“Gypsies, tramps, and thieves; we’d hear it from the people of the town. They’d call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves.” – Cher
Why work for a living, when you can just take what you need from someone else? Let them do all the hard work, then a quick snatch, and it’s yours.
Friend, let me tell you, thieving isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Stealing is hard work, usually harder than earning a living honestly. You live in fear of getting caught, knowing that the best you can expect is to go to prison. You might have your hand cut off. If you choose the wrong victim, even once, you might find yourself wearing a pair of cement overshoes on a very short boat ride.
The worst thing is, the pay sucks. You risk your life and freedom to nick a few items, then the fence gives you like one-tenth of what they’re worth. Seems like the more you steal, the farther you get behind on your protection payments. Let’s not even mention rent, food, or dames.
Crime just doesn’t pay…. the bills.
Steal-y Eyed Resolve
Dungeons & Dragons introduced fantasy gamers to another type of Thief. Borrowed from sources such as “the Gray Mouser” in Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories, the D&D thief walks a narrow tightrope between being a hero or acting the scoundrel. Independent and skillful, but without the powerful spells of a magic user or the strong armor of a fighter, the thief operates outside of the dictates of society.
By nature amoral, a thief can still be a hero when his skills are needed. When evil people hide the evidence of their crimes behind locked doors, sometimes it takes a good set of lockpicks and a lot of skill to uncover it. When they plot in secret, lurking in the shadows may be the only way to find the truth. And, of course, less-cautious adventurers are in serious trouble if they lack a thief to find and disarm the traps in their way.
When we designed Quest for Glory, we had this sort of Thief in mind. Fighters would use the direct approach to solving problems, Magic Users could usually find a spell to help them out, but Thieves had to work a little harder. They only their subtlety and stealth to get by on. And their toolkits. And a few throwing daggers.
Not everyone agreed with our ideal. One of the original Hero’s Quest team members quit the team early because he refused to work on a game that glorified thieves. He did not believe anyone could “steal with honor.”
Maybe we should have used the more socially-acceptable term “rogue” from the start. A rogue, after all, isn’t necessarily a thief. Quest for Glory thieves occasionally indulge in questionable activities, but mostly they are heroes just as much as the fighters and magic users. They have important work to do, and they know it.
What’s In a Name?
You don’t see many thieves in games these days. Most games prefer the term “Rogue” (often misspelled as “rouge”, which makes me see red). A rogue is a loner, someone who refuses to follow the rules. Coincidentally, rogues in most role-playing games have abilities suspiciously similar to thieves and assassins – stealth, lockpicking, backstabbing, and even poison. They’re even pretty good at stealing things.
Our rogues aren’t like that… usually. They have the skills to solve problems in creative – and sometimes questionable – ways, but they are committed to using their abilities for good. If they happen to pick up a few baubles along the way, it’s only because they need money to keep up their equipment and support their important heroic activities.
One theme behind The School for Heroes is that anyone can be a hero. Warriors lead, Wizards teach, and Rogues work behind the scenes to do whatever needs to be done. Each has a chance to do heroic deeds. It isn’t the background, the training, or the personality that matters – It’s the commitment to being a hero.
But rogue heroes may have the hardest challenge of all. Regardless of the purity of their intentions, they may find themselves in jail as common thieves if they get careless or unlucky. They rarely get any respect, and their greatest deeds “must never be known.” Rogues have important, but thankless, jobs.
On the other hand, roguish behavior can be a lot of fun. You get to see places hidden to everyone else, get away with often naughty behavior, and you’re always living on the edge. Those are some of the reasons you will get the chance to be a Rogue in the first episode of Hero-U.
It’s all about U
Hero-U is all about interesting characters. We’ve gone away from the abstract “hero without a name” of the Quest for Glory games by giving each of our heroes a name, a unique background, and a distinctive personality. Shawn O’Conner, your rogue character in the first game, is no exception.
Shawn has had a difficult life. Living in poverty, he sees no choice but to become a thief. He’s quick and agile, but without training, and he quickly learns that theft is a really hard way to make an easy living.
Fortunately, there is another way at Hero U. Life may not be any easier there, but at least Shawn has a second chance of making something of his life. The bad news is that there are others who don’t want him to succeed at that chance. Not to mention that becoming a Hero is really, really hard work.
Thief, Rogue, or Hero? The choice is up to Shawn – and you.