How to be a Successful Evil Overlord
by Peter Anspach
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. With that in mind, allow me to present...
The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord
- My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas 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 in 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 Dragon
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 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 and then say
- 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.
- 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: Don 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 clearly not be labelled
- I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum - a small
hotel room well outside my border 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.
- 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 several round 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 disposal.
- 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 count-down. 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 operation.
- 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 prove 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 own father.
- 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 accordingly.
- I will hire a fashion designer to create original uniforms for my
Legion of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look
like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman foot soldiers, or savage Mongol hordes.
All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive
- 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
- I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strength and weaknesses.
Even though this takes some 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 indestructible except for one
small and virtually inaccessible spot.
- No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are,
there is probably someone just as attractive which is not desperate to
kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent
to my bed chamber.
- 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
- My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot
escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.
- 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 preemptively 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
reinforcements and/or romantic sub-plot for the hero or his side-kick.
- 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 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 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 copies to
every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
- If my trusted lieutenant tell me my Legion of Terror is 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 vengeance 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
super-weapon, I will use it early and as often as possible instead of
keeping it in reserve.
- Once my power is secure, I will destroy all of those pesky time
- 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 that 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 plans.
- 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 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 and 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 advisor.
- 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 of my troops out to seize it. Instead I will
send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the
- My main computers will have their own special operating system
that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh
- If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the
conditions of 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 capture 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 Legion 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.
- My Legion 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
- Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will
carefully read the owners manual.
- If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose
dramatically and toss off a one-liner.
- I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.
- 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.
- If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad
scheme?" I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.
- I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding
structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.
- Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors.
And they will be kept hot, with none of this nonsense about flames going
through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.
- I will see a compentant psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely
unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be
- If I must have a computer system with publicly available terminals,
the maps they display will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control
Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control
room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.
- My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner.
Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad
for fingerprints and then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that
sequence will trigger the alarm system.
- No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be
instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale
- I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past.
This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However,
the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again,
they'd better save my life again.
- All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be
delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster
homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.
- When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always
travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of
them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately
initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering
around a corner.
- If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should
be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen
standing by in case the answer is no.
- If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device
and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon, instead
of using my unstoppable super weapon on them.
- I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged
contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them
- When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that
my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not
label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.
- I will instruct my Legion of Terror to attack the heroes en masse,
instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack
one or two at a time.
- If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and
struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also
not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge
over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)
- If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero
the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutenant, I will retain
enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of
earshot before making the offer.
- I will not tell my Legion of Terror "And he must be taken alive-"
the command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonable
- If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch,
as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into
limited edition commemorative coins.
- If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my
best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as
he gets closer and closer to my fortress.
- If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed
him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops
flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find
out what he saw.
- I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front
of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerously unbalanced structure.
- If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then
have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both
of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.
- I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the
- I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly
complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 stones of power on the sacred altar then
activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will
be more alone the lines of "Push the button/"
- I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly
- My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use.
Also, I will not construct walkways above them.
- If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate
them for incompetence then send the same group out to do the task again.
- After I capture the hero's super weapon, I will not disband
legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is
unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.
- I will not design my main control room so that every workstation
is facing away from the door.
- I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and
obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment
is finished. It might actually be important.
- If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him.
Instead, I will say that his dogged perseverance has given me new insight
on the futility of my evil ways and that if he leaves me alone for a
few months of quiet contemplation I will likely return to the path of
righteousness. (Heroes are incredibly gullible in this regard.)
- If I decide to hold a double execution of the hero and the underling
who failed or betrayed me, I will die first.
- When arresting prisoners, my guards will not allow them to stop
and grab a useless trinket of purely sentimental value.
- My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with
bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cell mate tells
the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead
of opening the cell for a look.
- My door mechanisms will be designed so that blasting the control
panel on the outside seals the door and blasting the control panel on
the inside opens the door, not vice versa.
- My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain
reflective surfaces or anything that can be unraveled.
- If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully
monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate,
I will ignore them. However, if circumstances have forced them together
against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing
each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving
each other' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension,
I will immediately order their execution.
- Any data files of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb.
- Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless
trance, I will provide each of them with free, unlimited internet access.