Bethesda pulls an Elder Scrolls RPG module plagued by plagiarism
Elsweyr, the next expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, is less than a month away. Bethesda celebrated this fact by releasing a free tabletop RPG module, also called Elsweyr, but it turned out to be completely plagiarized content from Dungeons & Dragons.
The module was originally shared by the company’s Netherlands branch on the official ESO Facebook page, before getting taken down after coming under public fire.
We’ll need to set some context and dispel some jargon. A module is a one-off adventure that details the various encounters and enemies a party might run into within a tabletop/pen-and-paper RPG.
The systems in Bethesda’s tabletop Elsewyr is heavily based on Wizards of the Coast’s popular D&D 5th Edition. This in itself is not an issue, as WotC has long made the core D&D systems available as a part of the Open Gaming Licence. The OGL allows anyone to create and modify compatible content using the System Reference Document.
The issue regarding the Elsweyr module comes from the adventure’s striking similarities to an official D&D module called The Black Road — basically the locations, NPCs, events, and even encounters. The two are so similar that the authors of The Black Road, Paige Reitman, and Ben Heisler, took to social media to call out Bethesda.
There’s a full comparison online for you to check it out first-hand.
— Ben Heisler (@ZhentarimPR) May 8, 2019
Bethesda announced their own investigation into the plagiarism claim after taking the offending post down.
Still reeling from the fiasco of Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls: Blades, what was supposed to be a celebration for ESO has quickly become another public mess for the company. Bethesda is burning through the good will of its fanbase in a matter of months, so here’s hoping they get their act together for Elder Scrolls VI.