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Cyphers and Codebreaking

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  • Cyphers and Codebreaking

    How would you handle code breaking and cyphers in V5? Such as the Tremere or someone writing in a cypher to pass on an order for nachos for something.



  • #2
    If it's specific to V5, maybe it would be better if this was in the Vampire subforum...no?...but whatever:

    I would use Intelligence as the atribute.

    Skills would depend on the nature of the cypher. I think Investigation or Academicism with a specialty on something related to laguage will do for most simple cyphers (both to create and to break). Investigation because it's stated that you can create and solve enigmas, Academicism because cyphers often have to do with how languages work. Occult could work for a particularly esoterical code (like those used by Alchemists) and Technology would be mandatory for anything involving computation.

    I would use a simple test to employ a cypher, but decoding one could involve an extended roll with loads of downtime if it's something important.

    Since you mention Tremere. Eyes of Babel doesn't allow to read a cypher (it's not a language), but since language related blood magic exists then magical cyphers and rituals to decode stuff should be possible too.

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    • #3
      If you want to get technical about cyphers the choice of skills would depend upon which cypher is being used and whether you are designing or using.

      For 'old-school' cyphers such as those used prior to the modern age and without mechanical or computer assistance then Academics + Intelligence is definitely the skill to use for both designing/creating new cyphers and using known ones. Allow the creator to choose the difficulty and number of successes required (see below as to why this is important). Old cyphers generally rely on obfuscation (note small o) rather than encryption.

      Newer cyphers generally require an extremely good understanding of maths to design, because cyphers are exceedingly difficult to comprehend well. As a ST I'd set the difficulty at 8 or 9 and require at least ten successes with an extended Computer + Intelligence roll, with rolls at least a day apart, maybe a whole week. You might also want to restrict cypher design to those with a relevant Merit as it is a rare skill.

      Using a modern cypher is pretty easy as the cypher is always implemented through a tool of some sort (enigma machine, computer program). Just having a dot in Technology should be sufficient - no roll required.

      Breaking a cypher should be more difficult than creating one in the first place, increase difficulty by one and double the number of successes required, note that there is more than one way to bypass a cypher, modern encryption is essentially unbreakable but passwords are often left lying around that allow a breaker to bypass the problem so social skills can come to the fore in suitable situations.

      Once a cypher is broken it is as easy to decode a message as it is to use (see above)

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      • #4
        Thanks - this has helped for something I am working on.

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