Jason Quill and the Case of the Nanobot Cloud [Background]

So what are Jason’s powers. How does he use them, and what does that look like?

Defined Abilities: telekinesis, psychic constructs, superhuman strength and speed

Jason commands the nanobots mentally. Dr Quill designed them to protect him, but they were a prototype. Jason has experimented with them since then, and has far greater control than the subconscious subroutines Dr Quill had built for them.

At rest, the nanobots rest on his torso and arms, mirroring his trademark black shirt, serving as flexible body armor. They also, by default programming, will act as an “air bag” bubble in case of collisions, falls, etc.

When in action under Jason’s command, the nanobots swarm about him like a black cloud – or, more like a black sandstorm in texture, swirling and twisting and shifting with motion both random and intentional.

Some forms he’s practiced (and used):

  • Wrapping his entire body in nanobots, serving as armor and exoskeleton-enhanced strength and speed. The color is, of course, jet black; the form is far more organic in appearance than Link’s armor, flexible and shifting to repair damage. His default strength and protection and jumping/running speed is probably a good tick less than Link’s (which are dedicated to purpose), but enough to go toe-to-toe with a lot of folk.
  • Using the nanobots to push, pull, wrap up, or even create a rising platform. They don’t necessarily need to be anchored to anything (they clearly have their own motive force), but anchoring/bracing helps. So they can slam into someone like a firehose, or a based pillar, or grab someone like a giant hand or net to pull them closer or hold them. Walls can be propped up. He could direct them as a narrow, pointed stream to puncture car tires, etc. – while this means he can shoot them as bullets, he’s tended to focus on bludgeoning strikes rather than penetrating ones. In theory this could even be used as a form of flight if need be, though Jason is a lot more cautious about that; any sort of malfunction or lapse of concentration might cause problems.
  • The previous segues into creating constructs, forms, moving shapes, etc. E.g., he can create a walking, punching nanobot creature. It requires mental control to do something more than a repeatable routine, and something much larger than a human figure would start pushing his abilities and control.

These forms don’t take any extraordinary effort or concentration. If it’s something very simple, he can just tell the nanobots to do it, rather than guiding them every step of the way; they’ll obey basic commands – “hold that car in the air” – but anything sophisticated requires actual concentration.

He could send a nanobot stream across the room to turn on the TV, but it’s easier to grab the remote and use it.

The nanobots have a controlled range of 20-30m in normal circumstances. If Jason moves beyond that while they are in place doing something, they revert to their core programming (stop whatever they were doing) and seek him back out. He can extend the range – if he pushes his power.

The nanobots are of a given quantity normally, but can rapidly and automatically replicate to replace damaged or destroyed elements, or to expand their quantity to meet Jason’s commands. Again, this is something that can be mentally pushed, either in speed or in quantity, with the usual resulting risks. E.g., maintaining his personal armor and generating more bots and controlling them as a walking, punching construct and throwing a shield over those civilians endangered by falling debris, not only pushes the manufacture beyond normal limits but his control over the bots’ actions. Ditto for something like “Create a 200-foot-tall figure to duke it out with that kaiju coming out of the sea” – that’s a ton (well many tons) of nanobots to be controlling …

[In a sense, he is able to use his nanobot swarm in a sort of Green Lantern Power Ring capability, though much weaker and still less flexibly at his level of experience.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5414475

Elsewhere, I asked:

*** Dave H. said:

It’s always kind of funny to remember Jason is a cyborg, but it is true.

Hmmm. Add that to something Jason needs to discuss with the AI.

Hey, question about that - I think you said something about how fast you can “regenerate nanobots” somewhere around session 2. Obviously, you can and will need to, but… how’s that work? Are they forming from a template, using your own body mass? Is Mercury not the only person eating 12 boxes of pizza?

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559061

And yay for undiagnosed ADHD, where I think of a question during the game in session 2, and don’t remember to ask for a month. :stuck_out_tongue:

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559063

So visually, we’re talking a lot more Yokai from Big Hero 6 (or your various Green Lanterns) and less Generator Rex?

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559244

I either need to make sure my kids see Generator Rex, or that they never see it.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559345

@Mike - Yes, definitely. The Yokai thing was not consciously in mind when I imagined this, but as soon as someone pointed it out, it was clearly an inspiration (I also mention the analogy to Green Lanterns above).

The bots are more sand-sized (but, we now know, hexagonical) than the BH6 ones, at least as envisioned, so visually like someone with a sand manipulation power, except it’s black and seems to come from himself.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559362

Sand manipulation?! Wherever will I find visual references for that?

Lots of places, actually.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559388

@Doyce - I left the rate as kind of vague intentionally, as it’s more “does this point of the story make it convenient to not worry about right now, or convenient to add to Jason’s DOOOOOOM?”

  • He can create them fast enough to do small things (full body armor, an attacking stream, person-sized construct) in moments or less (a time rate similar to someone with different power sets deploying their body armor, blasting someone, or summoning a combat spirit in a reasonable supers game time rate.
  • Creating the anti-_kaiju-_sizedconstruct would require a Doom check anyway (for control), so 30 seconds to a minute for that because why the hell not push in that circumstance?
  • After the battle, assuming his swarm is wiped out, and he’s not consciously pushing to rebuild it (even to a safe degree), I imagine they would automatically return to their base quantity and deployment as torso armor within 5 minutes.

As to how they regenerate –

  • drawing on Jason’s body mass would be dangerous, for obvious reasons, so not what Byron would have come up with.
  • I imagine some sort of clean molecular reconfiguration from a self-defined template, drawing on inorganic matter in the area, even particulate matter in the air (or air itself), with largely trivial effects (no sonic booms or nearby collapsing buildings), utilizing the same sort of polycarbonate interstitial handwavium process as “how the hell are they powered?” does (i.e., Byron’s a Spark, it’s sufficiently advanced technology to resemble magic, and it didn’t seem to need further definition for purposes of what I wanted to do in-game).
  • Similarly, destroyed bots, or ones that have gone beyond range and are unable to return, or ones that are simply unnecessary degenerate rapidly into their component materials and blow away – nothing toxic to the environment, of course (that Byron’s always thinking ahead, just not always about the right thing), nothing that can be analyzed by the bad guys (unless they’ve taken specific steps to preserve them and override the auto-aging/self-destruct mechanism, no large piles of sandy debris.

(Technically, Jason the next day going out and “reaching” the bots that Alycia zapped while Harry was carrying Iconoclast would be unusual. I presume that her EMP scrambled their autonomous action, putting the ones that survived in a “pause” state for some time, a few of them in “record,” thus the record.)

Hope that helps. The ultimate answer, as always, is “what makes the best story, in overall consistency and for the dramatic purposes of the current scene?” and I’m okay with that. The rest is for fanboi speculation.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559413

Sounds good! I was mostly curious about the how/where from aspect, not the time constraints which, as you note, are pretty flexible and serve the larger narrative.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5559455