Instead of attempting to take over the world starting with highly developed countries, I will start my world conquest in Southern Asia and Africa (or whatever Universe I happen to be stuck in's equivalent to an area that is poor, badly defended, and has little importance on the global market.)
I will consider all rules and vows carefully, but will treat them only as guidelines, not absolute laws. If fiction has taught me anything, an inflexible evil overlord is a dead evil overlord.
I will never wear a cape. If I do decide to wear a cape, it will be tied on in such a way that it comes off when pulled. This will allow me to look cool without worrying about it being used to catch me or strangle me. Heck, it might even distract the hero when he pulls on my cape while I escape and he is left with the cape.
If I need to hide my identity with a mask, then that mask will, through either technology or magic (or both), at the very least change my voice. Other functions should include a breath mask and protection from bullets.
If I must wear a mask, I will try to make it something that is not sinister in some manner. Things such as skulls, demons, etc. tend to unsettle subordinates, lower morale and make myself a more obvious target for assassination attempts. If I must wear such a mask for whatever reason I will require all my minions to wear the same mask to confuse said possible assassin.
No leather dress/catsuits with an insane amount of cleavage. It will confuse the hero if the villainess is demurely dressed. If she really wants to dress like that, fine, but I'll advise against it.
I will design the most Stripperiffic costume possible, and give it to my lowest ranked minions. Increases in rank will bring attendant changes in uniform to something less revealing and more practical. In addition to screwing with the hero's expectations, this will give the minions something to work for, and it's good to have ambitious minions.
If it is necessary to deal with an enemy, PR be damned, but first, I will consult my advisers to make sure that it is necessary. It's important to keep both mine and my enemy's abilities in perspective.
No matter how tempting, I will not employ time-travel in any of my evil schemes. It always ends poorly. Or begins poorly. It's hard to tell with time-travel.
If I DO have to time travel, and the time machine itself must remain in the present, I will not leave the device where the rebels can capture it, and use it to send back in time the man who will not only thwart my scheme, but also father the current rebel leader.
If Future Me shows up and tries to convince me that I need to go time traveling with him in order to save the universe from a monster who is Eviler Than Me, then I will shoot him. If he really was me from the future then he would have known better than to try to reason with a super villain.
If I need Past Me to go time traveling with me in order to save the universe from a monster who is Eviler Than Us, then I will bring a tranquilizer gun.
If I obtain access to a Time Travel Machine, I will just cut out the Hero entirely, go further into the past and set up a tidy little Kingdom using my Sufficiently Advanced technology. The mudgrubbing peons will grovel, I will usher in a new age of prosperity with my Evil Science/Magic, and most importantly, prove to be an inspiration to my subjectively Past Self (to whom I will will the whole of my vast fortune). And I'll still bring the Tranquilizer Gun, just to be safe.
If mecha exist, I shall determine where my universe falls on the Sliding Scale of Real Robot and Super Robot, before I do anything.
If my enemy owns his own Humongous Mecha, I will obtain the design specs and make my own evil version. Battle effectiveness is not guaranteed, but I can make a killing on the merchandising.
If the hero starts building a Mecha I'll build a few dozen tanks. Then I'll have them shoot his ankles off... giant bipedal robots are a lot less impressive when they can't stand up.
If the hero is building or has a mecha, I will find out why he went to all the trouble to build a mecha. Given the time and the number of people that would have to be involved, at least one would likely have realized the inherent problems. Given that, if it gets built anyway, there's probably a damn good reason.
I will always keep in mind that Conservation of Ninjutsu frequently applies to machines too, and that it is really embarrassing for your large fleet of tanks to be destroyed by a sixteen-year-old in a mecha.
I'll construct a force of smaller mecha than what the hero will be trotting around in. These smaller mecha will have all the advantages of the Rule of Cool inherent to mecha while at the same time avoiding many of the weaknesses of single large mechas.
I will also ensure that all of these mecha are individually customized, with unique paintjobs and affectations, and have (attractive female or bishounen) pilots whose names (and nicknames like "Maniac" and "Iceman") are constantly mentioned and have deep, colorful backgrounds. Also, these mecha will only operate in small groups, thus utilizing both Nominal Importanceand dodging Conservation of Ninjutsu. Plus, there's the possibility one or more of my many unique mecha-pilot minions will become the target of a Misaimed Fandom, making them unable to die. I'm Dangerously Genre Savvy; I might as well take advantage of it.
I will keep the best, most highly developed machine to myself. It will not, however, be the largest one—my Dragon gets that.
Any time I build a superpowerful robot/ battle suit/ tank/ etc., I will add an ultra-secure remote-controlled detonator. When the hero steals it, or it goes rogue, or my henchman does a Heel-Face Turn, I'll blow it up.
I will, instead of going to all the trouble of making an elaborate counter, have a mock-up shell made with a giant sword, and leave it in a field. Of mines.
Alternatively, I will build a bigger, cooler version of the heroes' mecha. In white. I will have it piloted by an angsty antihero who was tricked into working for me. When the heroes inevitably convert him and he parks his robot in their base, I will activate the remote detonation feature I haven't told him about and watch the fireworks.
The rule is Do not fight the Hero in a Mecha. It is never a good idea. If I find the hero is in the process (or has just finished the process) of acquiring a Mecha, I will start by checking the status of my plans. If my military-based world takeover plan can be run with 90% or better confidence right now, I will run it, ignoring the Hero as I do so. If not, I will immediately abort any and all plans for a military takeover, and use my Army of Doom as a mercenary force instead.
If I have already taken over the world, I will start a plan of economic improvement in the area likely to be the Hero's base. Important parts of the plan will include buying up old warehouses (and using or demolishing them) and increasing the number of cool-but-time-consuming jobs available for unskilled labor.
If I absolutely, positively, pathologically must taunt the hero with my plan, I will first have a qualified Doctor cut his spinal cord. You don't see too many quadriplegic protagonists.
Alternatively, I will do the spinal cutting myself. If I screw up, literally what is the worst that could happen?
If I ever attack my enemy's main base, my operational plan will specifically de-target the pilots' barracks to a distance no less than three times the lethal radius of my most powerful weapons, thus insuring his mecha are commanded by their regular pilots rather than sixteen year-old replacements who will invariably be more formidable.
If I know the layout of their base well enough to know where the barracks are, I should know where the hangar bay, motor pool, and/or armory would be, and should begin by seizing and/or destroying those.
Should my enemy use some powerful war machines usable by any child, I'll covertly recruit teen fans of relevant simulators in appropriate numbers, promising them a chance to pilot the real thing.
Should it ever be absolutely unavoidable that I build an army of Humongous Mecha, they will all be experimental prototypes. If a refinement of a design is necessary, I will instead build a new prototype.
If I do clone myself to have a backup body, I will keep the clone in stasis until needed. I will also perfect a foolproof method of transferring my consciousness between clone bodies, because the point here is for me to conquer the world. My identical twin doing it just isn't the same.
I will never clone the hero.
If I do build an Amusement ParkOf Doom, I won't go the tired old deathtrap-roller-coaster route. It's too obvious, and cost-ineffective. Instead, I'll just overcharge for beverages, and never let the hero realize they're financially supporting my evil schemes.
To be truly evil, I'll make the beverages free. Then install overpriced pay toilets.
Alternatively, the drinks are free but laced with slow-acting poison to which only I (supposedly) have the cure. I will use this as leverage to force the heroes to get me a MacGuffin, at which point I will break tradition and actually give the hero the cure I promised. However, the 'cure' I give will actually be a fast-acting poison that kills him in half an hour.
If I ever feel the need to slow down the hero's progress by placing doors that can only be opened once he has a certain number of Plot Coupons, I won't bother creating a large number of such doors requiring an increasing number of items. Instead there will be a single door, right at the beginning, that cannot be opened until the hero has all of them. Needless to say, all plot coupons are on the other side of the door.
I will not set up arbitrary puzzles to slow progress through my castle. If I really think that simply using a key/ password/ fingerprint scanner is not enough then the only way to open the door will be to follow some obscure sequence of moves that is not hinted at anywhere - anyone who is authorized to pass will know what this is.
The password will not be "Swordfish". It will be a random series of letters, numbers, and even punctuation. Nobody ever thinks of punctuation. If I can't be bothered to spend 10 minutes memorizing a random-looking password that leads to everything important to my Evil Plan, I don't deserve to be Evil Overlord.
The password will always be something referencing pop culture. Let's see how the hero born in the same year as me is surprised when he can't figure out that the password is 8675309!
If at all possible, I will make a voice recognition system that it can detect, without fail, who is stating the password. If the person stating the password is not recognized in the databanks, they will be asked to repeat it, in case it does fail to recognize someone. If they fail to be recognized again, they will be shot with a tranq, and an APB will be put out to my security team. If it turns out it was someone who's voice WAS in the databanks, the Dev team will restart it immediately or be fired. Or shot, if I'm feeling angry that particular day.
I will always keep in mind that nothing slows down the hero's progress quite like being dead, and remind myself not to settle for second best.
If I must blow things up, I will implicate a lesser functionary as the horrific destructor of sentient lifeforms afterward, and choose small, lifeless moons with no possibility of any life present to blow up. No doubt there is a tiny, shielded colony within its rocky surface that my men overlooked, but the Fall Guy will take the blame and be already dead by the time the last survivors come after me. Ahem.
I may have a Fu Manchu mustache, but only if I am either a: Genre Savvy or b: extremely campy. And it's still not a good idea unless I happen to be both.
I will follow the example of the original literary Fu Manchu and wear a false moustache or other obvious identifying feature while in public, thus making both anonymity and disguise easier.
I will never execute one of my generals for failing to win a single battle despite his best efforts. After all, people make mistakes, and if he didn't consistently deliver results, I wouldn't have promoted him in the first place.
The punishment for failure in my minions shall be demotion or dismissal, not execution. As said before, people make mistakes, and killing does not inspire loyalty or encourage new recruits to join. Possibly even a warning not to let it happen again. I will be judicious with that one, but it does inspire loyalty.
In a similar vein, my minions shall receive: a good pension plan, health benefits, two weeks of paid vacation time per year, and a good salary. This inspires loyalty and it encourages people to join if the job is a good one.
Should a messenger catch me and my evil consort in flagrante delicto, I will not remain in bed while listening to the message. I will instead excuse myself, put on a dressing gown, and go into the next room to hear what he has to say. If it's important enough for him to ignore the "Do Not Disturb" sign, I should probably be giving it my full attention.
If the messenger's eyes wander too much, or if the message isn't important, he's fired, and should thank me for not killing him. Anyone who plans on taking a messenger job should be warned about interrupting my "private time" right off the bat, and they damn well better not forget.
If I find the messenger in question attractive, (my current lover permitting) I may take wandering eyes to imply interest and invite them to join us. Later, after I've dealt with whatever the message was about..
I will also consider the benefits of a speaker system, with a call and response system that prevents impersonation. Messengers can be the hero in disguise and I really don't need to be surprised when I'm that vulnerable.
If the hero's father is no longer alive, I will use every bit of misinformation possible to make him believe that I am his real father. I will then drop hints that suggest that I am not beyond redemption. During an appropriate moment, I will pretend to return to goodness, and, while we embrace in a reconciliatory father-son moment, I will stab him in the back. Sucker.
In a similar vein, if I am an actual member of the hero's family, I will also suggest that I am not beyond redemption. However, I will ensure that our relationship is common knowledge. This ensures that not only is the hero surely aware of it, but it also ruins his street cred. After all, who wants to be known as the nephew of the guy who killed 10,000 people because he was bored? When the moment to fake a return to goodness arises, I will insist on hugging my beloved nephew/cousin/son/whatever. At that point I will stab him in the back. Sucker.
If I form a cult, it will be entirely made up just to rob people of money. There will be no supernatural elements, as that would just mean the spirit/god/demon/mystic phlebotinum/etc. would backfire on me eventually. Also, it just makes me sound silly.
If I have created several boss monsters that have lost to the hero already but are in my final dungeon, which the hero has penetrated, the hero will not have to fight all of them in a sequence. Rather, they, along with myself, will all attack the hero simultaneously.
If I can create multiple copies of boss monsters, I will have them all fight the hero at once in the first place, and not wait for him to reach my stronghold, with all of those upgraded weapons and learned skills.
As soon as I hear of a hero, I, in my most powerful form, along with all of the copies of all my boss monsters, will attack right then. Preferably at night when the hero is asleep.
When I create a devastatingly powerful robotic or genetically engineered minion with only one elemental weakness, I will make absolutely certain that none of my other minions are carrying an easily stolen weapon designed to strike that weakness.
Alternatively, it just won't have an elemental weakness. Seriously, how hard is it to fix such a glaring design flaw?
If there is a literal Idiot Ball in my world, I will pretend it's my one weakness. Of course being an idiot is a weakness, but the heroes will carry it around this way.
There is no such thing as a fair fight. If I come across my nemesis while he is disarmed, then that is his problem, not mine.
It is always polite to bow to your opponent. It is also very stupid as it leaves you open for attack. I will exploit this flaw as much as possible. Should I feel the need to bow to my opponent in return, I will bow at the waist to a minimal degree, ensuring that my eyes remain trained upon my opponent. The slightest movement while I am doing so will result in an automatic, preemptive attack on my part.
I will not underestimate my enemies if they turn out to be little girls, even if they act sickeningly cute or just want to be friends. Hell, especially if they act sickeningly cute and just want to be friends. Such foes will be treated with the utmost care, from the utmost distance, and with the utmost destructive force, such as with a Kill Sat while they sleep. There are few things more damaging to an overlord's public image of fear and terror than getting beaten to a bloody pulp by prepubescent schoolgirls.
If they really just want to be friends, I will, with the utmost caution, take them up on their offer. Heroic cute little girls are much less likely to beat their bestest best friend to a bloody pulp than they are a big meanie.
Dead Japanese schoolgirls have disconcerting tendency to become obscenely powerful and angry ghosts who will mess you up. I will remember this.
If I want to kill some character who the hero likes without him trying to avenge his/her/their death, I will do the following: "accidentally" create an evil clone of the sidekick, let the evil clone infiltrate the hero's hideout and let him take the place of the sidekick; when the hero has finally found out who is the sidekick and has offed the clone, I will kill the sidekick and explain it by wanting to kill the evil clone, and voila: a hero without a sidekick and without a grudge. Me: 2, hero: 0.
If it should come to pass that the hero is staring me down and he happens to know my evil plan for any reason, and he ever utters the immortal words "you'll never get away with this", I will not use the popular comeback "I already have" unless I am fairly certain that I actually have.
Incidentally, since there is still a living person in the world who knows of my plan, opposes me, and happens to be within weapon range of myself, odds are I haven't actually gotten away with it yet.
My throne room will not feature a large hole into which I could fall, be thrown, or be pushed. However, other rooms in my lair will feature walkways above menacing vats of what appears to be bright green acid, into which I will jump or "accidentally" fall if I need to escape. These will actually contain water with green food coloring. These tanks will also have a fully ready scuba tank and breath mask located a few feet beneath the surface. Won't the heroes be surprised when I show up later, in perfect health (but with green skin)? After all, No One Could Survive That. Suckers.
Note: The vats will be tested on an hourly basis to confirm that some clever bastard has not gotten the bright idea to actually replace my beverage-escape-plan with actual acid.
Additionally, if I should be dumb enough to use cloning (see #8 above), I will reserve a deceased and acid-destroyed clone of myself to float to the surface of the vats as "proof" of my demise. Fools!
Anyone who uses the phrase "false sense of security" will be shot. If he's smart, the hero won't buy it anyway. If he's not, there are much more effective ways to kill him.
When I've read the Evil Overlord List I will familiarize myself with any other similar lists. That way I'll know what I'm in for when I actually go up against competent opponents. If I discover any good advice in these lists then I will be sure to steal it so that I can make use of it myself.
I will, however, note that not everyone goes into fiction that well and be ready to deal with Genre Blind idiots.
If the magical ritual I am performing requires a Virgin Sacrifice, using the hero's girlfriend is just asking for trouble. To be on the safe side, I'll find a small child who is an orphan, whom no one cares about. And they will be kidnapped only when absolutely everything else is ready, to ensure a quick success.
If virginity is really that important, I will select a homely child and carefully screen the minions responsible for the abduction so as to eliminate any with a known attraction to the child's gender or age.
I will always check the bare requirements for a Virgin Sacrifice, if possible I will use a eunuch cult member volunteer from my own cult or similar.
I shall maintain numerous orphanages under my control. While I will make certain that the businesses themselves cannot be associated with me, I will publicly donate heaping gobs of money to them on a regular basis. This has the added benefit of letting me launder funds and get a tax break in the process. On the rare occasion I need a child I will publicly adopt them, only to have them die in a "tragic accident" shortly before the sacrifice. Another additional benefit: no one wants to kick a parent mourning the recent loss of their child and any hero who does so will look very bad.
If I do go the route of sacrificing adopted orphans, I will ensure that not all of the children I adopt die in "tragic accidents," and that I'm not the only one whose foster children have a tendency to die in such 'unforeseen' accidents. The point here is to cover up that I'm sacrificing children, after all, and if my foster children always die, people are at least going to start wondering why I'm still allowed to adopt. I will also change up my cover stories a bit and have at least some of them "run away" and turn up dead some time later.
If the requirements do not specifically say Human Virgin Sacrifice, I will get either the ugliest animal I can find, or use an animal destined for food. And hold a luau after the ceremony.
When I require a virgin sacrifice, I will also set myself up to become a demilich at the same time, and will sacrifice myself (provided I am a virgin) AND become unkillable at the same time. If I am not a virgin, I will perform the lich ritual first, then sacrifice my new body and rez. My phylactery will also be a nine-hundred pound boulder kept secure in my base, disguised as a random bit of rubble off to the side and out of the way of everything important. It will also be placed on a small rail setup so that it can be moved out of the way- too many heroes will blow it up to find a hidden secret below.
Slavery is mayhem waiting to happen. Slavery does not loyal citizens make. However, if I offer a small wage and basic heath care plus care for the injured and elderly it will not cost much more but will buy loyalty.
If I ever come to power in a nation that uses slavery, I will first abolish it. Next I will secretly stir up resentment against the former slave population to reduce their employment opportunities. Finally, I will offer the former slaves positions in my military, all the while getting good publicity among other nations who love how I dealt with the horrible slavery problem. This ensures loyalty in the military and a positive place in history even if the heroes take me down.
My slavery will be more like a regular job. The worker slaves will get food, water, respect, and rest. But no breaks. And no vacations. Except holidays. Harem slaves will be given the most elegant (and sexy) clothes and jewels and beautiful rooms to sleep in.
Never use a prototype unless the real version is ready for mass production. It will only get stolen by the Hero.
All cells with windows will not be furnished with bedsheets. Instead, captives will be given sleeping bags. Good luck tying those together.
Alternatively no cells will be furnished with windows. There are otherways to use a window.
If I do need them alive, they will be imprisoned in a room in the center of my guards' quarters. Said room will have walls of sturdy metal grille rather than vision-blocking cement, stone or cinder block, so that nothing the prisoner does will be unseen. The best modern surveillance equipment will also surround said cell. The prisoner will be kept sedated, and bound.
I will look into a island or space prison.
No matter what its detrimental effects may be on my war machine, I will be eco-friendly. Killing the planet never ends well. I may awaken ancient nature spirits who give the hero power, or set all the animals in the forest after my blood, or simply have Mother Earth all up in my grille faster than you can say "gas-guzzling SUV", and no-one wants that. Instead, not only will I be environmentally friendly, I will actively seek out and befriend said nature spirits and animals, and send them after the hero.
In fact I will cultivate rumors that specific actions designed to antagonize said spirits will weaken me, or otherwise interfere with my plans. This will prevent the spirits from giving The Hero power, and may turn them towards me to stop him.
If I discover a species of Proud Warrior Race Guys threatened by extinction, I will not wipe out what's left of them in order to gain access to their technology and weapons. This would just prompt a lone survivor to swear vengeance against me. Instead, I will help them unconditionally in the hopes that they will swear undying loyalty to me. If they repay this calculated kindness by proclaiming me a weakling and declaring war on me, then I will show them that I am stronger and more ruthless than they are. If they still refuse to follow me then I'll subjugate them with force or wipe them out. At this point it's okay to do so, because they've proven to be Always Chaotic Evil, and no one ever really cares about those.
I'll offer them the ability to clone their race to rebuild their kind. That'll bring loyalty.
This is another reason to NOT have big mirrors, as well as the whole vanity thing.
As 116 above demonstrates, any extremely competent Evil Overlord is indistinguishable from an extremely competent Benevolent Ruler. This also applies in reverse.
I will never, I repeat NEVER, use an online list of "Evil Overlord Rules", "Advice for Villains" or any other such variation. A geeky Badass Normal will read it, realise that I'm using it and promptly inform the hero, allowing them to either know my plans in advance, or even worse consult a similar "Vows for Heroes" list and ensure I'm destroyed rather than severely weakened or sealed away.
Wait, then why am I reading this and contributing to it? This is online, isn't it?
And I will keep in mind that use of said publicly available list of advice leaves all manner of possibility for the use of plans relating to whichever trope I'm actually using. However, I will also be aware of the possibility of a Gambit Pileup resulting from this.
Even if my enemies know everything that I do, I'll still come out on top because of one simple reason.
The decision stands. I will post this argument in the towns and watch the hero go mad.
Actually, I'll silently buy all the Hero Vows websites and edit some small but criticial mistakes in there.
When I read Evil Overlord lists online, I will remember that not every piece of advice is a good one. Circumstance Savviness is even more important than Genre Savviness.
Defensive systems can be fail-dead (like explode if defeated). Defensive systems MUST be fail-safe (at least for me: local explosion only and only when I'm sufficiently far away).
If a trained monkey can do it, I will let said trained monkey do it so that my minions can do something more important.
I will make darn sure not to overestimate the strength, reliability, skill, or competency of a monkey. Training human minions is probably more efficient than training comparatively short-lived and unreliable primates, so monkey use is likely to be limited.
I will assume that all of my enemies are not left handed, and plan accordingly.
I will not rule out the possibility that some of them are left-handed after all. Holding back when someone else isn't? That's just asking for trouble.
I will train myself to use my left hand as far as practicable, in case I am unable to use my right hand for some reason. However, I will not pretend to be left-handed in any potentially dangerous situation.
However, a sniper rifle creates a great sense of range, and hands are nothing when a bullet is in the hero's head.
In fact, I'll find out about this flaw before purchasing and thus avoid having funds tied up in a useless venture. I will instead use the money to have fanatically loyal followers surgically altered to resemble me.
I will avoid purchasing technology from Doctor Doom, as he always puts an override that he alone can access into everything he makes— or holds for more than five minutes. I will avoid taking his advice on what to purchase, either, simply because his devices are inevitably destroyed or captured by the heroes.
Remembering I have an advanced team of gizmo-working mooks, they can outdo Doom's tricks.
If I find out about an evil being with power greater than my own, I will not attempt to take its power for myself. I will instead make sure the heroes find out about it, and I will do anything I can to help the heroes defeat my rival, short of actually joining the party. Then, when the heroes have defeated this being, the moment I can be sure the coast is clear, I will kill the heroes before they have a chance to recover, in the quickest manner possible. Once that's taken care of, if it is still possible to absorb the super being's power, and if I can be sure it won't take over my body, kill me, or drive me any more insane, I will do so.
Because I can never be too sure, I will first make my most incompetent minion absorb the super being's power. If it doesn't take over his body, kill him, or drive him any more insane, then I'll kill the minion and take the power for myself. If it does, I'll just kill the minion.
But first I will make sure that any minion who gets said power is, first and foremost, fanatically LOYAL to me personally, to the point of being cheerfully willing to die for me. Even then I will take no chances and have a small explosive discreetly implanted in their brain during a "routine" medical procedure, after first making sure that the power in question will not in any way interfere with the activation mechanism.
If something is stronger than me, I will just ignore and it will go away.
If I feel that I must pursue this evil being with power greater than my own, I will do everything necessary (within reason) to allow me to obtain it, and THEN I WILL STOP pursuing the (more) evil power. By that point, I should have far more power than necessary to deal with whatever little, puny obstacles are opposing me.
The front door of my fortress (or any other building I need guarded) will have three guards—one standing on each side, and one hiding within visible range whose sole job is to send out an alert if anything happens to the first two (or if they even just have to leave the post for something). Resources permitting, all doors worth guarding will have three guards.
Additionally, ten guards will be appointed to the largest, most important-looking door in my fortress. That door will lead to the incinerator.
And I will have one new recruit guarding a shoddy, rusting door. That door will be the hallway leading to my office/throne room. The hallway will be guarded by my best troops and monsters, who know how to operate as a group, and will mob any hero that comes in.
I will get one of my most loyal followers to disguise as an oracle of some sort and create (or modify, if need be) a prophecy regarding my downfall. Not only will it be a completely useless way to approach me, I'll know what the good guys will be attempting and can thus plan accordingly.
If I'm faking prophecies, I'll make one about an artifact that is my only weakness and can only be taken by the worthy. The artifact will actually be created by me, and its only power will be to kill anyone who touches it. The hero will automatically assume they are worthy and get vaporized. I will also make the artifact not work on me, or at least make it immovable, to avoid a Karmic Death from any hero who catches on.
In a similar vein, if my political power depends at least partially on my own mystical power, I shall create an artifact, and a fake prophecy that it grants powers that match my own. This artifact shall be the symbol of my political power. My lieutenants and personal guards shall know that there are several duplicates, which have no power except to inform me of their whereabouts in case they are stolen. I alone shall know that there is no real artifact. That way, anyone seeking to overthrow me will try to steal this artifact. I will then inform my lieutenants that one of the duplicates has been stolen, and I will eliminate the culprit with my own power.
I will hire an advisor whose sole job will be to criticize my plans and point out their flaws. I will listen to him.
If said advisor claims that my plan is flawless, I will execute him, solely so that the person who gets the job after him can be forced to watch the execution, eyelids held open with duct tape.
I will always include one very obvious flaw in plans I make myself. Should the advisor not catch it, even if he is useful in finding out not-so-obvious flaws in my grand plan, he is to be executed on the spot, as one has to look at the big picture, not just small details that might slip through the cracks. The flaw should be easy to catch and occasionally very hard to catch every few times a specific advisor is used, so that I can accurately gauge their effectiveness in finding them.
Wasn't this already covered in the original list?
Very good, advisor. You get to live.
Instead of hiring a single advisor, I will hire a team of advisors, each with a different area of expertise, with minor abilities in an area covered by another advisor. Should a flaw I notice never be brought up, I will fire the advisor with that area of expertise, and hire a new one. As stated above, executions do nothing to improve morale and job applications.
And they won't just join up with the hero when you fire them why...?
Because by then, a new plan will have been drafted and sent through the advisory process. Therefore, any "tactics" and "information" they bring to the hero will be null. And even then, the advisors are fitted with a small explosive inside their chest cavity that is just powerful enough to destroy the heart, but not so much as to destroy anything else. Of course, the detonators will be on my person and only my person at all times. That way, if they do get any smart ideas, the heroes will initially think he died of a heart attack, or some other ailment, and won't be related back to me until they perform an autopsy, IF they perform one. I'm supposed to be Dangerously Genre Savvy, so why not make damn sure that you can kill your advisors without it being known that you killed them.
With any pet I choose to get, I will not abuse it or cosset it too extravagantly, and I will take it through a thorough obedience course.
Maybe I should look into getting a cat after all. Possibly several. Not only will they kill the vermin and present me with the tiny corpses, but kitty cat cuteness wil help relieve stress among Mooks.
Not only will they relieve stress among the mooks, but among intruders. Having free roam around the base, they can easily distract them, and they might pause when they see the mook they were about to snipe bend down and pet the cat - of course, becoming consumed by playing with the cats will only be tolerated when off duty.
Wait, that damn Friend to All Living Things will still have an out. Okay, along with the cats, I'll get a pit bull. Solves the cat problem, and a pit bull is nobody's friend. I will keep him chained, but well-fed. I know he won't be my friend, but I don't want him killing me first.
Alternatively, my cats will be Affably Evil, and rub up against my captive's legs purring but not be the least bit helpful. In other words, my cats will act like cats, and certainly they'd be less of a threat should the Friend to All Living Things turn them against me than a pit bull.
As a third option, perhaps I should consider small, nonvenomous snakes. Good for evil cred, actually kinda cute, far less likely to hold a grudge than a pit bull, and the average Friend to All Living Things won't touch 'em.
However, I will still look into having a pet cat or dog, just in case that crafty hero's pet is a mongoose.
An Orangutan could be a worthwhile investment- I can train it to use sign language and how to perform simple tasks, making it useful for surveillance, any mooks that feed it a banana will appear more sympathetic and therefore are less likely to be killed by the hero, it has a lot more strength, reach and dexterity than any human heroes, so it can be trained to attack them, and if they do kill it, I can accuse them of murdering an endangered species. A chimpanzee would also function for most of these purposes, although slightly less well.
With so many things that can go wrong, better to avoid pets entirely. Mooks will respond better to cash bonuses than kitties anyway.
Adding a "Psyche!" before I crush the throat of the nearest good guy is optional.
Or...maybe it would be best to just cut my losses and quietly sneak away while they think they've killed me. Beating my first and second forms shows they are pretty good at fighting, and while getting First Strike or even causing a Heroic Sacrifice is nice, I'll heal up and then slam them at the beginning of the sequel after they've given up all their levels and powerups.
Alternately, if the hero manages to get into my castle, I will sneak out the back way, and have a robotic double confront the hero. While they're fighting, I'll seal the room and pump it full of poison gas.
Even better, I'll say that words at the defeat of any and all of my forms. That way, I can whittle them down as they relax and leave themselves open.
I'm not going to say that at EVERY form, but only at a couple. Saying it with all my forms will just cause them to expect a new form and never let their guards down.
Unless said hero has the ability to sense that they didn't finish me off, then, I'll just flee before I waste myself on them, and either drop a cage and release poison gas, or drop a cage and bring in minions in all directions to fire at will (PROVIDED THEY AIM FOR THE FEET! This way, there are no accidental deaths on account of stupidity. Also this will drop the hero so they can aim for the face.)
If a minion is stupid enough to aim straight ahead of him, he will be killed on the spot to avoid a mass murder-suicide chain. Then, they will be ordered to leave, and thousands of large bladed weapons will be dropped with enough speed and/or mass to pierce into the cage and kill the hero.
I will arrange my minions in a sensible chevron position to avoid having any of them in each others' line of fire. Thus avoiding Hollywood Tactics alltogether. And they will be trained marksmen.
On second thought, if I decide to kill my opponents by gassing them I will not use poison. Poison is always detectable. I will simply flood the room with nitrogen. The heroes will simply become tired, fall asleep and die. Yes, this means they won't writhe in agony, but on the plus side they also won't notice that they're dying and therefore fight harder or take steps to prevent it.
If the heroes have the ability to "save" their progress at specific points, I will assign a special force to find these points and destroy them.
Alternatively, I'll use these points to save my progress repeatedly. Won't the heroes be surprised when I predict all of their moves? I'll also be prepared for this to take a long time but for some reason, most heroes have the attention spans of teenagers.
I will drive a car of the same make as the heroes. I will avoid traveling in any vehicle between two and thirty years old. In fact, I'll just consult with major Hollywood stuntmen about which type of car they LEAST like to work with, and get one of those.
On second thoughts, maybe I'll spare 5 minutes to ask why said stuntmen dislike said type of car. The answer might be important.
In the event that it does sound like a good idea, I'll make sure that my Second-in-Command is the first one I kill.
Not only will I not build man-sized ventilation shafts, I will not build any ledges, back corridors, ladders, or anything else that serves no obvious structural, artistic, or architectural purpose, and seems solely to exist to give the heroes an (alternate) path.
There will be an alternate route for the heroes, made of ledges over open vats of acid. These will be monitored via both cameras and motion/pressure sensors at all times, and designed to collapse if anybody gets to the middle.
This path will not lead to my lair, and will in fact not even be located near my real lair.
Relatedly, if entry to my Evil Lair can only be done by defeating my nine lieutenants and getting their shiny objects, who each have a dungeon of their own, then I will make sure that the one item required to defeat said lieutenants is not in their own dungeons. Also, the key to the indestructible door leading to my Inner Sanctum will be kept on my person at all times.
In order to get the Grappling Hook, the hero will need the Double Jump. In order to get the Double Jump, the hero will need the Grappling Hook. Think about it.
Better yet, to insure against Sequence Breaking - In order to get the Grappling Hook, the hero will need the Grappling Hook. In order to get the Double Jump, the hero will need the Double Jump.
Best yet, I will take possession of the Grappling Hook and Double Jump, thus powering up myself rather than the hero. If I cannot do so, I will destroy them. Heroes are resourceful buggers and will find a way to get every powerup possible — the only solution is to not leave them any to get.
Why use such an entry method at all? If getting into a lair requires such methods, I will find another lair.
Back to the vents. If I really do need wide ventilation shafts for some reason, they will be kept superheated, and full of spikes, various Death Traps, and lava guns. Also, all exit points from the vent will be located just above the pit full of dinosaurs.
On second thought superheating the ventilation ducts might interfere with the airconditioning. Oh and the ventilation.
I will also build all the vents out of an extremely conductive metal, and constantly run extremely high voltage through them. They will be insulated from the outside, and if maintenance is required, those doing the work must first submit a request to the control center to temporarily disable the current while the work is being done. Anyone who doesn't do so is Too Dumb to Live.
Actually, I will not electrify my ventilation system, due to the fact that this would just create massive amounts of ozone, which, while a potential hero-killer, would have a far greater problem than smaller ducts.
In fact, I will spend effort constructing an elaborate evil lair full of death traps, then conduct all my evil business in my mom's basement 27 miles away. A kindly old lady will be a better hero deterrent than anything else.
I shall create fake building plans showing large fake airvents going into all my important structures. Every fake airvent path will eventually require the hero to drop straight down to another level of the vents. I will use a hologram to cover the fact that once someone drops to that level it narrows significantly. The hologram will also detect that it's been breached, close the lid back up and flood that section with regular anasthetic/deathgas/whatever. My real airvents will be small and built into the walls.
Or he'll escort a shapeshifting minion. Or the the hostage has a tracker implanted into their body. Or better yet: a bomb.
No, that's been tried and it never works. I'll just make him escort a very beautiful woman who has no interest in being an adventurer. Either she'll cause friction with the Love Interest and blunt The Power of Love a bit, or she'll become the Love Interest and start nagging the Hero to get a safer job. Either way, I win.
Even better, if the Hero has a hot mom, and his father is dead, I will hook up with his mother. If he's really a hero he'll obey his stepfather.
That doesn't even take an Anti-Hero to make that false. Unless I'm living in a comedy, that plan will not work. On that thought, I will study my universe to see if obnoxious laughter happens if something barely funny happens. If it does, I'm probably living in a sitcom, and could get away with that plan.
If I am forced into a position where such a thing becomes necessary, I will ensure that I first take a Masters course in robotics and computer programming, as well as full A+ and C++ certification; being a digital god means nothing if you don't have the proper firewalls, anti-viral programs and encryptions, after all.
I will also make a backup copy if possible. I will also take many steps to make sure that the backup only exists on a locked network, and will not be transferred out of it unless the original is deleted. I don't want a digital clone trying to kill me or anything.
Wait scrap that, if I am certain they'll behave exactly as myself I will only ever have one or two clones of myself at max. I will still have the Contractual Immortality from the Yaoi Fangirls (or Yuri Fans, as appropriate), I know myself well enough to know that with even only one or two clones I'll betray myself at an unexpected moment.
If and when I finally become lord of my desired domain, and I wish to expand my empire, I will not randomly pick out a country and attack it blindly; instead, I will study each of my options carefully, learning everything about them as I can, then pick out the ones that would most benefit me in its subjugation and open up diplomatic and trade negotiations with them. Once I have used those negotiations to undermine their economy and political standing, and make them dependent on my exports to live, I will quietly annex them into the empire.
This will be easier to do if said exports involve mostly Wal-Marts and Starbucks.
I will also keep in mind the power of propaganda, and have the state-run media smear my intended target for as long as it takes until the people are begging me to conquer them.
I will invest in natural, renewable resources to power my evil factories and machines. Smoke-billowing industrial wastelands may be thematically appropriate, but even I'm not immune to the health hazards their pollution causes, and it's far easier to just build another set of solar batteries or wind generators than to find another source of plutonium or coal.
Obviously, this does not apply if my armies and I aren't alive anymore. Then I can cover the entire planet in a cloud of smoke and ashes, killing all life on the surface, without being affected myself. And if I need more living for Virgin Sacrifices, food or just to bolster the ranks of my army of the dead, then there are always othersources of life.
In that case, I'll set up several "meat farms" to regulate the fleshies we'll need for those purposes; no telling what kind of techniques other societies outside my circle have to take out the undead.
That said, I will make sure the farms limit the number of meat-bags alive at any given time, are properly supervised, and are divided into small groups (in as much as possible). This is just asking for a noble hero to rise up and start a rebellion among the oppressed. Perhaps I'll just develop some kind of cloning/rapid maturation process instead. No rule says that a human in a vegetative state can't be sacrificed.
Unless I already have it on-hand and don't have anything better to do with it.
And even then, I'll first make sure that I can't modify it to accept an alternate power source, or for a use that wouldn't be of as much interest to the heroes.
Hell, if I do end up coming across any Unobtainium, instead of immediately building a machine that uses it as a power source, I'll first thoroughly study it to see if I can't synthesize it. If it turns out I cannot, I'll destroy the Unobtainium immediately to keep it from being used against me.
Or I'll use it to create a bomb. Because if I'm going to destroy it anyway, why not get some use out of it as well?
Said bomb will be rigged with as many ways as possible to ensure that it detonates. We're talking about a missile that has twelve remotes and eight timers in case it fails to detonate on impact. Try defusing and reverse-engineering that, wise guy.
If, in this case, I am required to have a turn-off method in the rare case that the thing is activated within my inner sanctum/fortress/other vulnerable area but unlaunched, it should consist of ten keys, with copies sent to various subordinates, such as lieutenants, with at least two keys in secured locations only I can access, with no other copies of them. These two in particular should contain self-detonation devices implanted in the teeth of the keys, triggered through both the presence of oxygen (or the local abundant gas) and a detonator in my possession, with its own kill-switch in the case it is removed from my possession. Voice commands are optional, but I shall use variations of my normal voice, unused in any other case - 'tis folly to be unable to defuse my own bomb because my lieutenant got himself killed, or the heroes have somebody who can imitate my voice.
In the same vein, all my ramparts of my primary fortress should be equipped with Aegis missile launchers or equivalent to take down the missile in the rare case the heroes circumvent its protections and send it at my fortress.
I will hire a team of crack forensic scientists and crime scene cleanup personnel to advise me on how to cover my tracks and plant convincingly fake evidence implicating someone else of my latest evil scheme.
If I "own" the police, I will also make sure I "own" their forensic scientists and cleanup crew, not only for the above, but also to ensure the properly wrong people are prosecuted for my misdeeds.
And I'm gonna make damn sure I own the fire department, and possibly poison control as well.
You know what, screw it. I'm just gonna take over the entire emergency response system period. No 911 for you, mortally wounded hero!
I will also buy up all the local telecoms, and have any 911 calls from the hero's phone routed to a phone-sex operator.
However, I will maintain plausible deniability at all times, both for me and my lieutenants, and begin training a replacement if it looks like a meddling hero will soon come to "remove" him from my service. I may even punish him first if I am looking to gain the hero's good graces for later.
Also, such people make perfect scapegoats, when they are in charge of some task too unpopular to be considered as something their master or even valuable lieutenants would do with their own hands. It's not too hard to suggest that it was an abuse of power Complete Monster was offed for, as opposed to execution of orders too eagerly. And most people will believe - save those who are allowed to think their intrigues did the trick. After all, it's almost tradition.
Alternatively, if I really do have standards then this is what I tell them in order to gather all the scum in one place. And if I can't think of anythingtodowith a whole bunch of people that no one will actually miss, then I need to learn how to do my job better.
If I come into an incredible source of power or technology that can be internalized, I will not use it immediately to transform myself into a god. Instead, I will take it back to my lab and have it analyzed thoroughly for any potential harmful side effects that could jeopardize my sanity, health, or standing, then find countermeasures to them, if any. If it turns out I cannot counteract the negative side effects, or there are too many to counteract, I will destroy it immediately. Under no circumstance shall I leave it for my enemies to find; even if it takes out one or all of them with its corrupting influence, chances are they'll be able to use it to take me out, first.
These things make great presents for a trustworthy-but-inept mook, though.
Yes, then. I will just put a bomb in the mook's head beforehand. If he shows any ill effects, I will detonate the bomb while the ascension is still in its early, vulnerable stages. Should that fail, I will just go running to the Hero and make him clean up my problem.
The power upgrade always allows said Mook-That-Was to neutralize the headbomb. Always.
I will not be a Slave to PR; how I will act and appear before the public eye will be based solely on how such action would be the most beneficial to my plans at the time. Not only will this leave me open to myriad more options to achieve my goals than usual, it'll also confuse the hell out of my PR-shackled enemies and rivals, preventing them from predicting my next course of action and rallying a revolt against me among the (most likely equally confuddled) masses.
I'll also keep in mind that my enemies and rivals will still most likely be bound by PR, and will use that to my advantage whenever possible, unless such exploitation will disrupt my schemes or undermine any PR benefits I might get.
I will, however, keep in mind that the average Anti-Hero doesn't care about PR.
Any giant robot I send after the heroes will have a giant red eye on the part of its body furthest from any kind of critical system.
I will also equip the robot with an internal bomb rigged to go off if any critical system stops functioning. I will keep the prototypes and unused robots in armored containers in a special facility far from the base just in case a bomb malfunctions.
If I have a system of teleporters between my evil lairs, they will have surveillance systems. If someone unauthorised steps in them, they'll get a nice one way ticket to the surface of the sun.
Naturally, the surveillance systems will be immune to hacking, so it is never me that is sent to the sun.
On second thought, I will have it teleport the intruder into the Dungeon. That way, if The Hero DOES hack it, I won't die a painful death, my loyal mooks will get me out of there and reboot the entire surveillance system. If they don't, I'll free myself using the cell key that I carry with me at all time and have them executed.
I will never try to steal the power of a god.
I might reconsider if I am in a setting where something like that might actually work.
Leasing, renting or bartering for the power of a God, on the other hand, are all viable options, assuming I can find a trustworthy God amenable to the idea.
I will remember than any God amenable to the idea of giving me power is probably about as far away from trustworthy as you can get. I will instead devote my resources to figuring out how to ascend on my own merits.
I will never possess someone, especially not the hero's best friend. It always ends poorly.
If I have the hero cornered, I will not hesitate to tell him or her the exact and complete details of my evil plan, up to and including pointing to a door behind which the most important and delicate part of my plan lies. Let's face it; with today's spy technology, computer hackers, and sneaky heroes, it's almost certain that they're going to be aware of the general gist of the situation. I will, however, neglect to tell them that the most important and delicate part of my plan includes the team of heroes vaporizing themselves when they try to turn off or destroy my oversized lava lamp "force field generator".
All ceremonies celebrating my ascent to godhood, marriage to the brainwashed princess, or assumption of a powerful magical artifact will take place after I've actually done so. Preferably by several months.
If my plans keep failing beyond my tolerance, I will cheat. Who says only the heroes can Game Shark and Godmode their way past annoying obstacles?
If cheating is impossible, I will quit, turn good, and throw the entire might of my vast empire behind the heroes. Once I join their ranks, I should be able to find out what makes them unbeatable and either take its power or at least neutralize it. Then it's time to go evil again.
If that is impossible, I will remember that (if I've done this at all right until now) I'm immortal and they're not, and I will simply wait 80 years. Nobody's going to expect a sneak attack after I've been a beloved figure of good for two generations, and anyone who could have stopped me will either be dead or infirm.
I will wait until they are all dead. The infirm can always try to teach the young.
During the hiatus, I'll keep an eye open for prophecies or such. If they predict a major evil (me) come back in a century, I'll strike in 95 years. Or 105.
Most teenage heroes, no matter what they claim, (especially if Japanese) will follow the dictates of their family, school, and society. I am a villain. I can manipulate those dictates. Upon learning that a legendary band of teenagers can defeat me, I will make sure their parents suddenly get great paying jobs in other cities. Also, I will take full advantage of the apparent fact that teenage heroes find it mandatory to follow society and go their own ways after graduating High School. Again, I'll make sure they get jobs far, far away from each other and the original location so none of that pesky "mentor" business.
Even better, once I take control of a country, I'll make all children/teenagers "wards of the state" (read: trapped in school) up to age 21. It may wipe out my budget, but at least I won't have to worry about those meddling kids showing up and ruining my plans.
As an added bonus, this will prevent my minions from switching sides. Who's going to join the Hero when they don't have medical coverage for the (several thousand) injuries they're going to suffer?
On the off chance I find a good genie, I will free him. That way he won't be available for the heroes. Before I free him, I will wish for him to never directly or indirectly help anyone harm or defeat me, ever. Only with that in place (in writing, I think) will I then free him.
If I find a truly evil genie (as opposed to a Literal Genie or one who is good but forced to obey), I will find a random cave with no Death Traps, put the lamp in it (on an altar so it looks important and can't be missed), and then bribe the local government to rename it "The Ancient Cave of Wonders". Make sure the heroes know about it and find it, and then just wait for my problems to solve themselves.
In any situation where a number of wishes are granted for me, I will use all the wishes immediately, so as to avoid making accidental wishes with negative consequences. In the event that I have fewer wishes prepared than the number offered, I will make my wishes and then say "I wish for this statement to be a wish" repeatedly until my wishes are expended.
I will politely ask the genie if I'm allowed to wish for more wishes. If the answer is no, I will wish for more genies.
I will not leave keys, weapons and medical supplies lying around my base for the heroes to find and use. That's just stupid.
If any of my underlings proposes their own plan to destroy the heroes/conquer the planet/etc., they will be instructed to take their proposal to a crack R&D team; that team, in turn, will be instructed only to outright reject proposals that, after all reasonable fine-tuning to them has been exhausted, are simply too costly or unreliable compared to the possible advantage gained. I will of course have the final say on which proposals will be accepted or not, but creativity and refinement will be emphasized with all plans submitted. At the very least, the illusion given that I actually care about my minions' little pet projects will keep them from turning against me in an attempt to prove "it'll really work, honest".
If one of these schemes is good enough to implement, the minion behind it will be right there by my side while it's carried out, and receive full credit for their idea. Not only will it encourage further innovation among the ranks, but it'll paint him as the target instead of me when someone comes to thwart the scheme and keep me from looking like a General Failure if the plan goes to hell in a hand-basket.
Especially if said minion is family. Nothing bonds a father and child better than a Take Your Child to Work Day where you both get to focus on all of the fun parts of being an Evil Overlord.
I will, however, remember that although eternal love and devotion are nice, they are not the same as eternal loyalty.
Whenever possible, I should be in a position where I don't have to cover anything up, but if I absolutely have to kill someone in order to cover something up, then overkill is the way to go. So, Mister Great Detective, how do you plan to recover the briefcase from the embassy when it, your informant, the city the embassy was in, and vast areas of the surrounding landscape are all radioactive ash?
I will also recall how the Mafia does this, and put someone else in charge of the coverup, and then kill him when the first phase of killings is completed. If I have enough expendable minions, I will put at least five cutout layers of killings to cover up the killings to cover up between myself and what I wanted covered up to start with.
Alternatively, I will instruct the expendable killers with the phrase "It would be nice if ______ was dead" then let them go out and do it. However, they will be killed before they even get back, giving me plausible deniability: "I didn't give an order for ________ to be killed. I do not know of the circumstances of their deaths."
If I need to thwart the hero's progress, I'll use obstacles that are bafflingly un-obstacle-like when possible. They'll thwart the hero's progress longer if he can't tell they're thwarting his progress.
If I am the ruler of my own country, planet or solar system, then I will make sure that my military is loyal to me and competent enough to avoid certainmistakes common in fiction.
Also, I will keep a blog to share my personal opinions on matters. It's good for PR. What I post will not necessarily reflect what I actually think or feel on the subject, however.
I will periodically send my assassins to kill random conspiracy nuts in suspicious-looking ways. There is little danger that they will find out about my plans and no one would have believed them anyway, but the heroes will be convinced that they were killed for what they knew and will get so wrapped up in trying to foil my diabolical plan to give all trees epilepsy that my real plans will go unchallenged. Plus it gives my assassins something to do.
I will double-check the tinfoil hat theories before killing the tinfoil hatter that came up with them. If it's not something I want people to believe, has nothing to do with me, or seems like something I might want to implement in the near future, the crazy guy gets hired. It's important to think outside the box.
Explosive gas containers will be stored within metal cages as OSHA standards would require.
I will not, however stress-relieving it is, practice my golf driving shot with puppies. This extends to all possible interpretations of the phrase. The puppies will not be the ball, the clubs, offering advice, or even present. Dogs are under no circumstances allowed on my fairways.
I will mandate that all groups for all purposes be of either three or five. Including all groups that fight monsters in the name of some other empire. For exactly the same reason.
I will publicly decree that any group of four in my empire will be punished by death or imprisonment, depending on my mood that day. (I will make only token attempts to enforce this law, just enough that it remains public knowledge.) The Hero will instantly assume I have some kind of Weaksauce Weakness to the number and deliberately form a four-man party. At worst, this will set him apart as a potential enemy.
I will fulfill my end of all contracts, in full, as soon as promised. Even though it might be fun to alter deals halfway through, that's just begging the other party to perform a Heel-Face Turn. And I will not quibble about Exact Words either, unless they're playing the wise guy.
I will never promise to uphold my end of the deal before the other party upholds theirs. Just because I want repeat customers doesn't mean I can trust everyone else. (I will ensure this at the promise-making point of the deal.)
I will also remember that I am doing this out of pragmatism as opposed to a sense of honour, and will not consider this rule binding. If breaking the contract would result in the instantaneous death of the hero and my ascent to godhood, my word will most certainly not be my bond.
If I am in a heavily idealistic series/movies/whatever and the heroes suddenly start forming a circle and singing, I will order my troops to retreat immediately. I will then use the time they're singing to put the snipers in place (preferably robot snipers immune to The Power of Friendship).
When naming my children I'll pay close attention to the meaning of the name. I wouldn't want to give them a positive prophetic name and having them end up helping to defeat me. Neither should I name them after anyone who betrayed or killed either/both of their parents. Mordred? Bad idea.
If I have a lieutenant who is completely loyal to me, believing me to be on the good side despite the heroes' assurances that I am actually evil, I will not decide it is a good idea to notify them of the fact that I have secretly hated them for as long as I've known them.
I will also consider seducing the lieutenant into turning evil himself, so that I can quit with the "I'm really good" act. If this fails, I will just kill the lieutenant — having to lie to your trusted underlings sorta undercuts the whole point of them being trusted in the first place.
I will not attempt to "steal Christmas". Or Easter, Thanksgiving, Hannukkah, Boxing Day, Setsubun or any other holiday widely observed by the people. There is no way it can end well. I will instead make myself well known for doing highly generous, festive and visible acts in addition to paying proper respect to all socio-religious celebrations.
I will encourage people to celebrate pseudo-holidays such as Valentine's Day, Flag Day, Hero Appreciation Day... okay, well, maybe not that last one, but having the populace bicker over which holidays are better than which other holidays is more helpful to me than seeing them organize themselves over complete repression of said holidays.
If I feel the need to rig an election, I will not rig the election such that I will win everything, everywhere, with everyone loving me. I will instead rig it so that I win by a plausible, but not overwhelming, margin. I want my enemies to have the small bit of hope that they can oust me in an election and focus on doing that rather then killing me.
I will make use of secret ballots and rig the statistics so that the heroes try to start a rebellion in the one place that my popularity is assured. It'll be amusing to watch the heroes outrun a lynch mob, and even if they don't the statistical weirdness should give the conspiracy nuts loyal to me something to play with.
Any goggles used in my complex WILL be fully functional
If I absolutely, positively, undeniably MUST have a self destruct system aboard my ship, I will ensure that whoever activates will be killed when they do so. If no-one is willing to die to destroy the ship, self-destruction isn't really necessary.
There are only two detonation triggers: my personal escape pod and the aforementioned button. In case my personal escape pod is boarded by the heroes, I will have a third detonation trigger for the escape pod given to my most trusted lieutenant. And even that will only work after I'm already dead, so no assassination attempts.
I will hire sane scientists to balance the work of my Mad Scientists, and my scientists in general will be punished for abusive behavior.