Skyrim Special Edition
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About this mod

A lightweight, basic mod list intended to be used for a Vanilla+ experience, or as a base to add your own mods on top of.

Requirements
Permissions and credits
Changelogs
Table of Contents
i. What this guide does not do
ii. Initial Setup & First Steps
iii. Required Reading, Tools & Utilities
1. Core Engine Fixes, SKSE & SKSE Plugins
2. Base Install: Mandatory Bugfixing & Core Mods
3. Quests & Factions
4. Audio
5. Visuals & Recommended Textures (Optional)
6. Flora, Grass, Lighting, Terrain, Trees, Water & Weather (Optional)
7. Recommended Body & Armor Replacers (Optional)


i. What This Guide Does Not Do
This is not a guide for graphics or huge, sweeping gameplay overhauls and changes. There are multiple, well-done guides for those already. In addition, this guide does not feature compulsory body/armor/animation mods, flora/grass/tree mods, city/town/village mods or texture mods (Though I will -recommend- mods that I use together, they will never be a requirement for the guide and can be safely ignored and are in their own sections.) Mods such as these are highly subjective and dependent on a user's aesthetic choices and playstyle.

Always be sure to read mod pages thoroughly before installing a mod, as well as any other documentation it may have. I did not compile this list of mods to hold your hand or install each mod individually for you. This guide takes advantage of already-existing patches rather than creating a large megapatch for everything that is so specific to the load order nothing else can be added. You can run DynDOLOD and a bashed patch yourself, there are many guides available for patching, merging, LOD generation and everything else that pertains to Skyrim modding.

This is intended as a base, something to start with. This guide is meant to be lightweight and compatible, and if you wish to add in larger gameplay overhauls on top of this, go ahead. They will more than likely work.


ii. Initial Setup & First Steps
As with any guide, I recommend starting fresh. Starting from a clean install of skyrim will minimize the chance that leftover mods can cause unintentional bugs and other issues, especially if you were using Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) or Vortex or manual installs previously.

To wipe your Skyrim Special Edition install, navigate to steam/steamapps/common and delete your Skyrim Special Edition folder. Then, open steam and redownload the game. It's also a good idea to move your Steam directory outside of Program Files, to something like C:/Games. For windows users, it will prevent UAC from getting overzealous when attempting to run any of the utilities that skyrim requires.

When you have a clean version of skyrim installed on your computer, open steam and right click on Skyrim in your "Games" tab in the sidebar. Hit "Properties" at the bottom of the menu that pops up and navigate to the "Updates" tab, then set Skyrim to "Only update when I launch it." This will ensure that whenever there is an update, your game won't update automatically, and will only update when you launch it through steam proper. As Skyrim must be launched through SKSE for many mods in this guide to function, you can continue to use your SKSE-dependent mods and update at a later date without fear of things breaking.

For mod managers, I heavily recommend Mod Organizer 2. It will prevent any mishaps within the data folder, and is easy to setup and use. Support will not be given to those using manual installs or old version of Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) or Vortex. It is entirely to easy to bork entire installs with the first two, NMM doesn't support certain plugin types that this mod relies on, and Vortex' handling of conflicts leaves much to be desired as it is needlessly complex compared to MO2.


iii. Required Reading, Tools & Utilities
The links within this section contain information that any modder should know. From bashed patches to LODgen to xEdit and porting oldrim mods to SE. Everything within is explained in-depth, much better than I can explain them, so it would be a good idea to read through here if you are new to modding. Also contains links to important utilities.
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1. Core Engine Fixes, SKSE & SKSE Plugins
Quality changes that make the game more stable, improve controls and in general prevent a lot of headache. All of these are dependent upon the current version of SKSE, meaning that they (and SKSE) will break whenever skyrim is updated. These mods are usually fixed quickly, but it is important that steam auto updates are disabled. See the above notice for instruction on that.

All mods are updated for the latest version of SKSE as of February 10th.
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2. Base Install: Mandatory Bugfixing & Core Mods
There is a good reason why these basic mods are found in almost every load order and mod guide in existence. These are mostly bug fixes and quality changes that really should have been included in the base game.
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3. Quests & Factions
These mods expand on the existing vanilla quests and factions to give you more impactful choices throughout, for a better RPG experience.
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4. Audio
The audio of Skyrim SE leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared with the ps4 version of the game. These audio mods are compatible with everything and make the game sound better.
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5. Visuals & Recommended Textures (Optional)
These textures are what I personally use, in this order. They are optional to the guide, but they do make Skyrim look nicer and I'd recommend them to anyone who asks. This is, however, the part of the guide where most lower-end pcs will struggle. (For reference, I have a 1080ti, i7-8700, and 16gb ram. I'm running at a stable 55-60fps everywhere at 1080p screen resolution.) I recommend downsizing the textures, or finding alternatives for the "base" texture packs in this section if you're low on vram or have a weaker rig.
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6. Flora, Grass, Lighting, Terrain, Trees, Water & Weather (Optional)
While I've included bugfixing in the core section of this mod, there's quite a few other mods I feel add quite a lot to Skyrim's atmosphere. This section is based around DynDOLOD, so I suggest familiarizing yourself with it before starting on this section.
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7. Recommended Body & Armor Replacers (Optional)
These are the body and armor mods I prefer. Alongside textures, probably the most subjective part of any modlist. SKSE dependencies abound.
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