Skyrim Special Edition

About this mod

Another attempt at a BRIEF and CONCISE mod tutorial. This guide is meant to enhance the gameplay and graphics while keeping a healthy fps and preserving the vanilla feel of the game without making you want to rip your eyes out. Everything with the exception of ENB, 7zip, C++, CK, Nemesis and SKSE64 can be downloaded right here on Nexus using Vortex

Permissions and credits

I messed up. If you used this guide before 9/6/2020, I advise that you start from step 0 and start fresh. I'm seriously sorry. I thought I had things figured out, then I got my ass handed to me on reddit, so I reinstalled my game and followed my own instructions and edited this guide from the ground up.


Don't download the file. Everything you need to know is in this description.

I'm going to preface this by saying that if you've modded Skyrim with great success in the past, PLEASE READ THIS FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS ONLY. This is not meant for advanced modders. This guide is specifically meant for new modders that want to try Skyrim: Special Edition on PC for the first time and modders that may have had trouble or have gotten frustrated in the past. 


Version 1.0.1
- Fixed/added notes/additional instructions regarding SKSE, Vortex and A Quality World Map

Version 1.0.2
- Added instructions for Address Library For SKSE Plugins, SSE Engine Fixes, .NET Script Framework and Bug Fixes SSE

Version 1.0.3
- Fixed instructions for WICO installation involving load order

Version 1.0.4
- Random notes and corrections

Version 1.0.5
- Fixed broken ENB link, thanks Sean!

Version 1.0.6
- Added mods Guard Dialogue Overhaul, Shout, Fantasy Soundtrack Project, and Multiple Floor Sandboxing (thanks Aenara!), as well as Simply Better Horses and Horse Whistle.

Version 1.2.0
- Basically fixed the guide, hence the jump to 1.2.0. I reinstalled my own game and completed my own tutorial, added instructions for Nemesis, fixed instructions for using CK with A Quality World Map, added notes, removed notes, removed mod Quest: Pit Faction (for the simple fact that I just haven't tested the entire thing), and just general tweaks here and there. Big shout out and thanks to  Livelynightmare, nellshini and featherstonest on reddit for helping me get back on track.


Tired of seeing mod guides that make you feel like you're reading a Hoover owner's manual? Want to mod Skyrim, but you're kind of bad at computers? Ready to make Skyrim look better without pulling what's left of your hair out?

Hi, I'm Eranor Indarys of House Hlaalu and I'm here to tell you about waxton's quickstart tutorial! This tutorial will teach you what to mod and how to mod it in the correct order so that you'll gain:

-Better Lighting
-Beautiful People
-More Fulfilling Combat
-Exciting Spells
-Expansive Loot
...and more!

 If you follow these steps in the correct order, you will achieve what I consider most important: a more fun Skyrim. I'll do my best to not leave anything out, but I'm new to this, so please, if you feel like I'm leaving something too important to forget out, tell me!

Modding Skyrim to a satisfying level of awesomeness requires patience and time. Eventually, it comes to a point where it feels like you spend more time working on crashes and fixes then you do actually playing the game. That's not fair to the common player that just wants to play the game. The intent here is for players to be able to mod Skyrim without having to make a hobby out of it. My goal here is to save you time and heartache. I've spent a lot of time modding Legendary edition and FONV very badly; it took me a long time to get it right and believe me, this will save you a lot of time.

I will be breaking this guide up into four parts so you can take coffee breaks without losing your train of thought. Part 1 will cover applications needed, part 2 will cover the ENB, as well as other graphics modifications. Part 3 will cover WICO, VHR, and defeating the "blackface" and "essential" bugs that can come with that. Part 4 will cover everything else!

Step 0: Destructor Dragon
If you have modded Skyrim on your current PC before:

 First of all, you need to uninstall all your mods using whatever mod manager (select a mod, press ctrl a to select all mods, click disable) you were previously using, then uninstall Skyrim and delete everything (and I mean everything) in your installation directory. Secondly, you need to reinstall Skyrim. And thirdly, I'm willing to bet you have dirty edits. To fix this, download LOOT and SSEEdit from the links below in part 1 just a few lines down. After downloading and installing LOOT, run it. LOOT will tell you which of your .esm plugins you need to clean. Install SSEEdit, find the installation directory and run "SSEEditQuickAutoClean." Select which .esm plugin that you need to clean one at a time, and presto! 

Part 1: Set 'Em Up

First things first, you need a Nexus account. If you don't have one, go get one! Once you're logged in, come back and we'll get started!

If you're having trouble keeping your place, I suggest keeping notes on a notepad.

To start, we'll need some essential programs. Let's go!

Of course, you need to download and install a clean copy of Skyrim: Special Edition. If you're using Steam or another launcher, go ahead and start Skyrim for the first time if you haven't already. This is important because Steam doesn't install games until you run them for the first time.

7zip: (Install this first if you don't already have something to unzip folders)

Vortex: (Go ahead and start this up and link your account to Nexus)

***IMPORTANT*** Be sure to go to the plugins tab and click "Autosort Enabled" so that it reads "Autosort Disabled" on the screen (shoutout and thanks to RattleDagger on reddit :D)

Loot: (Wait to start this up until after you have Skyrim installed)

SSEEdit: (Extract this and remember where it is)

ENB: ( Click the most recent version at the bottom of the page example: "v0.440". This will go directly to your downloads folder unless otherwise specified)

Visual Studio 2019: (Click "Free Download" under "Community" and run the installer that pops up in the bottom left of your browser. Don't install any of the extras, and when prompted, don't worry about making an account, just skip ahead until you're prompted to open your first project and close the application)

We want to keep things tidy. Find a nice spot on your PC to keep things organized, but separate from your Skyrim installation folder. For example, I keep a folder on my desktop titled "Junk Folder" and inside is all the stuff my wife doesn't want to see, including my Skyrim mods folder, where you and I will be keeping the stuff that we need to keep around just in case things get messed up (don't worry they won't :P).

First and foremost, we need SKSE. This is a no brainer to some, but to those who aren't in the know, the script extender is perhaps the most important mod for Skyrim. It allows room for...well everything! Download the current SE build. Go to your downloads folder (right click start, click File Explorer), right click skse_2_00_19 and hover over 7zip, click extract and select make new folder under your Skyrim mods folder as the destination path and press okay. Open your file browser (right click on the windows icon, then press "file explorer"). Go to program files>steam>steamapps>common>skyrim special edition>data and if there is not one already create a folder named "scripts." Keep this window open.

Open a new file browser window Go to your Skyrim mods folder, double click the new folder (you should probably name it something :P), go into the "data" folder, then the "scripts" folder and copy all the .pex files. You do not need the source folder. Go to the first file browser window and paste your .pex files into the "scripts" folder. In the destination path field, click "skyrim special edition" and this will return you to where your executable (application) is. You should see SkyrimSE.exe or just SkyrimSE. Go back to your other file browser window and in the destination path field click "skse64_2_00_19" and select the .dll files and the skse64 executable. Copy these files and paste them into your Skyrim directory (the other file browser window). Close both file browser windows.

Open Vortex and go to the Dashboard section. On the Skyrim SE tools panel, scroll down to Skyrim Script Extender 64, click the three little dots and click edit. Under the target field, click the little folder icon. Navigate to your Skyrim installation directory, find the application "skse64_loader," select it and press open. Under the start in field, click that folder icon. Navigate to your Skyrim installation directory again and click select folder. Now click the icon; next to the file name bar, click the drop down arrow and click executables. Click SkyrimSE. Click open, then save. Click the three little dots again. Now click make primary. You can now launch Skyrim from the top left corner of Vortex (shoutout and thanks to rizlakingsize on reddit :D).

From this same location we can also set up our tools to be easily accessed from this area. For instance, if you click the three little dots next to SSEEdit and set it up to be launched the same way, icons and everything : ) you can also add tools like LOOT (if it isn't already showing up) and navigate to its installation and make a shortcut for it as well. This way, you can launch all of your programs from within Vortex. Or don't! Your call.

Keep Vortex open.

From this point forward you will use skse64.exe to launch Skyrim! This is non-negotiable! If you use the main launcher, YOUR GAME WILL NOT LOAD MODS!

Steam Users (optional, but recommended):
Open Steam, click the games tab, click add a non-steam game to my library. Navigate to the skse64.exe in programfiles>steam>steamapps>common>skyrim special edition

Once skse64 is added to your library right click the game in your library and click "properties." Here you can change the title of the game and the icon. I prefer simply "Skyrim" and this icon.

You can also customize the logo and background by right-clicking on the blank image on the game page. I use:

This background
this logo.

Let's also go to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in our Steam library, right click it, hover over mange and click "hide this game." This prevents us from accidentally starting Skyrim with the wrong launcher!

Next we need the Address Library For SKSE Plugins. Go here and download the main file titled "All In One" by pressing "Mod Manager Download." When the next page pops up, if you don't have a premium account with Nexus, click "slow download," and wait for your download to begin in Vortex. Once your download has finished, in the dialogue box that pops up in the top right hand corner, press "Install." When it has finished installing, press "Deploy." This is the typical process for installing a mod: download>install>deploy. Easy enough, right? :D

I think it's important to note that it's very important to remember to deploy your mods. If for whatever reason you miss the little text, fear not! Navigate to your mods tab in Vortex, find the mod in question and click "disabled" so that it reads "enabled." Done!

Head here for SSE Engine Fixes. Click "Mod Manager Download" and when the dialogue pops up, click "Download." Repeat the same process: download>install>deploy. Next, return to that same page and click manual download under (Part 2) Engine Fixes. This time, like with SKSE, a 7zip file will appear in the bottom of your browser. Click the little arrow, click "Show in folder." Right click "(Part 2 Engine Fixes..." and hover over "7zip" and click extract files. In the 7zip window, click the 3 little dots. Navigate to your Skyrim mods folder, create a new folder named "SSE Engine Fixes," press okay, and press okay again. Now open that folder, copy the files within the extracted folder and paste them in your Skyrim installation directory: program files>steam>steamapps>common>skyrim special edition.

Now we're going too install the .NET Script Framework. When prompted, it will ask if you have DLL Plugin Loader installed; you do. DLL Plugin Loader is included with SSE Engine FIxes. Do it just like before: download>install>deploy. Then repeat that same process with Bug Fixes SSE.

Now we want Nemesis. Download the .rar file from the assets section at the bottom of the page. Open your downloads folder and go to the downloads tab in Vortex. Drag and drop the Nemesis 7zip file from your downloads folder to the little section in Vortex that says "Drop URL(s) or File(s)" (if it isn't showing, click the little orange arrow in the bottom right corner). Install and deploy Nemesis.

(Special thanks to Linvael on reddit for pointing out my lack of bug fixes in this tutorial; they're definitely integral to the learning process and I shouldn't have left them out in the first version)

Start a new game. Get to the part where you become "unbound." Save and exit.

Part 2: Boris & Friends

This section tackles ENB and a couple other mods.

Now we're going to go ahead and get ENB set up. Go to your downloads folder, right click enbseries_skyrimse_v0437 and hover over 7zip, click extract and select your Skyrim mods folder as the destination path and press okay. Go to your Skyrim Mods folder, double-click the enbseries folder, double-click wrapperversion folder, click d3d11.dll, hold control and click d3dcompiler_46e.dll, right click either of the two and click copy. Go to your Skyrim data folder (typically C:Program Files>Steam>steamapps>common>Skyrim Special Edition; remember this as it will probably come in handy later) and right click inside the window but not on any of the files and click paste. 

Head here and download Surreal ENB. Use Vortex to install the ENB after it has finished downloading. 

Next we're going to repeat the same process with USSEP and SMIM. Throughout the rest of this part of this tutorial, as you're installing mods, Vortex will detect conflicts. In the upper right hand corner, a dialogue box will pop up telling you so with a little "more" button. Click it each time it pops up, and use the drop down box to assign whether a mod comes before or after another mod. Example:

Time for Skyrim 2020 Parallax by Pfuscher. Download and install all of the main files from this page. Refer to the example above if you have any concerns about what needs to go before what.

Next we're going to install Ultimate HD Fire Effects and Realistic Water Two. 

Head here to download the Bethesda launcher. Login/create an account. Navigate to the Creation Kit and download/install it. Once you have CK open, download A Quality World Map and install it. In CK, click file, then data. Scroll down until you find penguinworldmapclassic.esp. Double click it, and click "set as active file." Then press load. Wait for the file to load. If any warnings pop up, just say yes to all. When it's done loading, exit the warnings box. Now click file, then save. Exit CK. Easy peasy! (Special thanks to Aenara and Linvael of reddit! :D)

Head to this page for SSE Parallax Shader Fix and download and install the main file with Vortex. Download the other file manually and find it in your downloads folder. Extract the file "d3dcompiler_47" to your mod folder and then copy it to your game directory (Program Files>Steam>steamapps>common>Skyrim Special Edition).

Install SKYUI. 

Load your saved game. Everything should be running nice and smooth. Let the MCM (Mod Configuration Menu) load. Exit to desktop. Now let's do something about those ugly ass nords.

Part 3: Dude, it's 2020. Not cool.

Are we having fun yet? If not, I advise you to stop and take a break. Get some air, have a smoke; do what you need to do so that you're sharp and not prone to making mistakes. If it's late, go to bed. This will be here tomorrow. I've found that staying up late modding is the absolute best and assured way to screw up your game. This next part must be done correctly or it will cause various issues with NPCs.

Now we're going to install WICO (Be sure to click "enable all" when it pops up). After you've installed WICO, go here and download and install Vanilla Hair Replacer - Main Version (under Main Files) as well as VHR - Patch - WICO (under Old Files).

Open LOOT and use the auto sort plugins button (the three lines at the top right of the window) and press the little check mark. Find "WICO - Immersive People.esp" and click the three little dots at the end of the plugin. Click "edit metadata. Under the "main" tab, select the little drop down arrow and change the selection from "default" to "early loaders." Click the little X and then click the check-mark at the top right of the window. Find the plugin "WICO - Immersive Character.esp" and do the same thing, only this time, click the "load after tab." Now click "add new row" and type "WICO" and search for "WICO - Immersive People.esp" and click it. Again, click the X and click the check-mark. Now repeat this process for "WICO - Wild Hunt Gears.esp," but instead of immersive people in the load after section, you want to put immersive character. Same goes for "WICO - Immersive Dawnguard.esp," except for this one loads after wild hunt gears, ya dig it? Remember to click the little check mark.

Your Load order right now should look something like:

Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch.esp
Realistic Water Two - Resources.esm
WICO - Immersive People.esp
WICO - Immersive Character.esp
WICO - Wild Hunt Gears.esp
WICO - Immersive Dawnguard.esp
VHR - WICO.esp
VHR - WICO1.esp
VHR - WICO2.esp
Vanilla Hair Replacer - VHR.esp
Realistic Water Two.esp

So the funny thing about WICO is that it makes certain characters essential. This means you cannot kill certain characters. Oh we'll get them. To combat this, we'll be using SSEEdit, which you downloaded earlier. Follow these instructions to the letter:

  1. Go here and download "Automation Tools" package of scripts for TES5Edit (they work perfectly fine with SSEEdit):
  2. Unpack them to SSEEdit folder.
  3. Open SSEEdit and mark only USSEP + WICO files. Press OK and wait for everything to load.
  4. In the left panel open WICO - Immersive People.esp. Inside you will find NPC Non-Player Characters group.
  5. Right click NPC group and choose "Apply Script". In new window choose "AT - QuickChange".
  6. Now you have to configure the small window. From the drop-down menu choose "Restore". In the <Path> field write ACBS. On the right side you can choose from which file it should restore the values for ACBS group. You can choose either Skyrim.esm or Unofficial Skyrim SPecial Edition Patch. I recommend USSEP.
Click OK and wait for the script to finish. Then close SSEEdit and if it asks to save the file make sure that WICO's ESP is checked on the list. Done, everything from "ACBS" group of values was restored. That group includes whether NPCs are protected or essential. No face values are modified - everything works fine. 

(taken from

Note: Don't be like me! I accidentally put my tools in the folder above my actual SSEEdit installation folder! Couldn't figure out what was going on for like 30 minutes before I realized I had dropped it one folder above!

Start your game. This is a big one. You now should have the most beautiful nord man you have ever seen in front of you and he absolutely should not look like a racist caricature with gorgeous hair. 

If you have the former, WELL DONE!

If you have the latter, FOR SHAME! You need to start this part over. I'm not sure what you did, but you goofed. Maybe google it? Or maybe you're doing something that this guide didn't tell you to? Whatever the case, I, along with the rest of the class, will be leaving you to perish. Good luck.
Just kidding! Go to Vortex, make sure all of your plugins are enabled and try again. Still messed up? Go up and review the portion of this guide that deals with editing WICO metadata in LOOT. Is your load order correct? 

Part 4: Fus Roh Done!

So it is all downhill from here! Install the rest of these mods:

TK Children (Choose USSEP Patch and normal eyes)
Natural Eyes
Eye Normal Map Fix
Armor Variants Expansion
Armor and Clothing Extension
Rustic Clothing
Skyrim Weapons Expansion
Weapons Clothing and Clutter Fixes
Combat Gameplay Overhaul
Diverse Dragons Collection
Improved Follower Dialogue - Lydia
Guard Dialogue Overhaul
Dark Brotherhood Tweaks
Auto Hide Ammo
Fantasy Soundtrack Project
The Paarthurnax Dilemma
Multiple Floors Sandboxing
Simply Better Horses
Horse Whistle
Modern Brawl Bug Fix (it should be mentioned that this mod is included with a lot of mods, including Ordinator, the popular perk overhaul mod)
Skyrim Immersive Creatures
Skyrim Immersive Creatures - Official Patch (Thanks Aenara)

Use LOOT to auto sort your load order one more time. Check for any warnings or errors. You should have 43 active plugins with 0 warnings and 0 errors.

Load your game. Press Start or Esc. Navigate to the Mod Configuration Menu and click Skyrim Immersive Creatures. Here you will find menus to remove certain creatures and lower or raise their difficulty. Be sure to play with this if you find yourself having a difficult time with random encounters.

With that, you have a stable game to build off of. You can add and remove mods as you like, just remember to use LOOT to sort your load order before starting up the game, and, generally speaking, only install one mod at a time. This way, if you install a mod that is incompatible with your list, you know which one it is instantly and you will not have to suffer the horrible process of elimination that comes with installing like fifteen mods at once and then realizing several of them are incompatible and not knowing which ones and god it is just a nightmare.

I encourage the user to learn more about conflict resolution in SSEEdit and truth be told, it's a bit beyond my comprehension to fully understand, let alone explain. This website is an excellent resource, and is helping me to learn and understand more about Xedit and conflict resolution. Remember though, this was supposed to be a quick start. Go play the game!


I hope this helps somebody out there. I did my best to be informative and explain things to the best of my ability. You'll find everyone credited in the requirements section. Please let me know if you've been left out! I did my best to include everyone! If there's anyone that feels like they could contribute to my work, the comments are open and I'd love to see some feedback!

<3 waxton