Coil is a meticulous and paranoid planner, going out of his way to make sure he is secure and protected at all times. He has ambition and pride, especially in regards to keeping his possessions safe, be they people or cities.
He is quite patient, using his abilities at great length to take preparedness to an extreme, ensuring people cannot catch him off guard. He is fine with torturing people for information and using multiple types of physical and psychological warfare.
His power allows him to capture and torture individuals for information and as long as his targets would have no memory of what happened and he would face no consequences. He used this partially to gather information and sometimes as stress relief.
Formed the Undersiders as a team to use for various tasks. He started them on pulling insignificant heists to test their worth, slowly building up on what the team attempted. His relationship with them was strictly professional, with the Undersiders serving as tools to his disposal.
Coil had a working agreement with the Travelers, promising to work toward a way to fix Noelle in exchange for their employment under his organization. He came up with many plans to give the Travelers what they wanted, but when these failed, such as getting the assistance of Panacea, he ultimately decided to turn their situation to his advantage, leading the Travelers on with the false promise of a cure.
Accord considered Coil a friend, though it is unknown to what extent this was considered mutual. His personality meshed well with Coil, though, and the two worked closely together. Accord was rather upset by Coil's death.
In order to gain his powers, Coil made a deal with Cauldron, putting himself into a years-long debt in the process. Even after paying off his monetary debt, he still owed a week's service to Cauldron, something that grated on his nerves. He was unknowingly the focus of one of Cauldron's experiments, the Terminus project, with his ambition and meticulousness making him an ideal subject for receiving powers.
As Coil, he wore a skintight black bodysuit with a stencil of a white snake curling around it, its head on his forehead, extending down the back of his head, looping and winding over his entire body with its tail at one ankle. A zipper was hidden in the snake, at his ankle. His mask didn't have eye holes. The fabric of the costume allowed him to see and breathe through it, but was an opaque black-gray to outside observers in all but the brightest light. The way it clung to his skin let you see his individual ribs and joints.
As Thomas Calvert, he tended to dress very formally, dressing in button up shirts and ties. He had close cropped, coarse hair, trimmed eyebrows, thin lips and a cleft chin. In his meeting with the Undersiders as the new director, he wore the body portion of a PRT uniform with an insignia stitched onto his sleeve. He has a thin, skeletal frame, is taller than Grue, and is black.
Abilities and Powers
From his perspective, Coil's power grants him the ability to 'split' the world into two timelines. He is then able to do whatever he likes in either timeline, collapsing the timeline that is least ideal and keeping the timeline that he wants. In actuality, his power isn't one that creates multiple timelines, but is instead a powerful form of precognition. His power simulates the two possible timelines Coil would go through in vivid detail, then predicts which timeline Coil will choose to keep. Coil's power then "autopilots" him through the actions he takes in the timeline that he chooses, lasting until the end of the timeline, at which point he can use his power again.
In practice, Coil's power allows him to first attempt two different courses of action, then pick the timeline he wants to keep while retaining all knowledge from the other timeline. In this way, he was able to test his plans in different permutations before acting upon them, allowing him to make the most informed decision that he could. This was, however, limited by the fact that time still moved forward in his timelines, preventing him from simply simulating the entire day ahead of time and proceeding from there. No matter what, Coil is forced to pick one of his timelines.
Sources of "causality interference" interfere with his power, including most precognitives, meaning he can't make use of information-gathering powers again and again in different timelines.
Coil is extremely careful, keeping track of everything that goes on, even going so far as to regularly have one timeline where he works through the night while sleeping in another just so he is kept aware of all possible developments. This allows him to maintain and increase his knowledge base while remaining physically healthy. Using this, he is able to come up with and execute an extensive list of contingencies, reinforcing his base of operations against possible external and internal threats, keeping his identity secret, and executing plans that go off without a hitch. On top of all this, he keeps information about his power under wraps, preventing his adversaries from planning around it.
With careful usage of his power and extensive manipulation, Coil became one of the most powerful supervillains in Brockton Bay, eventually taking over the entire city with the help of his subordinates. Throughout his career, he employed a variety of supervillain teams and independent supervillains, including the Undersiders, the Travelers, Über and Leet, Circus, Chariot, and Trainwreck. In addition, he could hire Faultline's Crew or even mercenary capes from Boston and New York as needed. He was also the head of a large unpowered mercenary force that he outfitted with top-of-the-line gear, including tinkertech rifles.
He was in the habit of torturing people for information in alternate realities.
Coil's plan to take over Brockton Bay was a long time coming and involved numerous plans and steps. He would have been able to adapt it had different circumstances arisen.
Thomas was a part of the PRT's special forces. When the PRT received reports about Nilbog, his team was sent in to deal with the situation. He was one of the only two survivors of the following incident, the other being Emily Piggot.
At some point, Thomas found out about and approached Cauldron before he bought a superpower. It was expensive, forcing him to postpone his plans and spend years gaming the market in order to pay it off.
Attended the meeting at Somer's Rock by himself. Offered money to make sure the mercenaries of the city were committed to the fight against the ABB
His plans so close to fruition, Coil now had to deal with Dragon and Defiant deploying their new mechanical suits to Brockton Bay. After paying a hefty sum to the Dragonslayers his hirelings were able to drive the suits out. He was then able to enact his endgame.
Faking his death in an attack at the mayoral debate he was able to disgrace Director Piggot and take over for her as Thomas Calvert. He did not account for Skitter being there in her civilian identity. Skitter found out about his identity and confronted him. Calvert was prepared and made a clumsy attempt to kill Skitter. He almost turned Skitter's teammates against her, but failed due to Grue's power allowing them to uncover the deception. In the final meeting, Tattletale revealed that she bought out his mercenaries. Skitter then took a gun and prepared to shoot him. Coil assumed she wasn't a killer. Skitter bluntly told him "No. But I suppose in a roundabout way, you made me one." She then shot him in the head.
As his final act of spite, Coil made sure that Noelle Meinhardt heard his death over the phone. Her last hope of being cured gone, Noelle would break out of her cell and rampage across Brockton Bay, setting out to kill the Undersiders for what they had done.
His murderers would take everything that was his, including his place in the expectations of the organization that had secretly backed him.
↑ 1.01.1First reports from the site report allegations of sabotage on the part of a known double agent within the group of junior heroes. No members of the Brockton Bay PRT, Protectorate or Wards teams were available for comment, but sources inside the organization report that Director Emily Piggot, manager of the city’s PRT and government sponsored hero teams, is being put on leave pending a full investigation.
“Filling in for the interim is Commander Thomas Calvert. When asked about this new placement, the PRT reported that Commander Calvert served as a PRT field agent before an honorable discharge. For the past several years he has offered his expertise to the PRT as a paid consultant in parahuman affairs for New York, Brockton Bay and Boston, later serving as a field commander for the PRT strike squads. The PRT expresses full confidence in Commander Calvert’s ability to handle the daunting task of Brockton Bay’s parahuman-” - Excerpt from Monarch 16.9
↑ 2.02.1You talk about the kind of science Coil could do elsewhere on this page. But if Coil was going to be a scientist, he wouldn't have had powers in the first place. Cauldron wanted him for Terminus and used the financial leverage of him being in debt to them to position him. If he hadn't had the craving for power & authority they would have looked elsewhere. Keep in mind, also, that the shards aren't inclined to let people sit around and spend months of time working on side projects without getting any dose of conflict. What happens is you get Spheres and Professor Haywires and Leets. Coil was difficult to kill because he was:
Inaccessible. Coil only made limited appearances to meetings like the one at Somer's Rock. He didn't eat, he didn't drink, and his costume covered his entire body, so it's hard to apply contact poisons, get him with parasites, penetrate to get him with a mosquito, etc. In virtually any instance where one could apply such or outright attack him, he defaults back to a scenario where he didn't attend the meeting. You'd need something utterly undetectable, and either guaranteed to kill him or that you could apply enough times to actually get him.
He acted almost entirely through intermediaries. Hirelings, underlings, and people that he had otherwise vetted. Dinah later served as a way to screen these hirelings. Before Dinah, he simply allowed very few people to actually meet him and only then when he could absolutely cover his ass with his power.
Dinah, once acquired, let him actually meet and deal with the Travelers and Undersiders. She, in short, let him cover his bases on the subtle aspects, the stuff he can't foresee and avoid, and his main power (as well as Dinah) let him cover his bases on the more blatant attacks. He wakes up every day and figures out the odds of him being betrayed by an underling, people trying to be clever and dose him with an airborne poison, the odds of another faction making a move against him, etc, etc. - Random thoughts on worm (Wildbow, Reddit.com, 2016-10-01) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "R4" defined multiple times with different content
↑ 3.03.1He canceled the reality where he stood at his pet’s bedside, found himself still at the computer. Best to leave the world where his pet wasn’t so tired, in case he wanted to ask more questions that morning.
The worlds he created weren’t real. They were little more than an especially vivid, accurate dream. To enjoy a whole separate world, free of any consequences beyond the ones he wanted? It would be unreasonable if he didn’t indulge in it. Anyone would, given the chance. - Excerpt from Interlude 8.z
↑Ah, but here’s my question – is it truly that bad, to murder, torture, maim, psychologically scar people, if it only really happens in your head? Or in a concurrent reality that never unfolds into long term consequences/a future?
I’m sure all of us have idly daydreamed about kicking some irritating customer/client/bosses ass, what it would take to get away with murder, etc. Is that truly so different from what Coil does to relieve stress?
I stress that this is a hypothetical, and should not be interpreted as my actual views. Just curious how people are interpreting it. - Comment by Wildbow on Interlude 8.z
↑ 5.05.1Peanuckle said: I think Coil's biggest failing here is his desire to monologue, a classic villain mistake. If he had just ordered his men to shoot without bringing in Tattletale, then there wouldn't have been a problem. Then again, his claim to be able to deal with the PR hit was probably a bluff to destabilize Skitter. Being outed about his criminal career would probably cost him his position as PRT director.
There's a balance to be found. Haste makes waste, and just pulling the trigger and destabilizing things without stopping and touching ground involves risks. If Taylor's deadman's switch was real, for example, that would make rushing headlong into a disastrous scenario for Coil. He's spent all this time building up and securing his position, and he doesn't want to stumble at the last second.
Stopping and having a short discussion means you get to decipher just why things fell apart so you can manage things better in the future. Too easy to get into a situation where you're just doing damage control and you hastily plug a hole only to find that more of your subordinates are getting restless and entertaining the wrong sorts of thoughts.
Maybe not in this specific situation, but it would be Coil's overall mindset and personality.
As compared to the 'just about ego' monologue (though I imagine a smidge of ego was involved).
Peanuckle said: Even though Coil admits to torturing members of the Undersiders. I wonder if he tortured Lisa, but she toughed through it? More likely he grabbed Taylor or Brian since they're closer to the issue. Why not all of them?
This would be why you compartmentalize the plan to take down the reality-splitting overlord. Talk it out, give everyone the key points, but don't tell Brian what Tattletale is doing, exactly.
Aside: I imagine if Tattletale got tortured in a Coil reality, she'd know it was a Coil reality and adjust accordingly. - Comments By Wildbow on SufficientVelocity
↑Coil tried it. Touched-based biology alteration vs. touch-based power/ dampening & absorption. That universe didn't work out. - Another Comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 7.07.1Coil develops a cure for Echidna, and... no, I'm just kidding. When everything is lined up and the PRT is strained to breaking, Coil engineers for hired mercenary capes to attack his own complex and free her, leaving Coil 'injured' and out of the picture while everything else unfolds. Echidna attacks the city, people band together to fight her, and it serves much the same role as Leviathan did, but it's controlled destruction, engineered by Coil. In the aftermath, Piggot is accused of failing in her duties, and Calvert takes over a relatively strong PRT Department. Brockton Bay stabilizes, flourishing in cape population, and the rogue elements are systematically stamped out. Calvert manages both the city and the Protectorate. He controls Armsmaster, who controls an enslaved Dragon, because this Armsmaster never found the humility, nor did he face his inhumanity. Armsmaster heard enough through Piggot to know what's really going on, but is willing to work with Coil, because Coil put him on the world stage. - [What if: BB Super-villains]
↑ 8.08.18.2Accord nodded, once. “As well as we might hope. We lost Coil, but the Undersiders may serve as a model in his absence.”
The gateway closed. Accord sat down on the end of the bed, then lay back, staring at the ceiling.
Coil had been the focus of the test, unaware. The man had also been Accord’s friend, the one who’d sold him the PRT databases. His death had been a tragic thing, on many levels. There were few men Accord considered worthy of being his friend.
Now it hinged on the Undersiders. They’d taken up Coil’s legacy, after a fashion, and just like Coil, their ambitions fell in line with Cauldron’s. The organization’s hopes rode on them and their decisions. Accord’s hopes rode on them: his twenty-three year plan, saving the world from the worst kind of disorder. In the end, they were responsible for billions. - Excerpt from Interlude 20.y
↑ 9.09.1Perhaps worthy of a celebration. Coil maintained his own vices. It would be unfair to expect more of himself, when he had the unique talent he did.
It had certainly been an expensive talent. Even with his ability to game the markets in a way that clairvoyants and precognitives couldn’t detect, it had taken him years to pay it off. A maddening, frustrating endeavor, when he had already been thinking of plans he wanted to set in motion, having to postpone them. And he still owed a favor, even now, up to a week’s services. He couldn’t be sure if he was powerful and secure enough to fight back if they demanded too expensive a price, or too much of his time at a point critical to his plan. - Excerpt from Interlude 8.z
↑He headed back inside, showered, then dressed in a button-up shirt, khakis and a silk tie. He got in his four-year old prius and headed into the city. What was normally a ten minute drive took him three-quarters of an hour, as he was forced to detour around destroyed roads, fallen buildings, and reconstruction work, move with the other drivers in a perpetual traffic jam from the moment that he left the little cul-de-sac where his house was. To all appearances, he was an ordinary man leaving for work. His identity, fabricated, was complete, a real job at a real company, records going back ten years in health, taxes, dentistry, house payments and more.
- Excerpt from Interlude 8.z
↑Coil's power doesn't create universes. It's essentially precognition in the present, purely thought based. - Wildbow on spacebattles
↑Think of it more like when he chooses a future to follow, his thoughts/actions automatically follow that script until it's done, and then he can think freely again. - Comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑Here’s the thing about Coil’s power – he doesn’t control time in the worlds. Regardless of what he does, time passes in each reality.
So he couldn’t ‘play out the day’ to see if his plan would succeed and then go ahead & do it. He could simulate something close to it by rescheduling the debate and/or doing this at some other major event, then canceling the reality.
He could also attend the debate in one reality and stay home with his personal army in the other. If it doesn’t work out in the reality where he attends, he cancels it out and effectively never went. - Comment by Wildbow on Interlude 8.z
↑Coil's powers get discombobulated by other causality interference, which is why he can't just have Dinah give every answer in Coil-generated universes that he discards. - Comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑Coil held firmly to the philosophy that one couldn’t be too paranoid. Every moment of every day was a delicate balancing act, anticipating any number of unseen threats from every possible angle, whether he was speaking with his subordinates or simply rising to meet the day.
In one reality, he was safely ensconced in his underground base, costumed, with no less than twenty armed soldiers between himself and the multiple sets of heavy metal doors. He had spent his night reading, following the news and checking his stocks. His location was known only to those who worked for him, individuals paid well enough that even if they did have reason to attack him, their ‘coworkers’ would have incentive to stop them.
Second reality: He was waking up in an ordinary, slightly rundown home in the southwest end of the city. He prepared and ate his breakfast, then stepped outside in his bathrobe to pick up the paper and the mail, pausing to wave to the neighbors as they led their two girls out of the house. The flooding hadn’t affected their neighborhood as much as others, but the schools weren’t yet up and running, so the mother and father would be taking their girls to work with them for a short while. [...] “It’s morning, pet. You know what questions I ask you.”
“It’s morning?” she asked, head rising. “I feel like I just had dinner. Candy?”
“No, pet. It’s too early. Now please answer my question.”
Petulant, she replied, “Zero point two five two percent chance there’s any problems here in the next hour. Three point seven four four one percent chance there’s any problems before lunchtime.”
“Good girl,” he spoke.
With that, he collapsed that world where he had stayed up all night, studying the news, following international business trends, tracking the details on his troops’ most minor operations – he helped ensure the success of the major ones with his power. The reality swiftly faded, leaving only the world where he had a full night’s sleep, ate a hearty breakfast, drove to the base with Creep. Only the memories and knowledge remained. - Excerpt from Interlude 8.z
↑Universe one: I, Coil, notice Taylor and nod. Taylor flips the coin, reveals it.
Universe two: I Coil, pretend not to notice Taylor. I speak to Grue. "It's a question of power. I can manipulate events, I have manipulated events for your benefit, and I have a wealth of resources at my disposal..."
Stop as soon as the coin is revealed. If Taylor's coin landed heads, go with that universe. If it didn't, then...
Universe 1: Notice Taylor, "Oh, yes, go ahead." She flips and reveals coin.
> Results don’t matter. If Heads, that’s preferable, but if both are Tails, then go with that reality. Replace every instance of ‘heads’ below with ‘tails’ and vice versa.
Step 2: Flip coin for Person B.
> Reality 1, flip. If heads, move to Step 3.
> Reality 2, prevaricate, talk about chance, fate, and destiny, delay in handing out the coin, or just double check that the person in question is ready to take the coin. Repeat step 2 (flip in one reality, prevaricate in another).
Steps 3-5, same as step 2.
You really only need 4 results for the 5 Undersiders because step 1 doesn’t matter. You’re not flipping in both realities, you’re flipping in one and delaying a moment in another.
Step 6 is trickier, because Taylor flips a coin of her own, but it’s highly unlikely that she would have gone ahead and flipped while he was talking. I imagine Coil making a decision where he tells her to stop, to wait, and move slowly – he might have hired them but he doesn’t trust her not to draw a weapon. - Interlude 8 Comment by Wildbow in Interlude 8.z
↑“I didn’t do anything. He was the one who turned on us first,” I protested.
I sensed Trickster turn Calvert’s way.
Calvert sighed audibly. “As Skitter knows about my power and ever so kindly revealed the broad strokes of it to everyone in earshot, I suppose there’s no loss in explaining. I tortured one member of the Undersiders for information, in another world, days ago. They revealed that you were plotting to turn on me if I refused to release Dinah. I cannot afford to release her, so my hand was forced.”
Peanuckle: Even though Coil admits to torturing members of the Undersiders. I wonder if he tortured Lisa, but she toughed through it? More likely he grabbed Taylor or Brian since they're closer to the issue.
Wildbow: Why not all of them? This would be why you compartmentalize the plan to take down the reality-splitting overlord. Talk it out, give everyone the key points, but don't tell Brian what Tattletale is doing, exactly. Aside: I imagine if Tattletale got tortured in a Coil reality, she'd know it was a Coil reality and adjust accordingly. - Wildbow on Space battles