The Generic Villain on Deceptive Protagonists

Greetings! This is a public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood Generic Villain, particularly for the sneaks and manipulators all over the multiverse.

We’re all used to having an edge over our protagonistic opposition: dishonesty. We’re the ones who change the deal at the last second, or cheerfully inform them that when we made the deal, we lied. We’re the rotten, untrustworthy scoundrels, and while they can never tell if we’re lying or telling the truth (as always lying is honest in its own right), we can know with reasonable certainty that every word we’re hearing from the protagonists is pure, unvarnished truth, because they’re just not good enough liars to beat us at our own game.

Or so we think. Then we run into a liar-protagonist. On the plus side, it’s rarely the end, as she finds us too amusing. The disadvantage is that she seems to revel in our having to deal with the fact that she’s just outwitted us.

Fortunately, there are a few warning signs for a deceptive protagonist, and a few ways of telling who she probably isn’t. That fresh-faced farmchild of destiny? No—a good thing, given how irritating he tends to be. The spunky, rebellious princess? Odds are usually against it, since dishonesty is at a core politics, and she’s usually trying to get away from those. (Which doesn’t mean that she won’t necessarily use it, but does mean that you can turn that fact against her.) The clean-cut holy warrior? Most likely not, though you’ll want to check their code to make sure that 1. lying to others is frowned on and 2. there isn’t a loophole the size of a foreboding keep about evildoers being “nonpersons”. (You’d be amazed how fun even the honest ones find exploiting that one to be.)

The ones you have to worry about are a varied sort. They tend to dress either for the courts or the roads, though there’s room for variety. When attractive (which is often), they tend to run more to the striking or sexy end of the scale than the conventionally pure and pretty end favored by more straitlaced protagonists. Most of them are well-spoken, and almost all have strong if slightly twisted senses of humor, which you will likely end up on the wrong end of if you’re not careful. And all of them are clever; if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be good at this.

More devastatingly, deceptive protagonists manage to take elements of the standard Hero’s Rules and make themselves even more dangerous with them. They won’t actually lie, as it’s bad for their reputations, just twist the truth so that it does what they want it to. So using lie detection magic on them is counterintuitive: not only are you not likely to catch them in a lie, but you’ll be too busy detecting lie/not lie to realize that they aren’t telling you the whole truth. They know Power of Love and Friendship as well as any hero, and will probably even sell your minions on the concept. And most of them can read you and your minions so well that they’ll figure out half of your plans from five minutes of conversation.

On the plus side, due to the fact that they enjoy rubbing your face in their victories too much to ever actually get rid of you, they make excellent cultivated nemeses or career opponents.

So be careful; just because someone’s on the side of Light doesn’t mean she won’t play you for a sap. Be canny, be careful, don’t let your guard down, and try to play the game as well as they do. Have fun!

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Generic Villain on Dealing with the Dead | Exchange of Realities
  2. The Generic Villain Meddles | Exchange of Realities
  3. GV’s Survival Tips: The Deceptive Protagonist | Exchange of Realities

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