"Who Knows? The Shadow Knows."
Thief. Assassin. Swashbuckler. Smuggler. Pirate. Trickster. Spy. Investigator.
What do all of these personas have in common? They are some of the many variations of the Rogue character classes within many RPG systems.
If you are anything like me, you possibly enjoy playing Rogue-type characters because of their frequently stealthy and secretive natures. Rogues are known for their ability to hide in the shadows, find those locked doors and hidden traps, unearth all of those hidden secrets . . . notice a pattern yet? And then there is that wonderful Sneak Attack damage (Dungeons & Dragons).
There are too many variations of the classic Rogue archetype to name them all, but here are a few characters that you may be familiar with who easily fit into this character class:
Han Solo (Star Wars) - smuggler / pirate
Westley (Princess Bride) - pirate / swashbuckler
Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) - sellsword / swashbuckler
The Green Arrow / Oliver Queen (DC Comics - CW's Arrow) - assassin turned hero
Lando Calrissian (Star Wars) - smuggler / pirate
Star Lord / Peter Quill (Marvel Comics - Guardians of the Galaxy) - thief turned hero
Veronica Mars - investigator
Indiana Jones - investigator / swashbuckler
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) - investigator / swashbuckler
James Bond 007 - spy / investigator
Angus MacGyver (MacGyver) - spy / investigator
As you can see, Rogue characters can take many forms. But the real question is, how did they, or more specifically, your character, become a rogue in the first place?
Origin stories for rogues can occur anywhere on a fairly large spectrum of possibilities. Here are couple of options you might consider when writing your Rogue's backstory:
Did your rogue grow up in the poorest of the poor part of town and the acts of pickpocketing and thievery were the only way to make a living and keep from starving to death?
Was your rogue accused of killing the Queen (regardless of if they were guilty or not), despite the fact they absolutely loved their mother, and now they have had to go into hiding and disguise themselves in order to prove that it was the Queen's sister who actually committed the crime?
Did your rogue choose their roguish ways as a means of supporting their love of re-appropriating shiny jewels and fine art (e.g., DC Comics' Catwoman)?
Or maybe they witnessed and barely survived the murder of their entire village and have studied the darkest of assassination arts in order to finally find revenge against the perpetrators of that heinous massacre.
For rogues, backstories can oftentimes play an integral part in defining both who they are as characters and how they interact with the world around them. While it is certainly important for rogues to have a lot of character development over the course the of the game's storyline, it is always important to remember who they were before they joined this adventuring party and where they learned their roguish skillsets.