Bethesda Comments On Accusations Of Plagiarizing D&D Adventure
  • Bethesda Comments On Accusations Of Plagiarizing D&D Adventure


    Bethesda has issued an apology for plagiarising D&D adventure The Black Road by Paige Leitman and Ben Heisler. Well, not an actual apology, just a brief explanation.





    "We have pulled a previously shared ESO tabletop RPG adventure while we investigate the source. Thank you to those who reached out with concerns.

    Thanks again to everyone who highlighted the issue of alleged plagiarism in relation to the ESO Elsweyr tabletop RPG promotion. Our intention had been to create and give away a unique Elsweyr inspired scenario that could be played within any popular tabletop RPG rule set.

    We requested that an original scenario be created, and we are investigating why this does not appear to be the case. We have removed all assets relating to this and ask, in respect to the creator of the original scenario, that it should not be circulated.

    Lastly, to avoid any confusion, please note that there is no correlation between this scenario and anything that will eventually appear within the video game."
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Paul Farquhar's Avatar
      Paul Farquhar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
      This. It wasn't their fault the contractor turned out to be a plagiarist, I don't blame them for not catching it, and they did the right thing by taking it down right away. My only issue is with this lame (non-)apology.
      The company's lawyers would have insisted on it - to the degree that they would have walked out without it. Ever been in a motor accident? Your lawyer would tell you NEVER admit responsibility, no matter how clearly it was your fault or how guilty you feel.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Why should anyone (other than the original authors) expect an "apology"? What's the point? Do any of us actually care or have been impacted by this in any way?

      Sure, seeing someone apologize to someone else makes us feel nice from a "we're all part of a harmonious world" kind of way... "Oh, look at that, they apologized, isn't that nice of them"... but none of us personally have been hurt by what someone within Bethesda did. So what does an apology get us? For my money, just a lot of self-satisfied and schadenfreudian people thinking "Ha! Yeah! Make that company eat crow!"

      That is one of the downsides of "social media"... it allows people to jump into and get involved with things they don't actually care about and wouldn't put any effort into had they needed to do it personally, merely because social media allows slacktavism to be so easy.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
      Why should anyone (other than the original authors) expect an "apology"? What's the point? Do any of us actually care or have been impacted by this in any way?
      Because it helps build trust. Many people do make ethical decisions over who they do business with based on their conduct and, when that conduct is problematic, how they remedy the situation. An apology isn't just a feel-good thing; it's a promise to make things better.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Well, that's the cynic in me. When companies apologize I don't see it as someone within the company trying make anything better... I see it as them doing it just because they "have to" to get people off their backs, especially considering many of the people who clamor for it are not in any way connected to the situation and are just online trying to act as moral arbiters and shame people into "acting better".
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      And I also don't think for one single second that anyone who thinks someone in Bethesda should apologize for this will actually result in them doing anything about it if Bethesda doesn't. No one's going to *not* buy the next Elder Scrolls game if Bethesda doesn't apologize (and I wouldn't believe that person in the slightest if they came here on the boards and tried to claim that they wouldn't). And thus any apology to us randos on the internet about this thing is not going to result in anything being different that if they don't.

      But again... that's the cynic in me.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
      Well, that's the cynic in me. When companies apologize I don't see it as someone within the company trying make anything better... I see it as them doing it just because they "have to" to get people off their backs
      Sometimes people make genuine apologies and do try to do better.

      And I also don't think for one single second that anyone who thinks someone in Bethesda should apologize for this will actually result in them doing anything about it if Bethesda doesn't. No one's going to *not* buy the next Elder Scrolls game if Bethesda doesn't apologize (and I wouldn't believe that person in the slightest if they came here on the boards and tried to claim that they wouldn't).
      Well, make your mind up! Either they're cynically apologising because they have to, or they don't have to because it makes no difference. It can't be both things!

      (Well, in this case they're not; or at least haven't yet).
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Sometimes people make genuine apologies and do try to do better.



      Well, make your mind up! Either they're cynically apologising because they have to, or they don't have to because it makes no difference. It can't be both things!

      (Well, in this case they're not; or at least haven't yet).
      Heh heh... well, sure it can! it's that these companies usually don't feel the need to apologize for every little thing that people get up in arms over... but when something does blow up and someone in the company does say "We gotta do this!", it's not because the company on the whole is genuinely sorry, they do it just to get people off their backs.

      And that's cause most people don't actually care. As soon as the company says "Oh, we're very sorry this occurred, we didn't mean to upset anyone", people go "Oh, okay, good!" and then go on with their lives as though nothing ever happened, never thinking about it ever again. Because the action and the apology has literally NO impact on them either way. They just wanted the apology so that they feel good about themselves like they're this great person who demanded accountability! LOL.

      Demanding apologies on social media is just as slacktavistic as offering up "thoughts and prayers" in my opinion.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
      And that's cause most people don't actually care. As soon as the company says "Oh, we're very sorry this occurred, we didn't mean to upset anyone", people go "Oh, okay, good!" and then go on with their lives as though nothing ever happened, never thinking about it ever again. Because the action and the apology has literally NO impact on them either way. They just wanted the apology so that they feel good about themselves like they're this great person who demanded accountability! LOL.
      I think that might be more of an insight into your personal philosophies than it is into the people involved!
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Absolutely! Guilty as charged! I'm cynical about all of this cause I'm an admittedly "old man shaking my fist at all the young people." So no one should take what I have no say as gospel by any stretch. LOL.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
      Well, that's the cynic in me. When companies apologize I don't see it as someone within the company trying make anything better... I see it as them doing it just because they "have to" to get people off their backs, especially considering many of the people who clamor for it are not in any way connected to the situation and are just online trying to act as moral arbiters and shame people into "acting better".
      Of course they’re just doing it because they “have to” to get people off their backs. All the more reason for people to get on their backs to pressure them to do it, cause they won’t otherwise.
    1. SkidAce's Avatar
      SkidAce -
      In the case of company apologies, lets be honest.

      We will never know whether they are truly apologetic or covering their butt for PR.

      No matter which one it really is, on social media you will have people saying they did it for the opposite reason.


      I say take their word for it, and watch to see if similar things happen again...if they don't then things have improved, lessons learned.
    1. Motorskills's Avatar
      Motorskills -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      It's OK that their contractor messed up. It's OK they didn't catch it.

      What I don't like is their apology once they realized that's what happened. It should have been a much better apology, a much more direct one, it should have named the real authors and appreciated their work more and described the process mistakes which led to this, and, and taken specific responsibility for those mistakes, and what they're going to do in the future to prevent this from happening again and what they're going to do now to make it up to those authors who they wronged.
      Huh, I am 180 from you on this it seems.

      It's not okay that the vendor's contractor messed up. The vendor hired the contractor, they are responsible. If the company responsible for replacing your roof (vendor) hires a sub-contractor who uses stolen roof tiles, it is the vendor who is responsible for making things right.

      It's not okay that they missed it. As above, it is the vendor's responsibility to check that the work has been performed appropriately.

      It is okay for the vendor to issue a non-apology at this stage, while the legalities are still underway. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't apologise later, as part of any settlement. It would be better if they don't need to have their arms twisted to do that.


      Since the module was (is) for sale, there is potential for financial loss that needs to made right.
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Motorskills View Post
      It's not okay that they missed it. As above, it is the vendor's responsibility to check that the work has been performed appropriately.

      It is okay for the vendor to issue a non-apology at this stage, while the legalities are still underway. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't apologise later, as part of any settlement. It would be better if they don't need to have their arms twisted to do that.


      Since the module was (is) for sale, there is potential for financial loss that needs to made right.
      I am trying to think of what legal implications sufficient for an apology remained after the first week of notice about this and the obvious evidence they're the same. All they need to do is talk to the person who did it and that should be the beginning and end of the legal investigation which would be enough to issue a genuine public apology (and I say that as someone with 25 years of legal experience).
    1. Motorskills's Avatar
      Motorskills -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      I am trying to think of what legal implications sufficient for an apology remained after the first week of notice about this and the obvious evidence they're the same. All they need to do is talk to the person who did it and that should be the beginning and end of the legal investigation which would be enough to issue a genuine public apology (and I say that as someone with 25 years of legal experience).
      I bow to your legal wisdom.
    1. Mercador's Avatar
      Mercador -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loren the GM View Post
      As I mentioned, investigating as they say they are doing is the right thing to do. If it was internal gross incompetence, I'd hope an investigation would find that and they'd deal with it (and any other issues that might come to light if this is the case). And if it is a contractor who did this, then that is what they should deal with.
      Too often, someone hired a "friend" contractor to do the work and the work is badly done. The "someone" that hired the bad contractor don't get blame for it unfortunately.
    1. MarkB's Avatar
      MarkB -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      I am trying to think of what legal implications sufficient for an apology remained after the first week of notice about this and the obvious evidence they're the same. All they need to do is talk to the person who did it and that should be the beginning and end of the legal investigation which would be enough to issue a genuine public apology (and I say that as someone with 25 years of legal experience).
      The first thing I can think of is that they're going to be going through every e-mail and memo involved in the ordering, production and distribution of this product, just in case there's anything in there which could be interpreted as Bethesda being aware of (or even just having cause to be suspicious of) the malfeasance and then going ahead with the project anyway.

      Also, the author may not necessarily be co-operating with the investigation. He doesn't have to, unless they bring legal charges. And before they start bringing legal charges they'll want to be sure of the facts of the situation - which is tough without the author's co-operation.

      So, sure, it might be something they can clear up in short order. But it might also be something that will drag on for weeks. And if Bethesda do begin legal action, there will probably still be things they don't want to commit to in public until after those proceedings have concluded.
    1. TheFool1972's Avatar
      TheFool1972 -
      For the record, I still remember the scrolls incident with Mojang. Combine that with the liberal amounts of dirty activity with fallout 76, and I have to start questioning their integrity. Combine that with the quality control on games going all the way back to daggerfall (a dos game), and you have a pattern of either incompetence or belligerent greed that goes way back.

      I am not judging them based on this issue, I’m judging them based on years of consistent behavior.

      And believe it or not, it’s actually going to cost them a customer. I won’t do business with companies that act this way. Not this many times in this short a time period. It’s just too much to blow off as a “15 minutes of shame” moment.
    1. Elfcrusher's Avatar
      Elfcrusher -
      Quote Originally Posted by DM Dave1 View Post
      I dunno, maybe have someone at the company who can competently run some keyword searches online for at least 15 minutes as part of their QC procedure before publishing?
      I'm curious what you think should have happened differently here. Assuming that the folks at Bethesda didn't have a specific reason to suspect plagiarism (and why would they?), what sort of competent keyword search do you imagine would have tipped them off?
    1. Elfcrusher's Avatar
      Elfcrusher -
      Quote Originally Posted by MarkB View Post
      The first thing I can think of is that they're going to be going through every e-mail and memo involved in the ordering, production and distribution of this product, just in case there's anything in there which could be interpreted as Bethesda being aware of (or even just having cause to be suspicious of) the malfeasance and then going ahead with the project anyway.

      Also, the author may not necessarily be co-operating with the investigation. He doesn't have to, unless they bring legal charges. And before they start bringing legal charges they'll want to be sure of the facts of the situation - which is tough without the author's co-operation.

      So, sure, it might be something they can clear up in short order. But it might also be something that will drag on for weeks. And if Bethesda do begin legal action, there will probably still be things they don't want to commit to in public until after those proceedings have concluded.
      Investigation? Is WotC suing them? Why would they sue them? For what damages?

      If the author didn't get his last paycheck they probably won't pay him. If they did pay him, they might send a letter but otherwise pursuing it would cost more than they would recover.

      Some folks are Bethesda are embarrassed, and the author may have trouble getting more work, but otherwise I bet more time and outrage have been poured into this thread than will come out of Bethesda and WotC combined.
    1. DM Dave1's Avatar
      DM Dave1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
      I'm curious what you think should have happened differently here. Assuming that the folks at Bethesda didn't have a specific reason to suspect plagiarism (and why would they?), what sort of competent keyword search do you imagine would have tipped them off?
      I'm no QC professional, and I realize I do have the power of hindsight here, but one might run a search that includes a setting element, the mcguffin, and the named characters:

      - desert AND statue
      - "Chandra Stol" OR "Mother Mara" OR "Kah'reem" OR "Zayla"

      Given the proclivity for lawsuits in the video game world, it seems this and similar types of QC research would be done (early and often) regardless of whether the company suspects something; it would be done to ensure their "original" idea doesn't too closely resemble something else already out there. Then the company can decide whether to edit the work or just proceed as is.
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