Assassin's Creed is a science fiction/alternate history themed series of third person stealth-based action games developed by Ubisoft. The series as a whole pivots on an an ancient war that stretches over the whole of human history, across cultures and continents, between two mighty organizations that became public during the The Crusades: The Knights Templar, who wish for mankind to be united in peace under their enlightened control, and the Assassins, who believe that Humans Are Flawed and the desire to control other humans is the greatest flaw humans possess. The succeeding games shows that the conflict is in fact Older Than They Think and continued in the shadows under new names and labels in the centuries that followed right into the present day.Each entry has two separate plots. The outer story is set in the 21st century, where the battle between the Assassins and Templars has become one largely about information control, media manipulation and the occasional cloak and dagger black-ops stuff. However, this is only the Framing Device; the vast majority of the action is set in the historical portion which includes The Crusades, The Renaissance, The American Revolution, the Golden Age of Piracy and the French Revolution. The expanded backstory found in the puzzle sections shows Assassins and Templars participating in every conceivable world-historical event, with famous figures in history such as Richard the Lionheart, Jeanne d'Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Borgias, Nikola Tesla, George Washington, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler among many others either being Assassins or Templars or non-aligned people supported and opposed by either faction. Indeed, what began as a fairly unusual Wide Open Sandbox variation of stealth and pioneering Le Parkour traversal system became equally celebrated for its Shown Their Work "historical tourism" of famous cities and its monuments allowing players the experience of having Been There, Shaped History.This historical fiction is balanced with strong science fiction Magitek elements and the notion of Genetic Memory, whereby a person gains access to the ancestral memories storied in their DNA by reliving them as a VR simulation created by a device called the Animus. The Animus justifies Gameplay and Story Segregation by acting as a HUD, with video game style objectives and devices like a Completion Meter justified as "Synchronization" with a given ancestor's experiences. The events of the Framing Story in each game form the Driving Question of the plot of the historical section, with the Assassins and Templars using the memories to retrieve information about the location of various pieces of Lost Technology left behind by a long extinct, technologically superior Precursor race who defined every religion and mythology.The saga begins from the perspective of Desmond Miles, a New York bartender who flees from his legacy as an Assassin but gets entangled against his will to explore his Heroic Lineage, which consists of multiple lines of descent from famous Assassins from different corners of the globe. The multiplayer components of the games as well as later entries and the expanded lore show Another Side, Another Story and enlarge the conflict, featuring additional historical figures and the Templar point of view. As noted by its creators at Ubisoft, "history is our playground", and each entry features a great deal of Genre-Busting with its unique open world stealth adventure gameplay adapted to different historical backgrounds.
In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, audio files reveal that the First Civilization projected multiple alternate futures using their quantum prediction device. DLC content like The Tyranny of King Washington contain explorations of these alternate timelines, which are available through the programming of the Pieces of Eden and which contributed to Subject 16's insanity.
Ambiguously Brown: Desmond has three distinct bloodlines of various ancestral origins, so his character model is intended to be ambiguous enough to have come from any of them.
Ancient Conspiracy: Combined with Conspiracy Kitchen Sink, it seems that most politicians or people of any prominence for the last three thousand years were Templars, Assassins, or aligned with/supported by one of the two groups. The Templars have rewritten history to conceal this, with near total success. It is the combined outcome of all of these conspiracies and plots that results in our modern society.
Eagles for the Assassins. Their symbol looks like a bird, Alta´r's cloak has a beak-like hood and slits at the back that resemble tailfeathers, eagles are seen circling View Points, and all of the main story Assassins have a special ability called Eagle Vision.
Alta´r and Ezio's names are both derived from the word for Eagle in Arabic and Greek respectively. Ditto for Haytham and Aveline, Arabic once again and German.
Connor has both wolf and eagle motifs, with the American Bald Eagle featuring symbolically and his own totemic abilities based on wolves in the alternate universe DLC.
Edward names his ship the Jackdaw after Aesop's story of "The Eagle and the Jackdaw", signifying his own overreaching aspiration to an ideal. On retirement, he names his son Haytham, Arabic for Young Eagle, in the hopes that he would be an Assassin.
The Anti-Nihilist: The Assassin Brotherhood, with their maxim of "Nothing is true; everything is permitted". Rather than being a doctrine or command to do what you want — as Edward Kenway willfully misinterprets it — it is more of an observation, that the truth must be divined by one's self, with guidance and forethought of the potential results.
Alta´r Ibn-La'Ahad: ...laws arise not from divinity, but reason. I understand now that our creed does not commend us to be free — it commends us to be wise.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze: ...merely an observation of the nature of reality: To say that nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.
Edward Kenway:It might be that this idea is only the beginning of wisdom, and not its final form.
Applied Phlebotinum: The various Pieces of Eden and other First Civilization technology serves this purpose, with different effects for each of them.
Back from the Dead: Some uses of the Shroud of Eden caused this. Additionally, the Ankh was capable of healing the sick, and temporarily resurrecting the dead. It also acted as a recording device, storing the mannerisms of a living person and being able to return those mannerisms to a corpse.
The use of Crystal Skulls, with the user of one such skull being able to communicate instantaneously and telepathically with a user of another skull who is holding one as well from vast distances. As shown in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, this works by the recipient's blood being put into the crystal in the skull's forehead, then that person's image being projected via hologram real-time in front of the wielder, complete with voice.
The Shroud also has one with the people who use it, and It Can Think.
Video Will: The Prophecy Disk and Memory Seals seem to have been a form of this, showing life from centuries past.
Arc Number: 9 — Alta´r kills nine men for Al Mualim, Ezio assassinates Savonarola's nine lieutenants during the Bonfire of the Vanities and Brotherhood and Revelations both have nine sequences. 72 in Brotherhood, which is divisible by 9.
Arc Words: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
Aristocrats Are Evil: There's an understated but consistent class angle between the Assassins and the Templars. The Templars tend to be plutocrats and a lot of them come from the high classes of societies through the ages, and in modern times titans of industries with the odd scholar here and there; in contrast the Assassins tend to include artisans, intellectuals, artists, scholars, soldiers, thieves, whores, pirates, hackers and other types of working class heroes and boast a multicultural set-up with the American Assassins during the revolution, led by African Americans and Native Americans.
The major subversion is the Auditore family, who are minor nobility in Florence, though regarded by some as New Money (benefiting from the patronage of Lorenzo de'Medici); their ancestor Domenico Auditore note who started poor and went from Rags to Riches insists however that the primary loyalty of the family is to the people and not "the deceivers". Ezio prizes himself as a Man of the City and believes that the duty of the privileged is to empower those who are less fortunate.
Aveline de Grandpre is another, a woman born of privilegenote daughter of a French merchant and his African placÚe in New Orleans, and raised in his mansion even after he formally married a French woman but with a complex understanding of her identity that gives her the skills to move among different classes.
As Long as There Is Evil: Well, the Templars do not think themselves "Evil," but as long as there is human weakness, there will be those who wish to exploit weakness and take power.
Desmond's hooded sweatshirt. Just picture it with the hood up... which it is in III.
Alta´r, Ezio and Desmond all have a virtually identical scar on their lips. Ezio acquires his in the tutorial for the second game.
As You Know: After the first game, each new game opens with an As You Know narration of the events leading up to it. Particularly egregious at the beginning of Revelations, when Subject 16 is lecturing Desmond about the things he did in the past few games.
Audible Sharpness: The hidden blade has a very iconic "SCHWING!" sound that plays whenever you assassinate someone with it. By contrast, activating it when nobody is around just makes a slight clicking noise.
Badass Creed: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." "We work in the dark to serve the light. We are Assassins."
Badass Family: Desmond's ancestors. By the time Desmond is born, the only remnant he has of his mighty ancestry is a penchant for white hoodies (this doesn't last, however), but Desmond's long varied lineage contains several badass families across generations, and Assassin's Creed IV has an internal Abstergo Entertainment e-mail that details just how far-flung his lineage is: through his father he's descended from both the Auditores and the Kenways, while through his mother he's descended from Alta´r and Maria Thorpe as well as seemingly Japanese, French, and Taiwanese bloodlines.
Alta´r was the son of an Assassin couple and married a Templar, Maria Thorpe, who was a good fighter herself and fathered two badass Assassin sons, one of whomnote Darim, though Desmond was descended from the other son, Sef landed the killing blow on Genghis Khan himself.
In the second game, Ezio Auditore discovers that his father Giovanni and Uncle Mario were Assassins, a throwaway line in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhod implies that his brother Federico was one, too. His own sister Claudia becomes one in the same game, while Ezio himself is considered the greatest Mentor of the Order after Alta´r.
While Alta´r's family and the Auditores were cohesive and loving, the Kenways are a Big Screwed-Up Family to say the least. Still, they are pretty badass with three generations of Player Character. Grandfather Edward is a feared Pirate captain, his son Haytham is the Black Sheep, a Templar Grand Master, and the grandson Connor is a Native American Assassin who plays a major role in The American Revolution.
Badass Long Robe: Most Assassins in Alta´r's and Ezio's eras wear this sort of attire.
Benevolent Architecture: Every structure that you need to climb has grab points conveniently located on it. Every rooftop path is loaded with platforms, protruding beams, and flagpoles. Every tall building has a haystack beneath it to perform a Leap of Faith into. The architecture is designed so precisely that it can only be traversed by someone with the free-running skills that the Assassins possess (never mind that a tall ladder would make most of the puzzle segments trivial). As with many other gameplay elements, this is implied to be an embellishment provided by the Animus to make "playing" the memories easier for the subject.
Assassin's Creed III introduces Benevolent Nature, with trees conveniently felled, stumped, bifurcated and sturdy enough for Connor to free-run on.
Bigger Bad: Juno, who is responsible for everything that happened in the games so that it would benefit herself at the end.
Central Theme: The franchise has a central theme of the creed itself, using it as a filter to understand history and the lives of characters with different contexts and life experience defining and redefining its meaning and purpose.
The real central theme is the struggle of human history, with progress coming at a price, compromise, betrayal and failure a common outcome to even the most promising revolutions, and the extent Humans Are Flawed that they need control and the questionable wisdom of leaders to shape their lives rather than follow their own free will.
In every game, each faction wears clearly distinctive colors so you can tell them apart at a glance. This applies to their minimap icons as well, when it's relevant.
Eagle Vision paints allies, enemies and targets accordingly to make it easier to tell NPC's apart from a distance.
Combat Pragmatist: All Assassins are masters at dirty fighting. When they say, "Everything is permitted," they mean everything is permitted. Initially subverted with the use of poison being looked down on by Alta´r in the first game, though he takes care of that in the codex pages of the second game.
Completion Meter: A staple in the series for "additional memories", such as collectible flags in the first installment, and eagle feathers in the second game.
Counter Attack: One of the highlights of the combat system is the elaborate and visually spectacular counters, to the point of having a different set of animations for each weapon type. In fact, counters are the only effective way to fight multiple opponents in Open Combat up until Brotherhood introduces kill streaks and combo kills, making it practical to go on the offensive for the first time in the series.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Averted, at least in terms of the pre-rendered CGI trailers. Despite not being gameplay footage, almost every action they show can actually be performed in the game itself.
Alta´r is a career assassin and as such opposes the Templars on matters of principle rather than some personal vendetta. That said Robert De Sable humiliating him for his brashness and leaving him alive started a grudge that drove Alta´r to find him in Arsuf. Even more, Al Mualim's sagely conversations with Alta´r and his giving him a second chance by wiping out nine Templars end up making Alta´r The Hero strong enough to stand up and defeat his newly revealed Evil All Along Mentor and make him into a successor who makes the Assassins into a stronger force. Smooth move.
Ezio Auditore was a playboy without a care in the world, until the Borgia decide to kill his father and brothers, with their mooks making rapey jokes about his mother and sister. After an apprenticeship with his Uncle Mario and several Stealth Mentors he starts a lifelong career in littering Mediterranean Europe with Templar corpses, shutting them down and in the process initiating a Golden Age in Europe.
Edward, The Patriarch of the Kenway family, was a Lower-Class Lout who was a mere sailor aboard a ship who the Templars dismissed as a mere thug not worth their time and sent him away as a prisoner on their Treasure fleet. However, it's on that fleet that Edward meets his first mate Adewale, forms his first crew and repurposes their getaway brig into his flagship, the Jackdaw with him promoted to The Captain. He decides that the Observatory the Templars were talking about might be worth his time after all, and while the Assassins aren't entirely his cup of tea, he likes the fact that they are more forgiving and better company. If only the Templars weren't skinflints and had paid him properly.
Desmond Miles hated his Assassin upbringing and his father's stern disciplinary approach and ran away from home and lived as a drifter and bartender without a care in the world. Rather than extend a hand to a confused young man, the Templars kidnap him, with a Dr. Jerk assuring Desmond that he'll be killed once they have what they want with the result that Desmond realized that his father had a point about the Templars after all and made him a Prodigal Hero for the assassins once they rescue him; even before the reveal of his father, Desmond flat-out declared that "after what those Templar bastards put me through", he wants in on the Assassins.
Cycle of Revenge: Some version of the Assassins and the Templars have been fighting since the First Disaster in repeated conflicts over Pieces of Eden, and Desmond and William both think in Assassin's Creed III that the conflict will continue long after they die.
Dashed Plot Line: Most of the game takes place in "memory sequences", which are segments of memory in which significant events happened in the life of the main character. Individual sequences may take place over significant lengths of time and there are often lengthy jumps between sequences.
Deconstruction: The Assassin's Creed series as a whole is filled with several conceits that poke holes into traditional genre elements.
Unlike most conspiracy based fiction which posits a hitherto unknown secret as the real explanation, the game takes a Like Reality Unless Noted approach which aligns 80% of the time with the actual historical record, with the facts altered for gameplay reasons. Indeed the battle between the Assassins and the Templars as seen in the game largely shows how difficult or impossible "behind-the-scenes" control over history would actually be, with the Assassins and the Templars wavering in the level of control and influence they have on world affairs and never in a position to truly change things as they would like it.
By and large, the game tackles pop-culture perceptions of a given period, showing a more accurate vision of historical figures than most popular fiction. The first game for example shows Richard The Lionheart as a Noble Demon rather than the Big Good for England, a warrior for God who invades the Holy Land and regards his enemies as heathens but pragmatic enough to listen to the nominally Muslim Assassin, Alta´r.
The second game and its sequel likewise shows The Renaissance not only as an intellectual and artistic revolution but a time of great political turmoil and uncertainty, with city-states relying on mercenaries and backdoor assassinations to assert their hold over a region, with a special focus on the corruption of the Church. Niccol˛ Machiavelli likewise is shown as a Reasonable Authority Figure devoted to public welfare and service rather than the stereotype people hold over him. The game director Patrice Desilets was especially proud to show Leonardo da Vinci not by the popular image of a bearded old man, but the young handsome man that he was famous for being at the peak of his creativity.
Assassin's Creed III and Liberation likewise gives a Warts and All depiction of The American Revolution, showing what happened to people who didn't profit from the movement. Likewise the fourth game shows the Golden Age of Piracy as no Golden Age but a fruitless struggle for sailors and men of ambition oppressed by their country's navy to make a living that a restrictive society would not allow them, showing a fuller depiction of the reality of pirate life than adventure movies generally allow.
The third game in particular, both the present and modern story, deconstructs the Assassins vs. Templars conflict. The historical portion shows the Assassins and Templars briefly united by a common purpose as well as familial bonds while at the end of the contemporary storyline, Minerva tells the contemporary Assassins that they wasted the whole of history fighting the Templars instead of working to the common good.
The conceit of the game itself deconstructs Video Game Tropes itself, the Animus is specifically modified on the metaphor of gameplay with progression, items, quests geared to achieving synchronization. An aspect defined as "organic design" by Patrice Desilets, the game director on the first two games. The fourth game, likewise is set in a modern day game company that essentially seeks to do in the gameworld what Ubisoft is doing with the series. Use ancestor memories to create popular culture products.
Dying Truce: Basically all storyline kills end like this, with the character giving the Assassin important plotline information (or occasionally trying to plant seeds of doubt) in his dying breath as he lays in the Assassin's arms.
Edutainment Game: Although obviously the storyline and characters are Historical Fiction, the games do provide real information about historical figures, settlements and societies.
Equipment-Based Progression: The games generally follow this format, in that you get better weapons to do more damage, and better armor to get more health (the first has a "sync" bar that increases through the game as you did various sidequests).
Evil Counterpart/Not So Different: The Templars to the Assassin's as a whole, See 'The Fettered' and 'Order Versus Chaos' below. Indeed the running theme of the game is to how the Assassins and the Templars react to emerging historical changes and events, with the series largely tracing it like a back-and-forth political debate. Some of the Assassin heroes, Connor especially, nurtures hopes for an Enemy Mine and reconcile the two views.
Existentialism: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." The answer to an existential crisis: If no gods exist, if there is no grand design; all that remains is what you choose. Ezio is practically quoting Sartre when he says:
"To say that nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic."
Eye Scream: Some of the bladed weapon counter kills go for the eyes.
Fascist, but Inefficient: Whenever the Templars take full control of an area, they tend to run it into the ground due to their "keep the people weak" policy weakening the nation as a whole. So much for their Utopia. And they never, ever learn from those mistakes.
The Fettered/The Unfettered: The Assassins strive for Freedom/Chaos, yet live by a strict moral code that defines all their actions. The Templars, in contrast, seek Order/Law, yet have absolutely no moral restrictions on their behavior and are free to use any and all means (up to and including mass murder) in pursuit of their goal. This leads to quite a few ironies, see Murder Is the Best Solution below. Ultimately, both the Assassins and Templars believe that "Nothing is true, everything is permitted". But to the Assassins the phrase is descriptive whereas to the Templars it's proscriptive (to understand this sentence better, note how Alta´r differentiates between the two as he progresses through Al-Mualim's missions in the first game).
Notably, Edward Kenway's willful misinterpretation of it in the face of James Kidd's straight-forward explanation is part of why Edward stands out compared to the prior playable ancestors: for most of his game, he subscribes closer to the Templar interpretation despite not being on their side.
Fling a Light into the Future: The grand design of The Ones Who Came Before, who found themselves dying from underpopulation after a great catastrophe, was to seed the Earth with their artifacts and use their knowledge of the future to manipulate events so that key people would have the necessary information to prevent the same catastrophe from happening again. Alta´r's story in Revelations is an explicitly demonstrated subplot of this larger design.
Alta´r: They are... messages, of a sort. Niccolo Polo: Messages? For whom? Alta´r: I wish I knew.
Foregone Conclusion: Both the Assassins and the Templars make it to the 21st century intact, and every ancestor character survives to have a kid.
Doomed by Canon: For all the success you have as an Assassin in the past, you know that eventually the Assassins will be driven underground and the Knights Templar will become an insanely powerful, globe-spanning corporation, Abstergo.
Gotta Kill Em All: The series basically embodies this trope, from the main plot of all the games revolving around assassinating a group of villains, to the optional sidequest of killing the 60 Templar Knights in the 1st game.
The Greatest Story Never Told: Every story in the Animus is this, showing both the real forces which drove history with no one ever knowing their name and the lives of their allies and public figures distorted to elide it. The Assassin's choose this by design of course. Desmond Miles in 2012, performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save the lives of every life on earth. Not only is the public unaware of Desmond but they will never know how close they were to extinction.
An even more pertinent and emotional example is Clay Kaczmarek, Subject 16. No one had more Undying Loyalty to the Creed than Clay and yet even after his death, the Assassins, except Desmond, seem to have forgotten him, treating him as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with Desmond tersely reminding Rebecca that He Had a Name when she called him "subject 16".
The Guards Must Be Crazy: The often incredible stupidity of the guards is justified In-Universe by the Animus not rendering memories precisely as they occurred, but rather as a VR simulation that Desmond must attempt to "play" as close to the way it really happened as possible. The assumption is that the real Assassins were much better at being inconspicuous than the player appears to be. There are also a few aversions in the second game onward, when the guards will act with surprising alertness and care, in particular by searching likely hiding spots.
Half-Human Hybrid: The "Truth" segments and the backstory exposition across the various games reveal that Alta´r and Ezio's bloodlines are descended from "Adam and Eve", who were real people that were part of an experiment in cross-breeding humans with the Precursors. They proved to be immune to the Mind Control effects of the Pieces of Eden and stole the original Apple, giving rise to the myth of Eden. They led a revolt against their masters and eventually gave rise to the Assassin order... and the Templars, through their son Cain.
Highly-Visible Ninja: Despite a profession that requires stealth and anonymity, the Assassins wear an extremely recognizable uniform. It is more excusable in the first game when the white robe and hood lets them pass for Muslim scholars (which is even lampshaded when Sibrand is introduced). In the Ezio trilogy... not so much. Not only do they all wear the distinctive robes and hood with the signature "beak", which stand out starkly against other Renaissance Italian clothing, but Ezio prominently displays the symbol of the Assassin order on his armor, and both he and Connor wear the symbol in metal atop red sash belts. Connor at least uses a contemporary longcoat that just so happens to be majority white and include the beaked hood but has prominent blue hems, worn over a contemporary white shirt with black pants underneath and brown leggings over those, and his Assassin symbology is limited to a contemporary-sized belt buckle worn over the red sash on a regular belt.
In particular, Ezio has an outfit that has an Assassin insignia belt buckle almost as large as his head. No one ever suspects the guy wearing this outfit and bristling with weapons as the likely culprit of a mass murder, even when he is standing right there watching them in a crowd. It has to be noted that no one in the crowd is wearing clothes remotely resembling Ezio's.
This is actually lampshaded in Black Flag: when Edward kills Duncan (who was an Assassin defecting to the Templars), he finds a letter from the Templar stating that he is looking forward to meeting Duncan and that, although he doesn't know Duncan's face, he will nevertheless able to recognize Duncan thanks to the distinctive robes worn by his Order. Likewise, neither of the other two Templars introduced at that meeting nor the guards at the meeting site know Duncan by face either, they're just aware of him, but on account of Edward wearing the late defector's Assassin robes they all too assume him to be the awaited Assassin.
Ironically, Edward and Aveline's outfits are distinct being the first of the playable characters[[note:Shao Jun who only appeared in Assassin's Creed: Embers and a centuries-later mention in III wore black robes]] whose default, un-upgraded outfits were not mainly white but rather blue and black respectively. Moreover, Edward's hood had no beak even before he'd appropriated the outfit from Walpole and he abandoned or didn't reproduce Duncan's chest belt and waist pouches with the Assassin symbol... making Edward the first playable Assassin since Alta´r who didn't wear the symbol at all. Moreover, Aveline has no hood at all, instead wearing a black tricorn, and like Connor her Assassin symbol is limited to a belt buckle worn on a brown belt over the red sash. Finally, Aveline's Assassin outfit is the only one that actually has a gameplay effect, namely that in Liberation its Notoriety can't be lowered past level 1 and that only bribing lowers her Assassin persona's notorietynote wanted posters only lower her Slave persona's notoriety, and assassinating false witnesses only lowers her Lady persona's notoriety; this doesn't apply to her Assassin's Creed IV playable appearance where the default gameplay mechanics apply.
The justification for this is present in the very first game, after Alta´r murders Majd Addin and listens to Malik chew him out for the fact that everyone in the city knew all about it. Alta´r points out that their assassinations are meant to be public events and send a message that the powerful are Not So Invincible After All, so an Assassin is supposed to be invisible until he's not and then disappear again, merely to remind everyone that they're being watched.
Hero of Another Story: The series has a running theme dealing with the fact that history and life itself is filled with this, with everyone having a part to play and a story to tell. Notably, Connor's father Haytham told his own story in Assassin's Creed : Forsaken (written as if it were his journal, while Haytham's father/Connor's grandfather Edward would star in his own game set decades before, Edward's eventually former first mate would get his own DLC set over a decade after that, and that game includes a DLC that continues Aveline's story, with an opening voice-over by Connor, set after the events of both Connor's and Aveline's games.
High Speed Hijack: Starting with Brotherhood the games allow Horse-jacking, either when you're leaping from above or from a horse of your own. Cart-jacking is done too, in a few sequences.
For starters, the Hashshashin themselves. According to history, they were Hassan-I-Sabah's private army, and brainwashed with drugs to boot. They built a reputation at the time as his enemies were Asshole Victims whom they eliminated with a minimum of collateral damage.
There's no actual evidence that the Hashshashin were ever brainwashed with drugs at all. All evidence claiming this were written by the enemies of the Assassins, in order to discredit them. Hassan-I-Sabah killed his eldest son because he disobeyed his orders not to consume alcohol and hashish. Hassan-I-Sabah managed to get people to follow him, because he had the two things that make men and women follow their leaders into hell: Charisma and Conviction. Hassan-I-Sabah had earned and established a reputation among the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt and the Seljuk Turks, for being a powerful orator who was firm in his beliefs and ideas. It earned him a powerful following. It was because of this that the leaders of the Fatimid Caliphate had him exiled to Persia. His followers went with him into the Alborz Mountains, where Alamut is located at. Once there, he was able to fortify Alamut Castle and bring the surrounding towns and villages out of poverty. The name Hashshashin is a corruption of Assassiyoon, which means Followers of Asas', which is the core foundations of Islam, and not what different sects have interpreted them as. The historical Assassins had earned a reputation among the common folk for not only minimizing collateral damage and not going after them, but generally looking out for their welfare. To boot, they were actually allies with the historical Knights Templar, as their ideals and goals were very similar and close to one another. And to top it off, Alamut, the original HQ for the Assassins, along with their other castles such as Masyaf, Al-Khaf and Lamfsar, were renown for their libraries, which was open to scholars and pilgrims, who wanted to come and study from them.
King Richard I of England gets a fairly realistic representation: he went by the title "Lionhearted" even in his own day, and it did not refer to heroism but a love of combat. So, though he's driven to conquer Jerusalem, he keeps his promise to listen to Alta´r after he beats Robert De Sable in single combat, and lets Alta´r go free afterwards. He's undeniably a jerkass, but he's still portrayed in a relatively positive manner — basically a Noble Demon.
Lorenzo de' Medici is portrayed as being a devout republican and a benevolent ruler. In reality, like all the noble families in the Italian city-states, the Medicis were Machiavellian schemers who committed all sorts of immoral acts to maintain their power. If you click the extra-information tab, it's at least acknowledged how he did terrible things. It's shown in the Lineage short how Lorenzo brutally tortures an agent of his enemies for information, and in Brotherhood Lucrezia Borgia claims, probably truthfully, that he quashes the families of his rivals utterly, even those who had nothing to do with the plots against him.
Niccolo Machiavelli's portrayal in the series is closer to his actual biography than to the Hollywood History version that most people know: in reality, he was an ardent supporter of republicanism, and many historians believe that his most famous work, The Prince, was a satire. Notably, Word of God is that the in-universe titular prince was not Cesare Borgia, but rather Ezio Auditore.
Leonardo da Vinci gets an upgrade in heroism, despite only playing a supportive role to Ezio. Notable changes include that his inventions work, are completely functional and can be used at nearly any time. Plus he's the main character's best buddy.
Some inversion in III, particularly showing (reminding) that while patriots of America, figures like George Washington sought to displace natives from the lands, fearing their aligning with the British or wanting to take over the land for their own use.
Caterina Sforza gets one of these. In the game she is rescued by Ezio. In real life, she was a prisoner of Rodrigo Borgia for over 20 years, in her own castle, and was used on a regular basis by Rodrigo and anyone else he thought might like to. Eventually, she was allowed to enter a convent, swearing to take no further political action against the Borgia clan.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag looks at the Golden Age of Piracy with a pro-Pirate perspective, showing them as poor sailors trying to resist Empires that compete to maintain the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea safe largely so that they can maintain routes for slave trade.
Rodrigo Borgia was certainly a murderous, conniving asshole in real life and as Alexander VI, generally considered to be the worst pope in the history of the Catholic Church; it turns out he was secretly the cackling, monstrous leader of the Templars during the Renaissance. Oh, and he thought Christianity was bunk, but became Pope anyway just for the power. Where the game falters is his real-life Pet the Dog moment, his tolerance to Jews suffering from anti-Semitism who in turn lived in the famous Jewish quarter in Rome. His successor Julius was a vicious anti-Semite and spread rumors about him, including accusing Rodrigo of being Jewish himself (which might be true and if so, lend him a considerable Freudian Excuse). Neither fact is acknowledged in the game.
Thomas Edison was a proven Jerkass who regularly stole ideas and performed grotesque "demonstrations" to smear his assistant-turned-rival Nikola Tesla. Turns out he was also a Templar who stole his rival's MacGuffin and gave it to Henry Ford, who in turn, gave it to Adolf Hitler for the express purpose of jumpstarting the Holocaust and World War II. Also, Hitler's conspirators? Winston Churchill, FDR and Josef Stalin. Making matters worse, at some point the Templar Order decided to use a Piece of Eden to cause insanity in Nikola Tesla thus removing him as a threat to both Thomas Edison as well as the general Templar order; though not before Tesla successfully destroyed a Piece of Eden in the Tunguska Event.
Savonarola in the Bonfire of the Vanities DLC, although AC was hardly the first to come up with this portrayal. He was definitely extreme by modern standards, but people forget that the reason Savonarola was able to carry out his famous Bonfire was because the people of Florence were sick and tired of watching wealthy Italian families flaunt their vast fortunes by commissioning ludicrously expensive sculptures and paintings while the rest of society was beset by plague and poverty. By the standards of the time he was practically a popular revolutionary. Hell, in the 1990s he was even nominated as a candidate for sainthood (he didn't win though, obviously). Notably however, he is not a Templar and even crossed the Borgia, so in Brotherhood one of the Borgia-aligned heralds can occasionally be heard taking a potshot at his reputation.
Charles Lee is a Templar in Assassin's Creed III and the primary antagonist of the game. The game's Charles Lee is mostly In Name Only and doesn't even resemble the real man, making him look and act like a mustache-twirling villain for the most part and also a Satellite Character to the fictional Haytham Kenway.
How Do You Like Them Apples?: The Apples of Eden are one of the more common types of Precursor artifacts; they were used originally as Mind Control devices and are highly sought by the Templars for that reason. Unrelated to the trope, the third game has the exact quote as the title of the achievement for finishing Memory Sequence 3; the more appropriate trope there would be Player Punch.
Averted. You can kill all the guards in a specific encounter and others in different areas won't notice.
In a larger, more metaphorical sense, this is why the Templars keep thriving no matter how many of them are killed by the Assassins — the Templar conspiracy uses society while the Assassins operate in spite of it. You can't fight civilization itself, not very well.
I Need No Ladders: While you technically can and do use ladders, very often in the series simply running up the wall next to a ladder is faster than climbing it.
It's All About Me: Many characters who defect to the Templars (including the Crusader, the Sentinel, and Lucy Stillman) do so not so much because they believe in the Templars' cause or methods, but to avenge some perceived betrayal against themselves, their family, or their tribe/clan. Additionally, almost all of them[[note:with the notable exception of Lucy Stillman]] harbor an abundance of arrogance. Most think themselves special, above all others, and unique in history. This is probably why they have Suicidal Overconfidence when facing the humanoid murder machines known as Assassins. "Sure, you killed hundreds of guards, knights, nobles, high-placed holy men and emperors... but I'm better than all those other guys!" Every one of them also thinks the world (or the nations they immediately occupy) would be better off with himself in charge. As such, Lucy Stillman stands out for averting this trope; particularly since her true allegiance was only revealed posthumously.
Knight Templar: Unsurprisingly, the eponymous Templars are shining examples of such thinking. The Assassins tend to dabble in this philosophy at times as well but for the most part they exist as A Lighter Shade Of Gray, not seeing free will and independent thought as evil but far from perfect or just.
Leap of Faith: The trademark skill of the Assassins (along with the Hidden Blade), consisting of a swan dive down into conveniently-placed haystacks; all recruits are required to perform this as part of their initiation as full Assassins.
Legacy Character: The basic premise of the games is that Desmond is a convergence of the bloodlines of Alta´r Ibn-La'Ahad on his mother's side, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Connor/RatohnhakÚ:ton (and two prior generations of male Kenways) on his father's side.
Nearly everyone in the games who is either an Assassin or a target of an Assassin has amazing free-running skills, even people you wouldn't expect to like overweight (and heavily dressed) Church officials. Assassin's Creed III takes it a step further by moving from urban settings to colonial and forested environments; thus the moniker "tree-running".
This series became the Trope Codifier for video games. Many games previously had some sort of building-scaling, but AC was the first game to have the character actually reach out to various handholds and footholds on what would otherwise be something completely impassable, even for Batman. Follow the Leader kicked in; inFAMOUS and The Saboteur are two of the bigger ones.
Like Reality Unless Noted: Most of the time, it's a straight-up Historical Fiction...right up until strange, almost-alien artifacts appear. The fact that the games focus 95% of the time on the historical period helps to drive home just how wrong these artifacts are for intruding into human history.
Lost In A Crowd: A common way for Assassins to essentially hide in plain sight by surrounding themselves with different sort of mobile camo ranging from praying monks to a a flock of courtesans.
"Alta´r" is Arabic for "the flying one" or "the flying eagle." Alta´r is also the name of the brightest star in the constellation Aquila, which is Latin for "Eagle". In full: Alta´r Ibn-La'Ahad is "Flying Eagle", "Son of None".
"Miles" means "soldier" in Latin.
The Italian name "Ezio" derives from the Greek word aetos, which means "eagle".
'Animus' is Latin for "soul", and in Modern English usage it can refer to a grudge or purpose.
Malik Al-Sayf is Arabic for "King of Swords".
"Connor" means "Wolf Kin" or "Lover of Wolves" which reflects on his more predatory Assassin style, while his Native American name RatonhnhakÚ:ton is commonly described in English as meaning "life that is scratched", which is pretty apt.
Grandfather Edward James Kenway shares his first two names with English kings. He also names his ship the Jackdaw and his son Haytham (Arabic for young eagle) because of the resonance of Aesop's fable of The Eagle and the Jackdaw symbolizing his overreaching aspiration to be more than a Welsh peasant.
The E3 trailer for the first game shows Alta´r assassinating a Templar who is about to hang someone, shooting his bodyguard with a crossbow on the way. Nothing of the sort happens in the game, and crossbows were not available until two games later, in Brotherhood.
The trailer for AC II shows Ezio chasing and shooting a masked Templar with his Hidden Gun during Venezia's Carnevale. Said Templar only appears in multiplayer, nowhere to be seen in the actual game, although a similar assassination does happen, but with a different victim and very different circumstances.
Brotherhood's trailer shows Ezio challenging and fighting Cesare head-on in Rome; no such scene occurs in the game, and when you do fight Cesare, your Assassin Recruits are not available to help, and it doesn't occur in Rome.
Averted with Revelations, whose trailer is the only one to show a canonical scene; in this case it doubles as the game's introduction.
In the AC III trailer, Connor charges a British firing line head-on and assassinates their commander. This appears to be based on an early draft of the Battle of Bunker Hill, but trying to complete that mission in the fashion Connor did in the trailer is impossible.
Mobstacle Course: Fortunately, you can shove them away. In the second game, Ezio can create these with well-aimed money tosses. It's a pretty convenient way of blocking pursuing guards for a few seconds while you're running away. In Revelations, Ezio can use a Pyrite Bomb to scatter fake coins at a distance, distracting guards and civilians alike.
Morale Mechanic: Brutally kill a few guards and some or all of the rest may flee.
Motive Decay: Ironically, this happens to the Assassins: Initially a society devoted to achieving peace through individual freedom and personal responsibilitynote something that Templar Grand Master Haytham Kenway would centuries later call a much more sensible goal, over time they found themselves increasingly dedicated just to opposing the Templars, with their lofty ideals all but forgotten. They are called on this during Assassin's Creed III, both by the Templars and, at the end, by Those Who Came Before.
Happened to Templars as well, during the rule of the Borgia; Robert de Sable was a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and Haytham Kenway would be even more well intentioned and less extremist, but Rodrigo Borgia is using the Templar agenda of "control" to achieve his dreams of unlimited wealth and personal power, while he is enjoying incest, pedophilia or incest pedophilia... and his son Cesare is no better. Although his "Great Minds of History" portrait depicts him as a "man of faith and passion [who] suffered under a smear campaign under the hands of his enemy, Ezio Auditore" who instead should be remembered "for his progressive outlook and focus on family values", privately the 21st-century Templars consider him an Old Shame who, with the Order "Blinded by greed and personal ambition" and forgetting its purpose, led the Order into "dark times for us", and even admitted that "greater men pushed on, becoming what we should have aspired to be: true pioneers of scientific research. It was because of them that the era came to be called the Renaissance."
Motive Rant: Most of the primary mission targets, upon being taken down, deliver a lengthy monologue about why they did what they did and why you're a terrible, misguided person for opposing them.
Multi-Melee Master: All the Assassin characters are equally adept at any weapon they pick up, whether it be a knife, sword, axe, mace, etc.
The Assassins, both in the past and present. While the 1191 Assassins seem fairly close to the historical Muslim sect since the depicted Assassins have been identified as the Levantine branch thereof, the Assassin Tombs that can be visited in Assassin's Creed II house the remains of Mongol, Chinese, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and Babylonian Assassins. Assassin's Creed III' and Assassin's Creed III Liberation add Native American, British, French, and African to the mix. The Templars can also be seen as an evil version of this.
On start-up, the player is assured that the game was created by one of these, so that they won't presume that the game is biased in favor of or against one particular faith or race.
Murder Is the Best Solution: Somewhat ironically, it's the Templars who seem to immediately default to Murder Is The Best Solution when faced with any problem, whereas the Assassins (who are defined by the fact their purpose is to murder people) appear at times to be at least to some degree to be willing to pursue alternative solutions, including diplomacy or guile. For example, Alta´r and Al Mualim have a couple conversations in which it's suggested they only resort to assassination against people who are simply too stubborn or fanatically to be talked out of their harmful course of action.
As demonstrated by shown by Connor in ACIII and in some of Project Legacy memories though, Assassins of later centuries weren't above a "kill first, question later" tendency either, on the basis of the belief that their targets were Always Chaotic Evil, and unwilling to concede that the Jerkass Has a Point. Also, as shown with Connor again and even Ezio, they sometimes seemed to ignore or dismiss any collateral damage of their actions, such as Ezio setting Cappadocia in a panic by blowing up the arsenal, killing hundreds by fire and smoke inhalation, and later letting a tyrant on the throne of Constantinople because the alternative, his brother, is a Templar. As both Haytham and Rebecca Crane bemoan, their war with the Templars ended up taking priority over their previous progressive and peace-making mindset from Alta´r's time.
Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: A stated appeal of the series is its ability for cultural mix-and-match on pure Rule of Cool situating it within a solid historical grounding more or less. Syrian Crusaders, Florentine Noblemen, Native Americans, an African American woman and a Welsh Pirate have all counted themselves among its ranks at various periods in human history.
The player characters never actually die; Desmond gets "desynchronized" from their memories, so the Animus re-initializes them.
Assassins can deliver supposedly non-lethal finishing moves when fighting unarmed.
Not So Different: A recurring theme in all the games is that the Templar will point out to the Assassin that their goals and methods are actually quite similar. In the very, very long view, yes. In the very, very short view, yes. In the middle view, no. Both groups use targeted murder and secrecy, and both groups claim special guidance (short view). Both groups seek peace, justice, and prosperity for all mankind (long view). The Assassins want to free everyone to seek wisdom on their own, the Knights Templar want to control and dominate everyone to force them to follow the Knights' own wisdom (middle view).
Older Than They Think: In-universe. The Templars and Assassins are way older than either of those Middle-Ages names suggest. There has always been some group trying to take over the world and some other shadowy group trying to stop them by any means, going at least back to ancient Rome and ancient Egypt. Even if one side gets completely wiped out, someone somewhere will come up with the same idea to start it up again (resistance movement or dominate-the-world).
Olympic Swimmer: Starting with the second game, all playable characters can swim perfectly and for any length of time without tiring, no matter how much armor they are wearing, except that they can't hold their breath forever underwater. Assassin's Creed III adds an apparent immunity to hypothermia and/or frostbite.
Only to a certain extent, however; in one side mission of AC 3, the player gets desynchronized if they stay in the icy water for too long.
Omniscient Morality License: Having failed at it the first time around, Those Who Came Before grant this upon themselves in service of stopping humanity from being wiped out in 2012. The long struggle between the Assassins and Templars, all the wars and suffering, is part of their plan. Ezio very nearly hangs a lampshade on it in Revelations.
Ezio: Maybe you will be the one to make all this... suffering worth something in the end.
Then it turns out in III that not all of it was their plan. Minerva contemptuously states that mankind squandered her peoples' gifts and warnings in their petty feuds. At the very least, she never planned on the Assassin-Templar feud. Of course, this is also when we learn that Those Who Came Before were not themselves united, and that Juno had her own plan, which required forcing Desmond to make the choice he faced there. Without the feud, the problem would have been solved, and Juno wouldn't have been freed from her prison...
Every game has an opening sequence in which the protagonist performs a Leap of Faith.
Optional Stealth: The series is like this most of the time. There are some missions that desynchronize you for being detected, but by and large it's just as doable to fight all the guards as it is to sneak past them or stealth-kill them.
There's also the first Assassins Creed game, and the second one, for the most part. Later ones have tended to avert this by punishing being caught with instant game overs.
Order Versus Chaos: The conflict between the Assassins and the Templars is a somewhat nuanced version of this: The Assassins' ultimate goal is to safeguard human freedom, even if that means performing the occasionally necessary evil (assassinating people dangerous to human freedom), and also means allowing humanity to make their own mistakes. At the same time, they live by a strict code (the titular Assassins Creed) which, among other things, prohibits the killing of innocents and encourages them to seek inner peace. In contrast, the Templars want to end human suffering by bringing an end to free will and creating a society of perfect order. At the same time, their belief that there is no afterlife and thus no higher law means that they are free to do whatever they want in pursuit of this goal, up to and including the slaughter or enslavement of millions if it will save millions more in the long term. The Templars' complete lack of any moral rules beyond their singular Utopia Justifies the Means goal seems to explain why the organization is overwhelmingly made up of monsters.
Haytham Kenway and his son Connor are on opposite side of the Templar and Assassin conflict, with Haytham being Archnemesis Dad. Both of them hope that they can form a bond and set aside their differences, but alas Poor Communication Kills and in the end Haytham tries to choke his son to death only for Connor to stab him in self-defense; Connor is haunted by this action.
Plague Doctor: In one of the games one of the playable characters is dressed as a Plague Doctor. Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood also have NPC doctors in this costume (which is appropriate for Medici-era Italy).
Precursors: Those Who Came Before — an ancient and powerful race gifted with a sixth sense that let them sense a great deal more about their environment and the people in it, including motivations, the past, and the future, than mere humans could ever hope to see. Depending on where you look, they may come in at least two varieties. We see these through the course of the games.
Abusive Precursors: Humans were pets, slaves, created not only to serve Those Who Came Before, but also to increase their power. Because enough people believing something can make it come true, it was possible for Those Who Came Before to strive for god-hood. Juno, with her penchant for calculations, and driven by a desire to avenge her beloved, murdered by humans, has become the Big Bad of the series, following the events at the end of III.
Benevolent Precursors: Those Who Came Before didn't wish humans ill; they merely saw them as lesser. In their desperate attempts to save themselves from a coming cosmic disaster, they were also trying to save humanity, and not merely incidentally. The Eagle Vision of all the playable characters is a result of human-TWCB interbreeding. Jupiter and Minerva, though not as skilled as Juno at the calculations necessary for predicting possible futures, were nevertheless working to try and save the world before they perished. They tried dozens of costly solutions. All failed.
Professional Killer: They are called Assassins for a reason. All the games, however, explore the morality of being a person who literally kills for a living — in Alta´r's case, the question is whether his blind allegiance to his Creed makes him Not So Different from his enemies; while in Ezio's case, the question is just how much death is justified in the service of vengeance; Connor wants freedom, but those around him are too busy fighting to notice the chaos around them. Notably, the characters come to very different conclusions.
Sofia: This is not your battle. Ezio: But where does one end, and the next begin?
Puzzle Pan: Used extensively in the various platforming sequences, especially in the vaults/tombs/crypts that are puzzle-based rather than stealth-based. A minor version is used whenever the game wants to call attention to a particular jump you're supposed to make, frequently resulting in Stop Helping Me! as it screws up the directional controls, which function relative to the camera's perspective.
Ragnarok-Proofing: Invoked; the First Civilization designed the Pieces of Eden and the Vaults that house them specifically to withstand the ravages of the 75,000 years that have passed since the First Catastrophe.
Refuge in Audacity: When Thieves steal from people, they openly run up to them and do the deed visibly. No one protests. But when Ezio does it sneakily, the victim can somehow recognise him and try to fight back.
The Assassins as a whole rest entirely on this. They believe in strict operational secrecy and a binding commitment to not compromise their order, their location, and their ways, yet they also believe in over-the-top public assassinations of officials as a way of sending across a message.
The series has a whole has a reputation for over-the-top invention and gimmicks. The first game was initially marketed as a historical adventure game with the science fiction frame story becoming The Reveal to new gamers and the finale shifting from naturalism to an old-fashioned MagitekBoss Fight. The second game set the bar high with a fistfight with the Pope in the Vatican with the DLC The Tyranny of King Washington reimagining America's First President as an alternate universe Evil Overlord complete with Supervillain Lair. (In fairness, the latter turned out to just be a MacGuffin-induced vision shared by Connor and Washington.)
Research, Inc.: Abstergo does research and helps fund a secret society, though Word of God is that the overwhelming majority of their and their subsidiaries' membership are unaware of said secret society and are entirely sincere in having no secret agenda in their work, said secret society is simply appropriating the bounties of and "guiding" the direction of said work.
Scenery Porn: Panning over beautiful vistas of old-world cities is a series mainstay.
Self-Deprecation: As of Liberation and Black Flag, Abstergo has started selling genetic memories as highly advanced videogames, playable on home Animus entertainment systems. Black Flag uses this development to make fun of the videogame industry and the series itself, as well as imagining what a lazy tie-in hollywood movie might look like.
Shaggy Dog Story/Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Since the series sticks close to history and history often lacks neat dramatic structures, the series as a whole uses a variety of plots like this.
The end of Assassin's Creed III controversially turned the entire Myth Arc from the first game and the Ezio Trilogy into this. The quest by the Ancestors to pass on a message to Desmond to avert a Disaster was all a ploy by Juno to return to life. Desmond's absorption of his ancestor's memories and abilities were ultimately of no greater purpose than to sacrifice his life for Juno's return. In addition, the intellectual quest of Alta´r to garner as much knowledge as possible, as well as Ezio's spiritual search for his place in life and Connor's yearning for justice is likewise manipulated by Juno to historically relay said message to Desmond.
Shared Universe: Shares a universe with Watch_Dogs in the form of e-mails in Black Flag revealing Abstergo's interest in the ctOS and in Watch_Dogs in the form of Aiden Pearce assassinating Olivier Garneau on behalf of the Assassins.
Shown Their Work: Throughout the series, Ubisoft shows a remarkable amount of detail into the various historical settings, from the people and their mode of dress to the architecture. Sometimes they use broad strokes to distort history, but this is more often a case of Rule of Cool, Rule of Drama, or some of the exigencies ofthe video game medium than any deliberate error (for example, almost all doctors in Renaissance Italy dressed up as Plague Doctors because that getup is both extremely freaky-cool looking, and produces an easily identifiable figure/silhouette so the player can find medicine-and-healing-dispensers quickly and easily).
Simple Yet Awesome: Counter Attacking. In any game, holding the block button and pressing the attack button as an enemy is about to attack will result in your character blocking it and either scoring a One-Hit Kill, knocking your opponent on the ground in the first game — almost ensuring a kill anyway against non-boss enemies — or doing some damage to your opponent in all other games. It's also fairly easy with any weapon except the hidden blade, which guaranteed a counter kill on anything but the Final Boss, making it Difficult but Awesome instead, or your fists (which doesn't do anything in the first game, but will attempt to disarm your attacker in other games).
Super Drowning Skills: In the first game, Alta´r desynchronizes if he falls into any body of water higher than his knees. This is lampshaded in the second game as a glitch in the Animus 1.0, and the main characters in II and all subsequent games are very capable swimmers no matter how much armor they wear. Other characters, including your Assassin Recruits, remain unable to swim until Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
Super Senses: Eagle Vision allows the user to see things that used to be present, that are present but normally not visible, traces of the past that simply shouldn't be visible, hints of the future, things that are hidden but important, and to know the motivations of others... it is a gift from Those Who Came Before. It is stronger in the Assassins, as the intended followers of Minerva's plan, but Black Flag shows that it's something which can be trained in many people, and can naturally and powerfully develop even in people outside the order (like Edward Kenway).
Talking Is a Free Action: Each and every primary assassination target gets to have a Just Between You and Me conversation with the player character, regardless of the circumstances under which they were killed. Said conversation takes place in the Animus' White Void Room, implying that the VR reconstruction of the event did not precisely match the actual memory.
The Artifact: The iconic white robes and hoods on the Assassin uniform, which have become synonymous with their image and are supposedly necessary for their brand of stealth. The only setting in the series where the uniform actually makes sense is the Third Crusade (from Assassin's Creed I); everybody wore long robes because of the desert heat, and the white color and hoods could be easily mistaken for the Muslim monks and clergymen. But, it's laughable how the Assassins manage to go unnoticed in all the other settings. Renaissance Italy (Assassin's Creed II) is particularly egregious; not only do Ezio's large weapons, elaborate capes, and designer armor make him a walking circus attraction, but the bright white/red colors, long robes, and hood are the exact opposite of Renaissance era fashion (people favored big fancy hats, baggy coats and trousers, and dark "royal" colors like blood red, purple, and dark green). It's amazing Ezio, Connor (from Assassin's Creed III, Colonial American era), and Edward (Assassin's Creed IV, Golden Age of Piracy) manage to sneak past anyone in their get-ups. But, let's be honest; could you REALLY imagine the Assassins sneaking around, doing their thing without their uniform at this point?
The Three Faces of Adam: Ezio's trilogy closely follows this, with ACII, Brotherhood, and Revelations respectively showing the Hunter, the Lord, and the Prophet phases of his life.
Tightrope Walking: Alta´r, Ezio, and Connor (as well as Desmond of course) can all run on certain incredibly thin ropes, wires, wood planks, and the like.
Translation Convention: This is in effect for any historical segments shown that do not take place in the Animus (such as the short films Lineage and Embers.)
Translator Microbes: The Animus automatically translates any foreign dialogue that takes place in it for the sake of the user (and the player). It doesn't do it perfectly, though, which gets a bit of Lampshade Hanging.
Two-Part Trilogy: Averted. While each game ends on a Cliffhanger or Sequel Hook of some sort, the stories being told in each game is distinct. In fact you could consider Assassins Creed II as itself being split into three parts including Brotherhood and Revelations, linked together as Ezio's story. Supporting this is that once the series moves on to a new main protagonist it goes back to numbering the sequels.
Uneven Hybrid: Before dying out, The Ones Who Came Before hybridized some humans with their own DNA in an attempt to give them sufficient wisdom to understand the First Civilization's agenda. This worked only partially, and the bloodline of "Adam and Eve" has waxed and waned throughout the millennia. Those with a particularly strong reinforcement of the proper genes develop traits characteristic of the Assassin protagonists, such as Eagle Vision. note According to James Kidd in Black Flag, the capability for "Knowing" is latent in all of us, but we seldom learn to use it. Those with one very specific recombination turn into the Sage, the genetic reincarnation of Juno's husband Aita.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted. Bystanders will generally remark things along the lines of "WTF?!" when the protagonist climbs the walls of buildings, drops from above, and especially fights and kills people. They'll also gather around, say, a poisoned guard.
Utopia Justifies the Means: The mindset of the Templars. The Assassins for their part don't believe in Utopia at all, chiding the Templars for their clinging to easy solutions.
What the Hell, Hero?: While the Assassins are usually portrayed as a force for good, they have also committed their share of moral hypocrisy. This includes hunting down former Assassin Nikolai Orelov and his family, allying with the Ottoman Empire and supporting its conquest of Eastern Europe, while Desmond Miles' father was physically abusive to 'toughen him up'. Alta´r points out further contradictions in his Codex; they kill whoever opposes them while declaring to support the freedom of humanity (which presumably would include being free to make wrong choices).
The Assassins are Good Is Not Nice and Refuge in Audacity, it might be they favour the Ottoman Empire as a ballast against the Western European Empires which are certainly no better than the Ottomans as far as conquest is concerned, and also they were drawn to the relative progressive quality of the Ottomans (home to Jewish and religious refugees across Europe). As for Nikolai Orelov, he did take a Piece of Eden for his selfish uses and became a paranoid asshole who withheld a message from the First Civilization from his brothers, while the Assassins at least ensured that his family was taken care of and survived to the present day.
White Void Room: The Animus loading screen. The original Animus screen featured lots of hexagonal lines and bits of code]] scattered in the background, while Rebecca's Animus 2.0 had a simpler but cleaner white void with grid lines dividing up the empty space. The Animus 3.0 loading screen is a chaotic void of cloudy triangles.