Dear Dark Lord: Henchmen These Days Aren’t As Blindly Obedient As They Used To Be
This generation of slave underlings is so entitled
Dear Dark Lord,
I’m a mid-tier overlord that employs a small army of henchmen to do my Evil bidding. Most of our work is in the Raping and Pillaging sector, but we also do some Lurking and Dark Relic Prospecting as well. For decades I had no problem hiring hardworking, servile underlings to do whatever outrageous and suicidal tasks I assigned to them.
Nowadays, all that has changed.
Henchmen these days just aren’t as blindly obedient as they used to be. Not only that, but some of them actually want to be paid, and demand to have some sort of conditions wherein they can one day work their way out of eternal bondage. Have you ever seen such entitlement?!
On top of their lack of submissiveness, they have no idea how to communicate. Most of the time I think they’d rather sit there with their eyes glued to a crystal ball watching executions than actually getting out there and executing people themselves.
Just last week I tasked one of my new henchmen to take a squad out to the Enchanted Forest and burn down some trees, because I was really mad at trees that day. I basically had to use my Evil Voice just to get him to take his seven eyes off his scrying device and look up at me.
And you know how he responds?
“Why?” he asks me.
Why? Seriously, this guy has the gall to ask me why? What does he think this is, debate club? Do I have to justify my decisions every time I order my minions to commit random acts of violence? Needless to say I had him killed and gave the job to a veteran that I knew would obey without question, but the experience rattled me.
What if more henchmen start questioning my decisions? What if other slave soldiers start looking for “purpose” or “some semblance of ethics” in their work? What if everyone starts demanding more war-life balance? This puts at risk the whole overlord-minion social structure we’ve worked so hard to build.
I’m not saying a henchman’s life is an easy one. They’re slaves, their working conditions are horrible, and the mortality rate on the job is pretty much 100%; but overlords like us are giving them opportunities to serve the Forces of Evil that they never would have had otherwise. Shouldn’t they be grateful for that? Is this problem unique to my cabal, or is it a problem with this whole generation of entitled henchmen?
Dear Disconcerted Doomer,
I was gliding through the desert recently when I passed by a young minion who was out in the middle of nowhere guarding a rock. I stopped to ask what he was doing. Turns out he’d been there for years. I told him to guard that rock. I had no recollection of telling him to do this clearly pointless task — I was probably in one of my wrathful moods where I do all kinds of crazy stuff I can’t remember — but he had done it with gusto through the best years of his miserable little life. When I saw him he was beaten down and broken from many harsh days in the hot sun, and I could sense his loyalty to the Darkness was starting to wane.
All he wanted to know was why. Why did I make him eternally guard this bogforsaken rock in this bogforsaken desert? What was he doing to serve the Greater Evil? His entire purpose in life hinged on the answer.
So I told him, “It’s for the environment; guarding this rock helps us destroy the environment more,” or some bullshit like that.
Instantly his attitude changed.
“Oh, I love destroying the environment!” he said. From that moment, he took to his inconsequential task with renewed vigor. He’s even started a campaign to raise awareness about standing guard over random rocks in the middle of the desert.
Does it make sense? Maybe not to old timers like us. But this generation sees things differently.
No generation is quite like the ones that came before it. Sure, henchmen in our time took it for granted that they had to show up for work and mindlessly do whatever absurd menial tasks they were told to until they ultimately died a violent death in combat. But these young henchmen aren’t content with living a bleak and futile existence like they used to be. They need to feel like they’re living a bleak and futile existence with meaning.
You’re not the only overlord whose henchmen have asked him “Why?” From time to time, even some of my dumbest and most faithful brutes question their role. “Why do we need to cackle maniacally every time we set a village on fire,” they’ll say; or “Why do I need to keep stirring this pot of boiling blood?”
I simply tell them, “Because you are important and it matters.” Obviously, that’s a lie, because they’re not and most of the time it doesn’t. But for whatever reason it seems to work. Tell them they’re supporting some kind of “Evil Cause” — whatever that means — and they’ll pretty much do any ridiculous crap you tell them to.
To answer your question: Yes, this generation of henchmen is entitled, but only in the sense that they feel entitled to having meaning in their work. And, lucky for us, it’s very easy to manipulate them into believing that.
So get out there and start manipulating them.
Until then, I remain, dear vassal, thy Vile Master,
Dark Lord Dörgu Bøgerleshk, Bane of the Nrymbobl, Usurper of Forlorn Souls, Blood Govourner of the Flaming Infernal Swamplands
Dear Dark Lord letters:
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