Essentials

What up peeps New Guy here, welcome to what I'm calling the "New Guy's brand-spanking new current year+1 modding tutorial for Skyrim Special Edition".
. . .
Sounded better in my head.
Anyways, in this page I'll be going over the essential Special Edition mods, everything should be taken as similar to Legendary Edition, unless otherwise stated.
Use this tutorial on how to convert mods from LE to SE while I procrastinate on making a video tutorial on how to do it >>>Click Here<<<
NOTE: IF YOU RUN WRYE BASH AND IT COMPLAINS ABOUT "OLD/OUTDATED" FILES, AND SHOWS YOU A MOD ".ESP/.ESM", THAT MEANS THAT MOD HASN'T BEEN PORTED PROPERLY, OR IS A LEGENDARY EDITION MOD, IF SO, YOU NEED TO UPDATE THAT SHIT YOURSELF, AND GIVE THE MOD AUTHOR A STERN TALKING-TO.
Just follow the tutorial mentioned above to update the mod yourself, skip everything, and just re-save the ".esp" on the Creation Kit.
In this section, we will discuss:
-Mod Organizing
-Essential Mods
-Tools and Utilities

updated July 23rd, 2020

Quick Questions

Q: Is is time to start playing SE yet?
A: Depends on your priorities, check the main Special Edition page for a detailed breakdown.
Q: I heard that VR uses the same mods as SE, is it true? Can I follow this guide?
A: It is true that VR is built on top of SE, but as I don't have a VR headset, I wouldn't be able to tell you if the mods on this list won't crash and burn your game or your device. Check the SSE information page for a list of mods tested on VR.
Q: I don't like this guide, are their any other guides that are similar to this one?
A: We have a list of various other modding sites with their own guides and mod lists. Click on the Skyrim Guide section to check them out! And while I wouldn't normally indicate a modding guide, I have to give a shoutout to the YASHed Guide, it is incredibly well organized, up-to-date and in-depth, I highly recommend anyone to check out their guide even if just for mod recommendations.
 
Q: I don't like guides like these, are there any overhauls that are quick and easy?
A: There's an automated modpack installer on the Nexus, never used it, don't think I ever will, check it out if you really don't want to mod the game yourself.
Q: I don't like you, is there anything?
A: No.
Q: I-is there  anything, seriously?
A: No.
Q: I don't like that, this game sucks!
A: Then go mod something else, like Kingdom Come Deliverance, I heard its a Skyrim-killer.

Mod Organizing

Mod Organizer 2

Nothing has really changed from Legendary Edition, with a few exeptions.
 

Mod Organizer is now under new management and is being constantly updated, with some new features and a few missing, it is the best Mod Manager right now, everything mentioned on the Skyrim LE page still holds up, better organized interface, tons of options, conflict warnings, LOOT integration.

It also has features that are pretty much necessary if you want to make your own mod conversions if you want to delve into that, such as the built in BSA extractor.

Major missing feature: automatic .bsa management


 

Vortex

Vortex is the new manager developed by the Nexus people, who hired the original MO dev to do it. It has an Alpha release open to the public.

Now, I'll be very sincere here, I was disappointed when I first saw and used Vortex.

It being developed by the same person as the original Mod Organizer gave me hope that we would be getting something equal if not better than Mod Organizer, but when I first used it, I realized that Vortex is just a re-skin of the Nexus Mod Manager.

Gopher has a video series where he explores all the features in Vortex.

The Bethesda.net

It's something, I guess...

The only option available for console players, the Bethesda.net is built into the game, one could say a pro is easy access, but the cons are too numerous, it's basically the equivalent of Legendary Editions Steam Workshop, but with prettier interface.

NOTE: A thing to keep in mind is the fact that there may be some mods that are on Bethesda.net and NOT on the Nexus. If you're looking for a mod and can't find on the Nexus, check Bethesda.net as there might be a slim chance of it being there.

Nexus Mod Manager

If you want to torture yourself, feel free to use Nexus Mod Manager.

Again, everything said on the LE page still holds up, as the manager hasn't been updated since then, heck, even the Nexus people think the NMM isn't good, as they hired the original Mod Organizer programmer to work on a new Manager called Vortex.

NOTE: If you plan on porting mods for yourself, using NMM is just pure torture.

Essential Mods

This is a list of mods that are a MUST HAVE for anyone. These mods don't go too in-depth and work with any kind of rig. You'll see some major and significant changes in your game because these mods fix a lot of things that Bethesda STILL left out or were too lazy to properly fix.

Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

 

The Unofficial Patches are a MUST HAVE, no exceptions. This mod fixes plenty of bugs and conflicts in the game that will make you say to yourself, "How have I been playing Skyrim without these? And how the fuck do the PS4 and Switch owners do it?"

SkyUI

BONUS MODS TO GO WITH SKYUI
These mods fix a couple of issues that SkyUI has on SE:
Flashing Savegames Fix
Stay at the System page
A complete overhaul of the UI in Skyrim. This changes the console like user interface into a clean and PC friendly one. This also overhauls the favorites and hotkeys with outfits and lists you can swap on the fly! It even includes MCM which many mods use now. MCM is a short for Mod Configuration Menu, this allows you to customize mods even more with an in-game menu that automatically changes your settings in an instant.
SkyUI SE has a bug on the save menu where is constantly selects and deselects your saves, it is known, just deal with it for now.
Another thing, if you try to install SkyUI with MO2, it might not work, if you don't see the MCM in-game, install it manually. Newer versions of MO2 should've fixed this tho, check to see if your MO2 installation is up-to-date.
If you don't use this mod, then I suggest you question your existence on this kalpa.
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opparco mfg Command for SSE

Pretty much the same as MFG Console on Legendary Edition.
Note: This mod is unfortunately not compatible with More informative Console linked below, it is up to you to decide which functionality you prefer.
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More Informative Console

Adds a lot of information to the Console, very useful if you know what you're looking for.
Note: It does not have mfg functionality and does not work with opparco mfg mod linked above.

Main Font Replacement

Gives you a various amount of options to change your games font.
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Qwinn's Unified Automated Self Installing Patch Compendium, it is a HUGE patch compilation that has patches for every mod in existence plus your mom. A must-have for any load order in my opinion. And even better they're all espfe plugins which means they won't count towards your 255 plugin limit. Read more about espfe plugins here!

QUASIPC

SSE Engine Fixes

Basically SE's version of Crash Fixes
This fixes multiple problems that other plugins fixed, making the others obsolete, install this and remove SSE Fixes and Double Perk Apply Fix, and for fucks sake READ THE MOD PAGE.

Tools and Utilities

These are programs that are not mod managers or anything of the sort, but required tools that are needed for some mods.
Now not all of these tools are "required" for the user, such as the save game cleaner, but we recommend you look at all of these.
Mator Smash

Mator Smash

Mator Smash is a tool that generates conflict resolution patches, similar to Wrye Bash's Bashed Patch. Smash is capable of handling conflicts in all record types.

Skyrim Script Extender 64- SKSE64

Skyrim Script Extender 64- SKSE64

Finally out of beta, with its first stable release. This is a handy little modder's resource that expands the scripting capabilities of Skyrim. It does so without modifying the executable files on disk, so there are no permanent side effects. Many complex mods use this and require it. Read the Readme for a step by step installation tutorial.

LOOT

LOOT

LOOT is designed to assist mod users in avoiding detrimental conflicts, by setting the correct load order for the plugins they have installed. Always run LOOT after you install new mods to make sure everything is in order and compatible.

Cathedral Assets Optimizer

Cathedral Assets Optimizer

Absolute must-have tool for porting mods from LE to SE. An automated BSA extractor, mesh and texture cleaner and animation fixer. Simply point it to a mod you want to port and hit the run button, and you're done! Just don't try to port companions using it.

Skyrim Community Uncapper

Skyrim Community Uncapper

A little utility that\s required for many gameplay mods. The default settings of this plugin will unlock the skill level caps of 100 and push them to 10000. This allows you character to be able to level up almost forever. You will also get benefits from skills above level 100, up to level 199 including enchantment bonuses.

Fores New Idles in Skyrim - FNIS

Fores New Idles in Skyrim - FNIS

Also known as FNIS. This is a tool that is required for any animation mods. You will most likely use this mod. If you don't understand how this works, please check out the tutorial video for FNIS in the tutorial section.

XP32 Maximum Skeleton Special Extend

XP32 Maximum Skeleton Special Extend

A multi purpose skeleton for animation in Skyrim. Include new skeleton structure that many character editor mods use such as ECE and Racemenu and other animation mods.

SSEEdit

SSEEdit

SSEEdit is a great tool for those who strive for a game without crashes and for those who like their mods clean and without conflicts. What this tool does is clean esp and esm files of any "dirty edits". These are edits that are not supposed to be there and were probably left by the mod author by mistake. If you want to learn more, please check out the tutorial video for TES5Edit in the tutorial section as nothing has changed. A word of warning, do NOT clean the Unofficial patch.

SSELODGen

SSELODGen

Simply put, it generates LOD textures of your game to be used along with DynDOLOD.

DynDOLOD (BETA)

DynDOLOD (BETA)

Starting with version 2.22 DynDOLOD supports Skyrim SE - as a beta for experienced users.

FallrimTools - Script cleaner and mo

FallrimTools - Script cleaner and mo

A nifty little program that cleans up scripts in your saved games.

ENB

ENB

Makes your game look really pretty. Click on the link to learn more!

ENB Organizer

ENB Organizer

Are you unsure of your ENB and like to see what the Grass is like on the other side without having the hassle of deleting files all the time? This is a neat tool that works like Mod Organizer where you can change ENB's at a whim without having to deal with the hassle.

Multiple Floors Sandboxing

Multiple Floors Sandboxing

This is a little tweak to change the global game settings GMST fSandboxCylinderTop from 150 to 576, and fSandboxCylinderBottom from -100 to -576. As a result, the NPC can detect things (markers for various actions) roughly 2 floors above and below during their sandboxing behavior within their sandbox radius, so they will go up or down the floors to use those things (furnitures, markers, etc.).

Conclusion

Use Mod Organizer 2, don't even think about using NMM, Vortex is bad and Bethesda.net is for consoles. Use Wrye bash to organize mods and make bashed patches, but doing things manually is the best way to learn faster. Manually install graphics mods and ENB. Download all of the essential mods and run them in LOOT. Run FNIS anytime you add a new animation mod. Always use SKSE to run and play your game. Use TES5Edit to fix dirty edits and clean old mods. Use DyndoLOD when you want to make your LODs look better.  DO NOT INSTALL DOZENS OF MODS AT ONCE AND ASSUME THEY WILL ALL WORK TOGETHER. Install mods in small groups so you can test for any conflicts, requirements, or incompatibilities. 
 
And that's all your basic needs for Skyrim Modding. Be sure to follow the rest of the guide or check out each individual section for something that interests you!

FAQ

Q: Why isn't this or that mod in the guide?
 
A: Probably because it hasn't been ported to SE yet. If a mod has been ported to SE and isn't on this list, tell me on the general or send me a message (see contact page) and i'll see about adding it.
 
Q: Will you be adding more to these guides?
 
A: Of course!  We'll try to keep all the guides up to date and will notify everyone if something has changed or has been added on. We also accept submissions if the mod is good enough!
Q:Where is that tutorial on how to convert mods you said would be at the end of the page?
A: Here:
PS: I removed my old guide as new tools have come out that make porting mods easier, instead I'll link to the YASHed Guide tutorial on how to port mods
minor update: Well fuck, YASHed Guide went down for update and hasn't come back yet, changed the tutorial for now to Langeston Guide for Dummies
HUGE FUCKING NOTE: CONVERT THE MODS FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE, DO NOT CONVERT THEM AND UPLOAD THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE WITHOUT THE ORIGINAL MODDER'S PERMISSION, THAT'S MOD THEFT, WHICH IS BAD HMMKAY?
Q: Can I make Sexlab mods work using this tutorial?
A: Yes, yes you can.