Content of the article: "My Pitch for an Assassin’s Creed Game set during the Unification of Germany (1864 – 1871)"
Assassin's Creed Setting Idea – The German Unification
The 19th century was an age of European expansionism, conquest, advancement, and constant war. The idea for a united Germany had only truly begun following the disastrous downfall of the German Revolution in 1848, when nationalism was on the rise and a sense of national identity was beginning to blossom. The Kingdom of Prussia was seen as the best candidate for German Unification by many revolutionaries, who even offered to crown King Wilhelm I as Emperor of Germany. However, Wilhelm declined, fearing that the Austrian and Russian Empires could retaliate against a united German state.
In 1862, Otto von Bismarck became the Prime Minister of Prussia, and his main goal was to unify the German states into an empire supervised by the Hohenzollern kings of Prussia, famously giving a speech before the Prussian parliament that ended with the words, "Iron and Blood!"
The first step into German unification was to incorporate the region of Schleswig-Holstein, which was under the rule of the Danish Kingdom. Schleswig-Holstein had a large German population, so Bismarck saw it necessary to take the region for Prussia. When the Danish king introduced a new constitution in 1864 that practically incorporated the region into the Danish realm, Austria and Prussia (both of whom were members of the German Confederation) sent an ultimatum for Denmark to revoke the new constitution. The Danish government refused, and the Second Schleswig War had begun.
Austria joined Prussia in the conflict, and the two would invade the Jutland peninsula at the start of the conflict. One of the most infamous Danish defeats during the war was the Siege of Dybbøl in 1864. After an 11-day siege against the fort town, the Danish troops were defeated by Prussian men and howitzer artillery. With the capital at Copenhagen threatened, Denmark sued for peace, losing Schleswig to Prussia and Holstein to Austria.
Bismarck understood that Austria would never accept a Prussian-dominated German Empire right on its doorstep, so preparations were made to wage war against the Hapsburgs. In 1866, Prussia invaded Austria's allies in Hanover, Saxony, and Hesse, while the Italian kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont invaded Austrian lands in Lombardy-Venetia. During this time, Sardinia-Piedmont also had aspirations to unite Italy under their rule. Austria was forced to split its forces as Prussia started another invasion into Bohemia. During the famous battle at Königgrätz , the combined Austro-Saxon armies were defeated. Austria was forced to sue for peace, and the following treaties kicked the empire out of the German Confederation, which was replaced with the North German Confederation. Austria's sphere of influence in Bavaria, Baden, and Württemberg was shattered, and Prussia now was the dominant player of German politics.
The last step in German unification was to provoke a war against France and bring the southern German states into the Prussian fold. That opportunity would come when Spain was undergoing a succession crisis, and the Spanish offered the crown to a Hohenzollern prince named Leopold. King Wilhelm I did not want to provoke France into open conflict, but his hand was forced when Bismarck deceptively altered communications between Spain, Prussia, and France. Napoleon III was angered by these apparent messages meant to take a jab at France, so he and the French parliament openly declared war on Prussia. With France now viewed as an aggressor in German politics, the southern German states joined Prussia in the conflict known as the Franco-Prussian War.
Even though France had an advantage in numbers, Prussian military minds began prioritizing the use of more advanced equipment and trains, which would sent supplies, orders, and reinforcements to the front lines. At the Battle of Sedan in 1870, an outnumbered Prussian army managed to defeat an enemy force of 130,000 French troops. Napoleon III himself was taken prisoner after the battle, and a new defense government was formed in Paris. By 1871, Paris was suffering from a 130 day siege. With thousands on the verge of starvation, the French Republican government sued for negotiations. Around this time, Versailles was under Prussian occupation, where Wilhelm I was posthumously crowned Kaiser of the German Empire. At last, the war ended with a German victory, with France losing control over Alsace-Lorraine and forced to accept a temporary occupation of Paris by German troops.
Gameplay and Game World
A game set during the German Unification would primarily take place in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna between 1864 and 1871. As for parkour, stealth, and combat, it could be a combination of mechanics from AC Unity and AC Syndicate.
Traversal – During the 19th century, cities like Paris, Vienna, and Berlin continued to evolve into more modern cities, with wide roads, taller buildings, and an integration of technology. Even though the use of the grappling hook by Assassins wouldn't be mainstream until 1868 and the Frye Twin's fight against the London, there is no reason to not alter lore to confirm the invention of the traversal device within Germany, as nations like Prussia, Hanover, and Saxony were heavily industrialized nations.
Melee combat – Because the combat in AC Syndicate would have been more associated with gang warfare, the combat from AC Unity would be more fit for a game set within Germany, with such weapons like military sabres, daggers, and even a return to hidden blade combat.
Ranged combat – As 19th century Europe was an age of modern advancements, ranged weapons would be highly advanced and far more deadly. There would be a larger use of pistols, rifles, hand grenades, throwing knives, and even a formal return to the phantom blade from AC Unity.
Activities and World Events
With AC Valhalla taking an approach toward world events and side activities, perhaps the same can apply with a game set in the German Unification. Gambling was fairly notorious during the 19th century, so such games like cards, poker, and others would be perfect as side activities. There could even be underground brawls, carriage races, and military practices. Perhaps the best side activity that would be unique to this kind of game is the Prussian war game known as Kriegspiel (just think of the Total War games, but with a chess-like approach). As for world events, they could be bringing criminals to justice, helping civilians with their daily routines, or helping with military deliveries or practice.
The game begins in the outskirts of Dybbøl in 1864. Franz, a young soldier in the Prussian army chose to take a nap the night before, but is awoken by the thundering Howitzers, which were constantly striking the Danish entrenchments. It is the 18th of April, and the Prussians prepare for a charge against the Danish troops. After another round of artillery fire, the Prussians push forward, charging downhill at the enemy defenses. After nearly an hour of fighting, the Danish troops are pushed back into the fortress town of Dybbøl. With their defenses considerably more secure, Franz offers to the Prussian commanders that he could sneak in and undermine the morale of the enemy troops. Despite the refusal of this commanders, Franz sneaks off to break into the town on his own.
Using stealth, Franz eventually breaks into the estate that some of the Danish officers and commanders were using as a place to conduct orders and plans. Not only does Franz steal some documents and military plans, but he even kills one of the commanders, looting a golden cross encrusted with red jewels from the body. With the town now alerted to the assassination of the commander, Franz jumps out of a window and into a hay bale down below. After dealing with a few of the Danish soldiers, Franz escapes Dybbøl and brings the Danish plans to his superiors. At first they were disappointed that Franz entered the city anyway, but they eventually came around after looking into the military plans.
On the same day, the Danish garrison at Dybbøl surrendered the town to the Prussians, and the war would continue until October. Denmark would lose the conflict, with Prussian and Austria collectively occupying Schleswig-Holstein.
Franz returns to Berlin in late October, together with the rest of the Prussian army coming home from the war. Franz is then greeted by his betrothed, Emilia, who was standing among the crowd cheering on the marching troops. In the following night, Franz and Emilia would be walking out on the streets of Berlin, and he would be alerted to a commotion in a nearby alleyway. Franz tells Emilia to return back to their apartment. At first, Emilia was reluctant to leave him behind, but Franz told to her again for her safety. She agrees and rushes back to the apartment as Franz delves into the alleyway, where a fellow soldier had been murdered.
He rushes to check on the body, only to discover that it was his friend. Suddenly, Franz is attacked by Templar thugs, who attempt to cover up their tracks by murdering him as well. He fights back, and after a while, he manages to either kill the thugs or force the others into fleeing into the dark night. Around the same time, Berlin officers heard the commotion and saw Franz wielding a bloodied dagger, standing over a fallen soldier. They immediately attempt to arrest him for murder, but he manages to flee from the alleyway and make his way for the rooftops. After reaching the roof of an apartment far away from the crime scene, Franz decides to take a break, wondering how he would explain himself if he was caught again. All of a sudden, he is knocked out by an unknown assailant.
Upon waking up, he finds himself in a room surrounded by hooded figures wielding weapons, guns, and hidden blades; these were members of the German Brotherhood of Assassins. After much revelations and newfound knowledge on his origins, Franz eventually chooses to join the Assassin Brotherhood, who have aligned themselves with the German government in hopes of uniting Germany while handling the Templars in the Austrian and French Empires, with figures like Napoleon III serving as grand masters of the Templar Orders.
Around this time, London was still under the heel of Crawford Starrick, Russia continued to degrade under a Romanov monarchy influenced by the Templars, and the French and Austrian Templars were already attempting to exert their influence in the Americas by invading Mexico as the United States was reeling from Civil War. The last thing the Templars want was a United Germany, as it would both create new problems for European politics, and perhaps even threaten their influence if the Assassins had their way.
Franz, together with the German Assassins, meet up with King Wilhelm I, Crown Prince Frederick III (the Mentor of the German Brotherhood), and Otto von Bismarck, a grand master in the Templar Order. Bismarck explains that, while the Assassins were his greatest foe, he prioritizes German unification above all. After much discussion, Prussian generals discuss their plans for a future war against Austria, who already had allies in Saxony, Hanover, and Hesse that proved problematic for Prussian ambitions toward a united Germany. The Assassins join in on the planning, explaining that after the war is won, they would help their fellow Austrian Assassins in undermining Templar control in Vienna. In 1866, tensions over Schleswig-Holstein, secretly bolstered by the Assassins, would culminate into the Austro-Prussian War.
Franz joins the armies under Helmuth von Moltke and Crown Prince Frederick as they march into Bohemia following the invasion of Saxony. An Austro-Saxon army attempts to disperse the Prussian forces, but are pushed back toward the fields of Königgrätz. After a grueling period of fighting, the Austrians retreat from the field, confirming a Prussian victory. During the battle, Franz managed to kill several Templar officers present at the fighting.
By late July, Austria sued for peace, and Prussia managed to secure victory; Hanover, Saxony, and Hesse would be incorporated into the North German Confederation, Austria was excluded from Germany, and their hold over Bavria, Baden, and Württemberg was completely broken. In 1867, Franz arrives at Vienna to join up with the Austrian Assassins.
Prior to his visit to Vienna, Franz would be given a task to assassinate Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard Gerhard, a professor at the Berlin University who was discovered to have begun the excavation of an Isu Temple beneath the Prussian capital, specifically underneath the future site of the Reichstag. After battling his way through Templar thugs and soldiers, Franz managed to assassinate the archaeologist, and upon discovering the terrifying power of the Apple of Eden buried within, he brings it back to the Assassin Council, who later decided to bury it in Königsberg.
Upon arriving in Vienna, Franz meets the members of the Austrian Brotherhood, and begin the process of finding and assassinating targets throughout the Austrian capital.
After dealing with the majority of the Austrian order, the final Templar target in Vienna was the leader of the Austrian Teutonic Order, Philipp von Stadion und thannhausen. During a banquet at a Viennese palace in January of 1868, the Assassins infiltrated the party, and Franz himself would assassinate the grand master of the Templar Order in the Austrian Empire.
By 1870, Prussia would provoke the Second French Empire into declaring war, with Franz present at the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan. During the chaos, Napoleon III would be captured along with his remaining 100,000 troops. Franz and a few German Assassins were quick in reaching Paris to join the French Assassins. As the Prussians neared the French capital, several Templar members like French Prime Minister Victor de Broglie would be assassinated. At last, France was forced to surrender as Franz was present in Versailles for the proclamation of the German Empire. Napoleon III would be released, but be forced into exile in Britain.
By 1873, Franz was now a master assassin within the German Brotherhood, but was given one final task; the assassination of Napoleon III. With the aid of the Frye Twins in London, Franz was able to pinpoint Napoleon III's location in the British Isles, a small village in Kent. After a scuffle with Templar guards, Franz would assassinate the former French Emperor on the 9th of January, 1873. At last, the Templars and their power were diminished , not just in Germany and France, but also in Austria and even Britain, as the Frye Twins had already liberated London from the rule of the Templars back in 1868.
Epilogue and Possible Lore after German Unification
Following the proclamation of the German Empire, the balance of power in Europe changed, especially as the Templars lost great influence in Austria, France, Britain, and the former German states. However, this peace created by the Assassins would not last, as both Wilhelm I and Frederick III would die in 1888, leaving the throne in the hands of Wilhelm II, who had been influenced by the Templar doctrines of Bismarck throughout his youth. By 1890, Wilhelm would elevate Templars into the echelons of the German military and aristocracy, as several purges would be instigated against the Assassins within and outside of Berlin. By the outbreak of the First World War, it was now the Templars who ruled over Germany, while the Assassins consolidated their influence in Britain and France. Russia would eventually fall under the Bolshevik banner, Austria-Hungary would fragment, and the shame from the Treaty of Versailles would give rise to an extremist Templar faction within Germany; one that would threaten both Assassins and moderate Templars, and one that would go down in history as the world's worst and most vile regime.
What are your thoughts on a game set during the Unification of Germany?
- Another Setting Idea for Assassin’s Creed – The German Unification (1864 – 1871)
- Setting Idea for the Next Assassin’s Creed Game: The Lancastrian Phase of the Hundred Years’ War
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