- "The Hidden Blade has been a constant companion of ours over the years. Some would say it defines us – and they would not be entirely wrong. Many of our successes would not have been possible without it."
- ―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's Codex, page 13.[src]
The iconic weapon of the Assassins, the Hidden Blade – and in some instances termed as a "Wrist Blade" – was used for both stealth assassinations and regular combat. It was their most versatile weapon, with multiple upgrades and forms of use.
It consisted of a retractable blade, usually in conjunction with a protective bracer. As such, the blade could be discreetly extended or retracted, making it a valuable and stealthy piece of apparatus.
- "The blade is designed to ensure the commitment of whoever wields it."
- ―Leonardo da Vinci, regarding the Hidden Blade.[src]
The use of the Hidden Blade initially required the removal of a ring finger, both as a means of more easily extending the blade, and to show the commitment of the one wielding it. As such, many of the early Levantine Assassins could be recognized by their missing fingers. However, the blade's mechanism was modified in the 13th century – as outlined in the Codex of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad – so as to no longer require such a sacrifice, and to keep Assassins from being identified so easily. Instead, from the Renaissance to at least the early 20th century, Assassins branded one of their ring fingers (usually the left) during their initiation into the Order as a sign of their devotion to the Creed.
There is no exact explanation for how the Hidden Blade works. Some of the earliest designs indicate a control apparatus wrapped around the hand. The Hidden Blade design would evolve over time; Edward Kenway stated in the 18th century that it is activated by a "flick of the wrist".
However, despite their versatility and strength, Hidden Blades could be broken when struck with enough force. Several Assassins, including Giovanni Auditore da Firenze and his son Ezio, both had one of their blades broken in combat. In both scenarios, the blade broke at the wrist. In 1715, Duncan Walpole's blade was broken in combat with Edward Kenway.
The first recorded use of the Hidden Blade was dated during the 5th century BCE, in the area known as modern day Iran, when Darius used it to assassinate King Xerxes I. By the High Middle Ages, Assassins were regularly outfitted with a Hidden Blade as part of their equipment. The blades saw wide use for assassinations, as they could be easily kept out of sight and allowed for quicker and stealthier eliminations.
Following his rise to the position of Mentor of the Levantine Assassins in 1191, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad used the Apple of Eden to redesign the Hidden Blades so that they could be used without the removal of the ring finger, a construction that became common thereafter.
Advancements in designEdit
- "Despite its age, the construction is rather advanced. I've never seen anything quite like it."
- ―Leonardo da Vinci studying the Hidden Blade.[src]
By the 15th century, the updated Hidden Blade design was dispersed throughout the Old World. The mechanism no longer required a wrist "flick" to release the blade, allowing the user to extend or retract it without any hand movement. Additionally the weapon could be used with a clenched fist; Giovanni Auditore was one of the few known Assassins to use it in this manner.
Through studying pages from Altaïr's codex, Leonardo da Vinci was able to provide Ezio Auditore with a variety of upgrades, such as the addition of a second Hidden Blade. The right to bear two Hidden Blades was thereafter reserved for those who had earned the rank of Master Assassin. Later innovations to the weapon's design included a hook, most common to the Turkish Assassins of Constantinople, and extra blades, as seen among the Indian Assassins.
By the 17th century, use of dual blades had become more common, as suggested by the large amount of such weapons collected by Julien du Casse.  Slight structural changes had also emerged; blades used by the Caribbean Assassins were wider than those seen in 16th century Europe, and American Assassins installed a pivot mechanism which changed the blade's orientation and allowed it to be used like a dagger.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Hidden Blade was still a part of standard Assassin attire, and continued to be commonly used in close combat. However, they began to decline in usage shortly after and were retained largely by high-ranking Assassins, such as Paul Bellamy, for purposes of tradition. They were also used as part of ceremonies, such as when Daniel Cross was gifted with a Hidden Blade by the Mentor in 2000.
Regular use of the Hidden Blade, while uncommon in the 21st century, is still practiced in some regions. In 2013, members of the Onmoraki-Gumi, a yakuza branch taken over by the Osaka Brotherhood, wore Hidden Blades that were concealed by the long sleeves of their suits.
While in the early 19th, the Indian Brotherhood used a Hidden Blade which could divide itself into three blades, as the one of Arbaaz Mir, by the 21st century, the Indians used again a new different design of the iconic weapon of their Order. Thus, the blade was no more placed under the wrist of the user but on its side and a touch screen was also added to the weapon allowing its user to activate the explosive device installed within his Hidden Blade as well as remotely detonate those of his fallen comrades. When in 2013, Jasdip Dhami activated the weapon of his dead sister, the explosion was so powerful that its destroyed an entire floor of a building.
As its main purpose was stealthy assassination, the Hidden Blade could only be used in combat under certain conditions, and could not block any attack. Altaïr was only able to assassinate a guard who had fallen to the ground or become distracted. He could also use the Hidden Blade in a counter attack; however, the time frame was extremely short in comparison to that of his sword and dagger. Successfully intercepting an attack enabled one of several different – and always lethal – counter attacks.
The Hidden Blade became more useful in combat due to upgrades over time. The mounting of a metal plate on the opposite side of the blade allowed it to be used defensively. In terms of offense, when used together, the dual Hidden Blades were swift but less damaging in comparison to a sword, with more utility in suppressing enemy attacks. In addition, every counter attack with the Hidden Blades resulted in an instant kill, with only the narrow timing window as a disadvantage.
Upgrades and adaptationsEdit
Encrypted Codex blueprintsEdit
- "The device has begun to show its age – and so I have been researching improvements beyond ending the need to remove one's finger to wield it."
- ―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's Codex, page 13.[src]
In his studies of the Apple of Eden, Altaïr envisioned several upgrades for the Hidden Blade, which he wrote into his Codex, and some of which he used himself. Throughout Ezio's travels, he would acquire these Codex pages, and Leonardo da Vinci would build the improvements detailed within when Ezio presented him with a page.
The first of these improvements was the addition of a secondary Hidden Blade, which was attached to the user's other arm, allowing an Assassin to kill two guards at once, either on the ground or from the air. The second was a metal plate on top of the primary blade's bracer that allowed one to safely deflect enemy attacks with the blades.
Other Codex upgrades included the Poison Blade and Hidden Gun. The Poison Blade allowed Ezio to stab an enemy with a lethal dose of poison and leave them to die slowly, granting both a low-profile assassination, as well as a distraction to kill or bypass other enemies, while the Hidden Gun allowed an Assassin to make a loud but assured kill from a distance. Additionally, both blades could be supplemented with various vambraces, which acted as protective armor.
- "I ask if he can arm a crossbow bolt beneath my wrist. He ponders for a moment and declares it possible, but expensive."
- ―Francesco Vecellio asking Leonardo to create the Hidden Bolt.[src]
Leonardo also designed and built the Hidden Bolt, a weapon that could fire small crossbow bolts, upon the request of Francesco Vecellio. As Francesco was only an apprentice at the time, Ezio had not allowed him to use the Hidden Gun, and so Francesco had devised a similar, though lighter, alternative.
The Hookblade was a modification of the Hidden Blade that was adopted by the Assassin Guild of Constantinople. Unlike the other Hidden Blade advancements, it was attached to the user's secondary Hidden Blade, instead of the primary.
Upon his arrival in the city, Ezio also made use of it in combat and travel. Primarily, it could be used during navigation in conjunction with ziplines, as well as allowing one to perform the "hook-and-run" and "hook-and-throw" maneuvers over their enemies, and generally extend one's reach when climbing and leaping.
The Hookblade also aided in battle by allowing a wider variety of attacks or counters, as well as permitting one to "counter-steal" or trip an enemy.
First depicted in use by the Assassin Shao Jun, the Shoe Blade was an adaptation to the Hidden Blade that allowed its users to maintain a low profile in areas where weapons were deemed restricted, as well as a method to surprise unsuspecting assailants with the combined use of blade and footwork, typically augmented through the studied use of leg-based martial arts.
However, this tactic was not solely exclusive to the Assassin Order, as the French Templar and wife to the Rite's Grand Master François de la Serre prior to the French Revolution, Julie de la Serre, implemented the use of a Shoe Blade in combat with two rogue Assassins, unknowingly employed to eliminate her and her daughter Élise on orders of the British Templar family, the Carrolls, despite Julie and Élise's association with Mrs. Carroll and her daughter May.
By the 18th century, the Hidden Blade had become an even deadlier tool, thanks to the development of the Pivot Blade, which allowed its user to rotate the blade 90 degrees and wield it like a dagger. It could be held either in a hammer or icepick grip, allowing Assassins such as Connor to quickly stab, cut, and slash their enemies. It could also be dual-wielded alongside a sword, dagger, or a tomahawk, allowing defensive parries and fierce counter attacks. The Pivot Blade could then be retracted into the Hidden Blade orientation for stealthy assassinations.
The Phantom Blade was a variation of the traditional Hidden Blade utilized by the French Assassins during the French Revolution, taking inspiration from crossbows to condense one into a wrist-mounted form. The Phantom Blade could be loaded with two types of projectiles: lethal and berserk poison darts, allowing Assassins like Arno Dorian a silent kill or distraction, with room for further refinement through the firing mechanism to allow two shots per reload.
Like other mechanically modified Hidden Blades, the Trident Blade was a variation known to have been wielded by the Assassin Arbaaz Mir, of which the outer compartment could open out in a three-pronged fork, revealing another blade nested within. It could be theorized that the blade is altered in such a way as to improve defensive capabilities for parrying in combat situations, or for more gruesome assassination applications.
- "The assassin leaps! As he lands upon the senator, a weapon protrudes from his wrist. Pierces his victim's neck!"
- ―Fiora Cavazza observing an Assassin's technique.[src]
In their study of the Assassins' methods and weaponry, several members of the Templar Order created their own variations of the Hidden Blade, though the mechanism and appearance often differed. Additionally the practice was not exclusive to the Order, some existing instances taken into account.
The first known instance of this was in the early 16th century, when Fiora Cavazza and Baltasar de Silva tailed the Assassins of Rome, in order to take note of their techniques. They eventually trained Il Lupo in the Assassins' ways, and equipped him with a switchblade, a Hidden Blade variation that split into two parts, folding forward only when in use. Lia de Russo also wore her own Hidden Blade, and though its mechanisms seemed to match that of the Assassins, it was worn on top of her forearm, rather than underneath.
In modern times, during the second stage of simulations hosted by the Animi Training Program of Abstergo Industries, every recruit was given access to a variation of the Hidden Blade. The virtual weapon was also worn under the left forearm, but its blade folded along two circular joints when not being used.
As part of the console stage of Abstergo Entertainment's Animus technology, the Animi Avatars contained within could use another variation of the Hidden Blade, this time possessing a two-part telescopic function to the mechanism.
- Patrice Désilets, one of the creative directors for the Assassin's Creed series, stated that the addition of a second blade in Assassin's Creed II also had a lucid reason: "it's Assassin's Creed II, so there [were] two blades."
- Assassin's Creed: Renaissance and early concept art for Assassin's Creed II showed Ezio possessing three Hidden Blades; one on his right, and two on his left.
- The original design of Ezio's second Hidden Blade in Assassin's Creed II was displayed as a brown glove, however, in-game, it was replaced with a second bracer. This was reverted in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood however, where his second Hidden Blade included a glove, until a bracer had been purchased.
- Concept art for the "Shock Blade", a modern version of the Hidden Blade, was shown in the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia.
- On his blog, Assassin's Creed concept artist Gilles Beloeil stated that the 21st century model of the hidden blade is much smaller, being 3.25 inches, yet still as effective as its older equivalents. It was shortened due to modern security systems, such as cameras.
- It is unknown why the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood box art, E3 Trailer and other official media including the opening cinematics of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed III depict Ezio with a secondary Hidden Blade bracer that is identical to his primary one, as in-game, no such second bracer exists.
- The same happened with Ratonhnhaké:ton on the "Ignite the Revolution" poster and in the box art for Assassin's Creed III.
- In early concept art for Assassin's Creed III, rope darts were integrated onto the Hidden Blade's bracer, envisioned as the "Chain Blade". This concept was later modified to be closer to reality, resulting in the "Chain Blade" being scrapped for a more reasonable alternative.
- The second Hidden Blade was marginally longer than the primary one in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
- One concept art by Martin Deschambault for Assassin's Creed II showed two unimplemented Hidden Blade upgrades; a retracting arrow-shaped blade, and a retracting trident-ended blade for parrying weapons and disarming enemies. His art also shows two designs of the blade itself; feather-look, and normal blade with designed holes.
- Noticeable differences with this concept and that of the Trident Blade aesthetically suggest that the design may have been used to create Arbaaz Mir's Hidden Blade.
- In the E3 teaser trailer of Assassin's Creed, as well as in certain concept art, Altaïr could be seen pushing a button to operate his Hidden Blade. In-game however, no such button or other trigger mechanism existed.
- In Assassin's Creed: Renaissance and the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel, unleashing the Hidden Blade required the use of a button, via a certain muscle on the forearm being flexed.
- The same mechanism also triggered the Hidden Gun if the user's thumb was pushed to the left.
- In an Assassin's Creed developer diary video, Jade Raymond spoke about the lack of Altaïr's ring finger and the Assassins' initiation ceremony.
- The Hidden Blade is a crafted item in Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy. The materials for its construction are 2 Coils, 1 Iron, 1 Hide and 1 Box of Components; the latter in turn being crafted using 3 Gears, 3 Screws, 1 Chain and 2 Sprockets.
- In Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade, the trigger mechanism was depicted as a ring worn around a finger. Movement of that finger would cause the blade to extend or retract.
- The closest novel adaptation of the Hidden Blade to the in-game version appears in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, wherein Edward Kenway stated he had activated the blade by the tensing of a muscle that came from the upper arm as well as the forearm, and a simultaneous flick of the wrist. This is much unlike the ring-triggered or button mechanisms as mentioned in previous novels, thus more like the in-game Hidden Blade.
- In Assassin's Creed, despite being equipped with a Hidden Blade, some Assassins, such as Malik Al-Sayf, retained all fingers. This error was later corrected in Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
- Along with this, however, came another error. The Assassins retained amputated ring fingers even after Altaïr changed the design of the blade so that amputation was no longer necessary.
- In Assassin's Creed, the Hidden Blade was used in every major assassination. Even if an Assassin began by attacking their target with a sword, they would always finish them off with the Hidden Blade. Later however, it was changed so that they could use any weapon they wished.
- In Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines, if the PlayStation Portable was linked to Assassins Creed II, Altaïr's Hidden Blade could be upgraded to be able to block light and heavy attacks.
- In Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles, Altaïr could only use the Hidden Blade to assassinate an enemy from behind, if it was related to the story.
- There was a glitch in the Assassin's Creed II mission "Practice What You Preach", in that if Ezio went to the blacksmith and purchased the Leather Vambrace, instead of practicing the new assassination techniques, he could acquire the second Hidden Blade before Leonardo had even made it for him.
- In Assassin's Creed: Embers, the Chinese Assassin Shao Jun used a modified Hidden Blade, located along the sole of her shoe. This operated essentially the same as a shoe knife, which was used by the KGB during the Cold War.
- In Assassin's Creed: Brahman, the Indian Assassin Arbaaz Mir was equipped with a modified Hidden Blade, which could extend into three blades.
- The Hidden Blade could be used in Valve's Team Fortress 2 by the Spy class, under the name Sharp Dresser. It was available for those who pre-ordered Assassin's Creed: Revelations on Steam before December 2, 2011.
- The NBC series Grimm has featured a vambrace which has been specially modified to include a retractable blade.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Assassin's Creed
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Assassin's Creed: Revelations
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Assassin's Creed II
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- ↑ Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag novel
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Lineage
- ↑ Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Assassin's Creed III
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: The Fall
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Initiates - Surveillance
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Brahman
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Embers
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Unity novel
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Unity
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Brahman
- ↑ Assassin's Creed III: Liberation