Just For Fun: The Annotated Evil Overlord, part 3



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 3


  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)


  41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

         Virigar: Once more?

         Dark Wanderer: "Oh, that trick NEVER works.".

         Master Wieran: Have NONE of these putative overlords recognized the essential inevitable progress of Science? That despite all the efforts of the pea-brained masses and their pompously arrogant yet slow-witted overlords, the great discoveries of their superiors cannot be forever repressed? Fools! They believe that by closing their eyes to the truth they can make it go away, yet [rant #22]

         Maria-Susanna: And he's off again. Well, without interrupting him I'll just agree with the general point. You cannot put that genie back into the bottle.

         Thornfalcon: Time travel? I did not realize this was possible!

         Endgame: Playing with time is difficult, and usually futile in the end. Certainly it is futile to attempt to keep the related technolgy secret.

         Amanita: If it is possible, I would like to go back and change a few teeny-tiny things…

         Dark Wanderer (sotto voce): I'll just bet you would…

  42. 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.

         Virigar: Now THIS I agree with. I'll probably just EAT the thing.

         Master Wieran: If it's a common creature it will be disposed of. Otherwise I am sure the creature will serve some purpose after I have suitably modified it.

         Maria-Susanna: How horrid! I'll just try to keep it restrained and have someone follow it so it can't get into trouble.

         Dark Wanderer: Treecat in a blender. It's what's for dinner!

         Thornfalcon: I would generally agree. Unless you can somehow gain control over the sickeningly cute companion creature, yes, kill it. If you can control it, now, what a marvelous opportuniity to really raise the hero's spirits and then dash them.

         Endgame: Again, I say I kill everything. But in principle, yes, the perky little sidekick animal is undoubtedly much more dangerous than it looks. Kill it.

         Amanita: I would prefer to replace it with a perfect copy… loyal to me, of course.

         Dark Wanderer: Hm. A nice idea, but often there's some kind of soul/mental bond that would make it really hard to work up a convincing fake.


  43. 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 plans.

         Virigar: Not a problem with me, of course.

         Master Wieran: Nor for me.

         Maria-Susanna: It's a bit disappointing that this tactic seems no longer so effective. The villains just don't have the clueless lechery they used to.

         Dark Wanderer: Now, now, let's not start this pining for the Good Old Days. I agree with the principle, although I would welcome any attempts on your part to sway my judgment.

         Thornfalcon: So would I, though she has threatened parts of me I would prefer to keep. The actual heroine, however… well, I would of course welcome her advances, and make sure that she was eventually in no position to change her mind.

         Maria-Susanna: You're starting to creep me out.

         Endgame: I will laugh at her and incinerate her in view of her companions. Not that that will keep her dead, mind you, but the feeling is very satisfactory.

         Amanita: Oh, yes – changing this to the hero, of course – I would welcome his advances… and change his mind over time. I can be very persuasive.

         Master Wieran: The weak-minded deserve the doom that such reliance on hormonal impulses leads them to.


  44. 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.

         Virigar: This is perilously close to calling what *I* do "dumb", something I would never tolerate.

         Master Wieran: The statement has a point, but only half a point. Those who do it purely for money can sometimes be bought off by the target, and then they come and lie about it. Those in it for the sport aren't able to be "bought off", in general.

         Maria-Susanna: You know, I'd never thought of it that way, but yes, that's true.

         Dark Wanderer: I'll just employ a large number of them and hope one of them actually hits the target.

         Thornfalcon: Better screen them carefully, too. Nothing worse than hiring a bounty hunter with a conscience that suddenly decides he'd rather switch than fight.

         Endgame: Speaking from personal experience, I presume?

         Thornfalcon: Yes. How sharper than a serpent's tooth is the blade of a Tor master.

         Endgame: This is also rather… world-dependent. Any enemy capable of threatening me is so utterly beyond any ordinary assassin or bounty hunter that at most they'll provide a momentary distraction.

         Amanita: Oh, come now, Endgame dear. There must be some 'super-powered' beings who will work for money.

         Endgame: I concede that there are a few, but I know of none on a level that matters.

         Amanita: In any case, I prefer to make my hunters, not hire them. Hirelings, so utterly unpredictable.

         Master Wieran: In this case, I must express my strong agreement with you, Queen Amanita. A most practical viewpoint!


  45. 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.

         Virigar: Hm. This sort of thing may actually stem from overlords who have a natural impulse to kill off the source of bad news or failure, but who recognize that the failure may not be entirely the fault of the general, et cetera.

         Master Wieran: Still a waste. Poor impulse control is not the hallmark of a man worthy of rulership.

         M-S: And it would be so cruel!

         Dark Wanderer: Hello? "Evil Overlord"? Cruelty is just one of the fine traits a good Evil Overlord possesses and, in fact, should cultivate. Hard to be an Evil Overlord if you're all reasonable and polite and considerate. Still, I agree with Virigar. This is someone trying to follow the advice of not killing the messenger, nor punishing good men for the inevitable occasional setback, but unable to leave it at just that.

         Thornfalcon: Assuming that this is the general's first screwup and I feel that he isn't deserving of death, I might suggest a better tactic would be to shoot, or stab, or whatever, very near my general and note to him that the next time I will not miss. Of course, if the subordinate actually was responsible for the failure, I'll kill him and note that the general needs to choose his subordinates better.

         Endgame: You are all remarkably tolerant of failure.

         Amanita: Well, as I understand it you've failed in your goals at least once or twice… why haven't you killed yourself yet?

         Dark Wanderer: You have a point; those so intolerant of others' failure seem oddly unwilling to apply the same intolerance to themselves.

         Endgame: (glowering) Bah.


  46. 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 advisor.

        (Unanimous Agreement)


  47. 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.

         Virigar: Now where's the fun in THAT? Unless you actually are so weak that you think the single callow youth is already a threat.

         Master Wieran: It is a matter of pulling up the weeds before they take over the garden. Yes, yes, I know, you have that "form" issue. It's utter twaddle. There may be more reasonable motives to keep from just killing the callow youth, but the rest of us don't have your immortality. YET.

         Maria-Susanna: Killing people immediately removes any chance of convincing them of the justice of your position. Or, I suppose, if you are an Evil Overlord, of converting them to the Dark Side.

         Dark Wanderer: Precisely my feelings. Certainly "Good Form" plays a part, but so many things can happen between the beginning of the quest and its end.

         Thornfalcon: I confess to being somewhat torn on the issue. It was, after all, a formerly callow youth – or, rather, a pair of them – that killed me in one reality. Yet many of the False Justiciars began themselves as innocent callow youths and later became quite useful companions.

         Endgame: My rational side agrees, but my soul and the requirements of my existence sneer at the idea. There's far more satisfaction in crushing an opponent at the height of their power than when they barely realize they might have any.

         Amanita: Oh, now, I might choose to let the callow youth find me… in a suitable guise. By the time I'm done, he'll have forgotten the whole point of his original journey.

         Thornfalcon: You realize one of the callow youths that did me in was a lovely young woman?

         Amanita: Oh? Hmmm… (thinks) I suppose I could try the same tactic anyway.

         Dark Wanderer: Intriguing. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

         Amanita: What?


  48. 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.

         Virigar: I rarely have had to do such things, but the philosophy is accurate.

         Master Wieran: While for me, this is my very LIFEBLOOD. My creations are my children, the children of my mind and will. I will treat them as such, show them their destiny. Admittedly some training and education methods may be painful...

         Maria-Susanna: Monster.

         Dark Wanderer: Now, now, we're all friendly monsters here. For now. But indeed, if you're keeping a monster as a guard or pet, making it pissy at you isn't the brightest thing you can do.

         Thornfalcon: Yes, indeed. Feed them, house them, and make sure they recognize that their existence hinges on your own well-being. Or just have a bunch of abominations read-made for summoning upon your death, when how they were treated won't matter.

         Master Weiran: You're welcome, by the way.

         Thornfalcon: Well, they didn't have quite the effect I wanted, but I suppose that's not your fault. Thank you.

         Endgame: I agree with the basic position. If you create or capture some monster one presumes you have a purpose for it, and in very few cases will that purpose be well-served by angering it at you. Even if in the end you intend to destroy all.

         Amanita: I can create my monsters with a built-in loyalty that is not dependent on how I treat them. Although I tend to be very kind to the little dears anyway; they're so much fun to watch when they go after heroes!

  49. 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 paper.

         Virigar: What sort of idiocy is THAT?

         Master Wieran: I suppose the writer is working from some vague idea that sending out the troops lets the heroes know where the artifact is.

         Maria-Susanna: Well, yes. But logically, that really doesn't hold water, does it?

         Dark Wanderer: Yeah, I think we're all agreed that this is stupid. If you KNOW where it is, you DO send your forces out, in a lightning raid in overwhelming force. With well-informed lieutenants leading the strike so as to make sure of recovering it.

         Thornfalcon: Oh, indubitably. After all, assuming that "want-ads" exist in your home dimension – I am fuzzy on the concept but I think I grasp the essence -- if your adversaries aren't idiots, they'll probably NOTICE when you put the ad in. And an Evil Overlord meekly taking out an ad in the paper is a dead giveaway that he's trying something sneaky.

         Endgame: Correct. But I believe the real scenario which the writers intended to describe, but failed to, is that if you learn of the EXISTENCE of the artifact, spell, whatever that can destroy you or thwart your plans to conquer the universe, you send out a dozen strikeforces in all directions searching for the thing in the most blunt-instrument way imaginable. THAT tips the Heroes off to the fact that there's something you're really worried about, and THEY may have some vital information you lack that tells them WHERE too look.

         Amanita: But Endgame, wouldn't your own… constraints, as you've put it… require you to do something like that?

         Endgame: No, in fact. While there are constraints of dramatics, I am not required to – as a certain reference site called 'TVTropes' puts it – carry the Idiot Ball. Dramatics will of course require that the heroes have some way of discovering I am looking for said artifact, but it doesn't have to be through my ham-handed incompetence, thank Darkness.



  50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

         Virigar: Yet another one far too specific to be applicable.

         Master Wieran: I know nothing of these "computers", and my Books of Power will MAKE things compatible with my plans!

         Maria-Susanna: Entirely different LANGUAGE, Master Wieran.

         Dark Wanderer: You're right, big V, too specific, and not even accurate. Let's try this reformulation which is much closer to the ACTUAL problem and one more generally applicable: "I will make sure that all equipment superior to that of my enemies is carefully accounted for. In the event that some falls into the enemy's hands, I will either (A) retrieve it, (B) destroy it, or, if both of the latter are impossible, (C) modify my plans to assume that they will be able to understand and incorporate that technology into their own plans. I WILL NOT PERMIT A SHIP WHICH HAS BEEN IN ENEMY HANDS FOR 40 YEARS TO DOCK WITH MY MOTHERSHIP!"

         Endgame: Ah, yes, THAT one. Indeed, a much better general formulation.

         Thornfalcon: I don't know your specific example, but by the Balance that's a very good principle to follow.

         Master Wieran: Was that the real gist of that nonsensical question? In that case, I agree completely! If my adversaries possess anyone with even a glimmering of intelligence among them – and if they do not, how could they even consider opposing me? – then I must assume that they could follow my example and unravel my secrets if an actual sample were to fall into their hands.

         Amanita: Oooh, yes. There are some artifacts that are simply wonderful and we don't want to lose track of them and find they're being used against us.

         Dark Wanderer: Well, not quite the same, milady. Techology, or technologically-oriented  mystical powers, such as our friend Master Wieran uses, present the very disconcerting possibility of being copied and produced on larger scales against us. Not so common with the more strictly mystical.

  51. 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.

         Virigar: Oh, yes, indeed. I don't know WHAT it is about the Beautiful Princess types, but there does seem to be SOMETHING.

         Master Wieran: I use other sorts of... guards which do not have these issues.

         Virigar: I have seen the effect work on things not even vaguely human, my alchemically-oriented friend, so I would not be so confident.

         M-S: Well, I would maintain very pleasant cells if I had to imprison someone, so I'm sure the issue would never arise.

         Dark Wanderer: If I had guards, I'd definitely keep an eye on that sort of thing.

         Thornfalcon: Oh, indeed. The same general principle gave us not a little trouble – infatuated young men can be so unreasonable at times.

         Endgame: If I have to keep them prisoners, I'll do so in a way that doesn't require guards.

         Amanita: Hmm… well, that can be done, yes, but sometimes that kind of prison's just too much trouble. And then you have to guard against this kind of trouble.

  52. 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.

         Virigar: Yes indeed.

         Master Wieran: I actually DID that. There were just unbelievable numbers of secret passages in that castle. I swear it took longer for the masons to seal them all off than it did for them to construct my laboratory complex.

         Maria-Susanna: I'd level the old palace and build a new one. If I was that sort.

         Dark Wanderer: I'm with you, Milady. I built my headquarters from the ground up.

         Thornfalcon: The problem with you two is you have no sense of history. A three thousand year old complex of ruins, catacombs, and so on, wonderful ATMOSPHERE you know. But yes, definitely survey it, or at least the crucial areas near you.

         Endgame: I will END history, so I am very much on the side of "build it from the ground up".

         Amanita: Oh, I could do either one. But yes, yes, have someone – or several someones – search very thoroughly.

  53. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

         Virigar: Marriage. Not an option.

         Master Wieran: Killing is a waste.

         Maria-Susanna: This is such a SEXIST list too!

         Dark Wanderer: Well, you could substitute Handsome Prince, too, and admittedly the genre has a pretty sexist history, but I agree about the waste.

         Thornfalcon: Exactly. Very well, I can't marry her safely (assuming I don't want to arrange that her mind gets changed for her), that doesn't mean she's not useful as a hostage, ransom, information source, weapon, what have you.

         Master Wieran: Excellent thinking. As I said, if she captured my attention to that level, she would clearly be worthy research material to determine what unique characteristics permitted such a thing.

         Endgame: If I assume I wanted to marry her, I have known… associates who could change her mind.

         Amanita: The Handsome Prince would hardly be able to say such a thing. I mean, really, can you imagine any young man saying that to me?

         Dark Wanderer: I admit it takes some doing to imagine, but someone who knows your heart might see that instead of the body.

         Amanita: What do you mean by that crack?

         Endgame: That your heart is as dark and corrupt as my own, and if you deny it, it is also deluded. Ha!

  54. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

         Virigar: I will double-cross if that's in the nature of the beings and the bargains.

         Master Wieran: I do not BARGAIN with demonic beings. I summon them, give directives, and if they do not cooperate... there are uses for them.

         Maria-Susanna: If you bargain, you should keep your end of the bargain.

         Dark Wanderer: This all depends on why you make bargains with them. Certainly it's a bad idea to do this when the reason you bargained with the demon to begin with is for power you didn't have in the first place. That would imply the demon has enough power to kick your pansy ass.

         Thornfalcon: Which is really a good indication that you're not really Evil Overlord material. You'll end up at best being the demon's flunky.

         Endgame: (grinning) True enough.

         Amanita: I take it that you have played the demonic part?

         Endgame: Most certainly. And she is now finding it a most costly bargain.

         Dark Wanderer: Now, tricking the demon into THINKING you want to make a bargain and then sucking the power from its dark soul, that's another thing.

         Virigar: NOW you're talking, my friend.


  55. 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 attention.

         Virigar: I wonder what the references are here.

         Master Wieran: The problem may be that in the service of Evil Overlords one often finds people of ... different moral outlook and rather extreme experiences, which makes them stand out a bit.

         Maria-Susanna: Oh. Yes, I suppose so. I wouldn't know anything about that.

         Dark Wanderer: Oh, no, of course not.  Yeah, there's a number of instances of the main servants of the Evil Overlord having, um, social issues that made it harder for them to carry out their more civil, less destructive, duties. Yes, Dilandau, I'm looking STRAIGHT at you.

         Thornfalcon: A good general rule, actually. Select the right lieutenant for the right job. If you want the city left intact, don't send the general with the reputation for employing the cleansing wind of fire in every circumstance.

         Endgame: There are those servants with talents in subtlety… and those without.

         Amanita: Oh, yes. This is about things like wanting to spy out information in Gilgad, and not just sending in a hulking stone monster to beat the information out of people.

         Dark Wanderer: Er… something like that, yes. "Spy" generally means that hopefully the enemy doesn't, and won't ever, know that you were looking at his secrets in the first place. Hard to do with the "deformed mutants", and the "oddball psychotics" often forget about the "subtle" part of the game plan.


  56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

         Virigar: No Legions of Terror, no problem.

         Master Wieran: Mine are BRED with instinctive marksmanship. They have no need of training.

         Maria-Susanna: I don't have Legions of Terror, and any armies I command will have had proper military training. I'm an expert in that.

         Dark Wanderer: Actually, one of the most classic examples of this phenomenon turns out to NOT be an example. The classic Stormtrooper Marksmanship turns out to actually be very, very good, since the sequence in which they failed to hit or capture the heroes was actually PLANNED. They WANTED the heroes to escape, and think they actually HAD.

         Endgame: (surprised) I … had never realized that. Of course.

         Thornfalcon: Still, it's a good principle to remember. Recruiting a lot of threatening thugs is no more useful than the training you give said thugs.

         Amanita: As I create my "thugs", I believe I'm in more Master Wieran's camp.

  57.   Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.

         Virigar: Not that I've had to worry about this often, but this seems sensible advice.

         Master Wieran: Indeed. It should be evident to even the feeblest intellect that just activating a device whose operation you do not understand is the sort of thing that tends to end in disaster.

         Maria-Susanna: And yet people of apparently much more capable intellects do just that all the time.

         Dark Wanderer: I suppose it's excusable if you're backed into a corner and your only choice is to use the Dark Evil Device you just captured –

         Thornfalcon: -- but then you shouldn't be surprised to discover that it will suck out your soul to power it, or funnel its maker's mind into yours, et cetera. After all, what would YOU design such a device to do if operated by a fool?

         Endgame: Precisely. If somehow one of my final constructions fell into other hands, activating it would inevitably lead to my triumph, not theirs.

         Amanita: Oh. I suppose that's why I have dear Ugu looking at things more carefully. But then, I do my own work, mostly, not using other people's.


  58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

         Master Wieran: Oh, very well, I'll say it. BAD FORM! That said, I agree with the advice and you are all childish fools -- except the invincible werewolf -- to think otherwise.

         Dark Wanderer: (in a James Earl Jones voice) You don't know the POWER of the One Liner.

         Virigar: Oh, a parting shot is always justified, unless it would ruin a better one by my opposition.

         Maria-Susanna: That's ... unusually courteous of you.

         Thornfalcon: Comes with the "play by the rules" bit that he follows, I expect. If the heroes are doing well enough to force your escape, you owe them that. In my case, it would be a bit hard to resist.

         Endgame: (sighing) Almost impossible to resist.

         Amanita: What exactly is a "one-liner"?

  59. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.

         Master Wieran: Again, the problem isn't making it smarter, it's not making it LOYAL enough.

         Maria-Susanna: The problem is that even if you install safeguards, something a lot smarter than you may find holes in those safeguards that YOU didn't notice. (Smiles sweetly) Hyperion's … designers discovered that.

         Virigar: Again, this is one issue I need never worry about.

         Dark Wanderer: I confess to having a touch of Frankenstein fear; I have no intention of creating my own nemesis.

         Thornfalcon: Yet, if I understand your origin aright, you already DID.

         Dark Wanderer: Urk. You may have a point.

         Endgame: Technology is for those who think to build a civilization, not tear it down.

         Amanita: I don't exactly know what a "computer" is, but I would most certainly be cautious about making a construct whose intellect was greater than mine.

  60. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in under 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

         Virigar: I think we're all agreed to just swap out our other choice of advisor.

         (All): Agreed.









  1. You know, for #50, there’s also the two-sentence summary I saw for a generic Stargate: SG-1 episode, which went something like this:
    The team goes to a planet and encounters enemies. Carter plugs her laptop into a piece of Ancient technology.

    … but yes, the Independence Day example is particularly glaring.

  2. Daniel Neely says:

    “Thornfalcon: I confess to being somewhat torn on the issue. It was, after all, a formerly callow youth – or, rather, a pair of them – that killed me in one reality.”

    Sneaking around the fourth wall, or hinting about future events?

  3. The bits you’ve been giving us about Dark Wanderer seem to be much more overt hinting about future (and past, but currently unexplained) events.

    Prediction: the events that led to the creation of Dark Wanderer (and his actions thereafter) led to the current state of ?Dalthunia? (sp? – not near my books).

    Questions as yet unanswered:
    – Who did our Earth born elemental friend visit when off-camera in _PR_?
    – Is the original Wanderer still in existence? (Yes, I know DW believes & hopes not. He may not be correct)
    – What is DW’s connection with all the other events going on? Evil he may be – but is he part of the conspiracy, a competitor, or an innocent (of this, at least) bystander?

    • No, the Dark Wanderer had nothing to do with Dalthunia. That was before his time. Indeed, the events that lead to the Dark Wanderer’s creation are more-or-less contemporaneous with the Balanced Sword trilogy.

      From this you can tell that he has no connection to any events in books yet written or immediately under contract, save that he’s the mirror-image of the real Wanderer.

      • So much for my theory – I thought that he might have been in existence before _PR_ and responsible for the increasing isolation from the State of the Dragon God. And I half-expected that the (Dark) Wanderer’s council to visit Mt. Scimitar was intended as a trap rather than honest help.

        You said we might see more of The Balanced Sword n 2015 or so, if we’re lucky?

Your comments or questions welcomed!