Northern Ohio. As usual for the mid summer Colossalcon, the heat of mid day beat down on a large crowd of final fantasy cosplayers in the final fantasy photoshoot. Various FF 10 characters struck their poses, as cameras snapped and people chattered. Laughing at fandom in jokes suggested by the crowd, then cheering as the cosplayers on display enacted their requests. After the group picture of the entire FF10 cast finished, the photoshoot organizer called out for them to make their return. She looked down at her list, but shrugged, not believing anyone from the crowd would approach, and she could just gloss over. Still, the event organizer called out. "Final fantasy 11?" If only as a formality, just in case.
I stirred from the center of the crowd, causing a moogle cosplayer to perk up in perplexion.
"What, really?" she exclaimed. As she had to be present in any game with a moogle, she shrugged and followed with me. The reaction of the crowd was one of mutual confusion. Some even annoyed. But as I stood, adorned in the studded gamberson of my ranger outfit in the hot summer day, I was sweating buckets under the clothes. Though as I am more heat tolerant than any man in Ohio should ever be, this didn't bother me. What bothered me was my sweaty palms. But I couldn't show nervousness, so I feigned confidence as i smirked back at the crowd. I gave a look at my contact. A man who had helped organize the event online. He gave a wide grin, trying to suppress a laugh, knowing exactly why I was there, and what I was actually doing. As the sexy moogle struck a cute pose, I reached to my pouch and pulled a journal. Gazing down at it, I waited for the audio cue. And while most held their cameras, a few did click away. Then, as the moogle finished her pose, I marked a check mark in my leather journal next to a line of text.
I calmly returned to the crowd, continuing to feign that I belonged exactly where I was. A man walked up to me. Not in cosplay, he appeared to be one of the people who was just there to take pictures, so i expected to get chewed out. Technically what I did could be perceived as an insult against the fandom. And I did feel a little guilty about doing it. Instead...
"You're the con-quester? Saw your post on the FB page. I didn't say anything, because I know why you are here, and I thought it was hilarious."
Indeed, I had posted on the forums, explaining who I was and what I do. And I listed any quests that had carried over from the previous con, as well as any one that people gave me under the post. To be honest, I never expected that post to get so much attention. I had only been questing for two cons, and most of my quests at Ohayocon were received on location after having to explain what I was doing. I expected it to be more of the same. The post might be liked by one or two people, then ignored for sexier cosplayers cosplayers in more recognizable character cosplays. But the feedback just before Colossalcon was a bit overwhelming. Even then, I didn't think anyone would recognize me on site. But i shoulda known better. "Was that the photoshoot quest?" He asked. I affirmed and opened my journal, then pointed to Carry Over Quest #2:
"2: Infiltrate a photoshoot and convince everyone you are a character from that series."
Ever since I got into the Elder Scrolls 3 Daggerfall, the idea of being a freelance adventurer fascinated me. Both the romanticisms of a life of adventure, excitement, and jumping from one story to the next. As well as the more practical aspects. How they pack, how they get around, what is food acquisition like for them? Games like skyrim don't really answer a lot of the nuanced details. You just walk through town, and an adventure hook will likely fall into your lap. Without much preparation or planning, you just mark it down on your map, and then run across a tundra grassland to the designated bandit camp, put some arrows into them, complete the objective, and you are well under your way. Nothing like going on a camping trip, like many of the ones I had prepared for and attended in my years as a boy scout.
When I hit college, I started playing DD. And I had one DM, my first in fact, who really knew how to throw you into a world that made you have to plan these things out. He was a 40something year old military vet who had been in a lot of situations that left to our imaginations, but with a strong love for both fantasy and medieval anthropology. He knew how to contextualize our the decisions of our characters, and really knew how to put us in their heads. Make us see as they saw. And let me tell you, you either think as a player, or you think as a character in DD, and it becomes increasingly obvious which one you are doing when you dread making that attempt to reach into the trapped box out of fear of loosing your fingers. Our actions had consequences, and even benign virtuous ones draw attention. Suffice to say, a lot of my love for world building came from these games and our DM's passion. He was a rough and tumble no nonsense dude who wanted your story to become a part of his world. Letting you feel awesome in some moments, but always keeping you firmly on the ground, and practical about your character's low level ability. Unfortunately, one day he had to move on with his life, so he moved away. I never got to see where he was going with each of the character arcs he was slowly planting the seeds for. But I came out of it with a profound love for roleplaying. Granted, I am not a good actor. And if you ever interact with me in costume, and I throw some cringy over the top bravado your way, its only because I embrace the cringe of my own shortcomings, and choose to have fun with it, just like when I was rolling dice in that 3.5 campaign.
You know something else I love? The fantasy archetype of a ranger. No, that wasn't my character back in the campaign I discussed above. But I come on. Strider from lord of the rings. I always liked the rough and tumble wilderness traveler who survives off the land and can adapt to nearly any circumstance. I admired the worn cloaks, the rugged, almost grungy equipment, and the knowledge of wilderness lore and practical survival skills tucked away behind eyes that resemble a bird of prey, taking in every variable. Blending skills with martial prowess, Rangers can get into and out of a situation with a flexible range of options. Go stealthy, sabatoge the bridge, poison the rations, and make a detailed map of the enemy encampment, or just let the barbarian and your pet bare crash the gates while you rain arrows down on those unfortunate enough to somehow make it past them.
So naturally, after having been to a few anime cons, only to discover I had a hard time actually cosplaying characters that I didn't make up myself, I decided it would be cool to cosplay a character instead. The first piece of my outfit to fall into my lap was ultimately what made me decide which direction I wanted to go in. A huntsman's cloak I got at a ren fair. And after getting a job, which is something I never had before, the rest kinda fell together every time I encountered something new at a con or ren fair.
...The First outfit... Wasn't all that great.
But all that mattered back then was that I thought it was. Even if I kept getting confused for an assassin's creed character when I had the cloak behind the shoulders, a jedi when I had the shoulders covered by the cloak, and a pirate when I didn't have it. There's just something that comes with the territory of dressing how you perceive to be cool. Think that's how a lot of people got into cosplay in the first place, right? What's more, I could wear it when I'm at cons, when I'm at the ren-fest, and even when I play HVZ when dressed as a pirate zombie. It wasn't until 2015 when I decided to start actually investing into the outfit. Ordering from places online, planning out an outfit in advance. Piecing the outfit together every dozen paychecks at a time. I managed to complete the base layer with pants, boots, a tunic, and a belt. And by then, I could just throw my cloak over that, and it would actually start to resemble something much more like a medieval outfit. Likewise, I invested into some latex larp weapons, because I thought that live steel props wouldn't sit well with prop check. So I had a bit of an arsenal to carry into cons and help sell the look of an adventurer better.
By 2018, I finally got my hands on the studded gamberson you see in a lot of my early pics. Just so I had something to throw over the outfit. And finally, a more higher quality outfit, I was starting to distinguish myself from jedis, assassins, and pirates. I spent the first day of Ohayocon 2018 stress testing my outfit, feeling like a badass, and larping like a freelance adventurer. If people asked what I was, a question I got pretty often after my outfit got more polished, I would just reply "I'm every generic adventurer who isn't a hero. Got any quests?" Or I'd proceed to list off a DD character's long and convoluted backstory. Just kinda shortened to "I'm my pathfinder ranger" after about the millionth time I was asked. While in the deeler's room though, I was pondering a question to myself after passin a lady in the far back corner who was selling leather bound journals. "How exactly do adventurers market themselves, anyways? So I went back to the booth, bought a journal, then went back to my hotel room. Rather than explaining who I was again and again, I thought it would make sense to show them. So on the first page of the journal, I wrote:
Name: Tobias Wren. (That actually was a character name i used.)
Occupation: Adventurer For Hire!
- Adventuring Companions
I then set out, basically acting like a panhandler, standing near hallway corners and holding up the sign with pleading eyes. After mandering through the con for a while, I encountered a Gandalf cosplayer who gave me my first quest.
"Let's see. I have a quest for you. I need you to... find da wae." He told said.
If only he knew just how prepared I was for this. Whipping out my a pen I had confiscated from the hotel room, I flipped to the first page and wrote "Find da wae". and proceeded to ask for leeds. It started with gathering information, then over time, I learned that to find da wae, one must obtain ebola first. So I went back to the dealer's room, where there was a red cross blood drive happening, waited in line, then asked for my ebola. I was flat out denied. So I went to looking for alternate quest paths to progress down. And then one lady that pointed out by a unanimous red faced echidna as "Da Queen", helped me by pulling producing a glowing tablet, and bringing up on google maps.
It was close enough for me. I had found Da wae. Even if it was a little misspelled.
I kept going at it after that. ready to move on to the next quest, seeing what other misadventures people could throw me into. It started as a curiosity, and quickly became a passion. I had been going to anime cons since like 2006 or 7. And this activity, had completely changed how I do cons. Didn't know what to call it for a while. Adventuring, questing, larping? After getting called "Quest guy" a third time though, I decided I need a better name. Some time between Ohayocon and Colossalcon, the name just kinda slid into my head made that post on the Colosslcon boards when I was trying to find a way to brand it. After simply just calling it Convention questing, the bridge just kinda built itself. Con-questing. It was a little play on words, and explained exactly what I was doing. Oh, and for those interested, here's the complete questlist for the rest of the con.
Ohayocon: 2018 Quest Log.
Results: 24 Total | 19 Complete | 3 Failed | 2 Carry overs
Carry over quests:
(Since they were good ideas, but were given too late for me to do on Sunday. Thus they are pending for Colossalcon.)
-Recruit a mage, a healer, a tank or rogue, and an animal companion, to join the party for the duration of at least two quests.
-Infiltrate a photoshoot and try to convince the people there that you are a character from that series.
(Quests that were obtained and completed.)
O | Figured out why my amulet of trap finding kept going off. (It was an Astalfo cosplayer.)
O | Found “Da Wei” (Yup. And I didn’t even need Ebola.)
O | Escorted a woman to her friends.
O | Escorted a warlock to his friends.
O | Hugged 10 random strangers
O | Hugged 3 “Gorgeous” women
O | Got 5 princesses to tell me “Your princess is in another castle” without telling them to say that.
O | Acquired Bubble Tea for a con security guard at the prop check table.
O | Escorted a pack of trolls to Con Ops.
O | Found treasure by the elevator on the third floor. (It was a glow stick)
O | Looted a dragon Acquired a trophy from a dinosaur. (I kinda combined these two from two different quest givers.)
O | Joined in a game of “Cards against humanity.”
O | Best Bishojo Link in a duel. (Sort of.)
O | Try a puzzle app game.
O | Dance with the dancing girls in the hallway.
O | Acquired an animal companion.
O | Have a picture taken of myself.
O | Walk from one end of the con to the other without spotting any undertale cosplays. (Just put my cloak hood over my eyes.) O | Acquire pink lemonade and a fill a plastic cup of water for Gaming staff members.
O | Approach a Daenerys cosplayer and do a Jorah Mormont impression.
(Quests that for some reason or another were never able to be completed.)
X | Find a man with an exclamation mark on his head at the bottom of the large escalators.
X | Find a lost cloak. (Another adventurer found it.)
X | Find a missing hotel key and return it to the hotel.
Thanks for reading.