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A question about encodings and afm files

I've been trying to work out how TeX decides which number to put in a dvi
file when it comes across a character to output.

And I've not got all that far.  Is it the case that TeX's default behaviour
is to output the same number to the dvi file as it met in the input file?

Please say `yes' - I think I can understand what's going on if that's the case.

And the afm question is this:

Does anyone know if there's some sort of key to the afm files at CTAN in
the fonts/postscript/adobe/afmfiles/ directories, or have you got to
download all the files and examine the contents of them to find the afm
files you're after?

(btw, I've left some ravings at ftp://ftp.u-net.com/local/fontinst-doc.tex
that will eventually turn into the new fontinst documentation.  It's not
really properly started yet, let alone finished, and it certainly doesn't
have anything like a discernable structure; but if anyone reads it and sees
something that's actually wrong, I'd appreciate being put on the right