Party comes across Duty sentries lead by Sgt. Voodoo hiding from a sniper in the Clontarf railyard. They have taken a Freedom stalker by the name of Hunter prisoner, who was laying traps near the Duty base. There’s a Freedom sniper overwatching the position and they are waiting for dusk to move off. Hunter claims he was merely trapping mutants for food as the Freedom base is starving. He was also searching for a giant boar that is ripping the Freedom base apart at night. Duty accuse him of scoping out the Duty base. They have already burned his catch and are preparing to interrogate him back at base. The party decide to defuse the situation by offering to escort the wounded Hunter back to Freedom and let the Duty party move off. They succeed in convincing Sgt. Voodoo of their plan, and the sniper does not shoot when they emerge from cover with Hunter.
On the journey out to Marino Casino, Hunter is noted as a stalker who hunts and eats fleshes and boar mutants. and who could help the party learn survival skills. Thankfully no bandits or monsters are in the area as a heavy fog sets in. Hunter was sent out to catch an enormous boar that is ripping up the Freedom outposts, but he hasn’t found any leads.
The party meet the Freedom stalker Domino, who they met on the Dollymount strand before in the Skadovsk, telling tall tales about Freedom. The party reaches the Freedom base and it’s in bad repair. Domino vouches for the party and they are allowed to enter. People are low energy from hunger. Rumours are of a giant boar from the Botanic Gardens ripping up fences, knocking over outposts, scaring away all the deer. Civil war against Duty is going badly. There’s a smell of weed around the buildings, people looking red-eyed. In one of the corners of the base, there are gardens and plants and a terraced crater. A faction in Freedom are attempting to harness anomalies to grow new crops. MC Geist becomes suspicious of the Freedom fighters and wants to make sure they are not cannibals. He connives to try digging up a recent grave, but the Freedom stalkers are outraged. They surround MC Geist, preparing to lynch him. Only Hunter emerging from the hospital to intervene saves him.
Hunter walks them around the perimeter, says the walls are getting knocked down by something and their fences being torn up. The deer have all been scared away. This all happened about 3 months ago, when 2 of their best hunters, Kaz and Grigory when missing, The party follow the footprints a while to pick up the trail. But they notice the footprints aren’t fourlegged: wrong gait and spacing. This is a two-legged beast. And it’s radioactive, so much so that the party can follow the trail.
Hunter also has a personal request: find Kaz. He was a Freedom stalker who rejected technology more and more. Said he could walk through anomalies unscathed and artifacts fell into his pockets. But he came back to base less and less. He has been missing for 3 months when he ventured out to slay the giant boar.
They follow the trail to the overgrown Botanic Gardens, now known as the Dark Forest, but come across traps and brutally killed and eaten stalkers and animals. All with puncture wounds from large tusks. They waste bullets and bandages in the giant deadfall traps, tree trunks swinging down, pitfalls and sharpened spines whipping from the side and above. Clearly the giant boar in the area is intelligent enough to avoid these traps as they follow its footsteps. They get the feeling they are being shadowed as they get closer to the Dark Forest.
They approach a clearing in what was once a school basketball court but is now a lush jungle. They see a figure flitting through the trees, and the party are assaulted by wooden javelins. A powerful voice calls out a challenge to the intruders and calls them polluters of the garden who must die. They see a daubed mural to the theme of “the industrial revolution and the Zone as a consequence has been a disaster for the human race”. The human figure appears on a rooftop, massive: wielding a giant boar tusk. He is wearing a giant boar’s skull and has clad his feet in its hooves.
He has studded himself with “gravi” and “pin” family artifacts, giving him 2 armour. He is a hard target, with a -10 to hit with guns, -20 when he runs. He has set lots of primitive traps in the area, which between 1d6 and 3d6 damage. His giant tusk does 2d10 damage. His battle with the party is swift and brutal – MC Geist is taken out action twice and suffers a permanent brain injury. He seems very hard to damage, but the more perceptive in the party notice the artifacts are making him bleed heavily when he takes any damage. They are able to circle him and spread his aggression out between them.
When the monster appeared exhausted, Darragh Treacy spiked his helmet with a lucky concussion grenade and jumped away. The explosion decapitated the fighter and ended the encounter.
Deeper in the clearing, they find a truly enormous ribcage being used as a shelter. Its tusks and bones used for weapons. There is a burial mound there, and the party find the stalker suit and PDA of the legendary Freedom stalker Theo Kaczynski, known by the name KAZ in the zone. There is a book of fevered philosophical writings, and a journal of his descent into madness as he hunted the giant boar, eventually taking its life. But Kaz felt a duty to protect the forest from encroaching humanity, even his fellow Freedom stalkers. Mystery solved, the party returned home with some freshly caught boars for the Freedom stalker, and the artifacts recovered from Kaz’s body.
Jellyfish: Adds a +10 to your dodge when somone shoots at you. Will push you up a radiation bracket in 5 minutes of unprotected wear. A single pin is enough to counteract the radiation.
Formed in gravi anomalies, it’s known to redirect the path of moving objects, including bullets.