Ask GV: Walking the Walk

Finally, a question!

Tu Eanna asks,

Dear Generic Villain,
I am doing some freelance work for a small evil enterprise, and while I have no qualms about behaving in ways that would ping as evil to the average normal, to say nothing of the hero sorts, I also don’t want to fall into the trap of coming across as trying to hard. I have seen many a morally ambiguous/neutral/variable protagonist fall into the trap of saying and doing things that sound just plain odd to the average villain. How do I properly show my moral questionabilty while working with evil types?

Thank you, Tu Eanna

Dear Tu Eanna,

…seriously, why is it that I get more questions from protagonists than from villain-types these days? First, the mantis, and now this. Ah, well, a debt is a useful thing, and besides, it might get some real Hands to drop the villain ball.

The big thing to remember is that you don’t want to try too hard. As you’ve pointed out, that’s what usually gets people’s attention. Expounding on the nutritional benefits of the infantile hypothalamus without provocation, going into a long string of treating “good” as a four-letter word without first ensuring that they do the same (I usually get around this with “Excellent” when I’m not sure what kind of organization I’m working with), that sort of thing—they’re giveaways.

I find the best way to go isn’t a veneer of immorality, but a veneer of amorality. You look out for yourself—or if you have someone you need to be loyal to, you look out for them, and forget everyone else. If the puppy’s in the way, it gets kicked; it’s that simple. If there’s something evil-looking you can do and enjoy it, go for it. But don’t go out of your way, and try to avoid doing things you couldn’t convince yourself to do anyway. Nothing breaks your cover like bad acting.

The most often un-planned-for part, though, is your reaction to realizing you’ve just done a good deed. Most evil posers tend to respond by gasping and trying to cover it up, which only draws further attention to them, and we all know how that ends. What you need to remember is that evil is as often as not an absence of rules—as I noted before, extreme amorality works just as well as blatant immorality. In sum, treat your good acts with the same nonchalance with which you should be treating your evil acts. You felt like it. That’s all that matters.

And Eanna?

If you get good at it, come pay a visit. Being functionally retired does mean I haven’t had a decent opponent (all right, aside from Gethin) in a while. You’ll figure out where to find me.

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