Thanks for these responses ! I've been exploring the answers here for a while now.
I've never even heard of string count before, that is new to me. Assuming Skyrim Save Editor is accurate, my current crashing save file has 52,300 strings. A brand new save has 43,930 strings. The post ram911 linked shows 65,535 is the maximum, so is this not the problem? The number doesn't seem to be exceptionally high, but someone who knows more can tell me. I do, however, have many script instances (157,983). Should I try dropping mods like Interesting NPCs? That would be a shame, it was one of the main reasons I wanted to play again.
I had no idea animations could even affect game stability. Well then! I have quite a few weapon and magic animations installed, just about every normal animation is replaced.
ram911, I think your post is particularly interesting since you seem to have about the same problem as I have. I've read through all the posts you linked, and it seems I may have to start over after dropping a few big mods. I've tried to be very careful on installing script-y mods since script lag has been a problem in the past, even dropping a few from STEP Extended such as Hearthfire Extended and Come Together & Out of the Way because they were motherloads of scripts and weren't substantial enough to keep. However there are a few mods like Interesting NPCs that I truly wanted to keep. I'm going to try out the Restringer now, I hope this is the holy messiah! I think I am going to restart completely after trying it out and dropping some script mods.
Another question I have is whether inactive mods in Mod Organizer count for anything. I have almost 700 mod folders, a lot of them just leftover proc patches from various testing profiles, but only ~350 of them are active. Should I clean up the rest?
Going to try player.kill now. There's a lot for me to do and I will report back once I've tried everything in this thread, I thank you all for such extensive responses so far.
edit: also, should I run Restringer through Mod Organizer?
Okay so I'll admit I don't know how to use Restringer. Every time I try to set my Mod Organizer directory or load any mod from it, it says it is not a Mod Organizer folder.
Edited by Sarcasm, 19 June 2016 - 11:19 AM.