Either the percentage of 20% chance to reverse engineer a standard item is the wrong number or someone has coded the random number generator for the engineering algorithm wrong.
I've noticed that it is almost impossible to reverse engineer certain items, in this particular case a barrel.
The item mentions the 20% chance, yet in 30 attempts I have gotten zero schematics. Now, I know that 20% chance does not mean that in 5 attempts you should be getting an assured schematic, because, yes, every attempt is a new one. However, given enough attempts and making enough rolls, the numbers should approximate 20% yay and 80% nay. Basic math says the chance of me not getting a schematic 30 times in a row is .8^30 = 0.123 percent. And this is not an exception, it often takes 25 or more attempts to reverse engineer.
Has anyone else experienced these skewed numbers while reverse engineering certain items?
I know what you mean - my artifice crafter had one heck of a time getting the schematics for a blue hilt (I think it was Might 18) - it took about 40 tries to get the schematics, while all the other hilts produced the schematics in 1-10 tries.
Theoretically, you could be so unlucky that you never learn the schematics - if the quarter lands heads up 1000 times in a row, it still only has a 50% chance to come up tails when you flip it for the 1001 time.
Random number generation in computers is not truly random (only a pretty good approximation). This might be one of the causes.
Another possibility is that 20% might not really be coded as 20% across all RE-able items - I suspect this might be the most likely explanation.