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Posts tagged “Role Play

My DMing Bucket List

One of my favourite discoveries of recent months, the works of Creighton Broadhurst and his group Raging Swan Press have served as an inspiration and a great resource for me to call on in the quiet moments where ideas are running short and just need to be given a push until momentum takes over.

As it stands I am not short of ideas, but after spotting this headline I’m prepared to push a few planned articles back a week. Creighton‘s list and mine will differ quite radically though, I’m not so interested in running famous dungeons or campaigns, while I sit and peruse some of the classics from time to time I’m a firm believer in finding my own style and adjusting as I play, rather than finding someone else’s style and adapting it to my own, and after ten years and forty articles I’d like to think I know my style at this point. (more…)


DMing 101 – Lies 2: Duplicity

 

DMing101

Deception is rarely fun for everyone concerned. Ok, so the longer you can keep the grand reveal from your group the more incredible it may be, but in between there’s a long stretch of frustration because people prefer to know things than be kept in the dark.

Ah, but when someone is in on it, then things get more interesting. Bringing someone into the fold makes for an interesting dynamic, pitches the group against one another in the best possible way, and can make for a few rather interesting story moments that will leave your group exchanging dirty looks at one another for years to come. (more…)


DMing 101 – Choosing Your Rules

Pugmire

DMing101

I use the term DM or Dungeon Master to describe those running role-plays because my preferred set of rules is Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve dabbled in many a game system, discussed others at length, and even made some efforts into making my own. With the explosion of diversity in rules spanning genres, creating worlds or plunging players into worlds they’ve always wanted to explore, but so often you’ll find there’s something missing, or that your chosen campaign doesn’t match up with the rules at hand.

You can alter, add to or even create rules if you’re feeling really brave, but there’s a market out there worth researching, and it’s a fun experience. (more…)


Party Dynamics

I’ve been watching Farscape lately. I love it, I forgot exactly how much I love it actually, after getting reacclimatised to the hastily-made (but still high quality) practical effects, the occasionally hammy acting and rather harshly episodic nature of the first season, it’s a forgotten gem of science fiction that occupies a rather amazing niche filled with action, a rich world and at times some very progressive themes that Star Trek would never have touched. It strongly fits within the “fantasy in space” field of sci-fi, and it got me to thinking about something I’ve observed in other series as well.

In D&D amongst other RPs that you all know, the characters fall into some quite specific roles. In most MMOs they’d be the tank, healer and DPS, D&D gives us the classic four-part set up of Fighter, Cleric, Rogue and Mage, along with the variety of extras that add variation to the themes. Others, like Shadowrun, Call of C’Thulhu take the same roles and apply their own themes. They stem from the sword and sorcery genre of pulp fiction styled by people like Robert E. Howard, and the epic fantasy works of people like Tolkien. (more…)


BathLARP

Louisa ready for battle in harsh, snowy conditions

LARP or Live Action Role Play is a booming industry here in the UK and abroad. A lot of people aren’t aware that you can find LARP groups on your door step if you know where to look. I’ve reached out and spoken to some members of BathLARP this past week in hopes to learn more about the hobby.

Why LARP?

Physically challenging, immensely creative and a unique hobby. If you’re one of the geeks of the world who loves the world of role play, then chances are you’d love the transition into an activity that allows you to get out and about whilst still getting your fix of fantasy.

A player will pursue a goal, set out by a games master, whilst performing what is akin to improv theatre. In a tabletop RPG, players will play out their characters, sometimes even going so far as to doing the voices. LARP is a step further then. Create your very own character, get in gear and fight through a series of events to achieve your or your teams goal.

Most areas of the UK have a LARP group nearby. In the South-West, one such group is BathLARP. I’ve been lucky enough to get some time from some of the BathLARP members and even a member of their committee. I was keen to get to know more about the hobby, so in true GeekOut style, I posed some questions to the LARPers.


 

Interview with the LARPers – Members of BathLARP

Interview with the LARPer - Bath LARP

Q: How did you first get into LARP and how long have you been LARPing for?

Judith: I first heard about LARP through my sister – she used to be part of a Vampire: the Masquerade group in Bristol – but although I was aware of the Bath University group (BLADES) I didn’t join until my final year for various reasons. I’ve been LARPing ever since – which is eight years and makes me suddenly feel very old! That said, I’ve met LARPers who have been in one system or another pretty much since LARP took off in the UK, which is over 30 years at this point.

Louisa: I have been LARPing for around 6 years now, though I had my first go at LARPing 2 years before that. I was introduced to the hobby by a friend who was a LARPer already and knew I liked dressing up and reading fantasy novels.

Greg: I first got into LARPing as a Fresher at university of Bath. I saw a bunch of people in costume advertising the society, at first I was too nervous to approach them and walked past. Almost immediately afterwards I thought “what’s the worst that can happen” and turned around to introduce myself. I’d not been part of role playing as a hobby before that at all really but it looked like a laugh and I could certainly use the exercise. Since then I’ve been hooked! It’s far more immersive than tabletop games, has improved my confidence no end and I’ve met some amazing people! I graduated a few years ago and have been LARPing for seven years in total now and still love every minute of it!

Doug: My first LARP was on October 12th, 2003, so that means I’ve been LARPing for 11 years, 9 months, 17 days and this evening…

Guard Captain Gerrard Knight

Guard Captain Gerrard Knight

My first introduction was a few days before, at the societies introduction days during Freshers Week when I came to Bath Uni as a PhD student. Walking along the main concourse, I saw two people fighting each other. In broad daylight. With weapons. I remember my first words well:

“Excuse me…sorry for saying this, but what the hell are you doing?”

I was answered by a very enthusiastic guy dressed as a highland warrior (who is now a professional stuntman) who invited me to Google ‘Blades Bath’ and come along to the first game on the Sunday, and it all went from there. I showed up (I say showed up…I hid out of sight until I saw someone else dressed oddly) wearing a green t-shirt, black tracksuit bottoms, a pair of belts strapped across my chest like braces, and for some reason I still can’t quite work out, black shoe polish under my eyes as war paint. I was rocking the look.

I had an idea of what I wanted to play (one of my Everquest characters brought to life), the more experienced players helped me translate MMORPG stats into LARP stats, and away we went. We fought goblins, a couple of skeletons, and almost bricked it when we came up against an ogre…but we won!

Q: What does having a group such as BathLARP mean to you?

Judith: For me, it’s a community where I know everyone is as bizarre as I am. In a small system like ours we all know each other fairly well and look after newcomers to the group – we know who can help with various aspects of the game, from kit to combat to role play. There’s also that sense of shared history, both Out of Character and In Character – you’ll often hear war stories of The Day My Character Did Something Heroic/Stupid or That Patrol Where Something Really Weird Happened told in the pub after a game.

Louisa: I love being a member of BathLARP! When I was new to the area it helped me make friends and I’ve always found it to be a really welcoming group. I also love the fact it’s weekly, so I get to do lots of LARP!

Greg: Having a group where I know and trust the members is really important to me. I’d have never been able to get into the hobby without BathLARP and the members have been supporting me in upping my game since turning up at my first session with pretty much nothing to the point that I’ve made some of my own armour and own more kit than I could ever use. The sense of camaraderie within the club is really important to me and I count it’s members among my closest friends.

Doug: BathLARP (and its Bath University equivalent – BLADES) has been a constant in my life for over a decade. When I came to Bath, I was still coming to terms with advanced and alien concepts such as ‘friends’ (a strange thing that I experienced as an undergraduate in Bristol, after a school life entirely devoid of such things and filled instead with all the malice that children can visit upon one another), and ‘independence’ (I had spent all three years at Bristol in halls of residence, so it was still quite new to me). I knew I liked the fantasy genre, but the idea of actually being it – putting on the kit and running around a forest hitting each other – required some very welcoming people to avoid making me feel horribly out of place.

Sergeant Jorael Starke

Sergeant Jorael Starke

I have met some amazing people, had some crazy arguments, defended my opinions, learned to patch up some of the gaping holes in my understanding of social interaction, and been educated in a variety of social issues in which my understanding was sorely lacking. I also met the most utterly perfect, utterly beautiful, utterly magnificent individual ever to grace my existence, and just under three years ago, I was lucky enough to marry her. BathLARP made it possible.

I am really, really glad I pushed through the apprehension, bit the bullet and stepped out of hiding on that first morning back in 2003. Look at all I would have missed had I not!

Q: Across the UK, there are various different groups. Have you ever been to and partaken in the activities of another group?

Judith: So far I’ve played in Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust – two of the big national ‘fest’ systems – and Winter in the Willows, which was a short-lived Post-Apocalyptic Steampunk game based on Wind in the Willows. Yes, it was as strange as it sounds. These days due to time, money and energy considerations I haven’t really felt the need to stray from BathLARP, but it’s nice to have the option out there.

Louisa: Yes! I played the local World of Darkness vampire game (now sadly come to an end though a new one is planned) and I have been a member of the Unicorns in LT, a creepy borg-like rabbit in a post apocalyptic steampunk winter in the willows game (Winter in the Willows) and a noble lady airship owner in a tiny steampunk system (Clockwork Monkey).

Louisa ready for battle in harsh, snowy conditions

Louisa ready for battle in harsh, snowy conditions

Greg: Yep. BathLARP runs small, relatively short “linear” games. This means that there are at most about 30 people attending the game, they last less than a day (4-6 hours) and have a defined goal to them. The events that I’ve been to most outside of BathLARP are the national events run by the Lorien Trust. These events last for a weekend or a long weekend, have several thousand people in attendance and the plots are sprawling and multi-layered. It’s great to be able to enjoy these two really different forms of the hobby.

Doug: In addition to TL (Tony Live) in Bath, I have been known to do a little creative nomading when it comes to LARP. Nationally, I have spent several years in the LT (Lorien Trust), several more in CP (Curious Pastimes), and have shown up to Maelstrom in the past. Distributed across the UK, I have played systems called White City (which had the best magic system I have ever seen), Arborea Interactive, Crooked House (the best assembled LARP I have ever played), Shadow Wars, and Winter in the Willows (who doesn’t love a ferret road warrior?). Closer to home in Bath, I have played Vampire (rather badly), a horror system called Tales of a Scorched Earth, and I even had a hand in writing my own system, called Elysium.

Q: Are there any other ‘Geeky’ hobbies you take part in?

Judith: I’m also part of a Mistborn RPG tabletop group, and I read sci-fi and fantasy fairly voraciously. Next year will be my third DiscworldCon and I’m probably going to be made to cosplay again – or at least help my partner with his troll hall costume. I also code for fun (primarily the website for BathLARP), write (material for BathLARP), make costumes (for LARP)…

Louisa: I’m part of two semi-regular table top games and one really occasional one (we’ve managed 4 games in three years…). More recently I’ve joined a medieval martial arts class and I sew my own costumes.

Greg: I’ve been known to take part in tabletop role play games, enjoy a wide range of board games and, when I find something my elderly laptop can run, enjoy computer games as well. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy/ sci-fi literature as well, which probably explains the LARPing.

Doug: I have played Everquest (and later Everquest II) since late in 1999, making it probably my longest running geekdom (and also the reason for the first internet connection being obtained in my family home). Before that, I played Magic: The Gathering, but never had enough money to make a decent go of it (anyone who has played on a shoestring against those with money to spend will feel my pain).

Unlike most LARPers, I came into role play from the stage (where I had been since I was seven years old) rather than the table top. My first tabletop role play experience came after I had started LARP, but since then I have played Shadowrun, Call of Cthulu, SLA Industries, Exalted, Vampire, Promethean, Amber and Warhammer FRP (but curiously, never D&D). I also ran a weekly Shadowrun game for six years – at one point, we got into such detail that there was an in character debate between two characters about taking out the rubbish.

Doug gets into the role as Watcher

Doug gets into the role as Watcher

I also like collecting and watching bad fantasy films (plenty of those around), and mulling over such fundamental questions as “Will there ever be the perfect adaptation of Wind in the Willows?” and “Will we ever see an Iain M. Banks movie?” These are questions that can keep you warm at night.

Q: A person has approached you asking for advice on getting into the hobby. They don’t have any friends who LARP, but have some who said they’d give it a go with them. What should these new LARPers prepare themselves for?

Judith: Anything.

From personal experience LARPers tend to be keen, friendly, and enthusiastic, and if you’re willing to join in there’s a good chance that someone will take you under their wing and help navigate you through your first game(s). The key thing is finding the sort of system that follows a genre and style and level of commitment you might enjoy; there are systems out there that cover everything from high fantasy high combat mosh-fests to steampunk politics and horror, from big budget sci fi down to low-budget noir.

After that, what you prepare for could be anything from glorious battle to scheming deviousness to polite society to having the bejeezus scared out of you; there will be war stories and battle scars, there will be camaraderie and friendly rivalry.

Louisa: Make sure you have really good boots. You’ll thank me later, I promise! Also, be prepared for Weather and layer your clothing accordingly. During the course of a typical English day LARPing you will be hot, cold and rained on at least once. Beyond that, read the rules of the system you’re going to, but don’t worry too much if they don’t make sense. Most LARPers are willing to stop and explain to newbies and a lot of systems will have a new person briefing before the game starts to go over things with you. It can be a little confusing at first, but you’ll get the hang of it really quickly!

Greg: To have a great time!

In all seriousness I’d let them know when and where we meet, to bring some food and water with them and find out what sort of character appeals to them. I’d then be asking around the club/rummaging through my kit to find costume that will let them be the hero that they want to be. The only thing that you need to have a good time at LARP (especially BathLARP) is an open mind, sensible shoes and something to keep you full of energy all day.

Doug: Something very different. LARP is unlike any other form of role play you have experienced so far, and you may feel apprehensive about the concept, or the way you might look. Please, please, push through that, step out of the hiding place, and give it a try. The chances are you will not regret it, and that you will have a blast. If it turns out it’s not for you, you’ve had a good walk and a day out in the forest.

Be ready to spend the day outside, running around in a variety of different weather conditions. Most LARP sites are in wooded areas, so can be hilly, rocky, damp, muddy and slippery. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty (hard-wearing trousers, but not jeans, are ideal), and stout footwear (walking boots or walking shoes) are your very best friend. Bring lunch, and definitely bring water. If it’s spring, autumn or winter, bring multiple thin layers of clothing – these are better than big, thick layers. In summer, bring multiple removable layers. Just because it’s summer in the UK doesn’t mean it can’t rain at the drop of a hat.

Seekers like Juilin Fortrayre know how to have fun

Seekers like Juilin Fortrayre know how to have fun

Don’t worry about getting hit. In LARP, weapon strikes are pulled, meaning that the only impact is a light tap. If it hurts, the person hitting you has hit you too hard. Full stop.

If you’re coming along to play, it’s a good idea to think about the kind of system you are playing in, and the kind of character you might like to play within that system. The more experienced players you meet can help you make your idea into a reality (which is exactly what happened with me) when you arrive. Alternatively, come along and play a ‘Monster’ for a while to learn about the system. Monsters are the NPCs the characters meet throughout the game – you might be an enemy combatant, a diplomatic envoy, a dead body, a shambling corpse, anything the GM running the game has in mind for the players to interact with. It’s an excellent way to learn about a system without having to create a character to play in it.

Be prepared to be sore the next day. Not because you were hit too hard, but instead because unless you play regular competitive sport, you will be using muscles you didn’t even know you had, and they will be decidedly unimpressed with you after using them for the first time in a long while. This will get better.


Summary

If you’re around Bath or the surrounding areas, cities such as Bristol, then you really should speak to the BathLARP committee. They’re a bunch of really kind people, who are truly dedicated to making fun events for the LARP community. I am enthralled with the response I had for interviews with these wonderful people, who are a very welcoming group.

I’d like to extend my thanks to all four of the LARPers who took the time to answer our questions today. LARP is such a personal experience to people, so it’s truly inspiring to hear from them. Whilst you’re at it, you should check out Louisa’s blog where she talks about all of her geekdoms!

Have you ever done any LARPing before? Have you ever had interest but didn’t know how to get started? Let us know what you think about LARP in the comments below, over on Facebook or on our Twitter page.


DMing 101 – Pure Roleplay

The simple fact of the matter is that anyone can play a game. It doesn’t take much skill picking up a set of rules and start playing by the numbers, even in a game as big as Pathfinder, D&D, Rogue Trader, games that deal with minutia on a fine level, you can learn very quickly how to play and incorporate every little rule into a well structured narrative.

The actual talent is in the acting, occupying, and even becoming the roles you play, and creating living entities from the page of numbers. As a DM it’s a great thing to practice yourself and encourage amongst your players, as it’s this skill that leads to the most memorable moments, and also has some fantastic benefits for real-world application. (more…)


DMing 101 – Dirty Tricks

DMing101

Oh there’s a wealth of powers at your disposal as a DM, deception, impossible odds, the very style of your play is a weapon in the right hands. You have to be careful with how cruel you are to your group, don’t forget that most of them are designed to fight, not chase shadows, or run screaming. Let them engage in the action sometimes, give them a few fair fights to make let them feel useful, but there are plenty of other tricks you can use to keep players guessing and second guessing, whilst still giving them chances to be the hero. (more…)


Cosplayer Highlight – Raiji Magiwind

Cosplayer Highlight

Welcome to another exciting Cosplayer Highlight where we will be talking to another awesome member of Anime League.

One small announcement about this series, we will be ending the series at ALCon 2014, which is happening between September 04-07. I know, you’re all devastated by this news but don’t worry, Joel and myself will make sure this series ends with a bang..! Okay, not a literal bang but you get the picture.

Today we’re speaking with Raiji Magiwind, who has been on Anime League for… Well, let’s just say a very long time. Let’s see what Raiji has to share with us, the people interested in this fandom and let’s see what amazing stories Raiji has to share!

 


 

Interview with the Cosplayer – Raiji Magiwind


Q: Welcome to GeekOut South-West! As is customary in this series, please could you introduce yourself?

A: Hello everyone. I am Jennifer, though many in the community know me as Raiji. I hail from the other side of the pond, for those from the British Isles. I live here in the States, in what is usually humbly referred to as the “Mitten”, or by its proper name, Michigan. I live on the southeast side of the state in the suburbs near Detroit. If you know of or have heard of a soda known as Faygo, it comes from here.

Well, it was new to me…

I am currently 32, and have pretty much been a geek and nerd since I was a kid. I grew up during the era of VHS, and the old sub and dub wars. Back when if you wanted something in both dub and sub, you had to buy the series twice. And it was bloody awful expensive. Fansubs then where the ‘underground’ passing of the VHS’ and very limited torrents. Now we got torrents, simulcasts, DVD’s with both English and Japanese with subs… Crazy man!

I am a Pagan, and practice an eclectic path, that mixes, Celtic Fairy, Norse, Egyptian, and Native American beliefs.

I live with my family (mom, step-dad, younger sister) and there are at least three ‘fur babies’ in residence, two cats (Emmy and Shadow –my baby-) and a Havanese named Bailey.

Over the years, I have fallen in love with a lot of stuff… I have read a crap ton of manga and doujinshi… and watched a lot of anime (like over 500+), as well as Japanese and Korean dramas (somewhere in the 100’s). I have too many real favourites to sit and list off, but two that are very close to my heart are Fullmetal Alchemist and D. Grayman
Q: I notice you’ve been part of Anime League since 2003 and you still frequent the website. What does having a community to fall back on mean to you?

A: I have actually been around AL for longer than that. I am one of the handful of ‘original members’ who actually came over from the old Anime Legacy forums, from which the famous Legacy thread namesake honors. So I have been there since like end of February 2002. Back in the latter half of 2003, early 2004, AL suffered one it last major crashes, and the earliest the forum could be reset to was April of 2003 (or in that area). Back when I started, I was Mystic Saturn, but after about a year or so, I switched to the current name (Raiji Magiwind), and it’s pretty much become my online handle everywhere since and I have pretty much also adopted it as my alias and my official ‘pen name’.

Having this forum to come back to after all these years is a wonderful thing. Back when AL got off the ground, the average life expectancy of such a forum was 2 years at most. I watched this site grow from humble beginnings to celebrating over a decade of existence. There has been fire and hell, but it has survived and grown stronger as a community, weathering the multitude of hell it has seen. I have literally watched most of the people of AL grow up, watching them as they went through their teens and eventually on to collage/university. I have even watched as some got married and a few now have kids, posting their pictures online.

Watch out for them angels, Peri!

Watch out for them angels, Peri!


Q: Since you’ve been part of Anime League for that long, I have to ask how long you have been cosplaying for and what got you into the hobby?

A: I have been roughly doing it off and on since about 1997 (still in high school then) or a little earlier, though back when I started it was more for parties and Halloween. It wasn’t ’til about 2004 that I became more of an active cosplayer, and doing it for conventions and such as well.I got into the hobby as a way to express myself and to find an outlet to escape, as well as meet people. I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional and unpleasant home life, so for me, it was the one thing I could do, among other artistic endeavors, where I could find a sort of release and a way to be myself. IT also allowed me to connect with so many other people and since then, I have become very close friends with many of them.

Ironically my best male buddy was the one who got me into the full mode I am today with Dragonball Z. Prior to that, I recall getting up and watching stuff like Sailor Moon, Escaflowne, Megaman (aka Rockman), and such at like 5-6am as I got ready for school. Then I would sit and watch the anime stuff on the Kids WB station block on Saturday mornings, which is where I watch things like Yugi-oh!, Mon Colle Knights, Medibots and a handful of other odd shows. I would even watch stuff on Nickolodeon (a kid/teen TV station in the US), and Cartoon Network, including the original Toonami block, which was like a 4-6 hour block of anime stuff. I later occasionally watched the stations Adult Swim block which showed more mature themed anime around 11pm-1am each night. Now a lot of my stuff is watched online via Crunchyroll, Funimation and various other venues, though I do still pick up DVD’s and such here and there…
Q: Have you had any particularly bad moments during your time as a cosplayer that you would like to share? Conversely; what are some of the greatest highlights you have as a cosplayer?

A: I have had some crazy ones perhaps, though nothing yet that has been a bad experience. I have had a disastrous one, which took place at Anime Central (held outside of Chicago, Illinois) several years ago, and it was what committed my first Organization XIII cloak to its ‘grave’. Basically I was talking with one of the convention guests near a set of glass stairs (which we amusingly as con goers called the ‘Pedo Stairs’ or the ‘Panty Raiders’ stairs). Suffice to say, I suddenly hear a fangirl/boy scream “ZEXION!!! OH MY GOD!!!” from across the space and next thing I know, I am literally being thrown into the guest, and we both manage to fall and roll to the side, instead of down the stairs. Suffice to say, Security was on us pretty quick. One was assessing us, while another is chewing out the person who tackled me. Suffice to say, the damage involved tearing up most of the back and the in seam of the zipper, which once I got to the hands of my buddy post con who does leather work, told me it was mostly a total loss or at least a good $200-300 worth of professional leather repair work. I was NOT amused, since I had poured my soul into that cloak.

One of the more ‘Oh God’ moments leaves me with this valuable advice to anyone wearing waraji (straw sandles) for a cosplay. Rubber strips glued to the bottoms can make for not so embarrassing ass planting on tile and linoleum. Let’s just say, back at my home con, Youmacon, (back when it was still in Dearborn, Michigan, USA), I basically more or less got held like a swooning princess, while dressed as Ichigo Kurosaki, by the English voice actor for Ichigo, Johnny Yong Bosch. This was after I pretty much slipped coming off the elevator with him an several other cosplayers, and pretty much gut checked him with Tensa Zangatsu. He caught me before I could crack my head open on the ground, but still I ended up turning beet red, because one I was caught by Johnny, but also because I was mortified in a way, since I almost killed a guest, let alone the Black Power Ranger.

One of my favorite times was meeting Todd Haberkorn (English voice actor for Allen Walker in D. Grayman, Natsu in Fairy Tail, Hikaru in Ouran), while I was dressed as Allen Walker. I also happened to have one of my Ball-Jointed Doll’s, (one of my 45cm ones,) who is done up to look like Allen Walker, and still in progress as far as his outfit and stuff. I happened to run into him waiting for the elevator, as we happened to be on the same floor of the hotel (which I later learned he was four rooms down from me), and he saw me and was like, “Hello Allen…” I looked up and smiled. He then saw the small Ball-Jointed Doll of Allen and was fascinated by it. I got a picture of him holding it at a point during the weekend.

And here is said picture! How awesome to meet the person who voiced a character you like, while dressed as said character... and they take an active interest in your hobbies!

And here is said picture! How awesome to meet the person who voiced a character you like, while dressed as said character… and they take an active interest in your hobbies!

Q: A long question we ask all of our cosplayers: What costumes have you done and what are in the works? What’s your favourite and least favourite costumes and why?

A: -Takes a DEEP breath- Well here we go…..
(N.B: Timlah almost went into a state of shock when he read this list, as there were a lot of links to go through)

—Finished (Active and Retired)—

Fullmetal Alchemist
Edward Elric
General Roy Mustang (Miniskirt Version)

D. Grayman
Allen Walker (Exiled Exorcist/14th Allen Version; Post Edo Arc)
Nea Walker/14th Noah

Nea Walker from D. Gray Man - It looks awesome!

Nea Walker from D. Gray Man – It looks awesome!

Homestuck
Karkat Vantas (Regular/PJ!Stuck/Poistuck/Promstuck/Renstuck Bard Karkat/4Chords Versions)
Dave Strider (Record Shirt Version)

Shin Megami Tensei/Persona
Philemon

Ouran High School Host Club
Umehito Nekozawa (Cloak Version/Princely Version)
Kyoya Ootori

Bleach
Ichigo Kurosaki (Bankai Version)
Neliel Tu Oderschvank (Nell Tu) (Child Version)

Final Fantasy Series
Vincent Valentine (Turk Version) – Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus
Squall Lionheart (SeeD Dress Uniform) – Final Fantasy VIII
Cissnei – Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

Kingdom Hearts Series
Zexion – Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories/KH
Larxene – Kingdom Hearts: CoM/II

Death Note
Light (Raito) Yagami (School Uniform)
Teru Mikami

Doctor Who
Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown – Companion, 5th/6th Doctor (Outfit from The Trial of a Time Lord)


—WIP/In Construction—
–The ones that will probably be seen sometime in the next year or coming con season…

TV/Games/Movies/Anime/Etc.
Adam (Millennium Earl Human Form)- D Gray Man
Kankri Vantas – Homestuck (IN PROGRESS, NEAR DEBUT READY)
Sollux Captor – Homestuck (IN PROGRESS, ABOUT 75% DEBUT READY)

OC Concepts
Ignatius Aram – Harry Potter RP- AU Timeline (Set about 100 years after Deathly Hallows events, He is my OC Professor who teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts. Former Auror, a bit warped like Mad Eye.)

 

—Planned (Eventual); Within Next Few Years…—
–The ones likely to be seen in the near future…
TARDIS (Formal Inspired Gijinka Design) -Doctor Who
Mikage – 07 Ghost
General Cross Marian (Younger Cross)- D-Grey Man
Takashi Morinozuka – Ouran High School Host Club
Zol Balfaltin “The Grim Reaper” – Immortal Rain (Manga)
Helmsman! Sollux Captor – Homestuck (Based off an odd fanfic/ficlet idea where Sol gets caught.)
“Flushed” Subjuggulator! Sollux Captor – Homestuck (This one is based off an ironic crack ship of crack ships. Sollux pairing that started as a random MSPARP RP that has gone on to be an ongoing over 50 page RP/planned fanfic)
Gamzee Makara – Homestuck
Psiionic/Helmsman – Homestuck
Mituna Captor – Homestuck
God Tier Versions of Homestuck Planned
Dreamers Versions of Homestuck Planned
Karkat Vantas (Rebelstuck AU Concept)


OC BASED IDEAS
-Original Characters created for various series, stories, RP’s, etc…
Magnus Ancina -Homestuck (Fan Troll. He’s sorta like a mix of Karkat, Sollux, a walking encyclopedia and could possibly drive away Kankri in a debate..XD)
Raikaa and Solari -Homestuck (Fan Based Hybrid’s/AU Timeline Shenanigan’s; There basically twin hybrids based from an ongoing, on hiatus RP and fanfic…Kids of a human OC female, Sollux and Karkat… trust me the bizarreness would take a whole other probably couple hours to explain…)
Thalia Rinaldi – Harry Potter AU Timeline (Set about 100 years after Deathly Hallows events; She is my 6th year Gryffindor who is a bookworm and Seeker for the House Quidditch team)


—Planned (Maybe/Dream Stage)—
–Ones that MIGHT eventually get built….one day…
Kuchiki Rukia (Dark Version) – Bleach

—The Dreamers (The Indefinite Shelf)—
–aka the Indefinite Shelved Ideas…
Hitsugaya Toshiro – Bleach
Naoto Shirogane – Persona 4
Yosuke Hanamura – Persona 4
Main Protanganist/Souji Seta/Yu Narukami – Persona 4
Jack Atlas – Yugi-oh: 5D’s
Yubel – Yugi-oh!: GX
Genesis – Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
Carbuncle – Final Fantasy VII series
Siren – Final Fantasy VII series
Shiva – Final Fantasy VII series
Chaos – Final Fantasy VII series
Navi – Legend of Zelda:OOT
Grimmjow Jeagerjaques – Bleach
Larxene “The Dutchess” – Kingdom Hearts
Vergil – Devil May Cry 3
Gaara – Naruto
Mello – DeathNote
Yoite – Nabari No Ou
Teito Klien (Bishop Version/Mourning Version) – 07Ghost
Frau (07 Ghost Version) – 07 Ghost
Shin Kanzato – Persona Trinity Soul
Sena Kobayakawa – Eyeshield 21
Raikou Higabana – Nabari No Ou

I couldn’t find a link for Raikou… So have an amusing picture instead!

(I couldn’t find a link for Raikou, so instead have this funny picture!)
Lag Seeing – Tagami Bachi
Guache Suede (Bee Uniform/Noir)- Tagami Bachi
Allen Walker (Crowned Clown) – D. Grayman

Now as to answer the second half of the question…. Well right now my top favorites are Edward Elric, Roy Mustang, Karkat Vantas and Allen Walker. Probably because I can relate to those four in some way in real life. They are the closest probably to me in personality and as such, make it easy for me to become into character with them so much easier. I don’t think I can say I have a least favorite, but one that has been a bit of a thorn in the side on occasion is Zexion….

During creation, it made my sewing machine commit suicide. I was nearly impaled by the machine’s leather needle twice, before the needle broke. It then meant HAND SEWING leather/vinyl like material. Sewing leather or vinyl by hand is EVIL!! A friend and coworker watching me do it at work finally was like ‘PLEASE for the love of God, come by my house and let me help you… watching you is making my hands hurt…’ She too is a big crafter and sewer so she knew how much of a pain it was.

The other major incident with it, involved my cat BARFING on the nice wig I had for Zexion, less than 24 hours prior to me leaving for Anime Weekend Atlanta 2007 (AWA, a con held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA around mid September). So the day of departure I had to literally run around town and find a close match, hack it apart, then dye it before I left in 12 and half hours. Suffice to say it went to Atlanta with me on the Greyhound bus in a plastic grocery bag still half damp attached to my wig head, where it was finished in the hotel room the night before con started… all this before its actual debut!


Q: What does the convention scene mean to you? Do you go to many conventions still and what is the convention scene in America like?

A: For me going to cons is an adventure. It’s a chance to meet new people, hang out with friends I have who live in other states or other ends of the state. I have even met folks from other countries. At my home con, Youmacon, I have actually met some people from the UK, Australia and Brazil. One of the folks I met from the UK, actually chose my home con as his first experience with a US con after his friend here in the US, who lives in Michigan, told him about it.

I currently attend about 5-6 cons a year. They currently are Shuto-con (Lansing, Michigan; End of March/Early April); the new one that started this year, Midwest Media Expo (Detroit, Michigan; Middle of April); Colossalcon (Sandusky, Ohio; Early June); Otakon (Baltimore, Maryland; End of July/Early August); Anime Weekend Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia; End of September); and Youmacon (Detroit, Michigan; Halloween weekend/First weekend of November).

Cons here in the States are almost like massive parties, in some, other smaller affairs. It depends on the con, and its size. We have guests of honor, which include voice actors and seriyuu’s, comic artists and other industry guests. We have lots of various programming such as fan run panels, industry panels, and photoshoots. Some folks will do small meetups and go out to eat together in costume. For those who are over 21, some might go and catch a drink at the bar. There’s usually also karaoke, costume contests and dances. Some have both a formal ball and a rave (or Electronica Dance).

At Colossalcon, it actually takes place at Kalihari Waterpark and Resort which is both a hotel/resort and a massive indoor and outdoor waterpark and adventure park. So attendees there, also have the added bonus of both a convention, plus spending the weekend hitting the waterpark.

Otakon usually has a massive street fair and matsuri on Thursday evening with street vendors, selling off food trucks, the local Taiko Drum group does a performance and other fun stuff. The city sometimes also does stuff too, like they sometimes will coincide there ‘Restaurant Week’ with Otakon, which means certain places will do a special menu and for $20-30 you can get like a 3-5 course meal. In Baltimore, sometime some of the local attractions, like the Baltimore Ripley’s Museum and such will do a special where you could show your con badge and get a certain percent off admission.

My one local, Shuto-con, does Interactive Cosplay. Throughout the weekend folks wearing special ribbons are watched by staff and certain folks who ‘interact’ with the attendees and their interactions with fellow attendees. These folks who participate basically act in character all weekend, taking off the ribbon when they wish to take a break or be OOC for a while. At the end of the weekend, at the Closing Ceremonies, they crown the King and Queen of Interactive Cosplay, who usually get a VIP badge and room for the next year’s Shuto-con.

I say, Roy Mustang has never looked so good!

I say, Roy Mustang has never looked so good!


Q: What is your usual source of inspiration for your costumes? Is it usually a series you really like or a specific character you get invested in?

A: It varies. Usually, I will cosplay a character or thing that interests me or I fall in love with from the series or game. Sometimes I will get inspired by a song or something on Tumblr, especially an alternate design or concept.

For example, one of the people I follow on Tumblr, who is a fellow Homestuck, did up some interesting designs that are sort of rebelstuck AU (rebellion themed AU) and I sort of fell in love with the design for Karkat.

 

Q: What are your major passions? What do you really like to “geek out” about and why?

A: My passions include anime, manga, drawing, the Occult, reading, writing, GFX stuffs, and video games. I’m also an avid role player and cosplayer. I am also a Homestuck (and no, I’m NOT one of the ‘crazy ones’). I also do photography as well. I am also a collector of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls (BJD’s), and currently own 6 of them. Two are 60cm (called SD size), three are 45cm (called MSD size), and one that is a 27cm (called YOSD size).

I think though the three big things I geek out on right now are Homestuck, my BJD’s and roleplaying. Cosplaying too… I love spending time with others and having fun. Many times we do crazy things, and sometimes we just gather in a huge circle and play games like Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples or Werewolf. We also have a lot of local meetups, and try to be active in doing stuff in the community, like food drives or collecting books for an underprivileged community.

 

Q: When the costume is off and you’re just being you, what are you like as a person? Is it quite different to the “cosplay” version of you?

A: It tends to vary. At home, I tend to more reserved and closed off, mostly due to the home life I have. My mother and sister seem to understand or at least accept me for who I am. Step-dad, is a bit more close minded and well not all too pleasant.

Outside of home, among friends, co-workers and strangers, I am more open, more spontaneous and carefree. Most find me loyal, artistic, wise and caring. With the exception of mainly family, and co-workers and a select few who do so that call me by my given name, most tend to call me Raiji, though many of the local Homestucks sometimes call me Karkat. For a small number of folks, they call me ‘Con Momma’, since I tend to be the ‘mother hen’ at many of the gatherings and the one to make sure people don’t act the fool, get arrested or in trouble and all around don’t make a fool of themselves that they probably don’t want finding its way to the internet.

 

Q: Finally, you are this weeks “Super Sensei Guru!” and a cosplayer has approached you wanting to get more involved with communities outside of just cosplay, in hopes to influence their costumes. How do you help them find the right community for them?

A: I would tell them, get involved. Get involved in as many things as you can do so and manage or afford. For example, if you cosplay superheroes, maybe get involved in volunteering at your local hospital or children’s hospitals. Offer to be a ‘superhero for a day’ and make a terminal kids day by having their favourite superhero visit them. You build a reputation with the facility and its staff, who could open doors for you, and you put some good karma in the world by lighting up a child’s face.

Learn new things. For example, if a character you cosplay plays music, learn an instrument or to sing. One, you learn something new and fun, plus you build a skill you can make a part of your cosplay. Learn the use of hand and power tools and various trades such as woodworking. It will instil in you new skills for crafting things, as well as skills that can be beneficial in real life. Take advantage of learning everyday life skills, because seriously you never know when it will come in handy, both in real life and in cosplay.

All skills you learn can be applied in your every day life, why not take up something new today?

Heck, I started talking a lot with a local guy who owns a sign shop and stuff and through him learned a lot about different materials used for signs including thermoplastics they use, which taught me about it and I learned of more than just Wonderflex. I learned of Worbla, Sintra, and several others.

Get connected. Start with small businesses, charities, and other things, such as a local art fair or theatre group. You meet new people, and learn to see through the eyes of others. Explore other cultures beyond your own, not just day to day life, but their religious beliefs. When you learn about different cultures, it opens you to new concepts and in turn you learn to respect other cultures religious or cultural beliefs.

Get into role play and LARP’ing. Have fun trying out AU’s/alternate universe parodies of a fandom. Sometimes they can bring out all sorts of insane ideas. That’s one of the things I love of the Homestuck fandom, the open mind to AU’s and alternate concepts. I mean I have seen everything from the traditional canon stuff to Militarystuck, Hetaliastuck, Humanstuck/4Chords, Medevialstuck, Horrorstuck, Demonstuck, etc…

Learn about the weird side of your fandom…cause sometimes, that’s where the really crazy and creative shit comes from. Of course, in the end, just be observant. Listen, learn and teach yourself things…sometimes the wildest inspirations come from things around you and many times they can come from the most random shit. Heck I have ideas spring from random conversations online. My one buddy, who I role-play a Karkat and Dave Strider thing had Dave randomly shove Karkat into a very ugly quadrant themed sweater and an elf hat for a Christmas/12th Perigee (Troll equivalent of Christmas) party they were going to in our RP… a few days later, I get on the Tinychat she was doing, and get on camera in…you guessed it… Karkat wearing an ugly quadrant themed sweater and an elf hat. She fell over laughing at the sight! The others in our chat group of course where like “WTF?!?” So we of course had to explain the whole thing, and once we did, they found it hilarious as hell.

Meanwhile don’t let ANYONE put you down as a cosplayer, or as a person in general. You are you and you are unique. Probably one of my favourite quotes, which is usually attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt is, “One cannot make you feel inferior without your consent.” Basically be you and don’t let others, or society decide what makes you happy. You are your own judge of what give you emotional, physical and spiritual happiness, not others. Remind others that their opinions on your way of life, and your choices are just that, an opinion. Of course, if you are doing something that could be dangerous or is concerning others of your safety and well-being, then at least acknowledge their concerns and reflect on the matter, though in the end, it is your choice to take advice given to you.


Whew! That was a long interview. I’d like to extend my thanks to Jennifer for all of her time with us today. She’s been entertaining and enlightening about the scene and the American convention scene! She’s also been very enthusiastic about her interview, from start to finish!

I’ve noticed the similarities between the American and British convention scenes, however there are some differences, too. They might be minor, but I’d like to see some more of the American conventions influence some of ours a bit more. So far, as much as I love them, I have noticed that as Brits – some of us do sometimes use it as an excuse to get some more drinks down us! But one thing remains the same: People are enthusiastic and are committed to their craft. They want to be enthusiastic.

For most people, cosplay seems to be a journey or an adventure. Everyone seems to get something out of getting involved with the community and it’s nice to see that there are so many open-minded people, willing to share their creativity with the rest of the world.

Join us again next week for another Cosplayer Highlight, where we will meet another exciting member of the Anime League forums.