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.

Salvata+Sirens+Battle+of+the+Bards+Kickstarter+Apotheosis+Studios.jpg

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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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Time commitment AND that I'm not especially interested. Like there's a chance I'd watch Dune or The Batman for 3 hours (though I haven't yet because of the time), but I don't have interest in watching a game for three hours. If I could zone in and out like watching hockey, without keeping up with a story or whatever - maybe.
Okay if watching an ongoing story for 2 hours is difficult (which I super get), that would indeed make it hard to get into this stuff.

I just don’t get the common criticisms that seem to paint it as the same as watching people play board games or video games or something, when it’s a very different activity, more akin to watching The Witcher than to watching a poker tournament or some guy playing Call of Duty.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Okay if watching an ongoing story for 2 hours is difficult (which I super get), that would indeed make it hard to get into this stuff.

I just don’t get the common criticisms that seem to paint it as the same as watching people play board games or video games or something, when it’s a very different activity, more akin to watching The Witcher than to watching a poker tournament or some guy playing Call of Duty.
I mean, watching people play Poker or CoD can be very entertaining.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Nothing is "scripted" in Critical Role outside of their one shots and short adventures (Undeadwood/Calamity/Elder Scrolls). The players bite at plot hooks presented to them, the DM talks to players about their backstory, and players talk between themselves in a group chat between games (when they can spare the time), but that's all normal stuff players do in most games.

Heck, they probably spend more time sandboxing than I would prefer. :geek:
Tbh even the one shots aren’t scripted at all, they’re just played in a different mode than some folks like playing in. It’s all collaborative improv storytelling using the rules of D&D .
 




doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I wouldn't call "being aware thst people are watching" scripting, for sure. It does change the dynamic, but...only a bit.
Yeah exactly.

I run D&D for a table of 2-5 players (depending on campaign) regularly using many of the same tricks and narrative tools as these shows use, because everyone at the table is both actor and audience.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So I couldn't sit and watch her whole apology, so I read it instead, and I guess I missed the supposed victim blaming?

Can anyone who watched the video clarify?

The worst thing i saw in the apology was her spending too much time nitpicking details, after taking responsibility and apologizing and before enumerating what she plans to do about it. What'd i miss?

Edit: also, I am not super clear on the allegation of rape by Jamison Stone. Sexual assault, sure, but I was wondering if there was another situation I didn't read about, other than the proposition under coercive circumstances that lead to "making out" but not to sex, according to the woman doing the reporting?

Like I know that coercing someone to have sex with you is rape. Super clear on that. I just don't generally group that and sexual assault as the same exact act unless the victim does. Maybe I'm missing info?
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
So I couldn't sit and watch her whole apology, so I read it instead, and I guess I missed the supposed victim blaming?

Can anyone who watched the video clarify?

The worst thing i saw in the apology was her spending too much time nitpicking details, after taking responsibility and apologizing and before enumerating what she plans to do about it. What'd i miss?

Edit: also, I am not super clear on the allegation of rape by Jamison Stone. Sexual assault, sure, but I was wondering if there was another situation I didn't read about, other than the proposition under coercive circumstances that lead to "making out" but not to sex, according to the woman doing the reporting?

Like I know that coercing someone to have sex with you is rape. Super clear on that. I just don't generally group that and sexual assault as the same exact act unless the victim does. Maybe I'm missing info?
I don't think the victim there used the "rape" word, but...that is basically date rape, even if he accepted a lower level of activity.

Her nitpicking details included basically saying that the victims were wrong, and she was right. It was kind of painful.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't think the victim there used the "rape" word, but...that is basically date rape, even if he accepted a lower level of activity.
Okay, so just a terminology thing, not missing info. Fair enough.
Her nitpicking details included basically saying that the victims were wrong, and she was right. It was kind of painful.
Well yeah nitpicking almost always includes saying that the other person is wrong about something, but i didn't see anything where she was like, "I didn't do that". Instead, she gave a lot of (potentially BS) clarifications about contracts, context, and who said what exactly.

Which is a bad idea, as understandable as the impulse is. Litigating the details undermines the perception of your apology regardless of your intentions.

Which, unless she's playing 3d chess and it's all a ruse to make people think this, indicates to me somewhat that she isn't as much of a cunning manipulative sociopath as a lot of folks are saying. Like she could have come out of this looking not that bad to most people by just giving a really solid apology, and making moves to make things right, while just letting Jamison sit in Stoney silence (pun intended) until someone makes him mad and he lashes out.

Instead she did one of the worst things she could have done short of denial and counter-accusations, and litigated the details in her apology.

To be clear, I mostly find this interesting at this point, I'm not saying she didn't do any of the things she's accused of, or that she gave a good apology, or anything like that.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Incidentally, for those looking to check out Murderville, the best episode by far is the one with Marshawn Lynch. Man's talents were wasted in football
I saw Marshawn play when I had student tickets at Cal, even though I have ethical objections to Football now, he was awesome to see in action.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Okay, so just a terminology thing, not missing info. Fair enough.

Well yeah nitpicking almost always includes saying that the other person is wrong about something, but i didn't see anything where she was like, "I didn't do that". Instead, she gave a lot of (potentially BS) clarifications about contracts, context, and who said what exactly.

Which is a bad idea, as understandable as the impulse is. Litigating the details undermines the perception of your apology regardless of your intentions.

Which, unless she's playing 3d chess and it's all a ruse to make people think this, indicates to me somewhat that she isn't as much of a cunning manipulative sociopath as a lot of folks are saying. Like she could have come out of this looking not that bad to most people by just giving a really solid apology, and making moves to make things right, while just letting Jamison sit in Stoney silence (pun intended) until someone makes him mad and he lashes out.

Instead she did one of the worst things she could have done short of denial and counter-accusations, and litigated the details in her apology.

To be clear, I mostly find this interesting at this point, I'm not saying she didn't do any of the things she's accused of, or that she gave a good apology, or anything like that.
No, not cunning, more sadly seems to be subconsciously perpetuating cycles of abuse. One of the saddest details from her apologia was how genuinely hurt she was at people like B. Dave Walters "pretending to be her friend." That suggests that "maintaining polite professional distance" is as close to friendship that she has in her life.
 

Retreater

Legend
I just don’t get the common criticisms that seem to paint it as the same as watching people play board games or video games or something, when it’s a very different activity, more akin to watching The Witcher than to watching a poker tournament or some guy playing Call of Duty.
I guess the difference is that I would prefer to be playing D&D on my own with my friends than watching someone else have the fun.
Spending my hobby time watching someone else play - unless I'm specifically trying to learn mechanics for a new system - just doesn't seem like it would help my game. So it doesn't have value as entertainment or education for me.
Couple that with the DM style differences between myself and Matt Mercer (and also with Matt Colville's game), and I'm certain I have nothing to learn from watching their games unfold in real time.
I will watch DM advice videos from both of them, but I can extrapolate the important parts without watching real time live streams.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Okay, so just a terminology thing, not missing info. Fair enough.

Well yeah nitpicking almost always includes saying that the other person is wrong about something, but i didn't see anything where she was like, "I didn't do that". Instead, she gave a lot of (potentially BS) clarifications about contracts, context, and who said what exactly.

Which is a bad idea, as understandable as the impulse is. Litigating the details undermines the perception of your apology regardless of your intentions.

Which, unless she's playing 3d chess and it's all a ruse to make people think this, indicates to me somewhat that she isn't as much of a cunning manipulative sociopath as a lot of folks are saying. Like she could have come out of this looking not that bad to most people by just giving a really solid apology, and making moves to make things right, while just letting Jamison sit in Stoney silence (pun intended) until someone makes him mad and he lashes out.

Instead she did one of the worst things she could have done short of denial and counter-accusations, and litigated the details in her apology.

To be clear, I mostly find this interesting at this point, I'm not saying she didn't do any of the things she's accused of, or that she gave a good apology, or anything like that.
I don't think folks are characterizing Phoenix as "cunning" or a "sociopath" . . . just abusive and manipulative. She's certainly not cunning.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I guess the difference is that I would prefer to be playing D&D on my own with my friends than watching someone else have the fun.
Spending my hobby time watching someone else play - unless I'm specifically trying to learn mechanics for a new system - just doesn't seem like it would help my game. So it doesn't have value as entertainment or education for me.
Couple that with the DM style differences between myself and Matt Mercer (and also with Matt Colville's game), and I'm certain I have nothing to learn from watching their games unfold in real time.
I will watch DM advice videos from both of them, but I can extrapolate the important parts without watching real time live streams.
Yeah just a wholly different starting point and perspective from mine, is all. It only ever occurs to me to imagine these shows as potentially instructive or in the context of watching someone do a hobby I’m into, or as part of my “hobby time”, when someone brings it up in convo. To me, they’re literally just shows I like watching, and that’s kinda it.

But I can accept that I’m unlikely to understand a particular outlook on a specific thing, and carry on! Thank you for explaining your POV on it.
I don't think folks are characterizing Phoenix as "cunning" or a "sociopath" . . . just abusive and manipulative. She's certainly not cunning.
Calculating, is the word I’ve seen used quite a lot. A friend even characterized her association with these toxic men as like, an intentional shield for her own abusive behavior.
 



Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
I saw Marshawn play when I had student tickets at Cal, even though I have ethical objections to Football now, he was awesome to see in action.
He's probably one the greatest running backs to ever play the game, I say as a former football fan with what I'd guess are similar ethical objections these days. He's just also incredibly hilarious
 

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