Timeworn technology sometimes doesn’t work the way it was originally intended to. Between languishing in forgotten ruins open to the elements, being used by those ignorant of the nature of this technology, and having no one skilled at building, maintaining, or repairing such devices, most technological items are “timeworn”—damaged and malfunctioning (when not completely nonfunctional). These malfunctions manifest in two ways: limited charges and glitches.
Only technological items that consume charges (including nanite canisters) or are pharmaceutical items can be affected by these timeworn rules, though any technological item can still become broken or nonfunctional just as any other item.
When an item glitches, its effect is hampered or enhanced, as determined by a d% roll. When a timeworn technological item is first used after a month or more of inactivity, there’s a 50% chance that it will glitch. Additionally, when using an item in a way that would drain its last charge, there’s a 50% chance it will glitch. If an item requires a d20 roll (such as a skill check or an attack roll) to activate or use, it has a 50% chance to glitch on a natural 1. Note: The text of the previous sentence has been updated per official errata. [Source]
Timeworn technology doesn’t always work as intended. There’s a 50% chance that timeworn items glitch under the following conditions.
A piece of timeworn technology may have additional aesthetic and functional differences from a new piece of the same equipment. Many of these effects are purely cosmetic, such as cracks in the casing of an arc grenade or primitive etchings on a suit of technological armor placed there by a barbarian millennia ago. Pieces of timeworn technology may also have minor mechanical effects beyond glitches (at the GM’s discretion). A timeworn laser pistol might constantly hum at a low but noticeable frequency, imparting a -1 penalty on Stealth checks. A timeworn plasma grenade could be caked in a strange viscous fluid that has a pungent odor, making its wielder more easily tracked via scent. Timeworn technological items should clearly evoke a sense of age and danger, and even the most standard piece of gear can be made unique based on individual deteriorations.
Note that not every technological item is timeworn, but most technology that PCs encounter outside of the deepest and most remote of ruins will be. These items function as presented in the previous chapter, can be recharged, and do not suffer glitches.
A timeworn technological item that is still somewhat functioning is worth half of its normal listed price, though one drained of its charges is worth 1% of its normal value, as a curiosity to collectors. Timeworn technology also has the following properties.
Not all glitches are catastrophic. When an item glitches, its effect is hampered or enhanced, as determined by a d% roll. For items that can consume a variable number of charges, these additional charges do not affect the item’s performance; if such an item must consume twice as many charges, the amount is based on how many charges the user intended to use. When a glitch would cause an item to consume more charges than it currently holds, the item is drained of all charges and fails to function, but any negative effects still occur. Items that fail to function simply shut down if activated, and cannot be activated again for 1 round.
Timeworn technological items can’t be recharged. When a timeworn technological item is properly identified or first used, roll randomly to determine how many charges it has left before it becomes useless.
Timeworn pharmaceuticals have a chance of glitching when the dose is administered, even if another dose was recently used effectively.
* For a cardioamp, decrease the save DCs on a more potent result, and increase the save DCs on a less potent result.
Glitching armor that loses its ability to function still provides the normal armor bonus to AC, but any charged abilities are suppressed.
* For a shield, the shield’s wielder is not impeded by the glitch.
Weapons used to make more than one attack in a turn might glitch multiple times during that turn.
Items other than armor, pharmaceuticals, or weapons use this general glitch table.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide © 2014, Paizo Inc.; Authors: James Jacobs and Russ Taylor.