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

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Social media didn't do that to us. We've had professional golf, professional football, etc for longer than we've been alive.
Yeah, professional sports are also an example of this phenomenon. But a fairly limited form of it compared to new media “content creation.”
Reducing what happens on Twitch, for example, to simply "leisure activity" is unfair. You might believe it's leisure activity as a viewer, but the profitable streams have a huge time and effort investment in production and preparation. Streams that truly are just "leisure activity" in front of a camera rarely succeed, unless they are done by an exceptionally charismatic or entertaining presenter, in which case it's not the leisure activity being monetized, but the host themselves.
That’s exactly my point though. Streaming isn’t leisure, it’s labor. It’s one more chunk of our lives that’s being turned into labor. I don’t envy the lives of content creators who make their living this way, because they have to constantly be “on.” They don’t really get to have leisure time, because the attention market demands that they capitalize on everything “fun” that they do. It must be absolutely exhausting.
 

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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
That’s exactly my point though. Streaming isn’t leisure, it’s labor. It’s one more chunk of our lives that’s being turned into labor. I don’t envy the lives of content creators who make their living this way, because they have to constantly be “on.” They don’t really get to have leisure time, because the attention market demands that they capitalize on everything “fun” that they do. It must be absolutely exhausting.
And thus, the direct line from Foucault to Ninja is complete
 

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"?
Many blacklists don't start off as a blacklist but there are many that eventually evolve into becoming a blacklist without a publisher even knowing it.

As has been discussed, there's a huge lack of business training on both sides of the fence. And in a very small business with small profit margins, dealing with a creative who constantly misses deadlines and then turns in shoddy work after the fact can tank a project.

The easiest way to deal with it is to avoid using that creative again. (barring the creative has RL issues impacting their work) If a publisher hasn't developed a sense of due diligence or red flags, they may get a few more such creatives. But if the company grows and new people sign onboard, you want them to avoid using the same subpar people.

So then you hand over a list.

It seems like a good idea at the time, but all it takes is one publisher employee who is a bad actor to suddenly turn it into a blacklist. And now the list is partially about quality control mixed in with personal grudges and the people who get the list later would have to go name by name to confirm the why. But who has time for that.

And that's how you get a blacklist so secret that publisher using it has no idea what they have.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don’t know if you do get what I’m saying, because I agree that what you describe here is not a new phenomenon at all - it’s essentially the same thing I was expressing in my first sentence. What I’m talking about is not new media celebrity, but the societal drive to turn free time into another form of labor. If you’re just playing a game of D&D, you’re being idle where you could be productive by streaming it. If you’re just eating a meal, you’re being idle where you could be productive by instagramming pictures of it. If you’re just consuming media you’re being idle when you could be productive by publicizing your opinion of it. Society applies constant pressure to produce, produce, produce, which is of course not new at all, but social media has opened the avenue for yet another aspect of our lives that was our own to be commodified and marketed.
I would say that digital info tech has made it worse, regardless of how "new" it is. (i'm also not sure why or how it matters how new it is?)

150 years ago, people sang and made music all the time. It was a social activity, a leisure activity, it was just a constant part of life. The idea of having to be good at it in order for it to be okay to do in public didn't exist. Everyone starts singing, you sing, because you're part of the social group and that's the current activity. Now, music is so commodified that most people aren't comfortable singing along to the radio unless they're alone or inebriated.

And as long as people have to produce in order to eat and avoid homelessness, everything people enjoy will trend along the same path.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I would say that digital info tech has made it worse, regardless of how "new" it is. (i'm also not sure why or how it matters how new it is?)

150 years ago, people sang and made music all the time. It was a social activity, a leisure activity, it was just a constant part of life. The idea of having to be good at it in order for it to be okay to do in public didn't exist. Everyone starts singing, you sing, because you're part of the social group and that's the current activity. Now, music is so commodified that most people aren't comfortable singing along to the radio unless they're alone or inebriated.

And as long as people have to produce in order to eat and avoid homelessness, everything people enjoy will trend along the same path.
You’re right, it’s really irrelevant whether or not it’s new; the important point is it’s gross and it’s accelerating.
 

I would say that digital info tech has made it worse, regardless of how "new" it is. (i'm also not sure why or how it matters how new it is?)

150 years ago, people sang and made music all the time. It was a social activity, a leisure activity, it was just a constant part of life. The idea of having to be good at it in order for it to be okay to do in public didn't exist. Everyone starts singing, you sing, because you're part of the social group and that's the current activity. Now, music is so commodified that most people aren't comfortable singing along to the radio unless they're alone or inebriated.

And as long as people have to produce in order to eat and avoid homelessness, everything people enjoy will trend along the same path.
I'd say your 150 years is a bit off for that equation.

For while the farmer in the field was happily off-key, We had Brahms, Shakespeare, and even da Vinci and many more before them that had to make great music to earn their bread in front of kings, nobles, and those who wanted to impress their peers.

I am not saying at some point your example is right. But there has been a professional class of entertainer for several centuries.

On that note, this is where some of tug of war happens between "proper" entertainment of the Classical and Literature vs Pop Culture. The gatekeepers of proper art often refer to the creatives who where supported and sanctioned by kings and authority while the pop art comes from the pool halls, church choirs and home made chap books.
 

A lot of conversations going on about how creators all have major egos. Meanwhile, the rest of us non-famous creators are just over here with our imposter syndromes... 🤷‍♂️
And our luck.

I had a mentor tell me that I was pretty much ready to be published in fiction, all I needed was luck. My first thought was, "Luck? Well now I'm $##$%."

My ttrpg work makes literal nickels and dimes over the month, but it is still more than fiction ever did.
 

The new was published in other place, and I found interesting this comment.
The TTRPG scene is far more toxic today than it's ever been. Much of the toxicity we see comes from people like this, people who claim to be making the space safer and more inclusive. The opposite is true. I've been playing ttrpg's for 40 years, gatekeeping has never been the problem that it is now. And it's being led by people like this.

I suspect today D&D is most popular than ever, and the community is bigger, lots of people have joined, but also there are some "black sheeps" or "rotten appels", and these could cause a serious damage against the prestige of the brand.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You’re right, it’s really irrelevant whether or not it’s new; the important point is it’s gross and it’s accelerating.
Absolutely.
I'd say your 150 years is a bit off for that equation.

For while the farmer in the field was happily off-key, We had Brahms, Shakespeare, and even da Vinci and many more before them that had to make great music to earn their bread in front of kings, nobles, and those who wanted to impress their peers.

I am not saying at some point your example is right. But there has been a professional class of entertainer for several centuries.
You've badly misunderstood. I did not claim, imply, or otherwise indicate to any degree whatsoever, that there was no professional class of musicians. Never in recorded history has their been a lack of a such professionals.

It was not, however, just the farmer in the field that was "happily off-key". It was everyone that wasn't a professional. Well, i'm sure many of them were quite good, but that isn't actually relevant to the point. All social activities involved music, made by the participants more often than by a separate group. All kinds of work tended to involve song.

Making music simply was not something reserved for professionals, until well into the very recent history of widespread recorded music.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The new was published in other place, and I found interesting this comment.


I suspect today D&D is most popular than ever, and the community is bigger, lots of people have joined, but also there are some "black sheeps" or "rotten appels", and these could cause a serious damage against the prestige of the brand.
That comment is so off base it's wild to read.

but yes, the bigger the scene gets, the more opportunists will take advantage of it.

I rather liked B Dave Walter's comment on Satine. She's very much in the Satine business. Were she not abusive about it, fair enough. Since she is, she can kick rocks.
 


Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
The new was published in other place, and I found interesting this comment.

"The TTRPG scene is far more toxic today than it's ever been. Much of the toxicity we see comes from people like this, people who claim to be making the space safer and more inclusive. The opposite is true. I've been playing ttrpg's for 40 years, gatekeeping has never been the problem that it is now. And it's being led by people like this."
This is demonstrably, laughably false, and speaks from a perspective that had never been made to feel unwelcome in ttrpgs for 40 years and never once considered the perspectives of different people who had been excluded for decades from many, many, spaces. I can't see how this is a vaguely justifiable take outside politically motivated schadenfreude.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Lol love that song... just curious what are you referring to?
"I saw your blog post. It was really fantastic. That was sarcastic. Because you write like a spastic."

I absolutely love this entire song and the video... except for that line. (I'd heard that it was a slur on people with epilepsy, not people with cerebral palsy, but either way.)
 


Oofta

Legend
WOTC has faced its own criticisms and scandals ... although they were largely ignored by the fans.
Shocking news: big corporations aren't perfect. They also sometimes employ people who are accused of doing bad things*. Also shocking: sometimes people don't believe their friends are capable of being evil, and can overlook evidence to the contrary because they find it hard to believe that someone they personally know could be that horrible.

*I'm not weighing in on the validity of the accusations one way or another, although I tend to believe the accuser(s).
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
"I saw your blog post. It was really fantastic. That was sarcastic. Because you write like a spastic."

I absolutely love this entire song and the video... except for that line. (I'd heard that it was a slur on people with epilepsy, not people with cerebral palsy, but either way.)
My understanding is that "spaz" is, at least in the UK, roughly equivalent to how we'd use the "r" word in the US.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I had someone on reddit recently scream at me because I said I don't get paid DMs, because it meant that I was greedy and wanted someone's hard labor for free.
See, this is what I was driving at. DMing didn’t used to be thought of as labor. It was, at best, a hobby. But in the attention economy, it inarguably is labor. Professional DMs, while a weird concept, are doing work and have every right to charge for that work. But it’s a messed up system that pressures people to turn their hobbies into work in order to get paid. Also there’s nothing wrong with preferring not to hire paid DMs, whoever said this to you is completely wrongheaded about it. If you hired someone to DM for pay and then didn’t pay them that would be one thing, but just choosing not to hire anyone to DM for pay is perfectly valid.
 


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