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Being an EVIL OVERLORD
Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well,
there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However
every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen in movies
invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've noticed that
no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad
scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic
mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an
- My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors,
not face-concealing ones.
- My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
- My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not
kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
- Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
- The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the
Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of
Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the
object which is my one weakness.
- I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.
- When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks,
"Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?" My
reply will be, "No, just sensible."
- When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you
kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll
say, "No." and shoot him.
- After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married
immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three
weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried
- I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely
necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button
labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not
Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough
to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be
labelled as such.
- I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is
destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.
- I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small
hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
- I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need
to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker
enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
- I will not waste time making my enemy's death look like an accident
-- I'm not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn't believe
- I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word
"mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.
- One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws
in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before
- All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds
of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the
cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying
celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned
- My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as
members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military
boots or adhere to any other dress codes.
- The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any
other form of last request.
- I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find
that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate
when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into
- I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad
scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted
to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he's
- I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's
just one thing I want to know."
- When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to
- I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt
to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction
at a crucial point in time.
- I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was
evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her
- Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in
maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected
developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to
- I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms
for my legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make
them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol
hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more
- No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I
will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.
- I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops
in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my
power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless
-- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with
spears and rocks.
- I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and
weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at
least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM
INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
- No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort
of machinery which is completely indestructable except for one small and
virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
- If I am engaged in a duel to the death with the hero and I am
fortunate enough to knock the weapon out of his hand, I will graciously
allow him to retrieve it. This is not from a sense of fair play; rather,
he will be so startled and confused that I will easily be able to
- No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there
is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill
me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my
- I will never build only one of anything important. For the same
reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all
- If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately
flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from
there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to
- My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot
escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.
- Even though I don't really care because I plan on living forever, I
will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough
that, if I am slain, it won't tumble to the ground for no good
- I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies
- All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and
cowardly thieves in the land will be pre-emptively put to death. My foes
will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of
- All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with
surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected
reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
- Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect
a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self
sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.
- I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad
news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard
to come by.
- I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes
and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument
in the main sqaure of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the
secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the
citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.
- I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to
wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual
dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be
reserved for formal occasions.
- I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero's party
getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.
- I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
- I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look
diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of
- I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell
block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will
keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out
copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
- If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a
battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.
- If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring
anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of
waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengance towards me in
my old age.
- If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at
the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite
number among his army.
- I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable
superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of
keeping it in reserve.
- Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel
- I will offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for me or
- When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog,
monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of
untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.
- I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the
beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good
looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my
- I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work
for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds
to give the other guy a sporting chance.
- I will not rely entirely upon "totally reliable" spells
that can be neutralized by relatively inconspicuous talismen.
- I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible
for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will
not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for
failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.
- If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can
one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the
- If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I
will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for
him to mature.
- I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology
with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will
not immediately come after me for revenge.
- If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me,
I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them
out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local
- My main computers will have their own special operating system that
will be completely incompatable with standard IBM and Macintosh
- I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While
elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they
are hard to close quickly in an emergency.
- If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the
conditions in the beautiful princess' cell, I will immediately transfer
him to a less people-oriented position.
- I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to
examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned
tunnels that I might not know about.
- If the beautiful princess that I captures says "I'll never
marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh
well" and kill her.
- I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to
double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.
- The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place
in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important
covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if
there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less
- Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless
trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet
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© Boris Zbarsky February 15, 2001