Mod Lists For Skyrim Special Edition by Rogdonlp

 by Rogdonlp

The appearance of new mods for Skyrim Special Edition has been accelerating.  As of June 21, 2018, there were 18,122 SSE mods listed on Nexus.  2,369 of these mods have been posted on Nexus in 2018.  With the constant appearance of new mods, it has been hard for the authors of mod lists and modders to keep up to date.  As a way to see what new mods I should be considering for my next SSE build I decided to look at mod lists that were up to date and created by well-respected authors.  The seven SSE Mod Guide lists that I chose to review were the following:

Mod Guides with Few Options

  • Lexy’s:   Legacy of the Dragonborn SE  411 mods included in list

  • Mod List 2018  394 mods included in list

  • SkyVerse Guide  393 Mods included in list

  • Tech’s Skyrim Special Edition Guide v2  165 mods included in list

Mod Guides with Options

  • Nordic Skyrim – Yet Another Guide to Modding Your Skyrim  976 mods included in list
  • TUCO Guide 3.1 Mod List and Tutorial for Mod Organizer 2.1  135 Mods included in list


In order to track of all of the mods mentioned in the above seven guide lists I created a spreadsheet that listed all of the mods mentioned in the seven guide lists down the leftmost column and the names of the seven guide lists at the top of columns B through H.  The mods that were mentioned in a particular guide list were checked off in that guide list’s column.  During the days that it took me to create the spreadsheet most of the guide lists were updated.  So, the spreadsheet was not up to date when I finished it.
The five ESMs, Skyrim, Update, Dawnguard, Hearthfires, and Dragonborn were not included in the spreadsheet.  Patches for a mod were listed separately from the mod unless the patch used the same Nexus mod number; i.e. it was included with the mod on the mod’s nexus page.  ENBs were not included.

Spreadsheet results

The total number of distinct mods mentioned in all of the guide lists totaled 1,763.  The number of mods that were mentioned in all seven guide lists totaled 22 or 1.25% of the 1,763 mods.  The number of mods that were mentioned in only one guide list totaled 932 or 52.9%.  However, between guide lists there was more commonality.  For example, 38% of the mods mentioned in the Boss Guide List were also mentioned in the Nordic Skyrim Guide List.
What these numbers indicate is that there is no consensus as to which mods are “must have” for inclusion in your mod list for your next SSE build.  As of right now, feel free to pick and choose the mods that you want. 
Of course, you just cannot pick the 300+ mods that catch your eye.  Compatibility is a big issue.  In a previous article I mentioned that the Immersive Citizen AI mod, which many people say is not compatible with a number of mods, had not caused me any problems in my thousands of hours playing Skyrim using that mod.  One should not tempt the Divines.  A week after writing those words I had an immediate crash-to-desktop at the loading screen caused by Immersive Citizens AI.  The Nordic Skyrim Guide List has a separate section of the guide where it discusses mods that are not compatible with Immersive Citizens AI.  The guide also has two separate mod lists – one if you are using Immersive Citizens AI and another mod list if you are not using Immersive Citizens AI.

Which Guide List for You 

The guide list authors spend hundreds of hours in researching and testing their guide list for both compatibility and load order.  Most of us just want to play the game.  Testing load order and compatibility is not for us.  Therefore, we use a guide list to get us started.  Once having the guide list mods installed and running without problems we then slowly add our own favorite mods.  But which guide list should you use to create your stable base?  I have installed all seven of the guides and have tested these builds in my own game.
A brief summary of each guide list follows:

Lexy’s: Legacy of the Dragonborn SE 

This guide list is authored and maintained by Dark Lady Lexy with assistance from Dark_mathias.  The guide is hosted on STEP and uses the standard STEP guide layout and formatting.  This guide list is actually in its third generation.  In 2013 Neovalen created a STEP hosted guide entitled Skyrim Revisted – Legendary Edition aka SRLE.  At the time this was the most advanced guide list available which required the use of state-of-the-art modding utilities.  Around 2015 Neovalen no longer had the time to continue maintaining SRLE.  Dark_mathias took over the maintenance of SRLE.  In 2016 Dark_mathias, assisted by Dark Lady Lexy, created his own guide list – SRLE Extended:  Legacy of the Dragonborn.  This guide list is still being maintained for Skyrim LE.  In January 2018, with assistance from Dark_mathias, Lexy’s:  Legacy of The Dragonborn Special Edition came into being.  Because of the difference in available mods between Skyrim LE and Skyrim SE the SE guide list had to be extensively rewritten.  Installing this guide list still entails using the latest state-of-the-art modding techniques and utilities.   This guide is NOT for a beginning player.   The guide is technically difficult to install and unlike other STEP hosted guides, there is no handholding.  As an example, for one step there were two lines of instructions.  It took me over three hours of trial-and-error to figure out how to accomplish the task.  After completing the task, I wrote out the step by step instructions which contained 16 lines.
The guide list concentrates on Survival and High-Level Combat.  With other guide lists you could exclude these types of mods from your build if survival and extreme combat is not what you enjoy.  With this guide list the author provides conflict resolution patches and also merge files so you don’t have to create some of the lengthy merges.  If you do not install all of the mods you will have to redo some of the merges yourself.  A worse problem is that the conflict resolution patches will not work if they are missing the master files from the mods that you did not install.  There is a workaround for this.  Using Wrye Bash you create dummy .esp files for the missing masters.  That allows you to load the conflict resolution patch into SSEEDit where you ‘check for errors’ and then remove the errors caused by the missing master file(s).  This process can take several hours of tedious work if you have not installed some major mods.
I install this guide every few months not because I want to use it in-game but so that I can catch up on the latest modding methodology and tools.  I learn by doing, not by reading.  The techniques and tools I learn from installing this mod are applicable to every guide list that I do install.
So, should you install this guide list?  If you are into Survival and High-Level Combat this is the guide for you.  If you want to learn, to expand your knowledge of modding and the latest utilities/tools then build the guide list for the educational value.  You do not have to play it.  For everyone else, you might want to pass on this guide.    


This mod is authored by Crusader4God and contains 394 mods.  The author states that this guide concentrates on graphics and gameplay.  There are no optional mods though occasionally you can substitute your own mod.  For example, for a player home the guide lists Ayleid Citadel.  You have the option of instead installing a player home mod that you prefer.  For graphics the guide does provide two separate lists of mods – one for Mid-tier computers and the second for High-end computers.  The guide list is separated into 19 sections.  Each section contains a list of mods to install.  There are no descriptions of the mod, just a Nexus link.
There are no surprises with the mods that makeup the guide list.  The mods are mostly mainstream with only the smaller ones occasionally being relatively unknown.  Dwemer Inchor Barrel 2K and LH’s The Ignored Ones HD are examples of the mods that I was not familiar with.
This guide list provides a stable base game that covers all of the major areas.  It is very easy to install – just click on the provided links and download.  No extensive reading or decision making necessary.    From this build you can add your own mods to expand this stable base into your personalized build.


This guide is written by DrPharmDawg, contains 393 mods (425 plugins according to the author), and utilizes Mod Organizer 2.  There are only 12 options available so there are not many decisions to be made.  The guide has 20 sections with each section covering either specific tasks or groups of mods such as audio, patches, visuals, animations, etc.  Color coding is consistently used to make reading easier.  The mods have very short descriptions so you don’t need to spend a lot of time reading.
The number of plugins contained in the guide far exceeds the 255 .esp limit.  The author specifies 94 mods that need to be merged using Merge Plugins.  There will be NavMesh errors in some of the merges.  Instructions are given to deal with these errors.  Additional plugins will also be merged into the Bashed Patch.  Even with these merges your right pane in MO2 will be very crowded.
A feature of this guide, which I have not seen in other guides is that there is a mod subsection for alchemists and another subsection for mages.  If you role play either of these characters you might want to take a look at the bottom of Step 11: Gameplay.
This is a well thought out guide list.  Installation is easy, though all of the merging may be discouraging to some.  The guide covers all the bases for various gameplay styles.  In game the landscape and objects look very nice.    

Tech’s Guide 

This mod contains 165 mods and uses Mod Organizer 2.  The author of the guide is TechAngel85, who for many years has been one of the driving forces behind S.T.E.P.  This guide is written as a short guide to getting started in playing SSE.  The guide is hosted on STEP and uses the STEP style and formatting which is very logical and easy to follow.  Installation of the mods is quick and easy.
This guide also provides conflict resolution patches.  So, if you do not install certain mods the conflict resolution patches will not be usable until you edit the conflict resolutions patches as mentioned in the third paragraph of Lexy’s: Legacy of the Dragonborn SE above.
I have built this guide several times as it installs quickly, provides a stable base, and leaves plenty of room in MO2’s right pane for my favorite mods.  In game, there is nothing special to note.  The game looks good.  There is nothing flashy.  Everything works.  For a new person just starting to play Skyrim SE, this is the guide to use.


This guide list is authored by LupusHegemonia who has 44 graphic mods (LH’s mods) posted on Nexus SSE.  Needless to say, the Skyrim that you can create with his mod list looks outstanding.  With 830 mods listed, you will have a tremendous number of mods to choose from.  However, you will have to spend a lot of time reading his descriptions as well as going to the mod’s page on Nexus in order to obtain a full understanding of what the mod is and what it does.  With the BOSS Guide List you cannot just go down a list of mods, download the mods, and start to play.  You will have to invest time in learning, understanding, and picking the mods that will create the game that you want.  Your effort will be worth it.
The guide list is broken into 29 sections which groups the mods and tasks into a logical order.  The text is color coded with each class of items having the same color.  Mod names are in a light blue color.  Optional mods are noted using magenta.  Instructions are in orange.  Attention markers are in caps and in red, etc.  The color coding really helps in wading through the mass of text.
With the tremendous number of mods to choose from it will be very easy for you to exceed the 255 limit on .esp files.  Also, a number of mods are noted as being script heavy.  Too many script heavy mods will either slow down your game or crash it.  Likewise, there are a lot of graphic mods available.  Do you really want to use 150GB in graphic mods in your game that your computer has to load, overwrite, and reload again and again?
When I used the BOSS Guide List to build my SSE game in MO2 I concentrated on installing the graphic mods rather than other mod categories such as gameplay, weathers, followers, etc.  I ended up with 340 mods and 201 .esp files.  The game looked very, very good, was stable, and served as a good base for adding my own mods.

Nordic Skyrim

This guide list is authored by nordic0cold.  There are 976 mods mentioned in this guide list.  To keep things organized the guide list is separated into 45 sections.  Each section contains only one type of mod; e.g. the Banners and Signs section only contains banner and signs mods, the Homes and Contents section only contains mods related to homes and the items contained within a home.  Sections containing a large number of mods such as the Large Scale Texture Mods section are broken into subsections: large texture mods, dungeon textures, ruins caves and mines textures, and stone textures.  Organizing the mods this way really helps in finding a particular mod.  The consistent use of color-coding in the text helps in finding information as well as making the mass of text more readable. 
The guide list is intended for Nexus Mod Manager users.  However, there are sections for Mod Organizer 2 users.  If you use MO2 you should not have any problems using this guide list.
The guide has two different paths for whether you chose to use Immersive Citizens AI or not.
Since Nordic Skyrim has 976 mods listed, 146 more mods that BOSS, all of the warnings in the second to last paragraph of the BOSS section should be heeded. 
When I used this guide list to create my Skyrim SSE build in MO2 I did exercise caution.  My load order contained 354 mods and 242 .esp files.  Merging files and creating a Bashed Patch brought the .esp count to below 200 so I had space to add many of my favorite mods.   The game ran smoothly, without problems, and looked very good.

TUCO Guide

This guide was authored by ponurymazepa and it uses Mod Organizer 2.  Of the seven guides covered in this article it is the smallest guide having only 135 mods listed.  There are a few options and you do have a choice between high level or medium level graphics.  After building the mod list, creating one merge, and then making a Bashed Patch there were only 75 .esp files active.  This leaves room for an additional 179 .esp files for mods of your choice.  This is a definite plus. 
Considering the small number of mods used the landscape looked gorgeous.  Whereas other guide lists add scores of retexture mods for everything from bottles to palaces the TUCO Guide only added 50 retexture mods including the landscape mods.  In my playing of Skyrim SSE with the TUCO build I really did not notice the lack of 2K and 4K textures.  But maybe I am not as sensitive to vanilla textures as others.
While I loved the mod list provided by the TUCO Guide, following the guide and creating the build was frustrating.  For me the organization structure was the worst of the seven guides.  It was difficult to go back and find a previously installed mod.  Due to a lack of proofreading there were errors in the text.  As an example, one mod was noted as no longer being used.  However, in the paragraph below a patch for that mod was still being installed.  The instructions and screenshot for using DynDOLOD had not been updated to the current version of Dyndolod.  The instructions for Bethini are not for the current version of Bethini.  In the instructions given for Bethini there is no mention of under which tab the variable can be found.  Also, the changes are not listed in tab order.  Thus, you have to bounce around from tab to tab looking for the variable to change.  The screenshots of Mod Organizer’s left and right panes are not for the current mod list.  To give you an idea of how old some of the screen shots are, one of the screen shots shows Immersive Sound Compendium version 1l.  The current version of ISC 2r which is 32 versions later.  The downloadable text files showing mod order and load order were not up to date.
An experienced modder will be able to work through the above problems.  However, a person using this guide for their very first build could become extremely frustrated.  It took me almost twice as long to install the TUCO guide as it took me to install Tech’s Skyrim SSE Guide v2 which has 30 more mods.  Despite all its problems and concerns, I do prefer the TUCO guide over Tech’s guide as it satisfies my need for a good-looking game without using very many .esp files.


  • Lexy’s:  Legacy of the Dragonborn SE - This is a technically challenging build.  If you want to improve your modding skills build it.  It is aimed at Survival and High-Level combat.  Not designed for the average modder or player.
  • Mod List 2018 and SkyVERSE Guide – These guides are easy to build, though SkyVerse is a little more technically challenging due to all of the required merging.  The Guides have a different flavor, but both will result in a solid and good-looking build.
  • Tech’s Guide – This guide is for the new player or a more experienced modder that wants a quick start base for their SSE game.
  • Boss and Nordic Skyrim – These guides are well organized and well written.  You won’t have any problem installing them except that you will have to spend lots of time reading the descriptions and deciding which mods to install.  If you want to build it Your Way, these are the guides to use.   Regardless of your mod choices you will have a stable and good-looking base for your game. 
  • TUCO’s Guide – I have a love/hate relationship with this guide.  It looks very good and uses only 75 .esp files.  However, the guide is poorly organized, has not been adequately proofread, screen shots and the downloadable text files are out of date, and certain utilities need more up-to-date installation/usage instructions.  If you can put up with the flaws and imperfections TUCO’s Guide does its job by generating a landscape comparable to that of its much large competitors while using a very small number of mods and .esp files.


  1. Very nice breakdown, Rogdonlp. I have to redo my SSE install soon, so this will be very helpful, thanks!

    I'm currently waiting on this whole update nonsense to hopefully settle down for a bit so all the mods can catch up.

  2. Hello syl,

    Thank you for the compliment. It is always better to start with a guide and then tailor it to your own tastes.

    When you are ready for your new build you might want to take a look at Micheal's new guide at Gamer Poets. It is not finished yet but he has videos showing the 135 mods that he has already selected.

  3. Very nice. I have ideas about how I want, but I am not satisfied yet with the ENB/skin issue. And I have developed a distressing stutter. Well, I will sort it out. May have to wait for a vacation day.

  4. Just wanted to leave a quick note of Thanks to you for creating this Blog

    I was on the fence between the Nordic Skyrim and Lexy's LotDb guides

    After reading your informative breakdown I have decided to do two separate
    builds using MO2's switchable Profile feature using these Guides as a template

    Should be challenging ... Should be fun ... Should be done by Spring ... maybe

    1. Hello DKZ,
      I appreciate your leaving an appreciative comment. It is difficult for a writer to know if he is doing his job or not unless he gets feedback. Dark Lady Lexy/s guide is a wonderful educational experience. However, you have almost no flexibility in making changes. I just finished replacing my Tuco Guide with 300 of my own mods with Nordic Skyrim with 100 of my mods. I spent almost a day eliminating the CTDs from my load order since some of my mods did not play nice with Nordic Skyrims mods. Its okay though, I have a lot more fun modding that playing the game (hah).


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