Skyrim Special Edition
Help us shape the future of the Vortex mod manager by taking our survey
0 of 0

File information

Last updated

Original upload

Created by


Uploaded by


Virus scan

Safe to use

About this mod

This is a guide to converting Oldrim mods to work in Skyrim SE. It is geared towards novices with little to no knowledge of the process.

***If you find this guide helpful, please endorse it so it gets better visibility. I want to make sure that everyone that needs this information has it available to them.***

Permissions and credits
Ok, so it looks like this guide is officially obsolete. For a much simpler method, check out Cathedral Assets Optimizer. You'll still need the CK to convert the ESP, but CAO appears to do everything else.

When I first started modding Skyrim SE, I had to bounce around from site to site and piece together the information needed to properly port Oldrim mods. While the information was definitely there to be found, it wasn't always particularly accessible, and much of the time the instructions seemed like they were geared towards people that already knew how to do it. It was frustrating.

Now that I know what I'm doing, the process is trivial; I don't even have to think about it. But I know there are people out there that are just as clueless as I was, so I figured I'd write this up. This guide is intended to be super dumbed down, so people that are at the level that I started out at can understand it. If it seems long winded, that's because I wanted to cover all of the bases. The process itself is actually pretty simple though, trust me. Once you do it a few times, it will become second nature.

I have used the following process to successfully port dozens of mods to Skyrim SE without issue. This guide is based on sound information I have gathered while learning how to mod Skyrim SE for myself. I personally have had no issues with the following methods, and if you read and understand this guide fully (including the documentation found in the links I have provided) you shouldn't have any issues either. That being said, I cannot be responsible for user error, acts of God, etc... It is to be understood that use of this guide is at your own risk.

Things to keep in mind:

1. This process will work for almost any mod, including mods that require SKSE. The only notable exceptions are certain SKSE mods that install a DLL. In some cases, the DLL may have to be modified/recompiled. If the mod you are porting contains a SkyProc Patcher, please read "Addendum 2."

2. When you port mods from Oldrim, it is advised that you do so one at a time. That way, if you run into issues, it will be easier to pinpoint the source of your problem. Running off, porting 20 mods and installing them all at once is a bad idea.

3. I recommend first reading the comments section of the mod you want to port. Often, other users will detail any potential issues you may run
into specific to that mod. Much of the time you'll see a post saying something like: "Just ported this to SE and it works great!"  In
situations like that, just follow the process outlined below, and you should be fine.

4. While not a common source of trouble, (pretty rare actually, but it does happen) there are some situations where certain texture files can cause issues. Textures in the A1R5G5B5 and/or the B5G6R5 format in particular can crash SE. TGA files are incompatible too, but they won't crash your game as SE simply ignores them. I have only ported 2 mods that had these issues, but I feel that it is something you should be cognizant of. NifScan is a command line tool capable of detecting these files and converting them if necessary.

Before you read ANY further, please read 'Things to know when converting standard mods to SSE.' I consider it to be required reading.

The Guide

Tools of the Trade:

Bethesda Archive Extractor (BAE) - (Standalone executable. No installation necessary, simply unpack to a safe location.) BSA archives packaged by the Oldrim CK are in a format that is incompatible with SE. In order for SE to read them properly, they must be unpacked. BAE is the tool we use to do this.

(To make working with BSAs easier, I recommend associating BSA archives with BAE as shown above.)

SSE Creation Kit
(CK) - (Download "Bethesda Launcher" at the bottom of page, install, and run. Install CK from this program. It will detect your SSE installation and configure everything for you.) The CK is required for the following three functions when converting a mod:
     1) using the Archive.exe tool to repack extracted BSAs in a format that SE can read,
     2) using the HavokBehaviorPostProcess.exe tool to update Oldrim animations to to be compatible with 64-bit Havok,
     3) updating plugins (ESPs or ESMs) to form 44. (Plugins saved in the Oldrim CK are in form 43.)

(Both HavokBehaviorPostProcess.exe and Archive.exe can both be found in the "Tools" folder in your Skyrim SE directory.)

Creation Kit Multiple Masters Fix - (INI file. Download CreationKitCustom.ini and copy it to your Skyrim SE directory.) Allows you to load plugins that have multiple master files.

ConverttoSkyrimSE.bat - (Batch file; usage instructions are on the page.) This file, when used in conjunction with the HavokBehaviorPostProcess.exe tool from the CK, will convert any Oldrim animations (.hkx files) to the newer format that SE uses.

SSE NIF Optimizer - (Standalone executable. No installation necessary, simply unpack to a safe location.) This tool optimizes meshes from Oldrim to make them more compatible with SE. Please make sure to read the documentation before using it, it's especially important for this tool. It may not be necessary to use for the mod you are converting; often, Oldrim meshes work just fine in SE. Please also keep in mind that it is not infallible, and in some cases has been known to cause issues. This post (specifically the parts by jonwd7, the maintainer nifskope) goes pretty in depth about its potential pitfalls.

Conversely, Arthmoor has said this about it: "In handling meshes, it's definitely desirable to run them through Nif Optimizer. The new format is more streamlined and performance friendly so that's something most mods will benefit from when ported."

All said—it is a useful tool if used correctly, and so far I personally have not had any issues with it.

SSEEdit -
(Unpack to your Skyrim SE Directory) If you are converting a mod that contains an ESM, this program is required to convert it to an ESP so the CK will allow you set it as active. It is also a very useful tool to have.

Wrye Bash (WB) - (Installation instructions are on page.) Not a hard requirement, but it is a powerful tool that every modder should have in their arsenal. Any time you open WB, it will notify you if any plugins need to be converted. If you are converting a file that has masters that are not flagged as an ESM you will need either WB or SSEEdit to "Esmify" them, (detailed in "Addendum 1" below.)


Download and install all of the above necessary programs.
Download a mod you want to convert: (For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be using Wearable Lanterns by Chesko even though it has already been ported, because it contains a BSA and uses SKSE, two situations that you will run into. I suggest that you download it and follow along with me step by step.)

Converting The Mod:

Section A: Unpack the Archive

  1. Extract the mod you want to convert to a project folder and open it. In the case of Wearable Lanterns, the contents are two folders (readmes and SKSE,) an ESP, and a BSA. (If your mod does not contain a BSA, skip to step 4.)
  2. If your mod contains a BSA, the first thing you need to do is extract it. If you have already associated BSA files with BAE like I recommended above, all you have to do is double click it and it will open in BAE. Otherwise, you can open BAE and simply drag the BSA into the BAE window.
  3. Click the extract button, and direct the contents of the BSA back into the project folder. You can now delete the BSA, as we are done with it.
  4. If the mod contains any animations, now is the time to convert them. Take "ConverttoSkyrimSE.bat" and "HavokBehaviorPostProcess.exe" and copy them both to your project folder. Double click on "ConverttoSkyrimSE.bat." After the automated process finishes, delete "ConverttoSkyrimSE.bat" and "HavokBehaviorPostProcess.exe."
  5. Optional and/or Potentially Unnecessary: (see notes on NIF Optimizer above) To optimize/fix problem meshes, drag NIF Optimizer.exe into the project folder and run it. Unless the mod you are converting has head parts (i.e. eyes, face meshes, etc.) you won't need to change any settings. If it does have face parts, then you will want to separate those files and selectively optimize those meshes with the "Head Parts Only" box checked. Wearable Lanterns does not have face parts, so just click the "Optimize" button and let it run. When it finishes, you can close out of NIF optimizer and delete both "SSE NIF Optimizer.exe" and "SSE NIF Optimizer.txt."

Section B: Repack the Archive

Note: Repacking the loose files into a BSA is not technically necessary, but I recommend doing it for a number of reasons, a few of which are: A) This is how the SSE engine was designed to function, B) SSE reads BSAs faster than loose files, C) BSAs reduce disk usage, D) BSAs load in the same priority as their plugin, reducing unforeseen conflicts (i.e. mods that change NPC appearance causing the "Black Face Bug") E) BSAs keep the files neat and tidy. Here is a post that goes into further detail: BSAs and You. If you choose not to repackage the mod as a BSA, you can skip to step B-6.

  1. Create a folder named "Data" and drop the files from the mod into it. (SKSE/MCM files, readmes/documentation, and screenshots should be excluded.) 
  2. (This step is important because Archive.exe will not pack the BSA correctly if the root directory of the folders you are packing is not "DATA.")
  3. Open Archive.exe and drag all of the contents of the data folder into the Archive.exe window. Make sure that the Root Directory is "Data". (blue outline, see below)
  4. Click "Edit" and select "Check All Items."
  5. Compressing the BSA (red outline) is entirely optional. Unless the BSA you are packing has sounds or voices, you can usually compress it with no problems. If it does have sounds or voices then you must leave the "Compress Archive" (red outline, see below) box unchecked. When in doubt, don't be afraid to play it safe and leave it uncompressed. The only downside to not compressing the archive is a larger file size. It might be a good idea to leave "Shaders" uncompressed as well. [Note: according to Arthmoor, since the CK does not flag any archive stats when packing BSAs, it is best to leave these boxes (green outline, see below) unchecked for optimal compatibility.]
  6. Click "File"-> "Save As" and then name the BSA. You will want to give it it's original name so that it matches the ESP, in this case: "Chesko_WearableLantern.bsa." Save it to your project folder. It will take a few seconds to a few minutes to complete. (If it is a big mod it will take longer and it may seem to hang; just wait for it to complete.) When it finishes, close Archive.exe and you can delete the folders/files that you just packed as well as the BSL file that was generated as we are finished with them. If you did everything right, your project folder should look exactly like it did when you started: (readmes and SKSE, an ESP, and a BSA.)
  7. ***NOTE: I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Make sure you do not pack the SKSE or MCM folders into the BSA—leave them as loose files. Your mod will not work properly if you pack SKSE or MCM into the BSA.***
  8. Pack the project folder up into an archive using your compression tool of choice. Make sure you give it a descriptive name. (I'd name it something like "Wearable Lanterns 4.0.2 - [Oldrim - SE Converted".])
    7. Install the newly packaged mod with your mod manager of choice.

Section C: Convert Plugin to form 44

Converting ESPs:
(This section must be done individually for every ESP that you are converting.)

(Please see "Addendum 1" if the ESP you are porting has ESPs as masters, as there are a couple of extra steps you will need to follow. If you are unsure of whether or not the ESP you are porting has ESPs as masters, then read "Addendum 1.)"
  1. Open Creation Kit, and when it is done loading, click "File"->"Data." In the window that opens, double click on the plugin you wish to convert, click "Set as Active File" and then click "OK."
  2. It will take a while to load up, and it will spit out numerous errors. You can ignore those. When it is finished loading, simply click "File"->"Save" and close CK. Your ESP is now saved in form 44. At this point, the mod is fully installed and converted.

***Make sure you copy the new form 44 ESP from your data folder back into the mod archive, replacing the old ESP.***

Converting ESMs:
(This section must be done individually for every ESM that you are converting.)

  1. Open the ESM(s) in SSEEdit. Click on the + to expand the tree, and then click on "File Header." (Example)
  2. Right click on the field next to "Record Flags", select "Edit", and uncheck the "ESM" checkbox in the list that appears.
  3. Close SSEEdit, making sure to save the plugin.
  4. Open your data folder, navigate to the plugin, and change the file extension from "ESM" to "ESP."
  5. Open Creation Kit, and when it is done loading, click "File"->"Data." In the window that opens, double click on the plugin you wish to convert,
  6. click "Set as Active File" and then click "OK."
  7. It will take a while to load up, and it will spit out numerous errors. You can ignore those. When it is finished loading, simply click
  8. "File"->"Save" and close CK. Your ESP is now saved in form 44.
  9. Go back to your Data folder, change the file extension back to ESM, then reopen SSEEdit and revert the changes you made in step 2.
  10. Exit SSEEdit and save the plugin. At this point, the mod is fully installed and converted.

***Make sure you copy the new form 44 ESM from your data folder back into the mod archive, replacing the old ESM.***

Congratulations! You're done, that's all there is to it; you've just ported a mod!


ADDENDUM 1: (From step C-1) Please note that ALL masters of the mod you are porting must be flagged as ESM files. If the mod you are converting lists an ESP that is not flagged as a ESM as master, you must "ESMify" that file prior to opening the the mod in the CK. (Master files are plugins that are required by an mod in order it to function. ESPs can still be flagged as ESMs, so don't be misled by the file extension; it is irrelevant.)

Here is the process for "emsifying" a master:

Take note of this picture as an example:

  1. Open Wrye Bash, click on the mods tab, locate the ESP you are converting, and select it. In this case, I am using "Dual Sheath Redux Patch" (red outline) as an example.
  2. Look in the "Masters" pane (green outline.) "Dual Sheath Redux Patch.esp" has 5 masters: Skyrim.esm, Dawnguard.esm, Hearthfires.esm, Dragonborn, and Dual Sheath Redux.esp. Plugins that are flagged as masters will be listed in blue text.
  3. If all of the masters names in this pane are in blue text, then you are good to go- you may continue to step C-1 above. If they are not all blue, proceed to the next step.
  4. In our case, "Dual Sheath Redux.esp" is not in blue. To change this, right-click "Dual Sheath Redux.esp" (blue outline) and select "Emsify Self." Read the warning and click OK.
  5. You can now go back to step C-1 and continue the guide.                                                                                                                                                               
    ***After you save your mod to form 44 in step C-2, don't forget to come back and undo the changes you just made. To revert the changes to the ESP, simply right-click it and select "Espify Self."***


If the mod you are porting has a SkyProc Patcher, such as Dual Sheath Redux or Requiem, you will need to update it to work with SSE. Ultim1 has posted an article explaining just how to do that on the Nexus right HERE. He explains exactly what you need to do in a simple, detailed, and well-written manner. It is the same process I used to convert Dual Sheath Redux when I did it. Here is a screenshot of the instructions:


I hope this guide was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Best Regards,