Skyrim Special Edition
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Forsaken Nomad

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Convert ESP/ESM files to easily editable XML files and back again.

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This is a command line tool that will work with Bethesda plugin files for the purposes of helping to create mods. Currently this consists of converting ESM/ESP files to an XML format that can then be edited with whatever tools you like and then converted back to an ESM/ESP once your changes have been made. Eventually I hope to expand on the features this toolkit provides once I have stabilized the code for reading and writing plugin files.


This is a command line tool that is run with the bethkit.exe executable. To convert a plugin to an XML file you simply run the following in a command prompt:

bethkit convert YourMod.esp YourMod.esx

The ESX file produced will be in an XML format that closely mirrors the binary file format as described at which I referenced to create this toolkit. You will likely want to refer to the information on UESP when making changes as the XML format is still pretty raw and some things might not seem obvious without some knowledge of the file format. Once you have made your changes, you can convert the ESX file back to a plugin file by running the following command:

bethkit convert YourMod.esx YourMod.esp

If you are converting plugins that have text that uses a particular code page for a different language, there is a "-cp" option to specify the code page which can be used as follows:

bethkit convert YourMod.esp YourMod.esx -cp 1252

A list of code pages that can be used with this can be found at the following link:

In addition to the convert command there is also a decompress command which is run as follows:

bethkit decompress YourMod.esp YourModDecompressed.esp

Some records in plugin files are stored in a compressed format and this will decompress them so they are still usable in an uncompressed form. You may not need to use this, but I thought I would mention it since it is available. I used it so analysis of records would be a lot easier in a hex editor while developing this toolkit.


Since this toolkit is relatively new there may still be a lot of bugs. In my testing I have made sure that this works when converting Skyrim.esm, Update.esm, HearthFires.esm, Dawnguard.esm, and Dragonborn.esm to an XML and back again without any differences in the resulting files. That doesn't mean it won't have problems with converting other files that modders have created. If you encounter any problems, please feel free to report bugs so I can see about fixing them.

Also, when editing the XML files it is quite likely you may make changes that convert back into a plugin file successfully with this tool but won't actually work when used in Skyrim. I highly recommend you use TES5Edit to verify there aren't any errors introduced with any changes you have made. Given this toolkit is relatively new you may not want to rely on this heavily for creating mods and instead just use it as another tool that can help you understand the plugins you create.

While this tool works for both Skyrim LE and SE, it cannot be used to convert files from one to work on the other. The purpose of this tool is to perform direct conversion to XML and back to a plugin file without any type of manipulation of the data, any changes must be done by other tools. In theory someone could just change the "version" attribute on records in the XML file to the target game, but there are other differences in the underlying data that are not well documented that would also require changes so this is not recommended.


If you find a bug and want to report it, please include a link to where I can download the file that is having problems so I can reproduce the bug. Bug reports that simply say "it doesn't work" or otherwise give vague information won't be helpful to me since these plugin files are rather complex and I can't guess what a problem might be without being able to reproduce it. Typing in all caps won't help either if I don't have files to reproduce the problem.


Eventually I hope to support games other than Skyrim such as Fallout 4 and Oblivion. I may come up with other functionality other than just XML conversion once I see where my interests go as well as see what feedback from other people who use this might be.