Assassins are professional killers who usually eliminate their targets for money.
Anyone who murders an important person for political or religious reasons is classified as an assassin. However, in Dragon Age, an assassin is someone who is paid or contracted to kill someone else. In the far off land of Antiva, such a statement would earn you only nervous looks and the rapid departure of whomever you were speaking to. There, assassination is considered an art form. The guild of assassins known as the Crows holds almost as much political power as powerful noblemen and military commanders. Any man, it is said, exists within their reach, and the Crows have proven this adage time and time again. More than one king of Antiva has even hailed from their ranks, and it should come as no surprise that those particular kings have in fact numbered amongst the nation’s most effective rulers.
Outside of Antiva, assassination as a craft is rarely held with the same esteem. The Orlesian bard, for instance, may perform assassinations in the course of their duty but rarely is it the actual purpose they are set to. To a true assassin, murder is their craft and they make no bones about trying to distinguish themselves otherwise. Poison is their tool, just as is a slit throat or a silent strike to a critical area of the body, and all are designed to kill with maximum efficiency.
The common notion is that assassins stem from a warrior tradition, dating back to the “hassarans” that roamed Antiva and the Free Marches during the time of the First Blight. These were men and women who had been trained into lethal killers using nothing but their hands, feared throughout the north. The truth, however, is one few accept: the Crows started as an arm of the Chantry. In the gentle hills north of Treviso, an order of monks used the herbs grown in the gardens of their abbey to oppose the rule of a despotic duke in the only manner they could. The poisons they developed were intended to help the helpless, and while many would wonder that an order of assassins could have had such noble beginnings the truth of the matter is that the Crows do not see themselves as corrupt in the slightest. In their own words: "All that is good has been built on the bodies of the fallen. If we are to be killers, then let us also be architects."