Occasionally, very rarely, the sure-fire scheme misfires and you need to consider how to salvage a broken situation. Every evil mastermind, no matter how dread and mighty, has had to cope with setbacks great and small over the course of their reign of terror. The thing that distinguishes the successful ones from the less successful is how well they carry themselves in the course of their contretemps. For just as great fortunes are made when everything is most likely to be lost, great regimes are born from those conflicts which are most fraught with the taste of defeat.
- Build in your Plan B. When you are sitting at your desk drafting out the details of your dirty business plans, it is worth spending a few minutes for each critical point setting out the conditions which would force to adopt an exit strategy. The advantage is that by deciding these matters in advance, when the crunch comes you will recognize the signs for what they are and take timely action before all is lost.
- Make a getaway. Take advantage of the weaknesses that armies of good and decency tend to have: a belief in fairness, a reluctance to saturation bomb innocent population, a tendency to ask questions rather than firing first. Depending on how many contingencies you have set up for yourself, you may have to do some quick improvisation here.
- Head for the hills. Get as far as way as you can as quickly and as quietly as you can. Gaining safe passage is sometimes simply a matter of enlisting the aid of a friendly bystander who does not know your black deeds, a process which might be facilitated if you remember to bring along some hard currency.
- Deal with defeat rationally. One defeat is not the end of the world. (Unless, of course, it does involve the end of the world.) Dig into your file of villainous schemes you have been considering doing and see whether this might be the time to dust off one of those. With the slate wiped clean, you have got nothing but time — time and the burning malevolence in your breast, that is.
Strokes of genius
- Your double. When things are looking very bleak and you are fearful of having your position overrun in a matter of moments, then is the best time to trot out your Doppelgänger or stand-in to help throw your adversaries off your trail. With a convincing body double to confuse people, maybe they won't be taking as many shots in your direction.
- Pack a lunch. And a change of clothes, and a disguise or two, and maybe a couple of easily concealed weapons.
- Friends in low places. Have you ever done anyone a good deed (perhaps by accident) in the past? Call in some of your favors, preferably from those you have not tapped before.
Traps for mere fools
- Predictability. Make like a great football broken field runner and zigzag crazily all over the place to throw any pursuers off your trail. This includes things like holing up in an odd out-of-the-way place now and then to let your scent dissipate, setting out misleading clues to encourage them to waste time and effort in the wrong places, and taking a creative approach toward plastic surgery.
- Losing your place in history. At the moment of crisis the eyes of many will be turned your way, so avoid besmirching your reputation by giving the impression of cowardice or, worse yet, uncoolness. Even if you don't profess any attachment to your legacy, think of the embarrassment it brings to your fellow evildoers at least.
- The Blaze of Glory pitfall. You may be tempted to blow it all on a towering conflagration that seeks to take out as many of your enemy as you can, despite incinerating yourself. Before you go ahead and do this, however, consider whether you might be able to come up with a variation which takes them out without your having to be quite so close to Ground Zero, say with a cunning multimedia light show or something.
Precious and needful
- Body armor.
- Sensible shoes.
- Writing materials. For your memoirs, or for sending messages by courier.
- How to flee your pursuers
- How to avoid a gruesome demise
- How to become invulnerable to bullets
- How to break up with someone
- How to clone an army
- How to deal with heroes and superheroes
- How to deal with invading aliens
- How to defend against magic swords and other weapons
- How to get over a crush
- How to lie to someone's face
- How to move an immovable object
- How to cast giant holograms of yourself
- How to fly without an airplane
- How to get started with giant robots
- How to haunt an evil forest
- How to set up a lair
- How to prank your adversaries
- How to buy a used death ray
- How to walk away from an explosion
- How to conceal weapons
- How to exploit advanced technology
- How to escape from shackles
- How to betray your master
- How to perform an emergency stop on a dragon
- Image credit Stunt Pyrotechnics by luc.viatour
- Image credit Mural detail in the Capitoline museum 1 by mharrsch
- Image credit escape! by dev null