Content of the article: "TIL that uninstalling safe to remove mods can cause CTD on existing saves. TLDR at bottom"
Hi, I found out something that can easily cause CTD on your existing save that can be hard to debug.
I was using the mod: Arena – An Encounter Zone Overhaul. The mod has a ESL-flagged ESP and would normally seem like it is safe to remove since it has no scripts and only edits Vanilla records(doesn't add any new records).
I tried to remove it by disabling the mod from my modlist in MO2 which removed the plugin from my plugin list. On trying to load my last save i got a CTD. I thought maybe it was because of Arena so I re-enabled the mod and I still got a CTD from the same save! I started to panic and did some tests with other older saves but everything was giving a CTD with and without Arena. The logs were also useless as they almost always are.
What had happened was that on re-enabling Arena, MO2 put the ESP at the bottom of my plugin list and thus the order of ESL flagged ESPs changed which was not reflected in the save files. Thus I was able to start a new game but not load an old one. Even using LOOT was useless as it did not place the ESP in its old location.
The solution – https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/5031 Resaver is a save file cleaning tool. It has a cool feature in that it can read save files and tell you the load order of plugins that the save file was made with. In that I was able to see that the index for Arena.esp was FE:016 while LOOT had placed it at FE:034. I manually changed its index and verified all other ESPFEs and then tried to load my game and it worked like a charm!
Just putting this out there in case in the future anyone faces a similar issue with disabling seemingly safe to remove mods. Also as a tip for disabling mods: disable only the esp first and check your game. If it works then create a new save and then disable the mod in MO2.
TLDR: Removing ESL flagged ESPs changes the index of other ESL plugins which can cause CTD on existing saves even after reinstalling. You need to ensure that after reinstalling the index of all ESPs is the same as that which was used while creating the save.
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