Key Attribute: Intelligence

Ciphers is an analysis skill. With it you can piece together patterns in written work, translating ancient languages, cracking codes that hide meaning, and even creating their own. Use of this skill requires the Literacy feat

Rank 1 Ability

Passing this skill check allows you to read another culture's written works. Languages that use a radically different character set, pictograms, or other form for their writings may require additional time and checks to learn however. These will have a DC between 30 and 40 depending on their complexity, and require between 1 day and 1 week between checks. All of this is determined by the GM, who should save these things for very rare or important circumstances (and generally make them non-decipherable to comprehend languages or tongues without a CL check as well). You cannot learn or understand the written version of a language without first understanding the spoken version with this ability.

Base DC: 25 to 40, as determined by language.

Success: You learn the written version of the language. If this check was made to learn the written portion of a language you already speak, you have learned it.

Failure:You fail to learn the written language you have been exposed to. You may not retry it without 1 week of additional exposure, which would may also grant a bonus on your next attempt.

Rank 2 Ability

You can decipher writing in languages you don’t read, as well as piece together messages in incomplete or archaic forms. The base DC for this check is based on the content of the message. A message consisting of a single sentence requires a DC 30 check as there is little to work with. A message consisting of a paragraph is only a DC 27 check. A message near a page in length is a DC 24 check. Works consisting of multiple pages have only a DC 20 base check, but if the work is many pages multiple checks may be required. For example, books require a check per chapter.

These DCs are only base DCs, however, and the complexity of the message may alter these amounts significantly. Particularly simple or straightforward messages, like time tables or troop rosters, may have a DC of up to 10 less than the base. A complex or intricate message, like a legal document or a complete war strategy, may have a DC up to 10 higher than the base. These DCs can be further modified by up to 5 higher if the language itself is particularly bizarre or ancient. If the script contains a hidden or coded message, you must also decrypt it with the Cryptography ability to understand that portion of the message. Because of these additional concerns, you do not know the exact DC of the check before hand. If you are concerned with accuracy it is worth working with as much material as possible, even though it requires substantially more time, since larger works have a lower DC.

Each check requires five minutes per page of text (approximately 250 words), which must be spent before you can make the check. Retries offer no further insight, and do not return useful information. The amount of material you understand is determined by your check result as indicated below.

Base DC: Determined by length of work, and modified by complexity (see above).

Success: You understand the general meaning of the document but may be missing some minor details. They probably aren’t important anyway… If you exceed the DC by 5 or more, you have missed no details.

Failure: You have a vague sense of the document, but are missing some important concepts. That doesn’t stop you from working with a partial understanding of the work though. If you fail the check by more than 5 points, you can discern nothing of value.

Rank 4 Ability

Words can be hidden in symbols, numbers, or even other words if you’re worried about someone else finding them. You can analyze these hidden or coded messages. This is similar to deciphering script in another language, and can actually be done at the same time as you are deciphering a work. An attempt at decryption requires five minutes per page of coded message. The DC to decrypt a code is determined by the strength of the code. You gain a +2 bonus to your check for each full page of material present or previously decoded using the same cipher, however. Retries offer no further insight, and do not return useful information.

Note that once you have decrypted one different message per five points of the DC, rounded up, in the same code you do not need to check further to break any future messages that use it, and may compose messages in the code yourself if you have your notes.

Base DC: Code Strength DC.

Success: You decode enough of the message to understand its intent, even if you don’t have every single tiny little syllable. If you exceed the DC by 5 or more, you decode the message in its entirety. Treat this as two successful decryptions of this code.

Failure: You fail to decode a substantial portion of the message, and have very little to work with. If you fail by more than 5 points, you decode the message wrongly. While you get something that makes sense, it’s not what the actual message is and so probably isn’t helpful.

Rank 5 Ability

Aside from analyzing them, you can also create codes on your own or compose messages in codes that you understand. You can create codes with a decryption DC up to 15 + your ranks in Ciphers. It takes 4 hours to create a new code, less 1/2 hour for each 1 point less you accept for the decryption DC, to a minimum of 30 minutes. You can generate messages in any code that you have on hand or have analyzed, whether you created it or not, regardless of decryption DC.

Base DC: 25

Success: You have created a code with a decryption DC equal to 15 + your ranks in Ciphers. For every 5 points that your skill roll exceeded the DC, add an additional +1 to the decryption DC.

Failure: The code is a disaster, and is too easy to break. This failed code has a decryption DC of 10.

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