A Scholar’s Advice for Evil Rulers

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Advice to Evil Rulers copy

Logo by Bill Austin

You have decided to become the Embodiment of All Evil, the Oppressor of the People, and the Ruler of All You Survey. Congratulations! Don’t let it go to your head—Actually do let it go to your head; that’s part of the point! But keep these things in mind while you’re at it:

1. When it comes to clothing and décor, more is more: What is the point of being Evil if you can’t indulge in spiky towers, long robes, and as much jewelry as you can possibly wear (especially if it’s enchanted)? Sure, you want to make sure the aesthetic considerations don’t get in the way of function, but you can layer in a lot of black before it starts interfering with anyone’s actions. Also? Faceless soldiers are terrifying. Keep that in mind!

2. Build a moat. What kind of a stronghold doesn’t have a moat? And fill it with something other than koi. Think piranhas, sea snakes, or something nasty and mechanical. Skip the poison and lava though: The fumes are terrible.

3. Pay the help well. There’s no point in getting yourself poisoned because the cook is feeling sulky about wages or in having the steward throw open the gates to invading armies because you couldn’t be bothered to share the wealth.

4. Treat their families well—and keep them on your property. Not only will they be glad to see their children and spouses well and happy, they’ll know that you could wreak havoc on their loved ones if they disobeyed you. That said, only turn do that when it is absolutely necessary. Disaffected employees are always trouble, and there will always be enemies of the state to take your temper out on.

5. Don’t shoot the messenger. I realize this is difficult, but the chances are that the person is telling you something you really need to know, so rant all you want. Call in the storm clouds. Set the vultures to circling, but don’t kill the person who brings you news.

6. Do kill off all your enemies. Yes, you will miss some member or another of an important family, but you will be left with only one person who hates you and wants to kill you, and you have a good chance of identifying your nemesis in time to do something about it. If you leave some or all of them alive and in exile, you will have several people who hate you, any one of which could be the prophesied deliverer. Besides which, you’re evil! You need to act like it.

7. Keep track of prophecies. Sure, you may want to execute the occasional nutcase who stands on the corners and predicts your immanent demise, but if at all possible, keep a soothsayer or two on staff and have them over for dinner at least once a week. Knowing as much as possible about your doom will help you to–

8. Know when to retire. Yes, yes, I know, you wield Ultimate Power, crush your enemies, and have redesigned the universe/world/kingdom to fit your desires. You’re still going to lose some day, that’s just the way things are. So when all the signs point to your doom (all of them), get ready to take off and implement your retirement plans. Speaking of which:

9. There’s no reason why your life has to end when your career does. Look on defeat as a chance to try something new. Have you always wanted to take up adventuring and never had the time? Now you do! Or maybe you want to try the peaceful agricultural life for a while. As long as you have invested prudently and purchased property well outside the boundaries of your former kingdom, you will be able to explore your options. If you find that life doesn’t suit you after all, you can always go conquer some other territory. You might even try to oust their Evil Ruler and rule as a Hero. The possibilities are endless, just so long as you have a backup plan (or ten).

10. Look into ways to extend your life. That way you’ll have plenty of time to rule and pursue your second career. Note: Bathing in virgins’ blood is messy and the supply tends to be dry up, in more ways than one. Try something a little more esoteric and less revolting.

11. Don’t give in gracefully. When the time comes, be sure to leave as much chaos in your wake as possible. Not only do you have an image to preserve, you’re much likely to get away and start that second career if everyone is too busy cleaning up to worry about finding a body. So go ahead! Set the castle to crumble when your doom is upon you, call in the fiery dragons of doom, and get those earthquakes started. This is your last act as the Ruler of All You Survey: Make the most of it.

Just make sure that you aren’t collapsing your escape tunnel while you’re at it.

Now get out there and wreak some havoc!

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