How to Create a Custom Follower and Marriage Partner for Skyrim
The followers in Skyrim can be handy in a pinch, and make for great pack mules, but if you've put a few hundred hours into Skyrim, you're probably getting a little bored of the housecarls and hirelings. You might even be holding off on getting married because you can't find an eligible male or female character to take as a husband or wife.
You probably already have a few ideas for an interesting companion or spouse that better suits your play style and taste; in this tutorial I'll show you how to turn those ideas into a reality using the Creation Kit. It isn't hard, but if it's your first time using the editor, it does require a bit of reading so that you understand the decisions that you're making.
This tutorial is noob friendly, so I spend a lot of time talking about things that more experienced modders already know. If you're fairly handy with the Creation Kit, you can skip the lengthy tutorial and just follow these simple steps:
- Start Skyrim and either start a new game, or load a game and enter the showracemenu through the console.
- Create your follower's appearance the same way you would create any other character you were going to play. Exit the character creation screen and save your game.
- Open the console (~) and type 'SPF' followed by the name of your character. This will export your character's appearance to your installation folder (the one up from Data that contains the Skyrim.exe).
- Open the Creation Kit and create a new NPC. In the Traits tab, set the race and gender the same as your new character. Set either Essential or Protected, flag as Unique, and pick an authorized voice from the VoicesFollowerNeutral formlist. Set Disposition to 75.
- Set your companion's level and class in the Stats tab and adjust the Health, Magicka, and Stamina Offsets (usually 50).
- Drag CurrentFollowerFaction, PotentialFollowerFaction and (optionally) PotentialMarriageFaction into the Faction tab. Set CurrentFollowerFaction to -1. (The others should be 0.)
- Right-click in the Relationship tab to create a new relationship. Give the ID a name, set Child NPC as Player, and Relationship Level to Ally. (Character must be flagged as Unique. See step 5.)
- In the AI Data tab, set the Aggression to Aggressive. Set Confidence to Foolhardy. Set Assistance to Helps Friends and Allies. Set Morality to Any Crime. Pick a combat style.
- Pick a Default Outfit (armor or clothing) or optionally add the armor to their inventory. Give them weapons and whatever else you think they should have.
- Give them spells and perks. NPCs cannot use all spells or perks. They do not cast Illusion spells or spells that heal others without scripting. Safe spells are spells that have a hand assigned. Eg. FlamesLeftHand. The LightFoot perk is useful to avoid springing traps when sneaking.
- In the Character Gen Parts tab, click 'Import' and import YourCharactersName.npc.
- Optional: Edit the DialogueFollower quest to remove the default bow and arrows from all followers.
The Creation Kit
If you don't already have a copy of the Creation Kit, you'll want to download and install it now. You can do that from the Tools section of the Steam Library. It's a free download and not very large so it won't take long to install.
Once the Creation Kit is installed, I encourage you to take a few minutes to go through the starter tutorial on the Creation Kit wiki. I'll be going over all of the most important steps in this tutorial, but that tutorial will provide you with a little more information about what you're doing which will be helpful if this is your first plugin. (Tip: All plugins are mods, but not all mods require plugins.)
Once you're set up, follow these steps:
1. Create Your Follower's Appearance
The very first thing you're going to do is create your follower's appearance. This is actually very straightforward (though it can be time-consuming) because you create their appearance exactly the same way you create any other character.
Start Skyrim and either start a new game, or, if you know what you're doing, open the character creation screen through the console using the showracemenu command. I have a save point set right after the cart ride (before Hadvar asks you who you are) that I use as a starting point whenever I create new characters.
Creating your follower's appearance is well beyond the scope of this tutorial, but I've written an article about creating attractive characters that you may find useful and/or interesting. Keep in mind that the characters you create, like any other characters, are going to look different outdoors than they will indoors.
When you're done creating your character, save your game and proceed to step 2.
2. Export Your Follower's Appearance from Skyrim
In order to get your new follower's appearance out of the game and into the Creation Kit, you're going to have to export it from Skyrim. That might sound complicated, but it's incredibly easy to do.
Open the console by typing the tilde ~ key, which is located in the upper left corner of standard North American keyboards below the Esc key.
Once the console is open, you're going to use the SavePCFace command to export your character's appearance:
Type SPF followed by a space and then the name of your character exactly as it appears in-game, then press Enter.
For my follower Tannuck, I would type: SPF Tannuck.
If everything goes according to plan, the console will appear to do nothing and you can exit the console by typing ~ and then exit the game.
If something does go wrong, the console will probably give you an error message of some kind. If you get an error, double-check that you typed both the command and your character's name correctly (you may need to exit ~ the console to verify this) and then try again.
Once Skyrim has shut down, you can verify that your character's appearance was exported successfully by looking in the Skyrim installation folder. That's the folder one up from the Data folder and it contains both the Data folder and the Skyrim.exe. If you have a 64-bit system, for most people, the file path will be
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Skyrim\
though it may be different if you installed Steam to a different directory.
What you're looking for is a file named after your character with an .npc extension, for example, Tannuck.npc. Once you've verified that it's there, proceed to the next step.
The warnings that appear when you load the Skyrim.esm are harmless (as far as we know) and can be safely ignored, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them entirely. Almost inevitably, at some point, you're going to make a mistake of some kind and the editor is going to want to tell you about it.
Periodically, when working on your mods, you're going to want to step through these warnings one by one on the lookout for new messages. If you plan on releasing a mod to the public, you should definitely do this out of consideration for people who download and use your mod.
Dealing with editor warnings and cleaning your mod are rather large topics that are well beyond the scope of this article, unfortunately, but a lot of good information can be found on the Creation Kit wiki and in the official Bethesda forums.
3. Load the Skyrim Game Files
You're now ready to begin working on the plugin that will get your new follower in-game.
Open the Creation Kit and load the game files in the Data browser: go to File, Data..., and double-click the Skyrim.esm and Update.esm so that a little x appears in each of the boxes. Click OK. (You can find out more about creating and using simple mods in the Creation Kit starter tutorial linked to earlier.) Depending on your machine it may take anywhere from half a minute to a couple of minutes for the editor to load everything.
When the editor is done loading the game files, you will probably see a pop up warning you about a navmesh error. The Skyrim master file contains several benign errors that you will see every time you load a plugin; these warnings are harmless so just skip past them by clicking 'Yes to All'. If you click 'Yes', it will clear the current warning and then another warning will appear. You can cycle through all of the warnings by clicking 'Yes' or just click 'Yes to All' to jump past them. If you click 'No', you will be prompted to confirm that you want to quit the Creation Kit, but I don't recommend it unless you feel like loading everything again.
Creation Kit Fails to Save Bug
Recently, I've had problems saving new mods after I've started working on them. About half of the time, the editor will simply fail to load the Windows save dialog and hang, forcing me to shut it down and reload.
To avoid this, I generally save my mods as soon as the editor is done loading the Skyrim.esm. I recommend you do the same.
4. Save Your Mod
The Creation Kit is a development tool, it's free, it's resource intensive, and it's constantly being updated. Consequently, you're going to get a lot of random crashes and weird bugs.The best way to avoid the aggravation of losing hours of work is to save early and often.
You can save your plugin (or mod) from the File menu, or by clicking on the little floppy drive icon. Give your mod a sensible name, like nameOfYourCharacter. It will be given an .esp extension automatically. I recommend you save your mod every few minutes.
As a heads-up, you can't save your plugin with the NPC editor window open (or any of the other dialog windows) so click OK to save your current settings, save your plugin, and then re-open the NPC editor to continue working.
5. Create a New NPC
Once you've saved your mod, create a new NPC. To do this, find the Actors category in the Object window, open it (click on the little + sign) and select the Actor subcategory. This will load all of the actors in the game into the panel on the right.
Right-click anywhere in the actor list in the right pane to open the context menu and select New. This will create a new NPC file and open it in the editor.
6. Assign Traits
This is just a basic tutorial, so I'm not going to cover every single option in the NPC dialog but I will cover all of the settings that you need to create a follower. If you're interested in finding out more, you can always refer to the wiki.
The first tab is pretty easy to set up, but requires a fair amount of background.
Set the Editor ID and Name
The first thing you need to do is give your follower a unique editor id. Editor ids are the way that the Creation Kit identifies objects. For characters, the editor id and name are often the same, with the exception that editor ids can only use letters and numbers and cannot have spaces, punctuation, or unusual characters in them. M'aiq the Liar, for example, has MaiqTheLiar for an editor id; no spaces, no apostrophe, and the first letter of 'the' capitalized to distinguish it from 'Maiq'. If your follower's name is not being used by any other character in the game, you can make the ID the same as the Name, which is the way most of the vanilla NPCs are set up. (Tip: If you're ever having difficulty locating an NPC or any other object in the Creation Kit, check out my How to Make a Skyrim Character Look Like Any Character in the Game tutorial. It has a fairly detailed guide to finding things in the editor.)
Make Your Character Unique
Check the Unique flag to let the game know there is only one of your character in the game (as opposed to a bandit or conjurer, for example). This flag is important because you can't create a Relationship without it.
Note: The flags under the ID/Name input boxes are prone to unchecking themselves if you change tabs so I usually set them, then click OK on the NPC to save my changes and then re-open the character to continue working. If the editor doesn't allow you to create a Relationship for your follower, it's probably because this flag has become unchecked.
Set the Race and Gender
The next thing you need to do is make sure that your NPC has the same race as the character that you're copying, and that the Female flag is checked if your character is a female. You don't need to set your character's weight because it will be set when you import the settings you exported earlier. If you change the height of your character by too much, you can end up with weirdness in-game, so I don't recommend you change it by much more than + or - 0.1. Even a 0.03 change can have a noticeable impact on how your character appears, so use with caution.
The Opposite Gender Anims check box switches which animation set your character uses. This check box is used by Lydia, the female Stormcloaks and Thalmor and many of the female Orcs, so if you want that look for your character, check this box.
Set to Protected or Essential
The followers in vanilla Skyrim are all set to Protected status, which means that they can't be killed by enemies, but they can be killed by the player (usually accidentally). If you don't like that setting, you can choose to set them to Essential, which means that they can't be killed by anyone. If you find that you're constantly killing your companions in Skyrim with an errant spell or stray arrow and want to avoid doing that with your custom follower (who is, let's admit it, probably a little more special than your other followers) you might want to choose Essential. If you're a really hard-core, dead-is-dead style of player, you can leave both boxes unchecked and the game will treat them as normal NPCs. This means that they can be killed by anyone or anything. If you choose to go this route, just remember that your follower is likely to die fairly soon after you start playing unless you happen to be an extremely good and cautious player.
Set the Disposition
The next thing you need to do is set the Disposition Base to 75 to make sure that the "I need your help..." option will be available in-game. This is sort of a kludge to get around having to create a custom quest to convince your follower to join you and means that your NPC will treat your character like an old friend and join you without hesitation. It's possible to create a custom quest around acquiring your character to create a more authentic experience, like the quests surrounding the followers in the game, but that's well beyond the scope of this article. Personally, I like the 'meeting up with an old adventuring companion' feel that this gives to a follower, and it's not entirely out of place for many of the characters you will create.
Pick a Voice Type
The last thing you need to do is pick a voice for your character. All of the followers in the game use a select number of voices, and it's important that you use one of these voices for your own character or the game won't be able to execute the dialogue that allows you to interact with them.
You can find the complete list of 'safe' voices inside the VoicesFollowerAll form list, which can be found in the Object window under Miscellaneous, FormList. There's no way to preview the voices in the editor, unfortunately, so you might have to test out a few in-game until you find the right one. For now, just select one that seems appropriate from the Voice Type drop down box in the NPC editor.
If you want to be able to marry your follower, you also have to make sure that you pick a voice that has marriage partner dialogue recorded. The VoicesMarriageAll form list contains all of the 'safe' marriage partner voices, but not all of the voices are included in both lists. If you want your follower to do both, make sure you pick a voice that's included in both lists.
If you can't find a voice that matches your character's race (I'm looking at you, Khajiits), you can always use a human voice instead. I used a human voice for my female Khajiit follower Tinga and it sounds just fine in-game (once you get over the shock of hearing it the first time). It's not technically 'lore friendly', but she sounds great so I'm not complaining.
7. Set Class, Level, Attributes, and Skills
The Stats tab controls your follower's class, level, attributes, and skills.
Set Your Follower's Level
In Skyrim, there are two basic types of NPCs: static NPCs who have a set level determined at the start of the game that never changes, and leveled NPCs, who have their level determined dynamically in-game based on the player's current level when the player first enters their location.
Although you could set the level of your follower explicitly, say, to level 20, and leave it at that, the followers in Skyrim are typically leveled actors with a minimum starting level and a maximum level that they won't go above. The level that is actually set when you encounter them depends on your own level and the multiplier used to calculate their level. Most of the followers in Skyrim have a minimum level of 10, but that level may go up to 40 or 50 if you don't encounter them until late in your adventure.
Note that followers, by default, will not level with you. Once their starting level has been determined (ie. when you enter the building or area they are located) it never changes. If you enter the Drunken Huntsman on level 2 and talk to Jenassa, she'll be level 10 (her minimum level) for the rest of the game, even if you don't hire her until you're level 30. If you don't enter the Drunken Huntsman until level 50, she'll be level 40, her maximum level. If you enter at any level between level 10 and 40, she'll be the same level you are. That's why your followers seem to go down easier and easier the longer you keep them. Your own follower will work the same way unless you explicitly set their level, in which case, they will always be that level instead. It is possible to make your followers level with you, but in order to do that you need to do a bit of scripting, and that's beyond the scope of this tutorial.
To make your follower level with you, check the PC Level Mult box. The default Level Mult to the left is 1.00, which means that your follower will be exactly the same level as you as long as your level isn't below their Calc Min level or above their Calc Max level, in which case they will use those levels instead. You can change the Level Mult to make them higher or lower when you first encounter them (eg. setting it to 1.1 will make their level 10% higher than your own level) but it won't increase them beyond their maximum level or push them lower than their minimum level. You can set your follower to any level you want, but you probably don't want them being too powerful or too weak. For Dundaryn, I've simply set his own level to the defaults used by the housecarls.
Set Health, Magicka, and Stamina
The Health Offset, Magicka Offset, and Stamina Offset allow you to tweak your character's attributes. The player begins the game with a +50 point offset (50 Base Health + 50 Health Offset = 100 starting Health), so I typically assign the same values to my followers. If you want to create a follower with a particularly high value, say +100 Magicka Offset for a spell-casting follower, you can do so here. (Though you might want to balance it out by lowering their Health or Stamina.)
Choose a Class and Set or Calculate Skills
The NPC's class determines how they allocate skill points. If you look at the sample class in the screenshot, you can see that there are fields for each of the skills. Each of the fields has a number (typically 0, 1, 2, or 3). These are weights that influence how the game divides skill points. For example, for every 11 skill points that a Ranger has to allocate, 3 of them will go toward Archery and Light Armor, 2 will go to Block and One-Handed, and 1 will go to Sneak. If you look above the Skill Weights, you'll also see an Attribute Weights section that works the same way to calculate your NPC's attributes.
You can find the Classes in the Character category in the Object window if you want to look at them before making your decision. When choosing a class for your character, make sure you choose one that puts skill points in the areas you want them to be good at.
If you don't like the existing classes, you can create a new one and allocate points however you see fit. In the Object window, with the Class category selected, right-click and choose New from the context menu. This will create an empty Class that you can set up however you like. The only fields you need to fill out are the ID, Attribute Weights, and Skill Weights. You might also want to change the Bleedout Default from 0.15 to 0.10, which is the default that most vanilla classes use. (The bleedout just determines the % of total health at which a follower will go down on one knee. Vanilla followers go down when they reach 10% of their Health.)
Before you start allocating skill points, you need to be aware that the following skills are never used by NPCs: Alchemy, Enchanting, Smithing, Lockpicking, Pickpocketing, Speech, and Illusion. Basically, if they can't use it in combat, they can't use it at all.
Once you're done creating your class, click OK to save it and it will appear with the other classes in the drop down box in the Stats tab.
Once you've chosen your class, you'll notice that the NPC's skills and calculated attributes will update to reflect your choice. If you've given your follower a static level (PC Level Mult unchecked) you can manually edit their skill levels by left-clicking quickly three times on the skill value and typing in a new value. If your follower is dynamically leveled, you won't be able to set their skill levels manually, which makes sense because you don't know ahead of time what their level will be. Those will be calculated automatically based on their class.
8. Add Your Follower to the Required Factions
The next thing you need to do is add them to the appropriate factions. Find the Factions subcategory in the Object window under the Character category and drag the CurrentFollowerFaction and PotentialFollowerFaction to the empty faction list in the Faction tab. If you want to be able to marry your follower, drag in the PotentialMarriageFaction as well.
Left-click twice slowly on the CurrentFollowerFaction rank which is currently set to 0 and set it to -1. The other factions should be left at 0. (If you double-click the faction rank the Faction editor will open instead, which is not what you want. Cancel out of it (don't press OK!) and try clicking twice again more slowly.)
9. Create a Relationship to the Player
Next we need to set up the follower's relationship to the player. Right-click in the empty Relationship list and select New to open the Relationship editor. (If only it were that easy, right!) If the editor doesn't allow you to create a Relationship, make sure that the Unique flag is set.
The Parent NPC should already be set to the name of your follower. Change the Child NPC to Player from the drop down menu. Parent/Child is a standard way of referring to relationships between objects in programming circles and has nothing to do with actual family relationships between your characters. In Relationships, 'Parent' refers to the actor that you are setting up the relationship for; 'Child' refers to who the relationship is with. An actor can be a Parent in a number of different relationships, some of which might include his or her children, but many of which will be toward friends, acquaintances, and other family members.
Set the Relationship Level to Ally (Lover might also work for a marriage partner--it might affect dialogue, for example--but I've never used it and I know for sure that Ally works). Leave the Association Type set to None. Finally, give your relationship an ID, like YourFollowersNamePlayerRelationship or something similar.
Relationships control which NPCs fight or defend other NPCs. In general, if two NPCs are defined as enemies, they will fight as soon as they see each other. If an NPC observes an ally being attacked and their AI (see below) has been set to assist allies, they will defend that NPC. If you don't set the Relationship, your follower won't know that he's supposed to defend you.
A Note About AI Packages
I'm not going to talk about AI packages in this tutorial because they are very complex and not really necessary for a basic follower. Every NPC in the game will default to basic sandbox behavior, even if they don't have a single AI package in their AI Package list.
The basic sandbox AI will allow the NPC to wander around within a small radius of wherever you put them and perform simple actions and use various objects. If you put your follower in a tavern, for example, they will walk around, sit down and eat, and even stir the cook pot.
Followers without AI packages will return to their starting location when you dismiss them.
10. Set Up the AI
Skip over the Keywords tab and move on to AI Data. This tab is not hard to set up, but it has a big impact on your follower's behavior, so make sure you do it right.
The first thing you need to do is set the Aggression. Aggression determines how likely your follower is to engage in combat. If you leave it at Unaggressive, he won't attack, but if you put it too high, he'll attack everything in sight. Set it to Aggressive so that he will engage enemies, but not random civilians.
Confidence determines how likely your follower will flee when the going gets rough. I generally set it to Foolhardy so that they never flee. You might try a lower setting, but even a Brave character will flee whenever their health gets low, which, in Skyrim, will happen all the bloody time.
Set Assistance to Helps Friends and Allies. This is the most 'generous' setting. Helps Allies will probably work, too, for the player, though they won't help their own friends that way. (Probably not a big deal if you don't set up any friends for them.) Skyrim uses four basic categories of relationships: Enemies (attack on sight), Neutrals (ignore, depending on Aggression), Friends (assist in combat, depending on Assistance), and Allies, the strongest bond, and the one most likely to result in assistance.
Set Morality to Any Crime if you plan on committing any. You probably don't really want your own companions reporting you, though if you never commit crimes it probably won't make much difference.
The Mood can be set to whatever you like. As far as I can tell it basically just determines their default expression. Do you want a sad face or a happy face following you around?
The last thing you need to set in the AI Data tab is the combat style. Combat style determines things like how likely your NPC is going to prefer using a bow over a sword, how likely they are to use a power attack on a staggered foe, and whether or not they can dual-wield. Not all of the combat style settings are fully understood, so it's probably best if you pick a style from one of the existing ones, but if you're feeling really adventurous you can try creating one yourself.
Combat styles are located in the Object window under Miscellaneous, Combat Styles. To create a new one, right-click in the list and select New. The most important settings are the Equipment Score Multipliers in the General tab, which determine how much the NPC prefers one type of attack over another (so if you want someone to use a bow more often than a sword, set Ranged to be higher than Melee) and the Allow Dual Wielding check box in the Melee tab. If it's unchecked they won't use two weapons no matter how many you give them.
You can also experiment with the Attack and Bash settings which determine things like how likely the NPC is to use a power attack against a staggered foe and that sort of thing. I'm not too sure how the other stats work, though I know a good chunk of them only apply to dragons, so you're own your own here. If you leave them at default settings you'll probably be okay.
When you're done tweaking poorly understood numbers, click OK. You will probably have to exit the NPC editor (click OK to save changes) and save your plugin before your new combat style will appear in the drop-down list in the AI Data tab.
If you don't like the way your NPC is behaving in combat, you can always reload your plugin into the Creation Kit and tweak these numbers. (Just don't make any changes to the Combat Styles that were set up by Bethesda. Doing so will change the combat behavior for every actor in the game that uses that style, and you might not like the change. Never edit an existing object unless you absolutely have to. If you don't like a vanilla combat style, pick a different one or create a new one that you can tweak as much as you like.)
Optional: Edit the DialogueFollower Quest
In order to fix the two bugs mentioned in the Inventory section of the tutorial, you can edit the DialogueFollower quest to remove the default bow and arrows from the inventory assigned to followers.
To do this, find the Quest subcategory in the Object window inside the Character category. Locate the DialogueFollower quest and double-click it to open the quest. Switch to the Quest Aliases tab and double-click the Follower alias in the Alias list. This will open the Reference Alias editor for that Alias. In the bottom left corner you will find an Alias Inventory list. Select the bow and press Delete to remove it from inventory. Do the same with the arrows. Press OK to save your changes, then press OK again in the Quest window.
If you get an error about a script failing to update, it means that you don't have the game's source scripts (.psc files) located in the Data/Scripts/Source folder. You'll need to replace those scripts for the Creation Kit to update the quest properly. Quit the Creation Kit without saving, restore the source code files and re-edit the quest.
Note that many follower overhaul mods change this quest, often for this reason. Because of this, you may run into compatibility issues with other mods. In all likelihood, it's not going to be a big issue. If you're using your companion along with a mod that modifies follower behavior, just load that mod later in the load list than your follower. That way the overhaul mod can overwrite your changes to this quest. (If you end up with the default bow again, it means that the overhaul didn't remove them, which may be intentional or not.)
11. Equip Your Follower
We're going to skip the AI Package tab (see the note) and go straight to the Inventory tab.
Default Outfits and The Preview Window
There are two ways you can add clothing or armor to your NPC: by choosing a default outfit, or by dragging items into the inventory list. The Default Outfit is automatically equipped on NPCs by the game. If your follower has a default outfit, you can give them different clothing or armor, but they will always equip the 'best' item (from their perspective). If you remove all of the clothing and armor that you've given them, they will revert back to their default outfit. The default outfit is not visible in their inventory, so it cannot be removed from them.
If you don't give them a default outfit but just add clothing or armor to their inventory, they will not equip it by default. That means that the first time you meet them, they will be in their underwear. They won't equip their armor until you trade items with them, at which point they will equip the best items in their inventory.
To set an outfit, select one from the drop down box. You can see what items will be equipped in the list to the right. If you want to preview an outfit, check the Full box beside Preview in the bottom center of the NPC window and your character will appear in the preview window on the right. (In the screenshot you'll see Dundaryn, but you haven't actually imported your character's appearance, yet, so you'll just see the first preset instead.) Your character is probably too small in the preview window to get a good look at, so use the left mouse button to rotate around him and the middle mouse button to zoom (wheel) or pan (hold down). The preview window is a trifle annoying to use so it might take you a bit of fiddling to get a good view.
To add armor or clothing directly to the NPC's inventory, read the following section.
Adding Items to The Inventory List
To add items directly to their inventory, find the appropriate category in the Object window under Items and drag objects from the list to the Inventory list in the NPC window.
The subcategories you're most likely to be interested in are Armor, Weapons, and Ammo. All followers are given a hunting bow and iron arrows by default via the follower quest. This causes two problems (until they are fixed):
- Followers will often revert back to the hunting bow even if you give them a better bow to use.
- Every time you dismiss them and then re-recruit them another bow will be added to their inventory. Eventually, they won't be able to carry any more loot because their inventory will be full of bows!
To avoid these problems, you can follow the optional step of editing the DialogueFollower quest shown in the sidebar. This will remove the default bow and arrows from all followers in the game. If you change this quest, and you want your followers to have a bow and arrows, you'll have to give them items from your own inventory. Of course, with this particular follower, you can just add them directly to his inventory.
If you drag arrows from the Ammo subcategory, you'll notice that it only adds one arrow to inventory. You can change the number of arrows by selecting the arrows in the inventory list and editing the Count field below the list (beside the Object drop down box). Ignore the Health % field as item degradation isn't used by Skyrim.
12. Add Spells and Perks
If you're creating a follower that uses spells, you're going to want to add some spells to her spell list.
NPCs in Skyrim can't use many of the spells that are available to the player. This is partly for the simple reason that the AI isn't smart enough to know when to use them, partly because some of the spells don't make sense for anyone but the player to use (eg. Clairvoyance), and partly because some spells which work on NPCs won't work on the player. (eg. Fear). Keep this in mind when adding spells to your follower.
As I mentioned in the discussion of classes, the Illusion school isn't used by NPCs at all, so don't bother adding any of these spells to your follower unless you plan on doing a lot of scripting. (I'm not even sure it's possible to get them to use them with a script.) NPCs also won't heal you or other NPCs, though I know that they can be scripted to do so. In general, you're going to restrict your spell selection to anything that has a 'LeftHand'/'RightHand' in the Editor ID.
You can also add perks to your follower. I'm less certain about which perks can be used by NPCs, but you can get an idea from the perks that have been added to the pre-made hirelings that come with the game. (Search the Actor list in the Object window with 'hireling' in the Filter.) One perk you may want to add to every follower is the LightFoot perk which prevents them from setting off traps while they're sneaking. (Remember: They sneak when you sneak.)
13. Import Your Character's Appearance
You're now going to import your character's appearance. Before you try this step, make sure you save your work as the editor has a tendency to crash for many people at this point owing to a bug with the current version of the Creation Kit which causes the Windows dialogs to fail to load properly for some people a large percentage of the time. When this happens, the Creation Kit will hang and you will have to close the editor and reload everything and try again. It may take you a few tries to get it to work, but try to be patient, you're almost done!
If you look at the Character Gen Parts tab you will see an Import button in the top right corner. When you click it, assuming the Creation Kit doesn't crash, it will open the Windows file browser in your Skyrim folder. Find your character's .npc file, which should be named after your NPC, select it, and click Open to import it into the Creation Kit. Your NPC now has the appearance you created in the character generation screen in Skyrim.
To view your character, select the Head check box in the bottom center of the NPC editor. You can rotate your character's face to get a better look at him or her by using the left mouse button. Your may notice that your character's head looks a little distorted. This is just a side-effect of the way that the Creation Kit renders the head in the preview window. The reason why we used Skyrim to create your character's appearance was not only because it is easier to use the tools in-game, but also because your character will look slightly different in Skyrim than in the editor, so using Skyrim is just more accurate.
Export the Follower's Face Settings
Once you've imported your follower, click OK to save your work then select them in the Object window and press Ctrl + F4 to export their face settings. Click Yes on the confirmation dialog that appears. If you forget this step, your character's face color will not match the body color in-game and you may be missing scars, war paint, and other face coloring. This is probably the most common problem that people encounter when creating custom NPCs.
Exporting your character's face settings will create the following files in your Data folder:
The 'xxxxxxxx' is a unique, 8 digit identifier. The .nif file is your character's head mesh and the .dds file is your character's head texture. (The other file is your character's head texture in a different image format and is not used by the game.) If you release your character as a mod, be sure to include the .nif and .dds files along with it so that others don't encounter your bug, and be sure to keep the file structure intact so that the game can find them.
Tip: If you try to export your character's face and nothing happens, make sure that the Is CharGen Face Preset box is unchecked. It won't export if it is.
Render Window Shortcuts
Click Left Mouse Button : select
Hold Left Mouse Button + Drag Mouse : move a selected object
Hold Shift + Move Mouse : rotate around the selected object
Scroll Mouse Wheel : zoom
Hold Middle Mouse Button : pan
Z + Hold Left Mouse Button + Drag Mouse : move an object up and down along the Z axis
F : drop a selected object to the next lower collision surface (usually the ground or floor)
14. Add Your Follower to the World
The last thing you need to do is add your follower to Skyrim. As it stands, they only exist as a definition inside the editor; they have no existence inside the game world itself.
The first thing you need to do is decide where you want to find your follower. Because we haven't added any complex AI packages or done any scripting, it should be somewhere you don't mind traveling to if you decide to dismiss your follower and then re-recruit them later. I usually place my followers in taverns and inns and similar locations, but you can put them wherever you want.
Once you've decided where you want to put them, you need to find that location in the Cell View window. The World Space drop down box lists all of the 'worlds' in Skyrim. A world is essentially a standalone environment that is connected to other worlds via loading doors.
Interiors and Exteriors
There are two basic kinds of 'worlds': interiors and exteriors. All interiors are composed of a single cell separated from all other cells and all exteriors are composed of a collection of continuous cells. Both types of cell are connected to other cells via loading doors. The inside of the Bannered Mare is a good example of an interior cell. Skyrim itself is one massive world space that contains a number of smaller world spaces, like the city of Whiterun, which is also an exterior world space.
All of the interior cells are located under the first listing, Interiors, in the World Space drop down box. I'm going to put Dundaryn in the Drunken Huntsman, a good place for a worldly Bosmer with a taste for adventure. Most of the interiors in the Cell View window are organized by the name of the town or dungeon that they belong to. The Drunken Huntsman, for example, is listed as WhiterunDrunkenHuntsman.
If you want to place your character outside somewhere, you'll need to select the Tamriel world space from the World Space drop down box (Skyrim is part of Tamriel). This will load all of the cells that make up Skyrim's portion of Tamriel in the list on the bottom left. Cells in exteriors that contain points of interest, like dungeons or camps, are often named after those locations, but the vast majority of the cells are nameless wilderness cells organized by X and Y coordinates. It might take you a while to find the cell you're looking for, but you can make your job easier by opening a cell that seems close to where you want to be and then navigating through the world space in the Render window.
Navigating in the Render Window
Once you've located the correct cell, or a cell nearby in exterior world spaces, double-click it to load it in the Render window. Navigating in the Render window is a little tricky at first. The important thing to remember is not to select anything you don't have to because if you accidentally move it, it will create a 'dirty edit' which can cause conflicts with other mods.
The Render window will load in top view, probably centered over an object. To move around, use your mouse wheel to zoom back, then press and hold the middle mouse button to pan around until you find a good place to position your follower. You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in again until you're fairly close to where you want to drop them, then go to the Object window, find your follower, and drag them into the Render window.
Moving Your Follower Into Position
You can select your follower with the left mouse button and then rotate around them by holding down the Shift key and moving the mouse. (Don't hold down any buttons on the mouse when rotating.) Your follower should have a little red, green, and blue box around them indicating that they are selected.
You can drag your follower around by holding down the left mouse button and dragging (a small icon with four arrows will appear). Make sure your follower is not overlapping any other objects in the game, otherwise you could end up with weird collision issues.
Your follower should be on the floor or ground, but if you accidentally placed them on top of a chair or a rock or another object, drag them to an empty spot and press F to make them fall to the ground. If your character is stuck inside the floor or ground for some reason, hold down the Z key while dragging to drag them up out of it and then press F to drop them back on top of the ground. If your character is sticking down through the ground or floor, they may not appear in-game because they are currently falling through infinite space.
Note that there's a lot more to using the Render window that the few controls that I mention here. This should get your follower into place, which is all we need in this tutorial. If you need further instruction, just check out the Creation Kit wiki.
How to Turn One of Your Own Characters Into a Follower
The process of turning one of your own characters into a follower is identical to the process used for creating any other follower. The only difference is that you export your character's appearance from the console in-game, rather than the custom character you created earlier in the tutorial.
For example, instead of typing
into the console, you would type
You can then import your character's appearance in the NPC editor and set their level, traits, attributes, etc., just as you would for a normal follower.
Now comes the fun part!
Save your work and exit the Creation Kit. Start Skyrim and confirm that your mod is checked in the load list. Go to the location where you placed your follower. If you've followed all of the steps in this tutorial correctly, you should find your follower sandboxing in his or her starting location. If you talk to them, they should offer you the "I need your help..." dialogue option. If you set up your companion as a potential marriage partner, they should also have this dialogue as well, but remember that you need to have an amulet of Mara equipped to get the dialogue.
That's it! Take your companion on a quest and see how they do. If you decide you want to change something about them, you can always just load their plugin into the editor and tweak away.
If you're ready to take your follower to a whole new level and turn them into a full-fledged hireling that co-exists organically with the other hirelings in the game, read my How to Create a Hireling in Skyrim tutorial.
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