Hello, this is Raestloz writing. I'm writing this to tell you users that there will be a major change in PCEAr's system.1. The Problem
Currently, the NPCs use the normal armors while we users have to use the custom armors with custom paths, causing all sorts of compatibility problems with other mods, most notably smelting mods and community bug fixes.
I've been content with the way things work, but I wonder myself just how long I can keep this up. I'm working on Dragonborn support and I realize that if more DLCs come, and more mods that need original armor entries are released, the harder I'll need to work to maintain compatibility.
I realize that there is, in fact, a way to reverse the situation: a way to make enemies use the custom armors instead, so we users use the normal armors, saving me (and you) a lot of headache dealing with mod compatibilities.2. The Solution
The solution is to directly edit the Outfit (OTFT) and Leveled Items (LVLI) forms themselves. Put simply, these forms are lists of armor combinations an NPC will use when it is generated.
For example, remember Lokir from Rorikstead? He was assigned MQ101 Outfit, which consists of Prisoner Tunic, Prisoner Shoes, and Prisoner Cuffs. So when he was generated, he wore those items. If I were to modify that MQ101 Outfit form to have Custom Prisoner Tunic, Custom Prisoner Shoes, and Custom Prisoner Cuffs instead, Lokir will spawn wearing the custom armors!
This way, users will be able to use the normal armor entries, allowing greater compatibility with other mods.
Of course, this method isn't without its drawback, which is why I didn't use it the first time around.3. The Other Problem
This method WON'T work with mods that alters any Outfit forms and armor-related LVLI forms, nor will it work with mod-added NPCs that use custom Outfit forms or custom Leveled Items form. Most quest mods (especially the big ones) adds custom NPCs, and they might use custom Outfit forms.
Not to mention overhaul mods, they tend to modify LVLI and OTFT forms. By all means they will NOT be compatible.
Also, this method will increase your number of plugins by one for vanilla Skyrim, and one more for each DLC. Unless you can utilize TES5EDIT to merge the plugins.
Lastly, to take advantage of community bugfix that is USKP, PCEAr will require USKP to run. Mostly, to make sure that any fixes USKP do to Leveled Items (if any) will be preserved. At least visually.4. The Heads Up
This is the way PCEAr will work from 1.5 onwards. This means, if you want to use newer versions of PCEAr, you'll have to take into account that things work differently and expect a lot of quirks if you use mods that add custom Outfit forms or modify vanilla ones.
Editing Outfits and Leveled Items are much simpler than maintaining compatibility with other mods. Mods that use custom Outfits could add support for PCEAr simply by modifying their Outfit forms to use custom armors instead. But there is a high chance that modders simply won't bother with it (this mod isn't exactly popular). Then again, I don't use quest mods or mods that add NPCs (for now), so I don't really feel any problem.5. The Good News
Dragonborn support will not require PCEAr 1.5 It will work with PCEAr 1.4 just fine. If you don't want to jump into the bandwagon that is 1.5, it's fine.
All your equipments will still be there, safe and well preserved. They simply will have different function (that is, the enemies will use them instead).