Load Order Glossary

Survive Load Order Disorder by knowing what a mod author means in their Fallout 4 mod page description.

Mobile Devices: Turn your device on its side to view all menus. This website is best viewed at 1920 x 1080 to access all pages of the Survival Guide. It has multiple columns of links.


The abbreviation for Armor and Weapons Keywords Community Resource. Also called Armor Keywords in some mod descriptions.


Data is automatically saved at certain points in the game. By default, the game only has three (3) autosave slots.

Data does not appear to store properly in an autosave on console. Game bugs have occurred when loading the game from an autosave, specifically texture files that have not been compressed properly or using mods that have not packaged FaceGen data. 

Not recommended for use when testing mods. When exiting the game, exit from a different location than an autosave location -- like behind a load door -- in order to avoid incorrectly loaded data producing bugs.

Cached Data/”Clear Your Cache”

Temporary files stored to improve gameplay. Can corrupt over time or build up on consoles to prohibit gameplay or other functionality. Periodically, clearing the cache with a full power cycle on Xbox is part of healthy console maintenance. Textures are cached on Xbox.

CBBE/Caliente's Beautiful Bodies

Hi-poly female-character-only body mesh. On console, it was stolen so many times that the mod author did not release it to console for several years. A smaller-poly-than-original-CBBE mesh with zapped female parts to conform to Bethesda.net site rules is available for Xbox. UV texture Maps do not match vanilla bodies, vanilla armor must be rebuilt for it. Abbreviation for Caliente’s Beautiful Bodies.


Human NPCs use the same bodies as the player. Only use one mesh per gender.

Clean Save

No mods on a save, completely vanilla.

Fallout 4 Load Order FAQ
What is the difference between a ‘clean save’ and a ‘vanilla save’?

Clean Save/Re-initializing a Mod

NOT a true clean save. Attempt to re-initialize scripts by disabling a mod on a hard save and then re-enabling during a play-through.

Fallout 4 Load Order FAQ
What is the difference between a ‘clean save’ and a ‘vanilla save’?

Compatibility Patch

A data file that resolves conflicts between two or more game modifications. Also called a delta patch, bashed patch, or merged patch.

What is a “Patch” and what are the different types of patches?
Most often, a patch refers to a plugin that allows two plugins to work together in tandem.

Conflict Resolution

The reason load orders exist. Not all mods work together and sometimes they will edit the same form or area of the map as another mod. Mods that edit the same form conflict and generally cannot be used together without a compatibility patch.

What is Load Order?
The whole point of Load Order is conflict resolution. Incompatibility can lead to anything from system lag to CTD.

Creation Engine

Fallout 4 and Skyrim’s game engine. It is a fork of the Gamebryo Engine.

Creation Kit

Bethesda’s in-house editor given to the community for free to edit their games. Prior to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim it was called the <Game Name> Construction Kit and Garden of Eden Construction Kit (G.E.C.K.).  

How to make mods using the Creation Kit is documented at CreationKit.com.


The game stops functioning and the player returns to the homepage of the console or the desktop of the PC.

Cube Map

A Cube Map is texture that use six faces of a square for environmental mapping in a more simplistic way than Ray Tracing. It is used for optical illusions to simulate reflective surfaces, such as windows, glass, and metal.

Archive2, the application that ships with the Creation Kit for extracting game files, ships with a bug that will break cube map textures' headers that must be fixed with Hexadecimal coding edits to the texture. Older mods using these textures have a tendency to crash the game on PC and Xbox. Fix instructions are provided on the Collective Modding Discord server.

Mods of older cube maps do not appear to be compatible with the ray tracing of the Xbox Series S|X and produce odd visual results. There is very little a mod author can do about this since it may require having access to actual (and proprietary) game development software from Microsoft.


Completely removing the mod from your load order after disabling (uninstalling). Incorrectly deleting a mod can result in Remnants of Data remaining (also known as ghost space on the Skyrim side).

Mod Downloading Basics
Survive Load Order Disorder by knowing how to use the in-game mods manager to download mods on any platform.

Dependent Mod/Child

A plugin that is dependent upon another mod for certain records (its parent or master file). For example, any mod that requires Settlement Menu Manager can be considered a child mod or dependent mod. Any compatibility patch is considered a dependent or child mod of the mods it is patching.

Diffuse Texture/UV map

Texture map of detail (usually with color) that maps pixels to a 3D object. This is the matte texture you see in-game on an object and know the object is what it is intended to be.


Mod is still in your load order and library, but not enabled for gameplay.

Mod Downloading Basics
Survive Load Order Disorder by knowing how to use the in-game mods manager to download mods on any platform.


Mod is in your load order and ready for gameplay.

Mod Downloading Basics
Survive Load Order Disorder by knowing how to use the in-game mods manager to download mods on any platform.

EVB/Enhanced Vanilla Body

Moderately-hi-poly male and female character body mesh. UV texture maps are mapped to vanilla paths. Male body with phallus available for PC.

Exit Save

A save method added by popular demand specifically for Survival Mode but affects all difficulty modes. Data is saved to one (1) slot when exiting to the main menu and overwritten upon new exit. Note: Data does not appear to store properly in an exit save.

Not recommended for use when testing mods. Game bugs have occurred when loading the game from an Exit Save.


In computing, an "extension", "file extension", or "filename extension" is a group of letters occurring after a dot (period) in a file name indicating the format of the file. In the case of Bethesda game modification data files for consoles those letters are .ESM, .ESP, and .ESL. For example, mods could be named MyGreatestModEver.esm, MyGreatestModEver.esp, or MyGreatestModEver.esl.

Mod authors are encouraged to be as unique as possible when naming so that players do not get Remnant Data/Ghost Space when downloading two mods of the same name.

ESL file extensions, regardless of what the mod manager says, will load before any master files (such as the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch) even if you cannot place them there inside the manager. On console, they still count towards the 100/150 mod limit.

Fallout 4 Script Extender/F4SE

Game Modification application in .dll injection format that indirectly modifies the .exe in order to expand the Papyrus native scripts’ events. Mod authors must make their source code publicly available. Cannot be used on consoles due to console manufacturers’ policies. Due to the nature of the game modification, it must be updated to the latest runtime whenever Fallout 4 updates. All mods dependent on F4SE must also be updated.


In computing, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and develop it into a new project. For example, the Creation Engine which Fallout 4 and Skyrim use are project forks of the Gamebryo Engine.


List of forms used by the game. Several ‘vanilla’ quests were included with Far Harbor and Nuka World that allow for safe formlist injection, so if a mod has those DLC as a requirement, double-check with the mod author prior to requesting removal of DLC if you don’t own the DLC.

An example of visible formlists are the Workshop menus. When you remove a mod without first reverting it back to vanilla, the formlist will completely break.


The game’s records. Each form has a unique ID number and name.

When you pick up an object from the world, it destroys the object and replaces it with a uniquely ID’d object that will not be found in any other game. This ID number is called the PRID. These PRID numbers are unique to each game. PRID numbers are impossible to reference on Xbox and PS4 due to the lack of debug console and scripts needed to find the numbers.


Abbreviation for either Frames Per Second or First-Person Shooter. On consoles turning the game into First Person Shooter by increasing Field of View (FOV) decreases Frames Per Second.

Fallout 4 Load Order FAQ
How can I get 60 FPS on Xbox One or PS4?
What is Framerate?
Fallout 4 Load Order Framework: A Vault Dweller’s Load Order Survival Guide
Designed to help Fallout 4 players survive Load Order Disorder by emphasizing planning, placement, and maintenance of game modifications.
FAQ: What is Framerate?


The game framerate drops so much that the player cannot move. Usually requires a restart of the game.

Hard reset/Power Cycle

Manually turning off the console, letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then rebooting it. This will clear the cache in most cases.

Fallout 4 Load Order FAQ
What is the cache and how do I clear it?

Hard save/Manual Save

Using the "Save" option in the main menu instead of allowing an autosave or selecting Quicksave.

You can have more than three saves up to 2 gb of data on Xbox in a separate partition. Each time a user makes a save, the file size will grow. If experiencing save bloat due to run-away scripts, script deadlock, or other script-polling issues, users may be limited to making sure to overwrite the save instead of making new saves.

The Papyrus Virtual Manager (VM) stops during saving and continues once again after saving has been completed.

Identical To Master Records

Also known as ITMs or “dirty” edits. PC users can clean such edits with the community-created program called xEdit (FO4Edit) through its automatic cleaning process.

Console users do not have a way to see a plugin to know if it is “dirty” or not.

Identical to Master Records are discouraged for use for compatibility purposes, misuse, and to discourage sabotage and maliciousness among the more ego-lead members of the modding community.

INI File

Initialization file. This is a text file with the .ini extension that has a specific format the engine reads.

PC and Xbox can make use of .ini files to further tweak their games. Xbox must have the .ini “attached” to a .esp data file in order to use it, and once a file is enabled, one must completely quit the game and relaunch in order for the changes to be made. On the Xbox controller: Home > Fallout 4 > More Options > Quit and then re-launch the game. Or you can restart your Xbox.

DO NOT REMOVE INI FILES mid-play, even if they are harmful edits. Removal will cause oddities and CTDs on the console. Start a new game if needing to remove them. Some ini edits are permanently saved to the save file while scripted ini edits do not appear to be.

Leveled Actor/Leveled Actor List

A form that is used to generate one or more NPC based on the current level of the player. Leveled actors that are added via script with nested arrays that do not have declared lengths spawn slower than simple arrays. Nested arrays on downtown spawns are problematic and cause performance issues.

Enemy spawn points have a hard-coded limit of 128 NPCs. Game stability ruptures upon hitting this limit.

Leveled Item/Leveled Item Lists

A form that is used to generate one or more items based on the current level of the player. Leveled items that are added via script with nested arrays that are do not have declared lengths spawn slower than simple arrays. Nested arrays on downtown spawns are problematic on consoles and cause performance issues. There is a 255 hard-coded limit on level lists. Game stability ruptures upon hitting the limit.

Light Nodes/Add-on Nodes

Save specific numerical values that affect light meshes with nodes defined in the Creation Kit. Conflicts between nodes’ values will adversely affect lighting visually.

Load Order

The order in which the game engine reads mod data files. Mod data files are read from top to bottom with the bottom-most data file having priority, which is why the order is important to game stability and resolution of conflicts.

Load order is used for conflict resolution.

Load Order Framework
Fallout 4 Load Order Tips: Survive Load Order Disorder by sorting your mods using these categories defined below.


PC program used for organizing load orders. It is mostly used to check if a mod needs cleaning or has issues.

The LOOT master list the program uses is community updated and receives updates regularly. If the mod is not on the LOOT master list used by the program, the application will order the mods incorrectly so best judgment is necessary by the end-user, and it is recommended to learn how to manually sort load orders before using it.

Master File

A .esm data file (such as Fallout4.esm or ArmorKeywords.esm) or .esl file that must load first for other plug-ins to work. All master files with the appropriate extension force themselves to the top of your load order menu.

User-created .esl files count against the 255 plug-in maximum on consoles, but not on PC. They load before user-created .esm files regardless of where the in-game mod manager places them in the load order.

Master File/Parent

A data file containing records that another mod requires. The Creation Kit requires that Parent data files have the .esm or .esl extension; however, it is possible for mod authors to only "flag" a file as a master and the parent may have a .esp extension.

Mod/Game Mod/Game Modification

User-generated downloadable content that modifies the game in some fashion to extend gameplay or change the look of things. Also known as a plugin or data file.

All game mods are DLC in that they are downloadable content; however, they are not considered official downloadable content in the legal documentation. They are specifically called Game Mods in the legal documentation.

Extensions used: .esl, .esm, and .esp. May add additional files such as .BA2, .swf, or .ini files.

Not to be confused with Mod/OMOD/Object Modification/Object Mod.

See What Are Mods and What is Load Order? for more information.


An object modification of a form; sometimes referred to as OMODs.

These are most often used by weapons, armor, and robots, but can be used by other forms to dynamically add and remove keywords and other data to objects.

Not to be confused with Mod/Game Mod/Game Modification.


Groups of OMODs are called ModCols (Mod Collection) and some work as specialized leveled item lists of weapons.

ModCols cannot be modified with scripts. ModCols can only be modified once per load order so multiple mods for the same weapon or armor will conflict and a patch must be made.

Object Modification/Object Mod

Also known as a weapon or armor mod or OMOD. Upgrades to weapons, armors, and robots that are either hidden, in the case of Fallout 4’s Legendary upgrade system, or craftable by the player.


Abbreviation for Original Mod Author, the copyright holder of a mod.


In computer programming, optimizing is basically using less to produce the exact same outcome. For example, using only one multiplication rather than three for the same numerical result in a script.

Precombines, Previs, and Load Order
Fallout 4 Load Order Tips: Precombined References and Previs not only affect game performance but they affect mod placement in your load order.


The object-oriented scripting language used by the Creation Engine for Fallout 4, and introduced with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Because of its nature, mods installed cannot be removed in the middle of a playthrough as they could in games previous to Skyrim.

What is a Scripted Mod?
Fallout 4 Load Order Survival: Learn what a scripted mod is and best practices when downloading one.
Scripted mods best practices
Fallout 4 Load Order Framework: A Vault Dweller’s Load Order Survival Guide
Designed to help Fallout 4 players survive Load Order Disorder by emphasizing planning, placement, and maintenance of game modifications.
What are Scripted Mods?

See Save File notes for more technical information regarding why scripted mods cannot be removed in the middle of a game.


A data file that modifies your game.

Extensions: .ESM, .ESP, .ESL

All Plugins are slaved to Fallout4.esm. Mod plug-ins that aren’t slaved are considered “packaged wrong” and force themselves to the bottom of your load order menu.

The game engine will only allow 255 plugins (0-254) including the base game and DLC plugins. Due to the processing limitations of consoles, the Xbox plugin limit is 150 and PS4 plugin limit is 100.

PC users can surpass the 255 plug-in limit by merging plug-ins or converting small files to .esl format. The in-game mod manager for consoles does not distinguish between .esl or .esp format for plugin limit.

Precombine/precombines/precombined meshes

Pregenerated precombined static and physics data utilized by the game engine for optimizing game performance. Disabling across the entire game world without regenerating causes performance issues and failures on consoles.

Single cell disabling disables previsual data in a grid of 3x3 around the player character and results in performance issues in the area. It is up to the console player if they wish to play with mods using this method on the console to save space.

PC users can regenerate previsuals and precombined data on such mods with use of the Creation Kit.

Precombines, Previs, and Load Order
Fallout 4 Load Order Tips: Precombined References and Previs not only affect game performance but they affect mod placement in your load order.


A method of saving that only uses one slot. Quicksaves are overwritten by next quicksave. Note: Safest method of loading a save.

Game Engine bug: If you are still in the same cell the save was made in, there is the potential for issues due to the game state not resetting properly. Not recommended for testing mods.

Quick Resume

Feature on the Xbox Series S & X that allows the player to switch from one game’s temporary save state to another. The temporary save state does not appear to function correctly with Fallout 4 and appears to only save the persistent data which could possibly lead to memory leaks into other saves, such as a vanilla tester save or a previously-played vanilla game. Not recommended for testing mods.

Ray Tracing

A technique of modeling light transport that is generally used in visual effects, but is not typically suited for real-time applications such as video games. It simulates optical effects such as reflection and refraction.

Remnants/Data Remnants

Often referred to as ‘ghost space’ by Skyrim SE users.

Additional files attached to Plugins or Master Files not flagged by the built-in manager and unable to be deleted by the user. Most often occurs when a mod has been uninstalled improperly. Occurs on both PC and Xbox but fixes on PC are much easier. In most cases on Xbox, requires reserved space and cache clearance to remove.

“Operation Not Completed” Troubleshooting
Fallout 4 Load Orders Tips: Avoid Load Order Disorder by knowing why Operation Not Completed happens and how to troubleshoot it.


Any form added to the render window in the Creation Kit or created by scripts at runtime. Deleted references will cause CTD if another mod needs the reference for use, therefore deletion of references in the render window is discouraged. PC users can run xEdit to remove accidental deletions, but console users must rely on mod authors to publish cleaned mods.

Reinitializing a Mod/Clean Save

Called a clean save by many mod authors. Not a true clean save. Disabling and re-enabling a mod during a play through in an attempt to re-initialize bugged or updated scripts.

Reserved Space

Reserved memory partition on consoles for mod data files. 2 GB on Xbox; 900 MB on PS4. Reserve space is rounded in gigabytes while the mod pages on the Bethesda.net website use gigibytes.

Save Bloat

Runtime errors that add extra, unwanted data to a save file increasing the file size. It can also be used during mod creation as CK fixes has been known to bloat the size of the plugin by adding unnecessary navmesh data.

Scrap Crash

Unrecoverable file save corruption that occurs on all platforms after incorrectly scrapping a powered workshop object.

Workshop Power Grid Corruption
Fallout 4 Load Order FAQ: Power grid corruption is the silent destroyer of saves.

SMM/Settlement Menu Manager

Settlement Menu Manager is a workshop menu framework mod that uses Inter-mod communication scripting to communicate with other mods that use its scripted hooks to inject their menus.

Warning: Uninstalling SMM without first using its uninstall function will destroy all workshop menus, including Creation Club.
Uninstalling a workshop mod during a playthrough and continuing on the same save is an unsafe modding practice.


Abbreviation for Scrap that Settlement or See Through Scopes. When mods first came out the word scrap was not allowed within mod descriptions on Bethesda.net and so it is most commonly used by the console communities as Scrap That Settlement.

Texture/Texture Mapping/UV Map

Color information on a 2D image that is mapped to a 3D Object. This is also called "wrapping" and "unwrapping" in some mod descriptions. "U" and "V" are used to denote the 3D axes because other letters that represent them (X,Y,Z) are already in use.

There are complex mappings and various definitions for the different maps used in Fallout 4. Five texture maps used by Fallout 4 are Diffuse, Cube, Specular, Glow, and Normal.

All models of Xbox cannot process BC7 block-compressed texture maps and face textures using such compression will result in what's commonly referred to as the "Dark Face Bug" or "Rusty Face Bug".

Un-deleted/Un-disabled References/UDRs

These are vanilla records that have been completely deleted and pose a crash risk to the player if another mod references them. These records, if formerly within a precombined reference, will disable the game's optimization system.


Completely removing the mod from your load order after disabling it.

Mod Downloading Basics
Survive Load Order Disorder by knowing how to use the in-game mods manager to download mods on any platform.
New to the Bethesda.net website? Complete how-to

Wrye Bash

Community-created mod manager with deleted reference detection.

Wrye Bash
Example of deleted records detection.


Also known as FO4Edit. Community-created editor for cleaning mods of ITMs and deleted references. PC players will need to familiarize themselves with the program in order to make compatibility patches for their load order.

The program can also be used to make edits to plugins and create them.


Quality of life mods that make sense.



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