Friday, October 7, 2016

Evaluating the Evil Overlord list, 51 - 60

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.
Evaluation:  Prudent.

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.

Evaluation:  Unless you want to go full-on Pharaoh here and have your architects executed immediately afterward (which you probably do), you’ve added a dozen people who know the ins and outs and your secret lair.

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.

Evaluation:  It depends on why you want to marry the princess.  If it’s a love match, the list has already covered the perils associated with this path at some length. If it’s political power, have your show ceremony, and then lock her up like Eleanor of Aquitaine.

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

Evaluation:  Infernal pacts are generally to be avoided.  You want to sign a magically binding contract with something smarter than a human that has possibly millions of years of experience in the ins and outs of exactly these kind of covenants? Be my guest, but don’t come crying to me when you lose that fiddle contest.


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.

Evaluation:  Prudent

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.

Evaluation:  This is a bit of discredited trope, and if the list were written today, I don’t think it would be included.  As any Star Wars fan will tell you, the Stormtroopers on the Death Star were trying to miss so the Empire could follow them to their base once they escaped. (They might also add Obi-Wan’s line regarding the devastated sandcrawler: “Only imperial Stormtroopers could be so precise.”)

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

Evaluation:  This reminds me of criticism I once made of Joss Whedon’s work. It’s a bit of a cheat to have your villains engage in every hoary cliché since the dawn of cinema while simultaneously making your heroes incredibly genre savvy.  It works the other way. On its face, this is good advice, but as the list preaches the gospel of misinformation, I’d expect the your enemies to engage in the same practices, and leave you incomplete or misleading instructions.
58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

Evaluation:  Prudent

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

Evaluation:  Intelligence is notoriously difficult to quantify, and computers don’t process information in the same way humans do. AI, just like the infernal contracts mentioned above, can backfire in so many ways that you’re better off avoiding them entirely unless they’re absolutely essential to your plan.

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.

Evaluation:  The hands down best description of hacking I’ve ever heard came in a Doctor Who audio play. One of the characters had to get into the restricted area of a space freighter, but a login was required to get in. The Doctor's companion met up with him in 1989, but went undercover at a university in 2001. When trying to access the door, she remarked to the Doctor that sometimes she would accidentally enter her password on the login line, where it would be added to the drop down menu. She checked there and saw that someone on the freighter had done exactly that, and with this information, they were able to access the restricted area.

The point of this is that security is hard, and the people that use the system are the weak point. Mandate hard passwords for your staff and they just wind up scrawling them on post-it notes stuck to their monitor.

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