Sirens: Battle of the Bards, a campaign setting created by Satine Phoenix, launches its Kickstarter campaign today! This independent Dungeons and Dragons 5E campaign, crafted by the Goddess herself, centers around the class everyone loves to hate: Bards. These aren’t your run of the mill, overly sexualized lute bards however, although you are still free to choose that life. Oh no. These are bards you’ve never seen before, because she created them.
“We can teach each other how to act and how to behave,” she’s said during our live stream chat. “It’s just really beautiful to take the things that we have developed in our family, and continue that further into our friendships.” Satine Phoenix, of Gilding Light, LLC and Jamison Stone, of Apotheosis Studios, sat down with me to chat all things bard on the Athena Alliance CLT channel. Sirens: Battle of the Bards is more than just another campaign book in another campaign setting. This setting was carefully crafted to create the experience of finding what makes you unique about you, and letting that out on your own terms. In our conversation on Twitch, we talked about how tabletop gaming was a necessary piece of our mental health on multiple levels.
My first encounter with Satine Phoenix happened on a cold winter’s day, while I sat on my couch wondering where the women were? I was interested in beginning my first D&D adventure as a way to find community. I was a new mom on a mission to create space for myself, and as a gamer and Magic: The Gathering player, Dungeons and Dragons had always been on my radar. The thing that kept me from making the leap? The very skewed propaganda that women don’t tabletop. I wanted to play with other positive women who loved storytelling and immersed themselves in the lore. That’s when I found GM Tips on Geek & Sundry with Satine Phoenix. Her excitement and love for the game felt like a breath of fresh air in the space. Her existence empowered me to jump in.
“If we can live like this, and a couple other people can live like this and do this, then this whole area can be very positive and uplifting and we can actually be the heroes that we want to see in the world.” – Satine Phoenix
Sirens: Battle of the Bards centers around collaboration, with custom mechanics created to reward cooperative elements. Instead of each player being the hero of their own individual story in a shared campaign setting, the players are rewarded for working together. For those unfamiliar with tabletop gaming, while the point is to work together, there can still be an individualist mindset amongst the party members as they go through trials and tribulations together. We see the same phenomenon in MMORPG spaces where players can be more focused on the “me” in the word team.
No worries, though. Satine thought of a way to reward players to promote true team work. “So if three people are working together, they get three D20 and take the highest. So by doing that, it rewards them, but also I like to have them tell me what they do. And if they convince me, and it all makes sense and they’re creative about it, I may amplify the reward as well. Maybe they get another hit dice, or the environment changes and reacts to what they are doing.” All ways to promote listening that are baked into the framework of the setting. All things you can watch in action during Couples DnD on Satine’s Twitch Channel. Satine and Jamison don’t just talk about how they connect to each other, they show us every Tuesday. They’re actively engaged in listening to each other. It is clear that they value what the other is saying, by facing toward each other and intently focusing on what the other person is saying.
Sirens: Battle of the Bards takes place in the bohemian city of Salvata, a city known for its muses. The bards in this city are many, and study a variety of colleges. “An artist is a communicator.” Satine explained her concept behind her creations. “They are a master at evoking emotion. Whether repelling it, or attracting it. That’s kind of what a bard does.” You can get a taste of this adventure with Sirens: Battle of the Bards Live Stream Launch Party. As she went into the details of the Bard Colleges of Salvata, I couldn’t hold in my excitement. In Salvata, education is prime. They have a university where bards can study their passions outside of playing the instrument.
“Two of our favorites are the College of Geometry, where math is beautiful, and it’s gorgeous, and we have sacred geometry, and you know, you have your architect bard.” Traditionally bards have been Charisma-based, which makes sense with the amount of charisma you’d need to seduce a dragon. The colleges created by Satine, such as the architect bard, are Intelligence-based, taking into account the more introverted nature of many artists. “Now you’ve got Intelligence as a main stat for this bard. They are quiet maybe, so they don’t have to use verbal components, and in that same vein we have the college of anatomy.” As I listened to her walk us through the halls of Salvata University, I thought of all the classes my character wanted to take.
Influenced by her experience in art school, Satine wanted to capture the full picture of the community it takes to bring art to life. Sirens: Battle of the Bards invites us to take those existential “what if?” questions from “Is it possible to get a horse pocket?” to “Is it possible to incorporate my hooping skills?” to which the answer is yes. Alicia Marie plays an Aerialist in the upcoming season of Sirens: Songs of Salvata. Satine explains how this new class uses their education from the college of anatomy to cast spells as they weave their body through a hoop, evoking emotion from others around them without saying a word.
There is so much room to create in Sirens: Battle of the Bards, it’s impossible to go through it all in one article, or even one interview. You can support this amazing project through their Kickstarter campaign at www.thebardbook.com starting today! Head on over to check out all the goodies. They’re handing out free pieces of the campaign book, as well as showcasing some gorgeous minis. Don’t worry fellow dice goblins, you will not be disappointed.
“Imagine if you will, dice. Little tiny shapes that are bard specific. So, you’ve got a D4 that’s a lute. You’ve got an inkwell and a pen that’s your percentile.” Satine Phoenix and Jamison Stone are bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “mic drop.” New bard colleges. Same loved creators.
Salvata truly is a city created by bards for bards.
Shout out to Women in Games International and the Athena Alliance CLT for help creating this magical interview!