Science Fiction & Fantasy

Welcome to the CostumeCon 39 Science Fiction & Fantasy Masquerade! I’m your competition director, Lindsay Tallman. On this page you will find the competition rules (i.e. the things that can get you disqualified), categories, skill division placement details, judging guidelines and expectations, and stage/presentation information. If you have any questions, please contact the Masquerade Director at (email).


The rules for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Masquerade generally follow the International Costumers’ Guild Guidelines for Ensuring Fair Competition. While our rules are similar to those for other masquerades, they are not identical. When in doubt, ask the Masquerade Director.

Costumes of any source or inspiration are welcome at this competition, including movies, television, anime, literature, art, and your own mind. If the Director feels that your costume may be better suited to the Historical Masquerade, you may be encouraged to enter that competition instead.

Please remember, by respecting the rules and procedures of this competition, you help ensure that everyone receives equal and fair treatment. We want to give stage time to as many contestants as we can support, while attempting to provide a fair and safe environment in which to compete.
If you violate any of these rules, you will be disqualified and dropped from the competition.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Masquerade has a cap of 40 competitive entries (either solo or group). If more than 40 contestants want to enter the competition, the Director may, at their discretion, allow a waiting list to form in case any entries withdraw or are dropped due to rule violations, and/or accept additional non-competitive (“Exhibition”) entries.

At the convention, entrants must check-in at the SF&F Masquerade Desk. Each entrant (every person who will be on stage or present in the Green Room) must sign a Masquerade Release.

Entries in all Categories and Skill Levels will be eligible for Best in Show awards for both Presentation and Workmanship. “Presentation” and “Workmanship” judging are entirely separate. There is a judging panel for Presentation and a judging panel for Workmanship, each of which selects and gives its own awards. Additionally, individual groups, chapters, and guilds may elect to present their own awards; these are judged separately by the group presenting the award, and these special awards will not affect the Masquerade panels’ decisions.


1. All contestants must be members of CostumeCon 39. If the maker and presenter are different people, both must be at least Supporting members even if the maker is not present.

2. All entries must turn in their paperwork, music, and documentation to the Masquerade Desk before the beginning of the Masquerade Contestant Meeting (time/location TBA). At the Director’s discretion, entries may or may not be accepted during the meeting; no entries will be accepted afterwards to allow for proper distribution of materials and show preparation.

3. Groups may have up to 8 members, including both presenters and ninjas. Larger groups may be allowed on a case-by-case basis at the Director’s discretion.

4. All entries are granted 60 seconds on stage. You may use less time, but if you exceed the limit, you will be ineligible for any award. Additional time for large groups or Exhibition entries will be given on a case-by-case basis and require approval from the Director.

5. The standard PG rule applies for both costume and content, as this is a family-friendly event. All costumes must be beach legal (remember, no costume is no costume), and skits should not include overt sexuality or strong language. The director reserves the right to screen entries for content, and inappropriate material will be grounds for rejection or disqualification.

6. Purchased “complete” and rented costumes may not be entered. Costumes that have been assembled (i.e. “closet cosplay”) or altered in a significant way may be entered.

7. A costume may not be entered in competition if it has won “Best in Show” or “Best in Open/Master Division” at another regional or international competition. If that is the case, it may be entered as an Exhibition entry (not eligible for awards).

8. Each presenter may only appear on stage in a single entry. One body, one presentation.

9. No live animals are allowed on stage or in the backstage area except for trained service animals.

10. No materials or effects that will leave a mess on stage, in the green room, or on another contestant’s costume are allowed (this includes glitter, confetti, streamers, silly string, fake blood, etc).

11. No pyrotechnics or any other sorts of open flame are allowed, including flash powder or flash paper, nor any potentially dangerous lighting effects such as strobe lights or lasers (including handheld laser pointers). This also includes fog or smoke machines whose effects might cause problems for other contestants or the audience.

12. All unusual parts of your skit (including planned falls, costume changes, empty stage time, or other special effects) must be reviewed with the Director before the Masquerade Desk closes on Saturday. You can surprise the judges and the audience, but don’t surprise the crew.

13. Attending the contestant meeting is required (time/location TBA). Contestants who are not present at the meeting will be dropped from the competition. In the event of conflicts such as panel participants or other competition schedules, please speak with the Director. (We will do our best to minimize such cases, but we understand that these things happen.)

14. Tech rehearsals are required. You will sign up for a time slot (schedule TBA) when you turn in your forms, and you must attend your scheduled rehearsal or you will be dropped from the competition. We recommend you bring any large props or costume pieces with you so there aren’t any surprises trying to get on or off stage. You are not required to be in costume for your tech rehearsal.

15. Workmanship judging is not required, but is highly encouraged. You may elect to have only a part of your costume judged, such as a prop or wig, or members of a group may be judged separately. Most Workmanship judging will take place in the Green Room before the show, though we hope to offer additional optional judging appointments (similar to the Historical masquerade) prior to the opening of the Green Room (details TBA).

16. There are no restrictions against wearing competition costumes in the convention halls before the Masquerade, and no entry will be disqualified based on previous wearings nor will the judges provide preferential status pertaining thereto. However, we encourage you to go for the dramatic reveal and wear your costume in the halls only after the show if possible.


Costumes can be divided in to three different category types based on their source material and method of construction. These do not affect judging or skill divisions, but provide better reference for the judges and audience as to the nature of your costume.

Re-Creation Category
Costumes whose design is copied from a movie, video, television series, art, comics, theatrical presentation, book illustration, sculpture or other medium. Re-creation costumes are duplicates or design adaptations of the published design or work of someone other than the contestant. Re-creation costumes are highly encouraged to submit source documentation, including at least one picture or reference (see the Documentation section for more details).

Original Category
Costumes inspired by a science fiction, fantasy, mythological, anime, alternate history, or other original source, but whose design is the creation of the entrant. Mash-ups of universes (e.g. Pretty Guardians Sailor Avengers) would fall under this category, as would entries based upon descriptions in books, online articles and other sources for which there is no visual reference material. Documentation regarding your costume and how you made it is encouraged but not required (see the Documentation section for more details).

Assembled Category
Costumes assembled from an assortment of pieces from different suppliers, but not purchased as complete or character-specific pieces. For instance, if you purchased some parts from a consignment shop, some from a donation store, and some from a costume shop, that would be considered an “assembled” costume. These costumes can be in competition.


Entries will be placed in the Young Fan, Novice, Journeyman, or Master Division. A group entry will be placed in the division appropriate for its most experienced member. Any questions about division placement should be brought to the Director for discussion. These divisions are designed to promote fair competition among equals, and (with the exception of Best In Show) judging will be conducted amongst a division’s members, not against all entries in the competition.
For this competition, any person who made more than half of their annual income from costuming in any of the last 5 years qualifies as a “professional.” Any competitor may enter in higher division than they are placed per the guidelines below. Because the skill divisions are designed to protect less experienced contestants from being forced into competition against more experienced competitors before they are ready, these divisions are necessarily described in terms of restrictions.
For the purposes of this competition, CostumeCon, WorldCon, and other events such as World Cosplay Summit are considered international competitions. Examples of major regional competitions are San Diego Comic-Con, DragonCon, and SakuraCon. If you’re not sure whether a past competition would be considered a major regional competition, please ask the Director. The size of the event and number of contestants in the competition will be considered.

• Any competitor may enter in the Master Division.

• Professional costumers may not enter in the Journeyman Division.
• A contestant who has competed and won in the Master Division at an international competition may not enter in the Journeyman Division.
• A contestant who has won “Best in Show” or “Best Journeyman” at an international competition may not enter in the Journeyman Division.
• A contestant who has won more than three major awards in the Journeyman Division in international competition may not enter in the Journeyman Division.

• Professional costumers may not enter in the Novice Division.
• If you have won any award at a major regional or international competition in any division other than Novice, you may not enter in the Novice Division.
• If you have won “Best in Show” or “Best Novice” at a major regional or international competition, you may not enter in the Novice division.
• If you have won more than 3 awards in local competition, you may not enter in the Novice Division.

Young Fan:
• Any competitor under 13 years of age at the time of competition may compete in the Junior Division.
• A child wearing a costume designed and built entirely or mostly by an adult should be entered either in the adult’s appropriate skill division or in the Exhibition Division.

• Any presenter may enter in the Exhibition Division.
• Exhibition entries are not judged for either presentation or workmanship, nor are they eligible for any award. They must still adhere to all rules listed above. Exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis at the Director’s discretion.


All entries are strongly encouraged to provide documentation, including source and inspiration images, progress pictures, and for those so inclined fabric/material swatches. The judges have limited time to review contestant materials, so while we admire those who create entire books of documentation, please keep it to 5 pages or less. Digital media (including laptops and smart phones) are discouraged; paper, please. Please note: We can’t print your documentation for you, so come with your materials ready or check with your hotel to see if they have any facilities. While we will make an effort to return your documentation to you, we are not liable for any reference books or other valuable materials that are not picked up by the end of the convention.

Workmanship judging will take place in the Masquerade Green Room before the show starts, with the intent to offer additional judging opportunities during the day before the competition. The Workmanship judges will talk to each contestant and will want to see the best parts of your costume, up close and personal. Please let these judges know specifically what you are most proud of in your costume and/or props, and be sure to tell them how you made your costume. (Pro tip: don’t point out the flaws unless you use them as a story of how you overcame an obstacle or technique.) Even if you’re not impressed with the work on your costume or props, the judges may very well be. Leave it to their judgment as to whether your work is special in the context of this competition.

The Presentation judges will be looking at your costume from the audience’s point of view. They will look at the costume itself and makeup, in addition to how well it works with the music, script, and blocking or choreography that you use on stage. Even a mediocre costume can win an award if it is presented well, and sometimes a great costume is passed over for lack of a coherent or entertaining presentation. Remember, funny is good, shorter is better, and short and funny or exciting is best!

The Judges may choose not to give out any awards in any category or division, including the Best-in-Show Award, if they do not feel any costumes entered in that division are deserving of an award. They will also be instructed that “Excellence deserves award” is their watchword. If any judge thinks a personal or business relationship with a contestant (or vice versa) will make it difficult to be objective in your judging, please talk to the Director about the problem, and we’ll come up with a reasonable course of action. The decisions of the Judges are final.


More details will be available here as we finalize details with the hotel regarding space and setups.

As stated in the rules, tech rehearsals are required. You will sign up for a time slot (schedule TBA) when you turn in your forms, and you must attend your scheduled rehearsal or you will be dropped from the competition. We recommend you bring along any large props or costume pieces (especially those that restrict movement or vision) so there aren’t any surprises trying to get on or off stage. You are not required to be in costume for your tech rehearsal.

If you are providing an audio track to accompany your presentation, we will accept digital files. Accepted formats include .wav, .mp3, and .mp4. If you are providing an audio file, please include the name of your contact person and entry name in the filename. This works best if the file is provided via a USB storage device (thumb drive). For CDs, make multiple copies and pack them in separate bags to insure against things going wrong.  We are not able to play or copy music off portable MP3 players, such as iPods, or cell phones of any kind.

If you are using only a music track from a commercial CD, the tech crew will typically start at the beginning of the track you select and fade out when you reach your time limit or exit the stage. If this works for you, nothing else is required. If you are using any other portion of a musical track, please bring in a previously edited version with your preferred starting point.

There will be no access to power on stage, and don’t plan on using a microphone. During presentations, the MC is the only person with a microphone. Spoken narrative should be pre-recorded or provided as a script for the MC.

If you are going to have large props/set pieces or plan to pre-set or leave things on stage, you should bring your own stage ninjas (aka helpers) to get them on and off stage. We will have a limited number of ninjas available to pick up things that are accidentally dropped, as well as to assist contestants up and down the stage stairs.

If your entry includes displaying a weapon, the Masquerade Director must clear it and your routine ahead of time in order to ascertain that it will not harm other entrants, the Judges, or the audience. No sharp edges, points, or “live steel” will be permitted. Before and after the show, weapons must be carried to and from the Green Room in secure wrappings and must be peace bonded per the Convention rules. Weapons that shoot or eject projectiles will not be permitted. If you intend to point a weapon at other members of your entry or at the Judges or audience, you must demonstrate in advance to the Masquerade Director that the weapon does not work.


The Green Room will be open before the event.  Details will be available when you check-in on site at the Masquerade Desk, in the Gateway Foyer.


The registration form is available at this link.  Please register early, and remember to check in at the registration desk once you have arrived. The registration desk for Masquerades will be upstairs in the hall outside of the main stage ballroom. The name of the ballroom is “Gateway”.