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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Russ Morrissey

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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
This whole thing is heartbreaking for so many reasons. Satine was an ambassador bringing so many different groups to D&D that might have otherwise not felt welcomed by the hobby, and D&D is objectively better for the infusion of newer, younger players, including women and queer players. To learn that she was abusive and enabling of abusers is not at all surprising, unfortunately. I think it was easy to think of her as one of Zak's victims rather than enablers, but fool me once, etc. etc. She's been accused of enough bad behavior on her own, apart from the male abusers in her life. Her personal treatment of others is, frankly, more damning than her financial malfeasance.

There is a way back from this, there is always a way back, but it requires a great deal of self-reflection, humility, and above all, time. Unfortunately I can't say I've ever met a J*rd*n P*t*rs*n fan with an abundance of either of the first two qualities.
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
There is a way back from this, there is always a way back, but it requires a great deal of self-reflection, humility, and above all, time. Unfortunately I can't say I've ever met a J*rd*n P*t*rs*n fan with an abundance of either of the first two qualities.
I like to think there is always a way back, but I get less and less convinced. We saw it with Ernie Gygax, right? I gave him some leeway and hoped there would be a way back but now that doesn't seem likely. Based on more than a decade of recorded abuse (much longer than Ernie's displayed toxic behavior), it seems unlikely there's a way back for them either. If there is, it's gotta be a big and sustained effort.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them. And Jamison and Satine have apparently been showing people behind closed doors who they are for years. This isn't a slip up, or mistake. This isn't "back in my younger days I was an idiot". This is a sustained and current trend of behavior going back more than a decade. It's....very disappointing for reasons you gave.
 

"Parasocial relationship" was a term I just learned about this weekend, talking to my brother (who is a psychologist) about this whole situation.

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.

The apology is a start, though it needs to be followed up by action. Admitting harm and responsibility is a good first step, but it is still just the first step.

Not sure what this means, if they are out if GaryCon or not? But it isn’t good for them. Also see the post further up that thread from the McElroys.


As we've seen so often, a simple, unqualified "I am sorry for the harm I caused. I am going to do better. The steps I am taking are as follows..." seems to be so hard for people to say.

Also, what is it about Jorp that seems to attract toxic RPG elements (see also James Raggi)?

This whole thing is heartbreaking for so many reasons. Satine was an ambassador bringing so many different groups to D&D that might have otherwise not felt welcomed by the hobby, and D&D is objectively better for the infusion of newer, younger players, including women and queer players. To learn that she was abusive and enabling of abusers is not at all surprising, unfortunately. I think it was easy to think of her as one of Zak's victims rather than enablers, but fool me once, etc. etc. She's been accused of enough bad behavior on her own, apart from the male abusers in her life. Her personal treatment of others is, frankly, more damning than her financial malfeasance.

There is a way back from this, there is always a way back, but it requires a great deal of self-reflection, humility, and above all, time. Unfortunately I can't say I've ever met a J*rd*n P*t*rs*n fan with an abundance of either of the first two qualities.

I was at Origins this weekend, so I saw it unfold in real time. Went to a seminar presented by Satine Phoenix early on (not one of the $200 ones, I should specify). Watched as references to Jamison Stone as a guest of honor got scrubbed from the website. My last event at the con was the livestream Battle of the Bards and that got cancelled an hour before start time. Whether that was because of everything coming to light, the event only selling seven out of three hundred tickets, or a combination of both, who can say?
 

darjr

I crit!
She’s done. He’s done. Ruty might see work again. Maybe. But I dint think he’s interested in this industry anymore.

What I am curious about now is who is credited in the Eberron books? Stilly Ruty? Should it be?
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
As we've seen so often, a simple, unqualified "I am sorry for the harm I caused. I am going to do better. The steps I am taking are as follows..." seems to be so hard for people to say.
I think part of it is that in the US at least admitting that you've done harm basically means you're going to lose any lawsuit filed against you over the matter. So corporations give non-pologies so as to present a public relations face that gives listeners the impression that they're saying "we hear you and we'll do better" while not giving an actual apology which would require them to actually admit that they've done something wrong and then commit to actually making things right to those they've wronged.

Given how every individual celebrity is now basically an independent corporation at this point, they're doing the same thing. Actually admitting fault and making it right is too expensive, but a non-pology to manage the PR while not admitting specific fault or committing to make the folks you wronged whole is cheap so they do it.

(And it infests our whole culture at this point - the non-pology gets used even when there's no threat of a lawsuit these days.)
 

theliel

Explorer
I am boggled how this all was kept a secret for so long!
Jennifer Kretcher had a few notes on that, now that she's coming forward.

Basically Satine was a Big Deal on the backend (Think producer or directer in Hollywood speak) and has successfully blown up a number of people's careers if she didn't like them.


This supports Liisa Lee's statements.
 
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Jer

Legend
Supporter
I am boggled how this all was kept a secret for so long!
I've seen it play out so many times in various ways and the story is always the same. They screw over and/or abuse person after person, each one thinking they're the only one and they think it will be their word against the abuser and nobody will believe them. Then a whisper network starts where folks who are "in the know" know that someone is an abuser but still nobody is willing to come forth and be public about it because the abuser is too popular or powerful and they're sure they won't be believed. Finally someone comes forth publicly and the dam breaks - the whisper network starts talking out loud and it seems like a flood of accusations are coming "out of nowhere" - when actually it's just the group of victims finally believing that folks will actually listen to them and also feeling a need to stand in solidarity with the folks who came out first.

It isn't just the highly publicized celebrity cases that work like this either - even in corporate or academic settings you can see the same thing play out. The folks not in the whisper network think it comes out of nowhere and are surprised that it could be kept quiet that long, but the folks in the know know exactly why they didn't feel like they could say anything until suddenly it became "okay" to speak up.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
There is a way back from this, there is always a way back, but it requires a great deal of self-reflection, humility, and above all, time. Unfortunately I can't say I've ever met a J*rd*n P*t*rs*n fan with an abundance of either of the first two qualities.
There's only a way back if one genuinely understands and regrets what they did wrong besides being caught.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I've seen it play out so many times in various ways and the story is always the same. They screw over and/or abuse person after person, each one thinking they're the only one and they think it will be their word against the abuser and nobody will believe them. Then a whisper network starts where folks who are "in the know" know that someone is an abuser but still nobody is willing to come forth and be public about it because the abuser is too popular or powerful and they're sure they won't be believed. Finally someone comes forth publicly and the dam breaks - the whisper network starts talking out loud and it seems like a flood of accusations are coming "out of nowhere" - when actually it's just the group of victims finally believing that folks will actually listen to them and also feeling a need to stand in solidarity with the folks who came out first.

It isn't just the highly publicized celebrity cases that work like this either - even in corporate or academic settings you can see the same thing play out. The folks not in the whisper network think it comes out of nowhere and are surprised that it could be kept quiet that long, but the folks in the know know exactly why they didn't feel like they could say anything until suddenly it became "okay" to speak up.
It's pretty much true of every abusive power dynamic, right? Workplaces, sports, relationships...
 

Jennifer Kretcher had a few notes on that, now that she's coming forward.

Basically Satine was a Big Deal on the backend (Think producer or directer in Hollywood speak) and has successfully blown up a number of people's careers if she didn't like them.


This supports Liisa Lee's statements.

I wonder if this dynamic is specific to dnd as a hobby/business. It seems so many people were afraid to speak out because there are literal gatekeepers--influential people who have access to connections and can blacklist people they don't like. Perhaps because it is so hard to make a living doing freelance dnd stuff, and so many people want to, it increases the chance of exploitation. Then again, you see exploitation across many different industries, so maybe not.

I can't help but wonder if the way wotc operates contributes, even if unwittingly, to this dynamic. It seems that once someone is an 'insider' to some degree, they have a lot of potential power to determine who gets access to opportunities and who does not.
 


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