Many of us, despite their flaws, still enjoy using followers. However, the followers have some serious flaws. By now most of you should be aware of the bug where your follower will "level" with you, but their skills, health, stamina, and magicka will not actually increase. Here, the console will be your patch.
Disclaimer: Using the in-game console can make things go wonky and can cause bad juju. Use at your own risk.
There, now that's out of the way.
First, your followers are created at an appropriate level to when you first encounter them. For those of us who use Lydia, for example, that means she will probably be around level 10 (same as you), when you pick her up. As such, her health/stamina/magicka and skills will always be at that "10" level. One "simple" fix for this is to disable her. Be aware this is not inventory safe, so take the things away from her you want to keep.
Tell Lydia, "It's time to part ways." Before she walks away, open the console and click on her. You should see a number appear in quotes at the top of the console. (The number should be 000A2C94). Now, type disable. WITHOUT clicking anywhere else, type enable. Close the console and ask her to follow you again. This will cause her to bump up to your level, and the game will recalculate her skills and attributes according to whatever script they have set for her.
"But I want her to be good using light armor, this gave her a heavy armor skill."
That's correct. However, with the console, you can fix this. You will need three commands to correct this.
getlevel - This will give you the follower's overall level. It is very simple and will return a single number. Very useful for making sure you did the disable/enable trick right.
getavinfo - This will give you the information for a specific skill or actor value (AV). You can use the Actor Value Indices listed here. For example: target Lydia and type, in the console getavinfo heavyarmor. This will return a few numbers (the Current Value is what you're looking for). That is her skill in Heavy Armor.
setav - This will allow you to set the actor values that you found in the list. You can use this on the player, but you will not get the benefit of "leveling up" that skill. However, followers do not level up like players and do not use perks, so you can use it on them just fine. Again, target the follower and type setav heavyarmor
With these three commands you can set up any follower (except dogs) to use the skills you want. For example, I wanted Lydia to use light armor and one-handed weapons. I did this at level 35. As such, I boosted her one-handed, block, and light armor skills to the 90s (one-handed is already 94 for her at that level), and lowered her two-handed and heavy armor skills to 15. This (usually) ensures that she will use one-handed weapons even if I give her a two-handed to carry, as the OH now does more damage.
Some other useful commands:
setessential - use this with the BASEID (not clicking in the console) to turn a follower into an essential follower. No more killing Lydia because she ran in front of you at the wrong time. For Lydia, for example, type: setessential 000A2C8E 1. Meeko: setessential 000D95E9 1.
openactorcontainer - Don't like hearing, "I'm sworn to carry your burdens?" Then target the follower and use this command. It will open their inventory without a dialogue choice. Remember to close the console first before doing anything.
moveto player - Is your follower stuck because they can't jump out of the back door of a dungeon? Select them (or find their REFID), and type this. BAM! Now they are next to you.
showinventory - This is important because it can show you hidden items the person is carrying. I used this and removeitem (with the follower selected) to take away Lydia's hunting bow and steel armor. Now she is forced to use the bow I gave her. Be aware that if the follower is ever without an item that replaces their base gear, they will immediately generate a new set. If you remove Lydia's bow, for example, she will immediately get a hunting bow. If you ever leave her without one of any from the shield/gauntlets/boots/armor set, she will generate a whole new set of steel armor (sans helmet).Disclaimer: After having used this method to remove Lydia's iron arrows and hunting bow, she now actually uses up whatever arrows I do give her. No more infinite glass arrows because I gave her one. Also, she doesn't seem to generate a new set of iron arrows on her own, so she will be unable to use Archery if you don't keep her in arrows. You may be able to just leave her iron arrows and continue with the infinite whatever arrows you give her, but I liked being able to take away her ranged ability.
And finally go here for a lot more information on how to use the console in game.
Please, share your own ideas!
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