Last week, I talked about viable reasons to put off a fight with the protagonist(s) (yes, the Management’s still got me on Carnival, why do you ask?). But all the will in the world isn’t going to do you any good without a way. How do you make sure those blasted prots don’t fight you anyway?
Some of you would say, “That’s what minions are for!” In many situations, you’d be right. Requiring the prots to fight your subordinates instead is a time-honored and valid practice… but when you do, try to make absolutely sure the heroes are actually outmatched. Otherwise, it’s a waste of subordinates. Besides, outmatching the heroes means the minions know you’re doing it because you trust them, rather than because the strategy calls for cannon fodder. (Try not to overdo the degree by which your forces outmatch the heroes, though; underdogs have this obnoxious tendency to be likelier to win as the odds get more and more overwhelming, and the more certain your minions’ victory is, the more morale will suffer if the confrontation ends in defeat.)
Be somewhere else. Unless there is something you absolutely have to defend, that makes you an immobile target, move. They can’t defeat you if they can’t fight you; they can’t fight you if you’re not there to fight. (This, of course, works even better if there’s somewhere they know you’re going to be, so you can not be there without having to worry about whether or not it is in fact the place where you need not to be.)
Be there, but be someone else. While they can still get in a fight with you if they don’t know it’s you, they’re a lot less likely to, particularly if you don’t give them reason to fight you. A lot of hero-types, and even a good number of the antiheroes, have this… thing… about innocents. If you can pass for one, you’re good to go.
Be too scary to be worth fighting. This doesn’t always work, mind you; a sense of proportion isn’t necessarily a requirement in the heroing business. But if you’ve got prots who don’t have too much invested in fighting you right here, right now, then a good show of force/invincibility/downright non-level-appropriate features might get them to back down. (Note, though, that while it’s a good morale-dampener to demonstrate your superiority on the tankiest of the lot first, don’t do it unless you know you can give them significant damage in the first strike. If they’re able to shrug you off completely, their morale will only go up, and yours might well go down.)
Have a good escape route; they can’t fight you if they can’t catch you. If you’re taking this strategy, though, remember not to take the time to taunt them on the way out. The day you tell them they almost caught you is generally the day they catch you.
Give them reason not to fight. Threatening someone/something they hold dear is reliable (at least as long as whatever’s being threatened isn’t telling them to do it anyway), but you can also play off of their other qualities, like moral code or sense of duty. This works in the short term, but in the long run, there’s a bit of a risk of karmic backlash–keep that in mind if you’re going for career villainy.
Be too cool to kill. This doesn’t necessarily mean you avoid the fight–though that’s often the case, particularly if you come across as sympathetic enough–but it does tend to mean that all they’re trying to do is foil the plan rather than rendering you forever incapable of planning. It’s a tough process, but when it works, it works.
Keeping out of the fight is up to you; know what to do, how to do it, and when to put it to use!