My Skyrim Mod List – Part 1: Utilities

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Intro

A long time ago I did a list of mods that I use while playing Skyrim as a sort of recomendation of good mods. However that list quickly became outdated so when I pulled it down with the intention of making a new, up-to-date and improved version. Due to a suggestion of Ravanel I decided to post it in parts instead of just releasing one gigantic list at once. This will break the work in smaller chunks (making it  easier for me) and allow me to gather some feedback about how to make the list as we go. Eventually I will copy the info in all the posts and make a page out of it that will be linked in the upper menu.

Now here is how it works: I will try be providing the mod name, a link to where you can download it on the Nexus and Steam Workshop (whenever possible) or some other site. So you can pick your own poison of where to download it. Screenshots whenever possible too and obviously a description of the mod. All the screenshots will be taken by me. So if they suck that is purely my fault. I suggest to look at the ones provided at the author page as they are usually ten times better at least. :p

Also, keep in mind this is not meant to be a "The Best Mods of Skyrim" list as much as a completely biased, personal list of mods I'd recommend to anyone who wants to make Skyrim more interesting. Another thing to keep in mind is that I am not a strict lore purist. I will use any mod that I feel fits enough with Skyrim or just amuses me. That means that a mod that adds Lord of the Rings weapons would work for me as they fit well enough. One that adds stuff from Legend of Zelda, not so much. So if that bothers you feel free to ignore my choices.

The Utilities

To begin with we'll won't be dealing exactly with mods but with some 3rd party software that makes playing a modded Skyrim easier. Next time it will be some real mods though!

Mod Organizer by Tannin

Download: Nexus

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Description:

If you install more than 3 mods in Skyrim chances are that you will need a good mod manager. Right now my mod manager of choice for Skyrim is Mod Organizer. It has a lot of nifty features:

  • Mods are installed into their own directories, instead of the data one. This keeps the data directory completely clean in case you decide to play without mods. So no more worrying about some rogue file hidden somewhere!
  • Profiles. This is nice if you share the computer with someone else as it allows each can have different mods installed. It can also be useful to keep save files separated for different characters or if you want to test a few new mods.
  • Nexus integration so you can use Mod Organizer to download the mods.
  • It is easy to see if a mod is conflicting with another one
  • And many more other features listed in the mod's page!

For first time users, I recommend checking the guide to Mod Organizer at the S.T.E.P. Wiki. It is a pretty good guide and explains everything you need to know about the program.

LOOT by the LOOT team

Download: Other

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Description:

Skyrim can be pretty picky when it comes to the load order of its mods. If you don't load they in the right order there may be conflicts between mods where at best things don't work as intended. At worst it can lead to crashes. To help deal with that problem there is a program called LOOT which will automagically sort the mod load order for us. And if you don't like the load order LOOT generates you can set some rules for each individual mod about after which mod it should be loaded after. This makes it another essential program for anyone that uses more than 3 mods.

TES5Edit by ElminsterAU

Download: Nexus

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Description:

The TES5 Edit tool does a lot of things. A lot more than I am even aware of. For the average player though it can be very useful for cleaning dirty mods. What is a dirty mod? Well, a very oversimplified answer is that it is mods who did improper changes to something implemented in vanilla Skyrim. Those kind of things can cause a ton of problems, including save game corruption. For a more complete and accurate explanation on dirty mods as well as instructions on how to use TES5 Edit you can check this guide. Be sure to read it and always make a backup of the mod before using TES5 Edit just to be on the safe side. It is a powerful tool and like any powerful tool it can be misused causing tons of problems if you don't know what you are doing. If you do know how to use it though then it can be a very useful tool.

Merge Plugins xEdit Script by matortheeternal

Download: Nexus

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Description:

This isn't a stand-alone application itself but rather a plugin for TES5 Edit that allows merging mods. Why would you want that? Well, Skyrim has a limit of 255 mods. If you use a lot of mods *coughs*likeme*coughs* then you will probably want to merge some of those just to be on the safe side. For example, say  that you have a dozen mods where each adds one unique armor. You could merge those twelve mods into one so there it only takes on mod slot rather than 12.

Be sure to read the tutorial for it, you can find it by scrollind down on the nexus page for the Merge Plugins. Also backup your mods before trying to merge them, just to be on the safe side, as always.

Wrye Bash by Wrye Bash Team

Download: Nexus

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Description:

Wrye Bash is another mod manager, one of the oldest ones around. In fact, it was my choice for mod management before I started using Mod Organizer. But that is not what I am listing it in here for. It is for a feature that is still unique to Wrye Bash, which allows the merging of a leveled lists. What is a leveled list? Well, basically, when you loot a chest or a bandit the game checks rolls on a table and picks a loot from there that would be appropriate for your level. Well, it is used for a few more things than that and you can get a better explanation in the UESP site. Now there is one small detail... When two or more mods try to change the same leveled list only the changes from the last mod will apply. Terrible example, let's say I have Mod A that makes it so that road bandits all drop an iron dagger when I loot their corpse. Then I decide to install Mod B which makes them all have cheese wheels in the inventory when I decide to loot them. If Mod B comes after Mod A in the load order then I will never see those iron daggers, only the cheese wheels.

Wrye Bash has a nice solution to that problem, called a Bashed Patch, which merges any leveled lists from all your active mods. Going back to my terrible example, with a Bashed Patch it would guarantee that everytime I looted a bandit corpse it would have an iron dagger AND a cheese wheel. The Bashed Patch is created dynamically, so every time you add a new mod you need to create a new Bashed Patch otherwise any leveled list from the new mod won't be added to the Bashed Patch. There is a pretty good video explanation made by the GamerPoets on how to make a Bashed patch here. It was made with Mod Organizer in mind but if you don't use it then just ignore the Mod Organizer steps.

Save game script cleaner by Hadoram

Download: Nexus

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Description:

At one point or another we'll end up finding that a mod that we thought was great isn't so great after all. Or that a better mod has been made. In either case we end up uninstalling it. Most mods will just give some uninstallation instructions so it can be safely removed. But let's say you  forgot to read said instructions and already made a new save with the mod uninstalled. If it was a mod that used scripts that can be a problem because Skyrim bakes any scripts a mod add to the save file. So even if you uninstalled the mod if you load a save game that used it, the mod scripts will still be there, running and trying to do its thing. That is not something we want.

That is where the Save Game Script Cleaner enters the scene. Its purpose is to remove all those orphan scripts from save game files left from a bad mod uninstallation. Keep in mind that it is not a miracle tool. It does a pretty good job, it is pretty easy to use but even some save files are beyond its ability to recover. So always be careful when uninstalling a mod. Also, make a backup of your saved game file before using this tool just to be on the safe side!

 

 

10 thoughts on “My Skyrim Mod List – Part 1: Utilities

  1. Ravanel Griffon

    The first Skyrim mod post is a fact! I'm not actively playing Skyrim at the moment (although I will have to revisit the game at some point to finish off the main story, as my files got bugged beyond repair), but I'll remember this stuff to check out when I do. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Rakuno

      Yes. Although I don't know what will the frequency of these kind of posts will be. Some mods are easy to test out and see if they are interesting, like say, house ones. While other ones take a bit more of play to check the same, like one that alters perks. So that makes it a bit complicated.

      In any case I am finally doing something with the idea instead of overthinking it like I used to do.

      Reply
        1. Rakuno

          I do but it isn't all that different from the other thousand ones out there.

          Short version: I don't like it and it makes me apreheensive for future Bethesda games.

          Long and probably imcompreensible ramble: I can see what the appeal would be for modders to getting their mods into it. I mean, a lot of them put a ton of time into their work, some with hopes of even becoming a game developer one day. So this would be kinda like having one foot inside that industry. And I do think some of them deserve some money for it plus all the praise they can get. I just don't think this is the way for that.

          First the system has a lot of problems. From everything I been reading around the mod author only gets 25% of the cut. Unless your mod is super succesfull, which is already very hard even without it being behind a paid wall, it won't be all that much.

          Then there is the question that once you put it for sale there you pretty much lose ownership of your mod. You can not take your mod out of there once you put it for sale unless Valve is legally compelled to do so. I can see why that is the case, usually if a store sells an item and then whoever was the creator doesn't want to sell through their store anymore the store will just make it unavailable for new purchases but people who already purchased it can still download the files.

          For example, I bought the original Fallout (Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics to be more precise) games from GOG a long time ago. Then Bethesda decided they didn't want to deal with GOG and you just can't purchase those games there anymore. But I can still go to my download area in GOG and download those games from there.

          If you want to buy those games you can only buy it on Steam.

          But with mods the situation is more complicated. What if the mod author regrets putting their mod for sale on the Workshop they can't just ask them to refund everyone who purchased it and delete all the files. They can't just put that version for free somewhere else. So they pretty much lose control of  their own creation.

          Lastly in this full can of worms there is the question that it has always been pretty common for mods to share assets with each other, require another mod or be built upon another mod. With paid mods how will mods author find out if content from their mod has been used in a some paid mod? Their only options would be to just buy it, pirate it or see it from someone who has the mod. Neither option is all that good.

          To make it worse there has been already people who pulled their mods from the Nexus because they are afraid their content will be stolen for paid mods. Seems it is like about 40 mods so far (source: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/news/12454/?). I don't know which mods those were as I haven't noticed any yet of the ones that I use  that have been brought down. And yes, if we are talking in purely numbers, 40 is a drop in an ocean but we don't know if one of those mods was a pretty good one. And quality does matter a lot when it comes to mods.

          My worry is that if a new Bethesda game comes (or even another game that allows modding) with that kind of system is that people won't have as much stimulation to make mods. That the mod community might become something tiny, filled with mostly crap and maybe one or two great mods that add a lot of fun to the game.

          So yeah, I am not happy with this situation. We'll have to see what the future brings.

          Reply
          1. Ravanel Griffon

            Thanks for your thoughts. I didn't even consider the ownership thing. I feel conflicted about it too. It's not that I don't want modders to profit from their work; they have delivered some astonishing work that will have taken many hours. Above all it seems like such a big experiment: nobody is able to tell for sure what the effects are going to be. The only ones profiting from this for sure are the big companies themselves.

          2. Rakuno

            I don't think anybody considered the ownership thing until Chesko decided to pull out his mods of this mess. Here is where he talks about that and a few more other things:

            http://www.reddit.com/r/skyrimmods/comments/33qcaj/the_experiment_has_failed_my_exit_from_the/

            And about his accusation against the Nexus, DarkOne already made a post clarifying the Nexus stance and involvement with the whole system:

            http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/news/12459/?

            Anyway, this kind of thing isn't uncommon in shops who sell online content. I think it is easier to do things that way than trying to reimburse everyone who purchased the product. The seller can usually just go sell the product in another shop too, without any issue. Never saw someone trying to offer what  used to be paid content as a free content though. I guess that would be something that would depend on what kind of contract was made with the store and in the cases of the Curated Workshop there is probably a clause somewhere against it so Chesko would just not be able to upload versions of his mod that were up for sale.

            It is definitely a big experiment and definitely it is only the companies who are profiting from it. I just hope  they will realize it is not a experiment that is going well fast enough to either shut it down completely or do some big changes that would benefit the modders and the comunity first.

          3. Ravanel Griffon

            Thanks for those articles. They provided an interesting read. I know it's "the internet" and all, but it's astonishing to read all those comments on the nexusmods article of people who want that modder that went to Valve and back to publicly apologize and all. Makes me wonder what kind of people are involved with the modder community in the first place. A bunch of 16 year olds living with mum and dad that have no idea what it's like to have to earn a living, maybe? I feel for that poor guy that was like "hey, maybe I can follow my dream and mod for a living" and got burned for it.

          4. Rakuno

            You are welcome!

            And well, the problem is that mods, like any highly creative work, people can be really passionate about. Passionate enough that it can make sensible people do some really dumb things. Then you throw something that can cause the same effects, like money, to the mix and you get an explosion whose fire can rage on for at least days.

            From what I hear the Nexus aren't even the worst for that kind of behavior since at least in there they have moderators who will take care of anyone who starts getting out of line. Authors also have the option to delete comments on their mod pages if they so decide. On the Steam Workshop there is absolute no moderation. Anyone can pretty much say anything in there without any consequences. So it is not the kind of place you want to read other people's  thoughts about something. t

          5. Ravanel Griffon

            I managed to complete part 1 of what Conrad refers to as "the Rakuno challenge": I watched (the rest of) Iron Man! And I actually enjoyed it. I think I was scared away a bit at the start of the movie with all the violence and misery - and maybe I was very tired at the time, which certainly doesn't help either. Either way, the rest was much more playful, basically a mix of action and humour (James Bond-style, which I can appreciate), so that was nice.

            So that's 1/4. What do I get for completing the challenge? 😛

          6. Rakuno

            Well, most of the Marvel's super heroes have a tragic beginning. After they come to terms with that though they tend to go doing super-hero stuff like it was just a normal job. Thor may be the exception as far as the movie goes though but he does have his own set of problems to deal with.

            If you do intent to watch the rest of the movies I'd recommend this order: Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy.

            The reason for this is that the movies after Avengers make some reference to Avengers so it might not make as much sense unless you watch it in that order. Well, Guardians of the Galaxy you might watch in any order and it probably won't make that much difference. Well, maybe not after Avengers 2 since I haven't watched that one yet so I don't know what is going on in there. :p

            And you can blame  Marvel for that order as they are trying to make it have some sort of story continuity between the movies just like in the comic books. :p

            Also, this is **NOT** a challenge. It was just a suggestion for something I thought you might enjoy. So... your prize is... the satisfaction of watching a good movie? :p

            ...

            *sighs* Fine! I will see what I can come up with. But no promises! :p

            EDIT: Oh, I forgot to say. Always watch until the credits end too. Since they tend to put a scene there that teases future movies.

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