Corey and Lori's Quest Log

Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

Heroes, Rogues, and Thieves

“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

It Takes a ThiefDungeons & 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.

Glory Rogue

QfG2 ThiefWhen 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.

Rogue's Journey


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  1. Corey Says:

    That would be telling, Wayland. But the answer at this point is “No”. If we don’t change the plan over the next two years (definitely possible), the 5th game will be… something else.

  2. Wayland Says:

    So…5 games:

    Rogue, Wizard, Fighter, Paladin, Bard?

  3. Lori Says:

    Heh, Cynbad. The first game in Hero-U will be all about the Rogue Class. The Protagonist is a wannabe Thief who has to learn the difference between being a Thief and being a Rogue. He has to learn who he is and what he wants to be. I’m really looking forward to creating a game where the Rogue/Thief really gets to shine.

  4. Cynbad Says:

    This is great, I relate to Talog’s comment completely when they said they felt uncomfortable stealing! I just got through replaying QFG1 yesterday and I still felt guilty robbing the old lady and then petting her cat before making my escape! What a slap in the face haha!

    I will say though I am very excited about playing a rogue again! The thief was ALWAYS my favorite class in the QFG series. I felt like I got to experience the best of both worlds when it came to being a fighter or a magician (since I always made sure to add points into magic)

  5. Corey Says:

    Sameer: I can give you a definite “maybe” on that. 😉

    When I wrote those words, I was actually thinking in terms of paper & pencil D&D games in my past. But talking them over with Lori, most – and possibly all – of those elements will come into play in either the first or second game of the new Hero-U “mini-series”.

    Speaking of D&D, when I worked in Chicago and played with a group there, we had a player who *loved* the Thief class. It was also a killer campaign with a high mortality rate, and low-level thieves are really terrible at successfully finding and removing traps.

    It seemed as though every week this player would bring in a new character – *always* a Thief – and by the end of the night he’d have failed a crucial roll. Tear up the character sheet and roll a new character – *ALWAYS* a Thief. :-) The player was a good sport and didn’t seem to mind.

    That was also the same player who had invested in TSR when they were having early financial troubles. I can’t remember if he put in $500 or $1,000… but his reward was a lifetime subscription to all TSR products. He definitely got far more than his original investment back.

  6. Sameer Says:

    I always thought the Quest for Glory thief to be a Robin Hood of sorts. Instead of “steal from the rich, give to the poor” he followed a motto more akin to “steal from the rich, [to] be a hero for them all.” Thieving was just the means to an end. The poor guy was just making use of his skills, not unlike the fighter using brute strength or the wizard using magic to accomplish the same set of altruistic goals.

    By the way, is the following quote foreshadowing for what’s to come with Hero U? I sure hope so! :)

    “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.”

  7. Corey Says:

    Nice list of rogue heroes, James. Your story also sounds interesting. We want to avoid the “easy way out” – “Yep, your parents were gods, and you will obviously grow up to be a hero.” That’s not for us – We want heroes who have to work at it.

  8. James StarRunner Says:

    In the top of my head, I can think of several heroic scoundrels. Robin Hood, Han Solo, Bilbo Baggins, Zorro, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Conan, Indiana Jones, Aladdin, Lora Croft, V… And those are just some of the fictional ones we love!

    I’m working on the story of a street urchin who has to live off the street to survive. Despite society shunning her and treating her like trash, she has dreams of becomming something better. Eventually she becomes a paladin and uses her unorthodox skills for good!

  9. Joseph Austin Says:

    I’ve always believed that we should -expect- people to be able to differentiate fantasy from reality. I think that ultimately, the thief was a good guy – more so in the later games than the first one, where you just rob a bunch of people dry.

    It’s an FPS, but if you haven’t played the Thief series, that contains a great story about the evolution of a thief into a hero.

  10. Corey Says:

    When you think about it, a lot of the activity we do in video games is amoral or even immoral. We kill people and creatures – often including innocent ones – and take their possessions. Games such as Grand Theft Auto glorify criminal activity.

    All of these games could have negative effects on people in “real life” by desensitizing them to bad behavior. But I think most people are sensible enough to distinguish between what happens in a game and what they do in the outside world. It can be fun to play a villain occasionally, and doing so doesn’t necessarily make you villainous outside the game.

  11. Talog Says:

    At first I wasn’t quite sure why somebody might refuse to develop a game where a thief is glorified. But after a few seconds of thinking: I never felt quite comfortable stealing in the qfg series. But I was young and I needed the money 😉

    In bavarian slang there exists the word “Bazi”. It refers respectfully to somebody who is actually of nice character, but sometimes deals in borderline areas, without really hurting anybody. Just bending the rules a little bit. It’s all about a person’s character and how far he goes, not about how strictly he follows the rules.
    On the opposite extreme: nowadays you can easily kill somebody with your car simply by insisting on your right of way. I know of somebody who got sued because he left the motorway to avoid a collision although there was no official exit there (of course charges where dropped early, but still …)

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