User:DrPharmDawg/SkyRem Guide Home

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Skyrim Roleplay Enhancement Mod Guide for Special Edition
(SkyRem Guide)
Changelog   |   Release Date: September 20, 2019
Current Version: 3.0.3
Created and maintained by DrPharmDawg
Last Update: 15:05:52 7 December 2019 (GMT)

Contents


SkyRem Guide Pages

Home Page <-----
Priority I: Stability
Priority II: Mechanics
Priority III: Content
Priority IV: Aesthetics
Final Steps

SkyRem Guide Support

Discord: Discord Channel for all things SkyRem (Guide and Mods).
Patreon: Support SkyRem development via Patreon.
PayPal: Support with a one-time donation via PayPal.
Trello: See guide development progress on Trello.

Home Page


INTRODUCTION

What is SkyRem? Yes - SkyRem is an acronym (if you have delved into any of my mods, this is probably very apparent) for Skyrim Roleplay Enhancment Modding.
Alone, Skyrim is a great game. With the involvement of the modding community, it has become a phenomenal game. This guide, along with the few mods I have authored, is my attempt to give back to that community (or at least contribute in some way).

SkyRem Concept: Add to the Skyrim experience by incorporating elements of strategic roleplay that focus on character creation, growth, and development that works seamlessly with the base (vanilla) game. While this began with the desire to tweak character creation, it has since grown into two (currently) series of mods and now a guide as I work to put it all together.

There are great guides available already, with different focuses, different objectives, and varying degrees of difficulty (both difficulty of game and difficulty of guide). After countless hours of using other guides, adding, subtracting, altering, combing through category by category every mod on the Nexus, and reading and researching... this guide is my "finished product" based on the concept above, with the following priorities in mind:

(1) Stability
(2) Mechanics
(3) Content
(4) Aesthetics

This is not a difficulty or beautification mod guide by design. One could argue that difficulty is incorporated simply by the nature of the roleplay focus and modifications, but the intent of the guide goes far beyond just making Skyrim more difficult. As for beautification - there are plenty of mods specifically for this included in the guide, but is not the primary focus. I have also incorporated these into the guide in a way that will make it easy for you to add / subtract / substitute... whatever you prefer (or whatever your system allows).

SkyRem is also relatively new and under continual development, and may be better suited to those with some degree of modding experience (beginners beware). Having said that, as SkyRem continues to grow based on suggestions/questions/requests, more detailed info will be included. While not intended to "hold your hand", the goal is to ultimately allow any level of modder to be able to complete the guide successfully.

A word of caution: It is best to peruse the guide and determine what kind of install you wish to do before starting (core or extended). Then complete that install prior to customizing your mod load (adding, subtracting, changing... any deviation from the guide). Following the guide exactly will help prevent issues down the road. The vast majority of issues is due to skipping a step, missing a tag, not following each step precisely, etc. The guide contains a lot of information and it is easy to miss something.

While updates will be made as frequently as necessary to fix issues and/or provide needed clarification, there will be times of guide inactivity. The intent is to create a modded Skyrim, and play. It is easy to get caught in a perpetual cycle of updating, adding, and removing mods. The same goes for maintaining a guide. Do not forget to enjoy the game!

SYSTEM INFO

DrPharmDawg's Rig Spec
Motherboard ASUS® G751JY
CPU Intel® Core i7 4710HQ @2.50GHz
GPU Nvidia® GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5
System RAM 24 GBs
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit
Monitor Resolution 1920x1080

GUIDE INFO

The guide is organized into several sections by priority:

  • Home Page: Introduction, general information, preparing your setup, and some basic "how to's" for modding.
  • Priority I: Stability - Making a fresh install, setting up tools and INIs, cleaning masters, and getting your base game ready.
  • Priority II: Mechanics - SKSE plugins, fixes, interface, audio, gameplay, environment, and overhaul mods.
  • Priority III: Content - Quest, location, immersion, character, creature, and equipment mods.
  • Priority IV: Aesthetics - Visual mods not covered in previous Priorities.
  • Final Steps: Patching and in-game setup, such as recommended MCM settings.

This guide provides:

  • A stable and Performance Friendly setup.
  • Installation directions and instructions for using various modding tools and techniques.
  • Patches to make mods included work together (available on Nexus).
  • Support via Discord and regular updates.

This guide does not:

  • Include ENB or Reshade: I do not use them nor do I care for them. The trade-off for performance is (IMO) not worth it.
  • Include Dead Mods: Mods that need updating or mods with excessive (or unanswered) bug reports/comments) without simple solutions.
  • Include CBBE: What little I do in this regard is UNP.
  • Include 4k+: Whenever possible, I use 2k at the most. There are a few exceptions in which 2k is not available however.

Guide Organization

The guide is organized as follows: Priorities >> Steps >> Parts

These three levels are used to organize the guide into increasingly smaller and more specific groups of information and mods. In addition to this three tier approach, mods are further distinguished (by outline color) as follows:

Red (Core): Required because they are key to the concept of SkyRem.
Blue (Extended): Recommended because they build on the concept of SkyRem.
Green (Visual): Optional as they only contribute to the appearance of your game.
Yellow (Testing): Mods currently in my build primarily for testing purposes (not necessarily accepted for the guide yet). Use at your own risk.

Mods may contain patches or FOMOD options that are based on your choices. Watch for mods, options, or information highlighted in YELLOW. This indicates you need a previous choice needs to be considered before taking the step. For example installing a FOMOD option that requires an Extended (blue) mod installed. If you choose not to include Wyrmstooth in your build, be sure to not select FOMOD options for Wyrmstooth (indicated in yellow).

Mod Legend

Each mod utilizes this template:

Mod Name & Link

  • Author of Mod
  • Version used by SkyRem Guide
  • Tags (See below)

FILES: File(s) to Download and Install

Note: Any additional installation instructions or steps to take following installation.
Info-Logo.png Notice: Unless otherwise indicated within a Note line, always select [Merge] when prompted if installing multiple files for a single mod.

Mod Tags

Tags are described below. Read through the mods "card" prior to starting installation of that mod to prevent having to back track. Dark Tags with Light lettering indicate new or updated mods and download and/or installation needs, such as Newly added or BSA extraction.
Light Tags with Dark lettering indicate post-installation needs such as optimizing meshes, ESLifying, merging, porting, or cleaning.

  • TOOL
     : Tool utilized during the modding process. Not always an actual Mod, but required for proper guide installation.
  • NEW
     : Newly added Mod since previous version.
  • UPDATE
     : Mod with an updated version since previous SkyRem version.
  • BSA
     : During installation, select YES to extracting the BSA.
  • CAO
     : Run the Cathedral Asset Optimizer (CAO) to properly convert the files for use with SSE.
  • ESL
     : Plugin (ESP) can safely be tagged as an ESL using SSEEdit.
  • MERGE
     : Plugin will be included in a Merge using zEdit.
  • PORT
     : Mod needs to be completely converted from LE to SSE using the CK, and possibly CAO.
  • CLEAN
     : Mod needs to be cleaned using SSEEdit.
  • PATCH
     : Mod is a patch for previously installed mod (either separate files or part of a FOMOD) that need to be installed separately.
  • CUSTOM
     : Mod containing settings included in the SkyRem Custom Settings file.
  • NPC
     : Mod required for the use of the SkyRem NPC Patch.
  • CORE
     : Mod required for the use of the SkyRem Patch, which handles consistency and conflict resolution not included elsewhere.

Merging Mods

Merging is essential to adhere to the 255 plugin rule. ESLs help with this also, but not all tools are setup to handle ESL files, so keep the total number of plugins under 255 (not just the ESPs + ESMs). To accomplish this, some Parts of the guide include Merged in the header. Mods to be merged within that Part will include the
MERGE
tag - this includes most if not all of the mods listed in that Part, but there are few exceptions so be mindful of this. Following Parts that include mods intended to be merged will be a Merged ***** "mod". At most there will be one merge per Step (one merge for Fixes, one for Gameplay, one for Immersion, etc.) Some of these are quite large merges, so expect to spend some time waiting for zEdit.

Guide Versions

  • The format for the Guide version is X.Y.Z.
  • Z indicates minor changes such as: installation note fixes, mod moved to different section or reordered, non-intrusive and minor mod version updates.
  • Y indicates moderate changes such as: updates requiring merge/patch rebuilding, mods added or removed, major mod version updates.
  • X indicates major changes such as: larger overhauls of the guide, mod changes that require a new game.

Testing

  • Following completion of each Step, sort (LOOT) and test your setup. This is much easier than troubleshooting after completing the guide if something goes wrong.
  • Particular items to test will be included in the LOOT note each Step. (WIP)
  • In the event something does go wrong (CTDs, ILRs), work backwards starting in the Step you just completed by deactivating a few mods at a time and retesting. Once you find the offending mod, double check the mod's card for proper installation. Sometimes, a simple reinstall is all that is needed.

Guide Stats

Upon completing the SkyRem Guide (assuming a full install of Core + Extended + Visuals) as of v3.0.0:

  • Total Mods (Left Pane of MO2): 822
  • Total Plugins (Right Pane of MO2): 256
  • Total ESMs + ESPs: 213
  • Total ESLs: 43
  • Available Plugin Slots: 42

STARTER GUIDE [WIP]

This section aims to explain some of the major changes made by this guide. Before using the guide, read through to make sure this is how you want your Skyrim to behave. This guide is not for everybody - it is geared toward those looking for a more realistic and immersive roleplay experience. After completing the guide, refer to this for unexpected behaviors to check whether they are intended by the guide.

Difficulty

SkyRem is not intended to be a "difficulty" setup. However, by the nature of many of the mods used it offers a more challenging experience. Combat needs more strategy. Adventuring requires more planning. NPCs act and react more realistically. Character development is more dynamic. While you can play SkyRem on any difficulty, keep in mind that the vanilla difficulty settings impact (primarily) how much damage you deal and receive, but may have little to no impact on other functions altered by the mods included.

You will not be able to rush up to a group of 10 bandits and hack and slash your way through. Setting out on a quest ill prepared without food, water, a tent, tools, etc. can lead you to a quick demise or inability to perform some tasks. If you go after collecting every Daedric Artifact, do not expect Vigilants of Stendarr to be cordial. Making choices regarding Attributes, Abilities, and Perks without giving thought to how you want to build your character may result in a character fated for failure.

Is SkyRem more difficult... by design - no. It is more challenging, regardless of how you set difficulty.

Leveling

- Experience to Level has nothing to do with your 18 Skills.
- Experience to Level is gained by adventuring, completing quests, and killing.
- Leveling will not provide a set 10 points to H/M/S. These will grow naturally based on how you play and your attributes.

Equipment

- Deleveled: Any non-unique item can be found anywhere at anytime - Loot is based on Rarity and Abundancy.
- Bosses and Locks: You will still receive better stuff based on Boss and Lock difficulty, or at least have a much better chance of doing so.
- The ability to use a Weapon properly is governed by its Skill (One Handed, Two Handed, Archery).
- The ability to use Armor properly is governed by its Skill (Block, Heavy Armor, Light Armor).
- If unskilled, Weapons can be dropped, cause you to stagger on impact, and/or be ineffective at blocking.
- If unskilled, Armor may not provide as much protection.
- Both Weapons and Armor can break (be prepared). Tempering improves the item as normal, but also increases its longevity.

Factions

- You must spend time in a faction to advance within that faction.
- You will no longer become Harbinger/Archmage/Guild Master after 3 days. You must work for it (do more side quests for instance).
- You must be skilled appropriately to advance within factions.
- Advance your combat skills to advance with the Companions, advance your stealth skills to advance in the Thieves Guild, and so on.

Combat

- Combat is more realistic in how damage is dealt and how NPCs behave.
- Different enemies have natural resistances to different attacks, both physical and magical. If something is not working, try something else.
- Animals behave more realistically. Many can simply be avoided and will not become aggressive unless provoked.
- Bosses are tougher. Sometimes much tougher.
- Encounter Zones - there may be a twist so do not expect being 10 levels higher than the minimum will result in a quick run through, even if it was last time...

Crafting

- Crafting (and other activities) require the proper tools. This includes chopping wood, mining ore, forging, tempering, even cooking.
- If you are unable to perform a task due to lack of a tool, you can either find one or buy one from an appropriate NPC.
- You will need flasks to store created potions and poisons. They no longer materialize as part of the alchemy process.
- You cannot spam potions, so choose wisely. You need time to recover from potion use before another potion will be effective.

Character Development

- Characters can develop and be enhanced in many ways and in many combinations.
- Things to consider for developing your character: Standing Stones, Diety, Attributes, Shouts, Perks, Class, Race (including Werewolf, Vampire, or Lich).
- Once you accept your Attributes, they are set. Attributes will grow and improve based on the skills you develop, but this takes time.
- Use the Reflect power to choose your background and provide an immediate boost to a single skill.
- If a devout follower, use the Pray power daily to increase favor with your diety.
- You are limited - you cannot learn every class and combination. Again - choose wisely.

Survival

- You must sleep, eat, drink, and bath to be fully effective.
- Consider your quest before starting - will you need a tent, food, water, tools?
- Craft a tent, buy some tools, stock up on water at the well, and cook some food before leaving.

Your Adventure Begins

- If you are familiar with Alternate Start - Live Another Life, you know the beginning. Start a new game in the LAL Cell, and WAIT. It takes a few minutes for all mods to initialize.
- Once the messages are done scrolling, Save. Before you begin setting up MCMs (Final Steps), choose a start and sleep to leave the cell and make sure everything loads correctly.
- Everything good? Load the save and set up the MCMs (this takes a little while) and save again. This can serve as your starting point going forward.
- Develop your character before running out to tackle the Main Quest. You will find jumping right in to be somewhat difficult.
- Do some small jobs to gain septims for supplies (food, water, tent, tools).
- Find some trainers and/or practice on some dummies to hone some basic skills.
- Explore and mingle with the locals, helping out where you can. Completing some simple quests and discovering locations will help raise your level early on.

HOW TO

Clean Mod

Mods tagged with
CLEAN
need to be ran through SSEEdit's Auto Quick Clean function.
  - Open MO2.
  - Select SSEEdit QuickAutoClean in the executables drop-down box and click [Run].
  - In the mod list that opens, check the mod that you want to clean and click [OK].
  - SSEEdit will run for a few moments. Once you see the the completed message, Close SSEEdit.
  - In the final pop-up, make sure the mod you cleaned is selected so it will save.

Sort Load Order

It is recommended to sort your load order and test your setup following each step. LOOT will do the majority of your sorting automatically, and any manual adjustments needed will be noted in the final steps prior to the final sorting. Note that LOOT will identify plugins that need to be cleaned and keep a tally by the Dirty Plugins header near the top. If this number is anything other than 0, scroll through your mods in the right pane and find which mod requires cleaning and take the necessary steps. Also research any Errors noted. The Warnings can be ignored as they pertain to compatibility which is largely addressed with Merges throughout the guide, and because they are merged, LOOT will not find them.

To sort your Load Order:

  - Open MO2.
  - Select LOOT in the executables drop-down box and click [Run].
  - In the window that opens, click the Sort Plugins button in the upper right (three lines).
  - If LOOT determines any mods need to be rearranged, [Apply] will appear in the tool bar where the Sort Plugins button was.
  - Click [Apply].
  - Exit LOOT.

Extract BSA

Mods tagged with
BSA
contain at least one BSA (Bethesda Archive files). A BSA contains various assets that need to be extracted from the archive.

There are several options to extract a BSA file.

Allow MO2 to extract BSAs during install:
  - Open the Configure settings and workarounds (wrench and driver icon) and go to the [Plugins] tab.
  - In the upper-left window, click [BSA Extractor].
  - In the window directly to the right, update [enabled] to [true].
With this set to true, any mod you install that contains a BSA will prompt you whether to extract it or not. If a mod is tagged
BSA
, select [Yes]. If not, select [No]. The downside to this method is you have to remember to turn this on and off, or you have to answer the prompt every time a mod is installed containing a BSA, the majority of which you do not need to extract. I prefer to keep it enabled and sacrifice the time of one additional click.
Extract BSA within MO2:
  - Click the [Archives] tab in the right pane.
  - Locate the BSA you want to extract. Right-click it and select [Extract].
  - Navigate to the location you want to extract the BSA (extract to the mods folder).
  - Delete the BSA.
This option is good as you do not have to remember to turn a setting on/off or constantly be asked, but the navigating to the mods folder can be even slower, and you must delete/hide the BSA afterwards.
Utilize external BSA extractor. I will not be covering these, but there are a couple out there. Their respective pages provide all the information you need to install and utilize the tool.

Optimize Meshes

One of the most common causes of CTDs - Meshes. This step needs to be done with any mod flagged
CAO
. Generally this is due to NIF files (mesh files) that need to be optimized to be used with SSE (particularly, but not exclusively, LE mods containing NIFs).
Optimize NIF Files:
  - Navigate to your Tools/Asset Optimizer folder.
  - Run [Cathedral_Assets_Optimizer.EXE].
  - Click [Open Directory], navigate to the mods folder, and click [Select Folder].
  - Unless otherwise explicitly stated, you only want the [Necessary optimization] option checked under both [Meshes] and [Textures].
  - Click [Run].
  - When complete, simply close the window.

Port Mod [from LE]

Mods that are flagged
PORT
need to be completely converted to SSE. This is a two step process.
Fix the Form Number (from 43 to 44):
  - In MO2, use the executables drop-down to run the [Creation Kit].
  - Once open, select [File] and [Data] in the tool bar.
  - In the window that comes up, double click the mod you are converting, and click [Set as Active] and [OK].
  - This may take a few moments to load. Ignore any errors that show in the additional window.
  - After the mod is loaded, re-save the file by going to ([File] and [Save].
  - Make sure you see Saving... Done! in the bottom bar. If you do not, the plugin did not save in Form 44.
  - Exit CK.
Optimize Assets:
  - Use the procedure above for optimizing NIFs.
  - If the mod has a BSA, check the [BSA] option with [Extract old BSA] and [Create BSA] checked.
  - Exit optimizer when complete.

Merge Mods

Mods tagged
MERGE
will contain at least one plugin that will ultimately be merged with zMerge to condense your plugin count. Several steps will contain a merge card instructing you to merge all of the tagged files in that Step / Part.
In MO2:
  - Run [zEdit] from the executables drop-down.
  - On the opening screen, select [zMerge] in the first drop-down and click [Start Session].
  - Click the [Create Merge] button.
  - In pop-up's [Details] tab, name the merge (the filename will update automatically. Leave the Merge Method as the default.
  - Go to the [Plugins] tab, select all the plugins to be merged, and click [OK].
  - There is no need to change anything under the [Load Order] or [Data] tabs if following the guide.
  - Find the box containing the merge you just created. In the upper-right area of that box, click [Build].
  - When zEdit finishes running, exit.
  - In MO2, the new merged mod will be located at the bottom (you may have to [Refresh] your view.

Flag Plugin As ESL

Mods flagged with
ESL
can be flagged as an ESL, thereby keeping it from counting towards your plugin limit of 255.

It is safe (and faster) to wait until the end and flag all plugins at one time. This does not have to be done as you install them (just do not forget to do so).

- In MO2, open SSEEdit.
- Select the plugin in the left pane.
- Right click the field next to [Record Flags] in the right pane (do not click on Record Flags, but the field to the right of it).
- Select [Edit], check the [ESL] box in the pop-up, then click [OK].
- Exit SSEEdit.

Find Plugins That Can Be Flagged ESL

While not technically something that is required for the guide, this is a good tool to use if you are nearing the plugin limit and want to find plugins that can be flagged as ESL to reduce the count. Handy if you are adding to the guide (or doing an extensive amount of the Core + Extended).

- Ensure all your plugins are activated in the Right Pane of MO2.
- Launch SSEEdit from MO2.
- In the pop-up, hold [Shift] and click {{{2}}}.
- Once loaded, right click anywhere in the left pane and select [Apply Script].
- In the pop-up, find [Find ESP plugins which could be turned into ESL] in the Script drop-down box and click [OK].
- Review the output messages for any plugins that include Can be turned into ESL by adding ESL flag in TES4 header.
- Use the How To >> Flag Plugin as ESL to flag all plugins with this message.
- Exit SSEEdit.



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