Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, May 3, 2015

CosPlaying Meralda

As soon as I finished the steampunk ghostbuster's backpack I built to wear to MidSouthCon 33, I decided I'd take a break from building props.

It's a time consuming hobby. Often a frustrating one as well, when your clever ideas fail to translate easily into the rough-and-tumble real world.

My resolution to put aside the Dremel and let my propane torch lay idle lasted a full month.

Now I'm ready to take a stab at something new.

I have two projects in mind, both taken from Meralda's world. I thought I'd put both ideas out there and let you guys chime in, and I also decided to sweeten the pot by offering the completed prop item to anyone willing to use it in a cosplay of Meralda at a con or other fantasy-related event.

I'd d the cosplay myself, but as you might have noticed, I bear no resemblance to Meralda, I'm not female, and all my skirts are too short anyway.

But before we get into that, here are the choices for the prop item.


If you've read All the Turns of Light, you know that a certain hidden weapon pops up toward the end of the book. It's a directed lightning gun, made hundreds of years before Meralda's time and then disassembled and hidden by its creator, to await that fateful day when the risk of introducing such a fearsome weapon was justified by some new threat.

In the book, I describe the Delighter thusly:

Excerpt from All the Turns of Light:

Meralda recognized the peculiar shuffle of Modwap’s Helpful Automaton before it emerged from the Shelves, an unfamiliar bulk cradled in its four spindly arms.

“My cursory investigation suggests it is a means to direct and then instigate extremely powerful electrical discharges,” said Tower. “I believe Amorp called it the Delighter. The observable spellwork indicates the device was built to be used only by persons with Second Sight.”

Meralda turned in her chair as the Automaton bore Amorp’s hidden device to her.

The beams of her eye-lights fell upon the contrivance, illuminating it in a flash of crimson. It was thick, composed of short fat tubes, all banded by copper and fitted with hoses and coils and intricate protrusions of quartz.

At one end the tubes opened, each terminated by a series of silver rings. At the other, a stock, like that of a crossbow, was fitted to the tubes. The dark wood stock was decorated with a Tirlish flag, inlaid in silver.

“Just how powerful are these discharges?” asked Meralda, as the pounding in her chest began to subside.

“At least four orders of magnitude more energetic than the most powerful single lightning discharge which has struck me in the last seven centuries,” replied Tower. “There appears to be a mechanism which controls the release intensity. It is set to low by default. The energy output of the highest setting is incalculable.”

So. A wooden stock, fat copper tubes, silver rings, hoses, lots of copper. To save time, I'd omit the internal mechanisms that actually cause lightning to leap from the maw of the weapon. I would probably do some internal lighting, maybe add a sound effect or two.

Probable completion time: 3 or 4 months. This is a very basic project, but the result would be sweet.


Yep. That's right. Take a big sturdy birdcage. Put a flower pot in it, add a lush artificial plant, and you've got Mug, Meralda's wise-cracking sidekick -- 

What's that? Mug's eyes? All 29 of them? 

Wow, that certainly complicated things. But okay. I like a challenge now and then. I'll add the eyes.

In fact, I'll do one better -- I'll animate Mug, with motors hidden in the flower pot, which move the eyes about.


That's Mug. Put him in the birdcage, animate his eyes -- that would be an awesome cosplay prop.

Going as Meralda would be simple.Anything Victorian would be fine -- a long skirt, with a high neck-blouse. Meralda isn't one of your barely-there 'skintight armor that somehow manages to expose all the vital organs' kind of chick.  In fact, she's furious when Tirlish newspapers depict her with her skirts flying up about her knees.

So what do you lot think? Build the Delighter, or an animated Mug? Keep in mind I stand by my offer to provide the completed prop to anyone willing to actually cosplay with it.

Why? Because I'm simply that generous. Really. And if you are at a Con and someones asks you 'Hey, who are you cosplaying?' I'd also give you a stack of handy cards to give out. Self-promotion? No, I operate, as always, from a deep-seated desire to help out. Heh. Heh heh heh.


Leave your comments below.

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  1. Clearly MUG. There is no other choice. Those eyes are going to have to be pretty special too--different colored LEDs, flashing, full of opinion.

    Clearly Mug.

  2. I am going to say MUG also. You could set him up on your table. He looks pretty awesome, and love Maria's options. Fact is she would make an excellent Meralda! :D I don't think I live anywhere near where Cons have been held. But wanted to cast my vote. :D

  3. You need to have Mug usb-able. Have him move around, give snide comments, blink his eyes, turn some on and off like flashlights (you know, for like a desk lamp effect). Yea, definitely Mug.

  4. I'm sensing a trend here...Mug it is, then. Now to design a mechanism to make the eyes move...

  5. I say Mug. Mainly because it is something novel enough to freak out small children and old people who come to visit. Seeing as I run a daycare this would be particularly useful...

  6. I have some rough ideas on the moving eyes. I want the eyeball to be capable of up/down/left/right movement, and the eye stalk to do up/down. The eyes also need to blink. Wow, I'm really glad I didn't specify some large number of eyes, such as 29 -- oh wait. I did? Ouch...

  7. Mounted on bobble wire, the eyes will do plenty of moving. As for the eyeballs, well, make a couple of them the star of the show so that people will have to stare longer. Plus with a few of them doing something different there will be lots of double-takes!

    Wasithinkin -- Truth is, I *do* own a parasol that would go very well with a Victorian dress. Sadly, I do not own such a dress.