As an evil villain, your stock in trade is conflict, pure and simple. But not all conflict has to be grim and depressing. One of the purest joys of evildoing is to rejoice in the pain of one's rival, as a delighted witness, preferably. It is an excellent way to relieve pent-up frustration, perhaps at unwarranted good fortune, perhaps at some slight or sign of disdain. And as a means to instill doubt and paranoia in the victim's mind, a cunningly elaborate prank with no fingerprints to give away the perpetrator is among the very best.
- Select the class of prank. Type I pranks are those after which the victim knows precisely who victimized him or her. These are best executed when you are assured of immunity afterwards, perhaps because your victim has been rendered harmless in the process. Type II pranks are those where the victim is led to believe that a party other than the one committing the prank is responsible. A subclass of this (Type IIa) includes those where the victim is under the impression that it was due to a lapse of their own that led to the catastrophe. Finally, Type III pranks are those where the victim has no idea who was the author of their downfall. In the most refined form, they may be unaware that a trick has been played on them, believing instead that they simply had a spell of bad luck.
- Compartmentalize. As with all secret ops, you need to limit strictly those among your circle who know the details of your scheme, up to the zero hour when the balloons go up. You could incorporate a liquidation step as part of the caper, though that generally elevates it from the level of prank to something approaching a more major work of evil.
- Your vantage point. Rare is the prank that is made known to the trickster only through second-hand means afterwards. If it is hazardous or impractical to be present in person, you might arrange to transmit or record the effects to be savored at a more convenient distance, which would also provide the opportunity to replay the incident repeatedly at future times.
Strokes of geniusHere are a few ideas for types of pranks you can carry out.
- The central Europe gambit. Trick your enemy into fighting a war on two fronts
- The deep breathing exercise. Induce them to entrench their army, then waft heavier than air poison gas over their troops.
- The Coventry maneuver. Pretend you haven't broken their cipher when in fact you have.
- Nuclear hotfoot. Deny that you are engaged in the production of weapons-grade fissiles, while bargaining through backchannels to procure them elsewhere.
- Jaws of Second Life. Trap them in a virtuality of your own designing which subjects them to extreme and unpredictable agony, from which there is no exit.
- Welcome back, schmuck. Brick over the entrance to your enemies' fort when they are not guarding it.
Traps for mere fools
- Popularity. "Laugh and the world laughs with you," goes the old saying, which may be just the sort of thing you are loath to encourage. For a villain who turns entertainer risks being viewed as possessing too much cuddliness to suit the kind of image you want to project.
- Overstepping. Unwise provocation of a foe whose power you have underestimated could be a costly misstep. Take all the usual care you would with any other caper, including backup, an exit strategy, and an ironclad alibi in case something goes pear-shaped along the way.
Precious and needful
- Whoopie cushions.
- Halley's comet.
- Flying monkeys. A commonly encountered key to success.
- Rubber gloves.
- Getaway jetpack.
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- Image credit Rude Awakening by PDXdj
- Image credit Limited Oxygen by nicasaurusrex
- Image credit Wedgey Planet by dullhunk