Over the last several years of modding I have encountered a vast array of issues that have defied logic and made me question the nature of this modding universe. It’s made me doubt the gods of Bethesda and question my own existence as a modder. Therefore I present to you, the ten commandments of modding (as I see them).
1 Thou shalt not remove a mod mid play through
Mods with scripts will save their script property information into your save game the first time you load and save. Removing the mod, will not remove these pieces of information, in fact updating a mod which alters its scripts between updates will also not work. So once you put a mod in, you are stuck and must revert to a previous save prior to installing it in order to remove the mod or easily update it. Most large mods which do extensive updates will have specific steps you can follow to update mid game, others will require a fresh game if you update.
2 Thou shall read the instructions
Read the description page of any mod you download. It will invariably tell you what you must do to install it, use it, update it or maintain it. Check the articles tab for any important information and for the love of the nine, read the damned sticky posts on the main post tab of the mod. This is where most authors will communicate the most common or important or recent concerns. Read the FAQ page if there is one, check the mod page Forum tab or anywhere else information for that mod could be presented on the mod page. Bottom line, if you expect the mod gods to come down and bless you with a boon (solution to your issue) you must provide an offering (willingness to read the provided documentation). Nobody is asking you to search through 33,000 posts, just read the provided guides. This is even more critical on large mods like frostfall, realistic needs, Legacy, etc. If you do not read the resources at hand, you risk the wrath of the gods.
3 Thou shalt not speak “I know it is this mod causing the problem because…”
Skyrim is a strange and wonderful beast which does not exist in the same realm of logic that we mortals do. Most problems you discover from a mod (assuming they are well supported and polished), are caused by mod conflicts or load order issues or patching issues. A single mod does not in itself cause a problem unless there is in fact an error in that mod, and chances are if the mod page is not littered with complaints about that issue which seems easy to experience or easy to replicate, chances are you are the only one experiencing it. Skimming through a couple pages of posts can help you determine this.
4 Thou shall know thine utilities
If you are new to modding (please god don’t start your modding with legacy), you MUST know what LOOT, Wrye Bash (bash patch making utility), and Tes5Edit (aka xEdit) are. These are powerful tools that are complex and used by mod authors and users alike for extensive purposes, but offer a few basic, simple tools that are needed by anyone who uses more than a few mods. If you do more than enable a dozen or so mods through steam workshop, you will need to know how to make a bash patch with Wrye Bash and how to sort your load order with LOOT. If you don’t know what a load order is, legacy is not the first step on your modding journey. Look up gopher modding video tutorials on youtube. There is where your journey begins my son.
5 Thou shall honor the mod requirements
Requirements are exactly that; a requirement. Asking “I know it’s listed as a requirement, but can I use this mod without Hearthfires or Dawnguard?” is not only stupid, but VERY stupid. It exhibits a level of ignorance that breeches the borders of imbecilic and illustrates that you are not ready for modding of any kind. The adage of “There is no such thing as a stupid question” does not apply to this one.
6 Thou Shall temper thine disposition before thou speaks
If you do need to post a questions, bug report or problem you are having, do so politely, and humbly. Give the mod the benefit of the doubt and express what problems you are having without casting blame on anything or anyone. Coming off as self entitled or accusatory or like you somehow know more about the situation than the mod author who created the thing you are trying to use is not only rude but a great way to get yourself banned from that author’s entire works. Modders are offering their work to the public with the best of intentions and with little or no support or compensation of any kind in many cases. They do not have the time to entertain impertinent, impatient people, nor should they. Being polite will reflect well on you and will encourage the modder and his support/development team to want to help you and they may end up solving a bigger problem in the course of helping solve your issue, so it’s a win win.
7 Thou shall read the sticky!
I know that this is largely covered in the second commandment, but it is so vital it bears repeating. Posting a comment that asks a question or makes a suggestion which is covered literally inches above your post will result in lightning bolts striking you down and you looking like a real boob, so skim the main news update post sticky thingy before opening your mouth and you just might save yourself some embarrassment and other people some frustration.
8 Thou shalt not console without guidance
Using the console to fix issues with your game can result in breaking quests in an unforseen way. If there is not a clear guide on what commands to use and what stages to set and in what cases, then you should post and ask for assistance and explain your problem. If you choose to try and fix it on your own, do not expect aid later when your attempt fails because now the conditions of the issue are outside the norm of the programmed process, and any aid to fix your original issue will be thwarted by the actions you tried on your own, thus confusing the issue further. So skim the documentation for fixes, then make a post if needed before trying it on your own.
9 Thou shalt not take your mod in vain
If you have a problem with a mod, DO NOT post comments on Reddit, Facebook groups, YouTube reviews, or the Steam community if that mod author IS NOT ACTIVE THERE! Direct concerns, questions and feedback to the mod author’s preferred home for the mod community.Especially if you are simply posting to gripe about a mod because you simply couldn’t get it working properly. 9/10 times it’s your fault it’s not working right, remember that. Mod Authors who actively support their mods work actively to fix problems, polish their work and ensure it’s as compatible as possible. Give them the same amount of courtesy by allowing them to defuse your complaint by posing a solution for you, and to allow them to defend their work against unfounded claims rather than declaring in whispers that the mod doesn’t work.
10 Thou shall honor thy mod authors
Mod authors offer up a huge amount of their time creating their work, which they share with us all for free. At very least they deserve politeness and respect. If you like their work, endorse it. if you REALLY like their work, tell them so. If you LOVE their work and think it’s the greatest thing ever, buy them lunch. Most authors do this for fun in their spare time, but a few try and actually use it as a resume builder, skill development tool and way of helping make ends meet at home. So do what you can to support their efforts by encouraging, thanking, and supporting their work through praise, financial support and/or widening of exposure of their work throughout the modding community. Keeping your mod author happy will keep them working to make their stuff bigger and better and for them to make new and exciting things for you to enjoy.