Are UPBs (universal polymer bases) reusable?

In my mind, I'm envisioning a versatile and creative Android mechanic using his integrated custom rig for not only item creation from UPBs but disassembly, as well. It's only after spending a couple weeks growing attached to the idea that I've come to realize there's nothing explicitly stated that says something constructed from or with UPBs can be disassembled, its components returned to their default state.

On one hand, it seems like the whole point of such a commodity would be its versatility and customization potential. On the other hand, "I made this grenade out of a thousand pairs of underwear" kind of speaks for itself.

Has anything been officially ruled one way or the other? I've looked around a bit, but haven't had much luck. It's times like that I always find myself back here, perfect answer in hand, so here's to hoping that trend continues.

The UPB is the basis for most technology in Starfinder. Each UPB is

a tiny multifunction component, not much larger than a grain of rice, capable of being configured to act as a brace, capacitor, circuit, diode, fastener, insulator, lens, modulator, pipe, resistor, and dozens of other constituent parts.

According to the book, they can be

spun out into fabric, broken down into component chemicals, reconstituted into new chemicals, or supplemented with base materials

for other, larger projects.

Emphasis regarding chemicals mine. That bit was what got me thinking about all of this in the first place.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ No idea on the answer, but I wanted to say that sounds like a neat character concept. Were I your GM, I would actually prefer for the rules to generally not allow re-use—so that we could make some rules for your character to do it, to be special. Anyway, to justify this comment a little more, you might consider expanding the UPB abbreviation at least the first time you use it; I haven’t really delved into Starfinder yet and I, for one, don’t know what it means. Not strictly necessary (people answering the question should know the system), but it might be nice for other readers. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 27 '17 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. Little tidbits of game information always hook me, so the least I can do is be a courteous hooker in turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Sep 27 '17 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Breaking down items into UPBs sounds like a Profession(Recycling) to me. Instead of credits, you get an equal numbers of UPBs from the item/s you are working on. \$\endgroup\$ – spade Sep 28 '17 at 11:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately, that would be the same. UPBs and credits are of a 1:1 value. \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Sep 29 '17 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly, instead of working for someone else and earning credits, you work to recover value directly in the form of UPBs from unneeded/excess items. Bonus since this would also be feasible during starship travel. Whether this is actually something that could be done is up to the DM, and may require a workspace of sorts. \$\endgroup\$ – spade Nov 2 '17 at 2:57

Page 235 if the Core Rulebook explains how you go about creating items using UPBs.

  1. When creating an item, you must have UPBs of an equal price to what you are creating.
  2. At the GM’s discretion, you can scavenge similar items, to contribute 10% of the scavenged item’s cost towards creation.

Based on that rule, it would appear to seem that UPBs aren’t universally reusable and once used can’t return to their default state. Once turned into some item, you can only reuse that item to contribute towards the build cost of a similar item.

That said, the definition of similar items is at the GM’s discretion. Maybe you have such a talented and knowledgeable mechanic that you know there are in fact several generally misunderstood similarities between say, the mechanics of a pile of 1000 pairs of underwear and a hand grenade.

The rules don’t seem to allow a 1-to-1 conversion of UPBs in objects, but have a chat with your GM to see how flexible you can be about item similarities for the 10% scavenge rule.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This was the closest conclusion I was able to reach regarding them, too. I dislike that crafting an item costs as much as buying one (optional 10% allowance notwithstanding). This also seems to run a bit contrary to the aforementioned potential for UPBs to be converted into one chemical compound, and then into a different one. Suppose it'll ultimately be up to the GM, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Sep 28 '17 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eiketsu I’m not sure that “broken down into component chemicals, reconstituted into new chemicals” is a single multi step process, but two separate options of what can be done with raw UPBs. Everything else in that list is an independent option. I guess it might get confusing depending on what your interpretation of the scientifically handwavy term “reconstitute” means in this case. \$\endgroup\$ – SCB Sep 28 '17 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eiketsu also I don’t think the cost is much of a problem. Realistically, mass produced consumables benefit from economy of scale. If you hoard enough, the 10% values for salvaged items really begins to add up. And there are other benefits from custom made equipment such as easier ability to repair and extra hardness. \$\endgroup\$ – SCB Sep 28 '17 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Makes sense to me. I appreciate the response and the perspective. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Sep 29 '17 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ UPBs are enigmatic for a reason. They are the technological equivalent of "magic stuff" and are almost as difficult to relate to. However, recycling plastic is something that most of us are able to understand. When we recycle plastic on Earth, some is wasted through damage, inefficiency of energy/matter transformation, etc. Even in space, mistakes are made. Hence the 10% recovery rule. Otherwise, crafting is a logistical solution to needing an item of an ilvl higher than what the local, planetside markets can offer. I bet you could go either way without much effect on balance, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Kharmageddon Feb 28 '18 at 22:44

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