After an initial release Tuesday, a post promoting Bethesda RPG Elsweyr was removed from their social media amid allegations of plagiarism. The pen and paper tabletop adventure, set in the fantastical Elder Scrolls world, contained several instances of text that were seemingly reworded versions of a 2016 Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons adventure The Black Road. Elsweyr was pulled Wednesday afternoon. However, some files are still available through archived sites.
Bethesda has an upcoming Elsweyr expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, set for early-access release on PC in May and on Xbox One and PS4 in June. The Elsweyr tabletop adventure was meant as a promotion to whet player appetites for the expansion. However, it didn’t take long for people to point out the startling similarities between the Bethesda text and The Black Road.
Take for instance the following scenario presented in The Black Road:
“Travel in the Anauroch desert is slow, hot, and full of blistering sun. There are no clouds, no promise of water anywhere. Azam likes to start moving well before sunrise, when the moon’s full glory makes the dunes look like mountains of diamonds.”
Now here is a scenario from Elsweyr, taking place at the same point in the adventure:
“Traveling in the Elsweyr desert is slow, hot and full of sizzling heat from the sun. There are no clouds, no promise of water. Kah’reem likes to start moving well before sunrise, when the full glory of the sun makes the dunes look like mountains of diamonds.”
It’s not difficult to imagine why a few eyebrows were raised given the similarities. Paige Leitman, one of the authors of The Black Road, called out Bethesda and their legal team in a now-deleted Facebook post. Fellow D&D fans commented on the alleged plagiarism and potential copyright infringement, expressing their disappointment. Bethesda said it is “digging in deeper to figure out what happened.”