I posted this to my beta-reading list where it provided amusement, so here it is for your entertainment as well!
Most people know the Evil Overlord List or a variant thereof, which is made up of rules intended to keep Evil Overlord aspirants from making the common mistakes seen in their predecessors' careers. However, I've always considered the list to be flawed in certain ways, and I found that my own villains agreed. Thus, I hereby present the List, with annotations and comments from several of the villains in my own writing or RPGs. I may at some point add commentary from other villains, either under my own impulses or by popular demand. The villains in the current version are:
Virigar: You know him, you fear him, the King of Wolves, adversary of Jason Wood and of all other things that live.
Master Wieran: An alchemist/mad scientist from a campaign I ran years ago, patterned somewhat after Dr. Gear from Dragonball Z and Dr. Wattsman from Dirty Pair: Project EDEN. Also scheduled to be a villain in one of my fantasy series.
M-S: Maria-Susanna, ultimate product of the Hyperion Project, nuttier than a fruitcake, convinced SHE is the good guy, and willing to kill people just because she thinks they would be better off that way. Without consulting them.
Dark Wanderer: The Wanderer, from An American Gamer in Gondor, was my self-insert RPG character in fantasy -- Erik Arisia, a person from Outside the realm of Middle-Earth and thus not subject to its wyrds or destinies. The Dark Wanderer was a result of the Wanderer (in one of my campaigns -- he was an NPC there, rarely encountered) being struck by a mental attack that inverted his moral compass. Devious, immune to "destiny", and utterly malicious.
Rigel: Rigel White, son of Cammy White and Vega-Sama from "Street Fighter II", is a villain (though unknown to the players to BE a villain) in my Harry Potter campaign. He has his father's tremendous mental powers and the fighting skill you'd expect, plus he's been raised to have the deportment of a gentleman.
So herewith is
1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.
⁃ Virigar: One's making the assumption that an overlord NEEDS Legions of Terror. If I had any, they're all my people, and what they wear isn't going to affect them.
⁃ Master Wieran: I DESIGN my Legions; if they need visors of any sort, they're BUILT IN!
⁃ M-S: I think it's always so much better for your ENEMIES to supply the Legions of Terror. That way you have much less trouble convincing people that you're really NOT evil, just misunderstood.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I prefer to operate on my own, or with small groups. I suppose, if I needed to rule a country and couldn't do it through my own omnipresence and so on, I'd follow the good Master Wieran here and manufacture some -- intelligent golems inherently loyal to me, etc., you know the drill.
⁃ Rigel: Face-concealing visors? What's the problem? Ahh, I see. This comes from NOT being able to read the minds of those passing you by.
2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
⁃ Virigar: Why have ventilation ducts? Breathing is for the weak.
⁃ Master Wieran: Some of us have not yet transcended physical form. YET, I say! One day, I shall have transcended all space and time and...(supreme effort overcomes rant mode) Sorry. A better option might be simply placing appropriate ... greetings in your ducts. Allows for excellent air-flow and ventilation while not welcoming univited guests.
⁃ M-S: Nanobots in the ventilation informing me of anyone in them, followed by either sleep gas... or lethal gas, depending on if the latter is truly necessary.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Automated atmosphere renewal inside. This eliminates the need for ventilation. If you MUST have it, making your guards AWARE OF THE VENTILATION SHAFTS would probably be a good idea. So that they don't carefully check a room and ignore all those ducts.
⁃ Rigel: Indeed. Of course, code-standard ducts aren't very useful for infiltrating -- noise and likely not suspended well enough to support any good-sized person. Those entertaining Mythbuster gentlemen demonstrated that quite well.
3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
⁃ Virigar: Alas, imprisoning my ... half-brother would be difficult. One day, of course, I will consume his essence, but that will take... preparation.
⁃ Master Wieran: I have no brothers. Rivals, now... especially jealous rivals, fools who could not understand my genius, who laughed at me in the Academy...[cue standard rant #2]
⁃ M-S: Well, I don't have brothers as such, but killing them... *sigh* there may be times it's necessary, but I really hate to do that. I'm SURE eventually they'll come around and see that I was right! So I'd HAVE to imprison them forever in a snare of delusions, you see that, don't you?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: My "brother", i.e., my former noble self, is -- as far as I know -- dead, as of the moment I came into existence. If he isn't, well, that would be bad, and indeed, kill him as soon as possible. Imprisonment simply gives him more chances to escape and Do Unto Me.
⁃ Rigel: Hmph. Killing them is much less entertaining than converting them, or -- if they must die -- getting them killed in some particularly amusing circumstances, such as by their own best friends. My daddy's given me some EXCELLENT pointers in this area.
4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
⁃ Virigar: For those vulnerable to shooting, true. With a few exceptions -- that is, those for whom that would be a terribly plebian and dishonorable death even in MY eyes.
⁃ Master Wieran: And in DEATH they will LIVE AGAIN... to serve me and my own purposes!
⁃ M-S: *sigh* If I HAVE to kill them, shooting's as good as any other way. But can't we work this out?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Shooting, stabbing, whatever. I prefer to use thermonuclear weapons, when possible. Less chance of missing.
⁃ Rigel: Waste. A powerful enemy is a useful tool, potentially an ally after you've taken his mind and rebuilt it to believe what you want it to believe.
5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.
⁃ Virigar: It's much better to BE the source of your power. (grimaces) Oh, if only it could be ONE object that was my weakness. Unfortunately, thanks to my meddling "brother", it's an entire ELEMENT that's my weakness.
⁃ Master Wieran: In a "safe deposit box", whatever that is?? I say NOT! It will be kept in my laboratory, under my watchful gaze or that of my loyal servants, at all times! How else could I make USE of it, anyway? (thinks) Hmm... allowing me to channel its full power while not being nearby... could be very useful... But then why make it accessible AT ALL? Hide it in another dimension, or under the roots of the mountains with NO ACCESS!
⁃ M-S: The sources of my power are truth and justice, and my ability to convince people to follow me. If I have a weakness, it's that I'm too kind sometimes. Neither one's going to be locked up. (looks around) In fact, why am *I* being put in THIS group? These people are all a bunch of VILLAINS!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Hmmm, De Nile is more than a river in Egypt...
⁃ M-S: What do you mean by THAT?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Oh, nothing. Anyway, the source of my power is what I am. Can't take it away, can't hide it.
⁃ Rigel: The source of my power is partially training and partially... well, a secret. The secret could be stolen, but the power can't.
6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.
⁃ Virigar: You know, this list is starting to take the fun out of being an Evil Overlord. It's at least half the POINT of finally catching your enemy to take that shining moment to gloat -- and of course give him the chance to put that last, desperate plan into action.
⁃ Master Wieran: Gloat? What an utterly unscientific attitude. However, it should be important to impress upon them what FOOLS they've been to oppose an intellect so vastly superior to their own that [cue standard rant #8]
⁃ M-S: Gloat? What a horrid thing to do. But I'll always given my enemies the chance to repent of their misguided ways, explaining how their defeat was inevitable, and that they can't possibly expect to win against the side of right!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: But never gloating, no, certainly not.
⁃ M-S: You're just too cynical and jaded to believe in good.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Oh, far from it. In any case, whether I gloat would depend on how amusing it would be for ME. I rather agree with Virigar. There's an element of style here.
⁃ Rigel: Exactly right! Style! Or... oh, what was that term, in some movie...
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I believe you're looking for "Bad Form". From "Hook".
⁃ Master Wieran: Movie? What is this word?
⁃ Virigar: Never mind, my fantasy-world friend.
7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."
⁃ Virigar: And HERE is another perfect example of Bad Form. Gloating and explaining your Evil Plans are part of the POINT of being an Evil Overlord. I seem to recall seeing a similar list for the Benevolent Ruler which went quite a distance towards making them into an Evil Overlord, and I'm starting to suspect that THIS list is heading down the opposite path.
⁃ Master Wieran: Education. It all comes down to education. Of course, if these so-called "heroes" have gotten all the way to my secret laboratory and don't ALREADY understand what "it's all about", I rather doubt they have the mental capacity to GRASP my brilliant plan!
⁃ M-S: Oh, explanation is always a good thing! Maybe once they really understand what I'm up to they'll KNOW they're on the wrong side and change their minds!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Yeah, good luck with that. I'm basically on the dramatics side of things, but I also have sympathy for the Mad Alchemist over there with respect to --
⁃ Master Wieran: Mad? MAD? All great men are called mad by their lessers! [cue standard rant #6]
⁃ Dark Wanderer: (continuing despite rant) yes, yes, we know. They laughed at Bozo the Clown, too. Anyway, I'm in sympathy over the "how could they NOT know what it's all about if they've gotten this far?"
⁃ Rigel: Of course I'll explain to them. It will keep them focused on me. Which will make the rest of it much easier.
8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
⁃ Virigar: Marriage... is not really an option here.
⁃ Master Wieran: A waste of time. Why would I kidnap some girl for such a sordid purpose?
⁃ M-S: I'm not sure whether to be grateful that you don't understand, or pity you for that fact. In any case, I would NEVER kidnap anyone for such a terrible reason.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: You sure wouldn't need to kidnap ME. I'd go completely of my own will. As would most men, I'd think. In any case, if I found some girl so fascinating that I just HAD to have her as my wife, I'd find a way to make her like it, or at least make everyone think she did.
⁃ Rigel: How very true. Kidnapping is such a foolish choice; you want to marry someone who you had to kidnap? She'll just try to stick a knife through the most delicate portion of your anatomy at the first opportunity! And while the bound-and-gagged routine may be entertaining for the first few weeks, one of these days she'll get a hand free. Or possibly have learned special techniques which you REALLY don't want to know about.
9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.
⁃ Virigar: Well, I've never been in this position MYSELF, you understand, but it seems to me this is rational advice -- although it IS skirting rather close to the Bad Form region of behavior.
⁃ Master Wieran: The real problem with this is that SUBTLE help is hard to find. Which means that cleverly mis-labelling the controls to mislead those misguided fools opposing me is likely to backfire when one of my idiotic if loyal assistants is required to push the correct buttton and is then misled by my own oh-so-clever strategy.
⁃ M-S: Well, NATURALLY! Never try to get overly-clever with your plans and designs. If you need a self-destruct, simply make it personally coded to your own biometrics.
⁃ Virigar: Indeed, do that.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: If we're up against YOU, Big V, the fact that you can fool biometric locks is probably the least of our worries. M-S there has a good point. Let the controls be all obvious... just not easy for OTHER people to use.
⁃ Rigel: Sounds good to me.
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
⁃ Virigar: I'll interrogate them anywhere I choose.
⁃ Master Wieran: What nonsense is THIS? If I am going to interrogate anyone, by the Final Source it will be in my own laboratory, where I have the maximum security, safety, and power, not in some outside location that they could easily compromise.
⁃ M-S: Well, I suppose the idea is that the "capture and bring into the secret base" might be your enemy's plan. Still, I agree; assuming I were so inclined, it would seem silly to abandon all the advantages of my own stronghold just to minimize the chances of potential discovery.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Unless your major strength is IN the secrecy, I agree. There are some scenarios I could imagine where it's better to do the anonymous hotel bit -- for instance, you don't want anyone KNOWING you interrogated them or had time to, and your stronghold's two weeks away.
⁃ Rigel: Hmmm. Yes, I agree with my colleagues for the most part. Although I prefer to simply interrogate them without their knowledge.
11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
⁃ Virigar: Oh, dear me. This is more "Bad Form". My superiority is what ALLOWS me to leave people alive or allow vague but potentially useful prophecies. Keeps things entertaining.
⁃ Master Wieran: You are an irrational dolt. While giving them some short moments to appreciate the foolishness of their position is perfectly reasonable, allowing them to live, or actually giving them clues DELIBERATELY as to the nature of your plans, is idiotic.
⁃ Virigar: After your first two or three billion years of unbroken, uncontested victories, you get back to me on that. Boredom, my friend, is a powerful motivation.
⁃ M-S: This is one of those "villain" things again. I don't LIKE killing people, and if I could leave my enemies alive, I would -- they might come to their senses, after all. Unless the poor things are so broken that nothing will help them, in which case it's best to put them out of their misery.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Ah yes, a shining angel of mercy, that's you. And no offense, Big V, but you're in a pretty much unique position. That said, I agree with the general concept of Form. If I'm gonna be a baddie, I'll be one with style. Still, this is one of those optional Form rules, and I think I'd rather let the opposition, at least, do the prophecies, and whether my enemies get out alive should be a matter of luck or, to be honest, momentary impulse on my part.
⁃ Rigel: While I will agree that there is no reason to go about leaving traces of your plan or directions to your secret base, I cannot pretend that I would not leave a weaker enemy alive, especially if I felt he could truly become a worthy opponent. It's my family warrior tradition. Of course, once he reaches his peak and I still defeat him, I'll make him my best servant.
12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
⁃ Virigar: I eat five-year old children. You go through too many advisors that way.
⁃ Master Wieran: Why at that age? Are they more tender? In any case, what could a CHILD tell me about my plans? Even their low-browed parents could not possibly begin to understand my genius, I, who at the age of [cue standard rant #4]
⁃ M-S: You know, I think most of your problems come from this defensive reaction over your younger experiences. We have therapists where I come from who... well, never mind, I can see you're looking at me *that* *way*. Anyway, much as I love children, I really don't think any of them could contribute much to my planning. I *was* designed as a superman, after all.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: This is one of those things that comes from bad late-night movies and TV Miniseries, and comic books. Most decent villains have plans that would hold up to examination at least by a 10 year old. Me, I'd rather put my plans up for critique on a Usenet newsgroup.
⁃ Master Wieran: "Miniseries"? Usenet?"?
⁃ Rigel: Never mind, old chap, it's not something you need concern yourself with. And *I* think my advisor should be one of those, oh, what's the term, ah yes, teenage geeks with no life. He'll spend hours poking holes in the basic plan, and I can reward him with free food, unlimited videogame access off-hours, and real women with... very special training.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: You may be onto something there. I'll have my people call your people. Let's do lunch.
13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
⁃ Virigar: I find this to be a rule MUCH more useful for the heroes than for myself. They're the ones, foolish optimists, to take the bright view and assume their problems are over.
⁃ Master Wieran: This is not a problem for ME. If they were sufficiently superior specimens as to actually pose a difficulty for me, I will recover their bodies as they will be most useful in my experiments.
⁃ M-S: Eeeeeew. You're creepy. I agree with the practical approach, though. If I really don't think they're salvageable and I MEANT to kill them, well, obviously I should make SURE whenever possible.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I agree with old V; this is much more a problem for heroes. Yes, sometimes the villain survives this way, but generally because it wasn't a PRACTICAL thing for them to go after the body -- you know, plummeted down a bottomless pit, last seen as you were fleeing the villain's fortress just before it blew sky-high, that sort of thing.
⁃ Rigel: Yes, exactly. It's usually our kind who DO make sure, one way or another. At least, much more often than the heroes. After all, which side has that general idea that shooting a man when he's down is rude? Not ours.
⁃ M-S: There you go again, putting ME in with YOUR sort. You're all horrid people.
⁃ Rigel: There's a reason you're in this group, my Lady, though I can see you'll never recognize it...
14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.
⁃ Virigar: Oh, now, this is yet MORE "Bad Form". Naturally give them a last request, as long as they're clever enough to make it something that isn't clearly a threat (for instance, a gun with a silver bullet). It's amusing and occasionally surprising what the pressures of impending death cause people to come up with.
⁃ Master Wieran: More dramatic idiocy. A hero's last request IS a stunt, usually. For those few that, like our immortal and nigh-invincible shapeshifter acquaintance here, can AFFORD the luxury, I suppose it might be worth risking. But rationally, it makes no sense at all.
⁃ M-S: You mean the VILLAIN isn't entitled. I'm a hero. I have no idea why I'm in this horrid group. In any case, of COURSE he's entitled to his last request. If I'm forced to kill him, I'd hate to deny him a last moment of satisfaction.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I'm torn. I agree on the Bad Form, but my rational side agrees with Master Wieran. Arg! Ah, well, the price of a dramatic upbringing.
⁃ Rigel: Naturally I allow him his last request. Then when his pathetic ploy fails I can mock him and THEN dispatch him cruelly.
15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.
⁃ Virigar: Oh, come now, that trick would NEVER work.
⁃ Master Wieran: Indeed. The probabilities with respect to Heroes show that what would almost certainly happen in that instance is that the hero would arrive and recognize the threat with the counter at 177, and would successfully have deactivated it 59 seconds later at 118.
⁃ M-S: For such circumstances a better ploy would be a motion sensor or more complex action detector that triggers the action if anyone starts to tamper with it.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: If you insist on leaving a critical device in a location and circumstance that the hero can find it, you'd better be resigned to it being deactivated no matter WHAT you do. Yes, I know, superbeings all here, but in a Heroic Universe it takes more than just superhuman abilities and so on to defeat the forces of Square Jaws and Upright Morals.
⁃ Rigel: How true. My father remarked on this sort of thing more than once. No, I agree with the Wanderer, just accept that leaving some device behind means you're not depending on it.
16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."
⁃ Virigar: Tsk, tsk. All together now...
⁃ (Everyone): BAD FORM!
17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.
⁃ Virigar: Yes, naturally. Although I have not generally NEEDED advisors very often.
⁃ Master Wieran: If I require some assistance in a field which I have not had the time to master, naturally I will hire competent consultants and listen. Only a fool would do otherwise.
⁃ M-S: It IS a bit of a cliche, though. Having a second-in-command giving him thoughtful advice and the evil mastermind shrugging it off in a fit of ego. Not being a villain, *I* don't have to worry about that.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Naturally, naturally. And I agree about the idiocy.
⁃ Rigel: It appears that on this we are all agreed. Advisors who give BAD advice, of course, have only one use.
⁃ Virigar: Soul food.
⁃ Master Wieran: I was thinking experimental subjects and spare parts.
18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
⁃ Virigar: How limiting. My children have always been my best servants. You simply need to make... examples of any who don't follow the proper path.
⁃ Master Wieran: I have no time for this clumsy biological procreation. I will CREATE a son, the son of my mind, superior in every way to those mindless breeders who [cue rant #11]
⁃ M-S: If I ever find the right man, we'll have plenty of children and raise them right, and they'll be the joy of my heart!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Pass the Pepto, please, miss Golden Child here is giving me indigestion. No, I really don't want a son. Love women, but children could be trouble, especially if they inherit my peculiar abilities.
⁃ Rigel: If my son will be like me, I'll have one or two. When the time comes I'll overthrow Father, but only when I can prove my superiority, and that's what he's waiting for.
19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.
⁃ Virigar: How amusing. My first-born daughter has been by far my most faithful follower.
⁃ Master Wieran: Need I repeat myself?
⁃ M-S: I suspect you often do, but not in this case. Nor must I.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Yes, I suspect we're in similar agreement as to the sameness of this one.
⁃ Rigel: Oh, I don't know. Daughters have different temperaments. Still, who knows? She might be even more effective than my sons would be.
20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
⁃ Virigar: MANIACAL laughter, perhaps so. But suitably ... atmospheric chuckles to the doomed, under the right circumstances, add so much to the ambience.
⁃ Master Wieran: I dislike the characterization, but in a moment of triumph, as my plans are unfolded and the powers of my creations finally unveiled to the TERROR of those PUNY BEINGS that dared to MOCK ME? AAAAHAHAHAHAHHAHA! THEN I shall laugh, LAUGH as they FLEE before me! [continue rant]
⁃ M-S: At times one cannot quite restrain a ladylike laugh at the attempts of evil to stop righteous beings like myself.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: You mean that spine-tingling "OOOhhhooohhooohoooo" that I think your designers stole from a dozen anime villainnesses? Oh, yes, ladylike.
⁃ M-S: You're a horrid little man.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Horrid maybe, not so little. I think laughter is something for careful choice. Some PC's just find it annoying, others it creeps out or even scares or intimidates. In the first case, don't laugh.
⁃ Master Wieran: "PC's"?
⁃ M-S: Never you mind.
⁃ Rigel: You need the right SOUND to make it work. If you sound like, well, my father, the laugh is a useful tool. If you sound like oh, that actor, um, Rick Moranis? Don't do it. Please.
21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
⁃ Virigar: As mentioned, I have no real need of Legions of Terror.
⁃ Master Wieran: I MANUFACTURE my Legions, and if they need clothing, no lesser genius than I, myself, will design it! What do I care of other people's imagery?
⁃ M-S: I *fight* against legions of terror and oppression, and if I must have an army they will look as just and noble as their cause.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: So cloaked in black with demonic spiky chaos death armor. Got it.
⁃ M-S: Will you STOP?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: ANYway, what IS this? Legions of Terror aren't there to have positive mindsets, they exist to put down the rabble, oppress the peasants, and generally get across to everyone in the area that you're an EVIL OVERLORD, not some namby-pamby Benevolent Monarch or even Enlightened Tyrant.
⁃ Rigel: Exactly. If I don't know all of them by name, they're merely replaceable goons.
22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.
⁃ Virigar: I've consumed energy fields larger than your PLANET. Bring it on.
⁃ Master Wieran: I do not "consume" energy fields. I will of course bring said energy under control and direct it for my ultimate goals.
⁃ M-S: Some of these references are so... obscure.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: You're right. I don't even recognize the source for this one. I'm guessing something anime, but I haven't a clue.
⁃ Rigel: I'm more in Master Wieran's camp. I don't EAT energy fields, but I could USE them.
23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.
⁃ Virigar: My "troops" ARE weapons.
⁃ Master Wieran: As are mine. But the general sentiment is correct. In my case, I will ensure that even in the event that all magical powers are negated, my perfected creations can STILL defeat even the most powerful enemies! Nothing shall stand before them! They will [cue rant #9]
⁃ M-S: Aside from the rant, I agree with the strategy.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Ditto.
⁃ Rigel: Indeed.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Hmm -- in one of the examples of "Overlord's Troops overrun by savages armed with spears and rocks" that I can recall, the problem wasn't that their weapons became useless, it was that they'd basically IGNORED the existence of the natives and didn't take them seriously. I'd recommend any Evil Overlord put their troops through a periodic set of exercises in which their best Special Ops people are given the assignment to take out one of their well-trained but standard garrison groups using nothing but primitive techniques, and make sure the troops learn the lesson: sharp pointy rocks can still kill you as dead as a blaster or a fireball, and sneaky little natives with brains will beat complacent well-armed troops every time.
24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
⁃ Virigar: Oh, if the heroes have done their job well enough, they DESERVE the proper "shocked denial" performance. If they can actually manage to HURT me and SURPRISE me in the bargain, then I'll give them what they've earned. It's part of the game, just as their screams of horror as they realize all their efforts were for naught and I have won are MY due.
⁃ Master Wieran: Invincibility is for my greatest creations. I am merely more brilliant than they can possibly imagine.
⁃ M-S: Well, I have to say that as a hero it would be a bit disappointing to actually have come up with a brilliant last-ditch way to vanquish the villain and have him say "Oh, darn. Guess that's it, then."
⁃ Dark Wanderer: While as a villain I would prefer not to be defeated at all, if I'm defeated, what I say will depend on HOW I'm defeated. If any of your opponents are Japanese or anime fans, however, don't EVER say "S.. SONNA BAKANA!" if you want to survive the next few minutes.
⁃ Rigel: Hai, Wanderer-san. Or "M...MASAKA!"
⁃ Master Wieran: "Anime"?
⁃ M-S: We really all need to chip in and get the poor Mad Alchemist a cultural education.
25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
⁃ Virigar (dryly): Oh, you'd prefer it be completely indestructible except for many large and easily targeted spots?
⁃ Master Wieran: I think they refer to devices as are found in poorly-thought-out tales which provide some critical weakness to an otherwise invincible foe.
⁃ M-S: Say, like silver bullets for a werewolf?
⁃ Virigar: Your soul looks absolutely delicious, you know.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: No threatening during our conference. I think this is another of those things where you just need to add a few caveats.
⁃ Rigel: Such as assuming, as with the countdown, that if it has ANY weak spot your opposition can, and will, find it, so don't rely exclusively on this special device. It'll be useful, but don't bet all your plans on it.
⁃ Master Wieran: Excellent point. As a corollary, ALWAYS have at least one, and preferably several, backup plans.
⁃ (All): Agreed.
26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.
⁃ Virigar: It's exceedingly unlikely any of my opposition are my own kind, and while I have used sexual interaction as one of my many weapons, it's certainly not something that interests me with respect to any mortals.
⁃ Master Wieran: ARE there idiots so driven by hormonal and power issues that they would DO such a thing? I assure you, if I found some female who was inherently so attractive that she actually distracted me from my research, she would BECOME research!
⁃ M-S: Well, on the positive side, that makes sure you won't reproduce. This has to be a good thing. But I agree with this one. I mean, why would I *want* my enemy sent to join me in the location I'm most vulnerable? This is like the Marry the Princess one, only worse, as your intentions (if you're a villain) are strictly DIShonorable.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I think it's also much more divergent along gender lines. Supremely Evil Villannesses are much more likely to attempt seduction and corruption of the Hero or his Best Friend, while the male Evil Overlords are just trying to take whatever they want. While BOTH approaches are, in general, doomed to failure in the traditional mold,
⁃ Rigel: While this is true, I wonder that none of you consider the use of psionic powers, mind control, and brainwashing.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Always nice ideas, but the brainwashing tends to come apart at the most inconvenient times and then it's stab-stab-stabby in the back.
⁃ Rigel: Only if you have inadequate mind control powers or preparations, something *I* will not have to worry about.
⁃ Virigar: AAAaaaaand we're back to the "overconfidence" issue, aren't we?
27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
⁃ Virigar: Would any of us disagree?
⁃ (After a pause) Dark Wanderer: Well, the only caveat I'd add is that sometimes there are things you CAN'T duplicate. Poor Sauron's One Ring, for instance -- he couldn't very well make a Backup Ring. Devices using unique or nearly impossible to obtain substances, etc., will also not be practically duplicable.
⁃ Master Wieran: Perfectly correct. Also, there are things which CAN be duplicated, but for which the time and effort would then cost you the window of opportunity for actually executing your plan. Making a Philosopher's Stone took me 15 years; I could probably do it in 10 now, but the crucial confluence of events I need to take advantage of occurs in 4.
⁃ Rigel: Still, the basic principle holds: whenever possible, have a backup.
28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.
⁃ Virigar (sharp grin): I *AM* my pet monster.
⁃ Master Wieran: I CREATE my monsters. Supremely powerful creatures who are also inherently supremely LOYAL. I need no secure cages for most of them for they recognize their creator and give me the worship that is my due!
⁃ M-S: Oh, I see. You're one of the sort I have to kill. People like YOU, thinking they can play god with other lifeforms regardless of their feelings, toys for your amusement, why --
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Oh, dear. Take a couple of deep breaths and calm yourself. Yes, he's a villain, but from a universe you'll never enter, so he's not your problem. I see this hit a tender spot for you. Anyway, I generally don't create MONSTERS as such, and if I did, I'd follow Master Wieran's principle.
⁃ Rigel: People are far more terrifying monsters than anything you might engineer.
29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
⁃ Virigar: Does rather make it difficult to maintain the "Dark Lord" title, though.
⁃ Master Wieran: I wear white. A useful color in the laboratory, and generally the rabble do not see me anyway.
⁃ M-S: Oh, I LOVE bright colors. I mean, I have a very special Little Black Dress, but brilliant blues and greens bring out my eyes, I think...
⁃ Dark Wanderer: And I'm sure we'd love to watch you model them all. I rather LIKE black, one thing that I DO have in common with my disgustingly good Other Self.
⁃ Rigel: A proper military uniform may have a lot of colors, but black is a good choice. If my color choice is the only thing giving me away, I'm clearly doing something wrong.
30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.
⁃ Virigar: A lovely thought, but in fact I suspect all you'll achieve would be to make an epic which was much more gripping and exciting. Possibly the heroes would simply be grimmer, or, worse yet, would start to provide their own gentle comedic relief.
⁃ Master Wieran: On the other hand, putting such incompetents out of the way would be a service to oneself as well, so whether it slows up the heroes or not isn't really so important.
⁃ M-S: Now, if there were slick conjurers, dashing bards, and debonair thieves, that would be a different matter.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Been there, run that. I agree with the Big V; they'll just roll their own. Probably using puns and literary references.
⁃ Rigel: And if you could kill the heroes, you wouldn't be trying such an indirect method to stop them.
31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
⁃ Virigar: I suspect this is likely to be no more successful than the prior one.
⁃ Master Wieran: Why would the naive busty tavern wenches be of any USE to the heroes?
⁃ M-S: Dear, dear, that's another of those "sheltered upbringing" things with you.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: More like "inhuman coldness" things. You know, I rather LIKE seeing the naive busty wenches myself, and if in my Wanderings I have to stop by a tavern, I'd rather NOT have all the personnel be surly waitresses.
⁃ Rigel: Indeed! Besides, I would suspect that the whole operation would backfire by causing the hero and heroine to recognize their attraction for each other MUCH earlier.
32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.
⁃ Virigar: Here I believe we are all in agreement.
⁃ Master Wieran: Precisely. Unless the messenger is also the CAUSE of the bad news.
⁃ M-S: True. That IS the sort of poor impulse control that dooms many a tyrant. Killing off all the competent help because they bring you bad news.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Yes, rather like the earlier bit about listening to advisors. Sometimes your advisors may tell you things you don't want to hear, like "Sir, your latest plan has more holes than a wheel of Swiss Cheese, and you'd be well advised to abandon it and start from scratch". Killing them simply makes it so that no one will TELL you the bad news at all.
⁃ Rigel: Yes, yes. And that's how you end up thinking you killed off the hero months ago and only find out otherwise when he kicks down your door. No, be REASONABLE, even if cruel and hard.
33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.
⁃ Virigar: Clothing is the choice of the shapeshifter. I don't care what anyone wears as long as they get the job done.
⁃ Master Wieran: I don't --
⁃ M-S: --understand why someone would WANT to put their subordinates in a stainless-steel bustier. Another of those "not sure whether to pity you or be glad" things.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: If my fetching female subordinates WANT to wear chainmail bikinis, stainless steel bustiers, or leather, on the other hand, far be it from me to forbid it. I'll just make sure it's ENCHANTED to give full protection regardless of the square inches actually covered. Male subordinates will wear much more modest attire, however.
⁃ M-S: Isn't that rather sexist?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: *I* am the Evil Overlord, things will conform to *MY* aesthetic preferences.
⁃ Rigel: Exactly correct.
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
⁃ Virigar: If I turn into a snake, it WILL help.
⁃ Master Wieran: What is the point of THIS one? How many Evil Overlords or Brilliant Scientists spend time turning into a snake?
⁃ M-S: Well, in the Narnia books the Green Witch turned into a snake and ended up beheaded.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Yes, and Thulsa Doom. Though he didn't get beheaded as a snake.
⁃ Rigel: It's one of the overspecific ones. Pay this no mind.
35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
⁃ Virigar: That is, I am afraid, a reflection on the personages seen with goatee or Van Dyke beards.
⁃ Master Wieran: Pff! I will not even bother to comment!
⁃ M-S: Well... yes, I suppose. The Generation X'ers do all seem to have this... problem.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: They all look like skinny losers and haven't a tiny shred of charisma, THAT's the problem, not the beards.
⁃ Rigel: Indeed. If you are not yourself WORTHY of the perception of diabolic power, growing the beard will not suddenly make you LOOK as though you were. A beard, a hairstyle, a cape -- these are things that must simply *complete* you, not *substitute* for you and your personal dynamism.
36. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
⁃ Virigar: Well, this is one of those optional Good Form/Bad Form choices. Imprisoning your enemies is already admitting you're either (A) in need of some kind of information they have, or (B) already playing Good Form by not slaughtering them immediately.
⁃ Master Wieran: And as you might expect, I simply agree with the rule. I will separate and interrogate them all separately, and imprison them separately. Oh, yes, I would add that I will *NOT* have a single Master Key that opens all locks throughout my Secret Fortress.
⁃ M-S: Ohhh, and here you had us fooled into thinking you'd never seen any of the things we referenced! What a classic that one is, though -- get the Special Key and you can get through all the rest of the security.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Sometimes imprisoning them together is useful; they talk about things that you want to know. But it would be wise to actually keep an eye on them, and not by trusting that less-than-bright guard with the job either.
⁃ Rigel: True. I'd also note that if any of your prisoners are female and in any wise attractive, you don't want the guards to be of the sort to be diverted by such charms. You end up with so many jailbreaks that way.
37. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: None of us disagree on this, yes? If you've got someone who's serving as your right hand and you trust them, they're NOT bringing you bad news for the hell of it.
⁃ (All): Agreed.
38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.
⁃ Virigar: Bad form, AND leads to boredom. If they can actually TRACE the murder to me and then plan their vengeance, it might even be amusing.
⁃ Master Wieran: If their foolish relative FORCED me to kill them, why wouldn't they learn their lesson and recognize that it is simple suicide to threaten me?
⁃ M-S: I suppose we're all agreed in the diagnosis of "sociopath" here? Anyway, I would NEVER kill those uninvolved. The children can learn. I'd try to make sure they got the right side of the story. If they were YOUNG children I might have to take care of them myself, or at least find them good homes!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Okay, you're definitely going to be confusing SOME people. I admit that I rationally agree with Master Wieran, but my gut preference is more along Virigar's direction.
⁃ Rigel: By now you must know that I prefer the dramatic to the practical. In this case their quest for revenge might amusingly transform them into the sort of people I like to recruit.
39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.
⁃ Virigar: Oh, now that's not only bad form, it's cowardice. In my case, it's also impractical. If *I* choose to go into battle, I am the most formidable warrior on the battlefield, and it would be rational and practical for me to find the top members of the opposition and swallow their souls.
⁃ Master Wieran: If I am forced to actually take the field MYSELF, I will prepare in such a manner that I am formidably armed and armored, but I will not ride in the front. I will of course not have an "opposite number" since there is none in my opposition who can even begin to APPRECIATE my genius!
⁃ M-S: I will lead the forces of light if needed, and challenge my opposite number to an honor duel!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: While I see the practicality of the advice, I must find I agree with Virigar again. I'm my most formidable weapon.
⁃ Rigel: As am I, assuming my father isn't available.
40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
⁃ Virigar: I *AM* an unstoppable superweapon, and I'll keep as much of me in reserve as I like.
⁃ Master Wieran: While I do not enjoy the advantages of your age and power, the simple fact of the matter -- to any halfway competent mind, of which there are tragically few -- is that "unstoppable superweapon" is a condition, not a device. For any superweapon that can be devised, a defense can also be devised in time, or else there are limitations on its use.
⁃ M-S: Exactly right, Master Wieran. The old USA did not use nuclear weapons on every minor squabble because it was literally overkill, and dirty overkill at that.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: This is both a matter of Good Form and of practicality. If you use your superweapon at every opportunity, someone may actually figure out a defense (or how to defuse the weapon). It will CERTAINLY draw attention to the weapon and its installation, etc., and that's not necessarily a good thing. A certain Mr. Vader and his erstwhile boss Tarkin found THAT out.
⁃ Rigel: Oh, excellent point. Sometimes you're keeping the ultimate weapon in reserve to make sure you still HAVE it in reserve.
41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.
⁃ Virigar: Once more?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: "Oh, that trick NEVER works.".
⁃ Master Wieran: Have NONE of these putative overlords recognized the essential inevitable progress of Science? That despite all the efforts of the pea-brained masses and their pompously arrogant yet slow-witted overlords, the great discoveries of their superiors cannot be forever repressed? Fools! They believe that by closing their eyes to the truth they can make it go away, yet [rant #22]
⁃ M-S: Oh, dear. Well, without interrupting him I'll just agree with the general point. You cannot put that genie back into the bottle.
⁃ Rigel: Exactly. If time travel is possible, someone will be using it. Or was using it. Or is using it. ... never mind.
42. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.
⁃ Virigar: Now THIS I agree with. I'll probably just EAT the thing.
⁃ Master Wieran: If it's a common creature it will be disposed of. Otherwise I am sure the creature will serve some purpose after I have suitably modified it.
⁃ M-S: How horrid! I'll just try to keep it restrained and have someone follow it so it can't get into trouble.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Treecat in a blender. It's what's for dinner!
⁃ Rigel: Unless you can somehow gain control over the sickeningly cute companion creature, yes, kill it. If you can control it, now, what a marvelous opportuniity to really raise the hero's spirits and then dash them.
43. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.
⁃ Virigar: Not a problem with me, of course.
⁃ Master Wieran: Nor for me.
⁃ M-S: It's a bit disappointing that this tactic seems no longer so effective. The villains just don't have the clueless lechery they used to.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Now, now, let's not start this pining for the Good Old Days. I agree with the principle, although I would welcome any attempts on your part to sway my judgment.
⁃ Rigel: No flirting with the other panel members. And I would also welcome such advances on the part of the heroine. She wouldn't realize how very much she meant them at first, of course...
⁃ M-S: Mind-controllers creep me out.
44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.
⁃ Virigar: This is perilously close to calling what *I* do "dumb", something I would never tolerate.
⁃ Master Wieran: The statement has a point, but only half a point. Those who do it purely for money can sometimes be bought off by the target, and then they come and lie about it. Those in it for the sport aren't able to be "bought off", in general.
⁃ M-S: You know, I'd never thought of it that way, but yes, that's true.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: I'll just employ a large number of them and hope one of them actually hits the target.
⁃ Rigel: Because you know that odds are, no matter how professional and trained they are, the heroes will walk right through them.
45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.
⁃ Virigar: Hm. This sort of thing may actually stem from overlords who have a natural impulse to kill off the source of bad news or failure, but who recognize that the failure may not be entirely the fault of the general, et cetera.
⁃ Master Wieran: Still a waste. Poor impulse control is not the hallmark of a man worthy of rulership.
⁃ M-S: And it would be so cruel!
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Hello? "Evil Overlord"? Cruelty is just one of the fine traits a good Evil Overlord possesses. Still, I agree with Virigar. This is someone trying to follow the advice of not killing the messenger, nor punishing good men for the inevitable occasional setback, but unable to leave it at just that.
⁃ Rigel: I would find it better advised to either shoot VERY NEAR my general, and then explain why I spared him, or -- if one of his lieutenants was more likely responsible for the screwup -- shoot the lieutenant and tell him to choose his underlings more wisely... before I'm forced to take that same advice.
46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.
⁃ (Unanimous Agreement)
47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
⁃ Virigar: Now where's the fun in THAT? Unless you actually are so weak that you think the single callow youth is already a threat.
⁃ Master Wieran: It is a matter of pulling up the weeds before they take over the garden. Yes, yes, I know, you have that "form" issue.
⁃ M-S: Killing people immediately removes any chance of convincing them of the justice of your position. Or, I suppose, if you are an Evil Overlord, of converting them to the Dark Side.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Precisely my feelings. Certainly "Good Form" plays a part, but so many things can happen between the beginning of the quest and its end.
⁃ Rigel: Well, as I said before, my enemies can be made into my friends.
48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.
⁃ Virigar: I rarely have had to do such things, but the philosophy is accurate.
⁃ Master Wieran: While for me, this is my very LIFEBLOOD. My creations are my children, the children of my mind and will. I will treat them as such, show them their destiny. Admittedly some training and education methods may be painful...
⁃ M-S: Monster.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Now, now, we're all friendly monsters here. For now. But indeed, if you're keeping a monster as a guard or pet, making it pissy at you isn't the brightest thing you can do.
⁃ Rigel: Yes, indeed. Even with excellent mind control, why take chances?
49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.
⁃ Virigar: What sort of idiocy is THAT?
⁃ Master Wieran: I suppose the writer is working from some vague idea that sending out the troops lets the heroes know where the artifact is.
⁃ M-S: Well, yes. But logically, that really doesn't hold water, does it?
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Yeah, I think we're all agreed that this is stupid. If you KNOW where it is, you DO send your forces out, in a lightning raid in overwhelming force. With well-informed lieutenants leading the strike so as to make sure of recovering it.
⁃ Rigel: Yes. After all, assuming that "want-ads" exist in your home dimension -- I noticed our distinguished Master Wieran looking slightly puzzled again -- if your adversaries aren't idiots, they'll probably NOTICE when you put the ad in. And an Evil Overlord meekly taking out an ad in the paper is a dead giveaway that he's trying something sneaky.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: Now, the more LIKELY scenario which is ill-considered is that if you learn of the EXISTENCE of the artifact, spell, whatever that can destroy you or thwart your plans to conquer the universe, you send out a dozen strikeforces in all directions searching for the thing in the most blunt-instrument way imaginable. THAT tips the Heroes off to the fact that there's something you're really worried about, and THEY may have some vital information you lack that tells them WHERE too look.
50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.
⁃ Virigar: Yet another one far too specific to be applicable.
⁃ Master Wieran: I know nothing of these "computers", and my Books of Power will MAKE things compatible with my plans!
⁃ M-S: Entirely different LANGUAGE, Master Wieran.
⁃ Dark Wanderer: You're right, big V, too specific, and not even accurate. Let's try this reformulation which is much closer to the ACTUAL problem and one more generally applicable: "I will make sure that all equipment superior to that of my enemies is carefully accounted for. In the event that some falls into the enemy's hands, I will either (A) retrieve it, (B) destroy it, or, if both of the latter are impossible, (C) modify my plans to assume that they will be able to understand and incorporate that technology into their own plans. I WILL NOT PERMIT A SHIP WHICH HAS BEEN IN ENEMY HANDS FOR 40 YEARS TO DOCK WITH MY MOTHERSHIP!"
⁃ Rigel: Ah, yes, THAT one. Indeed, a much better general formulation.