Monday, February 21, 2011

King's Crossroad LARP game

John here! This last weekend, we started a new LARP game in Kansas City, called King's Crossroad. It's set in a "Soloman Kane" themed setting with early industrial firearms (NERF guns), an underpowered magical presence, and a high mortality rate. This game was extremely new-player friendly, and we are trying to recruit as many new players to this game as possible.

Here are some of the PCs that made up the hunting party:

As the night went on, they started realizing that it was actually me who was hunting them:

Overall, after five separate assaults on the party, I managed to convince them to send the strongest half of their party off into the woods after me. I circled back to their camp and attacked the rest of the PCs. I did eventually die, but only after leading them on a 4 hour chase and killing 25% of their forces.

Other highlights of the event: A crazed, funny, grenade happy gnome; 5 solid meals cooked by Sally Sasparilla, the tavernkeep; ghouls setting up a trap for the hunting party trying to trap the werewolf; cheating at GO, cheating less at poker; unique coins cast from scratch and intricate spell-pages courtesy of Joe.

After LARPing for two years, I have to say that this was one of the best events I've been to. Shout out to Evan, Mariah, Joe, Dan, Diana and Katherine for staffing this awesome event, and all the PCs for coming to play and making it worth all the preparation!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Con Horror Stories #1

Ushicon 2005 was the first convention that I was allowed to go, spend the night, and basically have the entire con to do whatever I wanted with my friends and no parents. I was 18 and a senior in high school. I was PSYCHED.

It happened, through a series of unfortunate circumstances, that I was promoted suddenly to Battalion Commander of my JROTC unit. The date of the military ball was announced, and I was extremely upset to learn that it was the same weekend as Ushicon. But not only was it the same weekend, but it was at the same hotel.

I was generally a painfully honest young person, but I wasn't about to give up a weekend of convention awesomeness for a military ball. No way. My teacher, Major, wouldn't let any of the girls wear civilian dresses and I didn't have a date, so the matter was pretty much settled. I told Major that I had to go out of town that weekend, worked diligently on my costume, and just vowed to stay the hell away from the second floor on Saturday night. What could go wrong?

This brings us to my friend Matt. He was also one of the students in charge in JROTC. And he knew about Ushicon quite intimately, since his twin brother, his twin brother's best friend (my brother John), and his twin brother's girlfriend were all also going to the convention with me that weekend.

This might help:

Matt kept pretty quiet until, somehow, he found out about the cosplay contest. He and a bunch of the JROTC minions downstairs to the cosplay contest where, somehow, they talked their way past security and into the audience. So there I am, a part of a massive Naruto cosplay, walking across the stage in my lovingly hand-made Rock Lee costume:

when I look out and see their smiling faces looking up at me. I was totally freaked out that my cover was blown, but I tried to keep it cool. After I crossed the stage I hopped down and went straight towards them, then went out and even got a picture with them:

That's me bottom left. The one dressed as Rock Lee.

They went back upstairs to relay to Major what they had seen, and I was pretty much mortified. So I ran upstairs to our hotel room as fast as I could, tore off my wig and costume, and put on a dress I had brought for the con's dance later.

I ran downstairs and talked my way into the ballroom, where I managed to make it to the last half hour of the military ball. Major was torn between being really pissed that I wasn't in uniform and had missed the entire thing and really amused.

"I thought you were out of town." He said gruffly.


I' m 4th from the left. All the pics from that night turned out really dark. I lightened it as much as I could...

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Art of Convincing People to Cosplay

We understand that not everyone is lucky enough to have such laid back, awesome family members and friends as John and I do. I mean, not everyone's (handsome, popular) little brother will just say "okay" and come along when handed a costume. Some people might have an aversion to dressing up like a cartoon character, a barbarian, or a Pokemon for some reason.

To convince people to cosplay with you, it really helps to know the reason why a particular person doesn't want to make a near-fool out of himself for the sake of your costuming dreams. Certain reasons are harder to overcome than others, and many times the reasons are stacked on top of one another. It takes cunning and skill to figure out the why and how to convince an unwilling friend to Cosplay with you, but hopefully the following tips can help you achieve your costuming dreams.

Level One: Lazy
The first big block is, fortunately, the easiest to overcome. If you ask someone to cosplay and they hesitate or give some lame excuse, you should offer to help them make--or in extreme cases to entirely make--the costume that you want that person to wear. Most people are more willing to cosplay when they know that there is little to no work involved. This is the level that my youngest brother Nick is at. And my husband Gunnar. *

"Hey Nick wanna go to Renfair?"

"I guess."

"Wanna dress up?"


"We'll make it for you."


Level Two: Broke

This is harder to overcome because it's an actual, good reason not to go to a con. If you really want the person to go with you, you might have to be a good friend and offer to pay for some aspect of the event. You can offer to pay for transportation by using your car or offering substantial gas money, you can offer to buy their ticket to the con (this is a good one if your ticket is already comped because you are volunteering), or you can offer to buy them dinner one of the nights of the con. If you, too, are on a tight budget, you can offer to do something for them in exchange, like lend them your collection of InuYasha DVDs or let them play Soul Silver on your DS after you beat it. This may seem like a "cheap" shot at convincing someone to cosplay with you, but it can end up being mutually beneficial. I often find myself at this level, as an underemployed but well-fed writer.

Tricia: "Gee, Sailor Mars sounds cool but I don't have money for AKON this year."

Me and Tiffany: "We'll help you with the costume, and then I'll pay your share of the hotel room, and let you off on giving gas money. Then if you volunteer, your ticket is free."

Tricia: "Okay. Cool. Thanks!"

Level Three: Not Interested

These friends are harder to convince than the lazy or broke friends--they usually have some kind of mental block about dressing up in ridiculous outfits and parading around a packed hotel for three days. For these people, you have to be creative and find things that they like to entice them to go to the con. Things like "There are lots of girls walking around in bikinis," or "They have a Magic the Gathering tournament," or even "They have Pocky, LOTS of Pocky."

Alli's husband Matt is at this level most of the time, though he as gotten better in recent years, after learning that our costume obsession isn't just going to go away...

"Want to go to Akon?"


"Want to dress up as Girafarig**?"


"I'll make your costume for you. And buy your ticket."


"There's a video game room where we can play Left4Dead all night."


"We'll bring rum and make it a party."


"I'm your wife and I really want you to go."


Level Four: Stubborn Turd

If, after all these tactics have been tried, someone still refuses to cosplay with you, what is needed is peer pressure. Perhaps the person you are trying to convince just doesn't feel intimidated enough by you to surrender to your will unconditionally, or perhaps they have issues that go deeper than a free badge or crash space can cure. In this case, you will need to enlist the help of that friend. You know the one. The bossy, smooth-talking friend who can get almost anyone to do anything. In my group of friends, it is Tiffany. She's so likable and fun that people just don't say no to her. Instead, they think, "Wow, if she wants to go to that con, it must be the coolest thing on the planet this summer!" and heartily agree.

Every group has a version of that person, so if possible, have them be the one to try and convince the stubborn turd to give in and cosplay with you.

Sometimes, peer pressure can take the form of numbers. We have to use this one on our friend Josh all the time. "Come on, Me and G and J and T and M and T and A are aaaaall going and it won't be the same without you. You have to come!" And he does! (And it is more fun when he comes!)

Good Luck!

Some people are harder to crack than others, and, unfortunately there are a few strange people in the world who just won't be convinced. Give them time, keep asking, and maybe someday they will change their mind!

It was always my costuming dream to be a part of a complete Sailor Scout Group!

*Actually, Nick and Gunnar aren't lazy but very very busy. Nick is studying chemical engineering at Texas A&M University right now, and Gunnar studied Biochemistry and works full time.
**Yes, you read that right. Girafarig. I know.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Early Costumes: Ranma 1/2

Nick (Spider Boy) and John and Angela in their first real home-made costumes
Halloween 2002

I was going to say wow, we sure have come a long way since we started making costumes...but actually these aren't too shabby considering that we were only 12! Though the Spider-Man costume (worn daily by Nick from age 6-9) was store bought.

The idea came from our favorite anime at the time, Ranma 1/2. (Actually it's hilarious, you should check out the manga or the show if you can.) I had gone to the very first Ushicon Anime Convention in Austin the year before and told John all about it, so we decided that the next time around we would go with our friends and dress up as our favorite characters.

The material for my Ukyo costume was a lucky garage-sale find of jersey knit in the perfect color and strips of cotton for the bindings. I spread my brand-new karate gi on the floor and traced the basic outline of it onto the blue knit, then cut it out and bound the edges with the white fabric. This was all pre-sewing machine, so everything was sewn by hand.

I found some black leggings in my drawers, bought a fluffy white bow for my hair, and then crafted the small bandolier and throwing-spatulas carefully out of packing tape, tin foil, and cardboard. For the giant spatula, essential to the costume, my dad let me have a length of pipe which we hammered flat at both ends. One end was wrapped in medical tape for a grip, and the other attached to a big piece of cardboard and covered with lots and lots of duct tape. Tada! I didn't know better than to wear my tennis shoes and my watch, but overall I was really pleased with the outcome. My first cosplay, a success!

John's Ryoga costume was a little trickier, but we didn't let that get us down. We actually had to have our mom take us to Hobby Lobby and buy the right color fabric for his shirt and headband. We didn't know it at the time, but the material was cheap quilter's cotton...not the best for costumes! John cut apart one of his long sleeved shirts (we had never heard of patterns) and traced the shape onto the fabric, then sewed it all together by hand as I had my shirt. The leftover material was folded into a headband and a black sharpie added the stripes. The umbrella was another challenge--it was a very specific prop, in the Chinese style and bright red with a black tip. We finally found the style, and John bought it and painted it red and black. The rest was just black sweatpants tied up with yarn and a sash of black fabric for a belt.

Despite our mishaps (hand-sewing, quilter's cotton, sneakers...), we had so much fun making those costumes and going to cons that it became a big hobby for us though high school and beyond.

Angela and John at Ushicon. Again with the sneakers and the watch...haha.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Angela is a Tough Mudder!

This weekend I (Angela) finished the Tough Mudder course! I was waaaaay out of shape (by my standards, anyway) so I did more trekking than running and skipped a few of the 19 obstacles spread over the 10 mile course... but I got muddy, challenged myself, and made lots of great memories! That's what counts, right? I volunteered on Saturday and then ran the course on Sunday. And I survived!!

I was pretty pleased with myself when I got home.

The shirt I was wearing and my number.

It looked worse after I cleaned the mud off and realized just how many scrapes and bruises I had. But they were so worth it.

These have to be thrown away now... I'm just glad they stayed on the whole course! You know how sometimes when you're falling asleep after swimming all day and you feel like you're floating? Well as I was falling asleep Sunday night, it felt like my feet were being suctioned down into the mud!

Overall it was a great event, both volunteering and participating! They travel around the country and the world, so check out the website if you're interested in trying it out.