Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

“1. Respect other people. 2. Respect other people’s things."

My mother (and the Catholic church) taught me two important lessons growing up. The first lesson was to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This lesson is rather straight forward. Be kind to others. This did not mean that people will organically be kind to me. Nonetheless, the right thing to do was be kind to others, even if others were not kind in return. The second lesson, which seemed to follow the first, was to not take something that did not belong to me. In other words, do not steal. Simply, the two lessons were:

  1. Respect other people.
  2. Respect other people’s things.

By and large, I lived my whole life according to these two commandments.

Why, then, does our culture glamorize thieves in the world of fantasy and fiction?


“According to my mother, and the Catholic church, this is stealing.”

I am a throwback to the early days of action and adventure movies. No, not that early, but early enough. I am talking about the famed icon, and archaeologist, Indiana Jones. Dr. Indiana Jones is presented as a brave, risk-taking professor in search of the rare (i.e., elusive) items from our ancient past. And these would not be just any items. These pieces would include the infamous Biblical artifacts such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.

In the first movie, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, the opening scene focused on Indiana’s attempt to ‘retrieve’ (Wikipedia, 2021) the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol. To movie goers, this was better known as the Golden Idol. I specifically used the word ‘retrieve’ in the above sentence. However, Dr. Jones was not trying to give the idol back to its original owner. The idol was in its proper place, heavily guarded by traps. Why did Hollywood use the word ‘retrieve’, when ‘steal’ would have been more appropriate? Literally, he was taking something that did not belong to him to give it to someone else who was not the original owner. According to my mother, and the Catholic church, this is stealing.

Image by Alexander Pahn from Pixabay
Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay

Immoral Fantasies

“The easiest answer is that the violation of good moral character by the protagonist brings us face-to-face with our own shortcomings.”

Character development is an essential part of the maturation process. To my knowledge, most religious texts provide us with an idea of right and wrong. Stealing is wrong. We teach rules, morals, and ethics in the church, at school, and at home. Why, then, do we celebrate the lack of good behavior in fiction and fantasy? The easiest answer is that the violation of good moral character by the protagonist brings us face-to-face with our own shortcomings. We are all human. As the saying goes, nobody is perfect. However, what we leave out of the conversation is how and why the actions of these protagonists are wrong. As adults trying to impart a sense of good moral behavior on our youth, we cannot say one thing, then applaud another. That creates confusion. Our words and actions should be consistent.

Fantasy characters provide us with opportunities to discuss moral and ethical behavior with our youth. We should use these opportunities to our advantage. Is stealing wrong? Would there ever be a situation in which stealing would be okay? What other options could someone choose other than taking what does not belong to him or her? What consequences should be applied when someone is caught stealing? These are real questions. They require real answers These are the essential questions when teaching good moral behavior to our youth.

The Rogue

“The discussion should focus on how and why the character archetype creates conflict for the protagonist…”

Who – or what – is a Rogue? Going back in time, in the fantasy role-playing game genre, the Rogue character class was called a ‘Thief’. Within the scope of the current role-playing genre, the thief archetype is a subclass of the Rogue. So, what is a Rogue? Before I discuss the Rogue as a character class, I will first define it based on Google-wisdom!

  1. A dishonest or unprincipled man (or woman, added me).
  2. An elephant or other large wild animal driven away or living apart from the herd and having savage or destructive tendencies.


This information gives us some food-for-thought when we apply tabletop role-playing games as an educational tool for classroom use. I, for one, would not want my daughter learning how to steal as part of a school lesson. The discussion should focus on how and why the character archetype creates conflict for the protagonist, or with other characters in a role-playing scenario. What can we learn from the Rogue character class? Why does this character archetype fit into our culture as a hero? What examples can we give to clarify our perspective on the topic?

Image by kalhh from Pixabay
Image by pendleburyannette from Pixabay

Broad Archetype

“In Dungeons and Dragons, the archetypes include:”

The Rogue is a broad umbrella archetype that can specialize in various forms of combat and thievery. In Dungeons and Dragons, the archetypes include:

Arcane Trickster

I introduced the ‘trickster’ archetype in my discussion of the Bard, "You Want Me To Bring The Hammer Down!?". The Bard’s power comes in the form of voice or music. Words have the power to control another’s thoughts and actions, either through manipulation or influence. In the same way, the Rogue Arcane Trickster is a master of mischief and illusion. Beware the scam!


“I will take Assassin for $500”. I will not add much to the obvious. The Rogue Assassin knows two basic skills, and they know them very well: kill and spy. A quick Wikipedia search will list hundreds of assassins, both fictional and real. Many of us know the famous three numbers: ‘007’. Remember, James Bond is listed as a spy, but he has a license to kill.


the Rogue Inquisitive, or the inquisitive rogue, is the Sherlock Holmes of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop role-playing game. The inquisitive rogue is a thinker and strategist, as well as a problem-solver and master of puzzles. Are you good at solving puzzles? Do you enjoy solving a mystery? If so, then the Inquisitive Archetype is the right character for you!


I am familiar with many fictional masterminds. The Rogue Mastermind uses subterfuge – ‘deceit used to achieve one's goal’ (Google.com). I ran a Google search on the top liars in fiction. I found this: Satan (yes, from the Bible), Prospero (Shakespeare), Edmund (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), and Gatsby (The Great Gatsby). The list continues, but the basic idea is the same. The Mastermind is a con-man and will lie in any and every situation.


The Rogue Scout is like the Ranger, except that the Scout Archetype can move with stealth anywhere, not just in the woods. This character is more like the invisible man than a spy, but both ideas fit into this paradigm. Batman fits nicely into this character archetype. This is cool, because I like ‘The Batman’, and the (Tim Burton style) Batmobile.


Dungeons and Dragons as gone fishing! No, not really. The Swashbuckler is a thief with some serious fighting skills. I would say that if you were to combine Robin Hood with Dr. Who (of the BBC), then you have a good idea of how this character archetype plays out.


Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? The most notorious thief in all tabletop games – in my opinion – is Carmen Sandiego. Seriously, how can you get away with stealing the Sistine Chapel’s Ceiling. Really – how?

We now have something more to think about. The Rogue archetype gives us an open door for conversation. It is time we got serious about personal development and character education.


Wikipedia. (2021). Raiders of the Lost Ark. Retrieved from

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