The Elder Scrolls

LittleBull’s Morrowind Modding Guide

Hello everyone,

I recently started playing Morrowind again after a good 10 year break and after 2 weeks of reading through forums and studying I am confident enough in my modding skills to write this guide.

You don't really need two weeks to learn how to mod Morrowind, but for the most part keep in mind it's a trial and error process. I am probably still doing some things wrong so please comment below and I will update the guide but overall this is a good compilation of the things I learned so far and should hopefully help people get into modding. ๐Ÿ™‚

A short disclaimer: This guide is based on my own experience and it's my own process on how to mod Morrowind. It does not cover all the methods of modding nor is it the best most efficient modding method. If this guide is not enough for you please see other more specialized modding guides on the right of the https://www.reddit.com/r/Morrowind/ page or in the menu bar just above this post.

It's a bit lengthy so please take your time to read.

Right so first things first:

CONTENTS

  • 0.End goal
    • Photos
  • 1.Housekeeping
    • Folder Structure
    • Base Game Instalation
    • General tips about modding in Morrowind and OpenMW
  • 2.OpenMW (nightly builds)
    • How to get it
    • How to install it
    • Settings File
    • Where and when to set your benchmarks (Benchmark save games)
  • 3.Mod Organizer 2
    • How to get it
    • How to install it
    • How to set up shortcuts
    • How to install mods
    • Load order
    • How to make a Mod Repack
  • 4.Mod List (in this order)
    • Unnoficial Patches
    • Textures & Meshes
    • Normal Maps
    • Immersion and Quality of Life
  • 5.Useful websites

0.END GOAL

(vanilla vs modded)

1.HOUSEKEEPING

1.0 Prequisites

Install WinRar (https://www.win-rar.com/start.html?&L=0)

Keep the Google folder below handy for later. Files in there will become relevant as you read through the guide: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GUCmRGXP1T2Uzm9ZfDezAHo7lbaaYbn2?usp=sharing

You will need to enable third party cookies for GoogleDrive to download the files: https://support.google.com/a/answer/6105699?hl=en

1.1 Folder Structure

The easiest way to be in control of your Modding adventure is to be tidy with your files. This folder structure really helped me out:

(IMAGE HERE: https://imgur.com/566l7kk)

  • <0.MOD COLLECTION> << Read below
  • <1.MAIN GAME> << Once you install the game and repack the official DLCs you won't interfere with this folder ever again.
  • <2.OPENMW> << When updating nightlies you just replace the contents of this folder
  • <3.MOD MANAGER>
    • << This is where the mods are (more on that in 3.2)
    • << This is where you keep MOD MANAGER
  • <4.DOWNLOADS> (shortcut from MOD MANAGERDATAMODSDOWNLOADS subfolder, after you install Mod Organizer)
  • <5.SETTINGS> (shortcut from MY DOCUMENTSMY GAMESOPENMW settings folder, after you install OPENMW)
  • (shortcut from MOD MANAGERMOD ORGANIZERMod Organizer.exe, after you install Mod Organizer)
  • (shortcut made through Mod Organizer)
  • (shortcut made through Mod Organizer) (Once you finish setting everything up copy this on your Desktop)

<0.MOD COLLECTION> << I recommend keeping a copy of all your mods in here in case you accidentally mess things in Mod Organizer.

Here is how my mod library looks like: https://imgur.com/8EbIQUm

When you're about to install something just copy the archive in the downloads folder. Saves a lot of hassle in the long run.

1.2 Base Game Instalation

I used GoG. Install in the path above and then I strongly recommend two things:

  1. Remove the Logo videos from \Data Files\Video\ You will be restarting the game so often that they'll just be a nuissance.The files that you should put away or delete are bethesda logo.bik and mw_logo.bik. Now the game will start directly in the main menu.
  2. Repack the official mods that come with the game by creating a folder called DATA FILES and copying these into it : https://imgur.com/Lwq3aZVPut the folder into an archive and keep the archive in your Collection (for now)

1.3 General tips about modding

Performance

Morrowind and OpenMW rely pretty heavily on CPU. I ran the game on a i7 10700 and a i7 8700.

OpenMW uses about two and a half cores so we'll have to manage well the ammount of stuff we're feeding it to get a decent framerate.

While playing you should keep your framerate on (F3) all the time to see if your game is running well.

If your mod setup is constantly less than 60FPS consider disabling some mods or look for alternatives. There are thousands of Morrowind mods out there.

One mod at a time

I know you just want to put everything in there and start the game (I know I did) but in reality if you do that the mods will overwrite each other and generally ruin your experience.

Be patient, just install one category of mods at a time, even one mod at a time if you're seeing performance drops. See what works for you. Test the game after each mod.

2.OPENMW (Nightly Builds)

2.1 How to get it

If you get the latest official release (https://openmw.org/downloads/) you're probably going to miss out on so many features.

The beta features might have ocasional bugs but there is a release literally every night and to update all you have to do is overwrite the old files.

As Todd would say it "It just works".

So in order to get the nightly builds go to: https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw/-/pipelines?page=1&scope=branches&ref=master (pretty sure you won't need an account) and see the little download button on the right of the page. Download the file called MSBuild_Engine.

2.2 How to install it

Unpack the archive into the OPENMW folder in your folder structure and run openmw-wizard.exe and Next > Next > Finish

You only run the wizard once, if you download a newer version just copy it over the old one.

The main game file from now on will be OpenMW.exe (goodbye Morrowind.exe), HOWEVER you should NEVER use it directly after installing Mod Organizer.

ONLY run it through Mod Organizer otherwise it will mess up your ESP files. (more on that later)

You can still run Morrowind.exe for nostalgia's sake but it will be the base vanilla unmodded game.

2.3 Settings file

You will be tweaking this quite a lot so it's good to understand how to do it.

The file is in MY DOCUMENTSMY GAMESOPENMWSettings.cfg and can be opened with Notepad.

All the settings that can be added to the file and a comprehensive explanation of each of them is on https://openmw.readthedocs.io/en/stable/reference/modding/settings/index.html (scroll down to see all the settings)

One thing that was not immediately obvious is how to add a setting from the webpage to your file.

Two simple steps:

  1. Find or create the
    in the file.(e.g. )
  2. Literally copy the setting name from the website, paste it under the header, type "=", then type a value in the "Range" as it shows on the website(e.g. auto use object normal maps = true)

See the Google folder for my own settings file that includes Normal Map Settings for textures

2.4 Setting the benchmarks

At this point you can run Vanilla Morrowind with OpenMW.exe. You should give it a go to see how it runs and play with the settings in the launcher.

Remember NOT to run this file directly after installing Mod Organizer.

Anyway, make a quick character and set up your benchmark saves. Don't make it a proper playthrough. Not yet.

Benchmark saves are save files in really demanding scenarios. If your benchmark saves run fine with mods later on it means the game is stable.

The most demanding in game time for a benchmark save is 7PM (sunset). This might have up to 20FPS drop because of the lighting involved.

My recommendations for the benchmark save locations are as follows:

  • Seyda Neen
  • South of Pelagiad, at the base of the mountain (to test out trees and grass later on)
  • Balmora Silt Strider overlooking the town

See the Google folder for some benchmark saves. Unpack the folder in the MY DOCUMENTSMY GAMESOPENMWSAVE

When you load a game just say OK if it tells you the mods are gone.

3.MOD ORGANIZER 2 (will refer to it as MO from now on)

3.1 How to get it

https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/6194

Make an account. We will be using this website a lot. Also don't close the page just yet.

3.2 How to install it

Well, if you only plan to use it for Morrowind just install it in its coresponding folder (see 1.1 above).

If you plan to mod other games like Skyrim it should probably be installed in a separate location to avoid confusion.

As for the actual installation, just unpack it in the folder of your choice. Set up your shortcuts as per 1.1.

When you run MO for the first time it will ask you a few things:

  1. You will have to choose an instance ( https://imgur.com/e1IzOAc ) This is just the location that MO will use to store the mods.
    1. If you pick new instance it will create a folder inC:USERSAPPDATALOCALMOD ORGANIZER
    2. If you pick portable it will use its own folder to store mods. Pick this to avoid cluttering your computer with unecessary files. We will sort this in a moment.
  2. You will have to select a game. Select Morrowind
  3. You will be prompted to do a tutorial. I really recommend doing it to familiarize yourself with the app.This guide does not explain how to install mods with MO as it's waay better explained within the MO tutorial.
  4. It will ask you to associate with NXM files. Select Yes as NXM links allow you to install mods directly from nexusmods.com website if you want to.

There are two more things that you need to do in MO. Both are done from the "ToolsSettings" page.

  1. In the Paths you need to change the base directory to the coresponding folder above(see 1.1 – MOD MANAGERDATAMODS). You will need to put the contents of the archive on the Google drive in the MOD MANAGERDATA folder.
  2. In the Nexus tab you need to connect to Nexus. Very useful for getting mod info and endorsing mods that you like.

Now that everything is set you should make the "Downloads Folder" shortcut as per 1.1. You will be using that folder a lot.

3.3 Setting up shortcuts

First go here: https://imgur.com/ys2rIGI then here https://imgur.com/y7iY8bF. You will need to add both OpenMW.exe and OpenMW Launcher.exe.

After you do that select the "Shortcut/Desktop" for each of them in MO and then copy said shortcuts in your base folder (see 1.1).

From now on these 3 shortcuts (Mod Organizer, OpenMW and OpenMW Launcher) are the ONLY SHORTCUTS YOU WILL USE TO START THE GAME otherwise it will mess up your mod instalation and you will need to repeat Step 3.5 again.

3.4 How to install mods

First, do the tutorial that is part of MO. If you skipped it then you can access it via "HelpHelpTutorialsFirst Steps" (https://imgur.com/MX17C9R)

Second, the way I do it and my recommendation is to keep your mods in a separate folder (see 1.1) and just copy them into the Downloads folder and install them from there.

3.5 Load order

If you start OpenMW without using the special shortcut it will basically delete your load order. If you have 40-50 mods it will be a pain to set back up.

So for your own good just use the shortcuts or start the game from withing the MO interface.

After you enabled the mods in MO, before you open "OpenMW Launcher" make sure you get the load order sorted because some mods overwrite others. The principle is that specialized mods should overwrite general mods. (e.g. an armor overhaul should overwrite a full texture overhaul)

If you click on a mod in the main window you will see what other mods it overwrites (green) what what will overwrite it (red) (e.g. https://imgur.com/KN3OZ4o)

The second window where you need to sort the load order is the plugins tab (on the right). Here it won't show what overrides what but it should match the main window.

The third place where you need to sort the load order (this is the one that gets messed up if you don't use the shortcuts) is the OpenMW launcher itself.

Go to the "Data Files" tab and do this:

  1. In the bottom of the page delete all the content lists (https://imgur.com/lzHTU7O ) and create a fresh one called Main.
  2. In the top select Morrowind.ESM (https://imgur.com/5oxyzeT)
  3. Now you should enable and match the load order of the ESPs to be identical with the plugins from MO

3.6 Mod Repacks (for personal use only)

If you plan to make a backup for later or just install Morrowind for a friend all you need to do is to make a big ol' archive of the "MOD MANAGERDATA" folder (see 1.1)

This will save your MO load order (still need to sort it in OpenMW Launcher) and your mod config overall.

I won't do a mod repack on the Google Drive but I gave you the links on all the mods I'm using. Make sure to endorse every mod that you use !

4.(MY) MOD LIST (in this load order)

As I said, there are thousands of mods. This is my own working mod list with which I played a good 30h-40h over the last two weeks or so.

Morrowind Rebirth doesn't work with grass mods and silt strider scenic travel mods and generally has a lower FPS because of the extra assets used. It's an amazing mod though, even though I don't have it in my list.

I also don't have any tree mods because they kill my FPS. I got as low as 15FPS with the tree mods. They look amazing though. You don't get low FPS all the time with trees, just in forests and highly graphic intensive areas so you could still try them out.

Just because I don't use them doesn't mean I don't recommend them. On the contrary !

  • "Official Mods","Repack from the main game folder"

Unofficial Patches (bug fixes, typos, etc)

Textures and meshes (some of these are overwritten later by specialized mods)

Grass Mod – yes grass mod ๐Ÿ™‚

Normal Map Mods (remeber to enable the settings in OpenMW launcher or use my settings file from the Google drive to actually enable normal mapping)

Immersion and Quality of Life

These mods are a complete actor overhaul

A good chunk of Morrowind is about reading

Critter Replacers (graphics only)

More Immersion and Quality of Life Mods

5.Useful Websites

After a while Morrowind gets even the best of us. If you're just too tired to find things on your own you might consider bookmarking these amazing websites:

Please endorse and like every mod and video and resource because everyone is working hard to keep this up and they need to be appreciated !

A BIG thank you to the community for keeping this game alive ! Good luck modding and enjoy the game ! ๐Ÿ˜€

Source: reddit.com

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