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Bethesda Investigating Plagiarism Charges with Its Tabletop Elsweyr Game

Suzie Ford Updated: Posted:
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If you were hoping to get a head start on your Elsweyr adventures by playing the pen-and-paper version of the Elder Scrolls game, you may have to wait a bit longer. Dungeons & Dragons writer Paige Leitman has launched a charge of plagiarism against the company in part thanks to a tweet about a PnP campaign being run by a Bethesda Netherlands group. Leitman compares an original 2016 D&D adventure of hers called "The Black Road" with the campaign being run by employees.

"Hey, Elder Scrolls Online, would you please let your legal team know?" Leitman said in a now-removed Facebook post. "This is REALLY not cool."

In fairness, Reddit has a post that indicates that this was a fun one shot being played internally by employees of Bethesda Netherlands and was never intended to be an "official" publication (Thanks, Dragnelus!):

he only thing official about this is that someone at TESOnline heard about some employees at Bethesda NL playing a modified DnD 5e one-shot, thought it was cool and shared it. The guy who "created" it (by simply changing some wording of an existing campaign) most likely didn't expect it to get out of his playing circle. I mean, the link was a dropbox folder. Bethesda didn't spend time and resources and then "publish" an RPG pretending it was theirs. Whoever was in charge of the TESOnline twitter account thought he was sharing something cool. Sure it's embarrassing but that's about it.

ArsTechnica has several examples comparing the D&D work with the Elsweyr tabletop game including pieces of a presentation completed by Leitman that shows off more than a few word-to-word comparisons between her original work and the Elsweyr game. Here is one example:

Certain sections change the text around a bit or some of the names have been changed, but otherwise, much of the text is a word-to-word copy. In fact, one NPC's name is exactly the same.

Bethesda has since pulled all of the game resources pending its investigation into Bethesda Netherlands where it was produced. For her part, Leitman is looking for an apology, though she is not issuing any further statements at this time. "Enough fuss has been kicked up and the right people have probably noticed by now and I'm going to see what they do," she wrote.

We'll keep you posted as the story develops.

Read more at the link above.

Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr will be launching in June.


Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom