Home >Gamemastering >Other Rule Systems >

Timeworn Technology Glitches



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.

  • When an item is first used after a month or more of inactivity.
  • Anytime a single-use consumable is used.
  • When using an item in a way that would drain its last charge.
  • When an item requires a d20 roll (such as a skill check or an attack roll) to activate or use, and that roll results in a natural 1.
  • When a critical hit is confirmed against the wearer of an active defensive item, such as armor or a force field.

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.

Non-Rechargable

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.

Pharmaceutical Glitches

Timeworn pharmaceuticals have a chance of glitching when the dose is administered, even if another dose was recently used effectively.

Table: Pharmaceutical Glitches
d% Glitch
01–02 Spoiled. Treat as poisoning by dark reaver powder.
03–11 Spoiled. Treat as exposure to red ache.
12–20 Spoiled. Patient is nauseated for 1d6 rounds.
21–30 Spoiled. Patient sickened for 1d6 × 10 minutes.
31–40 Spoiled. No effect.
41–50 Less potent. Decrease all save DCs by 2*. Use minimum values for all random results (such as healing). Decrease durations by 50%.
51–60 Normal effect, but causes 1d4 points of Constitution damage (Fortitude DC 15 half).
61–75 Normal effect, but hallucinogenic (–5 penalty on Perception checks and confused for 2d4 rounds, Fortitude DC 15 negates).
76–85 Normal effect.
86–95 More potent. Increase any save DCs by 2*. Reroll any result of 1. Increase durations by 100%.
96–100 Far more potent. As above, but treat as 2 doses.

* For a cardioamp, decrease the save DCs on a more potent result, and increase the save DCs on a less potent result.

Armor Glitches

Glitching armor that loses its ability to function still provides the normal armor bonus to AC, but any charged abilities are suppressed.

Table: Armor Glitches
d% Glitch
01–02 Armor abilities don’t function. All remaining charges are drained.
03–05 Armor* seizes up and abilities don’t function. The wearer is paralyzed for 1 round.
06–10 Armor doesn’t function, but still consumes the normal number of charges.
11–18 Armor doesn’t function, but no charges are lost.
19–50 Armor uses twice as many charges as normal (or expends an extra activation’s worth of charges if already active).
51–75 Armor functions normally.
76–80 Armor functions better than anticipated. Its armor bonus improves by 1 for the duration of this charge.
81–90 Armor functions much better than anticipated. Its armor bonus improves by 2 and it provides moderate fortification for the duration of this charge.
91–98 Armor functions normally; no charges are consumed by this use.
99–100 Armor functions normally and a power surge restores 1d6 charges to the item (up to but not exceeding its capacity).

* For a shield, the shield’s wielder is not impeded by the glitch.

Weapon Glitches

Weapons used to make more than one attack in a turn might glitch multiple times during that turn.

Table: Weapon Glitches
d% Glitch
01–02 Weapon does not function. All remaining charges are drained.
03–24 Weapon does not function, but still consumes the normal number of charges.
25–39 Weapon consumes twice as many charges as normal and deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per charge consumed (minimum 1d6) to the user.
40–65 Weapon consumes twice as many charges as normal.
66–75 Weapon functions normally but flashes brightly, blinding the wielder and adjacent creatures for 1 round (Reflex DC 15 negates).
76–84 Weapon functions normally.
85–92 Weapon functions better than anticipated, granting a +2 bonus on attack rolls made with that weapon for 1 round.
93–96 Weapon functions much better than anticipated, granting a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls made with the weapon.
97–98 Weapon functions normally, and this use does not consume any charges.
99–100 Weapon functions normally, and a power surge restores 1d6 charges to the item (up to but not exceeding its capacity).

General Glitches

Items other than armor, pharmaceuticals, or weapons use this general glitch table.

Table: General Glitches
d% Glitch
01–02 Item does not function. All remaining charges are drained.
03–05 Item does not function, but still consumes the normal number of charges.
06–10 Item does not function, but no charges are lost.
11–18 Item uses twice as many charges as normal and jolts the user for 1d6 points of electricity damage, but otherwise functions normally.
19–50 Item uses twice as many charges as normal, but otherwise functions normally.
51–75 Item functions normally.
76–80 Item functions better than anticipated, and grants a +1 bonus on any skill check attempted with this use.
81–90 Item functions far better than anticipated, and grants a +2 bonus on any skill check attempted with this use.
91–98 Item functions normally and this use does not consume any charges.
99–100 Item functions normally and a power surge restores 1d6 charges to the item.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide © 2014, Paizo Inc.; Authors: James Jacobs and Russ Taylor.