The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda’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.
UPDATE – Bethesda 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.
Via Twitter, Bethesda has issued an update as to what occurred and what their current actions are as a result. More in the link.
Thanks again to everyone who highlighted the issue of alleged plagiarism in relation to the ESO Elsweyr tabletop RPG promotion. Our intention had been to create and give away a unique Elsweyr inspired scenario that could be played within any popular tabletop RPG rule set. (1/3)
— The Elder Scrolls Online (@TESOnline) May 9, 2019