Bethesda takes down Elder Scrolls Elsweyr RPG following allegations of plagiarism

Bethesda has launched an investigation after its free Elder Scrolls Elsweyr RPG adventure (archived here by Ars Technica) allegedly plagiarised a Wizards of the Coast’s D&D adventure, The Black Road.

Launched earlier this week, the pen and paper Elder Scrolls-themed RPG – which was developed by Bethesda Netherlands and has already been taken down – contains striking similarities to the 2016 D&D adventure written as part of Wizards of the Coast’s Organized Play program by Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler. As detailed by Ars Technica, not only do the two texts contain a very similar premise, the Elsweyr adventure is also written almost identically, too, only occasionally switching synonyms or rewording passages, and replacing names and places for those found in Elder Scrolls games.

Co-author of the original WofC project, Paige Leitman, initially posted a lengthy Facebook thread (link since removed from public viewing) highlighting many similarities. The post – entitled “How They Plagiarized Our Adventure, An Annotated Powerpoint Presentation” – reportedly said: “Hey, The Elder Scrolls Online, would you please let your legal team know? This is REALLY not cool.”

Contacted subsequently for formal comment, Leitman said they had “no comment until both authors have a chance to fully discuss it and understand the ramifications” and that they would “let the powers that be handle this”.

“We have pulled a previously shared ESO tabletop RPG adventure while we investigate the source,” Bethesda said by way of a brief statement on its social media channels. “Thank you to those who reached out with concerns.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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