Netherland's studio, a division of Bethesda, was tasked to promote the upcoming ESO expansion. To do so, they created and published a tabletop RPG adventure using the rule set from Wizards of the Coast's Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (5E). Controversy entered the scene almost immediately as it was pointed out that there were certain similarities with an adventure from 2016. Then as people had more time to investigate the product, it became clear that the "new" game was almost entirely copied from that pre-existing campaign.
The game in question that had been heavily plagiarized is the Adventurer's League scenario "The Black Road." For those unfamiliar with the specifics of what can and cannot be used, the different lies with content versus gameplay mechanics. The actual rule set for 5E is open to anyone under the Open Gaming License, but copying content is like copying a book and passing yourself off as the author.
For their part, Bethesda was swift in removing the content and stating that they are investigating the issue at hand. One can only imagine how that discussion is going to go, as there is no excuse for such brazen theft of intellectual property. What is baffling in all of this is that the game is marketed to the exact type of players and hobbyists who would be intimately familiar with the material that was plagiarized, and there must be some deeper story here that we are not privy to regarding how this came to pass.
The Black Road was actually written by two individuals, Ben Heisler and Paige Leitman, the latter of which posted and then deleted this Twitter post, showing the near identical descriptions between their product and the one released by Bethesda.
The idea that a company as large and well known as Bethesda could so brazenly plagiarize the hard work of others does not come as a shock to many artists. Another more common area where this seems to be a problem is with artists who create work on Etsy or other similar sites, only to find that without notice or their consent, a large department store or brand has taken their original artwork, passed it off on their own, and mass produced clothing for sale. Many artists discover this by accident, once they see their artwork on a shirt worn by someone else.
Worse still have been so-called photographers who have simply screen capped the Instagram pictures of other people, framed them, and then sold the product as original art. It is an unfortunate fact that artists and content creators need to be on top of their own work, because there are no shortage of individuals seeking to profit from the efforts of others. At least in this case, Bethesda was quick in pulling the content, but we have yet to see what they say and do afterwards.