If I Were The Evil Overlord...
After I captures the hero's super-weapon, I will not immediately disband my 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.
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 deathtraps will have only one way in or out, with any way out leading to an even more cunning deathtrap that works faster.
All guards (and other workers) will be entitled to three weeks paid vacation a year after one full year's employment, will be covered (after that same period) by comprehensive medical and dental insurance (paid by me, the Evil Overlord) for themselves and spouse/companion and all dependents. They will have regularly scheduled pay-raises for every five years with which they remain in my employ as well as annual, merit-based bonuses. Stock options and retirement plans will be made available after five years of employment along with favorably termed loans for home improvement, education and debt consolidation. Any employee disabled in my service will receive a lifetime pension. Every year, my organization will make a few sizable college scholarships available for the most qualified of the dependents of my employees. Upon leaving my employ they will be constrained from working for any competitor or adversary for a period of not less than five years. All dismissals (as opposed to termination on their part) will be accompanied by a payment of one month's salary as termination pay and an excellent recommendation (regardless of cause for dismissal). Good will is more valuable than terror on the part of my employees.
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.
All my computer systems will have uninterruptable power supplies. All my circuitry will use breakers or fuses of the appropriate tolerances.
All my public speaking engagements will be handled by a hologram. If I ever go out in public myself, I will always be in disguise.
All my secret escape pods will come with leather interior, dual climate zone comfort system, AM/FM stereo with 5 disk CD changer, emergency small arms cache, first aid kit, and a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. There is never a bad time to show a bit of style.
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.
All non-instantaneous deathtraps (drowning pools, trash compactors, gas chambers, etc.) in my fortress will be isolated from the communications and power grids.
All repair work will be done by an in-house maintenance staff. Any "repairmen" who show up at the door will be escorted to the dungeon.
All slain enemies will be cremated as soon as possible. They will not be left for dead in a hidden area. An announcement of their demise, plus the attendant public celebration, will be deferred until after the urn full of ashes has been placed into my hands.
All younger siblings, spouses, children, students, and old army buddies of an enemy I have just killed will be hunted down to prevent them from attacking me at some future point in a quest for vengeance.
Any captured-and-released or escaped Hero will have numerous tracking devices of several levels of detectability installed in his effects, vehicles, and person, at least one of which will have been ingested with his last food or drink. Even so, I will never fail to put up a serious effort to track or intercept him by other means as well.
Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45MB in size.
Any documentation that I must keep regarding my latest plan for global domination/ultimate weapon/etc. will be kept in a folder labeled something uninteresting, such as "Sewage System Maintenance Logs". I will, however, leave on my desk a folder with a catchy, upbeat label like "Operation: Annihilate". In the folder will be a single diskette, labeled only with a skull-and-crossbones. On the diskette will be the nastiest viruses, Trojan horse programs, and computer worms that I and/or my henchmen can devise. My base's computers will of course be protected against anything on this diskette, and inserting the diskette into a computer on my base will trigger the death rays.
Any new concubines I plan to add to my harem will go through a complete screening process, including tests for STDs.
Any ultimate weapon that was disassembled in the distant past and the components of which were scattered to the far parts of the world could not have been that great in the first place, or no one would have disassembled it.
Anyone making any kind of deliveries to my fortress will be required to show proper identification and submit their conveyance to an inspection before they can pass through the gate. Same applies when they leave.
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.
Before putting my Master Plan into action, I will hire a board-certified team of architects and surveyors to examine my headquarters closely and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about. This team will then be paid ludicrous amounts of money and relocated to the Caribbean Island of their choice, where they will live out their lives in luxury.
Before spending available funds on giant gargoyles, gothic arches, or other cosmetically intimidating pieces of architecture, I will see if there are any valid military expenditures that could use the extra budget.
Despite the delicious irony, I will not force two heroes to fight each other in the arena.
During times of peace, my Legions of Terror will not be permitted to lie around drinking mead and eating roast boar. Instead they will be required to obey my dietician and my aerobics instructor.
Efforts spent breaking a heroine's spirit allow time for things such as heroic rescues or are uncertain enough to allow last minute betrayals. Rather, I'll have my staff take several high-quality photographs of her, hire a good plastic surgeon and the ugliest girl in my kingdom, make one to look just like her, but not until after I've pumped two rounds of .45 hardball into the heroine's head, then fed her to my pet crocodiles.
I must assume that deathtrap manufacturers' brochures base their Estimated Time to Kill (ETK) on tests using non-heroes (and moreover generally test only the minimum ETK). Therefore, Heroes trapped in one of my non-instantaneous deathtraps will remain there a minimum of several times longer than the trap's ETK, and even then will be treated as potentially dangerous until any remains are incinerated.
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 allow guards to operate under a flexible work schedule. That way if one is feeling sleepy, he can call for a replacement, punch out, take a nap, and come back refreshed and alert to finish out his shift.
I will always dress in bright, cheery colors... Mostly soft pastels. Wearing nothing but black is too depressing, while wearing all white is too boring.
I will always keep a few Useless but Loyal Advisors on the payroll and in proximity to both help my enemies underestimate me and provide a few extra bodies between the enemy and myself should my defenses be penetrated.
I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable super-weapon, I will use it as often as possible instead of holding it in reserve.
I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues to my Master Plan in the form of riddles for my enemies to find.
I will be selective in the hiring of assassins. Anyone who attempts to strike down the hero the first instant his back is turned will not even be considered for the job.
I will build machines which simply fail when overloaded, rather than wipe out all nearby henchmen in an explosion or worse yet set off a chain reaction. I will do this by using devices known as "surge protectors".
I will carefully read and reread Machiavelli's The Prince, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and Dr. Phillip C. McGraw's Self Matters before I set out on my quest to conquer the universe.
I will classify my lieutenants in three categories: untrusted, trusted, and completely trusted. Promotion to the last category is only done posthumously.
I will decree that all hay be shipped in tightly-packed bales. Any wagonload of loose hay attempting to pass through a checkpoint will be set on fire.
I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports that intruders could use for cover in a firefight.
I will encourage general promiscuty, restrict access to birth control, and provide the best in STD research/prevention and pre- and post-natal care. The resultant population will be more satisfied and complacent, and will fuel my war machines, production, dressmaking, and general fun.
I will endeavor to treat the ancient, sylvan forests surrounding my keep in a kindly, eco-friendly manner. By no means will I rip up every tree within five miles of my castle in order to provide raw materials for my orc breeding program.
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 will explain to my guards that most people have their eyes in the front of their heads and thus while searching for someone it makes little sense to draw a weapon and slowly back down the hallway.
I will exploit my subjects, but not to the point of destitution, decrepitude, or desperation. I am evil, not stupid.
I will force the fair maiden to marry me in a quiet civil ceremony rather than a lavish spectacle put together with three weeks warning... And the final phase of my Master Plan will not be carried out during my wedding. If she says "I’ll die before I marry you!" I'll shoot her. There are, after all, hordes of beautiful young women out there just waiting to marry someone as rich and powerful as I am.
I will fund research to develop tactical and strategic weapons of all types and covering a full range of needs so my options aren't limited to "hand-to-hand combat with swords" or "blow up the planet".
I will have no nubile female assistants. All my assistants will be former members of the East German swim team.
I will instruct my guards when checking a cell that appears empty to look for the chamber pot. If the chamber pot is still there, then the prisoner has escaped and they may enter and search for clues. If the chamber pot is not there, then either the prisoner is perched above the lintel waiting to strike them with it or else he decided to take it as a souvenir (in which case he is obviously deeply disturbed and poses no threat). Either way, there's no point in entering.
I will learn from the likes of Enron for how to steal ungodly amounts of money, instead of resorting to ransoming the planet with my latest doomsday device (which I never get to use, anyway).
I will maintain plausible deniability at all times.
I will make every effort to either suborn my foes or kill them. Humiliating them and enraging them through acts of depravity motivated solely to upset them will only rebound negatively against my long term interests.
I will make it quite clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"... I just choose not to show any.
I will make sure that there is 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, say "And here is the price of failure!", then suddenly turn and kill a random underling.
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 never bait a trap with genuine bait.
I will never design and build a sentient computer that is smarter than I am.
I will never enter into an alliance with a being or group I cannot easily betray. And I will always assume that my new "allies" are holding to the same principle.
I will never turn into a giant snake, no matter how much I might want to, because it never helps.
I will never utter the sentence "Before I kill you, you should know..."
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 to win.
I will not attempt to kill the hero by placing a venomous creature in his room. It will just wind up accidentally killing one of my clumsy henchmen instead.
I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.
I will not devise any scheme in which Part A is tricking the hero into helping me and Part B is publicly laughing at his gullibility and then leaving him to his own devices.
I will not employ devious schemes that involve the band of heroes actually making it into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.
I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to demonstrate how evil I am. Loyal service should be rewarded... Which is how it becomes "loyal" service in the first place. And besides, honest messengers are hard to come by when you are in the Evil Overlord business.
I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament to show my superiority. I will shoot them.
I will not grow a goatee. Yes, it is true that in the old days they made you look sinister. Unfortunately, these days they only make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
I will not have a daughter. Although she would certainly be as evil as she is beautiful, once she sees the hero's rugged good looks, she will no doubt betray me to him.
I will not have a son. Although his eventual and surely laughable plan to overthrow me will fail, it could provide a fatal distraction at a crucial moment.
I will not hire one of the hero's old flames to infiltrate the rebellion. Even though she'll likely be accepted without question, she'll no doubt double cross me after the first chance she gets to reminisce about the "good ol' days."
I will not hold any sort of public celebration within my castle walls. Any event open to members of the public will be held down the road in the festival pavilion.
I will not hold lavish feasts in the middle of a famine. The good PR garnered from the guests does not make up for the bad PR garnered from the masses.
I will not indulge in the practice of maniacal laughter, despite the proven stress-relieving effects of such behavior. When so occupied, it is too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more alert and attentive individual would notice.
I will not interrogate my enemies in my inner sanctum. A small hotel room located well outside the borders of my kingdom works just as well and has the benefits of privacy and intimacy. After the interrogation, I will shoot them.
I will not locate a base in a volcano, cave, or any other location where it would be ridiculously easy to bypass security by rappelling down from above.
I will not order my Trusted Lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me... I will do it myself. With my bare hands.
I will not pick up a glowing ancient artifact and shout "Its power is now mine!!!" Instead I will grab some tongs, transfer it to a hazardous materials container, and transport it back to my lab for study.
I will not procrastinate regarding any ritual or process that grants immortality.
I will not refuse to compromise with my enemies if the result will be of benefit to me in the long run.
I will not require ranking female members of my staff to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress code.
I will not send out battalions composed wholly of robots or skeletons against heroes who have qualms about killing living beings.
I will not set myself up as a god. That perilous position will be reserved for my Trusted Lieutenant.
I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.
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".
I will not use area-effect, mind-altering spells as a long term solution to civil unrest. a) They wear off, or eventually the subjects gain or breed immunity, and the population I made to love me will grow to hate me. b) Outsiders not falling to the initial spell will quickly become suspicious at my subjects' mindless happiness and obeisance, and try to do something about it.
I will not use hostages as bait in a trap. Unless you're going to use them for negotiation or as human shields, there's no point in taking them.
I will not resort to android duplicates to safeguard myself from capture by my enemies because:
I will not, under any circumstances, marry a woman I know to be a faithless, conniving, back-stabbing witch simply because I am absolutely desperate to perpetuate my family line. Of course, we can still date.
I will not waste time trying to make my enemies' deaths look like accidents. After all, I am not accountable to anyone, and my other enemies wouldn't believe it was an accident anyway.
I will occasionally listen to and follow my advisor's advice.
I will only employ assassins and bounty hunters that work for "the money". Those who work for "the thrill of the hunt" tend to do stupid things, like even the odds to give their victim a sporting chance.
I will plan in advance what to do with each of my enemies if they are captured. That way, I will never have to order someone to be tied up while I decide his fate.
I will regularly spend some of my free time with my staff of personal trainers so I'll be in good fighting shape just in case I absolutely must battle the hero one on one.
I will remember that knowledge of any vulnerabilities I have is to be released only on a need-to-know basis. I will also remember that no one has a need to know.
I will see a competent psychiatrist and be cured of all unusual phobias or bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be disadvantageous.
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.
I will try to maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses, even though this takes some of the fun out of the job. I will never say, "I am invincible", because no one ever is.
If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.
If a messenger interrupts me during a meeting, a bath, or a romantic encounter, I will assume he has a real and important reason for doing so. He will only be executed if he interrupted me for no reason.
If a person carrying an odd colored sword walks into my kingdom, I will take a vacation elsewhere until that sword is out of my kingdom and not make any friendly or unfriendly overtures to the sword wielder. If the sword is black, I'm heading for another dimension and never returning.
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.
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 of their time bickering and criticizing each other except for intermittent moments of sexual tension, I will order their immediate arrest and execution.
If any of my advisors ever says to me "My lord, he is but one man, and what can one man possibly do?" I will reply "This.", and then shoot him.
If at all possible, no exhaust ports will lead directly to the heart of the main reactor. If this proves unavoidable, all such exhaust ports will have closeable, reinforced blast doors at every other level, and there will be alternate routes of venting in case of emergency.
If for some reason I enslave an entire race of people, I will not put them to work at tasks modern machinery can do more efficiently.
If I am considering using a new code, I will instruct my eight-year old advisor to try to break it. If he can, the code will not be used. Note: the same policy applies to passwords.
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.
If I am forced to make my escape, I will not pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner before leaving.
If I capture the hero's starship, I will keep it in the landing bay with the ramp down, only a few token guards on duty and a ton of explosives set to go off as soon as it clears the blast-range.
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 come into possession of, or manage to assemble the Ultimate Weapon, I will immediately use it at full power in direct pursuit of my goal of world domination. No warning shots across the bow, No "This is only a fraction of my weapon's potential!" grandstanding. I will also refrain from using the Ultimate Weapon for simply offing the Hero. If it's really the Ultimate Weapon, the Hero's efforts will come to naught anyway.
If I decide to hold the double execution of the hero and an underling who betrayed me, the hero will be scheduled to go first.
If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty to 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 I discover that the hero is the offspring of my Trusted Lieutenant, I will never allow the Trusted Lieutenant to try to turn the Hero to my service. The hero will just turn my Lieutenant against me, and a good second-in-command is hard to come by. Rather, I'll just accept the cost of training a new second-in-command and kill the Trusted Lieutenant. He's just trying to turn the hero to his side so he can overthrow me anyway. But if I temporarily lose my mind and allow my Trusted Lieutenant to try and turn the hero to my service, I will order the Trusted Lieutenant out of the room while I confront the hero. That way, I won't have to worry about the Trusted Lieutenant's pesky parental instinct when I kill the hero.
If I ever spend 30 years in cryogenic stasis, upon awakening I will defer any evil scheming until my Trusted Lieutenant can bring me up to speed on current events.
If I find one of my kept women alone in my office or bedchamber and she is suddenly startled when I enter the room, I will immediately cut off her only escape and summon the guards. I will then order them to do a complete strip search and body cavity check on her. After that I will have them search the entire room top to bottom. If these searches turn up any items she tried to filch from or plant in the room, she will be executed on the spot.
If I find that my beautiful consort has been secretly associating with the hero, I will have her executed. This is regrettable, but maybe the next one will pay attention at the orientation meeting.
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 I have massive computer systems, I will take as least as many precautions as a small business and include such things as virus-scans, firewalls, and other common security measures.
If I have several diabolical schemes to destroy the hero, I will launch them all at once rather than singly, thereby saving myself the aggravation of watching them fail in succession.
If I learn about the whereabouts of the one object capable of destroying me, I will not send my Legions of Terror out to seize it. Rather, I will send my Legions of Terror out to seize something else, and then quietly and anonymously place a want ad in the local paper.
If I must have computer systems with publicly available terminals, the maps they display of my complex 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.
If I suffer from a fit of temporary insanity and offer the hero a job as my Trusted Lieutenant, I will retain enough sanity to make the offer while my Trusted Lieutenant is more than 100 miles away. There is nothing more dangerous than a Trusted Lieutenant who is righteously pissed off at you.
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.
If I'm sitting in my camp, hear a twig snap, start to investigate, then encounter a small woodland creature, I will send out some scouts anyway just to be on the safe side. (If they disappear into the foliage, I will not send out another patrol; I will break out the napalm.)
If I'm wearing the key to the hero's shackles around my neck and his former girlfriend now volunteers to become my mistress and we are all alone in my bedchamber on my bed and she offers me a goblet of wine, I will politely decline the offer.
If I've captured the beautiful princess and forced her to wear a skimpy slave costume and chain around her neck, I will take precautions to ensure she will not be able to strangle me with it.
If my advisors ask, "Why are you risking everything on this mad scheme?" I will not proceed until I have an answer that satisfies them.
If my chief engineer displeases me, he will be shot. He will not be kept prisoner inside the very dungeon he designed.
If my enemies are important to my scheme and thus cannot be shot immediately, I will not keep them together in the same cellblock, much less the same cell. The only keys to their cells will be kept on my person at all times; copies of them will not be handed out to every guard in my headquarters. And they will be shot as soon as it is feasible to do so.
If my Evil Offspring is corrupted by the forces of Good, I will not try to attempt to bring him back to the Dark Side. I will give him up as a lost cause, eliminate him if he goes against me, and find a suitable Evil protégé somewhere else.
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 when ever she threatens to turn me into a toad.
If my mad scientist tells me that my super weapon is almost finished, but requires more testing, I will wait for him to complete the testing. No one ever conquered the world by using a beta-version.
If my objective is world domination, I will not be tempted by tantalizing opportunities to achieve absolute power, as these inevitably backfire. However, if my objective is absolute power, I will consider settling for mere world domination.
If my stronghold is attacked, I will immediately use my prepared escape pod to escape to my auxiliary HQ, from which I will direct the defense of my primary headquarters. I will not wait until my enemies are breaking down the doors of my inner sanctum before attempting to leave.
If my superweapon can be controlled by computers or other electronic/electrical means, then there is no need for there to be only one set of controls right next to the main power source. A fake set, directly connected to a multi-amp circuit, will occupy this location.
If my Trusted Lieutenant tells me that my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he is my Trusted Lieutenant.
If my Ultimate Incantation or Supreme Summoning leaves me weak and vulnerable from the expenditure of energy, I will only undertake it deep in the center of my fortress, and get plenty of sleep before applying the results.
If one of my daughters actually manages to win the hero and openly defies me, I will congratulate her on her choice, proclaim a national holiday to celebrate the wedding, and name the hero my heir. This should be enough to break up their relationship. If not, at least I can be assured that the hero won't attack me while I am holding a parade in his honor.
If one of my enemies says, "Look, before you kill us, will you at least tell us what this is all about?" I will say, "No." And then I will shoot them. On second thought, I'll shoot him first and then say, "No."
If reputable prophecy dictates I will be defeated/killed by a certain person or event, I will not waste time trying to eliminate him or prevent it. I will enjoy my power for all its worth, as long as I can, meanwhile devoting reasonable energies in a search for new prophecies that will get me out of the first one.
If the hero and his party mount a surprise raid on my fortress, and there's no time to reach my secret escape pod, I will disguise myself as one of my bottom-rung, non-combat employees. (No real hero would shoot a poor, defenseless janitor, now would he?)
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 there is any body of water in my realm that is home to a race of clumsy, Rastafarian-like amphibians, it will immediately be drained and filled in with concrete.
If there is any doubt about whether or not my enemies know something, I will act on the assumption that they do know. Unless it is important to my plans that they know, in which case I will make sure the information is leaked to them from an unimpeachable source.
In my headquarters, incinerators, not compactors will dispose of bulk trash, and they will be kept hot, with none of this nonsense about flames shooting through accessible tunnels at intervals.
In the event of failure, I will consider the possibility that my enemies are proficient and intelligent before assuming incompetence or betrayal on the part of my advisors.
Instead of going to all the trouble of stealing a 200 megaton nuclear device and ransoming a city to get the billions of dollars needed to enact my Master Plan, I’ll simply start an evangelical Tele-ministry. That way, I not only will get the money, I’ll get a fanatical cult of followers that will obey my every command, should I ever need such a thing.
Instead of killing, imprisoning, or brain wiping the witnesses to my mistakes, I will instead apply equivalent, if not greater effort toward avoiding mistakes.
It is never necessary to store explosive materials and/or fuel anywhere near my central control or computer complex. If for some reason such a situation should come about, they will not be in the same room as the central computer. They will be in a concrete bunker protected by blast doors and fire prevention systems. The same goes for the vats of toxic waste, acids, and super-cold liquids.
Likewise, I will not use cloned duplicates to safeguard myself from capture by my enemies because they have desires and needs like other people and may sell me out, or worse attempt to murder and replace me.
Members of my Legion of Terror will attend seminars on Sensitivity Training. It's good public relations for them to be kind and courteous to the general population when not actively engaged in sowing chaos and destruction.
Mind-controlled or love-potioned subjects will be left enough free will that they do not have to be specifically ordered to perform useful actions such as enabling my escape, administering medical help, or otherwise coming to my aid.
My doomsday device will not employ a large red digital countdown device unless it is absolutely necessary. If a countdown device proves to be necessary, the doomsday device will be set to activate when the counter reaches 00:10:00, rather than 00:00:00.
My doomsday devices will always be designed and built in pairs. And both of them will be activated simultaneously. For that matter, any important device will be designed and built in pairs.
My doomsday machine will have a highly-advanced technological device called a capacitor in case someone inconveniently pulls the plug at the last second. (If I have access to really advanced technology, I will include a back-up device known as a battery.)
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 cell decor will not feature exposed pipes. While they add to the gloomy atmosphere, they are good conductors of vibrations and a lot of prisoners know Morse code.
My dungeon cells will have solid physical doors in addition to force fields so that every power failure doesn't become a jailbreak.
My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain reflective surfaces or anything that can be unraveled.
My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cellmate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.
My enemies are not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or a last anything. They are entitled to get shot.
My force field generators will be located inside the force field they generate.
My fortress will be designed with blast doors that authorized personnel can open and close quickly and easily whenever they need to.
My headquarters will have a heavily guarded room located at the bottom of a 100 story subterranean shaft behind a door marked "command center". This room will have a sophisticated computer the size of a city bus. This computer will contain a carefully encrypted but totally false version of my Master Plan, have no external links, and no real purpose. My actual "command center" will be a satellite-linked laptop on a card table with a folding chair at the top of the elevator shaft, behind a door marked "standpipe valves", accessible through the unlocked janitor's closet.
My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic rifle marksmanship. Any who cannot hit a man-sized target at ten meters will be used for target practice.
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.
My Legions of Terror will be trained to dogpile hand-to-hand opponents, rather than attacking them in ones and twos while the rest stand around waiting their turn.
My Legions of Terror will have a competent Internal Affairs department to make sure, among other things, that none of my henchpersons are old childhood friends or former lovers of the Hero.
My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear, space-age-plastic faceplates that allow the troopers to see clearly, and allow others to identify the trooper by sight with ease.
My Legions of Terror will have uniforms designed by a talented fashion designer, and will not be a cheap knockoff of the Nazi SS uniform, the roman foot-soldier uniform, or the clothing of the savage Mongol horde. All such groups were eventually defeated, and I want my troopers to have a more positive outlook about themselves.
My main computer will use a custom operating system incompatible with all of the more common PowerBook and laptop computer models commercially available today.
My noble half-brother, whose throne I usurped to come into power, will not be secretly kept imprisoned anonymously in a cell in my dungeon. He will be killed as soon as my coronation is over.
My pet monster's cage will be cleaned regularly and kept free of rocks, sticks, bones, or any other debris condemned prisoners might use as weapons to slay it when I drop them through the secret trap door.
My Secret Police will be instructed to concentrate on Genuine Threats To My Reign. They do not need to waste time and resources investigating/persecuting every last disgruntled peasant, unless it's a slow day and there's really nothing else for them to do.
My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.
My stronghold will have ventilation ducts that are too small to crawl through.
My stronghold won't have a self-destruct device unless it is absolutely necessary. If a self-destruct device turns out to be necessary, a big red button marked "Danger! Do not push!" will not activate it. The big red button marked "Danger! Do not push!" will instead trigger a spray of bullets onto anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, no on/off switches in my control room will be labeled as such.
My undercover agents will not be required to wear jackboots, or to adhere to any other form of a dress code. Neither will they have tattoos which identify their allegiance to me.
My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.
New recruits for my Legend of Terror and/or secret police will undergo careful screening - including background checks, psychological evaluations, IQ and aptitude testing, drug and alcohol screening, and full physicals - before they begin training/service.
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 emergency.
No matter how much I desire vengeance, I will never issue the order, "Leave him! He's mine!"
No matter how tempted I am by the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field that is larger than my head.
No part of my fortress will feature giant, free-standing stone statues or obelisks. While the sight of them would indeed be awe inspiring, it would be far too easy for a hero with superhuman strength or a well placed explosive charge to knock one over on top of me and/or my soldiers. Optionally, if I must have giant statues made out of myself, they will be made of Styrofoam and helium. This way, when the explosive charge does go off, there will be a short, morale boosting moment as I get to do the Evil Overlord Chipmunk command to slay my enemies.
No Ultimate Incantation that requires sacrifice of a Virgin is worth the trouble of a) securing such a rarity and b) relying on a quality that is so easily cured by an amorous Hero or Heroine in less than a minute of stolen time.
Once my power is secure, I will destroy any pesky time machines that might be at hand.
One of my chief advisors will be an average, every-day eight-year-old child. Any flaws in my Master Plan that he is able to spot will be corrected long before I put that plan into action.
One of my closest advisors will be a prolific hack novelist. If any part of my Master Plan begins to resemble any of his work, it will be disregarded.
Regardless of the extra revenue and good PR they might generate, I will not allow public tours of my fortress or any other important facility I own.
Ropes supporting various fixtures will not be tied next to open windows or staircases, and chandeliers will be hung way at the top of the ceiling.
Shooting is not "too good" for my enemies.
Since nothing is more irritating than a hero defeating you with basic math skills, I will design all of my personal sidearms to fire one more bullet than is standard.
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 locked up in my safe-deposit box. The same can be said for the artifact that is my one vulnerability.
The entrance to my stronghold will have doors that are normal sized. While twenty-foot tall doors do impress the masses, they are difficult to close quickly in an emergency.
The Fair Maiden will never be left unsecured in rooms full of bolt cutters, gasoline cans, knives, scissors, lock picks, band saws, electric drills, submachine guns, hand grenades, flame throwers and the like under the assumption that simply because she is unable to leave the room, she is helpless. The fair maiden will always be gagged, bound hand and foot, and either secured to some very stable object well away from all other objects in the room, or even better, hogtied. Evil minions who leave the fair maiden alone and unsecured will be left alone and unsecured in a room full of angry bears.
The gun turrets on my fortress will not rotate enough so that they may direct fire inward or at each other.
The interior decor of my fortress will not feature pointy objects I could be impaled upon if I'm knocked off balance and stumble backwards during a fight.
The members of my secret police will have broad-ranging authority to do their jobs. However, I reserve the right to terminate any who use their power for what I deem to be "non-constructive purposes" (like petty revenge).
The moat around my fortress will be teeming with sharks with lasers on their heads (every creature deserves a warm meal). And no, I will not settle for sea bass, no matter how bad-tempered they are. ALL I ASK FOR IS SOME SHARKS WITH FRICKING LASERS ON THEIR HEADS!!!!
The passageways to and within my domain will be well-lit with fluorescent lighting. Regrettably, the spooky atmosphere will be lost, but my security patrols will be more effective.
There is a reason why the spell book of the last Evil Overlord is available to me. If I came into possession of it through any means that involved defeat of its power, I will use it as a doorstop only.
Total commitment is essential. If I discover that I have not truly and completely gone over to the Dark Side, I will immediately cease all world-domination efforts until that last morsel of goodness is expunged.
Whatever my one vulnerability is, I will fake a different one. For example, ordering all mirrors removed from the palace, screaming and flinching whenever someone accidentally holds up a mirror, etc. In the climax when the hero whips out a mirror and thrusts it at my face, my reaction will be "Hmm... I think I need a shave."
When given a choice as to which fair maiden of two or more to capture, I will always choose the more attractive ones. This would seem to be obvious, but it's surprising how often minions miss this point.
When I capture the fair maiden, I will not kill her. This is not a matter of morality -- if I gave a fig about that, I wouldn't run around kidnapping women in the first place. However, if I do kill the fair maiden, I have the problem of disposing of the body and I no longer have the leverage provided by the threat of killing her. If the fair maiden presents a problem in terms of being a witness, I will solve that problem by blindfolding her or making her wear a hood. Simply because I am evil does not mean I am wasteful, and it's wasteful to kill perfectly good fair maidens. After all, I might have some use for her at some point.
When I capture the hero, I will also make sure to capture his pet ferret, dog, monkey, or whatever other sickeningly cute pet animal that is capable of untying ropes, fetching keys, etc that happens to be following him around.
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.
When I have completely conquered and subjugated the entire world, I will not immediately branch out into other worlds/dimensions. I'll wait a few generations so that my subjects will only know life under my benevolent reign, thus providing little help to any renegades from the new worlds.
When I have the fair maiden nicely tied up and am ready for a good gloat, I will not lean down and stare into her space from a distance of inches. She will just spit on me. If I absolutely have to do some close, face-to-face gloating, I'll make sure she's gagged first.
When it is prophesized that "no man will defeat me", I will keep in mind the growing presence and influence of non-traditional gender roles in the world today.
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.
When my Legions of Terror park their vehicle to do reconnaissance on foot, they will be instructed to employ The Club.
When my troops invade an unsuspecting country, I will direct the attack from the safety of my stronghold. If I absolutely must ride into battle myself, I will certainly not do so at the forefront of my army. Nor will I attempt to seek out my opposite number among his army for personal combat.
When the rebel leader challenges me to a one-on-one fight, and asks "Or are you afraid to face me without your goons to back you up?" My reply will be "No, I’m not afraid... Just sensible." And then I will shoot him.
When the time comes to unite the world's diverse underworld elements into one massive criminal organization, the meeting with my underbosses will not feature the elimination of the vociferous objectors and the intimidation of the rest. Rather, it will feature the deputization of the most powerful that I can control easily and the elimination of the rest.
While deformed mutants and oddball psychotics will certainly have their place in my Legions of Terror, I will not send them out on missions that require tact or subtlety.
While it may be tempting to use an Ultmate Weapon or Spell with a rare, almost impossible to exploit, Tiny Flaw to accomplish my goals, if many Penultimate Weapons or Spells with no such flaw can achieve the same effect, I will employ them instead.
In a slightly related topic of uncanny things.. here is a set of things to do differently, if one were to set out to rule the world - a comical list "of planned actions for a competent Evil Overlord to avoid the well-known, cliché blunders committed by supervillains in popular fictional works" was first compiled in 1990 on the FidoNet email listserv, published in 1994 by Jack Butler on a thread mocking a 1988 Saturday Night Live skit featuring Bond Villains touting a book "What Not To Do When You Capture James Bond".
And for bonus fun, econ-wannabes at Lehigh came up with The Cost Of Being An Unbeatable Evil Overlord: $14,268,632 which is incidentally more affordable than the cost for building a Death Star ($852,000,000,000,000,000), coming in at a bit over 850 quadrillion dollars.