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In Skyrim, there are lots of mods that influence other mods' functionality. To handle those side effects, lots of them are providing compatibility patches for other common mods.

Now let's get to the modder's perspective. If I target a perfectly pre-arranged mod list (such as STEP) and install them one-by-one from the beginning, it is possible to grab all of those patches by carefully navigating each of mod pages.

Unfortunately, when editing an existing mod list, it doesn't work because most patches are provided from only one of the mod pages. When installing an additional mod X, it is quite easy to overlook a patch between X and any of existing mods, unless it is provided on X's mod page. Similar thing happens when removing a mod. This becomes even worse when realizing that some of the patches are provided only within FOMOD installers, not even mentioned on the mod pages at all.

Is there a way to manage this task? Should I really build a database of mod pairs for every possible patches?

  • You kind of need to do it manually in TES5Edit. :-/ – Lord Harkon Aug 10 '16 at 14:21
  • @amaranth, Is there a way to systematically detect such "incompatibilities" using TES5Edit? – nedsociety Aug 10 '16 at 14:24
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    Yes. TES5Edit lets you resolve ESP conflicts if you do it right (although I’ve made my game crash by doing it wrong). You can create your own compatibility patches. Mod Organizer lets you detect conflicts in other files. That just leaves script conflicts, and... I kind of just hope that those don’t happen. I don’t have time to elaborate right now, but it’s a pain. I did manage to make a fairly stable mod setup though. You’ll probably still be stuck fixing problems in the console during your game though. – Lord Harkon Aug 10 '16 at 14:28
  • @amaranth, Well that's a bad news I guess. I was wondering if there were kind of automated solutions or practices for those who haven't dig into the internals like me (much like how LOOT worked, Skyrim mod community has always amazed me in such ways). – nedsociety Aug 10 '16 at 14:41
  • Yes, there is still far too much manual work to do when applying mods. LOOT is probably the closest you can get to automation, and it can’t do everything. Really short version: read all the guides on STEP. And if you’re content to stick with STEP Core mods, your life is probably simpler. But there are so many other cool mods out there... anyway, I need to leave for work. – Lord Harkon Aug 10 '16 at 14:48
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You have a few options. Basically: it's not too terribly difficult to identify mods that might conflict. You can then either remove conflicting mods or learn how to make your own compatibility patch.

Use someone else's mod list

As you mentioned, you could run a list of mods provided by someone else, in the order they specify, using their patches. So you would follow the STEP guide and never deviate from it. This should give you a stable game, if you're happy with their choice of mods.

Hope for the best

Try to choose mods that you think will work well together. Avoid mods that look like they edit the same thing, and avoid running more than one overhaul mod at a time unless you can find a compatibility patch or a statement that they're compatible without one. Start up your game and look for problems. Personally, if I make it to level 30 without any serious problems, I assume that my game is stable.

Check for compatibility yourself

File compatibility

Use Mod Organizer and set it to unpack all BSAs. Mod Organizer will show you which mods overwrite the files of other mods (if their BSAs are unpacked). It isn't usually a problem if a mod overwrites USLEEP, but for anything else, you might want to look at it. Sometimes overwriting mods is harmless (e.g. overwriting a couple textures), and sometimes it indicates an incompatibility. If mods are overwriting each other's script files and you don't expect them to, you might run into problems.

ESP compatibility

Run LOOT and make a bashed patch with Wrye Bash. Next, start up TES5Edit and click OK with the default selection. Wait for it to finish and then browse your entire mod list.

TES5Edit will highlight records in each file that conflict with other files. If you see tons of conflicts in a particular mod, it may not be compatible with your other mods. Some conflicts are not a problem: practically everything edits Worldspace 3C (Skyrim), for example. If you have a compatibility patch for specific mods, expect the patch to overwrite/conflict with both of the mods it's patching for.

If you see a lot of conflicts, you can either remove mods until TES5Edit doesn't highlight so many records in red, or you can trek down the road of becoming a Skyrim modder and use TES5Edit to create a compatibility patch yourself.

Script compatibility

Honestly... other than checking for overwritten script files with Mod Organizer, I don't know how you'd check for script conflicts. I just hope that nothing bad happens. In general, just try to find well-written mods and don't use too many script-heavy mods.

  • For more information on Skyrim modding, start with the STEP guide. – Lord Harkon Aug 21 '16 at 3:28
  • One more note: Open Cities Skyrim conflicts with practically everything that edits the interiors of walled cities. I still use it, because it's awesome. – Lord Harkon Aug 21 '16 at 3:36
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Use ModOrganizer - it will display the conflicts.

When you look at the conflicts you have a few choices. Quickest is to pick one mod to be the "winner" (usually by re-ordering your lists although there are more advanced mechanisms too). That's the most common decision because many conflicts will be things like a mod replacing an original Bethesda texture with something better. Another choice is to go look for compatibility patches. If there's no compatibility patch, another choice is to follow the ordering recommendations of the LOOT tool - but be aware that MO is one of the few tools that would allow the "loose" textures and scripts and other files to be in a different order than the LOOT driven plugin list of esps and esms.

And do what you're already doing - start with S.T.E.P. and think carefully about what you want to change.

And lastly - For stability, try to avoid removing or even upgrading stuff during a play-through. If you do, follow the "clean save" procedure on the S.T.E.P. troubleshooting page.

  • It will display conflicting files (like textures), not any other kinds of conflicts. Relying solely on ModOrganizer's conflict highlighting is only a viable option if you'd limit your mod list to mods that don't have .esp's. – Joachim May 1 at 21:28

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