The Generic Villain on the Qualities of a Good Minion

Minions. They’re not a requirement for a villain like us, but darkness knows they’re useful. In fact, many of our kind depend on having a decent stable of minions to take care of the dirty work. But like any other sort of raw material, they come in a wide variety of qualities, some more suited to the task at hand than others. What sort of features does a good minion need?

First and foremost, loyalty. I don’t care if it’s because you’ve bought them off and they stay bought, or because they believe in the rightness of your cause, or even because it doesn’t occur to them that there are options other than serving you. The point is, the minion has to follow you. Not your buddy Steve. Not some moral compass that can be used to turn him against you. If the minion does not serve you, either his priorities need to be straightened out or he needs to be removed from his position. If he can be turned against you, anything you’ve trusted him with is going to go against you too.

Next is survivability. Sure, you can just replace them, but that means training up new guys, fitting them for uniforms, having to worry about personnel shortages or difficulties with finding labor, and general decreases in morale as either the numbers are changing every incident or you’re getting cases where 72 has seniority over 5 because you’re just filling in gaps. (Okay, among other things.) But if you’ve got survivable minions, not only do you not have to worry about replacing them, but they’ll come back with information, possibly learn from their mistakes (don’t count on it, though), and maybe lull the heroes into overconfidence because they always seem to lose.

If you can, get competence and usefulness. The real kind, not the informed kind. If the academy churning them out prides itself on their precision shooting, make sure it also teaches accuracy. (If you don’t know the difference, go grab a dictionary real quick; I’ll wait.) If they’re supposed to be able to take on ten normal men at one go, make sure they can also handle women, children, abnormal men, nonhuman species, things without concept of gender, etc, and that that’s in applicable sorts of contests rather than being able to outknit them (unless your plan depends on knitting skills, anyway). Basically, these people are supposed to be carrying out your evil plans. If they can’t carry them out, why are you wasting your resources on them?

Minion initiative (not to be confused with minion initiative modifiers, which should always be high but not as high as yours) is more of a balancing act. On the one hand, you want your minions to be primarily accustomed to taking your orders without too much question. On the other hand, if all they can do is follow orders, they’ll freeze up when acting on their own, and that’s just not pretty. Besides, minions with brains in their heads are useful; you can steal their ideas, take the credit, and maybe save your skin that way when the flunkie turns out to be right. I find follower tendencies in the 75-80% range to be optimal.

Don’t settle for suboptimal minions. They break under stress, slow you down, and generally make trying to execute a plan even more difficult than it would be otherwise. Remember standards!

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