Spoiler: I can freaking Overlord, thank you very much! How dare you say otherwise? And how dare any of you try to point out that “Overlord” is not a verb. IT IS NOW. DEAL WITH IT.
Anyway some of my friends like to joke that I’m not actually Overlord material. Here are the reasons why:
- I’m short
- I’m cute
- I’m afraid of the dark
- I don’t enjoy horror at all because I’m sensitive to horror because it makes the dark 5000x more terrifying and even just being alone somewhere in the day pretty scary
- I hate the undead
- I have low/no tolerance for gore to which I’m also sensitive
On learning the dark/horror/violence thing, a lot of people respond, “How are you even an Overlord!?”
Look. These things are not actually relevant to being an Overlord. The dark is freaking scary. I mean, remember how I am a tiny woman with T-rex arms!? If a haunted axe murderer or drowned woman or freakish animatronic got loose in my house, I would be so dead. And you know what attracts those sorts of things? Darkness. I don’t automatically control the darkness just because I’m an evil overlord! Maybe if I was a knife-wielding psychopath* but I’ve really worked on not running around murdering people. I’m not a monster of the darkness. It’s not mine.
And sheesh, excuse me for not allowing myself to become desensitized to the horrors of violence! Look, I can still handle violence. I have written horrifying torture scenes (and liked it**). I can’t handle gore. Ugh, squick. I don’t need to handle gore to want to dominate the world! I don’t need to handle gore to effectively command minions! I might have to to fight The Chosen One but like, probably not the super gratuitous kind because it’s not like I’m going to flay the skin from his bones or rip her to pieces using razor wire. I’m going to try to just get my sniper to shoot ’em. Because I am an effective Overlord. I’m over the whole killing them myself and or making them suffer thing. I know to just kill them. So it shouldn’t require more gore than I can handle or else I’m doing it wrong anyway.
Just because undead often are associated with Overlords doesn’t mean they always must be! Besides, I don’t have a way to control undead. So that would be a horrible idea on my part to try anyway. I am a competent Overlord!
As for the first two, short and cute is a trick of the enemy. Honestly, all it takes for me to Overlord is to want to take over the world and to be able to do so competently. The fact that I am deeply in love with my husband and can be gooey with him does not make me less of an Overlord. The fact that I highly value loyalty and friendship and would go out of my way to help someone does not make me less of an Overlord.
My perfectly mortal fear of spiders and darkness and scary crap does not make me less of an Overlord. It might affect my competence here and there but I can face my fears if I have to. (I already have, when I needed to move my baby to her crib but I was sure Freddy and his horrible animatron friends were all in the hallway, but I picked her up and ran through the danger zone before they could get me anyway for my kid’s sake. Look, I have a vivid imagination, okay?) What anyone should judge me concerning my Overlordship is whether or not I can capably perform actual Overlord duties, like following Peter’s Overlord List. There’s nothing about not being afraid of the dark there because that’s not actually important. Anyway heroes who are like ninjas and stuff, and even just regular heroes, can hide in the dark. Do you know who totally loves darkness? Batman.
The darkness can be a scary place for villains too.
When you’re making your villain, he doesn’t automatically gain Immunity From Bad Stuff because he’s evil because all things bad are not one coherent being. There’s a lot of bad stuff. Bad things can happen to bad guys because of other bad guys. That, in fact, creates complex moral issues. And beyond that, you don’t automatically get to love the darkness just because you’re evil. The darkness affects me the same way as a lot of other human beings: I can’t see in it, things in my peripheral visions look odd and scary, and I remember all the scary things I’ve ever heard or seen. Why would I be different just because I’m evil?
So maybe your villain, if she’s a woman like me, does find herself freaking out about murder-rapists when she’s walking home alone at night. Even if she’s a villain. Because when I was walking home from an evening class and went through an area where there HAD been a rapist a year before I started attending college, I had to run through because that was a legit fear! These things happen. And maybe they don’t like horror because of an overactive imagination. Maybe they grow faint at the sight of blood. These things are human, they’re not innately anti-evil.
And maybe if we stop worrying about these non-issue stereotypes of evil that don’t actually necessarily make a villain better in any way and start worrying about what actually makes the villain potent, worry about making the villain a person, we’ll start making better villains.
And again – BATMAN.
*Actually, when playing a game called Murder In The Dark, I got to a point where the game got too scary for me to play because my brain could not not take it seriously and I started having high amounts of anxiety playing because I legit thought I’d die in the back of my mind…but a little before I quit playing, I finally got to BE a murderer and yeah, then the dark wasn’t scary at all because I was the thing that makes the dark scary. So if I was a different kind of villain, I probably would own the darkness. I’m not that kind of villain.
**Well, the writing was flowing really well. It was an easy scene to write and that’s always excellent. And as a writer, I’m basically an emotional vampire, which is to say I feed off of the suffering of my characters and readers and there was a lot of emotion to feed off of in that scene.