Rolf's parents were both members of the police in Tonad, but in his early teens, Rolf became rebellious. The best way to demonstrate his rebelliousness seemed to be to join a street gang. The one he chose was called the Gliscendants (the name came from the metal gliscendt, which was first discovered in Tonad in LY 225). Soon after joining the Gliscendants in 888, at the age of 14, he began dating another member, named Leslie. She was a year older than Rolf, but was greatly impressed by his various fighting skills. He would spend the next eleven years taking every chance he got to continue impressing her, in any way he could.
When Larami became the leader of a rival gang, the Victors, in 899, she began recruiting members of other gangs. At that point, Rolf and Leslie were in their mid-twenties, an age when, traditionally, most people would quit gangs and start taking life seriously (if they hadn't already done so in their late teens). But they both enjoyed gang life, and when they heard Larami wanted her gang to be comprised entirely of adults, and to think of gangs as a potential career rather than a childhood rite of passage, they both decided to join the Victors. Shortly thereafter, the Victors became the Tonad branch of the new inter-village gang, InterGang. Larami was setting up much more organized departments than had ever existed in most gangs, and Rolf decided he should once again try to impress Leslie, by becoming the new chief enforcer of Larami's gang. To prove his worth to his new don, he challenged both the leader and chief enforcer of a rival gang, Ass-Kickers Unlimited ("Aku"), to a fight. It wasn't meant to be a fight to the death, but things soon got out of hand, and Rolf ended up killing the leader, Brag. The enforcer, Frag (Brag's younger brother) became enraged, and attempted to kill Rolf. Though Rolf apologized for the accident, Frag wouldn't listen. Rolf was afraid he'd be forced to kill Frag as well, to save his own life; however, Larami arrived with one of her enforcers, Thom, in time to put a stop to the fight. (Rolf had intended to inform Larami of the fight only after the fact, thinking Brag and Frag never would have agreed to it if anyone else was present. But Leslie thought it would be necessary for Larami to witness the fight personally, and brought her and Thom there without Rolf's knowledge.)
A few days later, Rolf learned that after the fight, Frag had gone to Rolf's parents' house, and killed them in their sleep. It seems they'd often busted various members of the Aku over the years, and Frag had always wanted to take revenge on them, but his brother had always said they were just doing their job. Now that he didn't have to answer to Brag, and because their son had killed his brother, it seemed perfect timing to take revenge not just against them, but to hurt Rolf by taking away his family the way Rolf had taken away his. Though Rolf hadn't been close to them for years, he'd long since stopped feeling any rebelliousness toward them; in fact, any time he thought of them was the only time he felt ashamed of his life as a gangster. He knew they never gave up hope he might someday reform, and if he could have imagined any other way of life, he might have done so. Now that they'd been killed because of his involvement in gangs, the lifestyle became repellent to him, and he quit InterGang. (Soon after that, Thom became the branch's chief enforcer.)
Rolf left Tonad (and Leslie), and set out on a journey which he hoped might bring him some kind of redemption, though he didn't really expect to find it. It was in 902 that he found himself in Near Port, where he met Poss, general of the army that was secretly forming there. Rolf's story reminded Poss of his own brother, whom he wished would choose to reform and seek redemption, as Rolf had. Because of this, he encouraged Rolf to join the army. The army, for the most part, refused to accept anyone with a criminal record, like Rolf, but Poss made an exception for him. When Rolf learned that The Order had a plan that could help put a stop to the dangers presented by the increasingly powerful gangs, he thought joining the army and helping make that world a reality was the best chance for redemption he had. And so, when war broke out the next year, Rolf fought with greater determination and passion than just about any other soldier. By the end of the war, he'd risen to the rank of captain, and afterwards was promoted to major (serving under newly-promoted colonel Charles Woodman). When the surname law was passed in 904, Rolf chose the name 'Redemption,' believing he'd finally found just that.
Of course he'd heard the rumors that part of The Plan was for inter-village gangs to form in the first place, secretly encouraged by the Order. But he never believed those rumors; rather, he despised the Protestant Movement for spreading such heinous propaganda. But in 912, when a recording of a conversation between Kizin Planner and Durell Turner proved that the rumors were true (Kizin said gangs were never meant to last much past the end of the Coming of the Order), Rolf began to rethink his beliefs. It was around the same time that Poss, who was now marshal of the entire military, was fired by King Demos Royal, and went into hiding. This actually reassured Rolf that not everyone in the Second Order were liars and villains. So when the Chaos War began, he chose to fight on the side of Poss and his allies. Rolf, like Poss, still believed in the ideals established by the Coming, even if he loathed some of the methods used to establish the Second Order. He didn't want to abandon or betray his country, as he felt Demos and The Cabal had done. So, after the war, when Colonel Woodman was arrested, Poss promoted Rolf to colonel, and he became the new commander of the Near Port regiment.