The other day I came across an article at Futility Closet, listing a number of the funnier Evil Overlord rules. Chuckling, I sent the link to a friend, only to get the response: "What are these? Who is the Evil Overlord?"
I was mind-boggled. I mean, who doesn't know about the Evil Overlord's rules of conduct?
On further inquiry, I learned that my friend didn't. He's much younger than I, and had not been exposed to the early computer game culture of the 1980's and 1990's. It seems quite a lot of computer and Internet users today don't know about them, either.
Well, we can't have that! The most complete list of Evil Overlord rules is maintained by Jack Butler on his Web site. Click over there to read them for yourself. Warning - there are hundreds of them! It'll take a while. To see a shorter alternate list, check out Peter Anspach's version.
For your entertainment, here are a few of my favorites from the former source.
- All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively executed; all annoying and/or humorously clever robots and androids will be destroyed; and it shall be declared a capital crime to be the "town drunk". The hero will certainly give up and abandon his quest if he has no handy source of comic relief.
- All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
- As an alternative to not having children, I will have lots of children. My sons will be too busy jockeying for position to ever be a real threat, and the daughters will all sabotage each other's attempts to win the hero.
- I will exchange the labels on my folder of top-secret plans and my folder of family recipes. Imagine the hero's surprise when he decodes the stolen plans and finds instructions for Grandma's Potato Salad.
- I reserve the right to execute any henchmen who appear to be a little too intelligent, powerful, or devious. However if I do so, I will not at some subsequent point shout "Why am I surrounded by these incompetent fools?!"
- I will add indelible dye to the moat. It won't stop anyone from swimming across, but even dim-witted guards should be able to figure out when someone has entered in this fashion.
- I will never attend an auction of an "ultimate weapon". If the weapon were really that good, the auctioneer would already be Evil Overlord.
- I will not use any Master Plan for which the final step is horribly complicated (for example, "align the 12 stones of power on the sacred altar and activate the medallion during a total eclipse"). Instead, I will use plans that have a final step along the lines of "push the button".
- If I come into possession of an artifact that can be used only by the pure-of-heart, I will not, repeat, will not attempt to use it nonetheless.
- If I have children and then grandchildren, I will keep my three-year-old granddaughter near me at all times. When the hero enters to kill me, I will first ask him to explain why it is that her beloved Grandpa has to die. When the hero launches into a long-winded, way-over-her-head dissertation on morality, that will be her cue to pull the lever that sends the hero into the pit of crocodiles. (Children love crocodiles almost as much as they love their grandparents, and it’s always important to spend quality time with children.)
- If my evil sorceress consort fails to destroy the hero for a third consecutive time with her so-called magic, I will reassign her to running the 1-800-PSYCHIC hotline, I will also try to keep a straight face whenever she threatens to turn me into a toad.
- My Legions of Terror will be trained so that if they burst into rebel headquarters and find it empty except for a strange, blinking device, they will not approach it to investigate. Rather they will run like hell.
Oh, the memories those bring back . . .