An independent nanocolony is one that is capable of functioning and surviving outside of a contained environment. Independent nanocolonies can take many forms and can be either airborne or part of another piece of technology. These nanocolonies usually perform independent tasks, creating or building or destroying, without having to enhance or alter an existing object. In fact, most independent nanocolonies are designed to function as autonomous units once released into the air, only altering their objectives when given new commands or new programming.
Independent nanocolonies are among the most dangerous because they can move about freely and cannot be reclaimed easily (if at all) should a malfunction occur. In some settings, independent nanocolonies are the direct cause of the fall of entire civilizations, thank s to nanites that consumed natural resources or destroyed infrastructure. Some independent nanocolonies are capable of wiping out entire planets, moving from one object to the next devouring and destroying all that stands in their paths.
Gray Goo: Gray goo is the ultimate destructive application of nanotechnology. This colony of nanites exists for the sole purpose of destroying all other types of matter. The nanites within gray goo attack any material they come in contact with and convert it into additional gray goo nanites. In other words, any object or person that touches this material is subsumed by it.
Anyone touching gray goo must attempt a Fortitude saving throw (DC 35). If the save is successful, the character has severed contact before any damage was done. If the save fails, the nanites have gotten into the character’s system. In 3d10 hours, the character is irretrievably killed and completely transformed into gray goo. The only way to prevent this is to amputate any portion of the body that has come in contact with even a single gray goo nanite.
Unfortunately, gray goo is generally one of the first nanocolonies that scientists learn to create (sometime toward the end of PL 6). The material must be contained in a magnetic storage field so that no physical object ever touches it.
Unseen Bodyguard: Unseen bodyguard usually does not appear until PL 7 or PL 8, due to the complex nature of its programming. Essentially, unseen bodyguard nanites form a completely invisible nanocolony that can rearrange itself to provide a character protection from incoming attacks. Unseen bodyguard works on many of the same principles that create force fields, and in essence is made up of thousands of tiny nanites that project a webbing of deflective force between one another until a nearly solid shield springs up to protect the character.
When a character utilizes unseen bodyguard, the nanocolony creates a force shield in a single direction that hovers in place and protects against all incoming attacks. The user of the nanocolony directs the nanites to either its front, right, left, or rear facing where it stays until redirected. The nanocolony provides a +4 equipment bonus to Defense against all attacks coming from the specified direction. Unseen bodyguard has a purchase DC of 22 and can be activated (and left running permanently) by a simple voice command.
Utility Fog: This collection of intelligent nanites looks like a formless, colorless substance. However, when fed instructions through a computer, it can reorganize its size and physical properties to become more or less any object. As long as the computer can pass along the structural and functional parameters, utility fog (or UFog) can become anything—from a clear protective coating, to a wall of steel, to a piece of furniture, and more. All that is required is the software to implement the transformation.
UFog is not generally discovered until late in PL 7. It has a purchase DC of 20 for a liter of the material (since its density and weight can vary widely depending on what material it becomes, the most accurate way to measure UFog is by liquid volume). This price includes a terminal for communicating with the material, but not the software necessary to program it into various forms and functions.