Thursday, November 14, 2013
1. The first warning sign is a sussuration on the cusp of hearing, impossible to tell which direction it's coming from, maybe from everywhere. If you stand still, it will come closer and closer and then you'll be engulfed by a sudden heatwave. Run now or you'll be incinerated. Better still, run when you first hear it. The anomaly is capable of some movement and may attempt to follow anything that strays into it. It doesn't affect inorganic material, so you may find gear and clothes perfectly in order next to charred remains.
2. A spot of lushly growing plants. If you look closely, you may be able to see overgrown bones. If you come closer, the plants wil rapidly move in your direction and everything they touch now freezes, including any person or animal in their reach.
3. A nook in a ruin is filled with beautiful crystals, like a geode. Any stalker foolish enough to touch it will be infected: crystals with start to grow on his clothes and skin, dig themselves into his flesh. Amputation is usually the only way to stop it.
4. The hair on your arms and the back of your neck stand on end. You don't know if it's your instinct or static electricity, but you decide to stop and test for an anomaly. A nut bolt thrown ahead of you gets hit by lightning. You stumble backwards, momentarily blinded and deaf, but at least alive.
5. It's brutally hot and the air is shimmering in the heat. By the time you notice that you are stepping right into a distortion that is clearly not just an optical phenomenon, it's too late. You collapse, brought to your knees by an overpowering feeling of guilt - you remember how you left your parents to become a stalker and get rich, how the last words between you were harsh and hurtful. It's all you can think about. You friend comes after you, tries to pull you out and he starts screaming on top of his voice. You remain where you are, caught in your own head, not even noticing how your bodies weaken and eventually fail. When the next stalkers come along, they will find only bones. And if they're wise, it will be a warning to them.
6. It's hard to see, but there seems to be a humanoid figure standing in the barren spot. It's translucent and if you circle round, you find that from some directions, it becomes more real, but never enough to be actually seen. It's like it's shifted halfway into another dimension. Did it just move? You take a step closer and suddenly the ground becomes hot. You jump back again and realise that it's not the ground - your shoes have started to dissolve and the liquid they turn into burns your flesh. Water may or may not wash it off.
7. Without warning, the plants around you start to wave wildly. Their movements grow frantic while they turn into stone from the earth upwards. You run for your life until you stumble and fall. Eyes wide with panic, you look back over your shoulder and everything is normal. Nothing happened.
8. You scare up a rat and it scampers ahead of you. Suddenly, it's thrown forward and in the blink of an eye, it's on the other side of the room, torn into pieces that slam into the wall. You throw a nut bolt and when it hits the anomaly, it accelerates and buries itself deeply in the wall. You decide to seach for treasure elsewhere.
9. There's a smell of burnt leaves? vinegar? rotting fish? Your group can't agree, but you all smell something. The guy you took along doesn't have your instincts and takes another step. Threads like spidersilk materialise out of thin air and wrap themselves tightly around him, covering him completely. He screams and stumbles backwards into your arms. The threads have hardened in seconds into a hard shell and he starts to suffocate. Your knives can cut through the shell and you get him out, gasping for breath and bleeding from cuts all over him, there was no time to be gentle. The smell is gone.
10. You come across a brand new car, it's engine still running, paint job without scratches. Someone is sitting behind the wheel, looking like the picture of health, although he doesn't move and, if you look closely with binoculars, doesn't seem to be breathing as far as you can see. The nut bolt you throw next to the car remains as it is, but the ripped bandage you tied to it for better visibility starts to repair itself, growing into a whole roll. Anyone careless enough to step into the anomaly will start to grow younger at a rapid pace.
From the Zones is a community project by Fate SF. Head over there to find more cool stuff to use in your Roadside Picnic/Stalker inspired or influenced game.
I created these anomalies with the help of random tables from the Stalker RPG.