The Generic Villain Commandeers a Destiny

My own disinterest in the things aside, there are uses for having—or at least, for appearing to have—a Destiny. And let’s face it, Destinies are usually for just about everyone else, particularly the lightsiders. But hey—we’re evil. Stealing is on the fair game list—and stealing people’s PR is fun. Why not just try to swipe the destiny before whatever fresh-faced farm kid or rebellious princess or whoever the cliché prot type of the week is can start making use of it? But if you do, there are a few things you’re going to need to remember.

Research the blasted prophecy! Yes, this is as important if it doesn’t actually apply to you as if it does; how else are you going to make sure that you actually appear to be in compliance? It’ll also give you a sense of who’s likely to legitimately swipe the prophecy back: just because you’ve got the world conned doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to actually qualify, even if you’ve got everyone convinced that anyone after you is a fake. Isn’t it better to be able to spot them and deal with them quietly before they can confirm that they’re the real deal?

Take advantage of the parts that match up with you. Yes, a lot of them are checklists, and you need to do everything. But once you’ve fulfilled a few conditions, it’s a whole lot easier to convince people that you just haven’t gotten around to the rest of them yet. Anything that already describes you, take advantage of. Anything that goes well with what you’re already suited for, save for when you have an audience. Do the rest on your own time.

Make sure a reasonable person would believe that you did in fact fulfill the conditions. DO NOT make any of said fulfillments obviously fake or staged if you can possibly help it. Likewise, don’t split hairs—it is not going to convince people if you’re only fulfilling the conditions “in a manner of speaking”. Real objects of prophecies generally aren’t rules-lawyering them; it doesn’t look good.

Don’t believe your own press. Seriously, if you only conned your way into the prophecy, the last thing you want to do is act like all of it applies to you. This goes double if you’re assuming you’re getting the protection generally provided by said prophecy. Like I said last week, you can’t assume narrative immunity even when it’s legitimately your destiny; why should you when you’re a pretender.

Conversely, watch out for becoming the lie. Sometimes it’s just a case of being such a good actor that you convince yourself that you’re going to do it all, and next thing you know you’re striking a huge blow for the side of good and either can’t figure out how that happened or can’t imagine it any other way. (To be fair, if it isn’t necessarily a blow against your interests, the PR boost for when you get on to your actual plans might be a benefit.) Sometimes, it’s the Obligatory Handlers that Entities of Destiny tend to acquire—you know the type, there’s probably someone old and wise and slightly mystical who won’t give a straight answer until it would be dramatic. And every now and then a Destiny itself will just latch onto whomever appears to fit the bill and twist them around until they actually are the Individual Spoken Of—in which case, if this destiny is going to mess up your original plans, you’re pretty much toast.

If the prophecy hasn’t twisted you to its ends, it probably has a real subject somewhere else. Annoyingly, this is just as likely if prophecy is an Actual Thing in your Verse as it is if it’s some old piece of doggerel that’s done time as a children’s rhyme, a sea chanty, and a political slogan, along with having been exposed to generation upon generation of Cultural Telephone. If it’s important enough that you think it’s worth exploiting, it is probably important enough for the Laws of Dramatics to ensure that it is actually a Thing. And if it really is just a bunch of politically useful doggerel, what do you lose by having kept an eye out?

And do have at least some idea what you’re going to do if you do manage to commandeer this Destiny. I’ve seen a lot of people whose process seems to be something along the lines of “Be recognized as the Chosen One, …?, Profit!” It rarely ends well.

I’m not going to say you shouldn’t steal destinies; like just about everything else, they’re useful tools. Just remember to stay sharp with them—just stealing the thing is the easy part.

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