For many people, especially those readers of dark fantasy books, meeting an anti-hero is something they take for granted.  After watching us connive and concoct so many schemes, assassinations, and angry revenges, they might even believe they can match the success of our dark knavery.

But what does it take to be an anti-hero?  It’s not a lot of hard work, that’s for stupid heroes.

No, to be a genuine anti-hero, one must dedicate oneself to the study of murder, treachery, deceit, and the black testaments of havoc.  A proper villain also has a wardrobe as sharp as any magical sword, and a wit that makes an executioner’s axe seem dull.

The Definitive Guide to the Anti-Hero, Written on a Very Black Scroll

1 Swear allegiance to all and swear to yourself to break all allegiances.

2 If you wake up without a knife in your chest, be sure someone else does.

3 Find a villain who you can learn from, and then slay him.

If you don’t side with the villain, sell out your friends and become the villain.

Raise an army.  You will never survive if you don’t manage to out-number everyone else.  Just make sure they can hit what they shoot and won’t shoot you when your back is turned.

Don’t be a hero.

In many stories (lies) you have been told, the hero, after much toil, neglect, and heartbreak, will slay the villain and win the affections of the beautiful female he so ardently desires.  Additionally he will inherit a castle, or be left alone to live happily ever after on a farm with his beloved.


These stories end too soon and don’t show you what happens next.  What really happened is that the villain faked his death, then showed up on the hero’s farm or in his castle and murdered him in his sleep, along with the rest of his family.

So don’t be a hero.

Manipulate idiots.  They wanted to do your bidding anyways.

Court beautiful, dangerous women.  It makes heroes jealous and attracts other beautiful, dangerous women.  What’s a poor antihero with a beautiful, dangerous female? A corpse.

9 Cities always burn faster after a great banquet.

10 De Omnibus Dubitandum.  If you don’t know what that means there is no hope of you ever becoming a dashing anti-hero.

11 Clone yourself.  The rest of the world deserves more of you.

12 It is incredible to behold incredible men die.

13 Divest yourself of morality.

14 Have some character.  It’s what makes us interesting.  Sorry, I read my notes wrong: have some character drawn-and-quartered, preferably an old classmate or a best friend, it makes it more interesting.

16 Get a dark, flowing robe with a hood.  No, it’s not optional and it’s not cliché.  If you can pull it off, you’re a proper antihero.  If you can’t, you’re just another scumbag bandit in a robe who probably sleeps in the stables at night.  The heroes will be along to kill you shortly.

17 Get used to screaming.  It’s what your foes do when they die.  It’s shocking at first, but in time will sound more pleasant than the music of the spheres.

18 Acquire ancient weapons that talk.  Heroes all carry weapons, and almost all of them are magical, ancient, and guaranteed to be aiming at your neck.  Intimidate lower minions with magical talking weapons, and strike true fear into the hearts of paladins, princes, and wizards with a sword as evil as you are.

Plus, it’s nice to have someone to talk to.

19 Get kicked out of a prestigious magical university.  Go back to re-unions uninvited and terrorize your underwhelming classmates and professors who held you back.  It seems awful at the time, but getting rusticated from a school of magic is one of the best things an anti-hero can do.

20 No one deserves to live and everyone deserves to die.  As an anti-hero, kindness is in how quickly your enemies die.

21 Have a quick wit and a sharp mind.  Not only will it get you out of dangerous circumstances, it will get you into the good graces of dangerous, beautiful women.  You will then need it to get out of all the dangerous circumstances these females create.

22 Know your poets.  Dangerous women love poets.  Poets make husbands jealous.  Jealous husbands (Kings) are easy to kill and fun to manipulate.

23 If you’re short on time, the genitals are always a good place to start when torturing.

24 Always seem and never be.

25 Only the good die young, so if you are over the age of 27 and you’re still alive you’re just a coward.

26 Disrespect your enemies.  Especially their corpses.

27 Locate talent within your ranks.  Have them killed immediately.

28 Identify ambitious dark lords, villains, and other antiheroes.  Appoint them captains of armies and send them away to fight well prepared, legendary squadrons of heroes to ensure their demise.  Hey, even the heroes need a little help.

29 Don’t wait for the end of the world, cause it yourself.  That way, you get to choose who lives and who dies.

30 Always show up to weddings uninvited.  The proper attire is always an army, swords, and all exits blocked.

31 Don’t forgive your enemies, even after they are hanged.  Extirpate remaining friends and family.  They’re the ones who are going to kill you.

32 Poison goes best with every meal.

33 Distinguish yourself with a personal library full of dark and esoteric novels.  Mine is in a labyrinth full of insane criminals.

34 If you don’t have tattoos, your current mistress should.

35 Get to know some dark elves.  They are all demented, ambitious, and merciless, making them the only kind of knaves worthy of the title “friend.”

36 If you sleep soundly at night you haven’t committed enough heinous murders.  If you have committed tons of heinous murders and still sleep soundly at night, there is a position open for you in my dark legions.

37 The first and greatest mistake you will ever make in your entire life is being good.  If you live, you will almost certainly become an anti-hero for the rest of your life.

38 Black goes with everything.  Especially bloodstains.

39 Never does the sun set upon this earth without someone dying.  Make sure you had something to do with it.

40 Put great thought into what your last words will be.  No one is going to bury you after the kind of dark life you have lead.

41 If you haven’t destroyed a temple, slain a king, and dabbled in black magic, and if you have never slicked your scimitar with poison, your lips with lies, or metal with false gold, then you are not an anti-hero.