Masquerade (fanfiction event)

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Synonyms: masq
See also: challenge
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Masquerade can refer to a type of challenge where fic authors try to conceal their identity in an anonymous fic, and fans try to guess who wrote which work. First hosted by Gumi in 2019 for the The King's Avatar English-speaking fandom.


The super core origin story is there was a prince of tennis fic 2 authors co-wrote in parts and they made a guessing game asking people to guess who wrote what

That's what this was all really adapted from, but it was never really like....a "fandom event" before :joy:

my group of friends played a much smaller version before and this was before we had ao3 or anything. So I just redesigned it with ao3/open participation in mind bc i always enjoyed playing these games and wanted some fun :smchehe:
Gumi on the The King's Avatar Alliance discord 02/27/2021

The fic that inspired it: Stalking The Angel on Livejournal by sinnatious and kaorismash .


*You may only submit ONE fic entry.
  • There is no required theme/prompt for you to write, but you are obviously encouraged to write characters/pairings/themes/styles you usually don’t write to throw people off guessing your identity.
extract from ao3 rules, 2020 QZGS Masq

An example of the full rules (QZGS Masq 2020)(webarchive) can be found on Tumblr.


The stated goal of the Masquerade is for authors to be guessed as little as possible, and for guessers to guess as many authors as possible. Prizes(usually bragging rights, but sometimes discord roles, etc) may be offered for those who hide, or guess, the most. Guessing your own fic does not count against you in hiding. In the RBC masq, prizes were also offered lucky-draw style, based on categories of participation.

However, some authors might set their own goals to be the most guessed rather than the least, using the Masq to find out their tells.

On Options:
  • Option 1: You can write something other than you usually write to disguise yourself.
  • Option 2: You can write exactly what you usually write because "nobody would do that".
  • Option 3: You can pretend to be someone else, copying their style. Option 4: You can drop tells from multiple people.
  • Option 5: You can pretend to be someone pretending, eg. Merc pretends to be Rime pretending to be Tamari.
  • Option 6: You can take Option 5 further, like with 6 or so people worth of tells involved.
  • Option 7: Strange combo of multiple options, such as Grave using Grave's usual content with Rime's tells, or Lir using Grave's usual content with Rime's tells.
  • Option 8: Write the weirdest crossover you can think of.
  • Option 9: You are new and no one knows anything about you so write whatever the hell you want.
brightsaturn on the Harry Get Some Sleep Discord Server

Accusations, Lies, and Analysing Tells

Part of the fun of the masq is the chaos of being able to accuse and counter-accuse the authors in the fandom, and see their response. Whether to share your suspicions, stay silent, or accuse someone else of the fic you wrote is all part of the strategy. Spreadsheets are made – and shared, after the guessing is over, if desired.

Criteria that has been used to guess fic include writing style (punctuation, wording, structure, choice of words), general likes of the author, metadata (tags, summary, and titling styles), time and date of posting, length of work, spelling (American or British), spacing(after punctuation and between paragraphs and between scenes), cultural tells (for instance, the way Chinese names are written) and more.

However, given the small size of the fandoms it is also encouraged to submit randomised guesses if you do not have time to guess everyone, in order to encourage participation and reduce the number of ties.

During the event, comments and responding to comments is allowed, but may also be used as tells. To get around this, people use certain strategies:

To all participating authors wondering how to leave their love for other authors without giving yourself away, these are some options!

1. Copy and paste the link of the fic to another browser or to a private window and type in your comment and give kudos as a guest.

2. Write down your comments on a word doc and wait until Feb 8 (when the event is over and everyone is revealed) to give belated kudos and comments to everyone.
TCF 2021 Masq rules

In addition, participants might change their writing style for comments -- as guessers might try to match anonymous comments to the author to eliminate potential authors for that fic. Authors may also shamelessly comment on their own fic, as if they hadn't written it, to throw people off the scent. However, an unfortunate side effect of the masq is that it does tend to depress kudos and comments when the fic is posted for an extended period of time, especially if the active part of fandom is small.

Guessing & Denouement

Upon submission of the fic to the archive, authors also submit their information to the organiser. This is to allow the organiser to vett the guesses and to avoid penalising you for guessing your own fic correctly.

When posting closes, the guessing period begins. The guessing period, points, and prizes might vary based on the number and length of fics submitted and the fandom. For example, the Rigel Black Chronicles Masquerade Event allowed you to guess a single author for each ship, with each author being guessed at most twice in total, and the 45 entries being split into two guessing periods (authors in group 1 could only have written fics in group 1). This allowed easier guessing for those participating and reduced the risk of authors going completely unguessed.

After the exchange is over, the authors will be revealed and the statistics compiled of most guessed, least guessed for authors and guessers. A point system might be used. Organisers might choose to make a round-up post, like so in the QZGS 2020 Roundup: QZGS Masquerade 2020 : Reveals, Analysis, and EXPOSING EVERYONE'S LIES.