Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Of all the classes that we don’t have at The School for Heroes, the Rogue is the most controversial. More commonly thought of as “criminal” – or at least slightly “naughty” – than as “hero”, Rogues often have a difficult public relations task. And that’s why there are No Rogues in The School for Heroes… that we admit to.
Some famous Rogue Heroes include James Bond, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Robin Hood. Note that we only listed fictional ones. The real ones are too good at disguising their Roguishness. African and Native American mythology prominently feature “trickster gods” (Anansi the spider and Coyote) in devious roles. In the old Greek stories, Prometheus was a Rogue when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. So Rogues have been around for a long, long time.
So why don’t you hear anything about the virtues of Rogues. Maybe they just don’t want you to know. If they told you, they’d have to kill you.
Rogue? Hero? What?
Rogues know that when you do things “by the book,” you get mediocre results. They strive for exceptional results by breaking the book, tearing out the pages, and using them for something more practical, like ransom notes or toilet paper. They tend to do things indirectly, because direct action is too easily countered. And boring. Rogues have a problem with boredom.
Heroic Rogues go a step farther. They may break the rules – or even laws they consider stupid – but they always have a Heroic goal in mind. Spiderman isn’t concerned with reading criminals their Miranda Rights. He leaves that to the authorities… and stays away from those authorities himself.
Rogues are clever. They come up with original solutions to problems. More importantly, they respond quickly and will change their plans if things go wrong. In “Stone Soup,” a old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, there is the tale of three hungry travelers who wander into a strange village. The villagers are suspicious and leery of the strangers. However, the travelers convince the villagers that they are making a delicious soup out of nothing but water and stones, but that it just needs a little flavoring to be perfect. One by one, the villagers supply all the rest of the soup ingredients, and everyone has a wonderful feast together. The travelers are Rogues, but not bad people. In the end, everyone benefits from their charade. They are trickster heroes.
Rogues “live on the edge”, always in danger, so they learn ways to avoid the public spotlight and get out of trouble. That last attribute is one of the main traits that separate Rogues from Bards – Bards love the spotlight and feel safer in the light than in the shadows. Rogues love shadows.
Rogues are also surprisingly good listeners. They’ll listen at keyholes, at parties, or tap your phone line. . . (Well, maybe “good” listener isn’t the right word there.)
Trials of a Trickster
Rogues tend to be connivers, tricksters, and willing to flout any rule or law that gets in their way. That makes it very tempting for a Rogue to go from a clever solver-of-problems to a dirty, rotten scoundrel. And nobody likes a dirty, rotten scoundrel.
Rogues sometimes have trouble in social settings because they are so independent by nature. It’s easy for Rogues to become cynical and think that others are trying to take advantage of them. This is useful in business relationships, but tends to get in the way of real friendships. Rogues need to learn to separate professional paranoia from the need for trust in a relationship. Friends frown when they catch you reading their email.
Rogues, like Warriors, tend to be arrogant. They think they can get away with anything because they’ve managed just that in the past. Well, just as spies and Old West gunfighters tended to have short lives, so do Rogues that try to get away with too much, too often. Rogues have to decide when the payoffs justify sticking their necks out. If they choose poorly, the noose awaits. And, as we all know, no noose is good noose.
A Hard Way to Be a Hero
Yes, Rogues can be Heroes, but it isn’t an easy journey. They walk a treacherous tightrope of temptation above a ravening pack of pit bulls. Rogue Heroes must keep their feet on the path of the Greater Good. One false step, and they are destined to be doggie doo-doo.
Rogues have many talents they can use to do good. Because they don’t care if they get credit for their deeds, they can use others as their “front men” by convincing them that the Rogue’s plan is their own. They can find ways to help others when bureaucracies get in the way. And they can out-con the con-men.
All Rogues know that the End justifies the Means; the goal is to succeed. Rogue Heroes know which Ends are worth justifying. Remember, there’s no justice, there’s just us. So make your sneaky plans for your Roguish Good Deeds. We’re on to you, Rogue Hero, and you’re going to have to be awfully clever to be a Hero without getting caught at it!