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Origins Issues Statement Following Satine Phoenix & Jamison Stone Controversy

8 Minute Read
Jun 14 2022
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Origins Game Fair issued a statement in the wake of a series of allegations about two of their special guests, Satine Phoenix and Jamison Stone.

Over the past several days a number of writers, designers, and even tattoo artists have spoken out against mistreatment by two figures in the tabletop RPG community, Satine Phoenix and Jamison Stone. All of this culminated in Origins Game Fair issuing a statement and “proceeding with a modified schedule” with regards to events featuring Phoenix and Stone.

“During Origins, a situation regarding our Special Guests, Jamison Stone and Satine Phoenix developed. With attendee safety as our highest priority, staff assessed that there was no immediate risk of physical harm. We continued to closely monitor the situation and proceeded with a modified schedule.

Origins Game Fair does not condone abuse in any form and is committed to being a safe and inclusive festival for all.”

For context, Phoenix and Stone have together worked with some of the most well-known figures in the TTRPG community, including Critical Role’s Matt Mercer, Luke Gygax, and have appeared at special events (including Origins Game Fair). They’ve also launched successful projects of their own, including The Red Opera and Sirens: Battle of the Bards.

The allegations started on June 8th, after Chad Rowe, a tattoo artist perhaps best known for tattooing Post Malone, spoke out about his experience with Phoenix and Stone.

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In a Twitter thread, Rowe outlined his experience with Stone and Phoenix when he was contracted to tattoo the pair. You can read the full thread above, but as Rowe explains, during the process, he was mistreated by the couple. Discussing a contract, he was “insulted, berated, and talked down to as if I was a lesser person.”

Here’s an excerpt from Stone:

Hear this; if you want people to treat you like an adult and/or professional, you need to act like one. You have yet to do this. And your carelessness only continues to disappoint me and make the situation worse for yourself. I’m done [interacting] with you […] The only way I can see you salvaging the situation for yourself, both personally and professionally is to write me (and Satine if you so choose) a genuine letter of apology, taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. If you decide to do this, I expect it to be through the post, not email. You have my address.

But Rowe’s story was only one of many that came up over the course of the past few days. Creatives from different disciplines in and around the TTRPG scene came forward, speaking up about mistreatment, bullying, lack of payment, and more from Stone and Phoenix.

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The writers for Sirens: Battle of the Bards spoke up, in a number of threads. Below is a thread from Pat Edwards, writing lead from Battle of the Bards:

And from Jessica Marcrum, another of the writers on the project:

In these two threads, Edwards and Marcrum outline Phoenix and Stone’s behavior towards their contractors. Gaslighting, bullying, and ultimately getting paid less than agreed upon. Along with the public humiliation of ending up on a “black list” for “behavior.” And “behavior” here, as Marcrum clarifies, is simply asking to be paid what was owed, as you can see in this segment of the thread:

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From around the ttrpg community stories emerged. Time and again, the pattern was the same. Phoenix and Stone used the power they had to bully other creators. Mistreatment, verbal abuse, even threats to people who were employing the pair:

This comes from Tristan and Katie who hired the pair as guests for a livestream of PAX West. They detail mistreatment at the hands of the pair, including being lectured for drinking more than one glass of wine, getting berated for mishandling a suitcase, and being relegated from employer to assistant.

From the thread above, Stone and Phoenix were aware of their imprint on the space. They knew they could “ruin anyone [they] wanted with a single tweet.”

The stories go back years, across a variety of projects:

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The above thread comes from Liisa Lee who outlines her experience with Phoenix going back to 2016 when she was approached to work on Maze Arcana. Even in 2017, Lee faced gaslighting and similar behavior, all part of “patterns of predation” as she puts it. It culminated for Lee in the actual live/livestreamed event:

Here’s another story from Ray Jenkins

Time and again you’ll find people coming forward, and the same pattern of bullying and gaslighting appears, from both Stone and Phoenix. BoLS spoke with an anonymous but credible source attending Satinequest, a D&D Cruise featuring the pair. Our source confirmed that they had witnessed abuse firsthand, and that they had seen Stone mistreat Phoenix as well.

Fallout

In the wake of these statements, serious shakeups have hit Apotheosis Studios. Stone has resigned as CEO of Apotheosis Studios:

As a company, our goal is and always has been to create unique content and storylines for role playing and tabletop games that allow for a safe and respectful gaming environment. Due to the issues that have come to light Jamison Stone has resigned as CEO effective immediately. We will not tolerate Jamison’s actions within our company, or with the contractors and consultants we work with.

The executive team at Apotheosis Studios are discussing the matter internally and will update you with an official statement and decision of company matters as soon as we can.

Alongside Stone stepping down as CEO, other AS employees have quit. On the Kickstarter Pages for Sirens: Battle of the Bards, backers have been expressing their dismay and calling for Phoenix to be removed from the cover.

A few major tabletop figures have come forward with statements about this behavior. Origins Game Fair issued their “safety update.” Travis McElroy, of the McElroy family made a statement.

Phoenix issued a statement yesterday:

Though, per another anonymous source, leaking a screenshot from a private channel (and reposted here with permission), part of the apology strategy seems to be focused around shifting the blame.

Meanwhile other events, like D&D In A Castle, have removed the pair as guests from their upcoming events. And Jasper’s Game Day, a tabletop organization dedicated to suicide prevention, has stated they will no longer work with Phoenix or Stone:

It is a reminder of how small the tabletop RPG industry is. It’s an industry that still runs on reputation. As Phoenix and Stone were keenly aware, a single tweet can carry a ton of weight. That so many felt the need to keep quiet for fear of a career in an industry that quite often underpays its creators in the first place, is a testament to how fragile the industry can be.

The tabletop industry is no stranger to figures abusing their power, it seems an all-too-common theme for anyone in the entertainment industry. Too many people have been hurt by behavior just like this. And sadly, it isn’t a one-time incident. As Phoenix and Stone have shown, often this kind of behavior goes on for years before it gets bad enough to bubble to the surface. In the meantime, how many have been harmed or driven away from a career doing what they love out of fear?

Thankfully, this time, many have spoken out to try and change things for the better.

Hopefully, in light of these statements, those affected can find a way forward with the support of the tabletop community.

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