The Evil Henchman's Guide

   Recently, the Society of Evil Overlords has noticed a regrettable decline in the availability and quality of fanatical henchmen, devoted worshippers, and loyal infantry. We wish to correct this growing problem by submitting the following general guidelines for Evil Henchmen.
   DISCLAIMER:  The use of masculine/feminine pronouns and assignment of gender roles is not intended to preclude a reversal of gender roles. It is, however, intended to offend those who think that the vague phallic appearance of nuclear missiles is somehow a factor in their deployment. Nyah.
  1. General tips for henchmen of all varieties:
    1. Avoid getting sent to rough up the Hero. Ransacking hotel rooms is probably safe, but going 'round to beat up the good guys is a sure ticket to the bottom of the Thames. Remember, however, that all Heroes get roughed up at least once, so if this has never happened to the Hero, go for it!
    2. Avoid killing people not actively involved in the rebellion; the Evil Overlord has enough enemies as it is. Especially don't kill relatives, significant others, or best friends of the Hero. Normally after the Evil Overlord is overthrown, henchmen can get off with a few hundred hours of community service, but if you off the Hero's loved ones, he'll make lasagna out of you.
    3. Unless the Evil Overlord pays extra for indiscriminate slaughter, avoid it. Why should you give your services away for free?
    4. As tempting as it may be, never try to ravish the Evil Overlord's Beautiful But Wicked daughter. She can probably mop the floor with you. Daddy will not try to stop her. He thinks it's funny.
    5. Learn where the trap door is in the floor Evil Overlord's audience chamber. Avoid standing there, especially when bad news is brought to the Evil Overlord.
    6. As soon as the evil lord has the Hero in his power, seek the nearest available escape route. The fewmets are about to hit the windmill.
    7. Learn to distinguish Heroes from Sidekicks. Heroes are usually taller and more somber, while Sidekicks dress with more flair and tell more jokes. Taking on the Hero when you only have enough manpower/firepower to take on the Sidekick will earn you an all-expenses-paid trip on Stygian Cruise Lines.
    8. Never allow yourself to be provoked into doing anything stupid by insults from the Hero or Sidekicks.
    9. No matter how attractive the captured heroine is or how seductively she bats her eyes, she really does not want to sleep with you. Do not unlock the cell door.
    10. If the heroes give you a chance to surrender or flee, take it.
    11. If you surrender to the Hero, don't try to stab him when his back is turned; the Sidekick will get you first.
    12. If the seemingly helpless person you have just cornered is confident and unafraid despite being outnumbered and surrounded, you have encountered a Hero in disguise. Run while you still can.
    13. If the Hero you are sent after dresses entirely in black, he is even more dangerous than the Evil Overlord suspects; double all requisitions for men and firepower.
    14. Practice your "accidental" sword/gun dropping technique. It's the only thing that can save you when the Hero is winning.
    15. When you have someone at gunpoint and that person says "you haven't got the guts to kill me," disprove his/her hypothesis.
    16. The Evil Overlord will not risk his life to save yours. Why risk yours for his?
    17. If the Hero is using you as a human shield and the Evil Overlord asks you if the Doomsday Weapon is prepared, say "no."
    18. If the Evil Overlord orders you to kill some prisoners and then departs for business elsewhere, leave as quickly as possible; there is about to be a successful rescue attempt.
    19. Never allow yourself to be turned into a vicious, ravening beast to defeat the Hero. It never works, and you girlfriend will not understand. She will dump you for one of the Good Guys.
    20. Never hold hostages at point blank range. Anyone quick enough to even back into the role of Hero can punch you out faster than you can pull the trigger.
    21. When disposing of bodies, dump them in the Evil Overlord's territory, and not in neighboring lands presently outside of his control.
    22. Find out where the Evil Overlord has installed the self-destruct switch for his secret base (the real switch, not the decoy), and disable it at the first opportunity. The base will get blown up anyway, but your chances of escaping are better.
    23. Don't let the Evil Overlord use you as a lab animal.
    24. If you can't avoid being used as a guinea pig by the Evil Overlord, any powers you gain from the experiment will make it needful for the Hero to kill you at some point during the Heroic Struggle. Change sides and take your just revenge.
    25. Unless you are calling for assistance, there is no need to yell when you are attacking the Hero. Especially when you're doing it from behind.
    26. The recommended method for checking to see if the Hero is still alive is to shoot him in the head.

  2. Guidelines for Legion of Doom troops:
    1. Before performing guard duty, familiarize yourself with the sound of a tossed pebble, and learn to avoid being distracted by it.
    2. When performing guard duty, do not stare continually in one direction, but take a moment now and then to look around.
    3. And while you're pulling guard duty, if anyone shows up with a prisoner transfer or maintenance job, and you don't know about it, arrest them on the spot.
    4. When you are fighting intruders, do not fight them quietly, but yell "Intruder!" while you still have breath.
    5. When issued armor or uniforms that contrast with the service environment, respectfully inquire after more sensibly-colored attire.
    6. Get plenty of firearms practice, and shoot at the Hero, not at the ground around him; kicking up lots of dirt looks cool, but it won't stop the Hero.
    7. Don't attack the hero alone or in pairs. The Evil Overlord hired a million of you for a reason.
    8. Learn how to lead from the rear and command from afar, just like the Evil Overlord does.
    9. Exercise care in the abuse of oppressed peoples. Many farm implements make effective weapons in the hands of a skilled opponent. Some of those little old men can teach you a thing or two about hand-to-hand, too. And it would be just your luck for the villager you pick on to actually be the Hero masquerading as one of the villagers.
    10. Test your armor's ability to stop a minimum of one sword thrust or laser blast, and if it does not give at least this much protection, respectfully inquire after more.
    11. Make sure that your headgear allows for a useful field of vision.
    12. Remember that if the Hero and/or his comrades are being purposefully allowed to escape, there is no need for you to get killed in your effort to "prevent" the escape.
    13. If a prisoner suddenly takes ill, notify the Evil Overlord and await his instructions. Do not go into the cell to examine him/her yourself.
    14. If you're on patrol and your partner mysteriously disappears, call for backup before you go look for him.
    15. If your unit's name contains words like "Imperial", "Elite", "Supreme", "Tactical", "Storm" or "Special", request a transfer as soon as possible. These guys always get clobbered first when the Heroes attack.

  3. Tips for the Trusted Lieutenant:
    1. When the hero or his sidekicks are at your mercy, don't stop to gloat.
    2. If you can't resist gloating, don't boast about the reward you expect to receive from your master for bringing them in or killing them off.
    3. If you gloat and boast, don't be surprised if a comrade of the person you have at your mercy jumps you from behind while you're distracted with your boasting.
    4. If you fail to complete your mission, skip town. Returning to the Evil Overlord to report on your failure will usually get you killed.
    5. While the Evil Overlord is gloating over his anticipated success in the venture he is about to launch, it is considered impolite to ask "And if you fail?" You probably won't be flogged, maimed, or killed for your temerity, but why risk it?
    6. Never wear gender-inappropriate underwear if swords are common. The Hero will slice your suspenders, causing your pants to fall and exposing you to ridicule.
    7. If you follow orders and fail, the Evil Overlord will claim he told you to do something different, and your body parts will be used a castle decorations. If you disobey orders and succeed, the EO will act as if what you did was his idea, and you will be commended. The Moral: Do what works.
    8. Find out what happened to your predecessor. Learn from it.
    9. Always have a scapegoat arranged in order to explain every failure.
    10. Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, accept responsibility for failure.

  4. Tips for evil cult members:
    1. Pick one faith and stay with it. Dilettantism is the mark of an amateur.
    2. Familiarize yourself with the specifications for sacrificial victims, and ensure that unacceptable substitutes cannot be unexpectedly introduced into the ceremony. If the penalty for not-to-specs work is death and/or mutilation, consider working for a more fault-tolerant deity.
    3. Avoid needless embarrassment. Practice the correct pronunciation of your deity's name in the privacy of your own room before chanting it in public. Flash cards are often helpful. Be very careful to pronounce only one syllable at a time; some deities tend to pop up at every mention of their name, and expect an acceptable sacrifice to be waiting for them.
    4. Before agreeing to impregnation by a supernatural being, investigate the survival rate of the other women who have undergone the procedure.
    5. Never invoke anything bigger than your head.
    6. Eschew deities whose followers are all young; such faith groups usually employ an unpleasant retirement procedure.
    7. Avoid all cabalistic jewelry over ten pounds in weight--it attracts unwelcome attention from tourists, policemen, various supernatural creatures, and can be downright dangerous during thunderstorms. Its jingling also tends to warn the hero of your approach.
    8. Citronella candles may not be used in rituals. I cannot stress this enough. Pastel colored candles in the shape of cute animals are like direct sunlight to the Powers of Darkness.
    9. If the spirit contacted during a seance begins offering financial advice, you're dealing with a con artist, and not a genuine medium.
    10. Always keep your kit with you: candles, chalk, incense, silver knife, Thuggee cord, service revolver, garlic, Yellow Sign, cab fare, and change.
    11. Fluorescent lighting is very annoying to most netherworldly creatures.
    12. When the Black Mass goes awry, stay away from the Evil Priest. Enraged demons always go for the pompous.
    13. Followers who have a speech impediment should be excused from speaking parts in any and all ceremonies. The mispronunciation of the deity's name can have catastrophic effects.
    14. Plan ahead by selecting ceremonial robes that are easy to run in while still affording ample concealment.
    15. If the ritual site has some strange powder sprinkled around that wasn't there the last time, postpone all ceremonies until the site is verified.
    16. When a religious artifact begins emitting light, CLOSE YOUR EYES. Thousands of cult members could be saved every year if they followed this simple safety tip.
    17. When mutilating cattle, avoid the ones with testicles.
    18. During ritual sacrificing, taking bits home for later is now generally considered "bad form."
    19. Blood tests are now required for all sacrificial victims before the ritual. The effects of HIV+ offerings on the average malefic deity have never been witnessed by anyone living, or even intact.
    20. Contrary to historical belief, drugs and invocations do not mix. When the ritual goes awry, it is vitally necessary to be able to discern between the gibbering monstrosity to pump full of silver bullets and the gibbering monstrosity that will fade away after a few hours, some B complex, and a good hot bath.
    21. Never play strip Tarot.
    22. Piety and belief are powerful things, and few forces in nature, can stand against one who is true to his faith, his god/goddess, and the deal made in exchange for the soul. However, it is also true that gods tend to side with the heaviest artillery, so be prepared to change sides at the drop of a hat.
    23. For those situations where a fresh, living, sacrifice is not available, the lower ranks of demons can be fooled by microwaving a previously frozen chunk of ex-victim and cleverly jiggling it. However, a mock victim sculpted from SPAM is right out.
    24. Instead of picking human victims who are young, virginal and innocent (and tend to turn out to be the Hero's girlfriend), see if you can substitute mass murderers, lawyers, school board members, and other people who won't be missed.
    25. Register the copyrights on your chants, so that you'll have a leg up when some long-haired, dope-smoking, maggot-infested rock group plagiarizes them for a fast buck.
    26. Do not allow your mental condition to degrade any further than the obligations of your deity require. A good psychiatrist helps.

  5. Tips for the Evil Overlord's Wicked but Beautiful Daughter:
    1. Make a point of finding out all those lovely little family secrets so that the Hero can never spring them on you.
    2. Do not fall in love with the Hero.
    3. If you fall in love with the Hero, and decide to help him, do not declare your intentions to Daddy. He'll just clap you in irons, pending execution. Of course the Hero will rescue you, but that's demeaning.
    4. If the Hero takes you to his secret base, and once there tells all about his plans, smile sweetly, leave, and find another man; this Hero is obviously so stupid he will not be around for very long.
    5. If any of Daddy's Evil Henchmen try to make a move on you, maim them at least. While the encounter might be interesting, it would set a bad precedent.
    6. If you fall in love with the Hero, and want him to return your affection, do not use a drug concocted by a wizened old lady living on the top of a mountain. If the hero is not blind, your natural charms will be sufficient to win him over. If he prefers some tramp of a princess, then he obviously has rotten taste; find someone better.
    7. If you fall in love with the Hero, and learn that he has a True Love, carefully investigate the relationship. If she has never returned his affection, the position is still open to competition (but you have to work as the Hero's Sidekick for a while, first). If the True Love returns the Hero's affection, give it up. Especially, do not try to eliminate the True Love by killing her, framing her, or subverting her. You'll either fail, be unmasked as the culprit, or both.
    8. Do not wear dresses with high, fan-like collars. Stick with close-fitting, simple little numbers that allow you to turn your head to see behind you. If for some reason you have to wear a dress with a high collar, there is an arcane device called a "mirror" that will help you watch your back.
    9. Have some engineers install a hidden exit from the room where Daddy imprisoned Mommy for the rest of her days after she displeased him.
    10. Do not mistreat the populace. Let Daddy be the one to make enemies of all the Heroes in the land.
    11. If you have siblings, do not trust them. They'll only use you shamelessly. Of course if they're stupid enough to trust you, use them shamelessly.
    12. If any of your siblings try to enlist your help to overthrow Daddy, smile, agree, and then turn them in. They're either stupid (in which case the plot would certainly fail and you'll get caught), setting you up (in which case not turning them in is a very bad idea), or they've turned Good (in which case life under the new regime would be boring).
    13. Laugh at all of the Sidekick's jokes, no matter how lame they are. That way when you pretend to fall for him he will be more easily fooled.
    14. Rather than simply being an attractive stage prop, make sure that you know every detail of the running of the Evil Empire, so that if anything unpleasant happens to Daddy, the transition of power will go smoothly. Then make sure that something unpleasant happens to Daddy.
    15. Make up your mind now whether you want to marry the Hero or slowly cut him into little pieces. Do not attempt the latter until you have given up on the former.
    16. Daddy's Trusted Lieutenant works for Daddy. When he catches you cavorting with the Hero, he will gleefully take whatever you offer for his silence, and then turn you in anyway.

  6. Tips for the Evil Overlord's Accountant:
    1. Keep a set of books listing those activities of the Evil Overlord which would would be a credit to Gandhi. Show these records to anyone who cares to see them.
    2. Keep a second set of books that lists the activities in the first set of books, plus those activites that look fishy at a cursory glance, but at closer examination are perfectly within the letter of the law, and maybe bend it a little. Show these books to auditors who aren't fooled by the first set of books, and then only when the Evil Overlord has no choice but to allow examination. Keep them a bit disheveled so that anyone looking at them will think you were caught with your pants down.
    3. Keep a third set of books, listing everything the Evil Overlord is up to. Show these books to the Evil Overlord when he wants to see them. Show them to nobody else. Store them in thermite-packed cabinets so that they can be destroyed with extreme speed.
    4. Keep a fourth set of books, listing the locations and passwords for the bulk of the Evil Overlord's loot, including the Plundered Crown Jewels. Use this information to bargain for your miserable cowardly life when the Hero defeats the Evil Overlord.
    5. Keep a fifth set of books, listing the locations and passwords for a small portion of the Evil Overlord's loot, in the form of unmarked and untraceable cash. Use this information to set yourself up for retirement after the Evil Overlord is overthrown.
    6. When the Hero and his allies storm the Evil Overlord's castle, hide under the Sturdy Oak Table with the other Sly Advisors until the fighting stops. If the Evil Overlord wins, it's back to business as usual; your sniveling cowardice will only stoke the Evil Overlord's feelings of superiority over you, so you will not be punished. If the Hero wins, thank the Hero for freeing you from the Evil Overlord's mind control, show him to where the Plundered Crown Jewels are kept, and then when nobody's looking, get the portion of the Evil Overlord's loot that you have earmarked for your retirement fund and retire.
    7. Do not bother the Evil Overlord with the details of finances; math bores him. Simply remember his net worth at any given moment and be prepared to supply that figure on demand.
    8. Do not embezzle from the Evil Overlord, unless you are able to cover the discrepancy by exaggerating the losses incurred by the bumbling of the Evil Overlord's other henchmen, and then only when said henchmen are dead.

   The Evil Henchman's Guide started as a cooperative effort between myself and Brian McGinty (mcginty@pacifier.KA-CHING), but then others joined the fray. Their name and spambot-protected addresses are:

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© 1999 by John VanSickle. Permission to quote for non-commerical use is granted, provided that this copyright notice is included. Permission to link from non-commericial Web pages is granted. All other rights reserved. If you translate this page for publication on the Web elsewhere, please let me know and I'll put a link to it here.