My dearest nephew,
I cannot tell you how delighted I am that you are expressing an interest in the path of villainy. This career is enjoyable, challenging, rewarding, and sometimes even relaxing – if done well. I am enclosing a selection of tips from my well-known primer to assist you in starting off on the right foot.
Lord Dark Virtue’s Basic Primer on Villainy
Villainy is a long, time-honored tradition. Great villains of the past are still remembered and reviled for their incredible acts of wickedness. Any person with a touch of evil and a decent plan can become a villain. But it takes a great villain to live on in memory and infamy.
One of the greatest obstacles to the villain is, of course, the hero. These snobby brats seek to stop and destroy our noble work every step of the way. And truth be told, as you can see from histories and stories alike, the hero often wins. However, if you follow the guidelines presented in this simple primer, you can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the hero’s chance of stopping you.
The first thing you need is a plan. Obviously, the more grandiose and far-reaching the plan, the greater your infamy if you manage to pull it off. But there’s nothing ignoble about starting at the bottom with more run-of-the-mill criminal activities. Bank robberies come to mind, as you will need a significant amount of money to finance your continuing villainous behaviors.
Regardless of the scope of your plan, be it large scale or small, there are some basic rules of thumb that should be followed:
No nuclear devices. It’s far too easy for such things to backfire on you.
Take caution if using bombs. Heroes have an annoying knack for finding one single wire that, when cut, renders your magnificent, complex bomb into a hunk of metal no more dangerous than the standard kitchen can opener.
In planning vengeance on a specific person, do not try to torment them by offering a choice between harm to a loved one and harm to the masses. It seems like a delightfully wicked plan on paper, but things never go the way you planned.
Never leave blueprints or other such evidence of your plan lying around. If you cannot keep such things on your person, then destroy them. There’s no sense in letting your enemy get hands on it and finding the one flaw that will unravel your entire plan.
Speaking of which, after you have formed your plan, review it many times for weak spots. How can you strengthen those spots? Create multiple contingency plans for each step and be fully prepared to use them. Furthermore, check for any spots in your plan that relies on elements outside of your direct control. Perhaps your perfect bank robbery will only work if a certain bank manager is present. What if he calls in sick that day? You must be prepared for these uncertainties, or your whole plan can collapse.
I confess, I am a bit biased in this department. I believe the best way for any villain to work is completely alone, as much as possible. Bringing other people in just opens you up to double-crossers, spies, and bumbling idiots who can’t count to twenty with their shoes on.
However, many a villainous plan requires outside help to carry out. So keep these tips in mind:
Be fully aware of your minions’ motives for helping. If they are in it for money or power, you have a potential risk on your hands. The instant the threat of harm or jail becomes greater than the chance of money or power, these minions will split like a pair of cheap trousers.
Try to recruit minions who have some sort of personal connection to what’s happening. Whether they have a grudge against the bank, a vendetta against your target individual, or a general hatred toward the city, these minions are far more likely to stick with you to the bitter end (or, hopefully, the great success).
Don’t let minions know any more about the plan than they absolutely need to know.
Limit the amount of time your minions spend with the hero. The hero will pull every trick in the book to try to get your minion to betray you, and minions have a tendency to be rather gullible.
If you have any animals acting as minions, such as guard dogs or evidence-destroying pigs, it is CRUCIAL that you treat these animals well. Be as rude, crude, and nasty to people all you like, but treat the animals like royalty. Why? If you try to gain their cooperation through domination, the instant you show any hint of weakness (which tends to happen when a hero has nearly gained the upper hand), these animals will turn on you in an instant. If, on the other hand, you have made these animals love and adore you, they will immediately attack whatever is threatening you – in this case, the hero.
No matter how sophisticated your weaponry is, there’s always a chance it can be used against you. Utilize as many safeguards against this risk as you possibly can.
Do not do silly things with your weapons. Tossing a dagger in the air looks cool, but it leaves an opening for the dagger to be taken from you. Trick shots are impressive, but there’s a far greater risk of missing.
If your primary weapon takes a significant period of time to prepare or charge, then ABSOLUTELY be sure to have a secondary weapon on hand. Do not give the enemy any chance to gain the upper hand.
Make sure that your weapons will not compromise your ultimate plan. For instance, lasers in an underwater lab may seem cool, but if you miss and drill a hole in the wall…
Weapons that have unorthodox effects on the target should be avoided. Causing the hero to suddenly age at an accelerated rate sounds like a great way to dispose of your enemy, but there is always some way to combat the effects. This gives the hero a great opportunity to pull a surprise attack on you when you think he or she is already out of commission.
Try to identify the hero as quickly as possible. If you know who it is, you can start planning on how to keep him or her from interfering with your plans. Know your enemy’s weaknesses, but be careful about how you exploit them. If the hero has a weakness for a certain girl, for instance, threatening her usually only results in making him more determined to stop you.
Be proactive, not merely reactive. Do your best to throw the enemy off, to keep him or her from knowing what you’re really up to. Rabbit trails and red herrings are your friends.
If you manage to capture the enemy, beware of how you secure him or her. Heroes are crafty beings by nature, and will do whatever they can to escape. The safest bet is to keep him or her unconscious.
If you have placed your enemy in a secured room, and cannot see him or her through your method of viewing the room, proceed with EXTREME caution. The hero may have escaped, yes, but more often than not, he or she is just laying a trap for you. Send in an expendable minion as soon as possible.
If you have just placed the hero in your fiendishly clever machine of death and doom, do not leave the room. No matter what, stay and watch until you are CERTAIN that your enemy is dead.
In my humble opinion, it’s best not to bother with capturing the enemy at all. If you have the great fortune to have the hero at your mercy, end it quickly. I know, it’s fun to create torturous devices of impending doom, but heroes inevitably escape from such things, robbing you of the satisfaction of his or her death. You may think you’re tormenting the hero with drawn out captivity or death plans, but you’re only opening yourself up for failure. Shoot the hero. Shoot quickly. In the head. And check to make sure he or she is truly dead – BEFORE you leave the room.
Never let the hero chat with you. Sure, it feels good to reveal your brilliant plan to the hero when all hope is gone. It’s lovely to watch the horror spread across his or her face as realization of your amazing plan sinks in. But behind that horrified face is a sharp mind working away at how to stop you. Monologuing is a sure way to lose your upper hand.
Don’t use air vents, ducts, or sewers. Ever. Ever. Ever.
Take care of your environment. Décor with sharp or pointy bits are always an unwise choice. Make sure your workspace would pass the strictest of safety inspections. There is no end more humiliating or ignoble than dying because you tripped on a hazard and fell into your own open machinery.
If you have a personal relationship with the hero, keep it to yourself. This person will never join you, no matter if you’re a brother or a niece’s brother’s dog’s great-aunt’s third cousin. The hero is the enemy. Period.
A touch of humility will get you far. If you think your plan is so great, it cannot fail, then you’re in for a very, VERY big surprise.
Maintain a certain level of professional distance. Even if you’re getting revenge for some great personal offense, if you let yourself become too wrapped up in things, you’ll be blinded to potential dangers and flaws. Try yoga or meditation to help yourself stay focused.
Before you put your plan in action, it’s a good idea to remove your profile from facebook, myspace, and eharmony. It’s generally considered unwise to let the hero see that picture of you drunk at the Halloween party last year; he or she will inevitably find tidbits of information that can be used against you.
I will send another letter with further instructions, but I just heard a strange noise in my laboratory. I’m sure it’s just the cat, but I must go and check to be sure.
Unkie Dark Virtue