Leadership Tips For Overlords That Want To Come Across As Ruthless But Also Approachable
Be more approachable without sacrificing on mercilessness
In ye modern workplace, ‘tis harder than ever to be a successful overlord.
Depending on how many minor kingdoms thou hast subjugated and how many peoples thou hast enslaved, thou may find thyself in charge of a large and diverse body of underlings. As a leader, how dost one find a balance between letting thy minions know they can come to thee with their problems, whilst also mercilessly crushing the slightest hint of undiscipline?
Luckily for thee, there are some simple tips that any overlord can follow to come across as violently ruthless but also approachable to their vassals.
Listen to Their Words, as Well as to Their Thoughts, and Their Dreams
The most important skill as a leader is to listen. But thy fearful subordinates often will not come right out and tell thee how they truly feel. So ‘tis important to employ a vast network of spies to listen to everything everyone is saying, every minute of every day.
But surely they will become awares of thy spy network and start hushing their mouths in publick?
If this be the case, thou shouldst consider employing dark sorcery to monitor the deepest thoughts and dreams of the entire population, just to make sure thou art truly listening to thy people. ‘Tis the perfeckt way to stay in-the-know with thy inferiors whilst also being able to stamp out rebellion before word of it even leaves their vile tongues!
This point goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Not only dost thou have to listen to thine underlings, thou also must practice open communication by constantly reminding them who their master is. If thou hast already employed dark sorcery to surveil their thoughts and dreams, might as well use it to project compliant thoughts and dreams about how approachable thou art into their minds as well!
Force Them to Approach Thee on Pain of Death
If thou finds that people won’t approach thee of their own accord, perhaps ‘tis tyme to use force to make thyself more approachable.
“It is often brought to my attention that my subjects think I’m too cold and dispassionate. Every overlord deals with this from tyme to tyme,” sayeth Dark Lord Dörgu Bøgerleshk, who has ruled with an iron fist over the Flaming Infernal Swamplands for millennia. “Whenever that happens, I have my soldiers rip them from their beds in the night, then bring them to me at swordpoint to discuss work issues.
“A great way to be more approachable to thy people is to give them no other option but death.”
Bedeck Thyself in Cuddly Animals That Are Also Capable of Great Violence
Their cuddliness sayeth “I am accessible and have emotions,” whilst their fangs sayeth “But I’m also a terrifying force to be reckoned with.” Bear cubs, adolescent wolves, and large cats are all excellent choices.
Crush Rumours, Unless They’re Rumours that Thy Spies Started Specifically to Spread Discord Amongst the Populace
The last thing thou wants as a leader is rumours swirling about in the mouths of the mutinous.
Despite thy best efforts to monitor the words, thoughts, and dreams of everyone in thy demesne, rumours will sometymes persist. When this happens ‘tis important to address the rumours head-on by cutting out the tongues of anyone even remotely suspected of spreading one (unless, of course, thou specifically ordered thy spies to start said rumours in order to spread discord amongst rebellious elements of the populace. But mistakes doth happen).
The publick tongue-cutting ceremony is also a goode opportunity to get some face tyme with thy cowering villeins.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to smile. Sure, thou probably hast a dark mask perpetually shrouding thy face so that no one can actually see thy facial expressions, but no matter. ‘Tis as they say, “A smile is worth a thousand tongue-cutting ceremonies.”
Addendum: The Best Ways to Die in London in 1632
Thanks to Adam for sending over an Instagram post from @historycoolkids listing the number of deaths by various causes in London in the year 1632.
Some of my personal favorites are:
Cancer, and Wolf
Dead in the street, and starved
Kil’d by several accidents
Here’s an interpretation of what some of the strangest causes of death on the list are, ordered from deadliest to least deadly. Some of these descriptions are taken from the Instagram post above, some are from Reddit, and some are from other sources (linked where I could find one).
Teeth, 470: miscellaneous dental disease or infection. I will forgo the “British people have bad teeth” joke because in 1632 everybody’s teeth were probably pretty horrible.
Rising of the Lights, 98: respiratory illness; “lights” was slang for “lungs.”
Livergrown, 87: enlarged liver, or liver disease.
Surfet, 86: or surfeit, overindulgence in food or drink, gluttony; probably they either ate and drank so much that they vomited to death, or they died from general obesity-related complications. There’s also 1 person on the list that died from non-eating/drinking-related vomiting.
Impostume, 74: cyst or abscess.
Suddenly, 62: the doctor was hungover that day and didn’t feel like diagnosing it further.
Kil’d by several accidents, 46: the way I read it, each of these 46 individuals suffered a series of accidents which, in the aggregate, proved fatal. Don’t let your guard down just because you’ve survived a couple accidents today.
King’s Evil, 38: a type of tuberculosis, also known as scrofula. Allegedly could be cured by a king’s touch. Also gets a mention in Act IV, Scene III of Macbeth.
Planet, 13: illness thought to be caused by a certain alignment of the planets. And you can’t prove it wasn’t.
Cancer, and Wolf, 10: According to this interesting essay on cancer in early modern England, “wolf” can refer to cancer in general, but most often refers specifically to a cancer or ulcer on the legs. From Pierre Dionis’s A Course of Chirurgical Operations (1710), and quoted in the essay: “It sometimes assumes different names; when it comes on the Legs, 'tis called the Wolf, because if left to itself, 'twill not quit them 'till it has devoured them.” Personally, I think I’d rather be eaten by a regular wolf.
Jawfain, 8: lockjaw, aka tetanus.
Murthered, 7: considering London’s population in 1632 was approximately 200,000-350,000 people, only 7 “murthers” seems kind of low. One can only assume some of the unsolved “suddenlies” were actually murthers.
Cut of the Stone, 5: death during surgery to remove bladder or kidney stones.
Piles, 1: hemorrhoids. Just an awful way to go.
Bit with a mad dog, 1: did they just happen to be with a mad dog when they were bitten, or was it the mad dog that bit them? Honestly, I’m surprised there was only 1.
Affrighted, 1: scared to death, and possibly had a heart attack. Maybe they were about to be bit with a mad dog.