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Story idea/proposal for an Assassin’s Creed game set during the American Civil War

Gamingtodaynews1b - Story idea/proposal for an Assassin's Creed game set during the American Civil War

Of the many eras in history I would like to see adapted into the AC universe, this one intrigues me the most. As a history major with a concentration in American History, the Civil War has always fascinated me by its complexity, the horrors that both caused and were caused by it, the ideals that men aspired to, and its lasting impact on not just the United States but the world over. Such a story would delve back into the conflicting philosophies of the Assassins and Templars and how their ideological differences reflect those shared by North & South. It has the potential to be the most critical look at the two organizations since Revelations, III, and Unity, in my opinion, as the definitions of freedom and equality are less clear-cut when viewed through the lens of the two secret societies.

DISCLAIMER: I have never been, nor do I profess to be, an advocate of the "Lost Cause" nor a denier of the atrocities that people suffered from as a result of slavery and systemic racism. It is a matter of record and fact that the Southern States seceded to form the Confederacy in order to preserve the institution of slavery, as outlined by their own constitutions, and nothing of what I say is intended to reflect a desire to deny the truth. Slavery was an abomination and it is good that it was abolished as it runs counter to the ideas of liberty that the United States was founded on. That being said, the conflict and moral nature of the parties involved were not as "cut-and-dry" as depicted, and the Assassin's Creed universe offers great insight into exploring the moral strengths and failures of both sides of the argument. The Saracens and the Crusaders, the British and the French, the Ottomans and the Byzantines, the Egyptians and the Greeks, the monarchists and the revolutionaries of France, and (most notably) the Assassins and Templars are all guilty of becoming victims of their own bias that their work alone benefits the greater good. This game will take a firm look at both the Union and Confederacy and observe the truth, nothing less.



The game is set approximately from 1846 to 1865, encompassing a large degree of events in American history. Gameplay-wise it would function in a manner that combines aspects of Unity and Syndicate's gameplay, with enough emphasis on melee combat that gunplay doesn't overwhelm it, even if revolvers and repeating rifles were just now starting to enter the picture. The primary locations (cities) to be traveled to would be New York City, Washington DC, Charleston, and New Orleans, with an "Eastern Theatre" landscape functioning in a way similar to that of the Frontier in AC3 but with more activities, such as skirmishes with both Union and Confederate forces, helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad, sabotaging bridges and railroad lines, and smuggling goods through military lines for money. Several towns and cities will be available in this expanse of land, including (but not limited to) Shiloh, the Shenandoah Valley, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Savannah, and Fredericksburg.

The player primarily assumes the role of one of two protagonists: Lucius "Luke" Barnett, an escaped slave from South Carolina living in Pennsylvania, and William "Billy" Conrad, an impoverished white orphan from Virginia. The two of them join the Assassin Brotherhood in the 1850s at a time when the nation was on the precipice of war, and though they become friends they find themselves driven apart by the hostilities that threaten to tear the United States asunder. With the outbreak of the Civil War (as caused by the Templars), the American Brotherhood is divided into two separate Brotherhoods for the duration of the war, the Northern Brotherhood and Southern Brotherhood. Luke would be in the Northern Brotherhood while Billy would be in the Southern Brotherhood. Despite the divisions, the two Brotherhoods are not actively fighting each other, but utilizing the US and CS governments in their fight against the Templars in order to end the war. Unfortunately, the war itself forces many Assassins into military service, including Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, George Henry Thomas, James Longstreet, Robert Gould Shaw, Winfield Scott Hancock, and John Singleton Mosby, among others. Many other non-military historical figures would be part of the Assassins, including John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and more.

Assassination targets would include John Tyler (CSA), Albert Sidney Johnston (CSA), AP Hill (CSA), John Sedgwick (USA), Lewis Armistead (CSA), John A. Koltes (USA), Joseph K Mansfield (USA), Champ Ferguson (CSA), and John Wilkes Booth (CSA). All would be members of the Templar Order that either Luke or Billy would have to hunt down over the course of the game.

In AC lore, Boss Tweed was the leader of the American Templars in 1863, which leads into the New York portion of the game. However, since there is a division within the Assassin Brotherhood, it only makes sense that the Templar Order be divided as well. For this story, Alexander Stephens is the Grand Master of the Southern Templars with Jefferson Davis being a puppet used to run the Confederate government. Abraham Lincoln is neutral, but more often than not works alongside the Assassins in pursuit of their goals of liberty. As for a "main antagonist," it would most likely be Champ Ferguson since he was the last of the aforementioned Templars to die in real life. Some background on Ferguson is that he claimed to have killed over 100 Union soldiers and civilians and was executed by hanging on October 20th, 1865 for war crimes. In this sense, he could operate very much in the "savage" role occupied by Charles Lee or Francois-Thomas Germain. Furthermore, his guerilla status enables him to pop in and out of the story as he pleases, serving as a thorn in the Assassins' sides. He could also have a role in influencing the decisions made by Union and Confederate Templars in how they wage the war and what goals they ultimately pursue.

Combat would primarily consist of melee weapons, such as swords, bayonets, Bowie knives, and axes to supplement the traditional hidden blades, with perhaps the return of the Ottoman hookblade. Guns would also make a return in the form of derringers, pepperbox pistols, revolvers (Colt, Remington, Griswold, etc.), muskets, and repeating rifles, but with a balanced system so as not to negate melee combat. Two types of ammunition would exist: "pistol" rounds and "rifle" rounds. "Pistol" rounds can be loaded into handguns and repeating rifles and the player can carry a great number, however they are expensive to buy and hard to find on a battlefield. In addition, these rounds are not very powerful and only go a short range. "Rifle" rounds are more common than pistol rounds and pack a lot more effective damage and range, but you can only carry a small number of them at a time and the weapons take a longer time to reload than a repeating rifle. Aiming would be similar to that of Unity and Syndicate where a gut shot won't result in an instant kill and instead you have to be much more careful with aiming.

In Northern cities, a number of side activities could be completed depending on the location. If your character is in New York he can help to take down nativist, Templar-backed street gangs (quite literally "Gangs of New York") and try to reduce Tweed's influence in Northern politics and industry. You could also help take down child labor practices (like in Syndicate) or stop the drafting of New York residents into the Union Army. There would also be military garrisons you could raid for weapon upgrades, money, or abilities, and you would get more if you completed the tasks stealthily. In DC, you could be tasked with rooting out Confederate and/or Templar spies, and help Lincoln keep Templar business out of his cabinet while he tries to conduct both the war and emancipation (I have an idea where Andrew Johnson, William Seward, and Salmon P. Chase are Templars in the US government, but more on that in a moment).

In Southern ities, you could help procure much-needed food for the people of Charleston as the war intensifies and the army needs more resources to support itself. You could also liberate slaves and have them either escape on the Underground Railroad or have them join your own Brotherhood, much like the Assassin recruits of other games. Like in the North, you can raid Southern forts for unique weapons and upgrades. You also can assassinate corrupt Confederate politicians and plantation-owners, whether they're part of the Templars or not. In New Orleans, gameplay would be similar to that in Liberation, but with an added focus of naval warfare (as per the Anaconda Plan) and fighting corruption during both Confederate and Union occupation of the city.

All cities would feature historically-accurate landmarks and stores that fit the era, and there will be a system where you can barter or do services in exchange for goods rather than simply pay for everything (especially when the Confederacy was plagued with hyperinflated currency).

Like mentioned before, naval warfare would make a return, but this time you would be in command of an Assassin-controlled Ironclad ship, the Gustavus, which would be use to fight off Templar smugglers at sea. Either Luke or Billy can command this ship, and the enemies will change depending on who commands it. You can upgrade the ship either with weapons and armor provided by a harbormaster or items you gain from raiding Union or Confederate outposts.

STORY (still a work in progress and with liberties taken in typical AC fashion):


The game begins during the Mexican-American War in the year 1847, where the player is an unnamed United States officer leading his unit through Mexico. In this prologue, they encounter Mexican soldiers seeking t hinder their progress towards an unspecified objective. Along the way, the officer becomes acquainted with figures who would eventually become notable during the Civil War, among them Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and William T. Sherman. After a series of events including skirmishes with Mexican soldiers, the US troops reach their destination with what looks to be an abandoned Mexican village, but after excavating the area come across a temple of First Civilization origin, though they find themselves unable to open it. The officer deduces that he knows exactly what can open this Temple. Before they do, the soldiers are ambused by Mexican Assassins who kill everyone there, and the officer reveals himself to be a member of the Templar Order. The one leading the Mexican Assassins is none other than James Kenway, the grandson of Ratonhnhake:ton and Mentor of the American Brotherhood. With his men dead and knowing his options are limited, the officer commits suicide rather than let the Assassins know how to open the Temple. James and his Assassins are thereby stumped and have no way of accessing the Temple, so they move on and forget about it.

(I have no modern-day portion in mind exactly, but I wanted to have it relate to Juno and the Instruments of the First Will if that's even possible anymore)

Lucius "Luke" Barnett is born into slavery in 1840 South Carolina, the product of a nonconsensual affair between an enslaved woman, Mary, and her owner, Edwin Barnett. When he was twelve years old, he witnessed a drunken Stephen kill his mother, and in a rage Luke murders Edwin with his own gun, a single-shot pistol that serves as a motif in the game. Being set upon by slave catchers, Luke makes a run for it off of the plantation before being caught by one of the slave catchers, who then proceeds to start whipping the boy. Before he can finish the job, the sound of a blade piercing flesh is heard, and Luke looks up to see a woman standing over the man's dead body with a blade attached to her wrist. She introduces herself as Harriet Tubman, a former slave who escaped and now helped others like her to freedom, and helps get Luke to safety in Pennsylvania via the Underground Railroad. Tubman explains that she is a member of the Assassins, a Brotherhood dedicated to protecting the freedom of mankind, and further explains that Edwin was a member of the Templar Order, who would seek to have the whole of the world under their control. Luke makes the decision to join them. He keeps the whip that was used against him, and ironically enough serves as both his primary weapon and a motif in the story about the cruelties of slavery. He can use it much like Zorro where he can navigate along buildings easier, as well as having a metal tip that cut through flesh with ease.

William "Billy" Conrad, also born in 1840, was an orphan for as long as he could remember. He grew up in poverty in Richmond, resorting to thieving and getting into trouble so that he wouldn't starve. He came from nothing and so grew up with a deep hatred of authority figures and of the elite planter-class of the South. One day, when he was fourteen, he picked the pocket of the wrong person and discovered they had a small, unusual-looking cross. The man in question noticed the theft, and he and his men gave chase to Billy before cornering him in an alley, saying he knew too much. The man took out a Bowie knife and cut along Billy's cheek, leaving a scar for the rest of his life. Before the three men could kill him, a fourth voice called out telling them to leave the boy alone. The two men engaged the mysterious man before being swiftly taken down, though the third managed to get the upper hand and sent the rescuer to the ground. Billy intervened and killed the man with his own Bowie knife, saving both his own life and that of the man who attempted to save him. The man got up afterwards and introduced himself as Major Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a US Army veteran of the Mexican War, professor at the Virginia Military Institute, and a member of the Assassin Brotherhood. He explained that he had been tracking the men now laying dead at their feet for weeks, and how they were members of the Templar Order and responsible for the untimely death of his wife Elinor. Billy takes the Templar's Bowie knife (another motif) and also joins the Assassins.

Luke and Billy quickly become inseparable as they train together in the Brotherhood. They study under the guidance and tutelage of James Kenway, with Tubman and Jackson serving as their more direct mentors. Other members of the Assassin Brotherhood include Frederick Douglass, John Brown, John S. Mosby, James Longstreet, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Gould Shaw, George Henry Thomas, and Winfield Scott Hancock. In a twist, Lewis Armistead and John Wilkes Booth would also be members of the Assassins, but it would be revealed later on that they were both moles sent in from the Templars to sabotage the Brotherhood from inside.

Their ultimate goal is to make strides towards complete liberty in America and to prevent the Templars from seizing control as they had decades before during Shay Cormac's purge. However, the divide between North and South becomes more apparent after the Mexican War and the various compromises made over the issue of slavery, and this reflects in the Assassins because, while all members are committed to the ideas of freedom, some of them still are slave-owners to maintain their social standing within the South for the benefit of the Brotherhood. James absolutely hates having to tolerate this, but he is more concerned with preserving the unity of both the United States and the Assassins so as to stop the Templars.

However, John Brown becomes more and more disillusioned with the Brotherhood and with James for the continued compromises, finding it to be hypocritical with the foundations of the Brotherhood. When the Templars start to expand their influence in Kansas in 1856 via the pro-slavery Lecompton government, James sends Luke and Billy along with Brown to gain firsthand experience in dealing with the Templars. Brown manages to track down one of the Templar leaders, James Doyle, and tracks him and his cohorts down. While there, Luke and Billy witness Brown's brutality firsthand as his men hack the Templars with broadswords in what becomes known as the Pottawatomie Massacre. He tells both Luke and Billy to put Doyle out of his misery, but the boys are shocked at what they just witnessed. Brown then proceeds to interrogate Doyle about the location of something, and Doyle complies saying its buried just outside. Brown then executes Doyle with a pistol shot, and then digs in the ground to find an Apple of Eden inside a box (for canon purposes, this is the same Apple that Connor dropped in the ocean after the end of Tyranny of King Washington and would later be in both FDR and JFK's possession).

The Apple remains in Assassin hands for the next three years before Brown decides enough is enough, and then steals the Apple for himself. Driven insane by its power (much like Al Mualim and George Washington), and already disillusioned with Kenway and the Brotherhood, Brown goes rogue and attempts to use the Apple to start a nationwide slave revolt. He receives financial backing for his revolt through the "Secret Six" (a different set than the historical record), not realizing that they are Templars who hope to use the revolt to help instigate war in the United States. Realizing he has gone too far and threatens the safety of the Brotherhood and the country, the Assassins band together to try and stop him. Brown approaches Douglass and asks for his help, but no matter how strongly he wants slavery to be abolished and all to be free, to do so in this way compromises the Brotherhood. Luke and Billy work together to stop Brown and get the Piece of Eden out of his possession, and Brown is later hung with the Assassins in attendance. After Brown's hanging, Douglass leaves the Brotherhood, realizing that the time for compromise has passed.

Months later, the Templars launch an attack against the Assassins that nearly destroys them. Amidst the chaos, Lewis Armistead reveals himself as a mole for the Templars and absconds with the Apple of Eden, breaking everyone's hearts, especially Hancock. Soon after, due to more Templar manipulations in the Northern and Southern States, the slaveholding states secede from the Union and form the Confederacy. Realizing war is now at their doorstep, James Kenway makes the decision that neutrality and compromise are no longer options, and so the American Assassins go their separate ways and form independent Brotherhoods to root out the Templars, find the Apple of Eden, and end the Civil War before more lives are lost. Tubman becomes the leader of the Northern Assassins, while Jackson becomes leader of the Southern Assassins. Luke and Billy share heartfelt goodbyes as they go off to their new Brotherhoods, hoping that they would see each other alive by the end of this war if they didn't end up killing each other.

The "Secret Six" would consist of John A. Koltes, John Tyler, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph K. Mansfield, John Sedgwick, and AP Hill, with Champ Ferguson being the overall "field commander" for the Templars in the war while Alexander Stephens, Boss Tweed, Salmon P. Chase, and William Seward manipulate events behind the scenes for the Templar Order. Lewis Armistead reveals his true colors early on, but Booth keeps a lower profile until towards the end of the game where he reveals himself as a Templar and assassinates Lincoln.

In addition to being the main targets of assassination, the Secret Six and Ferguson would possess on them seven artifacts that are needed to unlock the Precursor Temple in Mexico. However, the Assassins are not aware of what these artifacts are, and the Templars do not know where the site was located after James Kenway destroyed their last expedition. Ferguson desires the contents of the Temple not only for the Templars but to amass his own power, which has grown since ever since they stole the Apple from the Assassins.

That's all I got for right now. If any of you would like to provide feedback, I am more than happy to see what you all have to say. Thank you for reading and hope you have a good day.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Zac Scalafini
    Feb 07, 2021 3:04 am


    I really love this story. As well as mechanics.
    I adore the ironclad part. I would even add that in mid game you add 1-2 smaller steamships as part of a “ fleet” you steam up the Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky rivers, around the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern seaboard, maybe even the great lacks and back down the Mississippi.

    You may have a mechanic to “ signal” your ironclad to assist in actives in combat by water, such as mortar support.
    I would also think a group of soldiers able to disembark and command on march on that ironclad is helpful if not awesome.

    I would also like to see an optional train mechanic used to travers the cities and between cities more affectively, even just watching the fields go by as you travel between d.c. and New York.

    I would also add early Chicago to your city list.

    I also think it is important to have two assassins.

    As for portraying American racial reality in the 19th century, take a page from rdr2. Have there be bad people on both sides, but one side be pretty bad.

    Very nice idea, would be ideal for today’s climate as well, to make a statement even.

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