UPDATED – The Elder Scrolls, D&D, and Accusations of Plagiarism

The Elder ScrollsBethesda’s masterful fantasy video game franchise, released a free, short tabletop adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5e via Facebook. The 12-page adventure included six pre-generated third-level characters and seemed like an excellent combination of two great properties. Meant to advertise for The Elder Scrolls Online Elsweyr, this freebie instead generated controversy.  

UPDATEBethesda shares their next steps (Twitter link with the details at the end of this article).

Up just over a day, this project was met with charges of plagiarism, specifically that the entire adventure was taken directly from Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler’s Adventure League adventure, DDAL05-02 The Black Road (5e). Paige shared a point-by-point comparison between her adventure and theirs showing where they intersect.  



As well as the plagiarism charge, the adventure from Bethesda Softworks LLC does not include the OGL, a requirement for D&D 5e products from third parties.  

As a result of these “concerns”, Bethesda opted to remove the link to the game as they “investigate the source”. The thread, including Paige’s comparison, has been deleted from “The Elder Scrolls Online” Facebook page. I’ve reached out to Bethesda to discuss their findings, but they did not reply by the time this went to press. I will continue to monitor this situation.  


WRITER’S NOTE: I downloaded the adventure from Bethesda. However, after the accusations, I decided to purchase Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler’s Adventure League adventure, DDAL05-02 The Black Road (5e) both for comparison and because I want to support game designers. 


UPDATE 2019-05-13:

Via Twitter, Bethesda has issued an update as to what occurred and what their current actions are as a result. More in the link.


About Egg Embry

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. NOTE: Articles may includes affiliate links. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate/Amazon Associate/Humble Partner I earn from qualifying purchases.
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