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Bethesda Accused of Plagiarizing Dungeons & Dragons

A recent tabletop RPG adventure that was meant to promote the release of The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr has become the source of controversy, due to claims that it plagiarized a Dungeons & Dragons adventure.

The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr is an upcoming expansion for the MMORPG that allows the players to journey to the homeland of the Khajiit. In order to promote the release of The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr, Bethesda Netherlands commissioned a generic tabletop RPG that uses the setting from the game. The intention of the adventure is that it can be used with a multitude of RPG systems, but it's clear from reading it that it's actually intended for the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons, as it uses a lot of terminology from the game.

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It seems that the adventure took a little too much from Dungeons & Dragons, as The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr tabletop scenario has been accused of plagiarizing a Dungeons & Dragons adventure called The Black Road. According to Eurogamerit didn't take long for people to notice the similarities between the free Elder Scrolls adventure and The Black Road, with Ben Heisler (the co-author of the adventure) posting side-by-side images of the two adventures on Twitter and pointing out how a lot of the descriptions were identical.

The similarities between The Black Road and The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr adventure include almost identical location descriptions and notes for the dungeon master to follow, reusing the name Chandra Stol for a character, using almost identical combat encounters and traps, and identical adventure goals that involve delivering a statue.

There were a few changes made between the adventures, including switching an Argonian for a dragonborn, changing the location names from those from the Forgotten Realms (the default campaign setting for The Black Road) to those from The Elder Scrolls Online, switching camels for horses in the caravan that the players are traveling with, and switching bandits for goblins. It seems as if an absolute minimal effort was made to differentiate the two adventures.

It didn't take long for Bethesda to respond to the accusations of plagiarism and all links to the adventure were quickly pulled from their official websites. Bethesda has claimed that they are currently investigating the source of the incident and that the content of the adventure did not reflect that of The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr.

Writing a basic Dungeons & Dragons adventure doesn't take a lot of effort, as most of the work is already done for the dungeon master if they use the materials presented in the three core books. Dungeons & Dragons has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and there are children and adults all over the world who write adventures in their spare time for fun, yet it seems that this was too much effort for someone associated with The Elder Scrolls Online - Elsweyr. Bethesda has been the source of numerous controversies of late and a plagiarism accusation (concerning a free tabletop adventure of all things) is the last thing the company needs in the run-up to E3.

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Source: Eurogamer, Twitter

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