A character with the technologist can identify tech items, but what happens when a character without this feat tries to experiment and figure out how one works. For example, suppose a character tries to figure out a laser pistol.
You could try to roleplay this, but its hard because players will bring some background knowledge to the task, and describing the item in a appropriately naive yet sufficiently descriptive manner can be difficult.
I was thinking of an intelligence check and a chart of some kind.
Check Intelligence with DC equal to the craft DC of the item. Retries allowed, and each retry receives a +1 on the check since you know more about how it works as you experiment more.
It would be cool to have a timework glitches like chart to roll on when people fail their checks, but there are so many possibilities. Depending on the item. So, I was thinking of a quick n' easy chart that I could ad lib off of. This is what I came up with off the top of my head. Suggestions welcome!
Fail by 20: horrifically disastrous results. The item is destroyed/you critical yourself and/or allies/all charges are expended
Fail by 15: disastrous results but not horrifically disasterous. Hit multiple allies and self, item is broken, for example
Fail by 10: bad results. Hit self or ally. expend all charges, temporarily break item requiring a check not to fail by 10 or more to fix, etc.
Fail by 5: attempt to hit self or ally, make an appropriate save or skill check (DC 20) to avoid a Fail by 10 result.