Alma is less my character I play in D&D, and more the plot-device for a campaign I developed to run with several groups of friends. She is a half-sea elf who is a light-hearted individual and very open minded of people even though she grew up with a stigma/curse that caused people to push her away. One magical item she carries is a scale from a mythical water serpent that she befriended that allows her to transform into a mermaid, but she somewhat lives between the world of land and the world of sea. She knows that this is her last lifetime in the reincarnation cycle and is attempting to find her place in the world, knowing that there must be more that she can do than just dance on water.
Many themes of my world are reincarnation, coincidence and fate being tied together, and many layers of time and space all layered together. The party has been hired by the great Sage Nabuhito to go find his apprentice, Alma, who went on her own adventure northbound into dangerous territory to pay homage to her divine connection Suum, the creator of the seas. Each of the players has instances within their 0 session where they interact with her at some point in their lives, and the realization dawns on them as when they get the quest that it’s fate sending them to go save her from danger. (The irony is no group has caught up to her yet!)
It was very, very, very fun for me to bring her to life. Alma has had a lot of character development over my life and I would consider her a representation of myself that was fun to roleplay out in both D&D and cosplay. Nat DeMenthon did the design for myself as well as some of the other party members during the most recent campaign group. I gave them some insight ideas of how I imagined Alma with some references, and they went ham and came out with this gorgeous design that I cried over when it was delivered. It was extra fun as they had added extra design pieces that allowed me to try out some new things on my costume such as doing smocking for the scales, painting prosthetic ears for the first time, and working with this gorgeous silk dupioni and the most evil silk chiffon.
When you cosplay an original character, I’m going to say that there isn’t a lot of initial interest in it. People around you don’t know what you are, and the design was pretty but not glittery or shiny enough for people to constantly oooh over. Regardless of the people who saw me and loved the design were invested in knowing more about the character and for those select few I felt very flattered to have caught their eye. The most amazing part was being able to cosplay with my players and even send photos to previous group members going: Hey you found your plot device, you win D&D, which made for amazing laughs. My absolutely favorite memory in the costume is hanging out with two of the players outside my panel late night and just being nerds in front of our selfie cameras. I’m incredibly excited for this upcoming Katsu where I’m getting to do this all over again with my Curse of Strahd group and brand new characters!
I started cosplay I’d say officially back in 2007 when I was introduced to it through my ex-girlfriend doing Kingdom Hearts Organization XIII. My mother had always been a seamstress and together we made my first hand-made costume of the Summoner from Final Fantasy Tactics, my absolute favorite final fantasy of all time. Once I made my Navi Gijinka around 2009-2010, I was hooked. Making costumes became an exhilarating hobby, and then being in cosplay became this great means of interacting with other people in fandoms I love, making friends with similar tastes, and just being a nerd. Getting into the craftsmanship community was also a big step in my investment into the hobby as I wanted to constantly try new things and perfect my skills- as well as make costumes I can’t easily buy from China. I learned later in life I suffered anxiety and depression, and can say that being in cosplay at conventions or even going outside of them and taking photos gives me a means of escapism from being me, if only for a moment.
Now as an older cosplayer it’s fascinating because I have cosplay kids who I love and adore as basically my own children, and I do convention staffing which also allows me to help the convention have a more positive impact for cosplayers. I am currently the Masquerade Head for Otakon and I adore putting on this show where all these amazing cosplayers can go up and strut their stuff on stage and entertain all the attendees that want to see them. Every Otakon I have a minimum of two panic attacks, but I love organizing the event to allow these cosplayers to steal some limelight for themselves and it’s an amazing feeling I cannot even describe with words.