Morrowind Mod Management

Introduction

Managing mods in Morrowind, often by the hundred and many of them conflicting, is no easy feat; they need to be installed in one order and loaded in a completely different order, and they may also require cleaning or merging. Fortunately, much of this can be handled by external programs. I won't go into too much depth about each program since they all come with their own documentation, but I will try to provide a quick guide on how to manage mods, and why each program is necessary.


The Basics

Mods come in all shapes and sizes, but broadly there are 2 categories:

Plugins

All the game data for Morrowind - the world, quests, NPCs, items, etc. - is defined in a file called "Morrowind.esm". Plugin files (.esp) can alter this data, for example, changing the stats of a weapon, adding a new quest, or rearranging a town. Plugins belong in the "Morrowind/Data Files" directory, and must be enabled in the Morrowind Launcher before they become active.

Assets

All of the Morrowind assets (models, textures, icons, etc.) are packed up in a file called "Morrowind.bsa". However, when Morrowind tries to load one of these assets, it first looks for it in the "Data Files" directory. This makes it very easy to supply our own assets, which is what many mods do. Mods that replace vanilla assets without the need for a plugin are called "pluginless replacers".


Wrye Mash

Wrye Mash is a mod manager, used primarily for installing and uninstalling mods. It takes a bit of time to learn, but I highly recommend it if you plan to use more than a handful of mods. It knows which files are associated with which mods, so you can easily uninstall a mod without leaving unwanted files behind.

Latest version at time of writing: 86

Wrye Mash

Installing a Mod

Downloaded mods should be placed directly into "Morrowind/Installers", without being extracted. When you run Wrye Mash ("Morrowind/Mopy/mash.exe"), all your mods will appear in the "Installers" tab. To install a mod, simply right-click on it and press "Install Last".

If the name of the mod appears in grey, it usually means that Wrye Mash does not recognise the directory structure of the mod and thus cannot install it. Such mods must be extracted and re-packaged in a way that conforms with the directory structure expected by Wrye Mash, for example:

Data Files/Meshes/some_file.nif
Data Files/Textures/some_file.dds
Data Files/Some_Plugin.esp

If a mod includes a plugin (.esp) file, ensure it is checked in the Morrowind Launcher or the "Mods" tab of Wrye Mash. Note that some mods include several plugins - always read the readme to find out which one to use!

Changing the Install Order

If 2 mods edit the same file, whichever mod is installed last will take precedence. To change the install order:

  1. Right-click on a mod and press "Move To..."
  2. Right-click on the later mod and press "Install" again in order to reinstate any files which were previously overwritten. Right-clicking a mod and pressing "Anneal" will also fix most issues.

mlox

mlox is an analysis tool that looks at the list of currently-enabled mods and reports any problems. It can also sort the mods in the appropriate load order at the push of a button.

This also requires a rule list, which is released separately.

Mods should be sorted using mlox, and any problems resolved, whenever new mods are installed.

Note that mlox has issues with some versions of Wrye Mash; if Wrye Mash fails to start after installing mlox, follow the instructions included with mlox in the "For users of Wrye Mash Standalone" directory.

Latest version at time of writing: 0.61
Rules last updated: 2015-11-22

mlox

Elder Scrolls Cleaner of GMSTs (escog)

You may have heard of GMSTs; they are essentially unwanted settings changes that, due to a fault in the Construction Set, are often injected when a plugin is saved, requiring a mod to be cleaned - otherwise, these unwanted changes may actually override settings that have been intentionally changed by another mod.

Most mods are cleaned before being uploaded, but if you ever need to clean a mod yourself, escog is the tool for you.

Note that for some reason this only seems to recognise plugins with lowercase extensions.

Latest version at time of writing: 0.1

escog