Sirens: Battle of the Bards: An Interview With Satine Phoenix and Jamison Stone (Apotheosis Studios)

Satine Phoenix (The Sirens, Game Master Tips, and more) and Jamsion Stone (CEO of Apotheosis Studios, The Red Opera, and more) are creating a new Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition campaign setting, adventure, and Bard-centric sourcebook, Sirens: Battle of the Bards. The concepts and art are inspiring so, when I had the chance to talk with Satine and Jamison about this Kickstarter, I couldn’t turn it down.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): I’m excited to talk to you about your latest Kickstarter, what is Sirens: Battle of the Bards?
SATINE PHOENIX (SATINE)
: Sirens: Battle of the Bards is an artistically inspired 5th Edition campaign and setting featuring characters from my LiveStream show, Sirens. Vlahnya, the spymaster of Sirens, enables players to inspire revolution in this epic, Bard-infused journey set in the bohemian city of Salvata where Bards are thrown into the crucible of conquest and battle for the heart of a growing empire!

EGG: What inspired you to create over 300 pages of Bard for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition?
JAMISON STONE (JAMISON)
: Bards are near and dear to our hearts. Our last project was entitled The Red Opera: Last Days of The Warlock, an extensive, player-driven campaign and setting designed for 5th Edition, centered upon the oft-overlooked and much-misunderstood class: Warlocks. We had a blast with The Red Opera, and wanted to focus on Bards next. Partnering with Satine Phoenix was an honor and we are very proud of Sirens: Battle of the Bards.

EGG: If a player doesn’t want to play a Bard, will they still enjoy this campaign?
SATINE
: Oh, absolutely. You don’t need to be a Bard to enjoy Sirens, all are welcome in our new campaign and setting. The City of Salvata features ten districts, including battle colosseums, amphitheaters, comedy clubs, taverns, bazaars, underground magic fighting rings, and much more.

EGG: “A city of artists where Bards inspire revolution”. This is a sourcebook, a campaign setting, and an adventure, correct? Do you consider that line to be the guiding light of the campaign’s narrative?
JAMISON
: Absolutely. Sirens: Battle of the Bards is an epic 5th Edition campaign and setting set in the decadent city. Filled to the brim with over 300 pages, twenty adventures, over 10 new Bard subclasses, and countless magical items, this is a fully immersive adventure. Mystery, intrigue, and deception lurk within every dark alley. Through the course of the adventure, the players have to decide if they will sell out? Allow the city be ground to dust? Join the Emerald Cabal, the Rebellion, or forge their path. The fate of tens of thousands is in the party's hands.

EGG: The City of Salvata is not a mundane location, the art for it is breathtaking. Why did you create a musical skyscraper metropolis?
SATINE
: We wanted to create a radically new setting, and have crafted the bohemian City of Salvata to encroach closer to the heavens every century. For a millennium, this towering metropolis has fostered artists, muses, and sirens so as to perfect their art and lure down a deity during a rare eclipse when the stars align. Under the visionary guidance of the city’s Great Chancellor Calrath, Salvata has prospered in harsh desert conditions—conditions that forge coal into diamonds. And so, the City of Salvata is no different: failure is not shunned here but embraced as a stepping stone to success. Each century, another statue is immortalized, and the city climbs yet another step higher urging all citizens to strive for the vaulted halls at Salvata’s zenith.

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EGG: The art is stunning to say the least! Who are you working with on the art? Will you and the other creators be subjects in the portraits?
JAMISON
: We at Apotheosis Studios love art, and feel that art, music, and epic writing are all necessary elements to immersive storytelling. And yes, both Satine, myself, and several other of our team members will be featured as NPCs within our campaign and setting. Vlahnya, who is played by Satine, and Vajra, who is played by myself on our weekly Couple’s D&D Show are fan favorites and we are excited to dive even deeper into their backstories here in Sirens: Battle of the Bards.

EGG: Most Bard memes and jokes are about seduction. While Bards can be great, well-developed heroic characters, certain players take them the other direction which can lead to, let’s call them, “uncomfortable encounters”. I know those types of encounters are not what you’re trying to create with this book, but they may occur. Will Sirens: Battle of the Bards suggest any gamer safety tools?
SATINE
: There are many ways to play TTRPGs, and aiding GMs in skillfully guiding their players is something I have discussed extensively on my historic Geek and Sundry show, GM Tips, and my currently running show Game Master Tips on my Twitch channel. We hope to create a framework to have our Charisma based Bards break free of some of their stereotypes and lean into their artistic and creative skills and roleplaying potentials, and have created Sirens: Battle of the Bards with this in mind.

EGG: That’s a great decision and I know your tips help gamers everywhere. You’re delivering more than an RPG, you’re delivering an experience with a soundtrack and a musical soundset, which feels perfect for a Bard-based campaign. For these albums, who are you working with? What feel are you expecting the music to generate among the players?
JAMISON
: Indeed! For The Red Opera we included a full orchestral soundtrack included in the book via QR codes. We wanted this to feel like an epic movie score and partnered with DiAmorte’s founder, writer, and composer Drake Mefestta and had it professionally recorded by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra. That music turned out wonderfully, and fit the dark and brooding feeling of Warlocks perfectly. For Sirens, however, we needed the musical direction to be befitting of the Bard class, and our desert style city of Salvata. We are creating another epic soundtrack and are partnering with a lot of wonderful musicians, who will be unveiled during our Kickstarter. One of whom who we can talk about now, however, is American singer-songwriter and Godhead lead vocalist, Jason Charles Miller. Jason is not only a fantastic musician, but also a Siren, too, fully featured as an NPC in the book and it is an honor to work with him.

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EGG: You’re partnering with a number of companies for this campaign, who are they and what are some of the coolest items on offer from them?
SATINE
: We are so proud of all of our professional partners. We have a custom Wyrmwood Master Vault and Dice Tray; full set of custom shaped Level Up Dice featuring a comedy tragedy 2d mask, musical lute d4, stack of books 6d, trumpet d8, inkpot d10, paintbrush d10 percentile, banging drum d12, and "Mic Drop" d20. We have Campaign Coins, and full SyrnScape Sound set. We also have a wide array of VTTs (Virtual Table Top) too, including Roll20, FantasyGrounds, Shard, and Foundry VTT!

EGG: Beyond Sirens: Battle of the Bards, what else are you working on?
JAMISON
: Satine and I have so much in the works, but sadly, we can’t talk about it all yet! One very epic thing we are working on is Satine’s D&D in a Castle trips, which you can actually book right on our Kickstater. These are epic. Right now other than Sirens: Battle of the Bards, we are focused on our Twitch shows on [Satine Phoenix’s channel], our Discord servers at Gilding Light and Apotheosis Studios Discord are the best places to follow all of our epic RPG antics!

EGG: Since this Kickstarter campaign ends on your birthday, I hope you get an amazing gift from the fans! Speaking of, where can fans learn more about your project and follow each of you on social media?
SATINE
: Absolutely, other than our Twitch, and respective Discord servers, we love interacting with awesome folks over on our respective social media platforms, please come and say hello so you all can join in on the fun! Thank you so much and see you soon!

Satine Phoenix [is on] Twitter and Instagram. Jamison Stone [is on] Twitter and Instagram. Sirens: Battle of the Bards from Apotheosis Studios runs on Kickstarter through May 22nd, 2021.

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG and Amazon.
 

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BRayne

Adventurer
No book slot was sucked up by Mercer and can we please stop the trend whereby Matt must be psychologically tortured until he apologizes for denying people Dark Sun/Psionics/Dragonlance/Planescape/Jakandor etc.?

Apologizes again even, since his first statement on the announcement of Wildemount was pretty much an apology for it
 

Chromie

Explorer
Didn’t feel like making a new thread for this but if someone does, here’s some info….

Just wanted to spread this for those interested. Their latest update was about Jamison resigning as CEO of the company (even though he owns it so it’s a naughty word move) and I’m requesting a refund from them for their naughty word treatment of their writers. Saw this thread over at /r/DND and a good video here. Satine is also as culpable as he is.

There’s a post over at /r/DnD summarizing it with links to the twitter of the individuals.



Much more discussion and summary at RPG.net


EDIT: I decided to just post it, this deserves its own thread.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
Didn’t feel like making a new thread for this but if someone does, here’s some info….

Just wanted to spread this for those interested. Their latest update was about Jamison resigning as CEO of the company (even though he owns it so it’s a naughty word move) and I’m requesting a refund from them for their naughty word treatment of their writers. Saw this thread over at /r/DND and a good video here. Satine is also as culpable as he is.

There’s a post over at /r/DnD summarizing it with links to the twitter of the individuals.



Much more discussion and summary at RPG.net


EDIT: I decided to just post it, this deserves its own thread.
In addition to Stone's lousy apology, he's stepped down from the Sirens project and as CEO of Apotheosis Studios. But the pattern of unprofessionalism and abuse, while mostly Stone's, was supported by Phoenix. The vlogger you linked above, "NoNat1", put it well that this apology will only mean something if Stone, Phoenix, and Apotheosis Studios changes how they treat freelancers and other folks.

I won't be backing any crowdfunding or purchasing any products from Apotheosis until there is evidence of change. But I'm willing to give them that benefit . . . that Stone, Phoenix, and their company is sincere in their apology and willingness to change. We'll see.
 

Retreater

Legend
For me, they seem like a couple of toxic jerks who have had plenty of opportunities to change when others brought up the concerns - and any change now will be just to save face.
I don't plan to support any of their projects in the future.
 




Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)

Nah, they think CR and every other show is scripted fake “reality TV”, seemingly out of a mix of basic cynicism and the fact those games aren’t played in a style that they’re super familiar with.
Personally I'm just baffled by the idea that anyone could both think Critical Role was scripted and think that that is some sort of potent criticism with which to dismiss it. The first campaign alone had 373 hours of gameplay time with 13,500+ dice rolls. Sit down and script that some time.

In addition to the their prolific output we need to commend the authors for their capacity to include so much mundane, slow, timewasting bits: rules errors that have to be corrected, etc. Lesser authors would cut that stuff.
 

Retreater

Legend
Personally I'm just baffled by the idea that anyone could both think Critical Role was scripted and think that that is some sort of potent criticism with which to dismiss it. The first campaign alone had 373 hours of gameplay time with 13,500+ dice rolls. Sit down and script that some time.

In addition to the their prolific output we need to commend the authors for their capacity to include so much mundane, slow, timewasting bits: rules errors that have to be corrected, etc. Lesser authors would cut that stuff.
Yeah, I don't think it's scripted - anymore than a TV gameshow is scripted.
Also, I don't watch multiple hours-long gameshows.
 




Parmandur

Book-Friend
You have to ask? It's a show set pretending to play D&D. Just like CR and the others. They are what they are, but they are not the table ply experience most of us have.
That's a bizarre takeaway: Critical Role is not at all scripted, and us very much just people playing standard D&D. I've watched several hundred hours, and it is very normal play.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
That's a bizarre takeaway: Critical Role is not at all scripted, and us very much just people playing standard D&D. I've watched several hundred hours, and it is very normal play.

Yeah, one could make the argument that SOME of what they do caters more to an audience then a home game would.

But, I've seen the YouTube clips of their ACTUAL home game and they're not that different there than on the stream. They're just naturally hammy (in a good way) people who enjoy enhabiting their characters and interacting with the world and each other.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, so I'm saying it's not scripted - I just don't find it interesting to watch. I wouldn't want to watch anyone's D&D game. Or a Magic card tournament or Texas Hold 'Em.
I would recommend, someday if you never have, watching an episode of Dimension20. The episodes aren’t nearly as long, abd they are edited a bit to cut out boring bits where a rule is researched or whatever.

But yeah I’ve no interest in watching poker or whatever either. The two activities are not at all the same. CR and d20 are shows. They follow characters through dramatic events, just like scripted tv.

Like…would you dismiss as a genre a new type of show wherein the actors improvise the to collaboratively tell the story, if it didn’t use a TTRPG as a dimension of the show?
 



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