Lady and Otto Revisited

As previously mentioned I played Lady and Otto at Ropecon. This was the second time the game was played (by me), and it made me reflect on some of the issues raised by that game.

For newcomers, Lady and Otto is a game for 4 players, where 2 players play Otto and 2 players play Lady. They are divided into pairs that plays out a short scene. A scene could be: “Otto is in the bathroom. The lock has jammed” or “Lady and Otto is in the Eiffel Tower. The view is amazing”. The scenes are announced by the gamemaster, who reads the title out aloud and starts the scene. The players are then to play out that scene. If they make an error (introducing conflict), the scene will start all over again. If they ‘complete’ the scene, another scene will follow or (more likely) the same scene wille start again. There is no real end.

One of the key elements of the game is the ‘no conflict’ element of the game. It sets out try the limits of what is drama/story/a scene. One the definitions on drama is conflict – something must go from ‘plus’ to ‘minus’ or visa versa – that is war to peace, safety to peril, life to death. It is a very structuralist way of seeing drama, and in a way, that was the assumption I tried to work with.

The players of cause, got very frustrated by playing the same scenes over and over again. But this was really the interesting part. Every time they tried to introduce conflict or drama, I would stop them, forcing them to play the game I wanted. The repetition made the players either look for a way out (‘going to the next level’) or explore the boundaries of the game. There were no ways in nor out.

When I played the game at Fastaval (the debut), players got increasingly annoyed, and at the end, decided to quit playing. In a sense the gamewright won – it was not possible to play a game without conflict or drama. What I later realised, was that there was conflict; conflict between me and the players – a metaconflict.

At Ropecon they did not stop. They continued playing, despite my efforts to frustrate them. They eventually found a way of playing that did not contain conflict. In the end, it resulted in some very beautiful scenes, filled with love and acceptance.

Click image to download.

Click image to download Lady and Otto

8 thoughts on “Lady and Otto Revisited”

  1. I was just thinking, that ‘avoiding the conflict’ could actually be a way to have a more active purpose of the scenes: set a scene; present a potential conflict; avoid it. The big differences being, that instead of the players being intellectually challenged not to introduce conflict (author stance), it would become a question of skirting the conflict through skillful/tactical/emotional roleplay (director/author stance). But even though Lady and Otto would still never experience conflict in their lives, the implied tension would probably change the basic premise and ruin the innocence, so to speak (it’s very pre-Fall of Man).

    PS: Are you catering to your international fan crowd by going Anglo?

  2. Thats it, Thomas. This tension is what really drives the scenario. The roles never experience conflict, but-oh the players, they suffer.

    PS: Yes.

  3. Thanks for the heads up, Matthijs. I fixed the link and it should work now.

    Will we be seeing you at fastaval, Matthijs?

  4. Probably not, though I’d love to come. RIght now I’m checking out some Fastaval scenarios to see what you’ve all been doing while I was reading all that American theory 😉

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