Assassins, warriors shrouded in secrecy and feared for their ruthlessness, are one of the most appealing classes in RPG/MMO. The assassin is a master of stealth, subterfuge and deception. They have created many renowned legends in history, and nowadays these ancient warriors have been revived in movies, games and other mediums. Let’s take a look at this mysterious profession’s cultural background.
The Middle-eastern Assassin
The term 'Assassin' derives from the Arabic word Hashshashin from the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. This mystic secret society killed members of the Abbasid and Seljuq élite for political and religious reasons. The original place they started their elite group was in Alamut, Iran (Persia) and later traveled to other countries.
It is popularly believed that the assassins were under the influence of hashish and opium during their killings or during their indoctrination, and that assassin derives from hasishin, the influence of the drugs. One of the legends about the Assassins was that they were drugged to simulate "dying", to later awaken in a garden flowing with wine and served a sumptuous feast by virgins. The supplicant was then convinced he was in Heaven and that the cult's leader, Hasan-i Sabbah, was a representative of the divinity and all his orders should be followed, even unto death.
The Hashshashin were meticulous in killing the targeted individual, seeking to do so without any additional casualties and innocent loss of life, although they were careful to cultivate their terrifying reputation by slaying their victims in public, often in mosques. Typically, they approached using a disguise. Preferring a small hidden blade or dagger, they rejected poison, bows and other weapons that allowed the attacker to escape and live. For unarmed combat, the Hashshashin practiced a fighting style called Janna which incorporates striking techniques, grappling and low kicks. However, under no circumstances did they commit suicide, preferring to be killed by the master himself.
The power of the Hashshashin was destroyed by the invading Mongols. However, parts of its lore had been preserved by Marco Polo and Islamic historians. Inspired by their legends, Ubisoft published a popular stealth game, Assassin’s Creed, in 2007.
The Oriental Assassin, Ninja
The ninja is an oriental assassin. Ninja is the on'yomi reading of the two kanji used to write shinobi-no-mono , which is the native Japanese word for people who practice ninjutsu.
Ninjutsu was developed as a collection of fundamental survivalist techniques in the warring states of feudal Japan. The ninja used their art to ensure their survival in a time of violent political turmoil. Ninjutsu included methods of gathering information, and techniques of non-detection, avoidance, and misdirection. Ninjutsu can also involve training in disguise, escape, concealment, archery, medicine, explosives, and poisons.
Back in feudal Japan, the conflicts between the clans of daimyo that controlled small regions of land had established guerrilla warfare and assassination as a valuable alternative to frontal assault. Since Bushido, the samurai code, forbade such tactics as dishonorable, a daimyo could not expect his own troops to perform the tasks required; thus, he had to buy or broker the assistance of ninja to perform selective strikes, espionage, assassination, and infiltration of enemy strongholds.
The mystique and allure of the ninja has made it a popular character in game culture. Famous ninja themed video games include Ninja Gaiden and Tenchu. Many MMORPGs also list the ninja in their class lineup. The ancient Chinese style MMO Conquer Online has chosen ninja as the new class for its expansion, New Dynasty. It is said that ninjstsu stems from ancient China’s art of warfare. Now the ninjas, with their fabled weapons and mysterious skills, are ready to whip up a storm in the fantastic world of Conquer Online.