Like many of you, I started my gaming journey with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules red boxed set.
I was a socially awkward twelve-year-old who'd just moved to a different city and started listening to The Cure. Maybe my parents were unaware of the wave of hysteria regarding D&D at the time, or maybe they thought devil worship was preferable to wrist slitting, as it was a phase I could potentially someday grow out of, but when I asked my mom to buy me the game, she posed no objections.
I didn't really understand what the game was. I had only the vaguest notion that I would be playing a character who would go off on fantastic adventures, and that there probably wouldn't be any serious repercussions for stabbing people who made fun of me.
Imagine my surprise when I got home, opened the box, and discovered that you needed friends to play this game with.
Eventually, I made a few nerd friends in the neighborhood, and we figured out/made up the rules of the game.
I went through a few different groups and a few different D&D editions, and I tried a few classes. But over the years, I'd estimate that 90% of the characters I've played have been rogues (or thieves, as they used to be called).
Amidst a culture of people who played barbarians because they were badasses right out of the gate, or wizards because they were badasses at higher levels, I've always enjoyed playing what is arguably one of the least badass classes available.
Below is a list of reasons I've always preferred going rogue.
1. Role-playing isn't necessarily about straight up beating the shit out of monsters and/or each other.
There are as many styles of role-playing as there are groups of role-players. Different people play for different reasons and enjoy different things about the experience. During times when I've been stressed out with work and life and shit (especially when I was teaching English in Korea), I've enjoyed the pure, mindless, asskicking power of a low level barbarian, chopping kobolds in half like they were manifestations of my own insecurities.
But when I'm in more of a mood to actually play a role, rather than just roll some dice and fuck some imaginary shit up, I prefer playing the role of a rogue. That's not to say that every barbarian character has to be a one-dimensional smashmonster.
Every class carries with it certain archetypes which a player may ignore, subvert, or just go with as they see fit. I think of it like choosing between Lego sets that don't come with the instructions. The pieces in one set might suggest they were packaged together for the purpose of building a truck. But you might say, "Fuck that. I'm building a horse on roller skates." Run with it.
I just happen to like the pieces that come in the Rogue set.
2. I like the concept of the rogue.
Like James Bond. Infiltrating the enemy fortress, snatching what he came in for, stealthily taking out what few opponents he can't sneak past, and maybe setting the place on fire just before getting the fuck out of there.
I like the idea of engaging with my enemy's mind, disarming his traps and penetrating his defenses undetected.
As a party member, I like the idea of saving my fellow members from unnecessary losses of hit points by warning them of an ambush or guiding them safely around a pit full of spikes, so that when battle is unavoidable, they will be able to soak up more damage while I hide in the shadows and take the occasional pot shot until a foe is sufficiently weakened that I may leap out from my hiding place and shove a knife into their lung.
3. It's the closest to my reality.
I'm not a particularly strong person, or brave, or noble, or religious. As many times as I've tried, I've never been able to shoot lightning bolts out of my hands. Hell, I can't even play a musical instrument.
But I am self-centered, cowardly in the face of danger, and I used to be good at hide-and-seek when I was a kid. And if I had to, I'm confident that there's a remote possibility that I could sneak up on another person and land one solid punch before they turned around and beat the shit out of me. I'm practically a rogue in real life.
I'm like Val Kilmer's Batman, if Val Kilmer had played Batman two decades after he actually did.
While a lot of guys might whack it to thoughts of Jessica Alba or Megan Fox, I've always focused more on women like 'that assistant manager at Wendy's' or 'that coworker who's clearly unsatisfied in her marriage'. Good-looking enough, but also theoretically attainable, even if my "theories" are a bit generous.
I treat role-playing games the same way. (Seeking out the most theoretically attainable fantasies, that is. Not whacking it.)
As a forty-year-old man, I find it more difficult now to suspend as much disbelief as I could when I was younger. With the rogue class, and enough beer, I can suspend just enough to immerse myself in the game and act like a socially inept twelve-year-old all over again.