As the long-term employee of an Evil overlord, I am perhaps not the most favorable of sources to explain the job that a hero is meant to fulfill. However poorly I might feel toward some of them, however, there is no denying their impact on our society, nor their importance. Stated by Roger Deathwish when asked to write this article
“Because never in history have the people of this world been so interested in what happens around them. And never have they been so invested in an outcome. What does it matter if they think I am evil? I know the truth of what is in my heart and am content to play the villain so that a hero might rise and fight me. That is what makes life interesting, after all." Kazan Otonos, to his "mortal enemy," the hero Halvan BrokmarHeroes are meant to fight villains. That is the simple truth of their role in society. For it, they are honored and respected and even revered by some, because they represent some of the highest ideals that someone might hold to. And in other places they are reviled and mocked and despised, mainly for their rampant disregard for property damage and their aggravating moral speeches.
Heroes exist to fight Evil. Not always actual moral evil, to which they themselves fall prey, but Evil as in card-carrying guild members. They are intended to rescue the captives, slay the dragons, destroy the space lasers, and overthrow the Dictators. They are also intended to woo the Love Interest, mentor the Sidekick, and be aided by whatever other side positions might be needed for a particular duty.
The position of hero is one that is highly sought-after, even (or perhaps especially) among those nations that label themselves Evil. It is considered honorable to be one of the ones who strikes at the public "worst" of society.
Most young people make at least an attempt to become a hero, and not all of them survive past their first attempt. Of those surviving, most give up shortly after. By the end, perhaps one in a thousand has both survived and stuck with the job. There are several notable heroes who fall on the older side of things, and indeed it is quite a diverse representation, but the fact remains that it is simply easier for young people to keep up with the high physical and emotional demands of this job. After a certain point, most people can't manage to put up with all the dramatic bullcrap that comes with the job.
Kazan Otonos was a brilliant man who advanced our understanding of architecture and power generation centuries past that of Earth. He was also easily bored. The king of Maraphel at the time was a lackadaisical ruler, which allowed Kazan to build a significant power base, which in turn allowed him to gather the resources to build a fortress, a stubborn monument of overt pride that bristled with powerful technology and glowed with arcane magic. Eventually, he moved against the king and overthrew him. The people looked on in apathy, right until he declared himself Supreme Overlord of the Whole World. This got quite a few people to sit up and pay attention. He made his proclamation, threw a few flourishing attacks at his nearest neighbors and then settled into his castle to wait. Nothing happened, so he sent out a rather large force in bright red armor and conquered his neighbors. He made a great big show of enslaving the local populations, and then retreated to his castle and waited again. Again, nothing. The world was entirely stunned at his actions and unsure of what to make of him. So Kazan sent a letter to his young cousin Marta, who proceeded to get herself captured by a dragon. This spurred her boyfriend Halvan Brokmar to go and rescue her. He did so with the help of a local wizard and a kid named Michael who juggled apples in the market every Wednesday. After his success, it was easy to nudge him in the direction of the idea of defeating a much larger threat than a dragon. Halvan attacked and failed miserably. Kazan set up a very large and elaborate execution ceremony, which gave Marta plenty of time to motivate an army of Halvan’s friends to go and rescue him. Considering all the purported preparations and elaborate scheming Kazan did, they did so quite handily and took Halvan home. He recovered quickly and mustered another attack. This failed as well, but not quite so miserably, and he was able to escape with a copy of an arcane ritual Kazan apparently planned to perform in order to gain ultimate power. The ensuing battle was epic, and Halvan was barely able to stop him, at the cost of a nearly lethal injury. He was about to die when Kazan went to him and used the residual magic from the ritual to completely heal Halvan. He then quietly escorted his enemy to the border. When Halvan asked why, Kazan gave his famous explanation, and thus the idea of a hero being a formal profession was born. Halvan ended up fighting Marta, who became the Dread Queen of Sornevo. Publicly they were enemies for forty years, until Marta died in Halvan’s arms and he retired broken hearted. Privately, they had four kids and they both retired to a nice little resort in the mountains. In the meantime, Kazan resumed his skirmishes against his neighbors, which prompted that boy who juggled apples who was now a man named Michael to go up against him. They had their own epic battles. Michael is credited with the invention of the witty repartee and the snarky comeback. People chose sides. Most rulers scrambled to make their countries bastions of goodness and nobility, and a few turned the sky purple and set up drastic tax laws. And heroes and sidekicks sprang up all over, from every walk of life, to face them and stop them and support them. Ordinary folk made themselves into noble fighting forces and evil minions alike, and they ensured that the economies and infrastructures of their countries could support the challenges presented by these new strange foes. Eventually The Overlord's Code and The Hero's Code came about to codify the roles of the respective sides.