Thursday, September 8, 2016

Evaluating the Evil Overlord list, 1 - 10

You’ve probably seen the Evil Overlord list, as it’s been floating around online since the dawn of the Internet era.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a list of 100 practices an evil overlord will put into place in order to avoid the usual pitfalls of the career.

Over the next ten posts, I will evaluate the items on the list for practicality and effectiveness.

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

1.My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.  Presumed Function: To prevent the hero from knocking out your Stormtroopers and using the uniforms as a disguise.  Evaluation: Easily implemented, minimal downsides.

2.My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through. Presumed Function: To prevent the heroes from accessing or escaping areas within a secure facility. Evaluation: This is largely a discredited trope at this time. Modern media tends to acknowledge that air vents are tiny and you’re not traveling through them unless you’re Eugene Tooms from that one episode of the X-Files.

3.My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.  Presumed Function: To prevent the return of the brother. Evaluation: There are a lot of unknowns about this one that make evaluation difficult. This makes me think of Nine Princes in Amber. Eric blinded Corwin and threw him in the dungeons.  But he had good reason for doing so.  He understood that that there was no way to justify Corwin’s execution should Oberon return, so he held off.

4.Shooting is not too good for my enemies. Presumed Function:  That elaborate but easily escapable deathtraps need not be de rigueur.  Evaluation: Prudent.

5.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. Presumed Function: Cost savings? I don’t know. This one just seems bad. Evaluation: Security through obscurity is derided by security experts, and for good reason. Any magical divination employed to learn the vulnerabilities of the Dragons of Eternity could probably be employed to learn the details of the bank where the McGuffin is being held. I’d say they’d have an easy a time locating the item and a much easier time acquiring it.

6.I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them 


7.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. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No." Presumed Function: These each seem like a more elaborate rephrasing of number 4, that if you have the hero at your mercy, don’t dither before disposing of him. Evaluation: Again, prudent.

8.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 out. Presumed Function:  To avoid giving the hero the chance to interrupt the ceremonies.  Evaluation: Probably ineffectual. Perception is what matters here. The ceremony itself confers the legitimacy. It’s not like the oppressed peasants are reading the wedding announcements in the Mordor Evening Post. If the hero rescues the princess after the civil ceremony and you’re in small claims court trying to prove to you really did marry her (“Look! I have this document! It’s notarized and everything!”) , then, well, I think you’ve lost control of the narrative.

9.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. Presumed Function:  Self-explanatory. Evaluation: Prudent.

10.I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well. Presumed Function: The heroes won’t already be in your inner sanctum after their inevitable escape. Evaluation: Mixed benefits. It has its obvious benefits, but a commensurate number of disadvantages as well. Leaving your area of control for a small hotel seems questionable at best.

Next Up, 11-20.

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