Strong similarities between the two games were found in both introductions as well as several key gameplay elements, situations and characters.
Released earlier this week, Bethesda’s free new table-top role-playing game Elsweyr, acting as promotional material for one of their flagship franchises The Elder Scrolls, has been found to contain several shockingly similar elements to a Dungeons and Dragons campaign released back in 2016. Compared side by side, the similarities are glaring, with Elsweyr doing only the bare minimum to slightly change the words used in The Black Road, an adventure published by Wizards of the Coast. I’ve been hesitant of using the word “apparent” plagiarism in this article, because it’s kinda obvious when you see it. Thanks to Ars Technica for archiving the original PDF of Elsweyr.
The introduction to The Black Road reads as follows:
“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. Through various means, it has been arranged that you would meet Azam the caravaneer in the large, Calimshan-styled tent that passes for a tavern here. A pair of tieflings, who seem to be unaffected by the heat, eye approaching visitors warily. The dim interior of the tent is a relief from the bright light and wind, though it’s as hot here as anywhere else. The gentle sounds of a stringed instrument fill the air, and the people inside are hunched over food, drink, and conversation. A dragonborn with rust-colored scales greets you, and guides you to a private table. There are a few other adventurers here.”
Later on in the adventure, players will eventually come across a caravan travelling through the desert. The scene is described as “Four caravans, each pulled by two foul-tempered camels. One wagon carries the caravan’s food. One wagon carries the caravan’s water and a shipment medicinal herbs. One wagon carries a shipment of weapons. One wagon carries the statue of Angharradh. The caravan travels and sleeps in two shifts every day. Travel from predawn until noon, sleep from noon until late afternoon in the shade, travel from late afternoon until after dinnertime. Sleep from after dinnertime until predawn.”
So keep the above in mind when you read through the introduction to Elsweyr:
“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. In various ways it is arranged that a group of adventurers would get acquainted with the caravan leader named Kar’reem. His big tent is filled with several Khajiit, which seem unaffected by the heat, they stare at you cautiously. The dim interior of the tent is a relief compared to the bright sunlight from outside, even though it is still as hot inside as out there. The soft sounds of stringed instrument [sic] fill the air, and the people are busy over eating, drinking, and conversation [sic]. An Argonian servant escorts you to an empty table.”
As well as a description of a familiar scene:
“Four carts, each pulled by two horses. One cart carries all the food. One cart carries all the water and medicine. One cart carries a large load of weapons. One cart carries a statue. The caravan travels in two shifts every day. From early in the morning to the afternoon, then rest and sleep until late in the afternoon. And from late in the afternoon to sunset.”
Since the allegations were made public, Bethesda has since pulled Elsweyr off the Internet. Bethesda has stated that they are looking into the incident, but has yet to confirm the future of their table-top adventure.
Last Updated: May 9, 2019