Bethesda's Promotional "Elsweyr" Tabletop RPG May Have Plagiarized a D&D Campaign

Bethesda's Promotional "Elsweyr" Tabletop RPG May Have Plagiarized a D&D Campaign

Bethesda's free ESO tabletop campaign looks very similar.

Bethesda's Elder Scrolls Online is about to release its next expansion, "Esweyr." To celebrate, the company released a promotional Elder Scrolls-themed tabletop RPG campaign. Only, seasoned Dungeons & Dragons players immediately saw similarities between Bethesda's campaign and one published by Wizards of the Coast back in 2016.

As reported by Ars Technica, Bethesda's pen-and-paper Elder Scrolls "Elsweyr" campaign was published on Tuesday over at Bethesda's official Facebook page. The campaign was courtesy of Bethesda Netherlands.

However, comments began to fill with D&D players who saw similarities between "Elsweyr" and the 2016 D&D campaign "The Black Road" written by Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler. Bethesda's Facebook post has since been removed.

What kind of similarities did D&D players recognize? One of the D&D writers, Paige Leitman, published their own Facebook post (which too has been taken down) comparing the two campaigns. While there are plenty of word substitutions, the overall campaigns read very similar.

Here's a passage from ESO's Campaign:

"Traveling in the Elsweyr Desert is slow, hot and full of sizzling heat from the sun. There are no clouds, no promise of water. Kal'reem likes to start moving well before sunrise, when the full glory of the sun makes the dunes look like diamonds."

And here's a passage from Part 2. Into the Desert from D&D's "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."

Leitman told Ars Technica that they have "no comment until both authors have a chance to fully discuss it and understand the ramifiations." Meanwhile Bethesda published a new Facebook post today announcing it has pulled the tabletop RPG and will "investigate the source."

It's unclear how this was allowed to happen considering some of the available evidence shows pretty clear similarities between Bethesda's tabletop campaign and the D&D campaign from 2016. The rules regarding copyright in games are murky (as evinced by the Fortnite dance controversy), but less so for plagiarism.

ESO's Elsweyr expansion is set to launch on May 20 for PC and consoles.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

Read this next

"We Like Where We are Right Now": Elder Scrolls Online's Developers on Player Milestones and Elsweyr's Future

We talk about the past, present, and future of Elder Scrolls Online with some of its lead developers.

Elder Scrolls Online Reaches 13.5 Million Lifetime Players

With the launch of Elsweyr, the playerbase of Elder Scrolls Online continues to grow.

Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Review

What's the difference between a Khajiit and a housecat?

Bethesda Is Bringing Back Bethesda Game Days for PAX East, Hosting A Lot of Panels and Livestreams Too

For PAX East, Bethesda announces lots of panels and hands-on demos for attendees.

Play The Elder Scrolls Online and OnRush For Free on Xbox One This Weekend

Bethesda's MMORPG and Codemaster's arcade racer go free for three days.

More News

Nintendo Says There is No Switch Exchange Program

Nintendo of America denies last week's reports of Switch exchanges.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Character Ban Sets Off Massive Debate

Dragon Quest's Hero is a random character... possibly too random.

Halo Infinite's Creative Director Leaves 343 Industries

This week sees a leadership shake-up for Microsoft's big launch title.

"Stop Asking 'Is It Political?' and Start Asking Instead About the Actual Politics of Each Game"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Also, the things studios of all sizes do to survive, and what happens when that's not enough.

More on PC

No Man's Sky Tips - How to Get Started in 2019

Here are some tips to help you get a strong start in No Man's Sky.

What's The Best Video Game Spaceship?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | In honor of No Man's Sky Beyond, let's look back on the coolest spaceships around.

Halo Infinite's Creative Director Leaves 343 Industries

This week sees a leadership shake-up for Microsoft's big launch title.

"Stop Asking 'Is It Political?' and Start Asking Instead About the Actual Politics of Each Game"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Also, the things studios of all sizes do to survive, and what happens when that's not enough.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is Axing the Damage Stacking

No more stacking up those auras.

Epic Isn't Budging On Fortnite's Mechs, Despite Player Protests

The massive machines of destruction seem like they're here to stay.

More Role Playing Games Games

What's The Best Video Game Spaceship?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | In honor of No Man's Sky Beyond, let's look back on the coolest spaceships around.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Recruitment Students - All Recruiting Requirements for Students and Teachers

Here's our guide covering Fire Emblem Three Houses recruitment, including recruiting students, teachers, and more.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Romance Options - How to Romance Edelgard and Other Characters

This is our guide covering Fire Emblem Three Houses romance options, detailing how to romance Edelgard, and more.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Tea Guide - Get a Perfect Tea Party With Edelgard, Dorothea, and More Characters

Here's our complete Fire Emblem Three Houses tea guide, walking you through how to hold the perfect tea party in Three Houses.