The Generic Villain on Asking for Favors

Most of us prefer to work alone, but we can’t do everything ourselves. So every now and then, when that time comes when there’s something that’s outside our skillset, and gritting our teeth and doing without isn’t an option, we find ourselves likely to come to someone who does know how or does have the materials. And every so often we need to get them to do it as a favor. That’s technically advantageous to us, no skin off our backs in the short term… but still dicey. There’s a lot you need to watch out for when dealing with favors.

First off, can they actually do what you need them to? This may seem too obvious to restate, but if you’re operating from a standpoint of “who can I get to do things for me?”, it’s easy to get all bogged down in who would require which payment and who’s probably selling information to whom and who you’ve done a lot for and thus can call in a debt from… in short, and become so busy trying to figure out who’d give the best price that you forget to consider who might actually be capable.

Second, do you and the person you’re asking have mutually compatible agendas? This isn’t a requirement for asking favors, but it helps a lot; if the two of you aren’t working at cross-purposes, your potential helper has less to lose by giving you assistance. If you’re working on the same thing—and no, I don’t mean both of you are trying to get to a position or take hold of a magic item that only one of you can have in the end, I mean something like “cover up this potentially dangerous information” or “kill those dratted heroes”—you’re even likelier to get good results, as helping you will functionally help them in pursuit of the greater goal. (Be careful, though; if the person you’re dealing is bent on gaining recognition for what they do, they might want you to fail even if the two of you are working on the same goal.)

Are they going to ask a price, and if so, what? Logical, but still important. Some people are on good enough terms with their friends to do a favor without expecting something in return—but most of them aren’t Hands of Darkness, and even they are likely to start being disappointed by lack of reciprocity after a while. We’re likelier to negotiate for a Price To Be Named Later, or for an immediate repayment. When you get an offer like that, think carefully; what are they likely to ask you to do, what’s the worst case scenario, and is it actually worth the assistance you’d be getting?

How dangerous is having known ties to this person? This one we don’t think about all that often. We’re Hands of Darkness, after all. Big Bads. It’s dangerous having known ties to ourselves. But the risk inherent in ties to others is still with us, particularly among those of us who focus on subtlety and working behind the scenes. Every link you have is one that can be followed back to you. If you think working with them creates potential for an unacceptable risk, make sure you know and take into account how well both you and they would be able to hide your connection to one another.

Now, I’m not saying don’t ask for favors. What I am saying is to be careful when asking for favors, and make sure you minimize both your risk and the price. You never know when a favor will come back to haunt you.

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