Buffalo NASFiC 2024 Masquerade Rules

The Masquerade is a costume showcase celebrating creativity in our world, the worlds outside of us, and worlds yet to be explored. This is the place to do that!  Bring your skills and imagination to the Masquerade with your costume and presentation to entertain the audience.

To enter the Masquerade you must be a member of Buffalo NASFiC, as must any additional participants. You can register your membership for the convention here: https://reg.buffalonasfic2024.org/

If you have any questions, please contact The Masquerade Director at masquerade@BuffaloNASFiC2024.org.

The rules for the Masquerade follow the International Costumers’ Guild Guidelines for Ensuring Fair Competition. You may read them here: ICG Guidelines: Ensuring Fair Competition | International Costumer’s Guild. While our rules are similar to those for other masquerades, they are not identical. When in doubt, ask the Masquerade Director.

Masquerade General Rules

All entries are highly encouraged to sign-up before the convention so we can be prepared for tech rehearsals, even if you only think you’ll have a costume completed in time. There will be at-con sign-up as well. You will be able to update or change your information until the end of tech rehearsals. At the convention, entrants must check-in at the Masquerade Sign-up Table.

Your presentation should be no more than 60 seconds on stage. If you have several participants on stage you may be allowed up to 90 seconds. Please email to discuss with the Masquerade Director if you think your presentation will be longer. The Masquerade Director has final approval.

Each entrant may appear only once on stage. You may enter another costume, but it must be on another Masquerade entrant’s person, or as a prop in another entry.

The Masquerade is rated PG-13; there may be children in the audience. No flagrant nudity; there must be some display of skill in creating and executing a design. The Judges will not award what Mother Nature created. Remember, no costume is no costume.

Costumes that have won major awards (excluding Honorable Mention) for presentation or workmanship at previous Animé North, Costume-Con, or Worldcon competitions are ineligible to compete for an award, but may appear Out-of-Competition. Commercially made full costumes, purchased or rented, may be shown only Out-of-Competition.  Exceptions for Assembled costumes require that the entry be significantly different than just changing minor pieces of the costume for competition.

There is no prohibition against presenting costumes that have been worn in the halls before the show.

The Masquerade Director has the full authority to eliminate anyone from the Masquerade on the grounds of bad taste, danger to self and/or others, violation of the above rules, or any other reason deemed sufficient. There is no appeal. Offers of cash and/or chocolate and/or libations will not help.

If you feel any or all of these rules don’t apply to you, you are wrong. If you feel you need an exception, you must convince the Masquerade Director long before the masquerade. Offers of cash and/or chocolate and/or libations will not help here either.


Safety is our paramount concern. There will be absolutely no flame, fires, sparks, or other fire hazards on stage. This is a legal requirement and is strictly enforced. Other special effects must be clearly described to the Masquerade Director and to the stage manager and tech crew at the tech rehearsal in order for us to determine that they are (1) legal and (2) safe. Strobe lighting, for example, has the potential to be harmful to members of the audience. Smoke or fog machines could set off the fire alarms.

The Stage Crew will be stationed in the wings at both the stage entry and the stage exit to help you up and down the stairs, move props on and off stage, and catch you if you stumble. You need to let us know how much assistance you need, especially if your vision is obscured by a mask or by not wearing your glasses, or if your costume limits your range of movement. The more assistance you need, the earlier you should let us know (preferably at the Masquerade Sign-up table).

There also will be a marked safety zone at the back of the stage and crew members at the front and sides of the stage to try to stop you from stepping off the stage by mistake. If you step into the safety zone, the crew will immediately halt your presentation and shout “STOP”. If you hear someone shout “Stop!” during your presentation, do so; you are in immediate danger of falling off the stage! However, if you dance, run, hop, skip, or jump so fast that the stage crew cannot stop you, you are responsible for your own safety.

Backstage can be a dangerous place. Follow crew directions and keep away from the electrical equipment. Small children must be under the supervision and control of a responsible adult at all times (both backstage and on stage).

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 or points 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.

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.

Entrants may not use substances, including makeup or costume elements that could turn rancid, or be smeared on, or stain other costumes. This is generally known as the “No Peanut Butter” rule. All parts of your costumes must leave with you.

Entrants may not throw anything at the audience.

Costumes needing electric power must be self-contained – no extension cords.

No live animals (other than guide animals) may be used in any Masquerade.

We discourage the use of radio-controlled or other wireless devices as part of an entry. We do not know what sort of interference will exist in the hall during the show. It would be unfortunate to base your entry on something that doesn’t work when you are on stage.

Following each presentation, a Stage Crew member will make a single pass across the stage to remove small items (such as small props, cast-off cloaks, or cover-ups) left there by the entrant. If multiple items are left behind, or if the item is heavy, large, or requires special handling, the entrant should provide sufficient roadies to remove all props left on stage in a single pass. Items must be easily removed by hand – there is no time to wash or sweep the stage during a show!

Entrants should surprise the audience. NEVER surprise the Masquerade Director, the Emcee, the Tech Director, tech crew, and the Stage Crew. No exceptions to the “never surprise the crew” rule will be permitted and entrants who attempt to do so will be disqualified. If you are planning something unusual or unique, please inform the Masquerade Director well in advance of the masquerade.

Tech Rehearsal

Entrants will be required to attend a tech rehearsal. This is an opportunity for the stage manager and the tech crew to work with you to assure that sound and lighting support your presentation. Entrants who do not participate in the tech rehearsal may not appear in the masquerade.

You don’t need to wear your costume for the tech rehearsal; however, you should bring the costume to hold up for the lighting designer to see and create their cues. Also wear the shoes you will use for your presentation and any parts of your costume that will impede your movement or vision, or both.

The default lighting will be stage dark, lights rise on entry, fade to black at exit; other patterns may be arranged with tech.


Official Photography: The Official Masquerade Photographer will photograph your costume(s) before the show starts.

Fan Photography: Fan photography may take place from the audience during the show, using available light (NO FLASH). For the safety of those on stage, use of flash photography during the show is strictly prohibited. The Masquerade Director will stop the show and have the house lights turned on until those using flash have been ejected from the hall. In addition, there probably will be an on-stage “photo run” for fan photographers after the last entry’s presentation (while the Judges are deliberating); if so, your participation would be optional.

Masquerade Green Room

Come to the Green Room when it opens officially (approximately two hours before show start. Check in with the person at the check-in table. You will learn your number in the running order and will be assigned to a den of entries just before and/or after you, where you will be in the care of a Den Parent. Go to your Den, introduce yourself to the Den Parent assigned to you and take a seat. Please stay with your Den until it is time to go to the Workmanship Judge or to the stage.

Your costume must be completed before you get to the Green Room. No sewing, gluing, soldering, welding, other construction work or extensive make-up work may take place in the Green Room except the final assembly of large costumes and props or unexpected repairs. If you need anything, let the Den Parent assigned to you know. We plan to provide light refreshments and to have a staffed repair table should a costume need repairs. The repair table provides glue, safety pins, needles and thread, tools, basic makeup, and so forth. It is for last-minute repairs only.

Your Den Parent will see that your photo is taken by the Official Masquerade Photographer and by the photographer taking reference photos for the Judges. We expect that official photos will be available for purchase by you and other convention members, possibly the next day. Your Den Parent also will get you to the stage at the right time and in the correct order.

Your Den Parent will also accompany you to the Workmanship Judges should you choose to compete for Workmanship.  We encourage everyone to go by and talk with the Workmanship Judges.

The Green Room and backstage area are intended for entrants, roadies, and masquerade staff only. Entrants are asked not to invite other friends or family into the Green Room. However, a parent or guardian of Young Fan entrants are required to accompany their children in the Green Room.

Judging for Awards


Workmanship judging will take place in the Masquerade Green Room, generally before the show starts. These Judges will talk to you, 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.

Please provide sufficient documentation for the Workmanship Judges to fairly and impartially evaluate your work. The Judges will have a limited amount of time to review your work and your documentation, so please, don’t write a novel. Printed photos, sketches, screenshots, and short written descriptions of your work are encouraged. Photos and any other documentation will be returned to you after the show or the next day at the Masquerade Sign-up Table.

Often entrants may choose to have only parts of their costume judged, such as a staff, vest, or hat. If in doubt, visit with the Workmanship Judges anyway. Even if you’re not impressed with the work on your costume or props, they 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!

Tips For A Successful Masquerade

Before the show, get some sleep!

Before the show, please eat. If you want to faint after you’ve been on stage, fine; however, we don’t want you to pass out from hunger or low blood sugar in the Green Room or on stage.

Before the show – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Remember, this is a costume show, not a talent competition. Never bore the audience.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Have fun!

The Masquerade Sign-up Form


GDPR Statement

As this Masquerade may have entrants from countries outside of the United States, the first part of the form is the General Data Protection Regulation statement in regards to the protection of private information. An entrant must give consent for us to use this information as needed to contact entrants before, during, and after the event, if questions about their entry information, or to update information about the competition, its rules, and its results. In addition, names as provided will be used with images of the entries to publicize the event results after its completion.

Release form

Each entrant (every person who will be on stage) must sign a Masquerade Release Form which you can download from the Sign-up form.

Reading the Rules

Indicate that you have read the Masquerade Rules in order to continue with the rest of the form.


For example: Anime, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Video Game, etc. Fill this in to assist the Judges to fairly evaluate your costume.

Skill Division Levels

Skill levels are intended to ensure that both inexperienced and experienced costumers have a reasonably equal chance to win awards.

Young Fan: This level is limited to entrants younger than 13 years old (born after July 20, 2011) who are not part of an adult entry.

Novice: The Novice level is for beginners to costuming. You may consider yourself a Novice if:

  • this is your first Masquerade, or
  • you have not won any Presentation award previously in a Masquerade competition.

Journeyman: The Journeyman level is an intermediate level to allow further development of costuming skills. You should consider yourself a Journeyman if you have:

  • won a Presentation award as a novice at any regional competition, or
  • won a Presentation award at the Novice level in a Costume-Con F&SF, Worldcon or Anime North Masquerade.

Master/Craftsman: This is an open level. Anyone may enter. You must enter at this level if you are not eligible to enter as a Young Fan, or at the Novice or Journeyman levels.  You should consider yourself a Master/Craftsman if you have:

  • won three awards at the Journeyman level, or
  • won an award at the Master level, or
  • won Best in Show; or
  • have a costume Laurel, or
  • are a professional. Professional is defined as someone who earns a majority of their income from fashion or costume, including university faculty members.

Group entries should compete at the level of the group’s most experienced member who is an essential element of the entry. If in doubt, consult with the Masquerade Director.

An entrant, including a Young Fan, may enter at a more advanced level than the one for which they qualify. However, an entrant who then wins at that level may not subsequently compete at a lower level (see rules for the Masquerade you are entering as those rules may vary). If in doubt over the level at which to compete, consult with the Masquerade Director.


Re-Creation – a costume whose design is copied from a movie, video, television series, art, comics, theatrical presentation, book illustration, sculpture or other medium, showing at least one good view of the costume. Re-creation costumes are duplicates or design adaptations of the published design or work of someone other than the entrant. Re-creation costumes require documentation of source. A picture is a must and possibly a written description which may accompany your registration forms and/or be turned in at the Masquerade Sign-up Table when checking in. Both the Workmanship and Presentation Judges will have access to this documentation.

Original – a costume inspired by a science fiction, fantasy, mythological, anime, alternate history, or other original source, but whose design is the creation of the entrant. Documentation about your costume, how you made it, and any other information is welcome and will be reviewed by the Workmanship Judges. Presentation Judges may review the documentation should they request it. 
Entries based upon descriptions in books, online articles and such are not re-creations as there is no visual source for the entry. These entries will be considered in the Original Design category, and will have been “inspired by” the source material.

Assembled – a costume assembled from an assortment of pieces from different suppliers; when those suppliers were not all costume resources, you may use the “Assembled by” line on the Masquerade Sign-up form to indicate you did that. 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 for Presentation, but not for Workmanship.


For a Re-Creation costume, please explain the source of the costume (e.g. a character from a film, video game, episodic show).

In-Competition or Out-of-Competition

Indicate if you will be In-Competition or Out-of-Competition. If you have presented and received major awards for this costume at other regional or international convention masquerades, then you should consider presenting it out of competition.

Designed, Made and Worn by 

Each of these will be read by the Emcee as part of the outro for your masquerade entry. If it’s a Re-creation design you can put the name of the original designer. You can use your Cosplay name or your preferred stage name. List all names of the members of your entry who will be on stage.

EMCEE information

The Standard Introduction that the Emcee will read is “Entry Number, Category & Division level, and Title” to introduce your presentation. The Emcee can also read the Title after your presentation instead of before. There is also the option for a custom script to read as an introduction or during your presentation. Please indicate your intentions for the Emcee.

Information for Tech Rehearsals

There will be no microphones available to entrants; the only person permitted to speak from the stage is the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee). The Emcee will be happy to work with you in reading a short script or to interact with you during your presentation. The easiest thing will be for you to email your script ahead of your rehearsal to masquerade@BuffaloNASFiC2024.org. Alterations may be made up until the actual rehearsal. Any changes after your rehearsal must be approved both by the MC and the Masquerade Director. Absolutely no changes will be accepted after one hour before the show starts.

Presentation Audio

Even if you are doing just a simple walk-on (e.g.: come on stage, make a couple of turns so that all parts of your costume can be seen, walk off), PLEASE bring recorded music that complements your costume! This can be in the form of an audio file on USB Flash drive, or email it to masquerade@BuffaloNASFiC2024.org before the con. Do not assume that the tech crew has access to the internet (we don’t) or can download music files from your phone or any music app (we cannot!).

We strongly recommend you bring two copies of your media – one copy to give to the tech crew and a second copy for yourself in case of emergency. Each should be clearly labeled with your name and costume title, along with any additional instructions. We will make every effort to return your media to you after the show is over – see the tech crew immediately after the show or the Masquerade Sign-up Table the next day.

Sound files should be in the top level directory on USB media so we can find it easily. Ideally, there should be only one file on the USB drive and the file name should include your name and your entry name.

If your music track is unedited or longer than 60 seconds, 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 microphones available to entrants; the only person permitted to speak from the stage is the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee). You must PRE-RECORD all your presentation speech dialog, music and sound effects, or provide a simple music file for less complex presentations. The Emcee will be happy to work with you in reading a short script or to interact with you during your presentation.

Music Formats

Uncompressed CD-quality (.wav) is preferred, if the source is available in that format, such as captured off a CD, otherwise leave it alone and bring what you have. If you are converting it from YouTube, make sure the original video is of high quality (such as from the official site) and use a conversion site that supports higher bit rates such as cloudconvert.com or freeconvert.com. If you are editing it yourself, even if you import an MP3 as your main music, edit it as a .wav and export it as uncompressed .wav.  Capture any vocal / voice overs as .wav.  This way your voice over will sound best. When you save the resulting mix from your editing program, save it as a .wav (uncompressed) format. If you have any questions, please contact the Masquerade Director. We will be glad to help!

Note: we really cannot accept taking a track off your phone, music player, or from a music streaming app. Phones alas are best for listening, but not best for exporting.

Lighting and Music cues

Do your best to describe how you want the lights and sound to start for your presentation.

Dominant Colors of your costume(s)

It can help the lighting crew to set the best lighting to show off or highlight your costume(s).

Tech Rehearsal Time Slots

We try to confirm rehearsal slots before the con. Select when you think will be best for you and we will contact you with a time slot. You can also leave this and select from the remaining time slots when checking in at the con.

Tactile Masquerade

During the Half-time show you can move back to the Green Room or move out to the pre-function area and attendees may want to get a closer look at your costume. If you are comfortable with allowing them to touch or feel parts of your costume you can give your permission. This can also help any sight-impaired to appreciate your costume.

Submit your entry and we will try to get back to you in a few days. Here is the Sign-up form.