The Generic Villain Makes a Case for Friendship

Evil can’t operate alone, and we’ve internalized that, but not all the way. We can deal with people who aren’t our rank, whether they’re subordinates like minions or lieutenants; we can handle things that are hopelessly above our rank, like elder gods; we can even sort of handle equals, though it’s usually in a friendly conflict, like evil mastermind courtship or even—gasp—the complicated relations we sometimes have with our heroic counterparts. But there’s one tool that we seem to be mostly missing that the heroes utilize constantly (and as often as not beat us with), and that’s good old friendship between equals. You know, getting along where the rivalry isn’t as vicious, where we’d actually drop a few things to help the one we’re working with, where loyalty is a factor.

You hear a lot of reasons why not. Some say this whole friendship thing is damaging to villain cred. A lot of us have issues with the idea of share and share alike. Of course, there’s the risk of one side going and betraying the other (we are, after all, evil!). Conversely, there’s the fact that each friend becomes an implied weakness for the other, but I’d hope that The Cause comes first, or that we’re the kind of people for whom the answer is to mete out the most vicious possible retribution first and then get on with mourning (after all, we’re evil, it’ll only boost our villain cred if we get nasty).

And behold, there are reasons why having a friend can be a good thing for you.

One: The Power Of Friendship. And I don’t just mean that emotional blackmail that the heroes use to get their deserters back to them. I mean the whole loyalty-synergy-whatsis that they seem to utilize. The thing where not only do they not have to watch their backs around each other, but they can safely delegate watching part of their own backs to each other and know it’s not going to bite them; where they’ve trained together so much that they could finish each other’s sword-swings, never mind sentences; and where they can talk each other out of their funks while the rest of us might end up brooding for arclets and even full arcs. Haven’t you ever wanted to harness something like that?

Two: Leaving aside friendship synergy, synergy-synergy. If you’re working with people, your strengths and weaknesses are likely to balance each other out. A solo worker has to be a generalist; people working together can afford to specialize more, since they know someone else has that thing they didn’t want to learn how to do covered.

Three: Someone to dish on. Many of us are little balls of pent-up emotion just waiting to explode, probably during a final battle or some similarly inconvenient time. Maintaining facade is tiring, old resentments have a tendency to crop up when you least expect them; in short, we’re likely to need someone around whom we can stop hiding, to whom we can gripe about the current difficulties with our situation.

Four: Protection against the heroes’ brand of Power of Friendship. I’m not sure which is more dangerous, the ones who know perfectly well that what they’re doing is emotional manipulation and have mastered it as such, or the ones who really truly feel sorry for you for being alone like that and want to help you, but either one’s a definite risk for dragging you towards the light, and the way they work, you might even be following them willingly by the time they’re done. And speaking of the heroes….

Five: Confusion to your enemies! We aren’t the only ones who are convinced that evil doesn’t have the concept of friendship; the heroes are just as likely to assume that we really can’t do the friend thing either. That what passes for friendships among us is more one controlling the others one way or another, or that we’re all getting ready to knife each other in the back. So they operate under that assumption, try to play us against each other, and like when we try to do the same thing against them, it fails because we really are, well, friends. Isn’t it wonderful to watch the looks on their faces when their worlds turn upside down?

So who says evil can’t have friendships? Sure, we have some considerations the heroes don’t have to take into account, and it’s harder to find people of the right sort among our ranks, but it’s worth it, and it makes us more dangerous. Think about it, at least.


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