I present to you the weird world of cosplaying a character from a purely audio medium.
When I presented my music experiment to you (I compiled the responses already and am working on that post!) I talked about a podcast I was listening to recently call The Adventure Zone. It is a D&D podcast that I'd argue is less gameplay and more storytelling, and it's masterful storytelling at that. These guys do a great job of creating a story you want to see through to the end and characters you care about seeing make it there, and lemme tell you I got invested at a particular point. Even if you're not into D&D (I wasn't when I started it) I highly recommend it. It takes them a while to get the ball rolling, but once they settle into a rhythm it is an entertainment delight for your ears.
Perhaps the coolest part of this story is that there is a very intentional open-endedness to their descriptions of these characters. All we have for visuals is whatever images their words paint for us. We know a lot about who these characters are, but there's very little ever said about their appearances beyond their race (human, dwarf, elf, orc, etc). They leave it up to the listener, and it means we can all make them whatever we want. You can imagine them with any skin color, hair color/style, clothing, features, etc you want, and it makes them accessible in a way most fictions aren't able to. The variety in art people have created because of this is amazing.
So what do you do when you want to cosplay something that doesn't look a particular way?
My favorite part of cosplay is nailing all the little details, and in a case like this those details are arguably no longer little as they're the only real identifying marks. I can decide what I think Taako looks like, but if I don't hit the few things we know about him really well no one else is going to have any hope of knowing who I am. When I decided I wanted to cosplay someone from this show, I had to really think about the few things I knew about them and how to absolutely nail those qualities while still allowing myself the freedom to decide what I pictured when Griffin wove a lovely word tapestry.
If you haven't finished the series this would be a good time to stop reading.
LoLink and I decided, less than three weeks out from PAX South, that we should do a do cosplays of Barry and Lup. We were in love with those characters, and it worked out pretty fabulously that they're a couple too. We know most of Barry's clothing (thank you, episode 57!), but we knew nothing about Lup beyond the fact that she's an elf who looks like Taako (who we also don't know much about). How do I cosplay someone when I don't even have a hair color to work with?
I spent waaaaay too much time looking through images of renaissance fairs, TAZ fan art, generic D&D art, anything I could think of to see how other people see her. This was simultaneously helpful and not because there was such a variety of every possible feature that it didn't narrow down my options, but also proved there wasn't a wrong way to do it. I built a look off of what came to mind when I thought of the phrase "sassy pyromaniac elf" and chose to focus most of my energy on the three things I knew: she's an elf (so you gotta go for the ears), she is a part of the IPRE crew (red robe with a crew patch on it), and she is the creator of the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet. She also created the Umbra Staff, but that's a common accessory for Taako cosplays, so I wanted to try to avoid that one to prevent confusion over which of the two characters I was going for.
Defining a character with only three qualities is difficult and feels odd, but it's the best I could do given the situation. I'm pretty happy with how it's come together (especially given the tight timeline), even though there are things that I'll probably switch out for "better" versions of later. I can't wait to show it off at PAX South in a few days and be able to share pictures of the completed outfit!