Top 10 Historical Inaccuracies: Assassin's Creed

The Assassin's Creed series is perhaps one of the best liked and followed massive world role-playing action-adventure game series to appear in modern gaming and, to be fair, also happens to be one of the most progressive and interesting.

On the subject of fan loyalty, it probably will not shock to learn that when a gamertag has one AC game on it, the chances are incredibly high that it has other games from the series as well - often all of them for the platform. That is not a surprise because the games are both worth playing and rewarding.

Oddly they may offer the first genuine glimpse into history or historical fiction for many players, but as they do, they also may be doing a particular disservice, because while the games are largely historically accurate, they do have flaws - and some of them are glaring flaws...

Among the most disturbing are the historical inaccuracies - of which there are many. But as this is not a Top 100 or Top 50 article, we will just have to restrict ourselves to picking the Top 10. And since we are doing that, we may as well pick the best of the best of them.

That may sound odd, but read on - you may be surprised at what you thought was an accurate portrayal in the games!

10. The Assassins Themselves (All)

That's right, we are starting with the Assassin Brotherhood itself, which while it is depicted in all of the games as having always been a worldwide, stealthy, effective death-dealing organization, was in fact a lot smaller and, more to the point, a lot more focused than the game presents.

If you have played the first game in the series you will notice that the Assassins are death on the Templar. That is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that the actual Assassin Brotherhood (aka Shī‘a Imāmī Ismā'īlī Ṭarīqah of Persia - or perhaps more widely known as the Nizari Ismailis) did not make it a habit to kill Templar.

A Shiite Islamic sect, their primary targets for assassination were actually Sunni Muslim leaders - pay attention here because this is about to get very real, and current.

The Shiite Assassins really did operate out of fort-like towns - in the game Masyaf is pretty accurately depicted and representative of the sort. The thing is - or perhaps it is better stated that the reason is - they operated out of those towns because that was where their religious power bases were.

The Shiite and Sunni sects have been going at each other hammer-and-tong for well over a thousand years - why is anyone's guess and a fitting subject for speculation. We know some of the reasons, but since they have largely been recorded in historical accounts for self-serving purposes (think justification) we cannot really know if they are THE reason.

What we can say with at least a reasonable amount of accuracy is that the Muslims are split into two main branches: the Sunni and Shia.

That split historically originates from a dispute that cropped up very soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad -- and specifically deals with a disagreement over which was meant to lead the Muslim community. That's right, each thinks that the Prophet meant for THEM to lead.

This is still going on today - and really the why of it does not matter so much for our purposes as the WHAT does. And the what in this case is what the Assassins actually did and who they did it to.

Usually characterized as the secret Brotherhood of Assassins that is led by a mysterious figure known only as the "Old Man of the Mountain," the Nizari Ismailis were in fact a sect that formed in the late 11th century as a result of a schism or split within Ismailism, which was itself a branch of Shia Islam. So it really is rather complicated.

A bloke named Hassan-i Sabbah is widely thought to have founded the Brotherhood -- he certainly led them on raids to capture the mountain strongholds - like Masyaf - that became their homelands.

Within their community was a special type of warrior-acolyte that was known as the Fidai -- who were the actual Assassins that we are talking about when we say Assassins and would be the blokes in the game who ARE the Assassins.

Thanks to the horror stories of the Crusaders and Marco Polo, we know that the Assassins were widely feared - and they may indeed have killed a few Crusaders - or not - but their main targets and the men who they went to great efforts to kill were in fact Sunni leaders, who they viewed as threats to both their way of life and religion.

So yeah, that is one big honking glaring historical inaccuracy right there mates, and it scores first in our list of the Top 10 Historical Inaccuracies of Assassin's Creed!