Greetings again, delightful friends and prospective experimentation subjects. Due to a certain malaise on the part of my transcriptionist, I have been drafted once again to espouse my opinion on various subjects villainous and pragmatic.
Already some of these are becoming a bit repetitive—that or my explications thereof cover nuances that several of these points address separately. Ah well, must carry on. If this turns into a sea of mockery, it may well be the one sea I can safely swim.
Now, where did I leave off…
31) All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
I’m not entirely sure why a surly, world-weary waitress could not provide an unexpected reinforcement. I suppose she may know better than to whack my minions with a serving tray, but that just means she’s too clever to be caught behaving in such a brute force manner. Removing pretty girls does nothing to dampen the cunning of other women. In fact, removing the naïve and pretty women forces the men—who apparently are the only ones playing the roles of hero and sidekick in this situation—to seek more mature love-interests. Love-interests who obviously know their way around my Empire.
This does not say ‘replaced by staunch loyalist waitresses’. This seems to imply that just by their lack of naïveté, these women are no threat to my regime. I think that’s rather naïve on the part of an Evil Overlord, personally; revolution quite often comes from the lower classes, the serving-folk, not because they’re dippy idealists but because they know your shit and are sick of it.
Also, what are you going to do with all those naïve, busty girls? Assign them to your soldiers? That might seem like a good idea until you’re bogged down with camp-followers, or your men start fighting each other or deserting to be with the women they love. Perhaps they’ll even be swayed to the other side by the promise of their own romantic subplots.
And if you don’t reassign the women, do you lock them in a dungeon? Execute them? Fill up your own harem with far too much trouble? Every one of them is someone’s daughter, someone’s first love, et cetera. A mass move of your civilians for the minimal purpose of preventing the hero from getting a girlfriend is…wasteful, to say the least. There are too many places for a hero to accidentally stumble across a love-interest, and you can’t control them all. Why not just stay out of his love-life?
After all, what are you going to do if he’s gay? Switch out all the stableboys for big burly men? Some people like that.
32) I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.
All right, back to the good points. As much as I disliked my former Emperor, I did appreciate how he took every setback as just part of the game. Messengers were no more at fault for what they told than the piece of paper the missive was on, and sole survivors of encounters with the so-called heroes were not casually killed. They were interrogated for every possible detail of the encounter, then reassigned.
Just like in any workplace, every soldier, messenger, cook, laundress, et cetera, has had to be trained in their skill. Killing someone for something out of their control is a waste of resources. Now, if someone snuck in and poisoned the food the cook was preparing for you, and no one either tasted the food or challenged the poisoner, you would have a cook, kitchen staff, wait staff and several guards who need punishment, and it would need to be investigated to make sure someone had actually snuck in and your cook or someone else in the supply chain was not trying to poison you him- or herself. Also, why don’t you have a food-taster?
My point is that there is always a chain of blame. You would not execute the servant who presented you with the dish because somewhere, someone let a poisoner into the kitchen. Thus there is no reason to kill the messenger who presents you with news because someone, somewhere else, foxed their job up.
You are an Overlord. You represent the law, and I doubt it is a law that says ‘I kill whoever I want, just because’. If it is, I imagine it will be difficult to hire new personal staff after the first few batches are carted off to mass graves.
I might have gotten sidetracked here.
33) I won’t require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.
I don’t know, I’ve met a few women who need that kind of support. Requiring it is silly, though. As for the black leather, evidently it is a lot less comfortable or easily-worn than you might think. While it might make a striking statement, someone who wears black leather is probably not the sort who intends to be seen while they strike, so could bear to wear something that won’t squeak.
If it is purely for intimidation, though, does it matter how uncomfortable it is? Women have been putting up with discomfort for ages in order to strike passion in the hearts of men, so why not fear?
Still, it ought to be at the lady’s discretion.
Plus some people just don’t look good in certain outfits.
But! As a counterexample, how many good minions have been slain simply because they underestimated the amount of armor required for a situation? A stainless-steel bustier could well save your female minion’s life. Some kind of serious chest protection should be required for anyone engaging in high-risk activities such as Overlording or standing-too-close-to-the-Overlord. Just the particular detail of the bustier could stand some adjustment.
34) I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
But what if you were trying to escape through a small, narrow crack?
Oh, I see. You mean ‘I will never turn into a large, angry snake as a last-ditch attempt to bite the hero to death’.
Why would you want to put your mouth on the hero anyway? Have some self-respect.
35) I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
I am proud to say that I have never had facial hair.
…And now one of my nemeses is laughing at me, saying it means I never reached puberty.
I happen to come from genetic stock that saw no point in being purposelessly hairy! A child of the Hawk! Why would a hawk ever have facial hair!
Oh stop laughing, Cob. And if you draw me a picture of a hawk with a moustache, I will roll it up and stab you with it.
36) I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
This is why I sometimes loved the Palace, and why I absolutely love my own evil lair. Having a malleable floor-plan–either as an adjustable life-form like the Palace or the mobile bubble-rooms within my volcano–means that one does not have to be concerned about unauthorized access to prisoners. The Palace was fully capable of swallowing someone, providing for all of their physical needs, then regurgitating them upon command. Granted, much of that was traumatically invasive and the Palace did have a tendency to ‘accidentally’ digest prisoners left inside it for too long, but it made anything like ‘cells’ or ‘guards’ unnecessary. Prison breaks were highly unlikely.
My design incorporates that sort of structural fluidity in a way that will neither invade nor accidentally eat you. Asphyxiate you, possibly, if I forget you for so long that your air runs out, but such is the danger of any oubliette. What I have done is to basically channel the ambient power of the volcano to carve tunnels throughout the solid rock, but then also form ‘bubbles’ that can float within the rock as if it was a fluid. Merging a bubble with a corridor allows passage between the two; pushing a bubble away from any other connection creates a cell with no entrance or exit. No escape.
This is only possible because I am a fantastically powerful fire-mage, of course, so I don’t suggest it for anyone. Any other kind of modular containment could do the same though, as long as it can only be unsealed externally. Narrow-barred cages strung on chains over pits of acid? Surely. Interior-padded boxes on mechanical rails, like only openable when they dock at a ‘station’? Why not.
Large cell-blocks whose doors all open with the pull of one switch? What have you been smoking…
37) If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he’s my trusted lieutenant.
Why would you not believe the people you pay to tell you these things?
It’s like, why did you hire advisors if you won’t listen to their advice?
I never had a trusted lieutenant, because the position I was in could not afford trust. I had to do everything myself until the very end, when there was really nothing anyone could do to stop the avalanche I had started. At that point, I did permit someone close to me, and he tried to be helpful. It was…sad.
Now, I have a devoted assistant. At least, I’m fairly sure he’s devoted. He doesn’t run screaming from the volcano any time I do something strange, and he does advise me to moderate my behavior. If he told me that what I was doing was a bad idea…
Oh, I’ll be honest. I’d probably do it anyway, and then he’d say ‘I told you so, Master Shaidaxi’, and I’d sigh and try my hardest to remember not to do it again. And then probably do it again anyway, because that seems to be how my life is.
But maybe, just maybe, his words will get through my thick skull and I will change my plans. Either way, I certainly wouldn’t send him away or shout him down–or even disbelieve him. I know that many of my ideas are terrible, terrible things. Some of them are just meant to be like that.
38) If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.
Perhaps I’m a sentimental fool, but I have, in the past, actively encouraged acts of vengeance toward myself. It might be because I don’t rule a land and therefore don’t have much property to be destroyed, or poor peons to be terrorized. It might be because I have an unfortunate sense of fair play.
Or perhaps it is because I spent so long on my own quest for vengeance that I can not help but respect those traveling their own bitter road. For that reason alone, I have given several enemies a direct shot at me. I have even come down from the sky to have a duel.
All my adult life, I have been angry. I have allowed my wounds and those of others to fester, so that the poison of them would drive us forward to the destruction of our foes. I have abetted the vengeance of many, even those whom I knew it would make mad. I have consciously cultivated a need for vengeance in my enemies, for my own purposes, and done my best to give them the final confrontation they need.
This certainly does not mean I let them win.
But then, I have lost a few battles. Escaped by the skin of my teeth. So it goes.
I think I like the conflict, the drama, more than I like the Overlording.
So if you’re serious about Overlording, listen to this item’s suggestion. Don’t listen to me. I don’t give a grig’s tailfeathers about controlling people, ruling them, and though I might find myself in that situation, I don’t consider it fun. Or whatever you’re supposed to get out of Overlording. My enjoyment comes directly from people trying to kill me. Therefore, killing them while they’re young and helpless is counterproductive.
In fact, some of the best fun I’ve ever had was in helping a hero along his path toward killing me. Incognito, of course. It was a big tangle of stress and sneakery and creative bullshit, and that’s probably what made it so exciting.
Goading people into attacking me has always been one of my great joys.
39) If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.
I’m a spellcaster. I stand far back (or float in the sky) and rain fire upon my foes.
As for seeking my opposite number, well, it’s different for mages than it is for fighter-types. Where I come from, using magic makes you obvious–and a target–to all others using magic. The point of magic-users on a battlefield these days is actually to neutralize or deadlock the enemy’s magic-users; we are not the arcane artillery we were during the Great War of Empires. That kind of battle-magic (which I know but rarely practice) has been banned for a long time because of its horrific effects on the environment.
But this means that when I join in battle, all enemy mages will swarm me. If I happen to have mage-lieutenants of my own, they will handle some, but I am the heavy hitter of most any group of mages I have ever joined, and thus either I am at the center of a mass defensive weave or am directing the offensive strikes. Like a general, I do not have the luxury of direct conflict; I am trying to coordinate everything. I can not go punching people in the face.
Without lieutenants, I end up in aerial combat against enemy mages. Without enemy mages, I do as I said at the beginning: stand at the back or rain fire from the sky.
This is the reason it was so unusual for me to come down for a duel, on that one time someone sought dramatic vengeance. Against non-flight-capable foes, I usually just put up some wards and drop lightning on their heads until I get bored.
My Emperor certainly did not ride to battle. He could not leave the Palace. Even his son, the rather surprisingly noble princeling, knew that being a General meant having responsibility for the entire army upon your shoulders, and that sending assassins to meet your opposite number was much wiser than approaching them yourself.
How hard is it to understand that the first in line during a clash of armies will be the first to fall?
40) I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
Oh, I agree with this. Why get a fantastic toy if you’re not going to use it?
However, an ‘unstoppable superweapon’ is only really as unstoppable as you are. Perhaps using it too early or too often might allow your enemies to understand it too well, compensate for it too much. It might give you a false sense of superiority, or a reliance upon it that will be your downfall when your connection to it is severed. I saw such happen to a hero once, who was given power and proceeded to use it at every turn, only to lose it and find himself incapable of proceeding.
Any sort of power—not just a weapon but a super-spell or other ultimate ability—has this downside. Don’t let it become the only trick you have, your first resort for every situation, your obvious attack. Against an opponent with any wits, you will find that you have shown your hand too soon.
Chivalry and sportsmanship don’t even enter into this. Be practical. Use your superweapon when its strength is actually required, not just because you can. There is no point in pulling out a flamethrower just to show off the fact that you have one, when all you need for the situation is a feather-duster.
That being said, I am a fan of completely unnecessary overkill and the occasional act of gratuitous destruction. Just…try to control yourself. Things like this inevitably lead to maniacal laughter and that whole ‘I AM INVINCIBLE’ line.