Congratulations on your decision to become a Super-Villain! You're taking a big step by joining the fast-paced and exciting world of thematic crime, and we here at The Master Plan are dedicated to helping you experience the success you deserve with these handy guides to the super-villain lifestyle!
Despite the fact that 90% of costumed criminals characterize themselves as "grim loners," super-villainy is not something one can accomplish alone. At the very least, you'll need someone to carry the loot bags out to the getaway van while you hang back at the scene of the crime gloating about your latest unstoppable scheme. But as the old saying goes, good help is hard to find-yet with a few hints on how to pull it off, you'll be able to assemble a top-notch criminal fighting force capable of battling a masked vigilante to a standstill for at least six minutes.
Anatomy of a Henchman
Whether it's your goal to dominate the criminal underworld of the entire East Coast or just a few blocks of East Lansing, Pennsylvania, the soldiers in your army of loyal minions can pretty much be broken down into three categories:
For the most part, grunts are there to do the heavy lifting while you occupy yourself with greater concerns, like the feasibility of launching a DNA-targeted death-ray satellite that can be controlled with a standard universal remote. They pretty much have two functions: Looking menacing, and forming a lumpy human wall between you and the do-gooder that's eventually going to show up and attempt to shut you down.
Although it might be tempting to take whatever low-rent thug applies for the job, it would be wise to implement an aptitude test to make sure they meet some kind of competency standards. Specifically, make sure that your potential minion can identify a large, red, clearly labeled Self Destruct button, and understands that it is not to be touched under any circumstances.
Failure to include a large, red, clearly labeled Self Destruct button is, of course, a violation of SVLOSHA regulations.
Sure, you can have all kinds of ideas on how to bring a world that's spurned you to its very knees, making it tremble in terror at the very mention of your name-but odds are, if you're spending your time in snug unitards and engaged in pitched rooftop battles with the masked crimefighting element, you most likely don't have the requisite knowledge of particle physics to make your dreams a reality.
In the past, locating a viable henchman with that kind of technical skill was, at best, a risky proposition. Usually, the super-villain of yesteryear had to resort to kidnapping a Government employee and forcing him to use the Death Ray he created for peaceful purposes for unthinkable evil, and that puts an entire extra step between you and the delicious taste of lasery revenge. Fortunately, the current global economy has made that sort of operation entirely unnecessary.
How? Outsourcing! Thanks to the rapid increase of technology workers out of Hyderabad and Chennai, thousands of tech sector employees are unemployed and-as an added bonus-bitter and disenfranchised with a system that failed them, thus making them perfect recruits for your underworld empire.
The Secret Weapon
Unlike the other categories, the Secret Weapon henchman is usually one of a kind-rather than being recruited like the others, he's usually "promoted" from within the ranks of the many, many henchmen who will inevitably fail in their assigned tasks, thus incurring your wrath. Either that or someone who mocked your plans for a perfectly viable battalion of giant, mobile chess pieces designed to revolutionize warfare for the 21st century. Either way, it's going to be someone you don't care for.
After all, you don't want someone you actually like to be subject to horrifying experiments that will turn them into an unstoppable creature-once a man, but now something... other-powered only by its hatred for the world. Oh, and while we're on the subject, invest in some heavy chains. That thing's not going to be too pleased with you either.
Of course, once you've actually created your mindless engine of destruction, keep it under wraps for a while. Sure, it's tempting to unleash the horrific mockery of humanity on your nemesis at the first sign of trouble, but it's better to let him wear himself out by ramming his fist repeatedly into the soft, easily-crushed faces of your other minions. Once he's taken out a significant portion of your nameless hordes (see above ), it's a simple matter to unlock the chains and leave him battling your unspeakable monstrosity while you escape through one of your many trap-doors.
You do have trap-doors, right?
Now that you know who you're looking for, the next question is obvious: Where do you look for them?
You might not think it'll work, but you might want to try just hanging out at the local bar, striking up conversations and asking your fellow patrons if they've ever considered a career in diabolical schemes. Sure, it's not exactly the most subtle way to open up a supercrime-related dialogue, but really: The people you're going to want to recruit aren't exactly the low profile types.
TIP: If you're going to hang around in bars asking people how bad they want to be, make ABSOLUTELY SURE they know you mean that literally, and not as an awkward sexual proposition . Also, you might want to go ahead and do this part out of costume. Just a thought.
Don't be afraid to try recruiting your own friends and family, either. Just remember, the masses frown on nepotism, so if your brother in law accidentally drops the plutonium, you're going to have to toss him into the piranha tank like you would with anyone else. Sure, you'll have a lot of explaining to do to your sister, but it'll be worth it in the long run.
If you find yourself in a bind and need henchmen but don't have the time to go out and recruit your own, it's a perfectly acceptable practice to subcontract out your henching duties to any one of a number of Thug Providing Services. It can get to be pretty expensive, but when you're using an outfit like our Eastern partners at Invisible Dragon Shadow Ninja Solutions, the prompt, reliable service is worth every penny. Or in their case, every thousand year-old demon statuette carved from pure jade.
One thing to watch out for, though: If a potential henchman approaches you about joining your gang, and he bears a striking resemblance to your arch-nemesis, but with one obvious, distracting characteristic-sunglasses, a beard, a different shirt-you might want to think twice about letting them in on the operation. These people are usually consummate professionals and can be trusted with your every aspect of your dastardly plot, but our sources have confirmed that their arrival is often immediately followed by the arrival of said arch-nemesis and a lengthy stint in Federal Prison.
Pure coincidence, undoubtedly, but why tempt fate?
TIP: Once you've established an inner circle of underlings, make sure that their names match yours. Thematic villainy is, of course, all about the theme , so you're going to want to reinforce this wherever possible. If you're holding the city in your iron grip as Bishop King, the Cantankerous Chessman! , then your lieutenants should have names like "Pawn," or "Rooksy," and your kung-fu gymnast arm-candy almost has to go with "Queenie."
Don't be afraid to require them to make these nicknames legal, either-although be prepared to foot the bill down at the courthouse. If they refuse, well, you've still got that piranha tank, right? Because honestly, if he's not willing to change his name, he's probably not going to throw himself in front of a vigilante's fist while you make your escape.
Other Entries in Chris Sims' Supervillainy Series...
A Beginner's Guide to Supervillainy: Lairs
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