"
  6. Set Anisotropic Filtering Setting to 16x. NOTE: as above.
  7. Set Wait for Vertical Refresh to "Always off" (Recall that vsync should be running via ENBoost's enblocal.ini!)
  8. Save and close, accepting any overwrite when prompted.

1.E.1.2. Nvidia Users

Detailed Information --> Nvidia Inspector Guide: Editing Skyrim Settings

Make the following changes via Nvidia Inspector, otherwise leave the defaults (they can be tweaked later if absolutely necessary).

  1. Download Nvidia Inspector. This is a portable program and requires no installation. Simply place in a convenient location and create a shortcut to the executable.
  2. Within Inspector, select the "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" profile and keep all of the default settings except for the following changes:
  1. Set Antialiasing - Mode to "Application-controlled". Apparently, SkyrimPrefs.ini dictates the level of AA, but the video card drivers can dictate the method of AA. If set to "Override", AA will be turned off in Skyrim, regardless of the Skyrim INI setting!
  2. Set Antialiasing - Setting to "Application-controlled / Off" (for better performance), or set to use 2x2 (or 4x4) Supersampling if the video card can handle it (for better quality).
  3. Force Anisotropic filtering mode by setting Anisotropic filtering to "User-defined / Off".
  4. Set Anisotropic filtering setting to 16x. Higher values may cause texture shimmering in mid to long range texture LODs. If this happens, adjusting the LOD bias (below) can help to remedy the issue.
  5. Click Apply changes and close, accepting any overwrite when prompted. (Sometimes 'Apply changes' needs to be clicked twice.)

1.E.2. Display Calibration

Configure the monitor's display settings using Windows Display configuration utility (Control Panel > Display > Calibrate Color).

  • First use the monitor's built-in configuration to "restore factory preset" or something similar.
  • Configure the monitor's display settings using Windows Display configuration utility (Control Panel > Display > Calibrate Color) using the GPU's driver configuration settings:
  • AMD-CCC: |Desktop Management| > |Desktop Color| (click "Reactivate AMD color controls").
  • Nvidia Control Panel: Access from the Windows Control Panel. |Display| > |Adjust desktop color settings|
  • Be certain to execute all calibrators with particular attention to gamma, brightness and contrast. Most users' monitor output will be significantly darker and slightly more color-saturated than the original presets.

1.F. Performance Benchmarking

Detailed Information --> Benchmarking STEP

YOU CAN HELP!

Baseline performance benchmarks help us to assess performance variation across a range of computer configurations, which is useful for all users. User contributions in this regard are highly valued and much appreciated! Database-comparison benchmarks will be available as sufficient numbers of user-submitted data accumulate (and once we construct the system that will contain this information).

Points during setup that benchmarking is suggested will be indicated by:

Benchmark32.png
Benchmark
Benchmark32.png

Final Pre-Installation Notes

A Final Consideration
  • Remember that STEP:Core should be used as a base for ANY modded setup. It is a universal build and will not spoil any downstream setup (e.g., Skyrim Revisited - Legendary Edition), although there may well be a few minor redundancies whereby a STEP:Core mod is later installed again with some added or subtracted options.}}
  • Install mods in the order that they are presented in the following tables in order to achieve the desired result.
  • Read the ReadMe and other mod-related documentation that comes packaged with most mods. This includes the mod description on the Nexus. If the mod author has seen fit and taken time to create these reference materials, then they are relevant and important in the eyes of the mod author. This means that they are relevant and important to you!


STEP 2

Mod Installation


Mod Tables Legend

Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Mod NameWikilink.png Baseline LowQuality.png HighQuality.png
DG
Notes
Core Mod Core mods are indicated by the presence of a green-ish vertical bar in the row at the immediate left-hand column of the table.
Mod Name Shortened version (where applicable) of Nexus mod name presented as a link to Nexus for download.
Wikilink.png Link to the mod's Wiki page.
Baseline This notes the STEP Baseline version or option of the corresponding mod, and usually refers to options affecting performance/quality. General suggestions are located in the "Notes" column.
Quality Options Indicates if there are performance-friendly or performance-unfriendly versions of the mod relative to the Baseline recommendation:
 LowQuality.png       Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available.
      HighQuality.png  Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
 LowQuality.png HighQuality.png  Relative to Baseline, both lower and higher quality versions of the mod are available.
DLC Required Any DLCs listed here are required for the mod to function. If all DLCs listed are not present do not use this mod.
Notes Brief notes that apply to the mod or installation. In some cases, mods with many alternative options will include a suggested option. These suggestions will take the form of: "STEP recommends 'Option A'." In other cases, there may only be one appropriate alternative option that fits the STEP Mandate. These instructions will take the form of: "Use 'Option A'."


Info-Logo.png Notice: Consider the following while installing mods:
  • Mods should be installed in the order that they are listed to ensure that mods further down the list overwrite those occurring before them. This is necessary to ensure the desired in-game effect. Mods are otherwise listed in alphabetical order within each section, and any deviations from this are purposeful to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Wrye Bash Users: To achieve the best results, “Loose files” (non-BSA) versions of mods should be used. If a "loose files" version is not available, extract the BSA as described here. Mod Organizer Users: There are no benefits of loose files over BSAs in MO.
  • Always install plugins (ESPs/ESMs) unless otherwise noted. If there are not any notes associated with a particular mod, then all options fit the STEP mandate. The notes only provide instructions where necessary; otherwise, STEP encourages user customization.
  • Unless otherwise stated, follow BOSS's advice with regards to mod cleaning.

2.A. Configuration

Mods and tweaks that modify Skyrim configuration such as INI files.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
STEP PatchesLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP:Core Patch
DG
HF
DB
Detailed instructions available
Warning-Logo.png       Warning:Do not activate the STEP Patch plugin in your load order until you have finished installing STEP completely, or you will CTD.

The STEP Patches are for users that intend to install either all of STEP Core or all of STEP Extended. This is to gain stability by increasing compatibility between mods and to decrease the amount of patches needed which reduces the number of plugins.

Even though the STEP Patches are listed first in the guide, the patch being used will be one of the very last mods in load order. Something to be aware of when using the STEP Patches, ONLY use one patch at a time. One last thing is that some STEP Pack authors may make their own patch, probably from the STEP Core Patch, so if using a STEP Pack, check if one of these patches are necessary.

To users that do not install all the mods in either STEP Core or STEP Extended, these patches can still be used if experienced enough with TES5Edit to customize the plugin to match the preferred load order, but permission to distribute that patch is explicitly forbidden. Also, if not using the STEP Patches then download any separate patches for mods that need them, they may not be listed in the guide, so keep an eye out.

2.B. Utilities

Applications and utilities that aid in Skyrim mod management.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
BOSSLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
BOSS Userlist ManagerLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
DDSoptLink to the mod's Wiki page. DDSopt Guide. The Quick-Start Guide is a good place to start. Do NOT run through Mod Organizer.
Mod OrganizerLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Optimizer TexturesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Skyrim Performance MonitorLink to the mod's Wiki page.
TES5EditLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Wrye BashLink to the mod's Wiki page. Installer version MO users - Install and be certain to tick the stand-alone executable version when prompted for the path to the Steam/Skyrim directory. Wrye Bash users - see the Wrye Bash Guide.

2.C. Extenders

Third-party programs that enhance Skyrim functionality or display.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Skyrim Script ExtenderLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1.6.16 Detailed instructions available
Stable uGridsToLoadLink to the mod's Wiki page.
ENBoostLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Borderless WindowLink to the mod's Wiki page. ENBoost users should not use this mod, since there is borderless window options included in ENBoost. Recommended for Performance STEP.

2.D. Fixes

Essential mods that fix bugs and tweak deficient aspects of Skyrim.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Appropriately Attired JarlsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Argonian Decapitation FixLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Bowlegged Jump FixLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Brawl Bugs PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page. Only use the main "Compatibility Edition" file. Not necessary in Extended if using Enhanced Blood Textures.
Consistent Older PeopleLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use the Consistent Older People All NPCs file. (Or use Consistent Older People All NPCs BOYD Compatible if using Bring Out Your Dead.)
Dead Body CollisionLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Distant Decal FixLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Double Cursor FixLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Dual Sheath ReduxLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Fast Travel Timescale FixLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Fuz Ro D'ohLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Guard Dialogue OverhaulLink to the mod's Wiki page. Do NOT clean with TES5Edit. ITMs/UDRs are intended by the author for the mod to work correctly.
NitpickLink to the mod's Wiki page. Users NOT using Mod Organizer should install this mod. The fixes are already included in Mod Organizer.
SKSE-Elys-AltF4Link to the mod's Wiki page.
Skyrim Project OptimizationLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Smart SoulsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Trade and BarterLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP Recommends: Download and install the Hearthfire version of the mod and activate the .esp, but do not click "start mod" in the MCM options.
Unofficial Skyrim PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Unofficial Dawnguard PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
Unofficial Hearthfire PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page.
HF
Unofficial Dragonborn PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DB
Unofficial High Resolution PatchLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Weapons and Armor FixesLink to the mod's Wiki page. Download and install the "Complete" version. Also, download the "Improved Closefaced Helmets -- WAF and CCF Compatible Versions". DO NOT install the Improved Closedfaced Helmets file now, it will be installed with the actual Improved Closedfaced Helmets mod in Section 2.I.
Realistic Ragdolls and ForceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Realistic
XP32 Maximum SkeletonLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Benchmark32.png
Benchmark
Benchmark32.png

2.E. Interface

Mods that modify Skyrim's menus and user interface.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Better Dialogue ControlsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better MessageBox ControlsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Blessings-Altar DescriptionsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Disease DescriptionsLink to the mod's Wiki page. For Version, select only Vanilla (unless you use Realistic Needs and Diseases), and for Official DLCs, select both Dawnguard and Dragonborn.
Dungeon Quest AwarenessLink to the mod's Wiki page. May cause minor spoilers.
High Quality 3D MapLink to the mod's Wiki page. Hi-res meshes, 1k normals Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. STEP recommends the Hi-res meshes and 1k (Hi) original normal maps. Do not install any of the textures.
Immersive HUDLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Interface Hard Coded Key TweaksLink to the mod's Wiki page. Normal Tweaks STEP recommends "Normal Tweaks".
KenMOD Time On Loading ScreenLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Lockpicking InterfaceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use "v1.2 (Without wings)"
Lore-Based Loading ScreensLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Main Font ReplacementLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Fertigo Pro".
Main Menu Spinning EmblemLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Average".
No Boring Sleep-Wait MenuLink to the mod's Wiki page.
No Menu and Loading SmokeLink to the mod's Wiki page.
RaceMenuLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Skill InterfaceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available BCF Available (Dawnguard patch), BCF Available
SkyUILink to the mod's Wiki page. If using Mod Organizer, ignore the error about missing skse scripts.
Not Another Colored Map Icon ModLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends installing only the optional "NACMIM - Full" file. Turn off version checking for maps in the MCM: SkyUI menu. This is necessary until NACMIM is made fully compatible with SkyUI 4.0 or higher.
Smaller CursorLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Standard".
Unknown EnchantsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Wrye Bash users: Use the "WryeBash Friendly Archive".
Benchmark32.png
Benchmark
Benchmark32.png

2.F. Conflicting Graphics

Graphics mods that cannot be listed within their respective categories because they must be overwritten to achieve the desired result.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Bethesda Hi-Res DLC OptimizedLink to the mod's Wiki page. Hybrid + Vanilla normals Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available
Jewels of the NordLink to the mod's Wiki page. Low res Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Ruins Clutter ImprovedLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Realistic Smoke and EmbersLink to the mod's Wiki page. Medium Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Ultimate HD Fire EffectsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Medium Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Also install the "Candle Flames" optional add-on.
SkyFalls and SkyMillsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Static Mesh Improvement ModLink to the mod's Wiki page. Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available
Serious HDLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Also install the optional Riften textures.
Skyrim Realistic OverhaulLink to the mod's Wiki page. Optimal WARNING: This mod link points to a torrent site, which is one of the riskiest places on the internet in terms of computing security. If you choose to download the torrent, please use the link at top of page titled "Download Torrent", and do so at your own risk. That said, thousands of people have safely downloaded this mod using this torrent. Status Information.
HD MiscLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Tobe's Hi-Res TexturesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available
High Quality Food and IngredientsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Performance repack Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Enhanced Distant Terrain 2Link to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the Dragonborn optional file.
A Quality World MapLink to the mod's Wiki page. Choose the Quality Map (HiRes) Install Main Roads ONLY option and DO NOT install Clear Map Add-on.
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2.G. Landscape & Environment

Mods that modify landscape, buildings, and environments of Skyrim.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Skyrim Flora OverhaulLink to the mod's Wiki page. Basic Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available
AMidianBorn Caves and MinesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1k Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. 2k can be used for those with at least 1GB VRAM.
AMidianBorn Solstheim LandscapeLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1k Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available
Chimneys for SkyrimLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Dragon Glyphs-FixedLink to the mod's Wiki page. Dragon Chiseled STEP recommends "Dragon Chiseled".
HD Enhanced TerrainLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. STEP recommends the "Hd Enhanced Terrain and Map snow" version.
Enhanced Distant TerrainLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 STEP recommends the "Earth" option.
Enhanced Night SkyrimLink to the mod's Wiki page. Install the "Low stars" optional but do not install any galaxy option. It is not used for STEP.
FootprintsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install optional "Ash Supplemental" file for Dragonborn.
High Quality LODsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Hi-Res Meshes Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Install the "HQLODs - Meshes Hi-Res" main file. Do not install the normals. For slightly better performance at slightly less quality, the medium-resolution meshes can be used.
HiRes Legible Road SignsLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends only installing the "HiRes Road Signs Version 3 Worn Text" optional file.
HQ SnowLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Hybrids HD Plants and Herbs RetextureLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Improved Vanilla MountainsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Lanterns Of SkyrimLink to the mod's Wiki page. Default preset Use the Lanterns Of Skyrim - All In One - MCM Special Edition. Only use one of the optional files to match any lighting mods you might use; else, the optional files are not needed.
Moss RocksLink to the mod's Wiki page. SMIM version Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Moss Rocks-DragonbornLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DB
Point the WayLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Real IceLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Download the All-in-One Pack. Choose the 'With Parallax' option (even without using ENB; this is a parallax effect without an ENB requirement) and then the "Half Icecube-Half Dull" option (00 Dull and Ice). The BCF includes a wizard and Fomod to simplify installation --> BCF Available
Realistic MushroomsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Low Res Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Re-Defined DungeonsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Realistic Water TwoLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Skyrim Distant DetailLink to the mod's Wiki page. Hearthfire users: Use the optional "Hearthfire Edition" file.
Skyrim Improved PuddlesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Install both "00 - Core Files" and the "17 Dawnguard-HearthFires-Dragonborn DLC Users" options.
The Beauty of Skyrim-DungeonsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1k
Telvanni RebornLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DB
Terrain BumpLink to the mod's Wiki page. Performance Detailed instructions available BCF Available
Trees HDLink to the mod's Wiki page. High Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available BCF Available (High), BCF Available (Low), BCF Available (Ultra)
Vibrant AurorasLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Visible WindowsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Medium version Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. STEP recommends the "Gritty" option for all windows and the "Default" for all color options but "Yellow Tint" for both Solitude and Whiterun. BCF Available. BCF needs 2 files (Reduced Night Glow optional file also needed)
Vivid Landscapes-Tundra Moss RevisedLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024, Yellow Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Also install the SMIM patch, and use the high poly version. This version is buried within the package, and the package will need to be restructured.
Whiterun Trellis RedesignedLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
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2.H. Characters & Creatures

Mods that improve the appearance of characters and creatures.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Bellyache's Creature PackLink to the mod's Wiki page. Medium Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Use the "Default Animal Replacement Med Res" located in the Miscellaneous files.
83Willows 101BugsHDLink to the mod's Wiki page. Lower resolution Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
BeardsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Normal Resolution Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Bellyaches HD Dragon ReplacerLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better Beast RacesLink to the mod's Wiki page. Lite Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Better FrecklesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Birds and FlocksLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use the "Hearthfire Edition Cleaned" file.
BrowsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Normal Resolution Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Cover KhajiitsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Detailed instructions available BCF Available (1024)
Diverse PriestsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Core users NOT using the STEP Core patch install DiversePriests_ConsistentOlderPeoplePatch.esp. Extended users NOT using the STEP Extended Patch install DiversePriests_ConsistentOlderPeoplePatch.esp and DiversePriests_BringOutYourDeadPatch.esp.
Female Vampires Have FangsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Frost Atronach HDLink to the mod's Wiki page.
HD Rabbits PlusLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Ice WraithLink to the mod's Wiki page. Only install the "Even Better Ice Wraiths - Completely Redone" file.
Improved Foot Wraps for FemalesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
More Realistic HairLink to the mod's Wiki page.
New ChildrenLink to the mod's Wiki page.
PondFish and Salmon ReplacerLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Superior Lore-Friendly HairLink to the mod's Wiki page. Rough Hair 1K Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Use the "SLF Hair - Rough Hair - Lite 1K" main file.
The Elder Scrolls V Rewritten-ArvakLink to the mod's Wiki page. HD Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
DG
STEP recommends the "High Definition" and "Soul Cairn" options.
XCE-Xenius Character EnhancementLink to the mod's Wiki page. Do not install the optionals. If using the BCF, just select 00 Core. BCF Available
XCE-DawnguardLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
Better Male FeetLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the optional Dawnguard patch.
Natural EyesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 128k Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
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2.I. Clothing & Equipment

Mods that add or modify armor, weapons, clothing, adornments, and other equipment.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
AMidianBorn Book of SilenceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Better CircletsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024x512 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Dawnguard Crossbow Bolts VisualizedLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
Also install the optional "Explosive Bolts Visualized HD Textures" file.
Closer Quivers and Longer ArrowsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Elemental StaffsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Also install the v1.10 update.
Elven Weapons for SilenceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available BCF Available
Skyrim Weapon De-LARP-ification ProjectLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the optional Dawnguard and Dragonborn files.
Greatsword Sheaths and Scabbards ReduxLink to the mod's Wiki page. "Default" options STEP recommends the default meshes and textures. Also install the Skyforge Weapons, Dawnguard and Dragonborn optionals.
Improved Closefaced HelmetsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
New Thinner TorchLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use "Ultimate HD Torch by rheadude compatible" version ONLY.
Nightingale PrimeLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Leather".
Not Really HD-Mask of Clavicus VileLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Wrecked".
Shield of YsgramorLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Ultimate HD TorchLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. Also install the Ultimate HD Torch -less glowing cloth- optional file.
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2.J. Animations & Effects

Mods that add animations and/or effects.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Animated Weapon EnchantsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better Turn AnimationLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available BCF Available
Burn Freeze Shock EffectsLink to the mod's Wiki page. This mod has been known to cause to issues, so it is highly recommended to use the Skyrim Memory Patch 3.0. Also install the optional Dragonborn Dawnguard file.
Dawnguard Rune Weapons FXSLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
Deadly Spell ImpactsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Medium Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. STEP recommends the Alternate "Frost +10% Transparency" optional (in the fomod). If issues arise from this mod, try installing the low resolution version.
Dual Wield Blocking AnimationsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Enchantment Effect ReplacerLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "2XRes".
Enhanced Blood TexturesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. This mod has been known to cause to issues, so it is highly recommended to use the Skyrim Memory Patch 3.0. Also install "Blurry Screen Blood" optional. Also install all relevant DLC patches.
Finer DustLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Fores New Idles in SkyrimLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Improved Weapon Impact EffectsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Lightning During Thunder StormsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
No Spinning Death AnimationLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DB
Dragonborn users: Use ONLY the "No Spinning Death Animation v1_1 MERGED" file.
NoMaaM Breathing IdlesLink to the mod's Wiki page. non-BBB
RainbowsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Running With BowsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Smaller Ice Spikes and SpearLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends the optional 50% reduced.
Shooting StarsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Skyrim Performance PlusLink to the mod's Wiki page. Recommended only for users with low-end systems or those with performance issues. Use all four Main files: "Pine Needles", "Rainfall", "Snowfall", and "Rift-Super Performance".
Skyrim SunglareLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "No lens flare" version.
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2.K. Clutter & Miscellaneous

Mods that modify general items such as furniture, barrels, bottles, food, etc.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
The 418th StepLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Snow Version".
Better BonesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better ShadowmarksLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Dark Brotherhood Tenets RestoredLink to the mod's Wiki page. Standard (medium) Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available. Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Designs of the NordsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Detailed RugsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Main File STEP does not recommend either of the optional files.
Enhanced HD Dragon BonesLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1k Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. STEP recommends the "No flesh" option. BCF Available (EDB (2k))
HD BasketsLink to the mod's Wiki page. 512 x 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available. BCF Available (HD Baskets)
HD LinensLink to the mod's Wiki page.
HD Ore and IngotsLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends the "With manager" file. The main file is mostly extraneous screenshots and duplicate files.
HD SacksLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use both Type B Small and Big sacks. BCF Available
HQ PaperLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Intricate Spider WebsLink to the mod's Wiki page. High Relative to Baseline, a lower quality, less demanding version of the mod is also available.
Mystery Modders Shrines HDLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Not Really HD-Display CaseLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Smudged Glass".
Not Really HD-KeysLink to the mod's Wiki page. With normals
Pilgrim's DelightLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends "Legacy" version.
Radiant and Unique Potions and Poisons HDLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use "Booze v2 Non-Glow".
Realistic InstrumentsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Septim HDLink to the mod's Wiki page. BCF Available
Silly Level of Detail-Potions and PoisonsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use Ceramic style. Install for both potions and poisons.
Silly Level of Detail-Wine CellarLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install "Less saturated labels" optional.
Skyrim RedesignedLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available BCF Available
Soul Gems DifferLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
Super Realistic OreLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Sweet MotherLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends the main file only.
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2.L. Sound

Mods that modify audio including music, sound effects, environment, and voice.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Better Animal FootstepsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better Horse Pain SoundsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Better Weapon Swing SoundsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Audio Overhaul for SkyrimLink to the mod's Wiki page. Main File Detailed instructions available
Dragons Shout With VoiceLink to the mod's Wiki page. Loose Also install optional file, Dragons Shout with Voice from location.
Heart of the BeastLink to the mod's Wiki page. High Agression
IHSS-Improved Horse StepsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use the "Improved Horse step Sounds v2" main file.
Immersive ThunderLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Improved Combat SoundsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Lower Sounding Thieves Guild DoorLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Realistic Wolf HowlsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use the "More Barks than Howls" version.
Smooth Blade Draw and SheatheLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends to install ADS during installation and all SBDS options.
Thundering ShoutsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use only the optional loose files version.
Ultra Realistic Bow Shoot SoundsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Ultra Realistic Crossbow Shoot SoundsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
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2.M. Gameplay

Mods that improve game-play without significantly changing the game mechanics.
Mod Name Baseline Quality Options DLC Required Notes
Ars Metallica-SmithingLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Auto Unequip AmmoLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Bring Out Your DeadLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Clams Drop PearlsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Convenient HorsesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Dual Wield ParryingLink to the mod's Wiki page. Requires SKSE. Use 00 Dual Wield Parrying SKSE 3_1 beta file. For better results you should use it with the recommended mod, 'Dual Wield Blocking animations' for proper blocking animations
Dynamic FiresLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Follower Trap SafetyLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Gildergreen RegrownLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Lantern CaretakersLink to the mod's Wiki page. Requires "Lanterns of Skyrim"
Lock OverhaulLink to the mod's Wiki page.
More Salt PleaseLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the optional "Dragonborn Addon" file.
Move It DammitLink to the mod's Wiki page. Less Wait Time
No NPC GreetingsLink to the mod's Wiki page. Sligtly Reduced STEP Patches users do NOT install this mod. It is already included in the STEP Patches.
Oblivion GatesLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends only installing the Dawnguard version main file. Use only one ESP; the "without markers" ESP is recommended. Move the other esp to Optional ESPs.
Run For Your LivesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
SM Drop Lit TorchesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Skyrim Coin Replacer ReduxLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Skyrim-Community-UncapperLink to the mod's Wiki page. STEP recommends the defaul INI values. To customize Uncapper see this Guide: Skyrim Uncapper guide.
The Paarthurnax DilemmaLink to the mod's Wiki page. Note: The Nexus page for this mod has a spoiler for those that have not played the main quest yet.
Traps Make NoiseLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the optional file Traps Make Noise - Follower Safety Patch version if Follower Trap Safety was installed earlier in this section.
When Vampires AttackLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DG
Wet and ColdLink to the mod's Wiki page. 1024 Relative to Baseline, a higher quality, more demanding version of the mod is also available.
Wet and Cold-AshesLink to the mod's Wiki page.
DB
Even Better Quest ObjectivesLink to the mod's Wiki page. Detailed instructions available
The Choice is YoursLink to the mod's Wiki page. Also install the Update and Dawnguard files. This mod has a conflicts with Bring Out Your Dead. The STEP Patches address these conflicts.
Thieves Guild RequirementsLink to the mod's Wiki page.
Non-Essential ChildrenLink to the mod's Wiki page. Use the Hearthfire version.
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STEP 3

A Necessity

3.A. Post-Installation Housekeeping

3.A.1. Sort Plugins Using BOSS

Before launching the game via Mod Organizer (or via Wrye Bash or skse_launcher directly), it is necessary to sort the plugins to ensure proper asset and plugin loading order, which can have a dramatic impact on the game (or at worst cause a CTD).

  1. Launch BOSS via Mod Organizer (or via Wrye Bash or directly from the BOSS program folder).
  2. Examine the BOSS output carefully and look for any alerts or warnings and address each. The Plugins tab in MO (on the right side of the MO window) is where plugins can be activated/deactivated and sorted (hold Ctrl + Up/Down arrow keys to sort).
  3. The STEP Patch may need to be manually sorted and activated. Place it directly before "bashed patch, 0.esp".

3.A.2. Create the Bashed Patch

  1. Launch Wrye Bash via Mod Organizer.
  2. Within the Mods Tab, right click on "bashed patch, 0.esp", and select "Rebuild Patch".
  3. Tick the boxes next to "Merge Patches", "Import Names", "Import Stats", "Tweak Settings", and "Leveled Lists".
  4. Highlight "Tweak Settings", and tick the box next to "Crime: Alarm Distance". Optional: tick the box next to "Timescale".
  5. Right-click on "Crime: Alarm Distance" and select '1000' and optionally set "Timescale" to a value less than '20' but no less than '10'.
  6. Next click [Build Patch] at the bottom of the window to construct the patch based on the current plugin list/order
Info-Logo.png       Notice:Rebuild the Bashed Patch again each time the plugin load list/order changes.
Mod Organizer Guide
Users: After closing Wrye Bash and returning to MO, the "bashed patch, 0.esp" will be located in the "Overwrite" folder. A different Bashed Patch can be created for every MO profile, so it is advised to move the Bashed Patch and its data to a separate mod folder. Simply right click the "Overwrite" folder and select 'Create Mod', then name it. Example is STEP Core Bashed Patch. You will then need to check it to enable it. Each subsequent time you rebuild the patch, you must open Overwrite and drag the new files back to this mod.

3.A.3 Fore's New Idle System (STEP Extended Only)

The animation files need to be generated for the skeleton changes and weapon placement to show properly in game. Combined with XP32 Skeleton and Dual Sheath Redux, Fore's New Idle System allows users to place swords, daggers, and shields on the Player Character's back instead on the hip and arm.

  1. Launch GenerateFNISforUsers via Mod Organizer (or from the mod's folder in windows explorer if not using MO).
  2. In the Available Patches at the bottom of the window, check the box adjacent to "SKELETON Arm Fix".
  3. Click the [Update FNIS Behavior] button and wait for a message to appear in the window stating "X animations for Y mods successfully included.".
  4. Click [Exit].
Mod Organizer Guide
Users: After closing FNIS, there shall be files in Overwrite (essentially a fake mod located at the bottom of the left pane if sorted by priority ascending) created by FNIS. Right-click Overwrite and select Create Mod, name it FNIS Output and click OK. This will create a new mod listing in the left pane for the FNIS generated files. You will then need to check it to enable it. Each subsequent time you update FNIS behavior, you must open Overwrite and drag the new files back to this mod.

3.A.4. Dual Sheath Redux Patch (STEP Extended Only)

  1. Launch Dual Sheath Redux (DSR) Patch via Mod Organizer.
  2. Click [Patch] in the top right corner to generate the patch. After this is done, Dual Sheath Redux Patch will close automatically.
Mod Organizer Guide
Users: After closing the Dual Sheath Redux Patch, there shall be files in Overwrite (essentially a fake mod located at the bottom of the left pane if sorted by priority ascending) created by DSR. Right-click Overwrite and select Create Mod, name it DSR Output and click OK. This will create a new mod listing in the left pane for the DSR patch generated files. You will then need to check it to enable it. Each subsequent time you rebuild the patch, you must open Overwrite and drag the new files back to this mod.
Warning-Logo.png       Warning:Each time you change your load order, you should rerun the DSR Patch to remake the patch. Failure to do so may lead to a CTD upon startup.

3.A.5. Launch STEP:Skyrim

Once all mods have been installed and are ready to play, be certain to either:

  • Start a brand new character, or
  • load the save game generated just after character creation if it exists, or
  • load an existing character after clean saving the relevant save game.
Mod Organizer Guide
Users: It takes significantly longer to launch Skyrim from within MO than it does by using other means. Allow up to 3 minutes for Skyrim to launch before panicking ... launch time will be faster after the first launch in a given MO session (unless lots of mod-list changes are made).

STEP 4

Tips & Troubleshooting Common Issues

4.A. Troubleshooting Common Problems

A heavily modded Skyrim can bring even a very powerful system to its knees. Maximum visual quality is highly dependent upon total on-card graphics-dedicated video memory (VRAM), the number of GPUs, and monitor resolution. The goal should be to maintain 30 or more FPS on average without any noticeable stuttering.

Skyrim Memory Patch 3.0

Skyrim Memory Patch 3.0 by Sheson is a memory allocation modification that has dramatically increased the capabilities of the Skyrim engine. It is currently implemented in three different ways: through custom alteration of SKSE, through official alpha-release alteration of SKSE, and through a DirectX dynamic link library (known as Skyrim Startup Memory Editor). The STEP team has decided to wait on recommending which version to use until the Skyrim Script Extender team has finished testing their implementation of the patch.

4.A.1. Failure to Launch

Skyrim still sometimes fails to launch, and the following are some of the most common causes and solutions:

  • Improper load order - Run BOSS and examine the output. Plugins out of order or plugins with missing masters will cause this. BOSS will sort everything properly, but certain patches installed with certain mods included with STEP:Extended will not apply under a STEP:Core install, so these plugins need to be un-ticked in MO or WB plugin lists.
  • Improper Bashed Patch - This can result from ticking options that are not explicitly mentioned in this guide (see above), or it can result if the Bashed Patch was not rebuilt after a mod-list/order change.
  • Bad INI settings - If Skyrim.ini or SkyrimPrefs.ini were edited in a way that was not described in STEP 1.D. (or if a fresh, default INI was not used as a baseline), certain settings can cause this issue. The quickest solution is to revisit that section and regenerate a fresh INI with the recommended settings.

4.A.2. Crashes to Desktop (CTD)

There are unfortunately many reasons for CTDs just after launch or shortly thereafter, but if this guide was followed precisely, STEP mods should not be the cause. Following are some common causes and solutions.

  • Improper Load Order - Run BOSS and examine the output as in the previous section.
  • Missing Masters - If an active plugin is missing its dependent master, a CTD will occur immediately. To fix, either locate the missing master and add it in or deactivate the plugin missing its master.
    • MO will show a red exclamation icon next to the plugin, while Wrye Bash will show a red checkbox next to the plugin.
  • Improper Bashed Patch - See the previous section.
  • Bad INI settings - Yep, see the previous section.
  • Bad video settings or incompatible driver version - Revisit STEP 1.E. and verify settings, back them down to 'performance' options, or update to the proper video driver.
  • Windows environment issue - This is highly possible and unfortunately too difficult to prescribe any remotely ubiquitous solution other than restarting the computer and checking for conflicting processes (e.g., anti-virus/maleware). Google is a friend to all in need.

4.A.3. Semi-Invisible People, Objects or Misbehaving Walls

Following are some solutions:

  • Transparency Antialiasing - Turn of any transparency (adaptive) sampling if enabled under antialiasing settings of the graphics-driver software (see references under STEP 1.E.). Also, remember to download the latest ATI drivers.
  • Bad INI settings - If using ENB, set bFloatPointRenderTarget=1 in the SkyrimPrefs.ini.

4.A.4. Stuttering

  • Microstutter - This is an annoying 'glitchiness' when moving or panning for those using higher-end graphics cards (usually) or multiple GPUs in SLI or CrossfireX configs (purportedly). Follow the recommendations for ENBoost, noting in particular EnableVSync=true . If this does not resolve the issue:
    • Ensure that microstutter is not being confused with 'macro'-stutter, which is more severe and memory related. Remember: microstutter is very annoying, but not hindering in any way.
    • Try forcing vsync via Nvidia Inspector (Nvidia users) or RadeonPro (AMD users) ... sorry Intel users. Also (and this is very important), enable D3D-compatible triple buffering via RadeonPro. Nvidia Inspector users: D3D-compatible triple buffering is not available. Use D3Doverrider instead. This may also have a vsync function.
  • Macrostutter - This is most likely the result of using textures and meshes that exceed the limits of GPU VRAM. ENBoost should prevent this in most cases, but certain user configurations and/or hardware may not behave as expected:
    • Verify ENBoost settings and graphics settings described under STEP 1.E.!
    • Re-install the most performance-friendly versions of mods as indicated by the "Quality Options" column of the mod tables above.
    • Consult the DDSopt Guide to learn how to optimize textures accordingly.
    • Finally, Un-install Skyrim Flora Overhaul and Skyrim Realistic Overhaul, which are easily the most VRAM-intensive mods in STEP (although there are others under STEP 2.F. and STEP 2.G. in particular).
    • Enable windowed mode via ENBoost (instructions at bottom of mod page).

4.A.5. Texture Flickering, Etc.

Refer to the Z-Fighting Guide.

4.B. In-Game Tips

  • The console can be activated by pressing the tilde ([~]) key, often located just below [Escape], while in-game.
  • ENBoost has a couple built in hotkeys that are helpful (can be adjusted in enblocal.ini section [INPUT]):
    1. Show FPS: [*] (on the numpad not shift+8)
    2. Free VRAM: [f4]
    3. Screenshot: print screen (Skyrim's screenshots do not work with ENB/ENBoost)
  • Steam screenshots are [f12], but if using a keyboard with multimedia keys it could be [shift+f12].
    1. Be aware [shift+f12] is also the ENB Series Graphics hotkey to toggle the effects on/off. ENBoost ONLY users are not affected.

4.B.1. Optimize Field of View (FOV)

Prior to 2008, the most common monitor resolutions were 16:10 aspect ratio (source). Since then, 16:9 has become the standard. The Skyrim FOV defaults to 75 (%) and is optimized for monitor aspect ratio of 16:10. Therefore, users with 16:9 monitors (e.g. 1920x1080) will want to increase their FOV to 81. Setting this in the INI does not persist, so it must be done via the console. Within Skyrim, open the console (tap the tilde [~] key) and type: fov 81 . Those rare and unfortunate users stuck with 4:3 aspect ratio will need to 'reduce' their FOV down to 62.

A helpful conversion calculator can assist in calculation of other monitor types (just type in a 16:10 on the right side and the new resolution on the left to get the new hFOV).

4.B.2. BIG Frame Drops During Cell Loading

This is a likely indicator that VRAM is too often operating at or beyond capacity (see 4.A.4).

STEP Packs

Community Add-ons

STEP Packs are generally intended to go over the STEP:Core build. Be certain to read the Pack instructions to determine what build the Pack is dependent upon.

Mod Organizer Guide
Users: You will now experience one of the reasons why Mod Organizer is the chosen mod-management utility for STEP. Pack installation is a breeze, as it is possible to have profiles for each build dependency that a given Pack relies upon.

Consider reviewing some of the Packs that our users have been developing to augment STEP.

STEP Packs

User Contributions

How YOU Can Help

STEP can only get bigger and better with help from the user community. Even simply maintaining the current STEP is too much work for the core STEP team to ensure that the highest quality is maintained. We need people to help us identify mods that improve Skyrim while adhering to the STEP Mandate. We also need ongoing reviews and updates on mods that may be causing problems or that stray from the STEP philosophy. Finally, we need help from the community in terms of testing, benchmarking and analysis. More detail is presented in the Mod Testing Guide.

In order to suggest a mod, visit the Mod Suggestions section of the STEP Forums.

Info-Logo.png Notice: The STEP team will be beta testing a new mod-testing procedure and interface currently in final stages of development here on the STEP Wiki. Anyone interested in testing mods of any kind --whether included in STEP or not-- should contact the STEP administrators by email or on the forums (click on the link in upper left of header).

Call for Wiki Content Editors

The STEP Community Wiki is open to editing by all registered community members; however, we need assistance maintaining and creating new supporting content. We are particularly interested in obtaining a few people with a passion for writing and editing. Familiarity with wiki markup is preferable but not necessary. Interested parties please contact z929669 via PM on the forums (Please register on the forums and see the very bottom of the Forum Team page).

Call for STEP Mod Testers

STEP users interested in becoming testers, please contact z929669 via PM on the forums (Please register on the forums and see the very bottom of the Forum Team page). Once registered, record your system specs by clicking on the button and filling out the form. These specs will be associated with performance data by tester.

Call for STEP Benchmarks

Users interested in helping out with the STEP Benchmarking Project, see our benchmarking guidelines and submit results on the forums (see link at upper left of site header bar).

Call for Forum Moderators

Regular STEP forum users interested in becoming moderators, please contact z929669 via PM on the forums (Please register on the forums and see the very bottom of the Forum Team page).


Thank you for reading and enjoy the game!


Special Credits

The STEP administrators would sincerely like to thank (from the bottoms of our fuzzy little hearts):

  • The authors of mods recommended in STEP
  • The core STEP Community for feedback, suggestions and input
  • The STEP beta testers ... for their good humor and rigorous analyses
  • The Nexus community
  • Bethesda Softworks for Skyrim (and TES in general)
  • A very special thanks to STEP aficionados, EssArrBee and DoubleYou for their assistance with this release. EssArrBee is also our STEP Patch maintainer, so a big thanks to him for that. DoubleYou is also the lead maintainer of the MO Guide
The core STEP team is:
  • stoppingby4now - Main site developer, Semantic Mediawiki developer & extraordinaire, site founder
  • TheCompiler - STEP creator, mod-list extraordinaire
  • z929669 - Wiki & forums content editor, main site administrator, hosting maintenance, site founder
  • Active STEP volunteer staff: Aiyen, EssArrBee, deathneko11, DoubleYou, GSDfan, Kelmych, kryptopyr, phazer11, rootsrat, Tannin, Techangel89, torminater, Uhuru, WilliamImm, and wolverine2710
  • Farlo - Mediawiki developer & extraordinaire, Mod-list co-compiler, forums admin, site founder (out of commission since November, 2013)
  • MontyMM - Solutions developer (Semi-Automatic STEP), site founder (out of commission since December, 2013)