Okay, I think that the list has gotten wide enough circulation. But for some reason evil overlords still have a remarkably low success rate. The only explanation that I can think of is that yet more rules are needed. Thus, I propose the following:
I will think very carefully about using any brand of technology or branch of magic whose name implies that it is unreliable and dangerous to the user.
If I hire an assassin to dispose of the hero, I will first make sure that the assassin and hero are not actually the same person. Any outstanding physical characteristics that they share will be considered grounds for suspicion.
If my arch nemesis attends a British boarding school, my evil plans will come to frutition in the middle of finals weeks, rather than a few days after exams are over. Thus, the hero will not have any spare time in which to foil my plots.
I will make a sincere effort not to hire superpowered underlings who dress like Liberace on halloween.
I will not post guards to any doorway that I can cover with cement, park a tank across, and post guards to.
I will investigate the possibility of not conquering an existing country, but simply starting an entirely new one of my own. That’s still probably not an approach I’d want to follow anyway, but it’s always good to know one’s options.
Mock trials for captured heroes are inefficient, time-consuming wastes of effort that only fool wimps and idiots, and give the prisoners time and opportunities to escape. If I really feel the need to put on a powdered wig and parade my archenemy before a court in chains, I’ll settle for trying and (re)executing his corpse after I’ve killed him. (A practice not unknown in history, one might note.)
In many cases, I really don’t need to keep prisoners in suspended animation (stasis fields, carbonite, blocks of ice, dehydrated cubes, etc.) as “living trophies,” when they could be tastefully displayed in a lifelike appearence while actually dead.
The Hero knows that Evil Overlords always wear fancy outfits – black or ermine capes, gold chains and medallions, steel claws, etc. Therefore I will keep at least two changes of nondescript clothing available at all times, and switch my garb at the first sign of the Hero’s raid.
If there exists a reliable prophecy concerning just exactly how I can or can not be defeated or destroyed, I will interpret that prophecy completely literally, and with an eye for loopholes. I will also make allowances for any speech impediments of the person who delivered the prophecy.
If I hire an assassin, bounty hunter, saboteur, or kidnapper who is desperate and will do anything for cash, but later acquires a conscience and cannot destroy the hero, I will be understanding. Rather than forcing them to carry out their original mission, thereby awaking in them a state of internal psychological conflict that can only end in my defeat, I shall agree to let them quit. Then I’ll just find a more callous employee who can do the job properly.
I will then forge, a prophecy that describes, incorrectly, my single weakness, and flashily protect it in my most impenetrable vault. Any heroes killed by the traps leading to the vault will simply be gravy.
In order to confuse the dramatically inclined, I will not locate my headquarters in a skull-shaped fortress. Rather, I will be based in an ordinary office building, or whatever is appropriate for the milieu. Also, I will not call myself Krangg the Destroyer, but instead go by the name “Brent Smith.”
If my unstoppable superweapon requires a timer, it shall be equipped with a countdown display that is on an independent circuit. Cutting the wire to freeze the countdown will not in any way affect the triggering of my unstoppable superweapon.
My guards’ uniforms will be equipped with motion sensors that will sound an alarm if the guard falls to the floor or stops moving.
Since I don’t know a lot about science fiction evil overlord, howse about some historical evil overlords? I’m sure at least a few would apply regardless.
– Never try to conquer Russia in the winter
– A crossbow is your best friend and will take care of most messy diplomatic problems
– Beware of any bastard half-brothers. They are always up to no good
– For that matter, keep an eye on your legitimate full-brothers, too
– Yes, the Empress is a babe, even though she’s old enough to be your mom. But if her husband catches you having an affair with her, he’ll throw you in prison. Then you’ll have to break out, wreck Viking mayhem, and put the Emperor’s eyes out with a glow-hot poker. And who needs the headache?
– You can’t marry your double first cousin/niece and expect any good to come of it
– Elephants are never worth the trouble
Honor is worth its weight in gold. A reputation for honor, on the other hand, might have some practical value. Therefore, I will never make a promise I might find it inconvenient to keep, except when breaking it is certain to cause the immediate death of everyone who knows it was made.
I will take acting lessons until I can perfectly affect the role of a fawning, cringing, servile toady. My trusted lieutenant will be taught how to strut around in black robes intoning things like “Seize them!” and “Evil will triumph!” in a booming, sepulchral voice. If the hero is ever brought into my presence, my lieutenant and I will switch roles, just in case the hero has something up his sleeve despite being naked and shackled (they always do, you know). That will allow me to remain in the throne room and keep an eye on the situation while my lieutenant becomes the target of any possible attack. My lieutenant, just to keep him from getting above himself at that moment, will have a bomb implanted in his belly to which I have the remote-control detonator in my pocket.
My Legions of Terror will not march back and forth in front of my fortress gate holding long spears and wearing dashing, terrifying uniforms. That role will be performed by expendable security guards (or even more expendable actors) hired from a private agency. My actual Legions of Terror will wear dowdy but practical camouflage fatigues and will be trained to lurk out of sight until they are needed.
There will be a resistance movement in my Evil Empire. I know this because I’ll be the one to start, control, and monitor it from the very beggining. At the very least, it’ll make the heroes and hapless peasants think they’re opposing me while presenting no real threat, and in a worse case scenario, I’ll let the rebels “defeat” me, and my charismatic alter ego will take command of the provisional government, and be loved by the people for doing so. (And I’ll get my photo on the T-shirts of millions of rebellious, idealistic college students in neighboring countries, to boot.)
If a incompetent subordinate fails me, I will not execute him; that would give his friends and relations a grudge to nurse. Instead I will demote him to some functionary position with no important responsibilities and no prospect of advancement. He will still be of some use to me but his incompetence will no longer be any major hindrance to my schemes, and everyone will praise my justice and mercy.