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

Russ Morrissey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Their actions are not "evidence", then. Thanks for clarifying that the priority here is protecting missing stairs.
The priority is treating everyone justly. Assuming the worst of everyone is unjust.

What we know is that Greg Tito listened to Satine Phoenix and believed her, which in this case is material mediate cooperation with evil, which is grave matter. But we don't know what exactly he knew and when, and what his mother for believing Satine were, so so no, it is not appropriate to assume the worst. I would recommend that he repent and come clean, but I ain't his Priest nor his manager.

It is noticeable that the victim, Lissa, in thise case doesn't seem to blame Tito, despite his actions being the failure point that let Satine cut her off from further opportunities.
 

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Mearls formally and proximately cooperated with Zak S. in his abusive activity, but that does seem more like a severe error in judgement than being cut from the same cloth. Still hurt people in the end.
Agreed. Not that any of us know the complete timeline of events, but that situation left me with the overall impression of, "Don't let your game designers handle HR issues. They are in no way trained for it and probably won't handle it well. Corporations have HR departments for a reason."
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Agreed. Not that any of us know the complete timeline of events, but that situation left me with the overall impression of, "Don't let your game designers handle HR issues. They are in no way trained for it and probably won't handle it well. Corporations have HR departments for a reason."
Yeah, he went way out of his way to prove that. Looking more at the Liisa Lee story, Tito seems to have massively mishandled the D&D Live 2019 situation, and trusted Satine over and against others.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
We don't know it's Greg Tito. This is an assumption, but not the only valid one. Nathan Stewart would be another reasonable guess at the time.
Tito organized D&D Live, though. It was his baby. The whole situation also reads like Tito, for thst matter, warts and all. We don't have absolute knowledge thst she means Tito...but in terms of moral certitude, he was the one doing the work she describes, by himself at WotC. I remember Stewart praising Tito for thst very work on air.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
We don't know it's Greg Tito. This is an assumption, but not the only valid one. Nathan Stewart would be another reasonable guess at the time.
We don’t know who it is, but WotC has informal blacklists (and encourages other companies they know, plus their partners and licensees to follow them). I’m sure WotC doesn’t view them as blacklists, though.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
We don’t know who it is, but WotC has informal blacklists (and encourages other companies they know, plus their partners and licensees to follow them). I’m sure WotC doesn’t view them as blacklists, though.
I didn't know that. No surprise, I'm extremely ignorant of the industry. Has this been discussed somewhere or is it simply "common knowledge"?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I didn't know that. No surprise, I'm extremely ignorant of the industry. Has this been discussed somewhere or is it simply "common knowledge"?
When was the last time you saw WotC work with ENWorld in any capacity? Like invite a rep to a press conference, or give advance notice?

It is this Blacklist system that both Zak Smith and Satine Phoenix seem to have successfully hacked, at least for a time: cast their perceived enemies as the kind of person with whomWotC would refuse to do business. So, yeah, toxic corporate practice is open to toxic manipulation.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
After reading this gem of a Twitter thread
I can't help but wonder: why in the nine hells are people putting up with this sort of behavior?
I can only imagine that Katie and Tristan are thoroughly nice and trusting folk, and must have clearly wondered if they accidentally joined a recording of Candid Camera...
A lot of that crap is pretty standard grooming behavior. Notice that they changed their behavior around certain other people so thst the objects of the grooming could be gaslight. Good for these two for walking away.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
After reading this gem of a Twitter thread
I can't help but wonder: why in the nine hells are people putting up with this sort of behavior?
I can only imagine that Katie and Tristan are thoroughly nice and trusting folk, and must have clearly wondered if they accidentally joined a recording of Candid Camera...
Katie's boyfriend has a thread of his own in the replies with a much more candid re-telling, and whoo boy
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
A lot of that crap is pretty standard grooming behavior. Notice that they changed their behavior around certain other people so thst the objects of the grooming could be gaslight. Good for these two for walking away.
I literally just watched a YouTube video yesterday about how JK Simmons' character in Whiplash uses exactly that technique to abuse poor, innocent Miles Teller, congrats on being literally Hollywood villains y'all
 


Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
When was the last time you saw WotC work with ENWorld in any capacity? Like invite a rep to a press conference, or give advance notice?

It is this Blacklist system that both Zak Smith and Satine Phoenix seem to have successfully hacked, at least for a time: cast their perceived enemies as the kind of person with whomWotC would refuse to do business. So, yeah, toxic corporate practice is open to toxic manipulation.
I'm not sure what you are referring to here. Are you saying that Zak Smith and/or Satine Phoenix convinced WotC to blacklist EN World?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Weird confluence of events: I just read this post right after I saw a post from Becca Scott describing SP and SJ as "two of the kindest, most open, loving, and integrated people I have ever met. I am so grateful to call them friends!!!"

Universe is weird.
Yeah. My wife and I were commenting the other day on thier friendship and how secretly poly thier entire social circle seems, and laughing about it as two poly queer nerds ourselves.
Such a nice couple, shame that WOTC and CR promote these predator types.
This is a bad take.
So sorry. There must've been a glitch on my phone. I saw only your comment on the last quote (from another user). I assumed it applied to my quote because it didn't display the rest of your post.
I'm so sorry. I will go back and delete the posts I made in reference to your post to remove any further confusion in this thread.
Probably actually my fault. I had to edit the post, because it was on my phone and I fumble-fingered it to send before I was done. sorry for the confusion.
Yeah, that attention and adulation, even on the smallest scale, can be a heady thing. It's all too easy to go from being thankful for the support to thinking that it is what you are owed.
Absolutely.
You were suspicious of Mearls off the bat? The others gave me a bad vibe, but Mearls felt like he almost came from Central Casting as "generic D&D nerd".
Yes, though not in the same way. He struck me as a bit of a weasel. Exactly the sort of guy who is very nice and good, until being good requires confronting or challenging a friend.
Mearls formally and proximately cooperated with Zak S. in his abusive activity, but that does seem more like a severe error in judgement than being cut from the same cloth. Still hurt people in the end.
And handled being called out for that hurt in a way that makes it hard to believe that he has any particular regret for the hurt itself.
 

Ondath

Adventurer
Same. Only got good vibes from Mearls when I have seen him on shows, interviews and whatnot. I will admit to missing him in D&D. I find him talented.
It's a difficult position to be in as consumers who do not want to condone unethical behaviour, but I kinda feel the same. To me, it looks like the pivot in 5E's design happened largely at the same time as Mearls's "promotion" to a role out of the spotlight, and while Crawford was always a co-lead designer, it seemed to me like Mearls was in charge of the conceptualisation (designing the barebones mechanics and flavour of abilities etc.) and Crawford was in charge of balancing things (making sure stuff that Mearls designed was not mathematically OP) and writing them in a strict language. I don't know if Crawford took the conceptualisation portfolio or someone else took that job, but the push for replacing short rests with PB/day, ignoring earlier restrictions such as no DC increasing magic items for spellcasters and an overall shift in class design seems tied to Mearls's departure. Zak is clearly a terrible person and the way Mearls handled that situation was yikes, but damn it I miss books like Xanathar's and Volo's.
 


pukunui

Legend
It's a difficult position to be in as consumers who do not want to condone unethical behaviour, but I kinda feel the same. To me, it looks like the pivot in 5E's design happened largely at the same time as Mearls's "promotion" to a role out of the spotlight, and while Crawford was always a co-lead designer, it seemed to me like Mearls was in charge of the conceptualisation (designing the barebones mechanics and flavour of abilities etc.) and Crawford was in charge of balancing things (making sure stuff that Mearls designed was not mathematically OP) and writing them in a strict language. I don't know if Crawford took the conceptualisation portfolio or someone else took that job, but the push for replacing short rests with PB/day, ignoring earlier restrictions such as no DC increasing magic items for spellcasters and an overall shift in class design seems tied to Mearls's departure. Zak is clearly a terrible person and the way Mearls handled that situation was yikes, but damn it I miss books like Xanathar's and Volo's.
I thought Mearls was experimenting with things like getting rid of bonus actions and short rests and stuff before he departed. I'm not sure the game would not have gone in the direction it has had he stayed.
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
I view this as being the same as if WotC was using known tobacco, alcohol or gambling industry people to promote their game.
My good friend Greg, from How to Drink, was on the official podcast a while back (possibly years back now, as the whole COVID era has shattered my ability to understand time). I don't think there's anything contraversial about people who promote responsible alcohol consumption also being tapped to promote D&D.

The problem with Satine isn't that she's a porn star, it's that she's a toxic and abusive human being.
 

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