My advice would be a modpack too. If you have difficulties installing Forge/Modloader then installing a nonForge/Modloader mod will be difficult too. Thats the whole point of Forge and Modloader. To make mods easier to install and in the case of Forge also to make them compatible.
Two great mods are the Mccapes mod, which allows you to uplaod and edit your own cape. Another one is Optifine, which gives you a boost in fps and lots of extra video settings. Those are the only ones i know of atm that don't require modloader or forge.
I don't know, I was once working on a huge mod that didn't need an API.
The problem was, who the hell cares what I do? Now, on to your problem.
I really think you should be more specific. What goes wrong when you try to install Forge or ModLoader?
If you need a hand, I would be more than happy to assist.
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Eons ago, there was only void. Then came the big bang. Voxels colliding with voxels, cubes with cubes. Blocks were forming, each texture unique from the rest. That was when our universe was born.