Initially intended as an art book, the project gathered so much material that Ubiworkshop decided to expand it into an encyclopedia.
Artists like Craig Mullins, Tavis Coburn, 123Klan, Gabz, James NG, David Alvarez and many others were given free reign to draw an Assassin from the period and style of their choice, of which the artworks were included in the Encyclopedia. There was also a "cartes blanches" section that featured artwork by other professional artists and fans of the series.
A Black Edition was released with the Animus Edition of Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
A White Edition was released through UbiWorkshop and with the Ultimate Edition of Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
A Second Edition was released in October 2012 to coincide with the release of Assassin's Creed III. The Second Edition features 120 new pages of content that include information on Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Assassin's Creed: The Chain along with new cartes blanches.
A Third Edition was released in October 2013 to coincide with the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The Third Edition contains over 390 pages of content revised and updated with information from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed: Brahman.
The Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia is divided into four sections:
The Assassin Brotherhood
After a brief history on the Assassins, the Encyclopedia explains the key aspects and affiliations of the Order, including their Creed, Eagle Vision and the Codex. Lastly, it gives information on the weapons and gear used by the Assassin Order throughout the ages, which includes the Hidden Blade, Leonardo da Vinci's machines and the various weapons and armor purchasable from blacksmiths.
The Templar Order
After a brief history on the Order, the Encyclopedia describes the Templars' ideology and then introduces their founding of Abstergo Industries in 1937. After introducing Abstergo, it outlines the history of the company, comprising their numerous ongoing projects, which leads to the Animus section. This section goes further and illustrates the genetic memory of humans, viewing inside the Animus and the Bleeding Effect's influence over prolonged Animus users.
Beginning with an introduction to who the First Civilization were, this section details the history of their race, their comprehension of science and technology and their creation of humanity. Additionally, it explains their legacy by including information on the Pieces of Eden and portrays each type of artifact, including the Swords of Eden, the Staves of Eden, the Shrouds of Eden, the Ankh, the Memory Seals and the Crystal Skulls. The Apples of Eden have their own section due to their sophistication and the vast history of the multiple Apples that have passed through the hands of the many characters in the series.
The story is structured in chronological order and features the main events that have taken place in the Assassin's Creed series as of 2013.
The Middle Ages
This section begins with the journey of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad in the Middle Ages, covering his failure in Solomon's Temple, the siege of Masyaf under Robert de Sablé and Altaïr's Hunt for the Nine as part of his quest for redemption. This section also includes Altaïr's battles in Cyprus and his journey to Mongolia before finishing with the fall of Masyaf in 1257 following the Mongol invasion.
The next section is the most expansive of the story, and summarizes the events that took place during the Renaissance, detailing the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. It begins with the conspiracy of Florence uncovered by his father Giovanni Auditore, Ezio's pursuit of the Pazzi and Venetian conspirators responsible for his father and brothers' deaths as well as the Battle of Forlì and the Bonfire of the Vanities. Continuing on, the Encyclopedia explains the events of Ezio's time in Rome battling the Borgia, once again noting additional events such as the Copernicus Conspiracy and the Da Vinci Disappearance.
From then on, the story outlines Ezio's pilgrimage to Masyaf and subsequent travels to Constantinople and Cappadocia, including his discoveries inside Altaïr's library. The last section of the Renaissance finishes Ezio's story by describing the events in the short film Assassin's Creed: Embers, and details the arrival of Shao Jun to Ezio's Florentine villa, along with the conflict that emerges between them and the henchmen of the Chinese emperor Jiajing.
The Renaissance Legacy
The Encyclopedia also includes a section titled Renaissance: Legacy following several events from Project Legacy including Mario Auditore's discovery of the Shroud of Eden beneath Monteriggioni, the defeat of Bartolomeo d'Alviano at the Battle of Agnadello and the assassination of Niccolò di Pitigliano.
The Golden Age of Piracy
This segment begins with the War of the Spanish Succession, the background to the Golden Age of Piracy in which privateering first came into formation in the Caribbean. The Encyclopedia introduces the Welsh privateer turned pirate Edward Kenway and his conflict with the rogue Assassin Duncan Walpole. The events of Edward's life are uncovered in detail beginning with his early exploits, such as his failed infiltration of the Templar Order, his imprisonment aboard the Spanish treasure fleet and subsequent escape aboard a vessel he renamed the Jackdaw.
This section also explores Edward's interactions with both the Assassins and Templars and his general reluctance to support either ideology. The Encyclopedia highlights Edward's focus on furthering his own wealth and stature instead, which inevitably brings him into conflict with both factions as they attempt to uncover the location of the fabled Observatory, a valuable site which Edward, believing will grant him excessive wealth, is already searching for. This segment also covers Edward's relationships with the other major pirates of the era such as Edward Thatch, James Kidd, Anne Bonny, Benjamin Hornigold, Stede Bonnet, Calico Jack, Charles Vane and Bartholomew Roberts, as well as the rise and fall of the pirate republic established at Nassau in the Bahamas.
The American Revolution
This section begins with the arrival of Templar Grand Master Haytham Kenway in America prior to the commencement of the Seven Years' War, and details his search for the precursor site with other notable Templars of the region including Charles Lee, Benjamin Church, William Johnson, John Pitcairn and Thomas Hickey. Moving on, the Encyclopedia outlines the notable events participated in by Haytham's son, the Kanien'kehá:ka Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton in the lead up to the Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.
The Encyclopedia then follows his participation in some of the major events of the War for Independence, including the Battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, the Declaration of Independence and the Battle of Monmouth. It details his assassinations of the key Templar figures under Haytham's command and subsequent attempts to support the colonists' desire for independence. In doing so the Encyclopedia also explores Ratonhnhaké:ton's relationship with his father Haytham and his gradual disillusionment with the patriot cause after discovering their distain for the native population. This section is concluded with the end of the war and the relocation of Native Americans after the colonists gained their independence from Britain.
This section introduces the origins of the slave society present in New Orleans during the 18th century, before covering the transition from French to Spanish rule in Louisiana following the end of the Seven Years' War and the subsequent rebellion of 1768. This section also introduces the Assassin Aveline de Grandpré and covers her activities in New Orleans as well as her expeditions to Chichen Itza in search of the Prophecy Disk. Her search for the Company Man and meeting with Connor in New York are also described along with her return to New Orleans and confrontation with her stepmother.
This is a brief section examining the events that transpired during the Assassin Arbaaz Mir's search for the Koh-i-Noor diamond in India during the final years of the Sikh Empire, including his reluctant protection of the Maharajah Ranjit Singh, his relationship with the Princess Pyara Kaur and the attempted theft of the diamond with the slave Raza Soora.
This section details the events that took place during the time of Nikolai Orelov, and includes the conflict between the Assassins and Tsars of Russia, namely Alexander III and his son Nicholas II. This section also includes the destruction of the Staff of Eden in the Tunguska explosion and Nikolai's discovery of a shard from the artifact being held in the possession of Grigori Rasputin.
The Recent History segment follows the conflict between Assassins and Templars in the present day, and begins with the The Great Purge of 2000. It then expands into the story of Desmond Miles, starting in September 2012 with his kidnapping by Abstergo and his subsequent escape with Lucy Stillman. Accompanying this, it describes the discovery of Clay Kaczmarek's Cryptic Messages and later his Glyphs hidden inside the Animus, as well as the increasing intensity of the Bleeding Effect experienced by Desmond as part of his Animus sessions. This section also covers the relocation of the Assassins to the Sanctuary beneath Monteriggioni, the discovery of the Apple of Eden beneath the Colosseum and the death of Lucy at the hands of Desmond, seemingly under the control of Juno. Following this, the Encyclopedia details Desmond's coma and subsequent recovery inside the Black Room with the help of Clay before describing his arrival at the Grand Temple and his travels to Manhattan, Italy and Brazil in search of the temple's power sources. Desmond's story is concluded with his sacrifice inside the temple vault and the prevention of the Second Disaster.
This section on present day also includes the involvement of MysoreTech employee Jot Soora and his fiancée Monima Das in the conflict between the modern day Assassins and Templars in search of the Koh-i-Noor diamond. This section also details the deaths of the Assassins Siobhan Dhami and Dinesh at the hands of Templar commandos, as well as that of Monima, who perished in the waters of Mumbai Bay during a high speed chase with the Templars. This section also includes a description of the Brahman V.R. project and the device's use as a portable Animus. The final events of recent history covered in this section are those that took place in Abstergo Entertainment during the Sample 17 Project, including the infiltration of the complex by Assassins Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings, the failed attempt by the Sage John Standish to kill the Abstergo Entertainment research analyst and the subsequent death of John at the hands of Abstergo security guards.
The Characters section contains profiles on all the characters features in the series, beginning with Desmond Miles and the allies and enemies he encountered. After this, it details the ancestors of Desmond, including Aquilus, Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.
The profile of Aquilus describes the confrontations between him and the Templars, both in their struggle for the Shroud of Eden and the Ankh.
Altaïr's profile is expansive and details his entire life, finishing with his death inside his library in 1257. After his profile, it gives information on all of his assassination targets, allies and other enemies he combated within his time.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Ezio's profile is quite large compared to Altaïr's. It once again details his life and the allies and enemies he encountered. It adds on, however, with explanations of the Venetian and Florentine conspirators and the confrontation in Constantinople.
Ratonhnhaké:ton's profile details his life throughout Assassin's Creed III. Similar to Ezio's profile, it details his life, friends, the allies and enemies he encountered during the events in Assassin's Creed III, the latter such as the American Revolutionary War.
Aveline de Grandpré
Aveline de Grandpré's profile is much the same as Connor's in that it details her life throughout Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, the friends & allies and enemies she encountered along the way.
Daniel Cross' section outlines how the Templars experimented on him during his youth and his infiltration of the Assassins, whilst including profiles on the people he encountered, including Hannah Mueller, Paul Bellamy and the Mentor.
The last section of the Encyclopedia informs the reader on all the major cities and places visited in the Assassin's Creed series as of 2013:
- The American Frontier
- New York
- New Orleans
- Chichen Itza
The Black Edition was included with the Animus Edition of Revelations available in Europe, and was also sold separately on the European UbiShop online store. It does not include the "cartes blanches" artwork, but featured an exclusive black cover.
The White Edition was available worldwide on UbiWorkshop and included the "cartes blanches" artworks.
E3 Collector's Edition
The E3 Collector's Edition was given only to press staff at E3 2012, in a branded cloth bag along with a promotional card for Assassin's Creed: Recollection. It is identical to the White and Black editions, but included a foreword by Alex Hutchinson, a few extra pages of Assassin's Creed III artwork, and an exclusive silver cover.
The Second Edition of the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia is an updated hardcover edition incorporating Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Assassin's Creed: The Chain, along with all new "cartes blanches". It was released worldwide on 30 October 2012 and includes 120 new pages of content and a revised version of the first edition, to which it is available to purchase from UbiWorkshop.
The Third Edition of the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia is an updated hardcover edition incorporating information of characters and events from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed: Brahman along with new artwork and concept art. It was released worldwide on 11 November 2013 and includes 390 pages of new content and a revised version of the second edition, which is also available to purchase from UbiWorkshop.
- On the spine of the Encyclopedia, there was a hidden message written in Unicode. Once translated, and after removing the title in red, the message read "Three lives toiled. Three lives lost. Three messages delivered: the greeting, the warning, the revelation."
- At E3 2012, new editions of the Encyclopedia featured a quote from the Bible written in hexadecimal code instead: "We saw the Nephilim there; We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes; And we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:33). This quote is also spoken by William Miles to Desmond in Assassin's Creed III, after the latter complained about Juno only ever leaving cryptic messages.
- On multiple pages, a molecule was drawn with a benzene ring and a hydrogen atom with two bonds. However, since hydrogen has only one electron to react with, it cannot form a double bond.
- The Encyclopedia mainly uses concept art as pictures, as opposed to CGI renders.