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Bethesda celebrates ESO expansion with plagiarised D&D adventure

Published: 07:57, 09 May 2019
picture showing two characters in murder
Elder Scrolls Online

As the launch of Elder Scrolls Online's expansion Elsweyr draws closer, Bethesda's Netherlands studio posted a free ESO tabletop RPG adventure based on the 5th edition D&D ruleset for fans to celebrate. Unfortunately, it's not theirs.

Now, Wizards of the Coast have made certain parts of the 5th edition ruleset available to everyone under the Open Gaming License, which allows certain creative freedoms.

The aforementioned license "may be used by tabletop role-playing game developers to grant permission to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content designed for their games, notably game mechanics."

Unfortunately, Bethesda didn't just modify things, they straight up copied an entire adventure called The Black Road, which was written by Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler and published back in 2016.

Bethesda's Elsweyr tabletop adventure is largely identical to The Black Road, with occasional changes to make it fit into the world of Elder Scrolls.

Not only are the two adventures identical in the description text, but the adventuring part is also pretty much the same, unless you consider replacing "wagon" with "cart" enough not to press charges for blatant theft.

Bethesda took the adventure down, with their spokesperson saying, "We're digging in deeper to figure out what happened, but in the meantime, we've pulled the adventure based on what has been brought to light"

Well, we fear that the bottom of things has already been reached. The time for investigation seems way past, and surely it's time for apologies, because at this point - the public won't care much for PR explanations.

The Black Road's Authors took to Twitter to voice their disbelief and discontent, and many others rushed into their defence. After all, it's not every day that you find your own work posted on a website of a gaming giant, and presented as part of the Elder Scrolls family. 

Twitter Reaction to Bethesda plagiarism by author of The Black Road Reaction to Bethesda plagiarism

We're not sure how this even came about and it's completely beyond us why anyone would think stealing an entire adventure and changing a few words wouldn't get snuffed out. 

You can find both adventures and direct comparisons .

Elder Scrolls Blades, a mobile RPG by Bethesda Softworks

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A man with an axe running through a forest in SCUM
The Elder Scrolls: Blades

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