The Generic Villain vs. the Evil Overlord List, Items 30-35

The Generic Villain continues a point-by-point facedown and update of that reference material of all baddies with imperial ambitions, The Evil Overlord List.

30. Deprive the heroes of their needed comic relief by preemptively executing all bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards and cowardly thieves. I have two problems with this statement. One, unless done with a proper cartoonish flair, it grimdarks the living daylights out of you, and higher Dark and Gritty Quotients tend to mean that you die more horribly in the end. Two, you can’t count on your foes to give up if they don’t have comic relief—you’re going to have a much stronger effect if you let them have comic relief for a while, and then take that comic relief and break him. (Link relevant post.)

31. Replace all naïve, busty tavern wenches with surly, world-weary waitresses in order to avoid unexpected support/romantic subplots. …honestly, this one is past its expiration date. Nowadays, most heroes either come pre-packaged with a Love Interest, or the Love Interest is running around with the hero and engaging in combinations of mutual life-saving and unresolved sexual tension, and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that not all heroes are straight males these days; changing the barstaff isn’t going to help all that much. Blackmailing the barstaff might work (either they pass on the message as ordered, or they get the heroes to deal with your leverage, which hopefully you will have arranged such that the heroes can’t do that and oppose your major plans at the same time). Alternately, make sure you’ve done something nice for any barkeep who’s likely to end up in a romantic subplot with the hero du jour, as heroes tend to have a high opinion of their Love Interests’ views of others, and having one of the good guys putting in words on your behalf will be advantageous later.

32. Don’t kill the messenger. …look, this is a proverb, why do we even need to say this? Not only does it relieve you of a perfectly good (and either exceedingly competent, if they managed to get all the way from the site of your latest defeat without getting killed/captured/injured, or completely innocent, if they got delegated by the subordinate who actually did do the screwing up) messenger, but once you’ve killed one people become a lot more reluctant to give you bad news. Anything you don’t know is happening, you can’t respond to properly.

33. Don’t require high-ranking female members of the organization to wear stainless steel bustiers; reserve all-black-leather outfits for formal occasions. …why don’t we rephrase this as “Make the uniforms comfortable and practical as well as potentially intimidating to outsiders” and call it a day?

34. Don’t turn into a snake; it never helps. This depends. Are we talking human-sized or larger serpent for purposes of attack power? In that case, I agree; for one thing, you don’t tend to have upper limbs at that point, let alone prehensile thumbs, and most of the time you aren’t particularly accustomed to that form, so you’ve got diminished reflexes and an outsized opinion of your own strengths and defenses (see also #24). On the other hand, turning into a garter snake so as to quickly zip through a small hole to safety isn’t generally a bad plan—you just need to make sure that you’re right next to the hole, that the heroes aren’t going to expect you to abruptly disappear, and that the heroes’ puntable buddy can’t follow you, cut you off, or prevent your returning to your natural form. In general, though, you’ll probably want something with hands.

35. No goatees; they don’t look diabolic anymore. This one’s a matter of taste. If you have a good twin, though, no goatees. It’s too obvious. (And if you’re female or of a species that doesn’t do goatees to begin with, it just looks silly. Unless, I suppose, this is Ancient Egypt, you just usurped your pharaoh twin brother’s position, and it’s the Requisite False Beard—if so, let me know how it goes!)


  1. UZ says:

    Don’t turn into a snake? Nonsense! If I were an evil overlord I would be a snake *all the time*. No one would be able to tell what I was thinking, I could still probably learn to type with my nose and give orders thereby. I wouldn’t even have to blink.

    Think about it, everyone finds the big snake super threatening. It’s not a good escape form; it’s easily flanked, never climbs well for some reason, and people are allowed to exercise egregious prejudice against snakes without social derogation. You shouldn’t use your snake form for fighting at all, it’s a negotiating form.

    If you’re in your “human” form and you turn into a big snake, people don’t even have to know it’s you… they’ll just stab you for being a big snake. On the other hand, if you’re a big snake all the time and then you assume your “human” form only in dire emergencies, they might not even figure out who the lady in the bathrobe is and they almost definitely *won’t* stab you.

    As for the stainless steel bustiers, that’s really up to your staff isn’t it? It shouldn’t be regular uniform, the rank and file don’t need to have something pushed on them like that and it probably violates local workplace environment laws. On the other hand, your diplomatic corps members are well within their rights to wear all the togas and chainmail halters they want, they have an image to maintain and it’s similarly unfair to restrict them to cargo pants when their entire job is to attract attention. Don’t worry, for every Red Sonja type you’ll get someone who wears a tuxedo all the time, it will make your life that much more dapper just having them around. Plus the tuxedo types are always stone cold killers. Just be sure the lads don’t get left out, furry shorts and skintight armour are for everybody and you don’t want to miss an opportunity with the other side just because of silly gender prejudices.

    Danseur de Mal: I am defeated. I present… my dance of surrender!

    (He dances. Everyone turns red.)

    Then you stop being a snake while everyone’s distracted! See?

  2. Philo Pharynx says:

    I’ve always said to reward the messengers well. Get a reputation for paying well for useful information. Good intelligence is vital to your plans. Of course being able to remove or modify the memory of sensitive information from your messenegers is also useful. You don’t want them caryring the story back to the heroes. Then the heroes would know s this information and know that you know it.

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