Thursday, June 5, 2014

Q&A: How do I make money?

Time to answer some new villain questions, sent to us via the usual anonymous channels.

How do I make money?

By all the gods in Valhalla, really? You have superpowers and the bank doesn't. Figure it out. But I promised I'd write this guide, I'm actually going to get into this in some detail.

Start by making a budget. Figure out what you actually need, and what you just want because you're greedy. You'll need to make that much in "clean" cash - those sequentially numbered bills from the bank will tip off the Feds. You can do this through petty larceny, if you can't think of anything more creative. Did you see "Pulp Fiction"? If you rob a place, order everyone to empty their wallets. Keep a bag around to hold them. You can easily bring down over a grand a month just with incidental income like this.

It's important to figure out what you really want - not how much it'll cost, but what you actually want to get. Frequently, novice villains get caught not during the crime, but when they try to spend their ill-gotten gains. If you don't know how to launder money, going right to the stuff you want is often for the best. If jewelry is your thing, steal jewelry. If you like cars, steal cars.

One time I kidnapped the daughter of a hotel manager. I told him she'd be returned safe and sound if he didn't alert the police and told nobody on his staff, and mentioned reporting his undocumented staff to INS for good measure if he squealed. He didn't - I checked. I spent a week in the nice room, upstairs, with free cable and room service every day. I didn't make a dime off that gig, because money wasn't what I was after.

Let's talk about the things that make up a good caper.
  1. Information management. The fewer people who know about your caper, the better. You know those TV shows where the bad guy always has a half-dozen identically dressed henchmen? In reality, those are the big leagues. If you are reading this guide, that's not you. "Henchmen" are real guys who make mortgage payments or want to impress their girlfriends with how tough they are. Real guys have second thoughts. Real guys aren't careful about who they talk to at the bar, or want to drag "a friend of mine" into your caper at the last minute. It's always something.
  2. Escape routes. Maybe you'll succeed at 30%, 50%, or 80% of your capers. But you want to get away from 100% of them. That's why the first thing you think about, once you've picked a target, is how you get away safely. Have a couple of contingency plans in case the opposition comes to the same conclusions you did.
  3. Creativity. The biggest danger of any caper is that the opposition will out-think you. When doing anything serious, always try to put a new spin on the plan. I said earlier to think of some stock capers. You should - but don't lean on them unless you really have to. Throw in some diversions. Mix up your M.O. If you get big enough to regularly appear on the news, listen to what the reporters and cops say about you. If it sounds like they have you figured - i.e. they aren't saying stuff like "we never know where he'll strike next" - then rethink your program.
  4. Vulnerabilities. Can you lift an armored car? Can you smash one through the street? Do you know the route an armored car will take? Then go after the car! Don't break into the bank, even if you think you're tough enough to rip open the vault. Go where your objective is most weakly guarded and get it there.
These are general hints. Write back if you aren't sure how to apply your specific power-set, and I'll try to help!

Sun Tzu says, "all warfare is deception". Mr. Big says, "plan capers with your brains first and your ego second."