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I am intrigued by Demon: The Descent, but it seems like the game is weighted down by inelegant vocabulary and rules. One particular element is that each Demon has a Cipher - a set of four special "spells" (Embeds) that when learned and hooked together give the character new specialized Embeds (Interlocks) related to those in the Cipher and provide a key to the character's self-understanding. The player and character don't know what this Cipher will be and there are mechanics for it being revealed over time.

I can imagine dropping it from the game because it seems so artificial and forced on the character. OTOH, it seems as if the designers thought that it was essential. Can it be removed? If so, how would that impact game play?

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First off, Ciphers are covered in greater detail in the Storyteller's Guide.

Removing Ciphers from the game will have little mechanical impact - some players (or characters) aren't interested in pursuing in them, and, unless they serve the narrative, NPCs may not have fully developed Ciphers anyway.

However, some players like the idea of the Cipher as a character arc/extra edge/end game, so they may rankle at a chronicle without them at all.

Similarly, some STs like them as plot hooks/thematic elements/world building, so joining a game and requesting that your character have no Cipher may be disappointing (although the absence of one could in itself be a plot hook)

The other possible impact is in a mixed chronicle; Demons are generally regarded as one of the more potent subspecies. While they were never intended to be on a level playing field with Changelings or Hunters, removing the Cipher & Interlocks might be an amenable compromise for such troupes.

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