Apotheosis Studio, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons 5E setting books and founded by Jamison Stone, plans to finish existing Kickstarter projects and will not be honouring refunds. The studio will then enter a reduced capacity stasis following numerous allegations against Stone for emotional abuse, manipulation and failure to pay contracted workers.
Some of these plans will be detailed in an announcement from Apotheosis’ former COO Sarah Urfer. Dicebreaker obtained an excerpt of the statement during a recent interview with Stone, wherein he read a draft that explains the future of a studio that has been mired in public controversy and loss of professional opportunities over its founder’s alleged actions.
Stone later supplied another draft of the statement with a few significant edits but no mention of the studio’s long-term plans. When asked directly, he said he had other plans for his life. “As it stands - and I don’t know what the future will hold - it’s just a company that is there. It just exists and sells books. Some of my books, some books by other people. It will sell The Red Opera and eventually sirens. All of the people who are there are just contracted at this point.”
Stone began by clarifying he was never removed from the company but instead stepped down and took personal time while Apotheosis conducted an “internal investigation” on the allegations against him. These claims surfaced throughout the first weeks of June and ranged from verbal abuse over misunderstandings to a pattern of manipulative behaviour and leveraging his status within the tabletop industry as a cudgel. Freelance writers and artists have alleged Stone and Apotheosis failed to pay them on time, sometimes upwards of eight months after work was completed, and used contracts and legal language to silence any dissent. Stone’s wife Satine Phoenix was also the centre of her own allegations, which include culpability in his actions.
“The rest of the team now has completed those investigations and found that while some individuals had legitimate complaints, the vast majority of the allegations to date levelled against Jameson and others on our team have been proven to be factually inaccurate,” Stone recited from the planned statement (the second draft omitted ‘factually’). “We believe that people should be shown compassion, given the opportunity to right their wrongs and grow as individuals.”
“As far as the Sirens: Battle of the Bard books, it was delayed, and now it's going to be more delayed while those who are still working on the project deal with the ramifications of cancel culture, and how and what effect cancel culture has had upon their lives,” Stone continues. “We will be sending out merchandise that we already have in hand for US backers. While we will be finishing the project, refunds will not be issued.
The updated draft will reportedly change the mentions of cancel culture in Stone’s quote to “the extreme changes that we have had to make due to this situation.” It also claims that Sirens: Battle of the Bards being "90% finished and its contractors have been paid” as the reasons for not issuing refunds. Apotheosis is technically within their rights to not honour requested refunds on a project that has already successfully funded, as outlined in the platform’s support FAQ. Since the allegations broke, dozens of backers have posted comments requesting their pledges be refunded and their names removed from the book’s credits.
Stone clarified that Apotheosis’ statement will not contain any explanations from him, personally. He has not directly addressed any other claims beyond an apology within a social media comment to tattooist Chad Rowe, whose story sparked the larger outpouring of personal accounts.
“In full transparency, I want to go through the high-level ones and address them. I hope to have it done by the end of the month,” Stone said. “I think piecemealing it here is just not super helpful. It just doesn't feel respectful to the staff.
Apotheosis published a post to their website on June 17th claiming all writers on Sirens: Battle of the Bards who had submitted invoices had been paid. Dicebreaker is working to confirm this and has contacted the studio for more information on where money from book sales post-spinning down will go.