By Harold Goldberg
She nailed it. The appearance onstage of the mysterious Elden Ring character, Ranni the Witch, was one of the highlights of the 12th Annual New York Game Awards. In the dark fantasy world, Ranni died during the The Night of The Black Knives. She then changed, and became tied to a life-sized doll. Her deep backstory alone is reason enough to play Elden Ring. But it’s her visage, the deathly blue skin, an over-sized, creepy witch hat and her four arms that are so alluring visually.
I began looking at Ranni The Witch for a potential appearance at the New York Game Awards. Because Japan is so far from New York City, our team wondered back in April if From Software would be able to attend. Time-wise, it’s much easier to fly from Japan to Los Angeles than it is to Manhattan. As the New York Game Awards date closed in, I got a ‘maybe’ from Bandai Namco regarding the developer’s appearance when they were nominated.
“Maybe” was a positive answer: there was hope. But hope wasn’t enough. Companies and developers needed to be locked in. I began to search for Ranni the Witch costumes online. I thought that someone we knew, perhaps one of our Circle members, would don the outfit. But none of the costumes looked real enough.
I went down the rabbit hole searching for cosplayers. Via a photo from the New York Comic Con, I found Charlotte Wells, who’s charlottew1tch on IG and Twitch. She had created an intricate costume with care, including Ranni’s four arms and the giant witch hat that lit up underneath with eerie blue lights. The hat in itself was a masterpiece.
It turned out that Charlotte was not so far from New York City, and she was willing to make the trip to the New York Game Awards. She would indeed accept an award if From Software or Bandai Namco won an award, but couldn’t attend.
I met Charlotte and her tuxedo cat during a virtual meeting, and then, we worked on a short script together. Charlotte was pleasant to work with, just a really nice person.
When Charlotte arrived at SVA Theatre in full regalia, the real life Ranni looked even better in person than the photo I’d discovered online. I knew she was going to be one of the big hits of the show. We thought it would be best if she made an entrance from the back of the theater and took the long walk down the aisle before accepting any award – if there were an award for Elden Ring. That walk would be dramatic and everyone could check out the intricate costume – to feel the awesome presence of Ranni.
Charlotte as Ranni was indeed a powerful sight as she slowly moved onstage twice to accept Elden Ring’s two Awards, including Game of the Year. It all made me want to go back to Elden Ring once again – to live, die and slowly survive in that unusual world as the Tarnished. Thanks again to Charlotte Wells!
Award-winning journalist/author Harold Goldberg is the founder of the New York Game Awards and the New York Videogame Critics Circle.