An Elder Scrolls-themed tabletop RPG adventure meant to tide players over until the beginning of the Bethesda MMO’s upcoming Elsweyr update has been taken down following allegations of plagiarism. The short campaign was originally shared on Bethesda Netherlands’ Facebook page, but some fans noticed similarities with an official Dungeons & Dragons campaign released in 2016.
As pointed out by Paige Leitman, co-author of D&D owner Wizards of the Coast’s The Black Road campaign (via Ars Technica), significant swathes of that adventure seem to have been carried over into Bethesda’s promotional RPG. A comparison between the two seems to show significant similarities, including passages of descriptive text, gameplay details, and even character names.
In a tweet last night, Bethesda said that “we have pulled a previously shared ESO tabletop RPG adventure while we investigate the source. Thank you to those who reached out with concerns.” In a statement to Ars Technica, the company also said that “we’re digging in deeper to find out what happened, but in the meantime, we’ve pulled the adventure based on what has been brought to light.”
Leitman says that she was “mad” enough about the alleged plagiarism that she made an “annotated PowerPoint presentation,” comparing the two campaigns. At time of writing, that appears to have been taken down, buy you can check out a side-by-side comparison in the tweet below.
— Ben Heisler 🦄 (@ZhentarimPR) May 8, 2019
Co-author Ben Heisler tweeted to say that “it’s a surreal day when a top tier gaming company steals your shit,” and that “I was more flattered than anything,” by Bethesda’s actions.
The Elder Scrolls Online’s Elsweyr expansion is due to release later this summer. We’ve reached out to Bethesda for further comment on this issue, and we’ll update when we have more information.