Just For Fun: The Annotated Evil Overlord, Part 2


For convenience, I'm including our panel listing in each post.

Our Expert Panel

We have assembled for this special conference several fine villains who have wreaked havoc throughout the known multiverse. Let's meet them:

  • Virigar. King of the Great Werewolves and progenitor of the species, Virigar is the most-feared monster on all of Zarathan. A soul-eating, nearly indestructible being, Virigar's age is unknown, his full powers a mystery. He has killed gods and demons and men, shrugged off or consumed spells and energy weapons, and survived multiple planned attempts to destroy him. His only known weaknesses are silver weapons, and -- of course -- other soul-destroying beings or weapons. Seen in Digital Knight (and more in the expanded version Paradigms Lost to be released in late 2014) and implied in his existence in Phoenix Rising. In his true form he is a nine-foot-tall fur-covered monstrosity with diamond teeth and claws eight to twelve inches long, vaguely wolflike but much more alien; while he can take on any shape, his preferred guise is a handsome young man (late 20s, early 30s) very much like a young Robert Redford.
  • Master Wieran. Cold, analytical, fanatical, Master Wieran is what modern people would call a mad scientist. Combining knowledge of alchemy and multiple branches of magical study, Wieran's quest is to discover and analyze  the source of life, nay, the very source of reality itself -- and he will sacrifice anything, and anyone, to achieve that goal. Tall, thin, white-haired though not ancient, with deep-set eyes in a narrow, ascetic face and usually wearing something that does look rather like a labcoat, Wieran looks exactly like what he is.
  • Maria-Susanna. Perhaps the most tragic result of the epically tragic Hyperion Project, Maria-Susanna (alluded to in Grand Central Arena and finally encountered in Spheres of Influence) is the idealized self-insert (yes, the Mary-Sue) of the Project's driving force. The collapse of the project combined with the death of the man she was designed for drove her completely over the edge. She still believes she is the good guy -- the very noblest of good guys -- and her delusions will, and have, allowed her to rationalize away literally dozens of murders. A genetically engineered superwoman, Maria-Susanna is the very ideal of the beautiful blonde, and is also physically capable of taking on just about anyone. In addition, she's educated in a huge number of disciplines and can do just about anything she puts her mind to.
  • The Dark Wanderer. One of the legendary heroes of Zarathan is "The Wanderer", a hero supposedly from Earth itself who appeared several thousand years ago. Wizard, warrior, sage, trickster, he's said to be many things. The Dark Wanderer is his moral mirror image, caused by something terrible that happened to the original. With a special immunity to destiny and a unique approach to mystical powers, the Dark Wanderer is one of the most terrifying of all possible enemies to those on the world of Zarathan... and almost no one knows he exists... yet.
  • Thornfalcon. The major adversayr revealed at the end of Phoenix Rising, Thornfalcon is a swordsman, a would-be bard, a lover and a hero... and actually a psychopathic serial killer with very high functionality, empowered by something that can at the least imitate a god, and a manipulator par excellence. Tall, slender, with a long, flexible actor's face that can go from sympathetic to comedic to psychotic in a flash, the brown-haired Justiciar wears a bird-themed "Raiment" that is both defense and mystical weapon, and wields considerable power of his own, especially as his position as the favored agent of his "patron" has made him something more than merely human.
  • Endgame. One of the major villains in my currently-being-shopped-around superhero novel Stuff of Legend, Endgame is an Omnicidal Maniac with the power to make it believable that he WILL destroy the world if not stopped. What event or events in his life filled him with such hatred for all things is not known. He wears a dark armored costume with a cape, and is massively muscled. He is brilliant and extremely tenacious, but constrained in his behavior by the essential rules, so to speak, that govern super-beings' interactions.
  • Amanita Verdant. Entering the discussion as of Point #8, Amanita is one  of the main villains in my to-be-Kickstartered Oz-based novel Polychrome, Amanita was once a Giantess whose first name is unknown, only being addressed as "Mrs Yoop" in her canonical appearance. Having been transformed in such a manner that prohibited her from ever again regaining her true form, she has taken on the shape of a supernaturally beautiful young human woman with green hair and eyes. Amanita is an absolute master of transformation magics, and understands others quite well. She is also quite utterly insane, although able to disguise it well under most conditions. Part of her issues probably stem from her treatment (implied) by her husband, for whom she shows no concern at all when she knows he was captured, dragged off, and imprisoned in an isolated cage in the mountains.


The Annotated Evil Overlord, Part 2

  21. 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 positive mind-set.

         Virigar: As mentioned, I have no real need of Legions of Terror.

         Master Wieran: I MANUFACTURE my Legions, and if they need clothing, no lesser genius than I, myself, will design it! What do I care of other people's imagery?

         Maria-Susanna: I *fight* against legions of terror and oppression, and if I must have an army they will look as just and noble as their cause.

         Dark Wanderer: So cloaked in black with demonic spiky chaos death armor. Got it.

         Maria-Susanna: Will you STOP?

         Dark Wanderer: ANYway, what IS this? Legions of Terror aren't there to have positive mindsets, they exist to put down the rabble, oppress the peasants, and generally get across to everyone in the area that you're an EVIL OVERLORD, not some namby-pamby Benevolent Monarch or even Enlightened Tyrant.

         Thornfalcon: Well, I tend to use mobs of monsters; they're not so much for oppression as for shock, awe, and destruction. But your general point is well-taken.

         Endgame: As I have no intention of ruling, the question is moot.

         Dark Wanderer: I have to wonder why you're here, then. This is the Evil Overlord critique, not the Compleat Guide to Omnicidal Maniacs. Ah well.

         Amanita: When you make your legions out of elemental energies or transformations, you don't need a designer, their… unique look just happens. Take a look at our Temblors, Tempests, Torrents, and Infernos.

         Dark Wanderer: Available now for a limited time! But Wait! Order right now and you'll receive TWO of each for the price of one, plus a bonus TURNIP TWADDLER!

         (others all look at him)

         Dark Wanderer: Fine. No one here understands culture. Next.

  22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

         Virigar: I've consumed energy fields larger than your PLANET. Bring it on.

         Master Wieran: I do not "consume" energy fields. I will of course bring said energy under control and direct it for my ultimate goals.

         Maria-Susanna: Some of these references are so... obscure.

         Dark Wanderer: You're right. I don't even recognize the source for this one. I'm guessing something anime, but I haven't a clue.

         Thornfalcon: I presume I can… make use of fairly powerful energy fields, but I would very much like to test my capabilities before eating anything, than you.

         Endgame: I am destruction; there is no power beyond me.

         Virigar (smiles)

         Amanita: Consume… energy fields. Why, what an… intriguing concept. Perhaps I will.

         Dark Wanderer: Oh, great, give the sociopathic sorceress ideas. I'm so glad I'm native to a different dimension.

         Maria-Susanna: There I am in agreement with you.


  23. 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.

         Virigar: My "troops" ARE weapons.

         Master Wieran: As are mine. But the general sentiment is correct. In my case, I will ensure that even in the event that all magical powers are negated, my perfected creations can STILL defeat even the most powerful enemies! Nothing shall stand before them!  They will [cue rant #9]

         M-S: Aside from the rant, I agree with the strategy.

         Dark Wanderer: Ditto.

         Thornfalcon: Training and coordination. Equipment is useless if your soldiers don’t know how best to use it, and the best soldier knows how to operate with any equipment… or none at all. We Justiciars –

         Dark Wanderer: False Justiciars. Villain, remember.

         Thornfalcon: Well, yes, that goes without saying. And I don't say it, naturally, since I want people to assume I'm one of the good guys. But as I was saying, we False Justiciars are trained with no weapons or even armor as much as we are trained with our Raiment and special weapons.

         Endgame: My power is inherent, and I do not use troops for anything except distractions. But in principle… yes.

         Amanita: Ohhhh, so very important. Especially when the … endgame, if you'll pardon the pun… involves someone who violates all the rules everyone else has to follow. Your troops have to be flexible.

         Dark Wanderer: Hmm -- in one of the examples of "Overlord's Troops overrun by savages armed with spears and rocks" that I can recall, the problem wasn't that their weapons became useless, it was that they'd basically IGNORED the existence of the natives and didn't take them seriously. I'd recommend any Evil Overlord put their troops through a periodic set of exercises in which their best Special Ops people are given the assignment to take out one of their well-trained but standard garrison groups using nothing but primitive techniques, and make sure the troops learn the lesson: sharp pointy rocks can still kill you as dead as a blaster or a fireball, and sneaky little natives with brains will beat complacent well-armed troops every time.


  24. 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.)

         Virigar: Definitely one must be realistic on one's capabilities. I may have an advantage or three thousand there, but in some circumstances I am far more limited and it is well for me to remember that. As to the "this cannot be" line and its relatives… if the heroes have done their job well enough, they DESERVE the proper "shocked denial" performance. If they can actually manage to HURT me and SURPRISE me in the bargain, then I'll give them what they've earned. It's part of the game, just as their screams of horror as they realize all their efforts were for naught and I have won are MY due.

         Master Wieran: Invincibility is for my greatest creations. I am merely more brilliant than they can possibly imagine. Still, I must admit that remaining aware of the areas in which I am somewhat less capable, such as physical conflict, is and has been key to my survival. On the side issue, I will simply note that your preference for dramatics is not mine.

         Maria-Susanna: Knowing what you do and don't do well is certainly a good idea! But I have to admit that, as a hero, it would be a bit disappointing to actually have come up with a brilliant last-ditch way to vanquish the villain and have him say "Oh, darn. Guess that's it, then."

         Dark Wanderer: Hey, it worked on Buffy! "Well… GOSH!" Still, while as a villain I would prefer not to be defeated at all, if I'm defeated, what I say will depend on HOW I'm defeated. I'm somewhat torn on the "style" requirement; being beaten will tend to piss me off. It's not so much a game for me as it is for you, Virigar. Now, if any of your opponents are Japanese or anime fans, however, don't EVER say "S.. SONNA BAKANA!" if you want to survive the next few minutes.

         Master Wieran: "Anime"?

         Maria-Susanna: We really all need to chip in and get the poor Mad Alchemist a cultural education.

         Thornfalcon: Well, I must admit that I have a hard time not speaking – that bardic tendency, you know – so I suppose that, given the chance, I'd want to go out with style, if I must.

         Endgame: Hmph. Yes, it's a requirement, at least in my milieu, that some appropriately dramatic final words be spoken.

         Amanita: Oh, I much prefer not to be beaten at all. Fortunately I understand not only my strengths and weaknesses… but those of my opponents!


  25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

         Virigar (dryly): Oh, you'd prefer it be completely indestructible except for many large and easily targeted spots?

         Master Wieran: I think they refer to devices as are found in poorly-thought-out tales which provide some critical weakness to an otherwise invincible foe.

         Maria-Susanna: Say, like silver bullets for a werewolf?

         Virigar: Your soul looks absolutely delicious, you know.

         Dark Wanderer: No threatening during our conference. I think this is another of those things where you just need to add a few caveats.

         Endgame: Such as assuming, as with the countdown, that if it has ANY weak spot your opposition can, and will, find it. Your device may be very useful… but do not depend on it.

         Master Wieran: Excellent point. As a corollary, ALWAYS have at least one, and preferably several, backup plans.

         (All): Agreed.


  26. 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 bedchamber.

         Virigar: It's exceedingly unlikely any of my opposition are my own kind, and while I have used sexual interaction as one of my many weapons, it's certainly not something that interests me with respect to any mortals.

         Master Wieran: ARE there idiots so driven by hormonal and power issues that they would DO such a thing? I assure you, if I found some female who was inherently so attractive that she actually distracted me from my research, she would BECOME research!

         Maria-Susanna: Well, on the positive side, that makes sure you won't reproduce. This has to be a good thing. But I agree with this one. I mean, why would I *want* my enemy sent to join me in the location I'm most vulnerable? This is like the Marry the Princess one, only worse, as your intentions (if you're a villain) are strictly DIShonorable.

         Dark Wanderer: I think it's also much more divergent along gender lines. Supremely Evil Villannesses are much more likely to attempt seduction and corruption of the Hero or his Best Friend, while the male Evil Overlords are just trying to take whatever they want. While BOTH approaches are, in general, doomed to failure in the traditional mold, the particular one at hand is much more immediately dangerous; the typical Villainess Seduction approach tends to leave the Hero more willing to allow you to live.

         Amanita: While this is true, I wonder that none of you consider the use of proper transformations that make the transformed happy, or spells to force obedience – mind control, in short.

         Dark Wanderer: Always nice ideas, but the brainwashing tends to come apart at the most inconvenient times and then it's stab-stab-stabby in the back.

         Amanita: Only if you have inadequate mind control powers or preparations, something *I* will not have to worry about.

         Virigar: AAAaaaaand we're back to the "overconfidence and proper assessment of powers" issue, aren't we?


  27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

         Virigar: Would any of us disagree?

         (After a pause) Dark Wanderer: Well, the only caveat I'd add is that sometimes there are things you CAN'T duplicate. Poor Sauron's One Ring, for instance -- he couldn't very well make a Backup Ring. Devices using unique or nearly impossible to obtain substances, etc., will also not be practically duplicable.

         Master Wieran: Perfectly correct. Also, there are things which CAN be duplicated, but for which the time and effort would then cost you the window of opportunity for actually executing your plan. Making a Philosopher's Stone took me 15 years; I could probably do it in 10 now, but the crucial confluence of events I need to take advantage of occurs in 4.

         Endgame: However, the basic point is one that any villain would be well to remember: backup plans for any and all failures, for you can rest assured you'll be needing them.


  28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

         Virigar (sharp grin): I *AM* my pet monster.

         Master Wieran: I CREATE my monsters. Supremely powerful creatures who are also inherently supremely LOYAL. I need no secure cages for most of them for they recognize their creator and give me the worship that is my due!

         Maria-Susanna: Oh, I see. You're one of the sort I have to kill. People like YOU, thinking they can play god with other lifeforms regardless of their feelings, toys for your amusement, why, I –

         Dark Wanderer: Oh, dear. Take a couple of deep breaths and calm yourself. Yes, he's a villain, but from a universe you'll never enter, so he's not your problem. I see this hit a tender spot for you. Anyway, I generally don't create MONSTERS as such, and if I did, I'd follow Master Wieran's principle.

         Thornfalcon: Much better to become the monster yourself, I think.

         Endgame: My … associate has her two brothers, who are certainly monsters. But they have quite a… sibling bond, so they meet the requirements. Yes, if you have some creature you depend on for victory, mistreating it is a fool's game.

         Amanita: Nothing I create would dare fail to obey. No matter how I treat it.

         Dark Wanderer: You just go on thinking that.


  29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

         Virigar: Does rather make it difficult to maintain the "Dark Lord" title, though.

         Dark Wanderer: Yes, and "the Pink Lord of Shininess" doesn't quite have the same impact.

         Master Wieran: I wear white. A useful color in the laboratory, and generally the rabble do not see me anyway.

         Maria-Susanna: Oh, I LOVE bright colors. I mean, I have a very special Little Black Dress, but brilliant blues and greens bring out my eyes, I think...

         Dark Wanderer: And I'm sure I'd love to watch you model them all. I rather LIKE black, one thing that I DO have in common with my disgustingly good Other Self.

         Thornfalcon: In my case, my colors were rather dictated by my role. Now, after I achive the dominion I desire… Black for special occasions, but really, I'm not giving up my sense of style and fashion for the sake of evil.

         Endgame (with a short laugh): My name and purpose rather show my nature; the color of my costume comes from who I am.

         Amanita: Aside from a few specific circumstances, black is not my preferred color.

  30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

         Virigar: A lovely thought, but in fact I suspect all you'll achieve would be to make an epic which was much more gripping and exciting. Possibly the heroes would simply be grimmer, or, worse yet, would start to provide their own gentle comedic relief.

         Master Wieran: What a foolish idea. On the other hand, putting such incompetents out of the way would be a service to oneself as well, so whether it slows up the heroes or not isn't really so important.

         Maria-Susanna: Now, if there were slick conjurers, dashing bards, and debonair thieves, that would be a different matter.

         Dark Wanderer: Been there, run that. I agree with the Big V; they'll just roll their own. Probably using puns and literary references.

         Thornfalcon: I feel somewhat put out. Admittedly it's a role I play, but I have on occasion been called a no-talent bard.

         Maria-Susanna: If it is a part you play, you should consider it a compliment. Not that I encourage people like you, but really, it shouldn't bother you.

         Endgame: Bah. Wasting your energies killing a few useless comedians? If you could actually kill the heroes, you wouldn't be trying such an indirect method to stop them and you're already doomed to failure.

         Amanita (puzzled): I don't really understand this one at all.

         Dark Wanderer: Alas, a common sort of tale, in which there is some incompetent in the party that provides tension-relieving amusement. I've actually always hated those aspects, so I'm all completely on board with killing them just for fun.


  31. 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.

         Virigar: I suspect this is likely to be no more successful than the prior one.

         Master Wieran: Why would the naive busty tavern wenches be of any USE to the heroes?

         Maria-Susanna: Dear, dear, that's another of those "sheltered upbringing" things with you.

         Dark Wanderer: More like "inhuman coldness" things; has to do with his "Soulless Science" alignment. You know, I rather LIKE seeing the naive busty wenches myself, and if in my Wanderings I have to stop by a tavern, I'd rather NOT have all the personnel be surly waitresses.

         Thornfalcon: Oh, well said! The world would be far the poorer without lovely maidens in the various establishments along the road -- and elsewhere, for that matter. (nods to Maria-Susanna and Amanita)

         Endgame: While I have little care for the attractions that seem to distract the two of you, more to the point I would suspect that the whole operation would backfire by causing the hero and heroine to recognize their attraction for each other MUCH earlier.

         Amanita: Yes… yes, it would work that way. More distractions means less likelihood they realize what's right in front of them. Good thinking. (laughs creepily)


  32. 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.

         Virigar: Here I believe we are all in agreement.

Master Wieran: Precisely. Unless the messenger is also the CAUSE of the bad news.

         Maria-Susanna: True. That IS the sort of poor impulse control that dooms many a tyrant. Killing off all the competent help because they bring you bad news.

         Dark Wanderer: Yes, rather like the earlier bit about listening to advisors. Sometimes your advisors may tell you things you don't want to hear, like "Sir, your latest plan has more holes than a wheel of Swiss Cheese, and you'd be well advised to abandon it and start from scratch". Killing them simply makes it so that no one will TELL you the bad news at all.

         Thornfalcon: Oh, a thousand times yes. I have on many occasions given heartfelt thanks that my patron is extremely reasonable in this area. Kerlamion, the King of All Hells… is far less so.

         Endgame: I cannot argue the logic, but there is something so… satisfying about killing the bearer of bad news.

         Amanita: Or transforming him into a worm or an ant! Oh yes! (claps hands like an overeager genki girl)

         Dark Wanderer: Not recommending you as employers. Ever.


  33. 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.

         Virigar: Clothing is the choice of the shapeshifter. I don't care what anyone wears as long as they get the job done.

         Master Wieran: I don't –

         Maria-Susanna: --understand why someone would WANT to put their subordinates in a stainless-steel bustier. Another of those "not sure whether to pity you or be glad" things. If I have male or female employees I'll have something both attractive and useful designed as their work uniforms!

         Dark Wanderer: If my fetching female subordinates WANT to wear chainmail bikinis, stainless steel bustiers, or leather, on the other hand, far be it from me to forbid it. I'll just make sure it's ENCHANTED to give full protection regardless of the square inches actually covered. Male subordinates will wear much more modest attire, however.

         Maria-Susanna: Isn't that rather sexist?

         Dark Wanderer: *I* am the Evil Overlord, things will conform to *MY* aesthetic preferences. Evil means never having to worry about sexism, racism, or anything else implying anyone else matters but you.

         Thornfalcon: I like your style, Wanderer. World, or even mere country, domination naturally gives one the opportunity to indulge… more personal tastes than normally permitted.

         Endgame: Rulership is overrated.

         Amanita: For you, perhaps. I look forward to ruling the entirety of the worlds, and the Above and Below in the bargain. And I think my servants will be entertaining and very pretty young men. Oh, yes.


  34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

         Virigar: If I turn into a snake, it WILL help.

         Master Wieran: What is the point of THIS one? How many Evil Overlords or Brilliant Scientists spend time turning into a snake? Why? Snakes don't even have hands!

         Maria-Susanna: Well, in the Narnia books the Green Witch turned into a snake and ended up beheaded.

         Dark Wanderer: Yes, and Thulsa Doom from the first Conan movie also turned himself into a snake. Though he didn't get beheaded as a snake; in fact, it did help him escape from the first assault.

         Thornfalcon: Then it is one of those which are overly-specific and perhaps not worthy of discussion. Is there a more general principle we can think of that would apply?

         Endgame: Perhaps 'Transformations are not merely for shock-and-awe; I will only change my shape when it is tactically and practically the correct thing to do, not simply because it looks impressive."

         Amanita: I would say that is an excellent formulation of the principle. I say this as a Yookoohoo, an expert in transformations; one has to carefully select the form to be used and the conditions under which it is useful.

         Dark Wanderer: I think you've got it. Excellent reformulation, you two.

         Master Wieran: I concur.

         Virigar: I think we are all in agreement. Well done. On to the next!


  35. 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 Generation X.

         Virigar: That is, I am afraid, a reflection on the personages seen with goatee or Van Dyke beards or other similar facial ornamentation in the present era.

         Master Wieran: Pfui! I will not even bother to comment!

         Maria-Susanna: Well... yes, I suppose. The current crop do have this… problem. But it's hardly universal; why, DuQuesne has an absolutely magnificent, what do they call it, Beard of Awesome!

         Dark Wanderer: Yes, you're right. The modern ones all look like skinny losers and haven't a tiny shred of charisma, THAT's the problem, not the beards.

         Thornfalcon: Indeed. If you are not yourself WORTHY of the perception of diabolic power, growing the beard will not suddenly make you LOOK as though you were. A beard, a hairstyle, a cape -- these are things that must simply *complete* you, not *substitute* for you and your personal dynamism.

         Endgame(glancing around the table): I trust no one here has a problem with my beard?

         Amanita: Oh, of course not! Why, both you and my darling King Ugu wear such beards with perfect panache! So debonair and stylish! I agree with the rest of you; the right face, the right attitude, and such a beard accentuates your evil. The wrong one… and you look like someone who wears a beard because it's easier than shaving.


  36. 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.

         Virigar: Well, this is one of those optional Good Form/Bad Form choices. Imprisoning your enemies is already admitting you're either (A) in need of some kind of information they have, or (B) already playing Good Form by not slaughtering them immediately.

         Master Wieran: And as you might expect, I simply agree with the rule. I will separate and interrogate them all separately, and imprison them separately. Oh, yes, I would add that I will *NOT* have a single Master Key that opens all locks throughout my Secret Fortress.

         Maria-Susanna: Ohhh, and here you had us fooled into thinking you'd never seen any of the things we referenced! What a classic that one is, though -- get the Special Key and you can get through all the rest of the security.

         Dark Wanderer: Sometimes imprisoning them together is useful; they talk about things that you want to know. But it would be wise to actually keep an eye on them, and not by trusting that less-than-bright guard with the job either. Multiple monitors – after all, how many ultra-high-value prisoners do you have? Unless you've captured the entire Silver-Age Legion of Superheroes, you can't have so many you can't spare three or four people to keep a good watch on all of them.

         Thornfalcon: I would also recommend that any guards be selected for their lack of interest in persons of the particular sex or other characteristics of the prisoner or prisoners.

         Endgame: If I must take prisoners, I will imprison them appropriately. However, dramatics are a consideration I cannot ignore, so it is possible I will find myself constrained to house them together, or close together, for the appropriate victorious gloating.

         Amanita: I prefer transforming my prisoners into something that cannot contemplate escape. Then, if I have to interrogate them, I return them to their original form.

         Dark Wanderer: Well, that's effective,  but I confess it takes some of the fun out of the whole thing.


  37. 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.

     Dark Wanderer: None of us disagree on this, yes? If you've got someone who's serving as your right hand and you trust them, they're NOT bringing you bad news for the hell of it.

     (All): Agreed.


  38. 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 vengeance towards me in my old age.

         Virigar: Bad form, AND leads to boredom. If  they can actually TRACE the murder to me and then plan their vengeance, it might even be amusing.

         Master Wieran: If their foolish relative FORCED me to kill them, why wouldn't they learn their lesson and recognize that it is simple suicide to threaten me?

         Maria-Susanna: I suppose we're all agreed in the diagnosis of "sociopath" here? Anyway, I would NEVER kill those uninvolved. The children can learn. I'd try to make sure they got the right side of the story. If they were YOUNG children I might have to take care of them myself, or at least find them good homes!

         Dark Wanderer:  Okay, you're definitely going to be confusing SOME people – and your tactic, historically, would work, at least most of the time. I admit that I rationally agree with Master Wieran, but my gut preference is more along Virigar's direction.

         Thornfalcon: I, like you, like to combine drama and practicality. That said… I actually chose the dramatic route myself, for practical reasons. Killing the Vantages was ordered by my esteemed patron, and I presume he had an excellent reason for ordering it. Leaving dear Kyri and her little sister alive after killing Michael… well, it's easy to excuse the death of a Justiciar as something that happens in a high risk profession, but killing off his surviving kin could easily get things looked at that we really didn't want examined.

         Endgame: Well, I plan on killing everyone anyway, so yes, kill them all. And all their neighbors, for good measure.

         Amanita: Dear, dear, you are poor choice for a partner, aren't you? But I can't help but agree; we let that little Polychrome girl go because we thought she was no threat, and we know how that worked out. Kill everyone who might be a problem.


  39. 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.

         Virigar: Oh, now that's not only Bad Form, it's cowardice. In my case, it's also impractical. If *I* choose to go into battle, I am the most formidable warrior on the battlefield, and it would be rational and practical for me to find the top members of the opposition and swallow their souls.

         Master Wieran: If I am forced to actually take the field MYSELF, I will prepare in such a manner that I am formidably armed and armored, but I will not ride in the front. I will of course not have an "opposite number" since there is none in my opposition who can even begin to APPRECIATE my genius! If I am confronted in the end, they will rue the day they dared oppose me! My power shall (continue with standard rant #7)

         Maria-Susanna: Oh, dear, there he goes again. I will lead the forces of light if needed, and challenge my opposite number to an honor duel!

         Dark Wanderer: While I see the practicality of the advice, I must find I agree with Virigar again. I'm my most formidable weapon.

         Thornfalcon: Hm. While I am of course quite capable myself – a Justiciar, real or false, is nothing to trifle with – I must say that I would at the least want to soften up the opposition with hordes of disposable monsters and underlings. This would also educate me on their strengths, weaknesses, and tactics. So I'm more on the side of this one than on that of the rest of you.

         Endgame: I am the weapon of the Ending and the destruction of hope. I will lead the legions of the Dead to the world's doom!

         Amanita: I am much more in sympathy with the handsome Justiciar; I'm powerful in my own way, but let the disposable and infinitely replicable soldiers do most of the work first.


  40. 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.

         Virigar: I *AM* an unstoppable superweapon, and I'll keep as much of me in reserve as I like.

         Master Wieran: While I do not enjoy the advantages of your age and power, the simple fact of the matter -- to any halfway competent mind, of which there are tragically few -- is that "unstoppable superweapon" is a condition, not a device. For any superweapon that can be devised, a defense can also be devised in time, or else there are limitations on its use.

         Maria-Susanna: Exactly right, Master Wieran. The old USA did not use nuclear weapons on every minor squabble because it was literally overkill, and dirty overkill at that.

         Dark Wanderer: This is both a matter of Good Form and of practicality. If you use your superweapon at every opportunity, someone may actually figure out a defense (or how to defuse the weapon). It will CERTAINLY draw attention to the weapon and its installation, etc., and that's not necessarily a good thing. A certain Mr. Vader and his erstwhile boss Tarkin found THAT out.

         Thornfalcon: Not that I am familiar with those gentlemen personally, but I am very much familiar with keeping a great power in reserve, for use in the final – or, perhaps, after the final – extremity.

         Endgame: The unstoppable superweapons that I – or other villains of my acquaintance – have usually also include the stricture of time to put them into effect. The Hellvortex has multiple conditions necessary to activate it.

         Amanita: Oh, I have so many superweapons, I'll always have one in reserve, so why not send a few out now?? (laughs)







  1. Richard H says:

    I think my favorite part of this series is how it highlights that much of the overlord list comes down to “I will not have obviously exploitable character flaws.” When the character flaws are obvious and stupid, everyone agrees with not having them, but when they’re obvious and interesting, well, the results get more interesting.

  2. Robert Carnegie says:

    Getting rid of all bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land is something that people will thank you for, except for some of their close family. You could make it a more exciting version of “America’s Got Talent”… no, on second thoughts, some bad comedian would turn out to be the hero, and people would never vote him off. But then, does the vote have to matter?

  3. Stephen St. Onge says:

    The Turnip Twaddler was a low blow.

Your comments or questions welcomed!