The Skillboys set out to Howth to do some jobs for the EU scientists in the Ecologist faction. They will need protective suits for the anomalies and poison gas in the Port Tunnel, and the party figures the Ecologists have the technology.
They began on Bull Island, hoping to make their way across the bay at low tide. Anywhere past Bayside/Clare Hall to the North is the brain scorcher field, generated by a radar at Dublin Airport. A few hours of exposure are enough to turn a human mad. So going across Bull Island was their best option.
The party encountered 3 of these ‘zombie’ stalkers in the dunes, near enough to the golf club. There were two rookie stalkers in leather jackets, and one military stalker with an AK-74. The zombie stalkers were walking around jerkily, warming themselves at fire pit. They seemed oblivious to most things around them. The party decided not to approach them after the Webber hailed them without a response. A group of mutated pigs known as “fleshes” appeared nearby from the marshes, and the Skillboys moved off in the direction of the ship graveyard on the shore. The fleshes noticed the zombies and moved to attack them. The party heard gunshots and decided to double back to see the fight. The zombified stalkers could still use their guns and saw off the fleshes easily. The zombified stalkers began feasting on the dead mutants. At this junction, the party decided to kill the zombified stalkers, partly for loot and partly to put these mad stalkers to rest.
3 hung back with guns, and MC Geist charged in to try hack off the soldier zombie’s head. The Skillboys suffered minor wounds in the fight, but took down the zombies. The two rookie stalkers seem to have gone mad somewhere in Kinsealy, before eventually drifting down south. The military zombie had been assigned to guard Howth, or at least that’s what his movements on the PDA said. Howth was supposed to be free of the brain scorcher’s influence. The bodies were “alive”, but their faces seem slack. They seemed insensible to pain, and don’t react to damage. If they hear gunshots, they react aggressively. They talk to themselves, as if driven mad by a desire to leave the Zone or get rich from artefacts.
The Skillboys reached the Bull Island ship graveyard – the rotting hulks from the Dublin port evacuation now shelter free stalkers and a trader by the name of Beard. The largest ship is a tanker named Skadovsk. Here stalkers pick up food, fuel and ammo, and trade stories for booze. The Skadovsk is seen as a neutral place between factions. The area links to Howth at low tide on the easterly point.
· There’s a rumour about Mosney, you know, the old holiday camp that’s at the heart of the radiation. There’s an artefact there, a giant crystal, that grants your wildest wishes to anyone who approaches it and is found worthy. No one’s made it back yet.
· Howth head is cursed and undefended. People saw a helicopter go down there about 2 weeks ago.
· A Freedom stalker named Domino tells a story about controller trying to teach a blind dog puppy to do tricks. The zombified stalker over his shoulder says it’ll never work, and the controller says “shut up, it took you two days to go from shooting at me to bringing me my slippers”
· A half-mad stalker by the name of Noah is building an ark on the beach he says will shelter the worthy from a coming flood. He has tamed a pseudodog and was supposedly a legendary stalker in the past.
· The Freedom stalker tells of the Marino Casino base where Freedom is investigating anomalies to benefit mankind. Rumours include a place called the Oasis, where all wounds can be healed. They are currently growing cannabis neaby a burner anomaly as a proof of concept. Getting high is also supposedly psi-protective.
The party don’t buy anything and move on up the beach.
On the way, they see a shopping trolley fitted with skis and bike wheels beside a lone ship. They approach, and knock. This is the home of the crazed stalker Noah. He tells them a flood is coming to wash away all the filth. It will come in the form of a giant wave or particle followed by a hoard of mutants. He received a vision from a burning bush on Howth Head, that was not consumed by flames. While terribly wounded, he approached the bush and was teleported into the belly of this ship. It was here he received his visions, and they commanded him to shelter all worthy, including 2 of every animal. Thankfully, most of the animals in the Zone are dead, so the ship doesn’t need to be large. He was able to tame his pseudodog by removing a Thorn artefact from its paw. The party figure out it is pregnant. Before the party goes, he gives them a crude, handprinted pamphlet of the world being annihilated by a flood, and words to the effect of the lion lying down with the lamb. He said to drop by again, and that the teleportation anomaly functioned only once a day. It also had the risk of horribly mangling users, or trapping them until they died of thirst.
The Skillboys make it to Howth Head having used up their rations for the day. They are walking through the heather which burns and yet isn’t consumed. The Webber decides to search for artefacts, taking his Droplet artefact to give him +2 Armour against thermal damage. This gives him a total of 3AP against the bursts of flame. 2 snorks attack the party while they are separated. Darragh “Trapper” Treacy spots them coming through the bushes and lays a conibear trap to protect their front. MC Geist attempted to strap a knife to his shoe with his shoelaces.
The Webber finds his artifacts and the party fight off the Snorks. The snorks leapt on one player, stabbing him with its long claws, but they threw one it the trap after it was repulsed. The other was surrounded by the party and beaten down until it was stunned. At this point, the Snorkler grappled the beast and tried to remind it of its humanity, shoving the pamphlet Noah gave them in its face. From behind the gas mask, there was a flicker of recognition. The party then dogpiled the snork, and bound it, figuring the scientists would love a live sample.
At the top of Howth Head is the Ecologist bunker. All that remains are two EU-aligned scientists: Sakhorov and VonBrueger, who says a nearby anomaly is turning people outside mad. They were due to be reinforced 2 weeks ago after their EU military guards were turned insane by the nearby psi-anomaly, but the helicopter crashed and burned near the quarry. They have been without comms to the outside world since. The Ecologists were overwhelmed with the live sample – research into the tendons and claws, and the long snout that filled the gas mask tube would be enough for several PhDs. They offered the players a reward of a prototype hazard suit, the Mk8 SSP suit if they would help them recover the radio antenna in the quarry. As it was late in the day, the party rested and ate well on the military rations. VonBrueger was the only one qualified to restore the radio, so Sakharov volunteered him for the mission.
The Skillboys made their way to the quarry, and picked up out 16 pings on their PDA, indicating nearby stalkers. The crashsite of the helicopter was ahead, and they found no survivors. The party recovered the black box from the helicopter, and MC Geist recovered some fireproof shoelaces from the dead soldiers. They began to suffer splitting headaches the longer they stayed in the psifield, and as the headaches peaked, two zombified military left the quarry. While the party were able to gun them down without incident, the zombies’ heavy armour and automatic weapons made killing another 14 a scary prospect. VonBrueger was worse then useless: he accidentally ejected the magazine of his M4 then muzzle swept the whole party in the fight.
They decided to act quickly and rig some concussion grenades to blow up loose rock on the quarry to crush the zombies below. They spread out to maximise their firepower and blew up their trap. The rockfall killed or crippled the tightly packed bodies below. The Webber and VonBrueger tried to get the radio antenna back up. But from behind the Skillboys, there was a roar. A mutant emerged from a cave. It was the controller who had zombified the squad and threatened the Ecologist bunker! The players began to suffer all kinds of visions: the Trapper looked behind the blasted rock of the quarry and saw rich, creamy butter, and couldn’t stop himself eating it. MC Geist, who had stayed behind to loot the helicopter rotors with his axe, heard the pilot calling him on board, for they were taking him back to his homeland. The Webber fell into a wonderland of artifacts, but only the Snorkler could resist the illusions. He began shooting at the mutant, breaking the spell.
The controller ceased spinning illusions and began to attack the party’s minds directly at anyone in line of sight, forcing VonBruegel to shoot at the Skillboys from behind. The Webber wasted no time in pinning the scientist to the ground, but the group was now dangerously spread out, and the controller would surely pick them off one by one. Seeing this, the Snorkler bravely charged the controller and attempted to grapple it. The Controller headbutted him, and began boiling his brain until he lost consciousness and went into shock. He saw a few visions from the controller: being in a tank while scientists poked and prodded him, and felt the burning hated in the words “human, once, like you. But no longer.” The Snokerler’s brave sacrifice allowed the Skillboys to rally, and rain blow after blow on the mutant. With the mutant vanquished, Howth Head was safe for now. The party managed to stabilise the Snorkeler, and with the advanced equipment of the Ecologist bunker, revive him. The permanent effects of the psychic damage left the Snorkler with a bad case of the shakes, reducing his agility permanently.
The parties received an advanced Mk8 SSP suit, which grants 6AP against anomaly damage, and complete immunity from gases while it is intact. However, the suit has zero protective qualities against bullets, claws and explosions.