The Real World Origins Of The Assassins From Assassin's Creed

The Real World Origins Of The Assassins From Assassin's Creed

Assassin’s Creed rules. Whether you’re a pirate taking out ships on the sea, a Viking pillaging the heck out of feudal England, or an Egyptian warrior seeking revenge, you’re having a grand old time. The series spans hundreds of years and has some pretty wacky, totally not true lore about ancient, giant, hyper intelligent proto humans. But the research teams at Ubisoft are also known for their historical accuracy, like when they predicted a hidden room inside the great pyramids. Of course, not everything in the series is based on actual events. People can’t psychically communicate with eagles for example. But the whole series, and the word “assassin” itself, are based on a real sect of warriors. 


A capture of the Alamut!

The real life Order of Assassins were Shia Muslims who formed the group officially in 1090 AD when they took control of Alamut Castle in Iran. The assassins were a secretive sect of warriors with headquarters high in the mountains, safe from invaders and enemies, where members could strategize and devote time to holy studies. Honestly a lot more like Kaer Morhen from The Witcher than anything in the AC games. They focused on taking out their religious and political enemies. Instead of waging bloody wars and losing thousands of lives in the process the assassins took out key figures who had wronged their communities. They were highly trained warriors skilled in the art of spycraft, surveillance, and subterfuge. And knives. And poison. And general badassery. The group came to be widely known and feared, controlling strategic forts from Syria to Iran. 


The remains of Alamut Castle.

How the warrior group met its downfall is as epic as anything modern video games are serving up. Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulagu Khan invaded in the mid 13th century and changed the face of the region forever. He captured many assassin fortresses and scattered their political power. They joined with other forces in the region resisting the Mongols, but by the end of the 1200’s the remaining assassins were mercs for hire. 

No offense meant to the excellent work being done by the narrative department at Ubisoft, but an epic tale of political intrigue, highly trained mountain warriors, and world rending war sounds like a better video game than anything announced at Summer Game Fest this year. (Ok, it actually sounds exactly like The Witcher 3.)

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