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."
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Birmy

Explorer
"Alleged plagiarism." Get a spine, Bethesda, it wasn't like it was subtle. (Yes, yes, I know: "liability" and all, but still...)
 

Staffan

Adventurer
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like a case of insufficient oversight/familiarity on behalf of the people in charge.
 

Loren the GM

Villager
I'm not really sure what else people want from Bethesda on this. They hired a writer who turned in the work, they published it, and then pulled it when they found out it was plagiarized. I don't expect the publishers at the company to have read every adventure booklet published, so there is no reason to expect they should have caught this before publishing. Pulling it is the right thing to do, investigating exactly what happened is the right thing to do (as well as figuring out ways to try to keep it from happening again), and keeping the public informed is the right thing to do.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I'm not really sure what else people want from Bethesda on this. They hired a writer who turned in the work, they published it, and then pulled it when they found out it was plagiarized. I don't expect the publishers at the company to have read every adventure booklet published, so there is no reason to expect they should have caught this before publishing. Pulling it is the right thing to do, investigating exactly what happened is the right thing to do (as well as figuring out ways to try to keep it from happening again), and keeping the public informed is the right thing to do.
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?
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
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 didn't hear that it got published, I thought it was just announced with a preview.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Right. Replace “publishing” with “releasing a preview” and my point still stands.
True. Though I think the degree of the problem worsens the further along in the process you are.

It would have been better if they had caught it themselves, it would have been far worse had they published it.
 

Mercador

Explorer
I'm not really sure what else people want from Bethesda on this. They hired a writer who turned in the work, they published it, and then pulled it when they found out it was plagiarized. I don't expect the publishers at the company to have read every adventure booklet published, so there is no reason to expect they should have caught this before publishing. Pulling it is the right thing to do, investigating exactly what happened is the right thing to do (as well as figuring out ways to try to keep it from happening again), and keeping the public informed is the right thing to do.
For starters, they could do a search. But mostly, they could find out who contracted that guy on what basis? The contractor is an :):):):):):):), alright but there's someone within Bethesda that hired that guy. If I was in charge, I would like to know who and what others things that person took decisions on.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Not really a big deal IMHO and Bethesda dealt with it in the right way. If someone gave me an adventure tomorrow and I read it unless I had read the original I probably would not notice if it was copied. Hell there are a few Dungeon adventures I read a long time ago I would probably fail to recognise today.
 

sevenbastard

Villager
Yeah contractor "F”ing up. Even if they read his work you can't expect anyone to have all the PDFs off the 5e adventures out on the web memorized. Hopefully they get their money back and the contractor gets shunned by everyone in the future.
 

Mistwell

Hero
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.
 

Loren the GM

Villager
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?
A keyword search isn't going to get you a lot (I mean, it will now because of all the news articles, but prior?) - all of the proper names were changed to reference Bethesda properties, and there are a ton of adventures with similar themes - deserts, caravans, statues. And there aren't any legal archives of published PDF's to do text comparisons with. So maybe you get lucky and spot the similar adventure, or maybe you don't. That assumes that the person searching is competent or happens to just miss catching it through error, that they believe there is malice to find so they are looking intently, and that there is actually enough key words that match between the adventures to find a link in a system that doesn't easily allow for A B comparison.

But I don't think "stop all 'f' ups before they happen" is a truly viable concept in a world with humans, especially when the person you contracted to do a job has purposefully obfuscated their work in an attempt to do a shady thing.

For starters, they could do a search. But mostly, they could find out who contracted that guy on what basis? The contractor is an :):):):):):):), alright but there's someone within Bethesda that hired that guy. If I was in charge, I would like to know who and what others things that person took decisions on.
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.
 

Loren the GM

Villager
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.
I'd say the article is misleading on this. They have not issued an apology, they issued a statement. I wouldn't expect an apology until they finish their investigation and deal with things - there are too many legal things involved for them to admit specific fault until everything has been legally dealt with.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
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.
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.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I'd say the article is misleading on this. They have not issued an apology, they issued a statement. I wouldn't expect an apology until they finish their investigation and deal with things - there are too many legal things involved for them to admit specific fault until everything has been legally dealt with.
Solid point. Hopefully there's a more substantial and direct apology once they conclude their investigation. If there is, I'll gladly eat crow here.
 

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