“We have pulled a previously shared [“Elder Scrolls Online”] tabletop RPG adventure while we investigate the source,” Bethesda shared via Facebook. “Thank you to those who reached out with concerns.”
The tabletop game’s writing is incredibly similar to a Dungeons & Dragons adventure published by Wizards of the Coast, which was written by Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler.
Leitman shared her concerns that the Elsweyr adventure was plagiarized from her co-created work in a Facebook post which has since been removed.
“Hey, ‘The Elder Scrolls Online,’ would you please let your legal team know?” Leitman wrote in the post, according to Ars Technica. “This is REALLY not cool.”
The full files are archived on Ars Technica’s website, including side-by-side comparisons. Overall, it’s definitely too close to be coincidence, as it appears to have been patchwritten, with mostly words swapped out or sentences slightly adjusted.
At least one character name was exactly the same: A “Chandra Stol,” which is a priestess character in The Black Road. For comparison, there is a priest named “Chandra Stol” in the Elsweyr game.
Even without that example, though, just reading the scenarios and descriptions for the two adventures show plenty of similarities.
Here’s a sample from the introduction of the D&D adventure, The Black Road:
“There’s nothing like the desert to make people feel small and insignificant. In every direction, huge dunes roll across the landscape, and an even bigger sky looms above. The oasis of Vuerthyl is a motley collection of sun-bleached tents in the vast Anauroch desert.”
For comparison, here is a segment from the Elsweyr adventure intro— note that several names and adjectives have changed, but the sentence structure is still largely intact:
“Nothing beats the desert to make people feel small and unimportant. In every direction enormous dunes roll across the landscape, and an even larger empty air skies above it. The oasis on the border between Cyrodiil and Elsweyr is a colorful collection of sun-drenched tents in the vast desert of Elsweyr.”
Bethesda did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.
“Elder Scrolls Online” is getting an expansion of the same name, Elsweyr, soon.