Brute-force design

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Brute-force design is a common design method in larp. The term was reportedly coined by Eirik Fatland.[1]

Brute-force design is characterised by simultaneous use of the following features:[2]

  • Factions, subfactions, and power hierarchies, creating easy conflict and enabling play to win
  • Secrets and puzzles, allowing hidden narrative
  • Run-time GMing using triggered events, surprises, and injection of outside information.

The underlying design philosophy is "more is more"; if you put enough plot into the game then something will happen and there will always be something to do.

Strengths of the method include easy drama from conflict, resiliance due to redundant plotting, and an easy mapping to common story tropes. Weaknesses include plots being disabled by other plots, Aristotelian Curse, plot hoarding, filler characters, and a tension between the implied play to win philosophy and playing in character.[3]

Brute-force design was a target of Nordic larp manifestos and largely fell out of use in that community, but has recently been revived and used in blockbuster larps such as Monitor Celestra, College of Wizardry and Fairweather Manor. In other larp cultures it has been further developed, mitigating many of its weaknesses.[4]

Something like brute-force design is often used to write Secrets and powers games.


  1. College of Wizardry - the glory, the frenzy, the chaos (review), Otro laberinto de espejos, 24 November 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  2. Eirik Fatland and Markus Montola, The Blockbuster Formula – Brute Force Design in The Monitor Celestra and College of Wizardry., 6 May 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. Fatland and Montola (2015).
  4. Improving brute force design, Diatribe thread, 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2016.