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Mass Effect Modding FAQs


Hopefully, most of your questions were answered by reading the tutorials.  If not, please feel free to comment anywhere on any of the pages and I will add your questions to this FAQ!  Also, if you want help troubleshooting problems with mods, check out my troubleshooting guide here.

Q.  Help, my game keeps crashing!
A.  9 times out of 10, if your game is crashing because you installed a mod, it’s because you didn’t run the tocbinupdater in ME3 Explorer.  Every time you make changes to your game, you MUST run tocbinupdater!  If it’s not that, you may have a typo in Gibbed.  Probably an extra space or something when you added a texture to Gibbed (happens sometimes when you’re using hair mods – you change the hair mesh in Gibbed and press space after by accident).  If it’s not one of those two things, it’s something that has nothing to do with your modding.

Q.  I want to add shoes to Shepard’s underwear outfit.  How can I change the texture to do that?
A.  Any time you want to add something that changes the shape of something, you’ll need to edit the mesh using 3DS Max, not just the texture.  The easiest way to do this is to import your target mesh (in this case, Shep’s underwear mesh) and import another mesh with the desired attribute (in this case, any outfit with shoes).  See the Super Advanced tutorial on creating your own meshes for more information.

Q. Can I import a UPK/PSK with a different number of bones?
A. ME3 Explorer will not allow you to import a UPK with a different number of bones. ME3 Explorer WILL allow you to import a PSK with a different number of bones, but the character will often have weird effects. For example, I replaced Jacob with Mordin by replacing the body and head meshes – the head mesh had a different number of bones but I was lazy and imported it anyway. My game worked and the character was fine, but when it made certain facial movements, Mordin’s eyes would bug out of his head a little because the bones that controlled the facial movements weren’t right. So, if you’re ok with that, fine. :)

Q. Can I use ____’s armor on _____?
A. Theoretically, yes.  But some things are harder to replace than others.  Again, the number of bones is the most critical factor – For example, you can port Kai Leng’s armor to Kaidan, but you need to delete all his hair bones in 3DS Max.  But if you want to port say Kaidan’s armor to Shepard, you don’t need to do additional editing.

Q. Can I replace Character X with Character Y in the whole game?
A. Theoretically, yes.  But, it’s not quite as simple as replacing a single .pcc file – there are several, if not dozens, of .pcc files that need to be replaced.  For instance, if you want to replace Kaidan with Mordin throughout the whole game, you’ll not only need to replace the BIOH_Kaidan_xxxxx files, you’ll also need to replace the Normandy global file as well as every BIOD_xxxxx file that has Kaidan’s mesh in it.  Then you have to do the same for textures.  If you have a few scenes in mind you want to replace, it’s much more doable than trying to do the whole game.

Also, as a rule, replacing one species (ie. humans) with another character of the same species (ie. humans) is pretty easy.  Replacing one species (ie. humans) with another species (ie. Turian) is much more difficult as they do not share the same bones at all.  It’s doable, it just will require some extra work in 3DS Max.

Q.  What is your face code for your Shepard?
A.  I’ll do you one better – you can download the headmorphs for my Shepards here:

2013-11-15 14_46_45-Mass Effect 3  Aerie Shepard

2013-12-08 20_16_55-Mass Effect 3  Revan Shepard

PIERCE Pierce Shepard

Every screenshot you see in my mods with a female Shepard is just a variation of these two characters :)  You’ll also need a custom skin texture to achieve the exact look.  I shared the skin texture here, but I did not create it and Eranen is the original creator – you can download her skin on Bioware if you are a forum member!

Q.  How exactly do you get rid of the orange glow on armor specs, like the Defender armor (FBDa)?
A.  Here’s what I do – no idea if it’s right, but it seems to work:  Make a new layer in Photoshop on top of the diff texture.  Paint it orange/red (try #ff3c00).  Set the layer to Multiply or Darken.  Flatten the layers.  It should look orange (multiply) or orange and green (darken).  Check the Channels > Alpha Channel – make sure the alpha channel is black.  Now save the image as a spec file (.dds – DXT5 mode).  It should now get rid of the orange glow!

Q.  How do you get XXX armor and/or NPC outfits available in Shep’s closet?
A.  The easiest/fastest way is just to use an edited Coalesced file.  You can download a good one here – replace your Coalesced file with this one.

Q.  How do you get rid of helmets on armor sets?
A.  See above! :)

Q.  How do I make the skin color on an armor mod match my Shepard’s face?
A.  Armors aren’t meant to show skin, so as far as I know, it’s not possible?  Casual clothes are fine to replace and show skin, but armors are hard.


  1. Am trying to import a new helmet for Ashley’s Collector’s edition armour. But her hair keeps clipping through the armour! Is there something I should toggle to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

    • I’m not sure what the ashley collector armour is but no, there is no way to stop hair clipping unless you edit the meshes in 3ds max (edit their bone weights) and reimport them. Long tedious process, not worth the time IMO. You can delete the hair all together and it won’t clip :)

      • Thanks for replying. And by editing the mesh’s weight, you mean the helmet’s or the hair?

        Could one simply import a bone set from another helmet which cover the hair and use that instead?


  2. Hey there! Would you mind uploading the headmorph for your broShep? The one you “used” for displaying the hair mods – tried your download section but couldn’t find it – would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  3. Hi I`m trying to mod femsheps armour, to be replaced by samara`s. Mesh no bother, come to mod the textures, open texplorer the one marked shp has no file marked norm, other than that there are nine marked shp(a-j). Do I change them all? or which one??? Your tutorial is great, but I got confused on the armour side.

  4. Hi could you help please. Is there any tutorial on replacing the femshep armour?? The mesh bit seems fine, but it`s the texture bit I`m getting confused with. Thanks

  5. Hi,
    I made a mod for a casual outfit for my Shepard but the skin(legs, arms, chest) doesn’t match her face, it’s much paler, the exact colour of it on the diff. file. Could you please help me out?

  6. Hello There!

    I’m new to the Mass Effect 3 modding scene (I’ve modded Dragon Age, the Sims 2 & 3, etc. but never ME3, and it seems to be a bit more complicated) and need a little help. My biggest questions are the following:

    1: Do I have to MOD an existing game/save (i.e. put the mods in and Shep is updated automatically wherever she is in game) or can I MOD without a save and customize Shep in the character creator using the hair, skin, etc. mods? If the later cannot be done, how do I know how the make-up will look, etc?

    2: How do I (exactly) mod Shep using face codes and custom skin mods. This is so far the only modding that I cannot seem to find exclusive instructions on. Any guidance would be sincerely appreciated.

    Sorry if any of these questions are tiresome. I’m trying to figure it out on my own, but have suddenly found myself stumped. Don’t want to make a mistake if I don’t have to, and I also want to play around with Shep’s make-up, etc in the creator before unleashing her upon the world. Thank you for your time.

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