Name: Desmond Miles
Game(s): The Assassin’s Creed series
- Combined memories and skills of multiple highly skilled assassins (including 2 grand masters)
- High concentration of First Civilization DNA (enough to be able to use the Pieces of Eden)
Desmond’s an interesting dude in the Assassin’s Creed games. Unlike most of the protagonists, he isn’t driven by loss, vengeance, or justice. In fact, he’s very much the reluctant hero – he spends most of his young life running away from his responsibilities as an assassin, or his talents as the combined bloodline of some of the greatest assassins in history. He’s cynical, stubborn, and more than a little headstrong.
Despite all this, Desmond does cross that threshold eventually, and when he does, he makes a sacrifice that is perhaps greater than any of his predecessors. The fate of the world is literally placed on his shoulders, and he has to make a choice that affects every living being on the planet. In the end, whether he made the correct choice or not remains to be seen, however no one can doubt how incredibly selfless his decision was. What could cause this kind of turnabout in such a reluctant hero? Let’s take a look at what makes Desmond tick…
The Modern Assassin
When we first meet Desmond, he has some basic training as an assassin from growing up in the Black Hills compound for his whole life. However, as the series goes on, and he syncs his memories with his ancestors, Desmond becomes incredibly skilled in freerunning, hand to hand combat, and all the iconic skills an assassin requires. In doing so, he manages to surpass basically every living assassin, in terms of skills (look at how easily he outmaneuvers Cross).
When considering Desmond’s martial prowess, we of course have to take into account that there is no real martial art for hidden wrist blades. There is the hidden blade combat tutorial I made, but as with all combat tutorials I do, that’s part martial art, part fantasy. My real recommendation for a modern-day assassin would be Filipino Kali stick fighting.
This is an art that emphasizes general principles that can be applied to multiple weapons. While the most common weapon is a stick, the moves can also be applied to knives, swords, batons, and other hand held weapons. More importantly, the principles themselves can be adapted to a WIDE variety of weapons. Check out The Dog Brothers on Youtube, if you don’t believe me!
The fact is, as a modern assassin, you’d probably get in a lot of trouble for carrying around the kind of hardware that, say, Ezio would carry around. Being able to work with multiple types of weapons, and improvise on the spot, is one of the best skills to have in the modern era, and just happened to be a skill that Desmond displays multiple times in the game, as well.
Desmond, due to the high number of assassins in his ancestry, possesses an unusually high percentage of First Civilization DNA. This renders him immune to the effects of the Pieces of Eden, and also enables him to operate various tech left over from the Ones Who Came Before.
The concept of a super- or meta-powered “superior race” who came before humans is not an uncommon one in science fiction (heck, look at Halo). Frequently these beings are so technologically advanced that if they coexist with early humans, the humans view them as sods. Now, Desmond is far from being a god, but he definitely has skills and abilities exceeding that of normal humans.
With Gannondorf, we discussed how sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to the ordinary bystander. This is basically the same effect The Ones had on the humans surrounding them, and that Desmond has on those around him, to some extent. So if we want to emulate this, we need to look at stepping beyond ourselves.
Basically, we want to surpass what is seen as “normal.” Unfortunately, this is a bit too much to cover in one section of one character’s blog post. HOWEVER, have no fear, as this will be the ENTIRE subject of next Monday’s blog post. Until then, I HIGHLY recommend you join the mailing list and start following The Reset Button program. Re-engineering yourself HAS to start with a blank slate, or it will be incredibly difficult.
The Reluctant Hero
Desmond isn’t your typical video game hero. He actually spends the majority of his life AVOIDING the “hero” schtick. He denies his heritage, runs away, and goes into hiding. He doesn’t want to be involved in this war, he just wants to lead a normal life. While many of us may jump at the chance to be the hero of our own story, Desmond actively avoids it.
Can you blame him? People are dying in the Assassin/Templar conflict, all the time. They have been for centuries. His options are either think his parents are crackpot conspiracy theorists, or actually acknowledge that he may one day be killed, just for being born into a conflict that is a millennia older than him.
In the end, however, Desmond steps up, and sacrifices his own life for what he believes is the best hope for all of humanity. He makes the incredibly hard choice of trusting in his fellow assassin’s to handle the unleashing of Juno upon the world, sacrifices his own young life, and puts humanity on its only real path to escape the cycle of religious violence. That’s incredibly selfless, for such a cynical guy.
In a phrase: shit got real. Desmond realized that, even if he didn’t like it, he was stuck in the middle of this conflict, and he alone had the tools, skills, and abilities necessary to get the job done. Rather than run from a duty he couldn’t ignore, he decided to face the challenges ahead of him, and make the hard decisions.
Frequently, we spend a lot of our time running away from things. We procrastinate, make up excuses (especially to ourselves), and avoid engaging in things that seem too difficult or unpleasant. Here’s the thing, though…if we want to live truly bold, awesome lives, we need to curtail this habit. Every successful, interesting, awesome person you’ve seen, met, or read about, has found some way to crack down on the avoidance tendency.
So, I propose this: For the next week, every single day, do ONE thing that you have been avoiding. Seriously! Take ten minutes, write down seven things you’ve been avoiding doing, and then designate one for each day. Don’t go crazy! Even if you think they could all be knocked out in a single day, instead I want you to intentionally spread them out over the week. This way, you get a little bit of positivity every day from overcoming something, AND you start building a good habit of knocking something out every day.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to make the hard decision that Desmond did. However, gaining the ability to MAKE difficult decisions and face the consequences is incredibly valuable in every day life.
So! That’s it for our character spotlight. Come back on Friday for The Desmond Miles Workout! Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace