D&D Celebrity Satine Phoenix & Husband Jamison Stone Accused Of Abuse Towards Freelancers

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D&D influencer Satine Phoenix, and her husband Jamison Stone, who run tabletop gaming company Apotheosis Studios, have been accused of abusive behavior towards freelancers and contracted workers.

Satine Phoenix is a well-known D&D personality and creator, and was the D&D Community Manager for about a year back in 2018. Both she and Stone have appeared in many events and streaming shows, and have worked with WotC, Geek & Sundry, and other companies. Recently their Kickstarter campaign Sirens: Battle of the Bards raised over $300,000. At GaryCon, a US gaming convention, the couple held a public wedding.

sirens.jpg

Accusations were initially leveled last week against Stone by tattooist Chad Rowe, who tweeted about the abusive way in which Stone, as his client at the time, treated him. The artist was "insulted, berated, and talked down to as if I was a lesser person". Other reports started to roll in as people shared similar experiences, with people revealing how they had been bullied by them, and how the pair frequently portrayed themselves as 'better' than those they worked with. At the time of writing there have been many such reports including one from voice actress and designer Liisa Lee who was subjected to underhanded business practices by Phoenix and her then partner Ruty Rutenberg. Others indicated difficulties in getting paid for work done for Stone and Phoenix or their company.

Lysa Penrose reported on problematic interactions while Phoenix worked at WotC, who was the primary point of contact regarding a report of abuse. Penrose reports that Phoenix failed to pass on the reports of abuse, and continued to publicly associate with the abuser.

Jamison Stone has since resigned as CEO of Apotheosis Studios (though the pair do own the company) and issued a long apology which has been widely criticized. Phoenix released a statement about a week later. Screenshots leaked from a private channel indicate that they have adopted a strategy of shifting the blame onto Stone, so that Phoenix's public image remain intact, with Stone writing “I also am ensuring behind the scenes ... we shield Satine as much as physically possible from damage.”

D&D In A Castle, which is an event which hosts D&D games run by professional DMs in a weekend break in a castle, has dropped the pair from its lineup, as has Jasper's Game Day, an organization which works to prevent suicides. Origins Game Fair, at which the couple are celebrity guests, removed Stone from its guest list, but not Phoenix, stating that "staff assessed that there was no immediate risk of physical harm".

According to ComicBook.com. former collaborator of Phoenix, Ruty Rutenberg, is suing Phoenix, alleging misappropriation of $40,000 of stream network Maze Arcana's money.
 

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AnotherGuy

Adventurer
He's a misogynist who thinks men should be in charge and have all the workplace leadership jobs, women should be home in the kitchen, and thinks only skinny women can be attractive. I happen to think that's a horrible person. Obviously, your opinion may vary...
I'm not going to get into it here as we'd likely derail the thread and receive unwelcoming visitations from the mods. ;)
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
She's more famous than them, so I imagine pretty good. Narcissists are extremely polite and charming to those who they think they can gain something from. The minute a person's usefulness is done, however, it's like night and day.

RIght.

You don't judge someone by how they treat peers, bosses/superiors and those able to advance their interests. You judge someone by how they treat employees, contractors service people etc. Much more likely to give a true view of who they actually are.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Right? How do we have “celebrity players”? I get someone like Vin Diesel, a celebrity who plays D&D but someone who is a celebrity because they play D&D and peacock up for YouTube? Cool story bro. I want to support Indy creators and all but treating gamers like rock stars?
Vin Diesel is a celebrity for being well known to many people and the huge parasocial relationship effects.

People playing games and sharing it can get the same parasocial effects. Hence become celebrities, if only in a niche.

Parasocial connections -- when you feel you know someone via one-way social interactions, like movies or videos or music or gossip magazines or political talk shows -- creates most of the celebrities of the modern era.

People get attached to the presented character (be it a formal character or a type of character, or whatever the person presents) and that attachment from many people has value in promoting other works.

LMM is a celebrity, in that when I hear he's done music for something, it makes me more likely to want to experience it. And the persona he's sharing (real or not) amuses me to watch. I get that that isn't him, and the connection I feel isn't reciprocal.

There are small-time podcasters I listen to. Not a huge audience. But if I ran into them, I'd love to buy them a drink. Heck, if I ran into one of them and they asked me to spot them a 20, I'd do it and write it off as a loss if I never got it back. They don't know me from adam. Take that benefit, and multiply it by millions, and that is social and economic power.

And some of them just play D&D on some obscure podcast you have never heard of. They don't have millions of followers, so their celebrity power is limited. As the audience grows, the amount of parasocial connections they have scales linearly.
 


SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
I wish I could say any of this is surprising, but ... it's just not. I'm an old fart, and I've also been lucky enough to be around a lot of people in the industry from the past few decades. It's also present in every part of fandom. Talk to me about the scene at science fiction fandom conventions sometimes ... ugh. This isn't something new.

I think the most important thing is to be very selective as far as who is your brand ambassador.
 

Chromie

Explorer
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you on this perception of Satine and I have not read the entire thread, but from the first page - I get the idea she certainly is an enabler of abusive and manipulative people, but from the little I have seen its mostly that Jamison dude who is the monster. She is certainly complicit in that she should have reined him in, and that could be seen as manipulative, in that she sets her attack dog on the innocents, but one could also see it that she didn't want to engage or confront Jamison on his handling of the issues. Could she be afraid or intimidated by him?

Am I far out in this? Is there something that I'm possibly missing?

EDIT: Yup I was missing the Liisa story. Ignore the above.
I will post it in the OP so people don’t miss it. I should probably add Jamison‘s PR response where it came out that he’s going to try and take the brunt of the backlash and try to protect Satine’s image.
 


JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
Epic
Can't wait to hear: victim-blaming, throwing her partner under the bus, "can't we all just get along," gas-lighting, "We screwed up, but it won't ever happen again pinky swear," or some combination thereof.

In the Kickstarter comment, some backers are avocating for the project to be canceled altogether and to have any remaining funds disbursed to the freelancers they took advantage of. I don't think that will happen (and I don't think they'll refund anyone or remove their names from the list of backers or anything resembling integrity), but we'll see. I'm really curious to know what will happen to the stretch goals that will not be fulfilled now because the partners have withdrawn from the project over this (LevelUp Dice pulled out, IIRC and they were making the dice some folks pledged for).

Part of me has a morbid fascination to watch this slow-motion train wreck, but I have to remind myself I invested almost $120 in this project (I really need to be more discerning and do better due diligence--having one of the creators as the cover art should have been a HUGE red flag to me).
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
I wish I could say any of this is surprising, but ... it's just not. I'm an old fart, and I've also been lucky enough to be around a lot of people in the industry from the past few decades. It's also present in every part of fandom. Talk to me about the scene at science fiction fandom conventions sometimes ... ugh. This isn't something new.
Truth. And every genre of writers appears to suffer from cliques of catty writers who think being a jackass and taking every opportunity to be scummy if it will advance their personal brand as long as their audience never see it is an integral part of the job.

Basically anyone with the potential for a fan base and no accountability to highly susceptible to this.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I hate this situation. I wish it were all different. It could have been? So easily.
It's horrible to learn, of course, that someone many of us admired has turned out to be toxic and an abuser. You can't help but wonder . . . "Is anybody else in the community I admire also a terrible person?"

But this situation also has some beauty to it. Social media is the blessing and curse of our age, but it allows for folks to share their stories and shine sunlight on toxic behaviors. We have a real #metoo thing going on here with Stone and Phoenix specifically, and possibly other toxic personalities in our community as well.

Learning about the toxic behaviors of those we once admired . . . sad. Watching the community come together to shine sunlight on those behaviors, condemn them, and support their victims . . . beautiful.
 


pukunui

Legend
having one of the creators as the cover art should have been a HUGE red flag to me
Yeah. A literal vanity project.

I noted in the KS comments that there are numerous calls to scrub all images of J and S from the book. While that’s a nice idea, I would think it pretty impractical at this stage as it would require the commissioning of new cover art and the like.

I see that Heinz is determined to get the book published so that the freelancers’ work doesn’t go to waste … but given that J claims he spent many sleepless nights rewriting the freelancers’ work because it wasn’t up to his standards, I wonder how much of their work even survives in the finished product!

I reckon it would be better to cancel the whole thing, pay everyone who needs paying (the correct amount they are owed) and move on. Even without images of J and S in the book, I imagine looking at it and reading it would remind everyone of this debacle.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
It's best to not deify anyone, and not to put celebs on a pedestal. Not Gary Gygax, and not Satine or Jasmison. Respect is earned, and on an individual basis. There's a lot of great people in this hobby, some are well known, some aren't. That's who I'm focusing on and supporting, however.
 


Dire Bare

Legend
It's best to not deify anyone, and not to put celebs on a pedestal. Not Gary Gygax, and not Satine or Jasmison. Respect is earned, and on an individual basis. There's a lot of great people in this hobby, some are well known, some aren't. That's who I'm focusing on and supporting, however.
Well yeah, but . . . it's a very human thing to do, and we all do it at times in our lives.

Deifying (or demonizing) someone is a form of stereotyping, which serves a cognitive purpose. It makes it easier to deal with the deluge of complicated information we are barraged with daily. It makes it easier to deal with people . . . but of course comes with the danger of forming an opinion without having all of the facts. But we rarely get all the facts . . . .
 


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