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The Use of Codes and Ciphers

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The Use of Codes and Ciphers

by Dival Celebrindal (Chief Archivist)



Always a fascinating subject, but it has become increasingly clear that races on this continent are using the most advanced and creative forms of mathematical and technological knowledge, to create codes and ciphers in their communications.

Whilst this is good for merchants, and does reduce the frequency of bandit raids, I find that it only causes mistrust, and has attracted the attention of many underground agencies throughout Seridia.

Codes have evolved greatly over the years, but have only recently been used as a matter of normality when it comes to communications. My research has found that substitution codes are being used much more frequently than people realize.


Substitution codes - Part I

I stumbled across some old parchments many months ago, and found that the inhabitants of these lands were using codes long before I thought possible. During the great battle of Grubani, the commanders of the forces used some very simple codes to send orders to their captains. They would use a different code each day, just in case any runners were intercepted. The most simple of these codes just had whole sentences written backwards; it is a crude, but apparently effective code. Here is an example: "Move your men to the north end of the woods" would become - "SDOOW EHT OF DNE HTRON EHT OT NEM ROUY EVOM" A different variation of code is where the sentence is split into groups of three letters then each group is written backwards - like this. "Move your men to the north end of the woods" would become - VOM OYE MRU TNE HTO ONE HTR DNE TFO WEH DOO S ... the book continues with some more examples, but you decide you don't need to read further and close the book.


Substitution codes - Part II

My research took me to many parts of the continent, and during my wanderings I found many old scriptures and parchments. It was one of these old parchments in which I discovered the use of other codes. These were codes used by a merchant's guild to set their prices in neighbouring towns. The first code they used was made like this: The sentence is split in half, then the letters in the second half are written in between the letters of the first half. "WOLF FURS WILL BE SOLD FOR 7GC ONLY" would become "WSOOLLFDFFUORRS7WGICLOLNBLEY" For a more complicated method, the sentence is first split into groups of three letters (including a couple of dummy letters at the end), and then the groups of letters are then mixed up into a pre-determined order (in this case the permutation is 12345678 > 36827514). "THIS MESSAGE IS TOP SECRET" becomes "SSA PSE TJX SME CRE STO THI GEI" ... the book continues with more permutations, but you decide you don't need to read further and close the book.



Substitution codes - Part III

Although there are many types of substitution codes, some are more common than others; and my findings on this are unclear, it could be because some races of lesser intelligence find it difficult to decipher them. The most common code in use is the Myandar Mixer - a code developed by the mining community to communicate the locations of new gold deposits. Their code is simplicity itself, with each letter of the alphabet (and each number from 1 to 9 [with 0 being the 10th number]) being replaced with its corresponding number (or letter) So that letter A is 1 and letter Z is 26 (number 1 is A and number 0 is the letter J) As an example: "MINE 324 HAS 17 CAVERNS" would become "13 9 14 5 CBD 8 1 19 AG 3 1 22 5 18 14 19" ... the book continues with more technical details, but you decide to close the book for fear of falling asleep.


Substitution codes - Part IV

I found many references to what the Goblins were calling the Morcraven code. This is a relatively simple type of substitution cipher. It works by taking each letter of the message and replacing it with the letter 3* along from it (this included the numbers 0-9), so A becomes D, B becomes E and so on. Unless you know that someone is using this kind of cipher, it becomes very difficult to detect, and those using this type of substitution code can chose any number they want. I found that the kind of messages that utilize this code were fairly low level and pertained to equipment lists and troop movements, I just hope the Goblins have not learned to formulate much more complicated codes. *I was very fortunate the number was so low, or it might have taken me much more time to decipher the messages I found. Here is an example of the code in use. Text: "Formation 221 will move south and destroy all farms in the valley" Cypher: "jsvqexmsr 665 ampp qszi wsyxl erh hiwxvsc epp jevqw mr xli zeppic" ... the book continues with some more examples, but you quickly become bored, and close the book.

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